Love Me Never

Page 25


“Got another stick put up your butt? I didn’t know another one could fit, you’re so tight-assed!” I call.
“Be quiet,” He snaps. I turn back to Wren, who’s gone a little white.
“Everything okay?”
Wren nods. “Yeah. It’s just…been a long since I’ve been around Jack like this. I didn’t know he was coming, otherwise I wouldn’t have –”
“Yeah, me too. Too late now though, huh? No choice but to beat his ass and send him back to the eighth circle of hell whence he came.”
“Of course. I never back down from a good game of bowling.”
“Awesome. It’s you and me against the legion of darkness, then. Look, I better go check on Kayla. Be right back.”
The girl’s bathroom smells like hairspray and hand soap. Kayla is at the mirror, redrawing her makeup.
“Is everything, uh, mildly alright? Since I know it’s not okay. Since this is like, the four millionth time that jerk has made you cry.”
Her lip starts wibbling, and she drops her eyeliner and runs into my arms.
“He told me…he told me Wren and I would make a better match! He shoved me onto his ex-best friend, Isis!”
As she’s sniffling into my armpit, I feel my eyebrows raise. Hmm. Pigs are flying like jet planes right now and the moon must be blue, because Jack might actually be on to something. But I can’t say that in front of Kayla.
“Do you…do you like Wren at all?” I ask softly.
“He’s a nerd!” She wails. “A student council nerd who spends all his time with homeless people! And he’s not even close to Jack in terms of looks!”
“Ah yes, the great dilemma of looks over personality. We can’t have it all! Nobody’s perfect! We’re all shallow even if we don’t admit it! Cities will rise and fall and the universe will collapse from its own inevitable heat-death!”
“W-What?” She sniffs.
“I’m saying Wren is actually not that bad.”
“Oh. Okay. That was a lot of words.”
“Look, you’re gonna fix up your makeup, you’re gonna go out there, and you’re gonna have fun. Don’t let sourpuss-in-boots-that-are-cramping-his-toes-and-making-him-a-whiny-baby get to you! You’re beautiful –”
She glares.
“- uh, not beautiful! You’re funny! You’re adequately able to function! All good things on the dating checklist. Either Jack will wise up, or you’ll find someone else –”
The beginning of a wail escapes her lips, and I retreat.
“You will NOT find someone else! If you like this guy so much, shit, why don’t you just ask him out?”
“You don’t think I’ve tried that? I’ve asked him out fifteen times this year!”
I slap my palm to my forehead. “I mean a real sort of ask, like walk up to him and form words.”
“What if he rejects me?”
“You will then say; “Gosh, you’re really pretty and all but I have to inform you that if you don’t accept my date proposal my friend Isis is gonna come over here and do her freaky thing and trust me no one wants that”.”
“You’ve been doing your freaky thing forever on him, though.”
“It’s fine, I’ll figure it out, okay? You’re right – the first step is to fix my makeup and go back out there!”
She turns to the mirror to retouch her delightfully trashed movie star face and it’s that exact moment I realize it’s time for an intervention. I march back outside, down my entire cup of soda, and plop next to Jack.
“Kayla stares at your butt a lot.” I announce.
“Yes,” He agrees.
That’s it. One word. Yes. I swell with indignation, but before I have the chance to explode all over him he adds; “It tends to happen a lot.”
I suddenly become aware of how weary and adult-like and around-the-block Jack is.
“Have you ever had sex?” I blurt.
Jack closes his eyes.
I immediately start backpedaling, past what I just said, past the day I learned what the word sex meant, and for good measure, past my own date of birth.
“Just, wow. You don’t have to answer that. Actually I only brought it up. Because. Uh. It’s a survey! For…sex ed! And the teacher was all like; interview one person who you totally think is a weirdo and has never had sex ever because they are a fat lazy virgin and get back to me with a ten page report on Monday. So.”
“I tend to keep my private affairs to myself,” Jack sighs. Kayla comes out of the bathroom and bowls her turn, giving Jack serious goo-goo eyes.
“So that means you have!”
He glares at me with much fervor. At least nine fervors.
“Sorry. You’re an escort. Of course you’ve had it. Was it weird? Sex? Is it weird?”
Jack sighs again, and I push on.
“Because! You know, I’ve thought about it.” I lower my voice. “Sex. Seeeeex. I mean, why the hell am I whispering? SEX! SEX!”
Kayla drops her ball. Wren looks to be in slight pain. Avery pretends not to know any of us and mutters ‘freak’ under her breath. I point at her.
“I heard that!”
She scoffs and adds more booze to her soda. I shake my fist at her and spin around to face Jack again.
“I cannot, for the life of me, remember what we were just conversing about! Alas. I will forever remember this time we spent together affectionately and oh god I remember now you pervert!”
“You were the one who shouted ‘sex’!” He hisses.
“You were the one who was born, so really I think that’s the root of the problem.”
“The root of the problem is you. Are f**king. Insane.”
“That’s not the point!” I slosh my soda in the general direction of everywhere. “The point is do you see that fine piece of ass over there who happens to be my kind of friend because she’s really into you and she’s the prettiest nicest goddamn girl in school and I only barely approve of you and if you crush her pure maiden heart I will pull your pancreas out through your nose and feed it back to you in a drip inserted into your anus is that clear?”
He opens his mouth, and for once, nothing snarky comes out of it. He leans back and folds his arms over his shirt.
“What if I pay you?” I ask. He smells like spices and soap and honey again and it’s extremely unhelpful slash gross.
“Pay me what?”
“Pay you to take her out. I’ve got some saved up, I can –”
He scoffs, in that you-can’t-afford-me way.
“Two hundred. Just to take her out and be nicey-nice like I saw you be with Madison.”
He glowers, icy eyes freezing my insides. He musses his hair up in frustration and makes a half-snarl in the back of his throat.
“Fine. I’ll go out with Kayla for two hundred.”
I make a quiet hiss of victory. “Where?”
“Saturday. The Red Fern, at seven. It’s a Thai place downtown. I don’t care if she’s allergic. That’s the only place I can go where they won’t recognize me from my escort work.”