Love Me Never

Page 26


“Cool. Obviously I will be going along.”
“What?” He snaps.
“To make sure you’re nice.” I smile. “Gotta make sure I’m getting my money’s worth! She needs this more than you know.”
Jack and I are the highest scores in the game, and at the tenth round, we’re tied by two points. He bowls a double strike. I have to get a turkey, or it’s over. I hold my ball up and breathe, trying to tune out Kayla’s crazy loud cheering and Wren’s sensible encouragement. Avery even snarks at me not to mess up. I get a double, and on my final round I eye the lane like it’s a live snake. Don’t bite me, lane. C’mon, we’re friends, even if you’re a reptile and I’m a mammal. Friendship knows no racial bounds.
I slip, and the ball plunks into the gutter and rolls happily away. Jack and I are dead tied. Wren and Kayla pat me on the back, and Avery tips her head back and downs more booze as she puts her shoes back on.
“Might wanna lay off on that,” I say.
“Mind your own business, fat girl,” she snaps. Kayla pokes her head between us.
“Don’t worry, I’m driving her.”
“Driving me insane,” Avery sighs. Jack and I are the last two to put our shoes back on. He sighs and shrugs.
“Neither of us won, but I might as well have. We both know I bowled a more tactically sound game. Your style is a huge illogical mess.”
“Yes, my style sucks. But at least I didn’t bowl half a game with a nacho stuck to my ass.”
I smirk as I saunter away, leaving Jack to feel the back of his jeans wildly. I hear a swear and feel a sharp something ping lightly off my head. The fat counter guy burps.
“Uh, that guy just threw a chip at you.”
“He’s mad I won, good sir,” I sigh happily. “And he’s mad because he’s just now realizing I’m going to keep on winning.”
3 Years
17 Weeks
4 Days
Jack Hunter is moving towards me without a shirt on and it is half-glorious and half-heart-attack-inducing and something in my stomach gurgles like I want to vomit. He smiles, but not like he smiled with Madison. He smiles like he means it, a soft, golden curve of his lips, and it somehow makes him look even stupidly handsomer.
“Jack,” I start, my throat tensing up. “You’re half naked!”
For some reason I’m wearing a low-cut bodice but I can’t remember how I got in one of these. It’s something straight out of the cheap romance novels I caught Jack checking out in the library.
Jack leans towards me, the smell of his honey-spice cologne wafting up, his bright blue eyes piercing into me as he leans down and nuzzles my neck. His lips are soft and warm as he says in a low voice;
“Would you like to help with the other half?”
And then suddenly the room is red, and there are roses everywhere, and the escort club receptionist that I called is sitting behind a desk watching us but for some reason she looks like Kayla, who frowns, sees Jack kissing my neck, and keels over, dead.
“Ahh!” I bolt upright in my bed, sweat cooling on my forehead. It’s the middle of the night. I’m in my own room in reality, hugging the stuffing out of Ms. Muffin. Jack’s abs have disappeared into thin air, and Kayla is not dead. At least I hope not. I reach up to feel my neck and squirm – it felt so real! I get up and douse my neck with hydrogen peroxide for good measure. Dream Jack or no, any and all Jack-touching needs to be disinfected immediately, lest I catch his fathead shitbaby germs.
The next morning at school I have to make sure Kayla is not, in fact, dead because my entire world is ending and I need to talk to her about it. She’s standing under a tree talking to Avery, but I have to make doubly sure she isn’t dead, so I inch up and poke her in the butt. Several times.
“Isis! What are you doing?”
“Oh, thank god, Kayla. Your fabulous ass is intact! The stability of world peace depends on that ass.”
“Get out of here, creep,” Avery sneers.
“Good morning, Avery-bobavery,” I chirp. “How are the pills treating you?”
The other girl she’s talking with looks confused. “Pills? What pills? You have pills and you didn’t give me any, Ave?”
Avery is too busy glowering at me to stop me from dragging Kayla away to a different tree.
“Isis, are you okay?”
“Kayla, do you think Jack is sexy?”
She makes a dying pig squeal and I shake her out of it. Politely.
“I had this nightmare wherein I thought Jack was sexy and you died.”
“O-Oh. Well. I’m not dead! So that’s good, right?” Kayla smiles.
“Oh Kayla, you gorgeous, sugary, incredibly fluffy butterfly, you are of no help to me right now and you have a date with Jack on Saturday at The Red Fern at seven I arranged it and I must go.”
I leave her to chemically combust and find Wren in the student council office, filling out extremely interesting paperwork. He’s buried behind piles of the stuff. I can barely see tufts of his blonde hair poking out. I reach into the paperwork pile and shove the two halves aside. Hundreds of them fall off the desk and to the floor. Papers drift through the air like snowflakes. Fat, boring-ass snowflakes. Wren looks up, face slack with shock.
“Whatcha doing?” I ask.
“Dividing up funding for the other clubs,” He whispers, clearly distraught. A paper plops onto his head and slides off dejectedly. I’m respectful for three seconds.
“So anyway, I had this nightmare in which Jack was sexy and Kayla died.”
“I’m…sorry to hear that?”
“Don’t you see? Jack cannot be sexy! I can’t even think that subconsciously, or else the war is gonna be lost! The countless troops living in my brain are going to lose morale if they spot a kernel of potential sexiness in Jack! They’ll get confused! I can’t like him. Not even one bit! Or the whole thing falls apart!”
“Might I suggest –”
“And that’s not even taking into consideration my timer!” I crow, bending and picking up the papers for him. “Three whole years, Wren! Three freakin’ years of not being a moron! I can’t…I can’t break that! I’ll never be a moron again! I won’t! Sexy thoughts leads to sex and sex leads to love! Or is it the other way around?”
“I’m pretty sure it’s –”
“I can’t do it, Wren!” I wail. “You have to help me! If I start to like Jack, and Jack sees that, he’ll shoot me down because A. we are slightly at war and B. because I’m a fat ugly cow and then my timer will get reset and I’ll lose three years and I promised myself I wouldn’t do it again, Wren, I promised!”
I slam the stack of papers back on his desk, my voice trembling.
“What do I do?”
He sighs. “Look, Isis, I don’t know exactly what’s going on, but if the thought of liking someone freaks you out to the point of tears, I don’t think it’s good for you. You should stop.”
“I’m trying!” I shout, then whimper. “I’m trying.”
Wren sighs, getting up and putting an arm around my shoulder.
“It’s understandable, okay? He’s a good-looking guy. Maybe that’s just it. Maybe you like him only for his body. We’re teenagers. That level of libido is normal.”