Chapter 5

"What the..what the what?!" You'd think Trina had just run a marathon, she was so out of breath. "When did this happen? You weren't even at school half a day and mr super sexy hot guy is texting you?" Trina jumped on my bed, landing on her knees, her eyes filled with excitement. It had taken her all of five minutes to respond to my text and she was banging on my door still dressed in her pjs in another five. It's good to have a best friend right down the street.

"What can I say, I've got skills." I laughed but my stomach was all aflutter.

"How'd he get your...I mean, how'd he...I'm just at a loss for words. And you know me, that never happens."

"I was gonna to say."

"Tell me everything. Start from the very beginning. Was this after I dropped off your car? You're not holding out on me, are you? You didn't like.." Trina paused for effect. "... have a secret rendezvous, did you?"

I couldn't help but laugh seeing Trina propped on her knees, leaning forward almost in my lap.

"It was after. And I don't do secret rendezvous." I said it prudishly with just a hint of high class snobbery.

Trina leaned back, a look of disappointment on her face. But I could tell she wasn't buying it. "Oh please...lets not bring up the whole Masterson fiasco...in a crowded movie theatre ...during Saving Private Ryan, no less?"

"I thought you said let's not bring it up."

Trina shrugged. "And what about..."

"Okay... Okay... fine, I'm just a big ol' ho. Are you happy?"

Trina looked dubious. "You're still a card carrying member of the Virgin Brigade."

"Hey!" I tried to look crestfallen but a traitorous grin won out. "Don't throw that in my face."

"It's a cruel world out there. What kind of friend would I be if..."

"Yeah yeah. You're practically a saint."

Trina held out a hand like she was admiring a fresh coat of nail polish as If I told her something she already knew. "So what are you going to do?"

I opened my mouth to respond but nothing came out. I thought a moment longer hoping something, anything would come to me, but nothing, zero, zip, zilch. I got nothing.

"Want some advice?"

"Uh, yeah!" I dropped back against my pillows accidentally banging my head on the headboard.

I don't think you need to do anything. Mr sexy seems to know what he wants and ..."

"Could you stop calling him Mr Sexy?"

"Fine. Lucas. You happy?"

"Yes."

"Anyway, the fact that Lucas messaged you first, let him be the one to make the next move."

I waited for more. "That's it? Make him make the next move? That's you're advice?"
"Hey I can't do everything."

"Pfffffft. I could have come up with that!" I practically screamed.

"You need to chill. Geez. You've known him for all of ...what...like...a minute?"

I took a deep breath. She was right. I didn't know him. Didn't know anything about him. And really had no idea what I was going to do or if I was going to do anything. I closed my eyes. My mind took that opportunity to bring up pictures of Lucas from this morning, him handing me the tray after I kicked it across the food court. His eyes, his lips, the way he drank from the bottle of water. It was all superficial stuff I knew. But he was so beautiful. Just thinking about him...I banged my head repeated on the head board.

I looked at Trina who worked at keeping a smile off her face.

"What?"

"Nothing. I was just thinking, if things work out, you'll be banging your head, but for a totally different reason." She let her laughter loose.

"You're bad."

"Okay. I'm outta here. I have a test in psych tomorrow and I haven't even studied yet."

"Fine. Leave me in my hour of need." I stuck my tongue out at her as she got up.

"What hour of need? You're practically high on endorphins. You're gonna be up doodling his name in your notebooks. Or stalking him online." I threw my pillow at her. She dodged it gracefully and laughed gleefully as she headed out the door. "Good night, lover boy. I'll see you tomorrow."

I woke up with a headache. It was no wonder. I had a bump on the back of my head from where I had hit the floor. And my eye was throbbing like nobody's business. I didn't even want to look in the mirror but I did, grimacing more because it looked like it hurt more than it did. I touched it, hesitantly, hissing in pain. I looked like Quasimodo. I just needed a hunchback. It was easy to decide not to go to school.

There was a note on my mirror from my mom.
You look terrible. Stay home. Take a pill and sleep. Trina will be by to check on you during her lunch period. Love, Mom

I swallowed the pain pill and the glass of water she had sitting out for me.
I climbed back into bed with a sigh of relief, reached for my remote, ready for a day of crap TV and junk food.
I woke to the doorbell ringing. The disorientation took a moment. What the hell. I staggered down the steps in my pajamas, catching a glimpse of myself in the mirror, my hair askew, my skin a wretched pale, my black eye the color of eggplant. The door bell rang again followed by tentative knocking. I didn't know why Trina didn't just come in, she had a key. I pulled open the front door, all ready to pounce on her, well maybe not pounce as I was still a bit groggy from that pill, but stopped dead in my tracks. Lucas Hightower filled the door frame. He had a smirk on his face, looking me up and down. I felt naked. And I might as well have been, looking the state that I did. I couldn't believe he was...
"What are you doing here?" I looked over his shoulder, certain that Trina was behind this. Somehow I knew.
"Your friend. Trina?"
I KNEW IT!
" She had a flat and had to get her car towed." He paused watching me. "Asked me if I could bring your homework." He lifted his Hilfiger backpack.
"A flat?" I was dubious.
"Yeah. Looked like she ran over a nail or something." He shrugged his shoulders.
I bet she did. Probably on purpose.
"Anyway." He took a step forward but stopped at the threshold, looking at me.
"Oh. yeah. Sorry. I think my mother drugged me. No not drugged me. The pills she gave me...for the pain...from the fight...well not so much a fight as me getting hit in the face and then hitting the floor...but you were there..." Oh dear God in heaven. I am going to kill her. "Come in."
He smirked at me. "You know, if I were a vampire."
"You could come in and suck me...I mean, my blood any time you... Wow...that pill was like strong." I actually facepalmed it as I walked away from him. I'm surprised I didn't plow into the wall. "You want something to drink?"
"Water's fine." He pulled out one of the wooden chairs around the kitchen table and made himself comfortable. He started digging through his backpack as I pulled a bottle of Ozarka from the fridge. "Want a glass?"
"Nah. From the bottle's fine." I heard him crack the lid and listened as he drank. He pulled out a blue notebook folder with the word ENGLISH written boldly across the front with black marker. "So your friend Trina, she said y'all were coming to my parents housewarming party with that girl Ashley."
I started to nod, contemplating the many ways that I could torture Trina.
"It's probably gonna be boring as hell. So I apologize upfront." He shrugged again, looking up at me with those eyes. Green was my new favorite color. They were mesmerizing, distractingly so as I bumped into the kitchen table and knocked his bottle of water off and into his lap.
"Oh shit." I grabbed the Bounty roll, pulling several sheets off. I had to stop myself from dabbing the front of his jeans. How cliche would that have been? On my hands and knees I wiped the floor silently berating myself over and over. This could not be happening.
"It's no big deal. It's just water. I've had w..."
I stood up quickly to apologize, too quickly. He was walking towards the sink and I accidentally head butted his crotch.
I stood stock still. This was not happening. I heard his converse squeak on the wet floor as he lowered himself to the floor, a white knuckled grip on the chair steadying him. His face was red, his lips forming a perfect anguished O as he gasped for air. I closed my eyes.
"I'm so sorry."
He shook his head, shrugging me off as I tried to help him up. "I just need to lie here for a sec." He rolled over, his face flat against the floor.
I pulled myself up with the table and watched in horror as his bottle of water tipped off the table and smacked him on the forehead. I couldn't help myself. I laughed. This could never happen in a million years if this was anybody else. Yet here he was, Lucas Hightower, grasping his balls on my kitchen floor, his eyes squeezed closed as water dripped off his face. The rest of the water spilled into a giant puddle right where he lay.
I watched him slowly sit up and lean against one of the table legs, looking at me, that smirk was back, though a bit pained. Meekly, I handed him a paper towel.
"Sorry."
"This is going to be interesting."
"Huh?" I stammered. "What, This?"
"I just pictured it different." He smiled down at his hands. "Trina told me you stayed home when I asked where you were. I guess I was a little obvious."
"Obvious, about what?"
He looked up from his hands and stared at me like I was perfectly dense. "You."
"Okay, did you hit your head while you were down there? Cuz I have some great pills that'll help with the pain."
He reached for my hand then and pulled me down on top of him and kissed me. I tried to pull away. Okay maybe I didn't try very hard, but the intention was there. The kiss broke and he looked at me again, his expression clear that the kiss should have answered my question. "Oh." I probably had the stupidest goofiest grin on my face. He leaned into me, I'm sure to kiss me again, but I backed away.
"Woah there big fella." Big fella? "You don't even know me. You can't just kiss me. I'm not that kind of guy." I tried to look angry. I don't know if it was working, because on the inside I had dive bombing butterflies ricocheting around in my stomach and my heart was beating so hard I felt it in my ears.
"I know you." His eyes were earnest. "My cousin told me all about you."
"Your cousin?"
This was just bizarre. "And who's your cousin?"
"Ryan Slater."

#

"You have GOT to be kidding me." Trina nodded wryly. "I told you, I told you. Crashing down around you."
I wanted to reach over and shake her like a rag doll. "How could you send him over here in the first place? I mean look at me?" My bruises hadn't gotten any better, if anything, I had more of them and I still hadn't taken a shower or fixed myself up. As soon as Lucas had left, I dragged myself back to the bathroom, took another pill and threw myself back into bed, certain, that life as I knew it was over.
"Yeah you do look a little worse for wear." She winced at the outraged expression on my face.
"You think?!"
"We can fix this."
"Oh no. There's no we in this. This is all your fault. You've done enough fixing." I glared at her. "You...you set me up with my ex-boyfriend's cousin!"
"Well technically, I just sent him over here to give you your homework. And I didn't know that he was Ryan's cousin." She tried to placate me, but I was having none of it.
"What about the flat tire?"
"I had a flat tire." She said it plainly, trying to deflect my suspicions.
I just stared at her.
"Okay. Okay. I did let the air out." She gestured for me to calm down. "But how was I supposed to know you were going to rack him and nearly down him?" She looked at me the question in her eyes. "I mean really. How does that happen?" Then she got this wicked grin on her face. "So..."
"Don't try and change the subject."
"I wanna know about the kiss." She whined.
"I shouldn't tell you anything." I felt heat rising up in my cheeks, just thinking about it.
"I said I was sorry." SHe gave me her version of puppy dog eyes, even whimpered a little.
I growled in response. "Fine. Just this once. It was amazing. He pulled me down on top of him. I think...well he was a bit excited...if you know what I mean. Which is surprising considering the fact that I just head butted him there. But I felt it when he pulled me on top of him. And the kiss." I stopped myself. "God I sound like a girl."
"Shut up and spill! I'm living vicariously here."
"It was hot. I wasn't expecting it at all. He just yanked me down and planted one on me. then he dropped the Ryan bomb and..." I let out a breath of air and leaned back against the headboard. "Why can't this be easy?"
"What do you mean? It can't get any easier."
"I was worried about Ryan's journal and now it turns out Ryan was telling him all about me."
Trina grabbed me in a big hug, practically jamming my face in her breasts. "This is a good thing." She patted my head, stroking my hair like a puppy.
"Easy for you to say." I pulled my face out of her cleavage. "He wants to go out."
"What! You waited this long to tell me? When?"
"Thursday. After school. Starbucks. I dunno."
"You HAVE to do this!"
"Knowing my luck I'll scald him with my coffee and cripple him somehow." I shook my head
"You're being melodramatic. But you might want to tell him to wear a cup."
"Oh you're just a riot." I glared at her, but the smirk on my face betrayed me.