I tilt my head.
"What are you thinking of right now?"
"29," he replies. Grinning, he continues, "You?"
A smile cracks. "Light bulbs."
He heaves a deep sigh. "You, Marie Jameson, are a thief. I was thinking of light bulbs yesterday."
I hide a smile. "Indeed. Oh, that reminds me. Light bulbs, that is. Who are you going with to the basketball game tomorrow?"
Marc quirks a brow. "How do light bulbs remind you of basketball?"
"Well, the gymnasium has the most light bulbs in the school. So I figured, light bulbs equal gymnasium, gymnasium equals big game, big game, basketball." I grab my books and slam the locker shut. Mock bravado on my face, I say, "I'm a genius, I know."
"Einstein would have been embarrassed to stand beside you and your brilliance," he replies sardonically.
He chuckles. "Tears."
"You haven't answered my question."
Crimson creeps to his cheeks.
"Ah." I nod knowingly. "Sara Gerard."
My throat tightens when he smiles sheepishly in reply.
"You know?" he asks.
I roll my eyes. "Monkeys."
"Monkeys could tell." I force a smile. "Now, shoo. I happen to know Sara Gerard is in AP English which is in room 192. Her locker number is 493. If you hurry, you get beat off the competitors and walk her to class."
"Brilliant!" He pats me on the shoulder. "You're the best."
Watching his retreating back, I sigh, leaning against the lockers. Defeated, I shuffle my feet over the polished floors on my way to AP English, room 192.
Sara Gerard and I are probably going to arrive at the same time, considering the hordes of males around her.
Unlike Sara Gerard though, I won't be with a tall, lean, basketball player named Marc with the most amazing amber eyes I have seen. He won't be smiling next to me, holding my books while his mop of raven hair almost blinds him when they flop over his eyes. He probably will never hold me close enough to realise that shocks will dance on my skin when he does.
When I arrive, I realise I'm right. Sara Gerard's perfect blonde curls falling behind her shoulders as she leans to whisper in Marc's ear. She bites her plump bottom lip coyly as he brushes a strand of hair from her face.
My chest heaves.
Where is Marie? I haven't seen her since yesterday and I've been itching to tell her what went on after walking Sara to class.
Not that she wouldn't know by now.
The thing is I've been meaning to ask her what happens after I get the girl of my dreams.
It felt nice at first. Then, the thrill died. Walking her to all of her classes because of an unwritten rule in an unwritten handbook about being a good boyfriend, sitting with her girlie friends at lunch who talk about boys and going through awkward silences because she's not interested in what I like and I don't care about Giordano or Prada.
I see Marie smiling, a small wave acknowledging my presence as Sara wraps her arms around my neck. Expecting her to slide into the seat next to me, I shift to the left.
She didn't. She didn't even look my way after the wave.
Her eyes avert to another table, a smile widely spreading across her face beyond the ocean of people. I lean to get a glimpse of the person she's smiling at when something smooth presses against my cheek.
"What are you looking at?" Sara purrs, her fingers running along my neck, warm breath against my skin.
"Doesn't look like nothing," she says. Her calf interlocks with mine.
"It's just Marie."
Sara cranes her neck to get a better view. "She's just eating with that geek, Charlie."
I notice that I have to suppress a choke.
"Mm-hmm." Sara grins. "Looks like your other half is going to make your friendship a trio." She laughs. "Unless, she means something more."
She wiggles her brows suggestively and I nearly gag.
My Marie with Charlie?
I stop myself. My Marie? Did I just think that?
"You're just not used to it," I tell myself. "Marie has never dated, that's why."
Charlie's not actually that bad a guy.
"1.9587 multiplied by 3.99821."
He grins. "7.831293927."
After punching a few numbers on my calculator, I nod, impressed.
I smile, spearing my fork through some pasta.
"Huh?" He's blinking dumbly. "Is that supposed to mean something?"
I blink. I must be too used to Marc. "Oh, no, nothing. Just a game I play with Marc."
"Ah, word association."
"Except completely random."
His lips curl. "Sounds interesting."
My lids close, my mind wandering. "It is."
The crowd thins slightly and I manage to catch a glimpse of her.
My eyes widen.
What is she doing?
She only does that when she's happy. That, being the way she bobs her head and closes her eyes with a smile on her face.
Charlie leans over to study her face. Bastard.
Sara slides off my lap, finally taking time to eat her lunch. An apple and Evian.
"Are you sure that's enough?"
My eyes wander to Marie who was now happily partaking in the lunch my mom packed for her. Nothing fancy, just simple Aglio Olio with a side of baked potatoes and an apple.
Sara's only eating a fraction of that.
Still, she nods, proclaiming herself full after two bites.
She leans to peck me on the cheek and announces her leave. Obediently, I rise, I know I'm expected to follow.
I smile at perfect Sara who holds my hand tight.
How could I pass this up? That would be stupid.
But why did I look back?
"You like him, don't you?"
I bite my lip.
"No, we're just friends."
"Is that why your container has his name on it?"
I chuckle. "It's not what you think, his mom packed this for me."
Smiling gently, Charlie says, "I take that you wish both of you were more than just friends."
I refuse to reply.
"I have three sisters, I should know."
"Charlie Bates, why aren't you more popular? You're smart, you're sensitive, you're funny and –"
"For a second there, I thought you were going to say 'gay'."
He shakes his head. "I just don't like people. They seem to think that multiplying decimals in your head is a virus that will kill their popularity. You're the only one who seems to genuinely like it." He sighs. "I only accepted your invitation for lunch because I could tell that you needed someone to talk to."
"That's what I thought of you," I enthuse. "You see, Marc's my only friend. I always sit with him." My shoulders go limp. "It would've been weird to sit with him and his crush at the popular table."
There goes all the colour in my world.
I stare at the ceiling. I must really be stupid. I tap the end of my pencil on the table. Was I really that jealous of Charlie Bates?
"It's just a brotherly instinct of protection," I told myself, repeatedly. "Just a brotherly instinct."
Just because I don't feel the same feeling I felt for Sara when she was just an untouchable figment doesn't mean I don't like her. It just means that the rush is over. Relationships need work.
Although, it's only been a day.
I glance over to Marie, who's diligently absorbing everything the teacher is saying, jotting down notes quickly.
And feel queasy.
It wasn't bad queasy, it was just this uncomfortable feeling that made me want to walk up to her and – I don't know – kiss her?
This is so wrong.
What the heck is Mr. Mason saying?
I try my best to copy his notes but fail to grasp his meaning as he diverges off topic, again.
And I catch Marc staring at me.
Guys are so typical. You think you know what's in their heads, then they turn around and do something utterly moronic. He has been infatuated with Sara Gerard for five freakin' months. He has discussed her likes and dislikes with me. I had to spy on her for him. Of course, he threw out my 'Negatives' folder.
And now he's staring at me in that way?
I've read teenage magazines, I know what he's thinking.
Or maybe I should just surrender my quest to comprehend the strange male mind.
"I've been thinking," I try to say smoothly. "You were right about Sara. I read the 'Negatives' folder you compiled and I think that things are not going to work out.
"So, what do you say about going out with me this Saturday?"
I let out a groan.
I am so stupid.
"So, Sar – Marie, I mean, Marie."
I pressed my fingers against the cool plane of my mirror.
"You are an idiot, Marc."
I turn to find Marie leaning against the door frame.
I arch a brow. "What are you doing here?"
She shrugged. "Returning containers, then I decided to check up on my ex-best friend."
"Someone forgot to send me home yesterday. Someone also forgot that we had a movie date at 6."
"Don't worry, I'm forgiving. I know that you were probably hitting it off with Sara which probably means I'm not going to see much of you anymore."
I felt my own voice tremble when I admitted that fact.
Girlfriends take time. It means spending twice the time he used to spend with me.
When I die, he'll probably read about my death in the papers. He won't remember me. He'd jerk his finger at my picture and ask Sara, "Honey, why does she look so familiar?"
Sara being the perfect housewife will appear from the kitchen with a perfect figure though she's had three kids and trill, "Darling, that's Marie, your best friend."
He'd tilt his head and think for days, weeks, months, maybe years until he finally realises and says, "Oh, that Marie."
"That's the thing Ri. I don't think I love her. I don't even think I like her." He coughed. "I finally read that folder of yours. I can't believe she actually has a shrine for High School Musical."
I snort. "Did you get the photo of her worshipping Vanessa Hudgens?"
He shuddered. "I tried not to look."
I loll my head to the right. "Does that mean you're not her boyfriend?"
My stomach flips with hope.
He rakes his hand through his mess of hair. "This may seem weird to you but I'm fond of you."
A double flip.
"I've always known that," I say nonchalantly.
He breathes deeply. "No, I mean, I'm really, really fond of you."
"Like a sister, I know. We've been through this. We'll always just be friends."
He steps closer.
Is it that hard to knock it through her? It was easier with Sara.
"Not just a sister," I try to say. "I don't have a title for it but I'll call it besifriend."
"You mean best friend," she says lightly. "I believe I held that title too."
"I mean best friend, that's where the 'be' comes from, plus, sister, that's where the 'si' come from and girlfriend, that's where the 'friend' comes from."
"Girlfriend?" I repeat.
My throat gets caught and I stop breathing.
"Girlfriend," he affirms.
He's standing close now, so close I really, really can't breathe.
His lips envelope mine, causing strange warmth to run through my spine. It wasn't harsh, that wouldn't be Marc. It was soft, growing more – what's the word – passionate with every second. It wasn't as gross as I thought it would be and it was melting all my senses away.
It felt as good as I thought it would be.
Disappointingly, he turned away after a good eight minutes or so.
"Does that mean we're more than friends?"
My breathing is still shallow. "Does this mean I'm a rebound girl?"
He looks scandalised. "No, Marie, how could you – oh –"
Needless to say, that "oh" was caused by me. My lips caressing his. My fingers tangled in his hair, my body so close to his you couldn't fit paper in between, it felt good…and, right.
Mm-hmm, we're definitely more than friends now.
Two things. First, thank you to all of my readers. You've given me awesome feedback and I'd like to do something for you. So, if you guys want me to read your story and review, just ask, don't be embarrassed about it. Two, I'm looking for a beta. Someone with experience, preferably. Later, I will scan through SKoW's Beta Classifieds but I would prefer someone who already reads my work. I already have a beta, but she's my sister, so she doesn't quite count. If you're interested PM me and send me a resume, if you have one.
That's about it. I hope you enjoyed this piece of work. It's light and fluffy, just the way I like it.
How about you?