"Hey, Andrea, I need your help."
Trying to ignore the excited pattering of my heart, I looked up at Troy with a smile on my face. Max, his best friend, wasn't anywhere to be seen, which came as a great relief to me. Troy was a complete jerk when Max was with him. I was a little surprised he wasn't around, seeing as it was lunch time and they were practically glued at the hip. But then again, we were in the library, and I just can't picture ever seeing Max here.
"What can I do for you?" I asked sweetly. I secretly had a huge crush on Troy and although he seemed to like girls with an attitude, I wasn't going to embarrass myself to try and impress him. Being myself was a much safer route to take, even if it never got him to like me the way I wanted him to.
"I need help with the assignment Mr. Spencer gave us last week," Troy said, sitting across from me. "I have nothing to speak about."
Mr. Spencer, our English teacher, told us that we need to come up with a debatable subject that we needed to present in front of the class and have a discussion on. Not only did we need to make sure the subject could be discussed, but we needed to know all the facts and be able to get people to express different point of views. After we were done with the discussion, we were going to write an essay explaining how the discussion did or didn't change our views, gave a different perspective, and how it could be turned into a 'Human Universal Truth.' I knew almost immediately what my subject was going to be and I couldn't wait to start the discussion.
I raised an eyebrow at Troy, wondering how I was going to help him in such a short amount of time. "We're supposed to be ready by tomorrow."
Troy sighed. "I know. I was going to discuss death, but I have a hunch that everybody else is going to be using that."
I laughed. "You're probably right." I put my pencil down and focused all of my attention on the boy in front of me. "Well, what do you feel strongly about?"
Troy shrugged. "Sex?"
I kicked him, liking that I could still flirt with him a little. "Give me something serious."
"Well…" He looked around the library, thinking. "Friendship, I guess."
"Ok, what about friendship?" I asked. "Why does friendship mean so much to you?"
Troy squirmed. "I don't know!"
"Oh, come on," I said. "There has to be a reason why you said that. Think about your relationship with Max."
He gave me a look. "You make us sound gay."
"Well, are you?" I asked innocently, already knowing the answer.
"Ugh! No!" Troy looked thoroughly disgusted. "I can't believe you asked that question."
I laughed. "Sorry, couldn't help it. So, you and Max. Why are you such great friends?"
"We've known each other for years," Troy started. "We're pretty much brothers, but it's more than that. I'm always on his side; he's always on my side. When it comes to other people, anyways. Do I have to do this? I feel stupid, being all emotional like this."
"Ok," I said, picking my pencil back up and flipping to a fresh page. "Let's make a list of things that make a friendship work."
I started writing and Troy leaned over the table to see what I was doing. I wouldn't have noticed that he had moved to the seat next to me if I wasn't already hyper aware of him. I looked at him.
"What?" he asked. "I just wanted to see what your writing better."
I nodded and went back to creating my list. It was hard to think with him so close. It got hot and my hands started to sweat. I suddenly wondered if I smelled bad. I didn't want him to think I was gross. I knew that I put deodorant on this morning and my clothes were clean. How about my breath? Too bad I hadn't put a stick of gum in my mouth previous to this.
"Fun," he said out of nowhere.
"What?" I asked right before realizing he was talking about my list. "Oh, yeah." I jotted that down with the other things on the paper. "This is harder than I thought," I said, looking at my measly list.
"Maybe I should pick another topic," he said.
"No," I said. "I think it's a good topic, we just need to think really hard. Let's think about some bad things about friendship."
Right as I said that, the bell rang.
"Can we meet here after school?" Troy asked.
I smiled at him and started putting my stuff in my bag. "Of course. Try to think of what you want to say so we can be a little bit more prepared."
"Thank you," he said, smiling at me. "You're a life saver."
"Naw," I said with a shrug and a blush. "Just a grade saver."
"Pass," she said.
Mr. Spencer sighed and ticked off her name. "Andrea?"
I walked up to the podium in front of the class, took a deep breath and smiled at all of my classmates. "Love. What does that mean?"
I glared at Max as Troy gave him a high five. I gritted my teeth at the obvious insult Troy just gave me.
"That's lust," I said. "I want to know what love is, the kind of love shown in movies and sung about in songs. I want to know what you think about it."
"I already told you," Max said with a smirk.
I sighed and was about to tell him his version of love was skewed when Mandy called out, "We're in high school, why do we need to know what love is or how it feels. I mean, I'm not planning on falling in love for, like, another ten years."
"But can you keep yourself from falling in love?" I asked. "What if you fall in love with someone before you think you're ready?"
She sneered. "Whatever. That's never going to happen. I think I can control my own feelings."
"Do you think you would even know if you were in love?" I asked her.
"Frankly, I think love is overrated," Troy said. "It's not some huge, once-in-a-lifetime emotion. It's an emotion that people read too much into. It's not like it's even real."
My heart skipped a beat. "You don't believe in love?" I asked, trying to act like we didn't just spend most of the afternoon with each other the day before. I was kind of disappointed with the way he was acting, but I shouldn't have been surprised, seeing as Max was sitting right next to him.
Troy looked me in the eyes. "No. Love is just an idea."
Suddenly getting angry, I stared right back at him and shot "So what about friendship? Is that just an idea, too?"
He glared at me. "No. Friends last. Lovers don't."
"But there's more to love than just sex," I argued, frustrated that he was arguing so hard with me. "Haven't you ever just wanted to be around someone for practically no reason at all? Has there ever been a time in your life that when you thought about someone, you couldn't help smiling and feeling almost giddy? Or felt a tug at your heart thinking about your favorite moment with them?" My face was red and I was breathing heavy, but all Troy did was stare at me, a scowl still on his face.
"It sounds like Andrea is in love," Max taunted with a laugh. The class laughed with him, including Troy.
I sighed and looked down, trying not to let my class know I was upset. "Whether you believe in love or not, it's out there and people feel it every day. They might not know it, or they might try to hide it. The reason I chose love as my topic was because it is used in most literature and can create many different themes." I turned to Mr. Spencer. "I'm done." And then I sat down.
"Thank you, Andrea," Mr. Spencer said. "That was very interesting. Troy? You're up next."
Troy stood up and walked up to the podium. He looked at me for a second before saying, "The topic I chose was death."
I looked away and buried my head in my arms as a few people groaned. Troy had been right the day before; a lot of people chose to talk about it. But that wasn't why I was hiding my face. I didn't want Troy to know how much he affected me.
"Happy birthday!" my best friend Laura said loudly a when she sat down at lunch time.
"Thanks," I said, trying to give her a genuine smile, but apparently I failed.
She frowned and asked, "What's wrong?"
I shook my head, trying to seem fine. "Nothing. Everything's fine."
She gave me a look that clearly said she didn't believe me and I sighed. "English was horrible."
"Isn't Troy in that class with you?" she asked. She'd known about my crush for a while now, and I was glad to have someone to talk to.
I nodded. "We were supposed to pick a topic to have a discussion with the class about and mine was on love." Laura rolled her eyes, but I ignored it and continued. "Max and Troy made fun of me."
She shook her head. "Don't let them get to you. It was probably all Max, you know how Troy gets around him." She started mixing her food around. "But Max is an idiot without Troy."
I was about to ask what she was talking about when we were interrupted.
"And you would know all about it, babe."
Laura glared up at Max who was standing behind me with Troy. I looked between Laura and Max, confused, but Laura shook her head, signaling that she would tell me later.
"Go away, you're not welcome here," she told him.
I ignored them both and turned back to my lunch. I was really not in the mood to talk to Troy.
Max pulled out the chair next to me and sat down, despite what Laura said. "Don't be like that," he said as Troy sat opposite him and next to Laura. "There's no need to hide your feelings anymore, we all know how you really feel now."
Now I was really confused. I looked at Laura who was blushing now. "What's he talking about, Laura?" I asked.
Max laughed. "I can't believe you haven't told your best friend," he said.
"I said go away, Max," Laura growled. "I'm done talking to you."
"But we just got started," he said.
"Go away, Max," I stepped in, knowing that whatever Laura was keeping from me didn't need to be announced to everyone in the lunch room.
"Aw, is poor Andrea feeling left out," Max said, coming out from behind him. "Don't worry; I love you the way you are. About you come to my house tonight and we can talk it." He winked at me.
I should have known that bringing the subject of love up in class would be a disaster.
"No thank you, I'm saving myself for the person I love," I said without even thinking about what I was saying. My eyes went wide when I realized what I said and I turned around to hide the blush creeping up my neck.
Max laughed. "Did you hear her? She's saving herself."
"Shut up, Max," Laura snapped. "At least she won't be getting and STDs any time soon. I'm sorry I can't say the same for you."
He gave her the once over, a smirk on his face. "Well, you know what they say about sharing."
"Go away, Max. Nobody wants you around," I said.
Troy, who had been frowning throughout our conversation, suddenly smirked. "Wait, did you say you're in love, Andrea?"
My blush immediately came back. "That's none of your business," I snapped. Despite the fact that you're the one I'm in love with, I added in my head. In love with your nice side, I corrected myself.
"Oooh, Andrea's in love!" Max taunted.
"I wonder who it is." Troy said, pretending to think. "Maybe Billy?"
"Like you guys would know anything about love," I snapped, standing up. "All you do is parade around, acting like it's the coolest thing to have slept with every girl in this school when all it makes you are whores!"
Without missing a beat, Max also stood up and said, "Not every girl." And then he kissed me.
I pushed him off of me and slapped him. Anybody around us went quiet and pretty soon the whole cafeteria was watching.
"Don't touch me again," I said.
Laura stood up, grabbed my hand, and pulled me away from them. As we were walking away, I heard Troy say angrily, "What was that for?"
"Jerks," Laura mumbled.
I silently agreed with her, too upset to say anything.
I plopped on my bed after school. I had made Laura promise to tell me what was going on between her and Max, and then went straight home after school. I was in a really bad mood and didn't want to stay at school any longer than I needed to.
I slapped my head with a groan, remembering what had happened. I knew leading a discussion on love would be difficult, but I didn't know that it would be that bad. I screamed into my pillow when I thought about Troy and Max making fun of my virginity. They were such jerks! There was nothing wrong with waiting for who I loved.
And after what happened at lunch, I was starting to wonder if I was really in love with Troy. How could I be in love with a guy like that? He was only like that when he was around Max, though. He was cute, funny, and really sweet when he wanted to be, but when he was with Max, he was rude, annoying, and immature. He made me so mad sometimes, but that doesn't stop me from liking him so much that I believed it was love. Stupid jerk. I wish I never knew him.
I groaned. My birthday wasn't supposed to be like this! Except for Laura, nobody even wished me a happy birthday.
"Andrea! Phone!" my mom called from downstairs.
I rolled off my bed unenthusiastically. "Coming!" I tore open my bedroom door and hopped downstairs. The phone was sitting on the table. "Hello?"
"Why didn't you answer your cell?" Laura demanded.
"My cell?" I pulled it out of my pocket and opened it up. The screen remained blank. "Oh, I forgot to charge it last night, it's dead, sorry."
"Well, get your cute butt over here, I gotta show you something."
"Where are you exactly?" I asked.
"My house, where else?" she answered as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Ok," I said. "I'll be there in five minutes."
I walked to the front door of Laura's house slowly and a little frustrated. Nothing seemed to be going right. Why couldn't Laura just have come to my house? Then I wouldn't have had to ride my bike to her house because my brother took the only available car. And maybe if I didn't have to ride my bike, I wouldn't have fallen off and scraped myself. They were only small scraps, but they didn't help my mood.
I walked right through the front door, knowing that Laura's mom wouldn't mind. We did this to each other since we were little girls, not knowing that we needed to knock on the door before we entered.
"Laura?" I called. It was surprisingly dark, the blinds were closed and the lights were off. "Laura, why is it so dark?"
Suddenly the lights were on, blinding me. "Surprise!"
I blinked a couple times, looking around. There was a sign above my head that said 'Happy Birthday Andrea!' and everybody I knew was standing in Laura's living room. Laura was headed for me as I laughed and everybody else scattered.
"I thought everybody forgot!" I yelled giving her a huge hug.
She laughed. "That was the idea."
I stepped back and looked around. "Oh wow, this is just like on TV. Thank you so much."
I gave her another hug as a few more friends walked up to me, wishing me a happy birthday. Music was put on as I was led to the cake and games. I had a blast, but after a while I got really tired. I plopped on Laura's couch with a sigh, not paying attention to who was already sitting there.
"Do you always just walk into people's houses without knocking first?" My head snapped to the side and Troy smiled at me. "Or is this just an exception because it's your birthday?"
"What are you doing here?" I demanded, a little angry that he was acting like nothing happened today.
He looked away. "I was invited. I'm guessing everybody was.
I looked around. He was probably right. People I've seen around school but never talked to were mulling about, talking to each other, playing games, and dancing. I looked back at Troy. He was staring at me.
"Why did you come?" I asked. "I didn't think you would want to associate too much with someone like me."
He was about to open his mouth when we were interrupted. "We were planning on crashing the party."
I glared up at Max. "What're you doing here?"
"I was invited, sweetheart," he said, squeezing himself between me and Troy and putting his arm around my shoulders.
Disgusted, I pushed him away and stood up. "Go away."
Troy stood up. "I thought I told you to stay away," he said.
I looked at him, surprised.
"Oh, come on, man," Max said, also standing up. "I'm your best friend, you don't really want me gone."
Troy answered him by walking away. I looked between the two and then I ran after him.
"Wait!" We were outside before I was able to grab his arm and stop him. "Why are you so different when you're with Max?" I asked.
He looked confused for a second before looking around, a weird look on his face. "I don't know." He rubbed his neck and looked over my shoulder. "I guess I was trying to impress you."
I folded my arms. "You were trying to impress me by being a jerk?"
"No, yes, I don't know!" he said. "It's kind of hard to impress you when I don't want Max knowing that I really like you."
"Why wouldn't you want Max to know?" I demanded. Before he could answer me, I interrupted him because I already knew what he was going to say. "Max is stupid. If he was really your friend, he would respect who you liked, and even help you win her heart. Was it you I had a whole conversation about friendship with yesterday, or was it a dream?"
Troy rolled his eyes. "This isn't some fairy tale or perfect little book. Max is my best friend. He might not respect women, but he has his moments that make being his friend worth more than any girl I know."
"So you're going to let him kiss me in front of everyone just because he's your best friend?"
"That was uncalled for," he admitted, "but I couldn't do anything about it. Max has a mind of his own, and I didn't even expect him to do that."
"Maybe if he'd known that you like me, he wouldn't have done that," I said.
He shook his head. "You obviously don't know him, do you?"
I glared at him. "I don't want to know Max, I want to know you, but because of Max, I can't. You act like a complete jerk when he's around, and he's around all the time. I'm getting sick of it, and I'm starting to question my own sanity for even thinking of the possibility that I might be in love with you!"
The second that was out of my mouth, I froze. It was suddenly very quiet and Troy was looking at me with wide eyes. We stared at each other for a few seconds before he said,
"You're in love with me?"
"Oh, just kiss her already!"
I spun around in surprise and everybody was watching us. Laura punched Max on the shoulder because he was the one who yelled.
"Go away, Max," Troy growled.
"Why?" he asked, stepping closer to us. Laura followed him. "I'm giving you permission to have her, why not take it."
"You shouldn't even be here," Troy said. "You've pretty much ruined Andrea's birthday."
Max shrugged. "Why don't you make it all better? She admitted to being in love with you, I bet you admitting that you love her back will make her day complete."
I looked between the two friends. Max looked smug and Troy looked livid.
"You've known all this time?" Troy asked lowly. "You've known and you still said all that stuff? You still kissed her?"
Max shrugged. "I was jealous."
"Ok," Laura said, clapping her hands together and turning toward the crowd that was steadily growing larger. "Party's over, we'll see you on Monday." Nobody moved. "GO!" she screamed.
People scrambled away, some people hesitating before leaving. I continued to watch Troy and Max, worried that a fight might break out. Troy looked ready to punch him and Max's indifferent look probably didn't help.
"You were jealous?" Troy asked incredulously.
"The girl that you're actually in love with for more than just her body loves you back." He rolled his eyes. "As gay as it sounds, I'm jealous because you don't just have a girl, you have a girl you want."
"So let me get this straight," I said, looking between the two. "You are jealous of Troy because he's in love with a girl that loves him back? And so you make fun of said girl and kiss her to make yourself feel better?"
Max nodded. "Pretty much."
I slapped him as hard as I could.
"Ow!" Max yelled, grabbing his cheek. "What was that for?"
I didn't answer his question because by the time he finished speaking, I was kissing Troy.
Troy was a much better kisser than Max. Everything disappeared as he wrapped his arms around my waist and pulled me closer. I couldn't think straight, but I didn't need to. I let my lips take over as the kiss got deeper.
"At least wait until you're in a private room before you start having sex," I heard faintly in the background.
I pulled away and blushed deeply, turning to glare at Max. "Go away."
He rolled his eyes. "Why do I seem to be hearing that a lot?"
"Because nobody wants you around," Troy said.
Max sighed. "This is another thing I was afraid of," he said. "It's good to know I've been replaced so easily." And then he walked away.
All three of us watched him leave, surprised.
"You should go talk to him," I said to Troy. "He is your best friend."
He gave me a frustrated look. "He intentionally hurt both of us and you want me to go and talk to him?"
I nodded. "Friends last longer than lovers, remember?"
He closed his eyes. "You know I didn't really mean that, right?"
"Just go and make up," I said, pushing him toward where Max left.
"Just one more thing," he said, taking my hand. "Be my girlfriend?"
I grinned and kissed him. "I wouldn't have it any other way."
He ran off to go find his best friend and I turned to my own. She groaned, knowing what was coming.
"Now, about you and Max."
I left the Laura problem open for a reason. I'm planning on writing a one-shot for them titled Lust. In fact, I'm starting it right now. So go look for it and hopefully you will find it.
Anyways, I hope you like this edited version of Love is NOT Sex. It really hated what it was like previously. I tried to show more of Troy and Andrea's relationship when Max wasn't around. It ended up being four pages longer than the other one, but I'm not sure that I like it any more than the previous version. I'm hoping Laura's story will turn out better.
Let me know what you think. I would love to know what I should improve, what you liked, what made you cringe...(I had a hard time writing the kissing scene, for some reason).