Chapter 13: Sweetie, Your Lipstick Is Smeared

Alden

I considered taking the elevator to the second floor of the sky train station just so I could hide.

But before I pressed the button, I stopped myself. I could almost hear Cassie calling me a coward with her poisonous voice. So instead, I took a deep breath I marched over to Kaleigh. I couldn't mess this up- it must've been a sign from the heavens or something because it was three times I've bumped into her conveniently now (not including the supermarket incident).

Kaleigh seemed to be throwing a hissy fit though. She was ramming her bus fare into the slot repeatedly to validate it. She took a step back and I guess I was standing too close because her heel stomped on my sneakers.

I reacted quickly and held her up before she fell backwards. She let out a squeal and scrambled out of my arms. My foot began throbbing.

"What do you think you're doing?" she snapped at me.

I felt the heat rise to my face, "I was just stopping you from falling- I swear!" I put my hands up.

"Hmph, " she gave me a quick once-over then spun around and tried putting the ticket in again.

"Do you need help?" I offered. Clearly she was getting nowhere. Kaleigh reluctantly handed me the ticket. I flipped it over and stuck it in; it came back out with the expiry date printed on it.

" I don't take the sky train often," she muttered. But her face suddenly lit up, "Hey! I remember you!" she exclaimed.

I grinned, "You do?" I asked, sounding a bit too eager than I wanted to.

"Yeah! You're that guy who works at The Real Supermarket!"

My face instantly fell. Why couldn't she remember me as the handsome bad-ass she made out with twice now?

Then again I was pathetically locked out of my house the first time- and I was the sober wallflower the second time. "Uh, kind of," I responded lamely.

"You must be Emma's friend then! Any friend of Emma's is a friend of mine," she said with a big smile on her face.

I beamed at this. See Cassie? She was nice.

We awkwardly proceeded up the stairs, with me trailing a few steps behind her.

The sky train came right on time. We blended into the crowds of people trying to enter as others exited. I watched the sliding doors close on people rushing to get in.

Kaleigh was standing across from me, leaning against some Plexiglas and texting while she was chatting on the phone. I could never grasp the concept of the constant need to be communicating with someone.

Right there and then, I decided that this wasn't going to work out after all. If her string of ex-boyfriends were all Caden clones, there was no way she was ever going to notice my presence without me crashing into her or something pathetic like that.

I wish charm came in a bottle. Pining after a girl who was so obviously out of my league (especially because of a stupid kiss) should be enough to put me into a straitjacket and throw me in a room with padded walls.

Slouching against the door in defeat, I pulled out my mp3 player. I mentally threw my own pity-party by blasting songs with depressing lyrics. I closed my eyes and stayed in this position, feeling the bumpy tracks beneath me.

I would've fallen asleep too if the train hadn't stopped so abruptly. Ten minutes into the ride, my body lurched forward and I slammed into a pregnant woman. This caused a domino effect and a chain of us fell forward.

I tried to help the woman up but she hissed at me like a snake and used the pole to get back on her feet. I was only trying to help! I backed off and retreated to my initial position against the door. A voice projected from a speaker, "Passengers, we have encountered some technical difficulties and we are currently trying to figure out the problem, please stay seated until this has been fixed, thank you for your cooperation."

Why did crap like this always happen to me?

My muscles almost relaxed until I spotted Kaleigh sprawled on the ground. I quickly rushed over to the crowd of people circling her to see what was happening.

She seemed to be having some sort of panic attack. Her hands were clutched tightly around a pole and she was on her knees. "What the hell is going on here?!" she screeched at the guy trying to calm her. I recognized him as one of the guys Emma used to date.

"The train stopped moving crazy chick, you can stand up now!" he snorted.

That didn't faze her.

"Is this some stupid joke? What if we all die here?!" she continued to yell at him. Then she grabbed at her throat, "Oh god, I think I'm losing air, I'm dying!"

The guy noticed I was staring at him. He threw his arms up in frustration then turned to face me, "She's hot but so not worth it, all yours bud," he said as he made his way to a seat. Seconds later, the people lost interest and the circle dispersed.

I took this opportunity and sat down cross-legged beside her.

"What do you want?" she sneered at me. "You're breathing in my air."

I dug around in my bad and took out a plastic container. I opened the lid and revealed two doughnuts- rainbow sprinkles and chocolate dipped. "I don't want anything, I just thought sugar might make you feel better," I offered her one.

Kaleigh swatted my hand away, "I can't afford to get fat at a crisis like this! I already have enough fat to tip this stupid sky train over!" she cried out.

I examined her figure; she probably had enough fat to tip over a small Lego train- at most. Other than that, she could probably slip between jail bars.

I decided not to make any comments on her body- girls seemed to be overly sensitive about that stuff.

"Suit yourself," I said as I took a bite out of the chocolate doughnut.

She gave me a suspicious look then gripped the pole even harder. "Why is everyone so god damn calm? How do they know we're going to get out of here alive?" she asked with a more even tone.

"You know what, you're right, no one knows if the train is going to start moving again, which is why the last thing we eat should be something as good as rainbow doughnuts. So I guess you have every right to be freaking out," I spoke.

A smile finally tugged at her lips.

She took a deep breath then picked the sugary bread out of my container. I watched her slowly take a bite, and then proceed to quickly devour it in a matter of seconds. I laughed when the chocolate smeared across her mouth.

"What?" she snapped. I leaned in to use my thumb and wipe the excess sprinkles that stuck to her chin. She stared at me with those sparkling brown eyes. I wanted to kiss her right then and there, I was almost about to until she looked away with embarrassment.

"I feel bloated," she mumbled.

"You look great, Kaleigh," I reassured her.

She suddenly looked guarded, "How do you know my name?" she inquired.

Oh shit. I scratched the back of my head, "Uh, Emma just talks about you all the time, she um, likes your hair," I replied lamely. Not that I knew whether that was fact or not.

"Really?!" she exclaimed. "I like her hair too!"

"I'm Alden," I said. Though instantly regret telling her- what if she didn't want to know my name? What if she thought I was just some desperate loser? Which in a way I was- shit.

"Okay, Alden," she smiled."Do you go to Madison Rose? I've never seen you around-"

"I go to Carington," I interrupted her quickly.

I suddenly felt a jerk. Kaleigh wrapped her arms around me so tightly, I couldn't breathe.

The train began to move again in a steady motion, and then it started to increase in speed. Soon everything was back to normal again. Kaleigh pushed away from me harshly and stood back up, regaining her poise.

I sighed then got up, slinging my backpack over my shoulder. Before I could move away from Kaleigh's space bubble of venom, she grabbed my wrist, and pulled me towards her.

"Thanks for saving me, I'd like to see you again," she took out a stick of eyeliner and scribbled her number on my arm.

I didn't think what I did was heroic but whatever, I took it. Kaleigh gave me one last heart-stopping smile then exited at her stop.

I couldn't wait to rub it in Cassie's face.

Emma

I spit out tufts of fur from my mouth. "Robin!" I scolded as my cat jumped off of my chest. He let out an angry meow.

I rubbed my eyes and sat up on my couch. I tried to remember what had happened.

Oh yeah, I skipped school and collapsed on the couch the second I got home. Groaning, I checked the clock on my phone, it read five o'clock. I also had two missed calls from Josh. Damn it.

I leaned against the arm and dialled his number. He picked up after two rings. "Emma?" he asked. I heard a crash. "Sorry, I dropped my phone."

"Hi Josh, sorry for not picking up, I fell asleep."

"Where were you at school today? Are you sick or something? Do you need me to bring medicine?" he asked, genuinely worried. That was actually sweet of him.

"No, I'm fine, I just didn't feel so good so I went home," I told him, which was partially true.

"Okay, are you sure you don't want to postpone our date?" he asked.

I honestly didn't want to go at all, but it would be easier to get it over with. "You know what? Hearing your voice made me feel better, why don't you pick me up right now? I live on Harrison Street and my house number is two-three-six-seven, it's close to Wyley Elementary School," I told him.

"Will do, I'll see you in a sec," he said before he hung up.

All I wanted to do was roll in a ball and go back to sleep. What I did was force myself to get off the couch and go to my room. I changed into a blue dress and wrapped a scarf around my neck. I could barely get the zipper to seal. Stupid zipper.

I quickly swiped some mascara and lip gloss on, and then I scrambled down the stairs with my purse in one hand and my phone in the other. I must've looked like I was doing the chicken dance as I walked- the part where you go down while flapping that is.

The door bell rang in seven minutes. I rushed to the door and swung it open. The moment he opened his mouth to speak, I felt my zipper pop and Josh didn't have a chance to tell me "how beautiful I looked."

"One second," I said to him as I clambered back up the stairs. I slipped out of the dress and put on another. I should've won a medal for 'speediest change of clothes ever.'

Sprinting back to the door, I panted in exasperation. "Sorry about that- wardrobe malfunction," I said.

Josh just laughed, "I'm sure most guys wouldn't mind."

I narrowed my eyes at him. Why was I doing this anyway? Oh yeah, stupid Caden and his stupid games. I didn't know if these dumb games were still required to be accomplished because we were in a fight, but I felt like it would be the right thing to do. He did keep Cassie away from Jake.

I changed my ferocious dragon expression to something that I hoped resembled an alluring siren.

Josh handed me a bouquet of flowers. How cheesy for a first date. I didn't need any more flowers stinking up my room.

I burst into a fit of fake sneezing, "Oh sorry, I'm allergic to flowers, achoo!"

He put the flowers behind his back, as if it would suddenly disappear. "Oh god, I'll just um-"

I grabbed his arm and seized the flowers, "No, it's fine, do you have the receipt for these?" I asked. He gave me a puzzled look. But he pulled out his wallet and pulled out a receipt that was wedged between a million more. I grabbed it from his hand.

"Why?" he asked.

"There are some specific flowers that I'm not allergic to, how about I save you a trip and exchange these flowers? I'm still super appreciative!" I said. That was a lie, I'm pretty sure all pollen was the same, not that I was allergic in the first place. But Josh wasn't that bright.

"I can get you something else-"

"No, it's fine, I like flowers, they're pretty- can we go now?" I asked impatiently. He nodded nervously then led me to his car and opened the door for me. "Thank you!" I squealed.

Josh got in on the other side and he immediately started to drive.

"Just so you know, I'm a vegetarian," I said meekly. Guys usually slammed the brakes down when I told them this- as if it was the most absurd thing they've ever heard. I braced myself.

He smiled without taking his eyes off the road, "I know, but I couldn't find any local vegan restaurants so I decided that we should just jump to dessert, is that alright?"

I think I swooned a little. I don't think anyone has ever given my vegetarian needs any consideration before.

"We can just go to any old restaurant and I can order a salad or something," I offered.

"Yeah we can, but this dessert place has some pretty kick-ass ice cream- wait, is that alright? I mean, ice cream comes from cows-," he said.

I laughed, "It's fine, I eat ice cream, I just don't eat the meat itself- of the cows," I assured him.

Josh nodded then drove a little faster. We talked about general stuff like school and the weather. He sure didn't have much to say. But after some lifeless conversation, we finally reached our destination. Hunny's Dessert. I wondered if the manager was actually named 'Hunny.'

Once I walked in, I was bombarded by all things cute. Pictures of cupcakes danced on the yellow and pink walls. There seemed to be a million buckets of ice cream flavours staring at me.

We settled down on a table close to the entrance.

A girl in a poofy blue dress handed us menus. I flipped through the pages, looking for something I might be able to digest as dinner. I could already feel the cavities forming as I looked at the pictures of cake.

I ended up getting a banana split and Josh ordered piece of chocolate cake.

I twirled my hair with my fingers as he chattered about his soccer games. I pretended to listen intently but in all honesty I couldn't care less. Soccer simply wasn't my thing. I continued to move the salt and pepper shaker around as if I was playing chess.

"..and then I scored!" he exclaimed.

I looked up, "Huh? Oh, that's great, you're amazing," I said half-heartedly. The girl served my banana split drowned in fudge. I immediately started to gobble it down to avoid any more boring chit-chat.

We both ate in silence. God, what was wrong with me? I didn't even have the effort to listen to him; I doubt that he would miss me once I 'dumped' him.

I mentally scolded myself again; I mean, I didn't really want to hurt anyone's feelings. Caden's manipulative ways were rubbing off on me. I couldn't believe this!

I took a deep breath and looked up at him, "Josh, I have a confession. Well um, I don't actually like- Josh?" I blinked.

He was zoning out at something. I twisted my body to see what was so mesmerizing. There were three girls dressed in miniskirts and low-cut shirts. One of them was Ruby.

I wouldn't mind of Zeus struck me with lightning right now.

The trio was marching around, causing a ruckus. They were probably drunk. I tried to lay low but I soon heard loud footsteps coming towards me. Josh's astonished face confirmed it.

"Oh look at these lovebirds," she snarled at me. "Are you two having a popular time? Eating your popular ice cream and sitting on popular chairs?" She gripped on the edge of our table for support because she was stumbling.

I was slightly irritated by this, "What are you talking about?"

Ruby rolled her eyes, "Oh don't give me your innocent shit 'cause I don't want to hear it. Everyone thinks you're so great 'cause you're hot but you're really just a stupid slut that sleeps around with everyone and steals other peoples' boyfriends!" she suddenly spat out.

I stood up to defend myself, "Excuse me? I don't sleep around nor do I 'steal boyfriends', if you're referring to Josh here, you guys aren't even dating so maybe you should sober up first before you say stuff like that!" I retorted.

"Oh, so now you decide to be a bitch, maybe you should show this side of you more often so you don't seem so fucking fake all the time!" Ruby shrieked."I just wanted to get some comfort food and I have to see your plastic face stripping Josh with your eyes!"

I opened my mouth to yell but before I could, she picked up a handful of ice cream from my bowl and smothered it across my chest.

I looked down at my vanilla stained dress. I did all I could to refrain from jumping on her and starting a cat fight. Like I needed more people to stare.

"And fuck you Josh!" Ruby screamed. She turned around and started to sob into her arms. Her friends tried to support her but they were tipsy themselves.

I finally turned around to face Josh. He seemed to be completely stunned by the commotion. But he finally snapped back when I started to wipe my dress. He had a funny look on his face.

"Emma..is it okay if I go after Ruby? I care about her and I don't want to see her get hurt out on the street," he stood up as if he was going to leave whether I gave him permission or not.

I didn't want to seem disappointed, because that was the initial plan anyway right? To set them up? "Yeah whatever, go ahead, I mean, she's drunk right?" I tried not to sound bitter, but I couldn't help it. He was leaving our date for a girl who just spoke complete bullshit about me.

"Emma I'm so sorry, Ruby gets like that when she drinks, I promise I'll make it up to you, okay?" With that, Josh left to chase after Ruby.

I stayed seated, mixing my puddle of ice cream in the bowl. The waitress came back and picked it up, "Miss, we'll make another one for you no problem, you just stay right here." I accepted the sympathy and remained put.

Not like I had anywhere to go. I rested my elbow on the table and supported my head with my hand. The flowers sitting on the table seemed to be mocking me.

And then I started to cry. I wasn't sobbing or anything, but the tears were definitely there. I didn't even know why I was welling up, I certainly didn't care about Josh. But did people actually think of me like that?

Did Caden think I was like that? I cried even harder when I remembered that he was angry with me because I was a stubborn bitch. I felt a sudden surge of loneliness. I haven't even spoken to Cassie since Kaleigh's party.

To top it off, I failed to complete the assignment. Josh ditched me and I never got the chance to make him feel bad. It was the other way around.

The waitress came back; when she saw my splotchy red face, she gave me a piece of free cake. Which I thought was really nice of her.

I finished the second banana split but only nibbled at the cake. I had to apologize to Caden, once again.

I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand and pulled out my cell phone to call home. My mom answered and I asked her to pick me up.

I dumped the cake in the garbage can and waited outside. The sun had set and it was already six o'clock. I made time pass by picking off the petals of the flowers. Five minutes later, I was surrounded by slips of pink, yellow and red. I dropped the bouquet of flowers when my mom pulled in the parking lot.

I decided that I would take money out of my own pocket to donate to Green Group for now.

My mom inspected my face as I settled in the car. "Oh Emma, he didn't hurt you did he? He definitely doesn't deserve you," she said in a motherly tone.

I so badly wanted to agree with her to make myself feel a little bit better. But Josh was sweet, he didn't let go of the girl that truly meant something to him. It was my fault for tearing them apart.

"No mom, he didn't hurt me, it wasn't really a date anyway," I told her.

She started to drive, "I got a call from the school today saying that you weren't in any of the classes after first period, mind giving me an explanation?"

I fidgeted with the mirror, "I um- I got serious cramps so I just went home, can you write an absence note for me later?" I finally said.

She sighed, "Just call me the next time you decide to leave school, okay?"

I nodded in agreement.