Today, I was The Disaster Behind the Wheel. Or in front of the wheel. Or beside it. Basically, I wrecked anything that came into contact with my car, and when you were driving 80 mph on small suburban roads, it turned out that by anything, I meant everything.

RIP to three squirrels, one bird, several flying insects, five curbside signs, eleven patches of flowers, and nine flimsy mailboxes. But you know what? My boyfriend of two years just broke up with me, and I deserved to be driving up a storm to vent my feelings.

At least that was what justified me running a full red light. It wasn't one of those oh-no-the-light-is-already-yellow-I-really-should-stop kinds of red lights. It was one of those the-light-has-been-red-for-some-time-and-I-just-cut-in-front-of-cars-going-in-the-perpendicular-direction kinds of red lights.

You don't even want to know how many heart attacks I just caused.

Anyway, after thirty minutes of insane driving, I calmed down enough to enter a parking lot and pull up to my favorite coffee shop. But of course, after all I had been through this afternoon, I didn't expect any smooth transition from maniac driver to calm coffee patron. As I was parking, I happened to see a tall, dark-haired guy and some girl he was with laugh as they approached the coffee place entrance. They almost reminded me of Kevin and me, except the girl was brunette, not dark blonde like I was, and my ex-boyfriend was never chivalrous enough to open doors for me when we went anywhere.

My mind still skipped over the almost though, and the next thing I knew, I was accelerating into the parking spot and headed beyond, apparently trying to add Kevin look-alike and his girlfriend (?) to my RIP list. Luckily, they were spared by my logical side, which quickly kicked in to slam on the brakes. But of course, that threw me backwards into my seat as my car lurched dangerously into the spot. My long hair, untamed from today's shower, flew into my face. I brushed it out angrily in time to see Kevin's look-alike thrust the girl protectively behind him as he gave me a crazy/angry look.

And then I realized he wasn't just a random guy. He was Cobalt Bloom, the most popular/hottest/coolest soon-to-be senior from my school. He was also single, meaning that girl, whoever she was, was not his girlfriend. Good thing too, because now that I could see her (shocked) face, she looked way too young to be dating him. A sister, perhaps?

Anyhow, that wasn't the important part. I was half-in, half-out in the parking space, stopped awkwardly after my near-kill. While the girl still looked like her heart had stopped, Cobalt had abandoned the freaked out look and instead was giving me a very amused expression.

Great. I had just embarrassed myself in front of the hottest guy in the school, after my boyfriend dumped me. I guess I could forget about having a boyfriend for my upcoming senior year. After word got out about Cobalt of all people thinking I was a psychopath/murderer/freak, no one would hang out with me.

I hadn't realized that Cobalt's stare had paralyzed me until he finally ushered the girl inside, and suddenly my muscles relaxed. Swallowing calmly, I inched the car forward and straightened it out so that I didn't leave any evidence of my parking failure. I took my time to make sure I put up the sunshade evenly and covered all corners of my windshield. I even checked each of the four doors in my Nissan Altima to make sure I locked it correctly, even though I knew my electronic key did not malfunction. Finally, there was no delaying the inevitable.

I had to go inside.

I muttered a quick prayer as I opened the door, wishing for two things. First, I did not want to run into Cobalt and the girl again inside, a pretty big feat seeing that the coffee shop was really small. Second, I wished that the friend I was meeting was already in there, my coffee ready, so that I didn't have to stand in line and increase my chances of locking eyes with Cobalt.

Miracle of miracles. Both my wishes were answered! Sort of.

"Jasmine!" my close friend, Zabeth, squealed when she caught sight of me. I was well aware that her loud exclamation had just revealed my name to everyone in the shop, which would include Cobalt. But I didn't actually look around for him. Therefore, I made it to the table where my friend and my drink were waiting without actually running into him.

"Hey, nice to see you!" I gushed in an extremely friendly tone, hoping that Cobalt would hear. I was not quite sure why though. Like all truly good friends, Zabeth was able to pick up on the weird tone I was using and looked around suspiciously.

"You sound awfully happy," she offered in a very curious manner, raising a thin, perfectly arched eyebrow. It stood out darkly against her pale skin, naturally black unlike the brown/yellow/orange messy emo cut that famed her face. "Does it have something to do with the important news you said you have to tell me?"

"It doesn't," I replied with a big, fake smile. After all, it was my ex-boyfriend whom I was angry with, not Zabeth. "Kevin broke up with me."

Two pale, dainty hands came down on the table so hard I could hardly believe they belonged to my wispy friend. "No way!" Zabeth exclaimed. "How? When? Where? I thought he was in China?" I rescued the coffee cup that was swaying dangerously in front of her in the aftershocks of the table-quake, trying not to let liquid spill on the stack of mangas that my friend had brought with her.

"He is in China," I explained. "He broke up with me, through the phone, this morning. Said something about his experience abroad opening up his eyes to new opportunities, opportunities he couldn't explore if he was tied down to me."

Wide amber eyes, ringed dark with liner and mascara, met my blue-hued gaze and calm response.

"He just said that? So casually?" Zabeth demanded.

"Yup. He's an asshole," I said. "A big, effing asshole." Zabeth nodded. I was glad that she agreed with me. Now the other patrons, they didn't seem to appreciate my language that much. But I didn't care. I glared down the nearest woman, a middle-aged lady with two young kids. The ring on her finger indicated that she had no right to criticize my heartbreak. She already had her happy life. Now let me suffer through the misery of mine.

Because I was miserable. Completely heartbroken. Close to tears, in fact.

"You seem to be taking it pretty well, surprisingly," Zabeth remarked, shooting down the lies I was telling myself. And the unfortunate part was that she was right. I mean, I wanted to be heartbroken. It would make Kevin look like a complete bad guy. But the truth was, I was more angry than sad. And strangely, I could feign indifference without much effort.

"I don't know. I guess I expected it?" I said unsurely. "I guess I'm just not happy with the way he did it. Like, there's a way to do certain things. You just don't break up with people through the phone."

"I get it," Zabeth agreed. "It's like proposing by sending a Facebook relationship request or something." Proposing. The word sent a weird shiver through me, and I nearly knocked my half-empty coffee cup out of my hands.

"Whoa, are you okay?" Zabeth asked when she saw me slam my cup down next. I hadn't even realized I had done that. In fact, I was frowning too.

"My sister's having the time of her life, though," I said bitterly before I even had a chance to check myself. Once again, my body had acted without my consent. Instead of hurting anything physically, though, it just bruised my ego. I hadn't meant to let that tidbit out, not when I had been keeping it buried within me for the last two months.

Zabeth did not miss my tone. She dropped her chin into her upturned palm, staring smugly at me from behind her half-closed eyes. It was her I'm-on-to-something pose.

"I knew something else was up, but I couldn't tell what. You're jealous," she said. "That's why you can't be sad about the situation."

"So?" I demanded.

"So?" Zabeth repeated, waving her arms above her head. "So? That explains a lot! You forget I know you, Jasmine. I'm pretty sure that you're not upset about the break-up because you'd lost interest in Kevin but didn't want to seem single at your sister's wedding."

"That's not true!" I retorted.

"It so is! Contradict me, then," Zabeth dared. I opened my mouth to speak, and Zabeth folded her arms over her red and black anime tee. I clasped my hands together, hoping to gather some sort of defense argument as my eyes roamed across the table. But all I saw were three different manga volumes and two coffee cups. And this seemed to have the opposite effect on my response.

"Well, I didn't want all my relatives to think I was dateless!" I whined pitifully. Zabeth's head was tilted to the side, staring at me critically. Now she cocked her head the other way. "What? It was only going to be a month or so! I would have told him that it was over right after the wedding."

"Which is in September," Zabeth stressed. "Two months away! Have Lily and her fiancé even picked an exact date yet?"

"The twentieth, I believe," I quickly replied before trying to continue to rant. But Zabeth beat me.

"You promised to show me their picture!" she interrupted. I closed my mouth and sighed. Zabeth gave me a you-need-a-distraction look, and I dove into my purse for the picture I kept of my older sister and her husband-to-be.

"Here," I said, tossing the photo across the small table. Zabeth snatched it up eagerly. I let her eyes pour over the photo, noticing that they lingered mostly on the left side of the frame where I knew my future brother-in-law was.

"Oh my gosh, that is so creepy!" she stated. It was not exactly what I was expecting to hear.

"Excuse me?" I asked. Zabeth looked up, her face glowing with amazement.

"Didn't you say Lily's fiancé's name is Felix?" she asked. I nodded. She look back down at the picture, holding it gingerly as if it was a piece of expensive jewelry. "Well, he looks exactly like a character named Felix from Golden Sun!"

"From what?" I deadpanned. She knew I wasn't in on the whole worshipping-anime craze that she was into.

"Golden Sun! A video game," Zabeth explained, making me none the wiser. I didn't do video games. But I knew Felix was the manager of a Game Stop, so it was pretty obvious that he was interested in them.

"Well, I'm sure he'd be flattered by the comparison," I said, reaching out my hand for the picture so the distraction could end. "He has a brother who loves video games too. Maybe he looks like a character from some other game."

"What's his name?"


For the second time, I saw Zabeth's eyes widen in a comic fashion. "Tall, skinny, redhead?" she asked hopefully. Now that was a little coincidental. I nodded, letting it slide that Axel's hair wasn't actually red but just dyed that way. But I wasn't about to criticize Zabeth of the tri-colored locks on that issue.

Not that she would have listened to me. She sat up straighter, gripping the edge of the table and squealing in the perfect picture of something she referred to as "fangirlism".

"Axel from Kingdom Hearts! I adore him!" she said, holding up one of the manga volumes on the table. It had a picture of a red-haired guy (who looked, I had to admit, vaguely like what Axel Spencer had looked like when I had met him) and a blonde-haired kid eating ice cream on top of some tower. Zabeth and her obsessions. I shook my head.

"Well, for your information, he's taken," I told her. "He has a girlfriend, and from what I've heard from Lily who's heard from Felix who's heard from Axel himself, he's really serious about her."

"That's too bad," Zabeth said. But she didn't look torn up about it, which was good, because then I would have had to chalk up her obsession level to danger mode. "But maybe I can convince the two of them to cosplay with me!" she continued, naming her hobby of dressing up like various characters and attending conventions. I laughed, imagining the look on Lily's face if her future husband and brother-in-law tagged along with a hyper Zabeth as she went into insane anime mode. In doing so, I almost didn't realize that this little part of our conversation was making me forget about my latest dilemma. But of course, I couldn't get off that easy.

Not when Cobalt decided to remind me of his presence.

I didn't conclude until after I had slammed my fists down on the table, rattling the empty cups between us, that I really needed to learn how to control myself. Apparently my older sister had a friend who was excellent in that department. I should look in to that. After all, it would really help if I didn't alert Zabeth (and all the other patrons) every time I had a mood change.

And all this just because Cobalt got up to get a napkin? I could tell that Zabeth was not about to rely on distractions this time. Oh, I had been so close to being able to move on!

"I might have let you get away the last time, but now I'm cracking down on the questions. I know something else is up! What's going on?" she insisted. I fought very hard not to look at Cobalt as he returned to his seat somewhere behind me when I took a deep breath to calm down.

"The guy I have a crush on is here," I blurted without thinking. Then I gasped. Wow, was that the truth?

Zabeth was giving me a weird glance. "Jasmine, you just got dumped by your last boyfriend. Let me emphasize the word just."

"Yeah, I know, but Kevin was always at another school and I didn't see him for a lot of time during the spring, but this guy I saw every day in class and sometimes talked to…" I trailed off. Zabeth raised an eyebrow. "Me and my big mouth."

"Exactly," she said. She suddenly turned in her seat, studying all the patrons carefully. I reached toward her to stop her, but she held off my hand.

"Which one is he?" she whispered. The place was so small that I was sure that everyone heard that. Couldn't she tell that there was only one guy our age in the place?

"I think he's behind me," I described anyway. "Dark hair. Sitting with a girl; his sister, I think." Zabeth slumped down in her seat, trying to stare past me without looking obvious. I pressed down my thick hair, trying not to let the volume obstruct her vision in case he was sitting right behind us. Which I hope wasn't the case, because my whining probably couldn't have impressed him very much.

"He's sitting right behind you, facing us," Zabeth whispered. I tensed.

"Great, that means he heard all the stupid things that came out of my mouth," I muttered. Zabeth grinned.

"That's because you have a runaway tongue," she said as if revealing this to me for the first time. As if I wasn't the front-seat witness to my horrible lack of inhibition. "We need to change that."

"How?" I asked. Zabeth thought for a moment, pursing her small lips together and looking very serious. Suddenly, she perked up.

"How about a challenge?" she asked. "For one whole day, you have to stay completely silent! I'm sure you won't say anything stupid if you are actively trying to stay quiet for an entire day."

I snorted. That wasn't much of a challenge, seeing as it was summer and I could easily hole myself up in my room and win. It was also a fairly normal idea. I expected much more from Zabeth, and so I told her so.

"You're ideas are usually more…bold," I said. Zabeth smirked.

"Take it or leave it, Jasmine," she declared.

"Wait, you mean you are actually challenging me?" I asked. "Not just as a joke?"

"Nope, it's the real deal," Zabeth replied. "You have to stay silent for one whole day. Tomorrow, in fact. And if you do, then I will buy you one article of clothing from Forever 21." Wow, that sounded pretty nice, even though I already had a closet full of clothes from there. But one more thing couldn't hurt. "And if you give in and say anything, then you have to buy me one of my mangas."

Ouch. Twelve dollars for a book. I would rather not. Zabeth was giving me a very smug look. It was almost as if she knew something that I didn't. What was I saying? This was Zabeth – she could always have a trick up her sleeve. Or, she could just be planning to visit me or something to make me lose the challenge. I shouldn't assume that she was completely up to no good. After all, there was a really cute pair of purple-toned jeans I wanted from Forever 21.

"Fine, I'll do it," I agreed. Zabeth smiled widely.

"Oh, I am so glad," she said sweetly, and at that moment I decided that the chance of getting really cute jeans wasn't worth it. Zabeth really was going to move into bold mode. And Zabeth's level of boldness would make Rosa Parks look like she was just following the crowd.

"What are you-," I started to ask, but Zabeth leaned out of her seat, very obviously trying to catch the attention of someone behind me.

"Hey, you there!" she called, beckoning the person of interest to her with a finger. I turned to see what she was doing, and my heart almost stopped. Cobalt was staring straight at Zabeth, and when I looked back and forth between them, I confirmed that my best friend was indeed inviting over my crush to the table.

And he took her up on the invitation.

"Hey, there," he greeted us casually, coming over to stand by our table with his hands in the pockets of his khaki shorts. The girl who was with him, dressed strangely in over-sized jeans and a full-sleeve jersey, came over and hunched next to him.

"Hello!" Zabeth exclaimed, beaming and staring up at Cobalt with a kind of flirtatious adoration. Maybe she thought he looked like some anime character also. "How are you?"

"I'm fine. Um, do you need anything?" my crush asked with just a hint of uncertainty. He had a nice voice, kind of on the lower tenor side if I had to judge its pitch.

"I just wanted to introduce ourselves. My friend here was saying that you go to our school, but I couldn't believe it because I've never met you before." Zabeth looked proud of her excuse. I, on the other hand, was already mortified that Cobalt was actually talking to us. Then she had to go and mention that I was the one who brought him up in the conversation. And…uh, hello Zabeth! Cobalt is uber-popular! How could you not know he was in our school, even if you were just pretending?

"Oh, I see," Cobalt replied, completely ignoring the lack of logical sense that I was paying too much attention to. "Well, I'm Cobalt. This is my sister Adore."

"That's such a pretty name," Zabeth gushed. I wasn't quite sure who she was referring to. Adore was a strange name, and Cobalt wasn't pretty. He was hot. "Well, I'm Elizabeth. Elizabeth Ault, but everyone calls me Zabeth. And this is Jasmine Hart, but everyone calls her…well, actually, everyone calls her Jasmine. You can call her that too."

"Yeah, I know her. I had a class with her last year." Oh, this was now officially beyond mortifying. Cobalt looked over at me and my burning face and smiled. He seemed completely okay with this situation, weirdly enough. And Zabeth of course thought she was the most brilliant person ever. Only Adore looked uncomfortable. Or cold. She was biting her nails with her arms pulled in close to her body, and she had pulled the sleeves of the jersey over her palms and was acting very much like a small person lost in a very big place. And I felt way too big for this small coffee shop. I wish we could have switched places.

When no one said anything for a while, Zabeth chimed in with even more unnecessary information. "You know, her sister's getting married," she said.

"Oh, yeah, I heard," Cobalt replied. "She seems a little bitter about it." He looked fairly amused, but I was appalled.

My worst fears were confirmed! I can't believe he heard all of that! I was never going to live this down.

"Oh, then you know about the challenge too?" Zabeth asked. Cobalt nodded.

"Yeah. That's an interesting idea. You should tell me how that goes…when I ever see you after tomorrow," Cobalt said. He looked over at me again, and I tried my best to smile while I prayed for Zabeth to end this conversation so that the humiliation would stop. But Zabeth had no such intentions.

"Actually, that was something I was hoping to get your help on, to be honest," Zabeth said, leaning back on her chair and crossing her legs like she was about to offer up a prime deal. Cobalt folded his arms together, narrowing his eyes so that it looked like he was concentrating deeply. "It would be far too easy for her to win the bet if she just stayed in her room all day. And there would be no sense in challenging her if I knew she was going to win." Cobalt nodded, starting to smile. "This is where you come in. Perhaps if she went out…"

"…with me, I suppose?" Cobalt finished. I thought he was just continuing Zabeth's line of thought, but when I looked up, he was actually staring at me with raised eyebrows. And then I realized that it wasn't just some rhetorical statement. It was a question directed at me.

"Wha-?" I asked eloquently. Cobalt wanted to go out with me? He meant as friends, right? Just as friends. I couldn't possibly expect more than that from him. Right?

"You do know I heard what you said about me just a little while ago," he reminded me. My eyes widened in terror. He totally heard the part where I admitted to having a crush on him. Oh no. Oh no, no, no.

"Well, then it's all good. I'm glad we understand each other," Zabeth replied, catching Cobalt's eyes and smirking. He smirked right back.

"So, this is tomorrow?" he asked. Zabeth nodded.

"You can pick her up at any time you wish and she's yours for as long as you want her," she replied. I gaped at her. First of all, when did she become my mother? Second of all, did that sentence have two meanings or was I just imagining things?

"That sounds good," Cobalt said.

"Then I'll Facebook you her address and stuff. You're not on my friends' list yet, but I'm sure you'll be easy to find with a name like Cobalt," Zabeth said. My crush nodded with a grin, and the two exchanged a handshake as if they had just concluded some important business deal. Meanwhile, I was still in complete shock. Even when Cobalt and his sister said their good-byes and left the small café, I couldn't shake off the weird feeling that I had just handed a big chunk of my freedom over to a person I really shouldn't trust.

"Why, that was surprisingly easy," Zabeth remarked, and I gave her an expression of complete bewilderment. "Oh, don't look at me like that. Just wait till tomorrow. You'll be so excited that you'll be screaming my praise in the morning. Silently, of course." I smiled shakily, and Zabeth finished up the last of her coffee, content about her accomplishment. I, on the other hand, had completely lost my appetite.

Screaming her praises? Not likely.


The next day, I was The Disaster Trapped in a Nervous Body. It was a good thing that I had agreed to stay silent and was intent on keeping my promise, because otherwise I would have been yelling enough profanities to coat our school's bathroom walls ten times over.

To keep me from cheating, Zabeth had provided me with a recording device that I was supposed to wear around my neck the entire day. It was what she used for interviews at all the anime conventions she attended, and it would pick up anything I said even if I whispered. As long as I kept it under my shirt, no actual words were distinguishable, so my date with Cobalt would be private enough. But my indistinguishable words would be recorded in high volume, which Zabeth told me she could easily scan out using her fancy recording software. And if the recording was too short (a.k.a. I turned it off), I was automatically the loser of the bet.

All this for one of her mangas. Seriously, that girl was obsessed.

Anyway, Zabeth further managed to increase my panic in the course of the morning by sending me a Youtube link through Facebook Chat, and when I opened it up to a see a small snippet of video from The Little Mermaid, I was not amused.

Ariel could do it! So can you! she wrote. I failed to see the encouragement in those words. Sure Ariel traded her voice for legs so that she could meet up with her version of Prince Charming. But he had nearly married the wrong girl and then both of them had been nearly killed by a gigantic octopus-woman and a nasty sea storm. And the only reason Ariel got to stay with Eric in the end was because her dad performed some sea-king magic, and by that time she had her voice back too.

See my point? That was the most unhelpful comparison ever.

After that episode early in the morning, I spent the rest of the day silently fretting over what I would be doing with Cobalt, and how I should dress for it. Zabeth hadn't told me any details about when Cobalt was coming around, and I had two fears about the situation. The first was that he wouldn't show up at all, that the whole incident yesterday had been some sort of deception and that not only would I be seriously disappointed, but he and the rest of the student body would make fun of me for the rest of my school life for actually believing he was going to take me out. The second was that he was going to surprise me randomly in the middle of day, before I had enough time to prepare for the date.

Either way, I was screwed. Or so I thought. It turned out that those fears stemmed from how I expected to be treated by Kevin, who often forgot about our dates, to the amusement of everyone in school who heard about it later, or showed up way too late or way too early.

Cobalt was nothing like that, as I learned a few hours later when he called, letting me know that he would come by in half an hour, giving me plenty of time to prepare. Zabeth had already given him my house address with my phone number, so he assured me he knew the directions and would try to allow me as much time as possible without being excessively tardy. Of course, all this he offered without any requests on my part, since I wasn't allowed to speak. Even without the challenge hanging over me, I think I would have still been reduced to speechlessness at his kindness. And now, at least the being prepared part was taken care of.

Now…for what we would be actually doing. Cobalt had sounded pretty confident on the phone, so I assumed he had already made plans for the day. I didn't actually figure out until forty minutes later, when I was sitting in his car and he was asking me what I wanted to do (which I replied with a zipping-up-my-mouth gesture), that I realized I was wrong.

"Oh, right, I almost forgot about that," Cobalt said, shifting the gear into drive and pulling away from the house. I folded my hands in my lap and stared at them. I was in a car with my latest crush, a day after getting dumped (and apparently not really being torn up about it) by my first (ex) boyfriend, and I couldn't say anything. Not that I didn't have things to say. It's just…I couldn't say them!

Darn Zabeth!

"Nice dress, by the way," Cobalt commented. I turned his direction and smiled. I would have liked to say thanks like a normal person, but obviously I couldn't. "So, we ought to figure out what to do, huh?"

I nodded exaggeratedly so that he could see it out of the corner of his eye as he drove. Cobalt stayed silent for a little while, obviously brainstorming. I should have been helping him, but all I could concentrate on was the way he steadied the steering wheel with his left arm propped up on the door, his right arm loosely positioned on the gearshift between us. His brown hair was combed back neatly from his face, and his gray eyes kept careful watch on the road. The light from the sun was cut in half by the visor in front of him, so that his face and neck lay in shadow while his blue shirt glowed in the light. The contrast was so beautiful. It almost made me forget that we were in an old, beat up car and that he was wearing just a t-shirt and worn out jeans.

Maybe he knew I was starting to study the value of his belongings, for he awkwardly cleared his throat. "I hope you don't mind if we don't do anything fancy. Money is kind of tight in the family right now."

I didn't know what gesture to make to convey oh-don't-worry-about-it in a sympathetic way. A shrug seemed too apathetic. A pity smile seemed too tragic. Gah, this was so frustrating! I couldn't even mouth anything because he couldn't look at me.

The only good thing though was that Cobalt naturally didn't expect a verbal response from me, and he was paying more attention to driving than reading my nonverbal signals. I think I managed to get by without doing anything.

A few minutes later, we pulled up at the dollar theatre. The next few hours were spent watching two movies, something that both of us could do in silence without it being awkward. I really don't remember many details about those movies. However, I have a much stronger memory of how warm Cobalt's arm was around me and how natural it felt to share a tub of popcorn with him while he whispered comments about the movies in my ear.

By the time we left the theatre, the blazing sun had sunk significantly lower and the heat was starting to dissipate in the evening breeze. On the way back to the car, we discussed other activities that could be enjoyed in silence. Or, actually, Cobalt pondered aloud while I listened, shaking my head at most of his suggestions. A sit-down dinner would be too awkward in silence. We had just eaten popcorn and weren't hungry for anything anyway. Everything else was either too expensive, too boring, too awkward to do in silence, or any combination of the above. Zabeth's bet was starting to become more of a pain that I had first imagined it would be.

"This really sucks," Cobalt announced when it had been a full five minutes since his last idea. I nodded, crossing my arms and leaning against the back door of the car. Cobalt was pacing in the parking spot next to us, and my head turned to follow his back and forth motion. He finally stopped walking and turned to me. I lowered my head and stared my hands, suddenly shy when his gaze was fixed upon me.

"I really can't think of anything else to do that wouldn't involve some type of talking," he declared. "It's pretty ironic, actually. I've been waiting to take you out for so long, and now that I can, there's this problem."

My head snapped up at his words. Cobalt wasn't looking at me. He was staring off into the distance, probably in one last attempt to come up with something. He then noticed my incredulous glance.

"Yeah, you heard me right," he said, grinning as he scratched the back of his neck with one hand. "I've been wanting to ask you out ever since…every since…well, I can't remember. But I knew you had a boyfriend at another school and even though I heard around that you two seemed shaky, I didn't want to be the cause of your break-up or anything so I held back."

Cobalt studied me, trying to figure out the expression on my face. Not that he needed to try very hard. I was pretty sure my blatant shock was really obvious, what with the jaw-hanging open and the eyes-opened-really-wide and the body-frozen-in-position clues that I was giving him.

So, this entire time, my crush had been crushing on me? What? But he was the most popular guy in the school, and I was your every-day student with a decent size group of friends. Then again, Cobalt was different than the way my older sister painted popular people to be. He wasn't rich. He didn't have a girlfriend most of the year and was comfortable with that. He was interested in someone like me, someone who wasn't part of his usual crowd.

Oh, I liked Cobalt so much! I gave him the best smile I could, hoping he could read from that what I was dying to say out loud. Just then, he met my gaze, giving me a rapidly expanding smirk. I wondered what he had suddenly thought of.

"You know, since we're not really planning on going anywhere else for the night, I came up with something that we can do right here, without either of us having to say a single word." I didn't miss the suggestiveness in Cobalt's tone, or the way he slipped his hands casually in his pockets as he sauntered closer to me. I instinctively flattened myself against the car door, but not without sending a flirty smile his way.

The next thing I knew, Cobalt was reaching out and grabbing my shoulders, pulling me away from the car and towards him. I gasped and bit my lips to keep myself from saying anything. There was little need. Only a second later, my crush's lips were on mine, and I couldn't have formed any words if I had even wanted to.

Cobalt's lips were soft and warm and inviting. I pressed closer to him, savoring his touch as his hands drifted down to my lower back, gripping me tightly even though there was no room for us to get any closer. When he noticed this, he proceeded to press harder against my lips, and I opened my mouth to let him move closer. His tongue brushed over mine, and I tasted the pink lemonade he had brought to quench the thirst from the popcorn. But that thought soon vanished when Cobalt's hand grabbed the back of my neck, and as my mouth opened wider, I lost all track of my senses.

It wasn't until later, when we had both stopped for some air, that I remembered the recording device Zabeth had given me. We had somehow fallen backwards onto the ground, perpendicular to the empty parking space (thankfully, Cobalt had parked on the side of the theatre, in the lot that no one used). He was now lying on top of me, his open mouth sending hot puffs of air across my neck as he lay with his head above my shoulder. His right hand was playing with the straps of my dress, causing me to shiver with delight as his fingers brushed lower towards my breasts and between them. Then, he felt the recorder.

"What is this?" he asked hoarsely, reaching underneath the fabric (as I gasped) to pull out the little device. As soon as he saw it, he rolled his eyes, dropping it back inside.

"I thought you were wearing a necklace or something. I didn't know Zabeth was that insane." His hand came down to rest upon my chest. My breathing quickened, and I gave a slight giggle at his expression.

The bet. I forgot, I mouthed. Cobalt pursed his lips.

"Come to think of it, I almost could have forgotten about it too. Except for the fact that you couldn't say anything today. On our next date, we better not have that issue."

I raised my eyebrows. Next date?

"Yeah, you heard me right," Cobalt said. "Next date." He pressed his lips lightly against my cheek, brushing his nose against my ear. "I didn't wait all this time for just one evening with you." He grinned, and I turned my head to the side so I could meet his gaze as I grinned back.

Then, putting on my best seductive smile, I curled my fingers together in front of Cobalt's face to invite him in for another kiss.