“For the record,” he says, “I wasn’t the one with the issue yesterday.”

I pull him harder, more out of malice than a desire to help him stretch.

“Are you insinuating I’m the one with the issue?”

“Aren’t you?”

“Clarify,” I say. “I don’t like vague.”

He laughs, but it’s an irritable laugh. “Sky, if there’s one thing you should know about me, it’s that I don’t do vague. I told you I’ll only ever be honest with you, and to me, vague is the same thing as dishonesty.” He pulls my hands forward and leans back.

“That’s a pretty vague answer you just gave me,” I point out.

“I was never asked a question. I’ve told you before, if you want to know something, just ask. You seem to think you know me, yet you’ve never actually asked me anything yourself.”

“I don’t know you.”

He laughs again and shakes his head, then releases my hands. “Forget it.” He stands up and starts walking away.

“Wait.” I pull myself up from the concrete and follow him. If anyone has the right to be angry here, it’s me. “What did I say? I don’t know you. Why are you getting all pissy with me again?”

He stops walking and turns around, then takes a couple of steps toward me. “I guess after spending time with you over the last few days, I thought I’d get a slightly different reaction from you at school. I’ve given you plenty of opportunity to ask me whatever you want to ask me, but for some reason you want to believe everything you hear, despite the fact that you never heard any of it from me. And coming from someone with her own share of rumors, I figured you’d be a little less judgmental.”

My own share of rumors? If he thinks he’s going to win points by having something in common with me, he’s dead wrong.

“So that’s what this is about? You thought the slutty new girl would be sympathetic to the gay-bashing asshole?”

He groans and runs his hands through his hair, frustrated. “Don’t do that, Sky.”

“Don’t do what? Call you a gay-bashing asshole? Okay. Let’s practice this honesty policy of yours. Did you or did you not beat up that student last year so badly that you spent a year in juvenile detention?”

He puts his hands on his hips and shakes his head, then looks at me with what seems like disappointment in his expression.

“When I said don’t do that, I wasn’t referring to you insulting me. I was referring to you insulting yourself.” He takes a step forward, closing the gap between us. “And yes. I beat his ass to within an inch of his life, and if the bastard was standing in front of me right now, I’d do it again.”

His eyes are filled with pure anger and I’m too scared to even ask him why or what it’s about. He may have said he’d be honest about it…but his answers terrify me more than asking the questions. I take a step back at the same time he does. We’re both quiet and I’m wondering how we even got to this point.

“I don’t want to run with you today,” I say.

“I don’t really feel like running with you, either.”

With that, we both turn in opposite directions. Him toward his house, me toward my window. I don’t even feel like running alone, today.

I climb back in my window just as the rain starts pouring from the sky, and for a second, I feel sorry for him that he still has to run home. But only for a second, because Karma’s a bitch, and Holder is definitely who she’s retaliating against right now. I close the window and walk to my bed. My heart is racing as fast as if I had just ran the three miles. Except right now it’s racing because I’m so incredibly pissed.

I met the guy a couple of days ago, yet I’ve never argued more with anyone in my entire life. I could add up all the arguments Six and I have had over the last four years, and it wouldn’t begin to compare to the last forty-eight hours with Holder. I don’t even know why he even bothers. I guess after this morning, he more than likely won’t.

I pick the envelope up from my nightstand and tear it open. I pull Six’s letter out and lean back on my pillow and read it, just hoping to escape from the chaos in my head.

Sky,

Hopefully by the time you’re reading this (because I know you won’t read it right away) I’ll be madly in love with a hot Italian boyfriend and not thinking about you at all.

But I know that isn’t the case, because I’ll be thinking about you all the time.

I’ll be thinking about all the nights we stayed up with our ice cream and our movies and our boys. But mostly, I’ll be thinking about you, and all the reasons why I love you.

Just to name a few: I love how you suck at goodbyes and feelings and emotions, because I do, too. I love how you always scoop from the strawberry and vanilla side of the ice cream because you know how much I love the chocolate, even though you love it, too. I love how you aren’t weird and awkward, despite the fact that you’ve been severely cut off from socialization to the point where you make the Amish look trendy.

But most of all, I love that you don’t judge me. I love that in the past four years, you’ve never once questioned me about my choices (as poor as they may be) or the guys I’ve been with or the fact that I don’t believe in commitment. I would say that it’s simple for you not to judge me, because you’re a dirty slut, too. But we both know you’re not. So thank you for being a non-judgmental friend. Thank you for never being condescending or treating me like you’re better than me (even though we both know you are.) As much as I can laugh about the things people say about us behind our backs, it kills me that they say these things about you, too. For that, I’m sorry. But not too sorry, because I know if you were given the choice to either be my slutty best friend or be the girl with the good reputation, you’d screw every guy in the world. Because you love me that much. And I’d let you, because I love you that much.

And one more thing I love about you, then I’ll shut up because I’m only six feet away writing this letter right now and it’s really hard to not climb out my window and come squeeze you.

I love your indifference. I love how you really just don’t give a shit what people think. I love how you are focused on your future and everyone else can kiss your ass. I love how, when I told you I was leaving for Italy after talking you into enrolling at my school, you just smiled and shrugged your shoulders even though it would have torn most best friends apart. I left you hanging to follow my dream, and you didn’t let it eat you up. You didn’t even give me crap about it.

I love how (last one, I swear) when we watched The Forces of Nature and Sandra Bullock walked away in the end and I was screaming at the TV for such an ugly ending, you just shrugged your shoulders and said, “It’s real, Six. You can’t get mad at a real ending. Some of them are ugly. It’s the fake happily ever afters that should piss you off.”

I’ll never forget that, because you were right. And I know you weren’t trying to teach me a lesson, but you did. Not everything is going to go my way and not everyone gets a happily ever after. Life is real and sometimes it’s ugly and you just have to learn how to cope. I’m going to accept it with a dose of your indifference, and move on.

So, anyway. Enough about that. I just want you to know that I’ll miss you and this new very best friend ever in the whole wide world at school better back off when I get home in six months. I hope you realize how amazing you are, but in case you don’t, I’m going to text you every single day to remind you. Prepare to be bombarded for the next six months with endless annoying texts of nothing but positive affirmations about Sky.

I love you,

6

I fold the letter up and smile, but I don’t cry. She wouldn’t expect me to cry over it, no matter how much she might have just made me want to. I reach over to the nightstand and take the cell phone she gave me out of the drawer. I already have two missed text messages.

Have I told you lately how awesome you are? Missing you.

It’s day two, you better text me back. I need to tell you about Lorenzo. Also, you’re sickeningly smart.

I smile and text her back. It takes me about five tries before I figure it out. I’m almost eighteen and this is the first text I’ve ever sent? This has to be one for Guinness.

I can get used to these daily positive affirmations. Make sure to remind me of how beautiful I am, and how I have the most impeccable taste in music, and how I’m the fastest runner in the world. (Just a few ideas to get you started.) I miss you, too. And I can’t wait to hear about Lorenzo, you slut.

Friday, August, 31st, 2012 11:20 a.m.

The next few days at school are the same as the first two. Full of drama. My locker seems to have become the hub for sticky notes and nasty letters, none of which I ever see actually being placed on or in my locker. I really don’t get what people gain out of doing things like this if they don’t even own up to it. Like the note that was stuck to my locker this morning. All it said was, “Whore.”

Really? Where’s the creativity in that? They couldn’t back it up with an interesting story? Maybe a few details of my indiscretion? If I have to read this shit every day, the least they could do is make it interesting. If I was going to stoop so low as to leave an unfounded note on someone’s locker, I’d at least have the courtesy of entertaining whoever reads it in the process. I’d write something interesting like, “I saw you in bed with my boyfriend last night. I really don’t appreciate you getting massage oil on my cucumbers. Whore.”

I laugh and it feels odd, laughing out loud at my own thoughts. I look around and no one is left in the hallway but me. Rather than rip the sticky notes off of my locker like I probably should, I take out my pen and make them a little more creative. You’re welcome, passersby.

Breckin sets his tray down across from mine. We’ve been getting our own trays now, since he seems to think I want nothing but salad. He smiles at me like he’s got a secret that he knows I want. If it’s another rumor, I’ll pass.

“How were track tryouts yesterday?” he asks.

I shrug. “I didn’t go.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Then why’d you ask?”

He laughs. “Because I like to clarify things with you before I believe them. Why didn’t you go?”

I shrug again.

“What’s with the shoulder shrugs? You have a nervous tic?”

I shrug. “I just don’t feel like being a part of a team with anyone here. It’s lost its appeal.”

He frowns. “First of all, track is one of the most individual sports you can join. Second, I thought you said extracurricular activities were the reason you were here.”

“I don’t know why I’m here,” I say. “Maybe I feel like I need to witness a good dose of human nature at its worst before I enter the real world. It’ll be less of a shock.”

He points a celery stick at me and cocks his eyebrow. “This is true. A gradual introduction to the perils of society will help cushion the blow. We can’t release you alone into the wild when you’ve been pampered in a zoo your whole life.”


Tags: Colleen Hoover Hopeless Romance
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