As holidays go, Christmas break definitely hadn’t been the most exciting. I’d spent most of my time with Lucy and Alex, who, to my dismay, were becoming increasingly more irritating.
It was only two days before Christmas Day, and they were at each other’s throats yet again for some insignificant thing Alex had brought up, when it happened: the moment I realized why Alex dogged Lucy constantly, despite her wishes to be left alone.
“Alex!” Lucy was yelling, exasperated. “Can’t you just leave it? Why does it matter?”
“It’s not that it matters –”
“Then leave it alone!”
“Well, stop bringing it up every five minutes!”
“Me?” she screamed. “You’re the one obsessed with who I’m dating!”
“I am not obsessed,” Alex retorted, shrinking back slightly. “I – I just don’t – don’t want…”
“Don’t want what?” she cried, raising her eyebrows.
“Nothing,” he said quickly.
“Don’t start saying that, and then not carry on!”
It was exactly then, that it hit me.
“Oh, my God.”
They both turned to look at me, surprise registered across their faces – they’d forgotten I was even there.
“What?” they snapped simultaneously. Alex looked slightly nervous.
“You – Alex… oh my God!”
Alex was viciously shaking his head at me, his eyes wide and pleading, confirming my suspicions. Alex liked Lucy.
“Oh – nothing, sorry.”
“Carter, could you give us a minute, please?”
“Sure,” I said. “It’s not like this is my house, or anything.”
“Thanks, I knew you’d understand,” she responded, oblivious to my sarcasm.
I grabbed a jacket and headed out, not interested in their argument. But Alex liking Lucy; that made sense. It was crazy how much sense it actually made.
Happy with my discovery, I didn’t realize where, exactly, I was going. Which was a mistake, because I found myself precisely where I really didn’t want to be: the park.
And I would have turned around and left, as fast as I could, except there was a somewhat familiar figure perched on one of the swings, rocking back and forth slowly.
My stomach lurched. What was he doing here?
He looked up then, and though he was a fair distance away from me, I felt our eyes lock. It shook me out of my frozen state. I told my feet to stop, to turn around, but no – they marched me straight towards him, almost aggressively.
His eyes widened slightly as I approached.
“Hi,” he said, casual as ever.
“Long time, no see, right?”
“Yes.” My short answer seemed to provoke something inside of him, as he stood up and looked at me carefully.
“I actually don’t want to hear it,” I interrupted, surprising myself, as well as Quinn.
“But it might be good,” he replied, stepping closer to me.
“Obviously not good enough to mention before, though.”
“You’re pissed.” He breathed out, running a hand through his messy hair. Why did he have to look so good doing that?
“I’m not pissed.”
“Well, it’s your fault,” I accused. Nice one, Carter. Really mature.
He inched even closer in front of me, our bodies almost touching. I wanted to close the gap, feel his body heat, breathe in his intoxicating smell.
“It’s my birthday tomorrow,” I whispered, without thinking. He smirked, now knowing exactly what his close presence was doing to me.
“Is it, really?” How did he have a way of making the simplest sentences sound good?