Chapter 26 The sushi and the grilled eels

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Flora glided in the student lounge with flair.

We had agreed to meet after school again on Monday, and after waiting for almost twenty minutes she finally showed up. Her long dark hair was pulled back in a high ponytail, showing off the large bronze earrings that dangled from her ears. The faint sparkle of the crystal immediately brought me back to last Christmas when we were still together. Flashbacks of laughing in the snow, hand-holding in the ice-skating rink and drinking endless mugs of hot chocolate piled on top one by one.

"Nice earrings," I said.

"Yes," she said, her tone matching my Christmas memories. Frozen. "Someone who used to matter gave it to me."

Ouch. I glanced at her outfit, which was a dress several inches too short and closer to cocktail party than studying session. She was probably going on a date again later, with someone who mattered more than me, which was of course none of my business. I don't care.

"Are you going somewhere after this?"

"No, I'm all yours." She pulled out a chair next to me. The end of her hair swung in front of my face as she sat down.

I inched away. I was a sucker for long glossy hair and I didn't want to be distracted. "Janet said you studied at her place last night."

"That's right. I was so afraid of wasting your time. I wouldn't dream of disappointing you." She dumped the folder she had been holding in her hand on the table with an angry thud, then she took out a typed document and shoved it in my face. "Here, have a read."

It was several pages long. She had typed out the outline of our paper, completed with footnotes and references. Some of the paragraphs had been highlighted. It looked like something that would take hours to complete.

"Wow, this is really impressive. You did this in one night?" Flora could be amazing if she wanted to. She was usually very laid-back, but if provoked she got all competitive. I thought she was charming that way. "I hope you didn't stay up too late for this."

"What do you care? The point is, I come fully prepared this time and I can hold a discussion properly, so you can quit acting like you're my tutor or something."

She seemed really mad. I should just apologize. "I'm sorry if I offended you yesterday."

"You offended me, all right. I just thought we can discuss what to do first, and I can focus my energy on studying about stuff that we'll actually use, but you treated me like a parasite." Her hazel eyes flashed with malice. "And by the way, history is not rocket science, it's not even hard. I don't know how you can be so arrogant."

"I was just really tired yesterday, and I don't function well in the morning without coffee. I'm sorry I said some stupid things." I chose my words carefully.

"You were practically sexist. You basically said all I can do is party, date and wear something hot." She pulled my history textbook over to her side and flipped it open. I knew Flora always had the ridiculous paranoia of me viewing her as a pretty airhead.

"Come on, that was taken out of context. You know I don't really think that. I'm really sorry."

"Whatever." She shrugged, flipping through the pages until she found what she wanted. She dove her nose in the book and ignored me. I tried reading the document she handed to me, but it was hard, knowing she was sulking.

I jabbed at her forearm lightly with the end of my pen.

"Are you going to forgive me? With that much hostility directed at me, I really can't read anything," I said in a low voice. "Don't be mad. Please?"

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