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Pen Your Pride


Marcy's was our town's favorite seafood and burger shack. I had been there so many times with Nicole during our first year as a couple. It had an outdoor deck, overlooking the Ohio River which was really cool. But when Ricky's, a cooler version of Marcy's, opened last year, Nicole and I, with the rest of the school's population, ditched the place.

I parked my car in an almost empty parking lot and grabbed my backpack from the back and got out.

I looked around for Sam's grouchy face as soon as I arrived. There were only a few customers that afternoon, and it didn't take long for me to figure out that Sam hadn't come yet.

How could she set the place and the time and then come late?

I walked over to a table in a corner and let out an annoyed sigh as I sat down. Glancing at my watch, my patience slimmed down. It was still four-fifteen, and it was already a bit chilly for October.

"Hi, Aaron." A redhead smiled at me, a pen and a notepad in her hands.

It felt weird that she knew my name when I didn't know hers. I read her name tag and faked a smile. One should never annoy a food server. They could put anything disgusting in your food. They seriously have the capability to poison you.

"Hello, Carla," I greeted, "Chilli wings and bottled water for me please."

"Sure. Anything else?"

"That'll be all for now," I said politely. She smiled again before leaving. Creepy.

I looked around and noticed that most of the customers there were either reading a book or doing something on their laptops. No wonder Sam chose Marcy's. The place had become a hub for people like her.

"I know I'm late so shut up." Sam's arrival broke the silence in my table. I looked up at her. She frowned as she took the seat opposite me.

"And why?"

She blew a few strands of her hair that was covering her face. She looked a mess, hair sticking in different directions and bags under her eyes. "I walked. Thanks to your psychotic girlfriend."

I grabbed my bag and pulled out my copy of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.

I wanted to do really good this time. But Sam's current state just bothered me. "Couldn't you at least brush your hair?"

She slammed her book and glowered at me. "Does it really bother you? Would you really understand Jane Austen if I came here brushed up and looking pretty? Do you really think my awful look right now would affect your brain's functionality?"

She was clearly pissed. But why would she throw a fit at me? I wasn't the one who messed up her ride. "Listen, I know you hate me, Banks, and the feeling is entirely mutual, but you don't really have a choice here."

"With your threats, clearly I don't," she replied indignantly.

"You don't really shut up, do you?"

"It depends. I am an advocate for freedom of speech."

"Funny. You kind of forgot about that when I kissed you, though," I said. I noticed how here lashes fluttered briefly. I knew I hit a spot. "You were... speechless."

"Listen, Lanter, your revolting tongue rudely invaded my mouth." Her brows knitted as her slim fingers clasped her book tightly. I couldn't tell if she was planning on hitting me with it. But with her, anything could happen.

I answered her annoyance with a teasing smile. And before I could respond to her allegation, I felt two hands touched my shoulders.

"Hi, babe." Nicole kissed my cheek and took the seat beside me. "I almost forgot you're meeting with this thing." She pointed at Sam.

Sam narrowed her eyes. "I will pretend that you are not here."

Nicole's jaw tightened. "If you think you won just because you made me pay for your stupid bicycle, you're wrong. I was just getting started."

I glanced at my watch. I wasted enough time already for nothing. "Look, I can't sit here and listen to both of you hate on each other. My dad's not gonna be happy if I don't report anything to him tonight."

It was true. My father wanted me to report my progress to him on a daily basis while he's away, and knowing him, there was just no point in protesting.

"You heard my boyfriend, rat. Get your pen and start working on his assignment. Make yourself useful." Nicole ordered.

Whatever Sam was about to say was interrupted by a call from my mobile phone. When I saw that it was dad calling, I answered it right away.

"Hi, dad."

"Where are you?" His voice was stern. As usual, he wasn't really that happy to talk to me. But, seriously, why would he even bother calling?

"I'm with, Ms. Banks. You know, tutoring thing." I told him casually.

"Good. Change of plan, Aaron. I won't be coming tomorrow." I was already grinning. "And your grandma won't be either. Your Aunt Elsa has convinced her to celebrate her birthday on Saturday in Las Vegas."

"Okay, cool."

"You will take the first flight on Saturday morning."

"Okay, I will."

"And take Ms. Banks with you."

I almost dropped my phone. "Wait, what?"

"I know you heard me, Aaron." My dad was right. I heard him. I just couldn't believe what he was asking me. Take Sam with me? To Las Vegas? He was clearly out of his mind.

"Alright, dad. I'll ask her if she wants to come." I looked at Sam who was busy scribbling something on her notebook.

"Are you going to Vegas, babe?" Nicole whispered excitedly. I could only imagine her rage as soon as I told her she won't be coming. I couldn't really take her even if I wanted to.

My grandmother wasn't particularly fond of her and her cheerleader image. "She's bossy and selfish, Aaron." I remembered her telling me right after I had introduced Nicole to her.

"Tell her I invited her." I heard the other line clicked even before I could say goodbye back to him. I sighed and stared at the phone in my hand.

"Babe? What did your dad say? Tell me. What?" Nicole asked impatiently. "Vegas on Saturday?"


She giggled and kissed my cheeks enthusiastically.

"I can't take you."

Nicole's happy face faded as suddenly as it came. "Excuse me?"

"He wants me to take her instead." I nodded it Sam's direction.

"What?!" Sam and Nicole exclaimed in unison.

I shot Sam a displeased look. She and Nicole had to understand that I was completely against it. Looking at my poor girlfriend's reaction, I knew I was in trouble.

Nicole wasn't a reasonable person. Although the decision to take Sam didn't come from me, I knew she would still blame me. I couldn't actually tell her that she quite made a negative impression when she first met my grandmother. It would break her heart. Maybe.

"You gotta be fucking kidding me!" She blurted.

"I know. I'm sorry, babe."

"Fuck your sorry. You didn't even fight for me." She turned and pointed angrily at Sam. "And fuck you, rat!" She stood up and stormed out.

Sam shook her head. "Psycho."

"Shut up, Banks." I gathered my things and hurriedly went after Nicole before she could murder anyone.    

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