Rule Number 4: The Dating Clause

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 It took me ten minutes, give or take, to figure out what it was. As soon as I got it I tore my eyes away from the screen and looked at the girl beside me.

  “What?” She stared at me over her knees. Her eyes were only half-focused, like i'd just pulled her back into reality.

 I shook my head as if it were nothing. Truth was, I'd just realized she lied to me. Her room was on the second floor, and I was in the basement, which I'm pretty sure is soundproof. More than pretty sure, actually, since Carter's only told me that fun fact seven or eight billion times. There was no way I woke her up.

 “Never mind.” I wasn't going to make a big deal about it. If I asked her what she was doing awake, she would ask me what I was doing awake, and I didn't really want to get into that. It would have to be left up to my imagination. Carter had mentioned earlier that she had a problem with nightmares, so it probably had something to do with that. Not that I was Sherlock Holmes or anything, but I'm good at math; when it comes to putting two and two together, I can usually come up with a solid answer.

 An hour later, the credits were rolling and Eliza and I sat in silence, letting Commissioner Gordon's final lines simmer around us. That movie has an unbelievably awesome ending. Almost as awesome as the rest of it.  She stood up first, but she didn't leave. It was too dark to see her clearly, but I was pretty sure she was looking right at me. I had that stirring sensation in my knees, like I do whenever she has her eyes on me.

 "Thanks," she said, after the DVD player turned itself off and we were encased in complete and utter silence. If it had been any other time, I would have thought it was eerie, sitting there in the O'Connors' basement in the dead middle of the night. It would have seemed like something from the Twilight Zone was about to happen. But right then, at that moment, it didn't seem spooky or weird at all. In fact, I was feeling more comfortable and relaxed than I had in a long time.

 "What for?"

 "Not asking," Eliza replied, so softly I could barely hear her. I felt a slight twinge in my stomach. She meant not asking why she'd come to watch the movie with me. So she knew I knew she'd lied. It was amazing, really, that so much could happen in so few words.

  I let out a gentle cough, clearing my throat so the words would come out. "Anytime."

 Eliza paused as if she were figuring out what she wanted to say next. "You're a good guy, Nick." She moved to sit on the couch cushion adjacent to mine. She was close enough that I could see her again, and the expression on her face made me think she really meant that.

  "I get that a lot." The corners of my mouth twitched into my signature, joking grin.

 She laughed lightly. "Wow, that was a good one. Real knee-slapper right there."

 "Hey." I cocked my eyebrow in feigned defense. "It's true."

  "Sure." She continued with the sarcasm. "And my name is Marilyn Monroe."

 My mouth formed an 'O' as I pretended to be surprised. "It's not? Oh. I thought it was. You look just like her. My bad."

  "You are such a flirt." Eliza rolled her eyes, but she was still smiling so I knew she didn't mind it.

  "I was just stating a fact. You're the one reading into it." I sent her a teasing wink. "But I'm not gonna deny it."

 "Good. That would be lying." She paused for a moment as if something had just occurred to her. “You tired yet?”

 I shook my head. “Nope. You?”

 Eliza put her hands between her knees like she was trying to hold in some kind of built up energy. “Same.” She looked at me and I looked right back at her. “I’ll put the game in,” she said.

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