Ki$$ & $ell: Chapter Twenty-Four

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Chapter Twenty-Four

“You did all of this?” Ryder asked in awe.

            We were standing just inside the gymnasium after handing our tickets to a few freshman Bree had suckered into working the door. Ryder looked around the room, taking in the different decorations and pointing out all the things he saw that fit our theme. He seemed impressed and excited and happy all at once. It was really cute.

            “I didn’t do it all myself,” I said. “But yeah, I helped put it together. You don’t think it’s too cheesy?”

            “Are you kidding? This is more elaborate than P Diddy’s after-party.”

            I was grateful for the dim lighting, because I was blushing so hard from his compliment that I could have doubled as one of the Chinese lanterns we’d hung from the ceiling.

            “Well, I hope everyone else feels the same way,” I said.

            And for the most part, everyone did seem to be having a good time. Music was blaring from speakers that had been set up around the room. On top of that, a lively chatter served as background noise to the party atmosphere. A hundred people were already inside, gyrating on the dance floor, lounging around tables and snacking on food, and at least fifty more were lined up outside waiting to get in. Based on the smiles on everyone’s faces, I’d say we’d planned a pretty great party.

            “I don’t think you need to worry about that,” Ryder agreed.

            We watched as a group of kids standing nearby, exploded into laughter, and then posed for a few selfies. Two of the girls pressed their cheeks together and made kissy faces at the camera. I started to smile but felt it fade as I was reminded that my friends and I weren’t doing the same. The sadness came flooding back.

            “Do you want to find them?” Ryder asked, reading my mind. “Your friends? Maybe they’re waiting for you somewhere in here.”

            “I doubt it,” I said, frowning. Then, I forced a smile. After all, I was here with my dream guy. “I’ll let ’em cool down for a while. You want to go find a seat?”

            “Sure,” Ryder said.

            We walked toward the far right corner of the dance floor and snagged an empty table. I placed my purse on the tabletop and sat down, overly conscious of how short my dress was when I did so. Crossing my legs tightly together, I sat up straighter as Ryder filled the chair beside me. Then he scooted his seat closer to mine and leaned in so we could talk.

            Or did he want to be closer to me?

            “So, what are you supposed to do at these things? Do we sit on the sidelines and make fun of all the people dancing, because we’re too cool for it all? Or do we get out there and break out a choreographed dance like they do in the movies?” he asked, mischievously.

            He was so close to me that I could smell the clean scent of his shampoo. I had a strong desire to lay my head on his shoulder and stay there for the rest of the night. Who cares if other people thought we were lame? Of course, that wouldn’t have really been fair to Ryder. He’d come because he wanted the classic school dance experience. And he wouldn’t get that sitting in the corner with me. Still, I wasn’t exactly ready for Dancing with the Stars just yet, so any fancy footwork was out of the question.

            “Well, since we didn’t practice any eight counts before we came, I think that doing an elaborate dance number is out,” I answered, with a laugh. “And as for making fun of people…I think that’ll be kind of hard to do when everyone’s staring at us.”

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