eighteen

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E I G H T E E N

The most important thing about friendship was that it took time. When I met Issa, Veronica, and Becca, we weren't instantly the tight-knit friends who we came to be, but after a month we pretty much knew everything we thought there was to know about each other. Of course, now that I was in the position I was in, I realized that somehow, she had managed to hide her whole medical past to the three of us so we didn't exactly know everything. Regardless, after time, we began to trust each other and soon everything else just fell into place. My trust in throwing myself into friendships was quite impaired ever since Issa up and left us, meaning now it took a lot more time, especially for a lot more people.

So after seven months, at lunch when we were the first ones at the table, I deemed it fit to ask Janelle if she wanted to bring the It-Crowd together to hang out at the mall. She was surprised and proud of me for actually wanting to hang out with them instead of being dragged along by Dylan.

"What?" I asked in confusion and shock. "I like you guys and I do want to hang out with ―"

"Save it," she said with a smile as stuffed a cookie into her ― strangely perfect and envy-inspiring ― mouth. "I get it. You and Becca are obviously besties, I can't change that nor would I try to for your sake. You guys are too cute."

"Not to mention Veronica," I said and she nodded but didn't say anything. It made sense when considering how she barely knew Veronica, but it was strange how far I came without taking Veronica with me.

"Anyway, some of us were going to another one of Cameron's art shows, but I'm sure that he doesn't even want to go," Janelle said. "So the mall sounds like a plan."

"Alright, that's good," I said, leaning in closer to her. "Now about the list. Is it true, what Dylan told me, that not only did Issa make it so that you're not allowed to drive, but that she possibly knows who made the It-List?"

Janelle raised an intrigued eyebrow. "Why? Did you find something on her?"

Yes, I wanted to say, but I kept my mouth shut. "No I'm just curious. I think I still need to adjust into the mindset of taking her down," I lied. Or maybe not completely lying for the second part was still true. The way people joke about diabetes in high school was damning enough to knock Issa down a few pegs if that information had gotten out, but it was still a low move, probably the lowest of moves imaginable.

"Venia, we chose you for a reason," she said with a smile. "We know you have what it takes, that's why we wanted you. Not to mention you're funny and cute and Dylan is probably -" she coughed "- not my place to tell. Meet us in the parking lot after school at the end of the week."

It was clear that Dylan and I had hit a roadblock during the time after our kiss. It was also clear that if anything was going to change, we had to start talking more and address everything that had happened. While Dylan was usually a chatty person, at work he drowned himself in his duties as an excuse to talk as little as possible, and the only times we really communicated was during the drives home.

It was certifiably endearing to know that he was scared to talk about it with me, but when I imagined not only kissing with Dylan Parker, but my first kiss in general, I imagined that it would seal the deal for my first relationship instead of being brushed aside because of parental issues in an attempt to wait it out until I forgot about it - which was what I assumed that Dylan was planning.

Of course, Dylan's lacrosse season had started up, meaning that he only got Thursday off to help me on our shifts at Sassy Cupcake. Both Collin and Noelle had offered to help out when they heard the news, but I told them not to. After all, I had worked this job alone before without too much trouble, I couldn't just stop functioning on my own whenever Dylan was around. That's how I had gotten myself so wrapped up in idolizing Issa which made it hurt so much more when she left us.

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