twelve

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T W E L V E

After Dylan left, I suddenly remembered the golden ticket that he had given me to go to the Governor's Ball.

"Becca," I said, making her stop mixing the dough for the cookies she was making for our Peanuts marathon and look up at me. "Come upstairs with me, please."

Veronica looked at us strangely, confusion written across her face. "Is everything okay?"

Part of me would regret telling Veronica about the Ball, but the other part of me knew that keeping secrets of such little importance were the endings of the greatest of friendships.

"About two weeks ago, Dylan invited Becca and I to the Governor's Ball tonight," I said. That first part of me waited, considering the grenade was thrown already, and it was ready to run upstairs and lock myself in my room so that the blast wouldn't effect me. But instead of what I anticipated, she just shrugged.

"Well, I'm not mad. You know how I am in big crowds," she said as she plopped onto the couch audibly. "It's just that something doesn't add up in this equation. When and why did the Dylan Parker start joining your - might I say quite empty - fan club?"

Oh, if only you knew, I thought to myself. They knew about Janelle wanting to take down Issa, but I was unsure if telling them about the updated terms of our contract would be the best idea or not. This wasn't a white lie to instill a sense of privacy in my life, this was me being discreet in order to keep my friends safe. Because if Issa caught wind of our plot, instead of turning on her friends, she would be sure to send hell my way and theirs if she knew that they were as deep in as I was.

So I swallowed my truths, regurgitating a front of ignorance. "Oh, shut up. He obviously doesn't like me like that." Lies - I wasn't too sure of that. It was a rational thought but the reality of this whole situation was, in fact, very irrational.

"Well," Veronica said, getting up off the couch. "Just make sure you're safe... in bed."

The urge to throw a pillow at her was strong in me, but I held back since she was probably going to be my babysitter if I ever had kids with - well, if I had kids to begin with.

"I'll do my best to stay out of any beds, thank you very much," I said. "Do you want to check out some of my mom's dresses? I don't think you'll have enough time to go back to your house to change and then come back. Besides, she'll never know since she'll be out of town."

Becca smiled. "Look at you," she said, "taking over control, little miss 79." She put the cookies down, stepping out of the kitchen.

It was a new sensation, completely foreign to me. I had become the most popular person in my friend group, cracking the top 100 students at James Madison High at number 79, far off the 200s where I was at before Dylan Parker swept his way into my life.

And after cracking the top tier of students, cementing my status as someone who had a presence, things were starting to look up for me. I had my great friends, I was going out tonight, I was going to have a good time.

So of course I cracked a smile.

Veronica offered to drive us to the ballroom, her reason being we looked so pretty in our dresses and that she knew we would likely get trashed later and ruin them. Of course, she meant Becca because she knew how I was with alcohol.

"Thanks, V-" I said but then I caught myself. I was starting to sound like Dylan, which could've been both a good thing and a bad thing. It was more of a bad thing since he was so - I didn't even know how to place him. He was weird, different. He was still the same person I had been crushing on for so long now, but when you're as close up as I was, you would usually see everything to make you fall even more in love. I had seen none of those - except for him in his underwear yesterday when he nearly risked his life - just different strokes from a brush that painted no clear picture. "Veronica, I mean."

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