Hey guys. Welcome back. So far, this is my favorite chapter. I hope you guys like it as much as I do.

 

 *Important rules are repeated.

 "Remember at the mall, when you said I could claim my prize later?"

  "Yeah," Eliza whispered back, so softly I almost missed it.

Maybe it was the way her hair was floating around her shoulders and my heart was pounding through my chest, or maybe it was what my dad had told me earlier. Maybe it was that I finally knew what I wanted, and I was tired of waiting. Whatever the reason, I shifted my position on the railing until I was only inches away from her.  It's now or never, I thought to myself.

I touched her warm cheek and I knew I'd reached the jumping off point. I couldn't go back. I heard her suck in a sharp, staccato breath and then I asked her the question I'd been dying to ask all night. "Can I kiss you?"

 ______________Twenty-seven hours earlier ______________

Carter, Austin, and I sat at our usual booth in the back Pizza City. Going there was becoming a regular, Thursday afternoon thing. The place was almost empty, and besides an old couple waiting pick up their order, we were the only ones there.

  "So how was tutoring?" I asked Carter. "Is Madison a good student?"

  He shook his head and swallowed his soda. "All she wanted to do was talk about you. Legit, I felt like I was some kind of Nick Maguire expert-witness and I was being interrogated or something. That girl is insane."

 I was surprised. I thought Madison would want to make some headway with Carter. She was playing it really weirdly. "I mean, I don't like to brag, but I'm kind of a big deal," I tried to seem casual about it, when really I was confused. What the hell, Madison.

 Austin swatted me with his napkin. "Yeah yeah we know. They love you down there in the special education hallway."

 "And every other hallway," I swatted him back. “So what'd she say about me?"

  "Something about how she wishes you'd grow a pair and ask her out already. She thinks you're trying to make her jealous." Carter smirked at me as Austin almost choked on his pizza. 

"Guys. Geeze. It's really not that funny," I said, trying to keep a straight face. It actually really was. The notion of me dating Madison was totally, utterly ridiculous. We had absolutely nothing in common. Finally, I had begun to understand what was going on. Madison was going for the ‘used, devastated girl' thing. She was trying to make Carter feel sorry for her. I wasn't sure I liked that technique. "That girl is a fu*king psycho."

 "Yeah," Carter nodded in agreement, "Sorry man, but I don't think I can tutor her anymore."

 "Nah, it's cool. I don't really blame you. I mean, as much fun as it is to spend three hours talking about me..."

 Austin stole the Red Sox cap off my head and threw it across the room. "Every time you make a dick-comment, I'm going to do that," he said, half laughing. I knew he didn't really care. He just wanted to throw my hat. Austin hates the Red Sox more than I hate the Yankees, and we'd developed a sort of hat-rivalry.

 "You wanna die, Banks?" I stood up to retrieve it. "You'd better watch it. Remember, I know where you live." 

 "Be still, my beating heart."

 Carter just stayed in his seat and took out his phone like he couldn't be bothered by us mere mortals. "Yo!" I called to him from across the room, after I'd readjusted my hat. "What time is it?"

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