14 - Nuclear Enchiladas

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"Lisa, what are you doing?"

"Just stay still!"

"Get—what are you—don't touch that! Don't touch those!"

"Why? I'm having fun."


"Okay, wow. These are really soft. Do you moisturize?"

"Oh my—" I finally wrestled Lisa's arms away from my face, breathing heavily. She grinned back at me, totally unapologetic.

"There. Perfect," she said with a wink. "You look killer." 

She turned me to the bathroom mirror with an exaggerated flourish. I raised an eyebrow at my reflection: long auburn hair extending down my back, hazel eyes, cream complexion. My lips and cheeks were flushed pink from Lisa's sudden ambush, but everything else looked completely normal.

"And where's the difference, exactly?" I asked, still a little put off.

"There is none," she said cheekily. "Do you have to look different to look killer? I don't think so." She wrapped an arm around my smaller frame, her sleek blonde bob a stark contrast to my reddish locks. She pinched my cheek with her other hand, ignoring my affronted expression. "God, you're adorable!" she squealed.

I tried to smother my smile, but her excitement was infectious. "Alright, calm down," I said through a laugh. "Thanks for the ego boost, but what's gotten into you?" I cocked my head curiously. "Also, try not to randomly feel up girls in the school bathroom, okay? They may not all be as used to your weirdness as I am."

Lisa's laugh rang through the room. "Come on. I'll tell you on the way back to class."

I washed my hands quickly and let her drag me out of the lavatory. "The other day, Prof mentioned this new cooking competition, where you put an original spin on a common dish," she explained animatedly. "And he said he wanted me to go!" 

I grinned widely. "That's great, Lis!" Competitions were always an awesome opportunity to hone your skills and get scouted by high-end cooks, and Lisa was crazy talented. I had no doubt she'd wipe the floor with her competitors.

She beamed and pushed her bangs out of her eyes. "I know! And since it's a tag-team kinda thing, I'm supposed to go with Rokim too!"

We reached the classroom and headed inside, but my smile had faltered slightly at that last bit. "Rokim's an excellent choice," I affirmed. "You guys'll do amazing." 

With another radiant smile, she waved bye and jogged over to her station. I watched her go and felt the pit of unease in my gut widen; she and Rokim would make a great pair, that was a given . . . it's just that her mention of competitions and Rokim reminded me of the deal I had made.

Three weeks. Three weeks to get Rian to admit that he knew who I was. Two weeks, now.

I sighed and made my way to my own station, looping an apron over my neck. The task on its own was daunting enough—Rian was a cold, hard, immutable lump of ice. Getting him to crack would be the equivalent of scaling Mount Rushmore one-handed in the middle of a hailstorm. With no harness.

But still, even with the added obstacle of his stubbornness, the whole thing would be a hell of a lot simpler if Rian was actually here.

I huffed, slapping down a notebook on the counter in front of me. That's right, you read me correctly. After everything that had happened, he was actually avoiding me. He hadn't come to class for the past three days already, and I was getting sick of it. "Just wait till I get my hands on him," I muttered, grabbing a pencil. "No, wait till Prof gets his hands on him."

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