Chapter Twenty-Six

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You know those situations where you’re caught doing something, and no matter how much you protest or attempt to explain, it’s always going to look bad? That’s when you’re struck with the realization that, even if you’re totally innocent, there’s no way you’ll be able to weasel your way out of it. And you’re kind of screwed.

            It just so happens that I’m in one of those situations right now.

            And when I find myself under the scrutiny of Connor’s gaze, the aforementioned realization makes an appearance. It’s just, you know, in this particular case, I’m not so innocent.

            But that still doesn’t stop me from trying my best not to look like I’ve been spying on his and Charlotte’s private conversation, which was definitely not aimed at any type of audience – especially me, the prime topic. Suppressing a small squeak of surprise, I move an inch away from the wall, hoping it looks more like I’ve been casually leaning against it, rather than hunched up in an attempt to remain out of sight. Unsurprisingly, the look on Connor’s face tells me he’s not buying it.

            We stand staring at each other for what feels like hours. I’m half expecting to see the sunrise over the horizon, signaling the arrival of morning. However, the presence of the thumping bass from the next room and the lack of light streaming through the windows is enough confirmation that it’s just my warped sense of timekeeping throwing things off.

            “Um…” I start, even though I have absolutely no idea of which words are about to come tumbling out of my mouth. I just feel like I need to do something to break the awkward silence consuming the room.

            “What are you doing?” Connor asks. His chocolate-colored eyes narrow at me, sweeping me up and down as I try to keep my face as least guilty as possible. Trying to put myself in the mind of someone who hasn’t just been eavesdropping on what was quite clearly a private conversation isn’t as easy as it may seem. His expression’s hard to interpret, but I can tell he’s not exactly overjoyed at my discovery.

            “I…”

            “Were you listening in on our conversation?”

            A wave of guilt and fear washes over me as I stand under his gaze. What am I supposed to do? I can’t exactly admit to it, but there’s no feasible escape route from this conversation, other than faking passing out.

            Although with the way my heart’s pounding already, maybe I won’t need to fake it.

             “Look, I didn’t mean to, I swear,” I stammer, almost tripping over my words in my haste to get them out. “I was just on my way to the bathroom, and then you guys were there, and I just-”

            “Georgie.”

            “I panicked, okay? I didn’t want you to see me and-”

            “Georgie.”

            I pause, looking up at him warily. I’m expecting him to be furious – possibly even foaming at the mouth with anger – but instead, his expression is neutral. There’s no hint of any tension, and instead, he’s staring at me with an unidentifiable emotion in his eyes. He sighs, running a hand through his messy hair. “How much did you hear?”

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