Chapter 18

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You know what’s the only thing more awkward than sitting and waiting for your dinner in a very tense atmosphere between your ex-friend and your possible-crush while realizing that you’re dressed much more formally than anyone within a four-block vicinity?

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

This day just kept getting better and better. It was a little while after Louisa had “caught” me with her man. Thankfully, Amelia had arrived on the scene before anything weird could happen and dragged us away to this Italian restaurant everyone was apparently raving about.

The atmosphere was still incredibly weird, as you can imagine. The good thing was, Amelia was a professional awkward-defuser. She had to be after hanging around me for so long. Although the first few minutes of our dinner was silent and tense, she brought up some weird eating talent Alexander had...namely, getting bread crumbs all over his face. Before long, the table was in riots.

“He…he…he’s wearing food on his face!” Louisa shrieked, elbowing me and collapsing into hysterics.

I stared at Alexander and let out a loud snort. “You realize the food goes in the mouth, right?”

To his credit, Alexander’s response was good-natured. He slathered a few more sesame seeds under his nose. “This is the way to live, lads. You must live life on the edge, like me.” He stuck another seed onto his chin and began to stroke his imaginary mustache.

Yeah, these were the kids who would soon be of legal voting age in this country. I feared for America.

“Put one of those grapes up your nose and then you’ll really be living on the edge!” Amelia shrieked, slapping the table in mirth.

I won’t say what happened next, but I will say that I learned that night exactly how many grapes can fit into two nostrils. Let’s put it that way.

    Anyway, after Alexander went to the bathroom still wearing his food on his face, the table dissolved into small talk. For the first time in a while, Louisa and I were able to keep a conversation going without one of us sending the other death glares. And Amelia was cracking jokes left and right—someone must have put something into her food.

She had been right. This felt like Thanksgiving more than anything else in the world at that moment.

It was all going well until Alexander returned. When he got back, there was a seriousness in his eyes that hadn’t been there before.

“So…Nancy,” he said, leaning against the booth but not taking a seat. His bangs flopped into his eye—probably intentionally. “Mind if I borrow you for a second?”

“Yes.”

“Of course she wouldn’t mind,” Amelia said loudly over my refusal. I glowered at her and she jerked her head to the side to indicate that I follow Alexander. Why was I friends with this girl again?

 Louisa just stared adamantly out the window, her good mood gone. She was once again refusing to meet my gaze. I realized what this situation must have looked like to her and immediately felt bad.

“Okay, make it quick,” I sighed, getting up.

“Love the enthusiasm.”

“Stick around and you’ll get to see major annoyance next.”

Once we had rounded the corner and were safely out of earshot, Alexander stopped right in front of the bathrooms and leaned against the wall. I stopped but refused to look at him, instead choosing to fix my eye on the bathroom doorknob. Much more worthy of my attention, I have to say.

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