6.) Reality Check
"I am sick of texting!" I squeezed my cell and kicked my legs up onto the dim movie theater's railing in front of me and Alice, almost knocking over her soda. Thankfully, the theater had only two other audience members so I could vent freely. "Chris was texting me for a few days, and then poof, he became Hoodini! It's been over a week and he's still missing."
Alice snatched her Louis Vuitton clutch from the seat next to her. "I'm going to call him from my number and see if he answers." She removed her cell. "Should I?"
I stared at her phone. Should she...?What if he did answer and then I'd be slapped with the horrible reality that he'd been purposefully avoiding my calls and ignoring my texts. Then everything that happened last weekend: the intimate head resting in the theater; the affectionate waist hugging outside of it; and best of all, that heavenly kiss we shared when he dropped me home; it would all be over; a mere taste—a cruel tease—of what could have been.
I shifted my vision to my sweet, but super strong bestie. Among our group, me, her, and Isabelle had been the only ones to slap a guy across the face—though I alone had done so more than once.
Alice loved her friends and sister fiercely. If Chris were to walk into this theater after treating me like Fantastic Four's Invisible Woman, Alice would probably toss her coke in his face—if I didn't get to first. Though angry and scared in equal measure, I needed to know the truth: if Chris accidentally dropped his cell in the toilet after taking a dump, or if he really did go ghost on me...
I held my phone out to her. "Do it."
She grabbed it and after finding his number in my phone, dialed it on hers. I gripped the armrests. Please don't answer, please don't answer, please don't—
"Hello?" Alice raised an eyebrow at me.
I slapped the cup holders. Oh hell no, he did not just answer his phone!
"Sorry, wrong number," Alice said swiftly and hung up.
As she handed me my phone, my neck burned and my stomach hollowed. So he did avoid me.
Rage and pain brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't believe him. How could he act like he dug me, and then evade me as if he'd...made a mistake.
More heat swelled within, rising to my cheeks. No. He didn't make a mistake. He freaking played me like an instrument. He used me for entertainment and a quick dose of attention. Chris knew I'd always liked him; Tasha, that pathetic girl with a crush who he could kiss in front of Landon and then laugh with him about it later. God, I was so damned convince that this kid had begun to like me. After all this time, hope that Chris and I could work out had revived after being slain like a dragon. Which one of us was the freaking actor here? With this kind of showmanship, Chris would win an Oscar before I could.
"That's it, I'm texting him." I rapidly punched the numbers in my phone as if the keyboard were his face.
I've been really worried about you. You could have at least texted me back so I know you're alive. Whatever, Chris. I hope you have a nice life. Take care.
I handed my cell to Alice and she carefully read over it. "Okay, that's good."
And with one of my closest friend's approval, I hit send, shoved my cell in my purse, and tossed my bag onto the floor.
God, how much worse can Chris get?
The high afternoon sun beamed down on me like a rotten little kid holding a magnifying glass to an ant. Hot and humid, Miami weather sucked—especially for Cuban girls with curly hair and a heavy backpack.
As I neared the gate behind school that led into the gravel pit, I hastened my steps. Thank God I only lived half a mile away or else I'd freaking melt out here.
"Natasha!" a female, slightly Hispanic voice yelled from behind. I turned around. Liliana smiled as she trotted toward me, also carrying her book-bag, although her pin-straight, Pocahontas hair laughed at the humidity. "Hey girl!" She hugged me.
"Hey." I smiled as I hugged her back and then released. "Are you also walking home?"
"No, I was waiting for my dad to pick me up."
"I live really close. Why don't you come over and have him pick you up from my house?"
"That'd be cool." She gave him a call and as she spoke to him in Spanish, I slipped my hands inside my jean pockets. If there was a law against befriending your semi-crush's ex, in this particular case, I didn't mind breaking it. Liliana exuded sweetness. Maybe it was the whole Peruvian Pocahontas thing. Or the camaraderie of two girls who'd been dropped by the same heart-slayer.
"Okay, chao, Papi." She put her phone in her backpack. "He said yes." Her big, brown eyes gradually bulged all the more, making her appear cartoonish—no pun intended. "So, have you heard about who Chris is going out with?"
My stomach twisted. Are you freaking serious? Chris already has a girlfriend? It's only been two weeks since we kissed! I guess the master thespian can get worse.
I struggled to keep my composure. "No I haven't."
"Her name is Jenny. She's this fast freshman that goes to our school." As Liliana continued to divulge with examples of Jenny's sexual "fastness" and sleazy hookups with guys, the light bulb in my head that had been off for the past two years finally turned on.
Chris didn't want to be with me because he knew I was a virgin. Landon had slipped the question into a conversation with me once and I remembered how shocked we both were that I was the virgin. I'd also shared how ever since childhood I always said I'd be a virgin until marriage. And I'm sure that surprising information reached Chris's ears at some point. And maybe that's what he meant by him being a bad boy who needed a girl that was, "on the same page." She had to like smoking, drinking, and fornicating—that made three strikes out for this good girl. I looked at Liliana, already knowing the answer to my next question, but wanting to confirm it anyway. "Did you and Chris ever sleep together?"
She huffed. "Hell no, girl. All we did was kiss. Lucky for me, he was still a virgin when we dated."
"Did you smoke and drink with him?"
"I drank a little, but never smoked."
I squinted my eyes and spoke real slow. "You weren't bad enough."
She burst into laughter. "Oh man, that Chris impersonation was spot on. That boy talks like he's high twenty-four-seven." She shook her head. "Did he also tell you that you were too good for him?"
"Yup," I said as we exited the gravel pit and sauntered onto a sidewalk.
"Welcome to the too-good-for-Chris-Conners club." She raised a fist.
I laughed as I fist-bumped her, something inside of me miraculously okay with my current lot in dating life. I'd heard during Chris's lengthy stint with Christina that he'd lost it to her and the sex had him whooped, but I didn't believe it. I didn't want to believe Chris was that kind of guy. I guess he proved me wrong—again.
Although my heart hurt a little, the truth about Chris—a guy who just wanted to play the field, test-drive new cars, enjoy free milk from fresh cows—made his rejection of me a lot easier. It wasn't me per-say, but more-so what I wasn't willing to give up.
I rested my arm on Liliana's shoulders. "You know, girl, I'm really glad our paths crossed today."
"Aww." She gave me a side-squeeze. "Me, too, chika."
I breathed in the muggy air, feeling a little lighter than I had before this conversation. This time, I am officially done with Chris Conners.
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WANTED: A BOYFRIEND WHO DOESN'T SUCKRomance
I quickly tossed the bags in a bin by the counter as Chris did the same, and then turned to leave. "Wait," he said. I halted, my heart beginning to pound, and then slowly faced him. He stepped forward, his deep, brown eyes rapt on me. And without an...