Chapter 14: Andrew

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Andrew's head snapped up. There was only one person who called him that. And given that he was walking home from school and the voice was coming from the road, he knew she wasn't alone.

Damn Matt's convertible, engine purring so quietly Andrew hadn't heard it behind the music emitting from his headphones. Damn being late this morning, which meant his mom had to give him a ride to school, and he didn't have his bike to ride home. His stomach hardened into a little knot as he turned around. Only for Nina he turned around.

"Dyusha, I am very glad we see you there," Nina said. Her face was flushed from driving around in a convertible in October, despite her thick knitted scarf. Matt wasn't even looking at him. Andrew narrowed his eyes. "Brayden has a thing to say to you. Hello? Bray-don?" She turned in her seat. Then punched between the two front seats to wake up the dark-haired boy slouched in the back between Tyler Gomez and Lance, the blond football god.

"Ow. Sorry," Brayden Cobb mumbled.

"Is this how American people apologize?" Nina said.

Andrew watched all this, feeling clueless, until Brayden's face clicked in his mind. Brayden was a sophomore, and he sort of blended in with all the other dumb jock faces in Andrew's mind, so he hadn't immediately realized that Brayden Cobb was the dickhead who had called him Edward Scissorhands a couple of weeks ago. When he understood what Nina was doing, he wished he could curl up inside his sweatshirt and die.

"You tell him good apology," Nina ordered, with an added phrase in Russian that no one understood except Andrew, because during the few weeks they had sat together at lunch freshman year, she had taught him a number of Russian swears.

"I'm sorry I called you names," Brayden said, louder, his eyes flickering over for Nina's approval.

"Yes, yes, he is sorry." Nina turned around and looked at Andrew. "So, in apology, we will like you to come to party tonight."

"A party?" The apology was bad enough. "No, no, that's okay." He started backing up.

"Yes. You come to party. Also Codymitchell." That was how Nina had always said Cody's name: like it was one word. Codymitchell. "You will come. Is costume party. You have costume?" When Nina made up her mind, she would never back down, Andrew remembered. Great.

What would they do if I showed up dressed like Edward Scissorhands? he wondered. Then he thought of Cody, and how Cody would kill him if he found out they had been invited to a party by Nina and he had refused. Then there was Matt's disinterested face hovering there behind Nina's. Andrew wouldn't mind going just to spite Matt.

And then there was Ryan. Ryan would be there. Sure, he'd be there "with Monica" but if Andrew could maybe sneak upstairs, and Ryan could meet him...

"I can come up with a costume," Andrew said.

"Good, good. I am very happy, Dyusha. You will like a ride to there?"

"Where is it?" he asked, even though he knew.

Now Matt finally spoke. "It's at Alex Harrison's."

Part of him wanted to make Matt give him a ride, even though he'd rather swallow nails. "I'll find a ride," Andrew said finally.

"I will look for you," Nina said, smiling, just before Matt gunned the engine and the convertible roared off down the road.

"Fuck," Andrew said.

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