29. Palpitations

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Briar

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Briar

I impale a salad-leaf with my fork and shove it in my mouth. I glance around, picking up bits and pieces from the conversations that are happening across the breakfast table. Between words I see Darius throwing a stolen glance over at me every so often. I pretend not to notice but my lips betray me by curling into a shy smile, and as I throw stolen glances at him, our eyes meet for a brief second.

   "When are we going to talk about the elephant in the room?" Collins prompts, raising his voice and putting his fork down. My eyes immediately shoot to Darius, and our eyes lock. Synchronized, we both look to Collins again. We still haven't talked about the Never Have I Ever episode two days ago.

   Collins raises his brows and looks at Darius, probably waiting for him to say something. Darius' mouth has fallen open as if he wants to say something but doesn't know how to. "Dude seriously. You're not even going to say something?" Collins looks flat over at him with a, I can't believe you, glare.

"Hello," he drawls. "It's your birthday this weekend!"

My heart sinks in relief and I almost let out a sigh of delight. Luckily I manage to keep it in. But then I comprehend that Collins was saying.

"It's your birthday this weekend," I repeat as if the information is tough to swallow. In one way it is. I don't really know much about this guy that I can't stop looking at, do I... my eyes give him a once-over. He's as gorgeous as ever. And those lips. I can't believe I've kissed him.

"Yep," Darius replies dryly, popping the P.

   "Did you think I'd forget it?" Collins breaks in, his voice sounding already insulted. "These other two might forget, but me? Hell no. I'm taking everyone downtown later to get planning." Collins gives a brisk nod as if to confirm his words.

He keeps talking, but Darius and I have already zoned out. Or, it's not that we zone him out but more that we zone each other in. When my eyes lock with Darius' there's no room for other people.

Darius sends me a worried glance as if asking if I'm upset I didn't know already. I allow my eyes to blink slowly, as a form of eye-shrug, telling him that I'm not really sure. He sends me an awkward smile back by squinting his eyes a little. I guess I've gotten the hang of the secret eye language, at least with him.

___

After breakfast, Collins forces every one of us down to the city to plan Darius' birthday - except Darius of course. Apparently, birthdays are a big deal for them. For me it's always been an envelope at the kitchen counter with a few dollar bills in it, accompanied by a letter saying "Happy birthday, honey. Go spoil yourself. Tonight I'm taking you to dinner." All that is also followed by a crestfallen call saying, "Hey, honey. I need to cancel. Business is running late."

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