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4.9 Parker

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PARKER

The nerves in my stomach bubbled. My little worries refused to settle down like a bag of hot popcorn still popping, even after the microwave deemed it finished. Now those little nuggets started to burn, and I could taste it. Glancing behind my shoulder, grazing the faces at Taylor #5's party, I tried to find reason in these worries. I felt like some unearthly being was standing just outside my vision, watching me and waiting for the perfect opportunity to pants me in front of the entire drama department.

"Have you seen Lizzie?" I asked Jordan and Ian, who were sitting together on the couch. Despite there being an entirely unoccupied side of the couch and another empty sectional, the boys sat snuggly, wedged into the corner. Ian rested his elbow just behind Jordan with a look that told me I wasn't welcome. The gesture was casual enough not to raise too many questions. Close enough to keep people away.

But not me.

I'm the best at purposely not taking a hint.

"No, we haven't. Go away," Ian deadpanned.

"Is everything okay?" Jordan asked, his puppy dog eyes welling up with worry.

Ian groaned and detached from Prince Charming's side, sinking into the back cushion.

"Have you asked Camille?"

"I can't find her either. Or Norah."

"I'm sure they're fine," Emily insisted, returning to my side with two ice-cold sodas. "Can you like relax for two seconds? Just have fun."

"Yeah, but I need to talk to her."

"It can wait, I promise."

Emily grabbed my wrist and pulled me from the boys. We wandered the party, talking about something, but I wasn't really listening. My eyes were looking through the cast. My heart skipped a beat every time someone walked into the room. Every time I caught the end of someone's short dark hair. Quickly, my hopes were always shattered to see someone other than Elizabeth Gloria Medina Hernandez.

"So? Do you want to?" Emily asked me crisply as if this wasn't the first time she asked me.

"Want to what?" I asked, finally gracing Emily with my full attention. We leaned against the wall as everyone else stood crowded around the living room. Behind us was one of Taylor's dad's photos of an icy forest, sparse of life and covered in snow.

"Do you want to go to the High Museum with me next week?" She turned towards me, her hand grazing up the side of my arm. "I miss hanging out with you. It's been lonely. My life has been quiet without you. I didn't realize how much I liked the noise. How much I liked..."

Her warm hazel eyes flickered up into mine, locking with me. My chest squeezed in a familiar way, but I wrestled with that knot and let it loosen and fall limp.

"Emily," I tried to stop her.

"I think we should try again. I'm sorry for breaking your heart. I've learned my lesson and I won't let you go again."

She touched my cheek and I knew what came next in this dance. A month ago, I would've done anything to kiss Emily again. Tonight, I grabbed her wrist and touched my forehead with hers. "I'm sorry, Em..." I lifted my head. "I don't want to get back together. We weren't good with each other."

"But we could be." Emily's chin trembled, but her jaw fought back and tightened. Her emotions were a splattered mess across her face, shocked widened eyes, a fierce anger straightening her lips while her nose flared, readying for a stream of tears. "Things have changed. You don't even want to try?"

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