Her jaw dropped. "Say what now?"
"I said that Eust-"
"No I got that much." She flexed her hands before forming them into fists. He could hear her muttering under her breath about "liar" and "can't believe" but though it best not to question her.
He fiddled with his hands. "It's kind of a funny story. Not funny in a humorous sense so much as in the "situational irony" sense, but-"
"You've got ten seconds to start explaining before I kick you out."
"Ok ok! I suppose it all started one day in December:
I was working on my latest invention: a silicon cane that changed grip depending on the surface it touched. This way, elderly people will slip and fall less."
"You want a Nobel Prize so badly, it's almost sad"
"Don't interrupt. Anyway, I was making my last adjustments when suddenly VOX alerted me of an incoming video call.
Who should it be but Strytch?
The previously dark lab was instantly lit by the giant computer screen, signaling a call. Jimmy hit the answer button without thinking, his focus on tightening a loose screw.
Suddenly his ears were assaulted by a familiar nasally voice. "Neutron old bean, how have you been?" The plasma screen was filled with the egotistical antagonist seated at an overstuffed brocade armchair.
"What do you want Eustace?"
"Now now, is that anyway to speak to a friend?"
Technically the two boys currently had a truce after the previous year's incident (don't ask, you don't want to know), but Jimmy still didn't trust him. Its seemed like Eustace was incapable of truly being friends with someone. But he had to keep up the façade, lest he needed someone to test out his experimental rocket to Pluto.
"Sorry. To what do I owe this pleasure?" he gritted his teeth.
"I just wanted chat, man to man. See how your latest feat is going."
"If you think I'm going to reveal trade secrets, you can just-"
"Oh calm down James, this suspicion is most unbecoming. But if you must know, I did have an ulterior motive for contacting you."
This stuck Jimmy with surprise. He couldn't remember the last time Eustace had actually been straightforward with him. "Um, ok."
"Tell me Jimmy: are you currently involved with any young ladies at this time?"
"You know," he let out an exasperated sigh, " 'dating' anyone?"
"What business of that is yours?"
"So you're not currently involved with a certain Cynthia Vortex?"
He flushed. "What? No! Are you kidding me?" He couldn't believe this. That know-it-all, arrogant… This was not the time to bring her up. As on late, she had been rubbing him raw with petty was grievances and unnecessary squabbles. He was growing tired of her overly sensitive nature…although, to be fair he maybe possibly slightly to blame for some of their arguments. It wasn't fair though. She was like a tumor attached to his brain; he couldn't seem to get her out of his head. And all this was made worse by the knowledge that she had recently broken up with her last boyfriend. For some reason, the little voice in the back of his mind kept reminding him of this.
"No. I am not dating Cindy."
Eustace's face formed an unreadable expression, "Oh? So you wouldn't mind if I asked her to my academy's winter formal?"
Jimmy felt as though someone had punched him in the stomach. Unacceptable. No way! But why? What do you care if he asks her out? It would serve her right to have to spend an evening with that pompous jerk. Of course, she would probably love being escorted around by the richest kid in the state. No she wouldn't, she hates him. But still…
"Mind? Pshht! Why would I mind? It's a free country, Cindy can do whatever she wants to do…I mean, you can-"
He smiled, a steely glint in his eyes, "Well fantastic, because I've already taken the liberty of asking her last night. Just wanted to make sure it wouldn't have been an issue."
"Well, I'd love to stay and chat, but my tennis instructor is here. Goodbye Jim, my good fellow." And with that he hung up. Jimmy could have sworn he saw the hint of a smirk on Eustace's face, but he must have imagined it.
What would he have done if I had said we were dating? Come on! You know he already knew you weren't. But then why ask?
Back in reality, Cindy was visibly shaken. "That lying, underhanded- he promised no to say anything to- anyone. He promised to keep it a secret." Of course this isn't the worst thing he did that week. "And you never said anything about this because..?"
"Well, when school started up after break and your mom never sent out invitations for your impending nuptials, I assumed it didn't go well.
"You can say that again." She crossed her arms, and tried to avoid his gaze.
He must have realized she had no intention of explaining what she meant, because he did not push the subject. He merely moved to sit closer to he on the couch.
"So… what are doing now?"
"I don't know. I have to make a plan to kill my best friend, but I might eat a snack first."
"Oh really?" He reached into his pocket. "Going to make some…" he glanced at something in his hand," macaroni and cheese with hot sauce? Or maybe crab Rangoon wontons?"
"What are you-"
"And then maybe we could watch "Dreamgirls" or "Hairspray"?
She reached over to his jacket and held him down, ripping out the folded up sheet of notepaper.
"Did you write down what I said yesterday?"
He rubbed the back of his neck, "I may have had Goddard transcribe it when I returned home."
She gently slapped his arm. "You have a photographic memory, why would you need to write this down?"
He shrugged, "I wanted to make sure I didn't forget."
Cindy looked down at her feet, trying to hide the blush that was spreading across her cheeks. "So there's no way I can make you forget my movie preferences?"
He chuckled, "We can blame Libby for your love of show tunes."
She shook her head, "Actually we can't."
"Nope. She loves acting, singing, and dancing, but not in combination. That's why I couldn't get her to be in last year's production of Into the Woods with me."
"It wasn't just because she didn't want the great publicity playing the harp brought?" He smiled.
"Shut up. I will play Velma Kelly in the fall production of Chicago."
They spent the next few hours exchanging playful banter in the way that only they could. By the time Jimmy left to return to his house, it was almost as though things had gone back to normal.