Kiss me baby one more time.
"Sounds like an interesting dinner to me," Nikky comments as we settle down on a grassy area of the quad. "I wish I was there to witness it."
"I really wish you were," I gripe as I chew the food in my mouth, watching two boys a few feet from us goof around with each other.
Its lunch break, and instead of having lunch in the cafeteria like we usually do, we simply grabbed some food and headed outside. Gunther looked like he wanted to join us, but our argument over dinner last night had stopped him from tagging along.
Honestly, I was tempted to invite him.
"I need someone to stop me from going off on Gun. Ugh Nikita, it was a complete disaster. I was supposed to act as a bridge between them, not worsen the situation."
"Oh, come on, Daph. Give yourself a break. Its not your fault that your brother is being stubborn right now."
I pull my bottom lip between my teeth. I don't want to rope my best friend into this, but...
"Think you can use your girlfriend tricks and convince Gun talk to Rodney?"
She lifts an eyebrow, barking out a laugh. "Girlfriend tricks?"
"You know what I mean," I huff.
"Believe me, I already tried doing that—and without using any girlfriend tricks— but he still wouldn't budge. I told you, he's stubborn as a mule."
"What am I going to do then?"
"Nothing. Just let it blow over."
Why is she saying that? She knows how near-desperate I am to fix the problem.
"Hon, you need to stop stressing yourself over it. Its their issue, let them handle it." Sipping on her soda, she tips her face up to the sun as if to soak its rays up, the ends of her long auburn hair almost touching the grass. "
I exhale a breath. "Its just... I'm trying to help Rod, yes— but its not only that. I'm doing it for myself more. Gun is icing me out, too. So I find him annoying most of the time, but he's my brother and I miss him."
"Oh, D." She gives me a sympathetic look. Then her face brightens a beat later. "Wait, I think I have an idea."
My ears perk up. "Spill."
"Zac is having a party at his house tomorrow night."
"Um, and? How does Zac's party have to do with my problem?"
"We should go. He gave me the invite this morning."
Funny how they're sort of friends now. There's no bad blood anymore between them. Nikitta has moved on with Gun. And surprisingly, Zac is still in a happy relationship with Lytton Hollister, who happens to be Paris Sydney's best friend and another of the Fantastic Four Blondes.
"Again, and?" I probe.
"We're going to make them hang out with each other there, duh."
I scoff. "While among a hundred other students Gun can see as better choices? Yeah, good luck with that."
"Oh, have a little faith my dear," she says airily, making me chuckle.
I waggle my brows at her. "We'll lure them into an empty room then trap them there. And we won't let them out until they talk. What do you think?"
Nikky blinks at me. "I think you're getting good at this scheming thing. It hasn't even been long since you devised the plan to egg Zac's car. Should I be scared?"
I grin at her. "I know right? Good times."
She shakes her head, but she's smiling. "Okay, so we'll go the seven minutes in heaven route." She throws her head back as she chuckles. "Oh my God, they're gonna freak!"
"Oh, I know!" I snap my fingers excitedly. "We need to set up a hidden camera— one with audio."
She immediately stops laughing. "You really are starting to scare me."
Immensely pleased with myself, I pop a jalapeño popper into my mouth and grin widely.
When lunch break ends, I make my way to the second floor for my next class but stop midway up the stairs when I hear two voices from the landing.
"Because I expected you to pursue me! You should've fought for us instead of getting a second-class replacement."
The female voice has my brows drawing together. Is that Paris?
"Don't call her that," an angry voice responds, making me stiffen.
Why is he talking to Paris. And in the stair landing of all places? Is he...getting back together with her right now?
Walk away. Save yourself from the hurt of seeing them together, But instead of listening to my inner voice of reason, I decide to be a masochist and move a couple of steps forward until I get a side view of their faces.
"Daphine isn't a second class replacement. Jesus Paris." He runs his fingers through his hair, clearly frustrated.
"She is, compared to me." She scoffs.
"That's what you like to think but Daph is so much better than you. Better than you'll ever be."
Butterflies swarm in my belly at Rod's words. He thinks I'm better than Paris. Did he really mean that or did he just say it to make her jealous?
An ugly look takes over Paris's face. "How could you say that? And how could you date someone like her? She's a nobody."
Rodney scoffs. "Cut the bullshit. You know there's nothing wrong with her. You're just jealous that I managed to move on fast."
"You're right. I'm jealous," she practically shrieks. "Why didn't you try to win me back?"
"You dumped me, remember? You said that I was too clingy and was asking a lot of your time."
My eyes flare wide. That's the reason why she broke up with him? "What a cold-hearted slug," I mutter under my breath.
"It was a mistake and I've regretted it ever since." She steps closer, sliding her hand across his chest. "Cut the bullshit, you said? Then break up with her. Come back to me. You and I know that's where were heading, anyway."
I whirl around and hurriedly descend the stairs, unable to listen and watch anymore, ignoring the growing ache in my chest. Because I know what's going to happen next. They're going to pick up where they left off. They'll be the 'IT' couple who everyone envies once again.
And me? I'll be back on the sidelines pretending that seeing them together doesn't hurt.
Which is why I'm in a somber mood the rest of the day, dreading seeing Paris and Rodney walking through the halls, acting like the loved up couple they used to be. While my ears are alert for even the tinniest bit of gossip about them.
But I don't see or hear anything. And Yvonne, who's always the first one to know about these things, just smiles at me when I walk past her at her locker. Her smile isn't even full of malice or sympathy. Its warm and genuine.
Does it mean nothing happened?
But I saw the two of them talking—
I nearly squeak out in surprise when I see Rod standing in front of my locker. What is he doing here? Isn't he supposed to be with Paris right now?
"Sorry, did I startle you?" He chuckles softly, stepping aside so I can deposit my books.
"Just a little. So, um, I guess congratulations are in order?" I keep my front casual as I open my locker and put my books back.
"Congratulations? For what?" Confusion lines his voice.
Keeping my eyes trained inside my locker, I say, "You and Paris. I saw the two of you talking at the stair landing a while ago. You're back together now, right? We don't have to fake date anymore."
"You saw us?"
"Yeah. But don't worry." I force out a grin, careful not to meet his eyes. "I quickly turned around when I saw you, to you know, give you both some privacy." When he doesn't respond, I hurry on, "So I was correct, right? You got your real girlfriend back. Mission accomplished." I flick my tongue over my lips. "Which means—"
I snap my head to him. "What?"
Instead of answering me, he says, "Do you have plans with Nikitta today? I'm in the mood for some ice cream and I was hoping you'd want to join me."
"But what about Paris?"
"What about her?"
"Didn't you guys—"
He grins. "So, ice cream?"
I'm lost in my own thoughts as I sit at the corner table in the Ice cream shop, Melting Memories while Rodney orders at the counter. When he asks me what I want, I tell him to get whatever he's having. My mind is preoccupied with answered questions.
He said he and Paris aren't back together. But why? Its pretty clear that she wants him back. She said that breaking up with him was a mistake, and she practically told him to dump me so they could be together again.
But why isn't Rodney "breaking up" with me? Instead we're getting ice cream like nothing happened. Unless...
Hope flares inside me. Did he change his mind for some reason? Did he realise he didn't really want her back?
Oh, please let it be the case.
"Daphine?" I have to blink a couple of times to register the boy standing in front of me, and a couple of times to realize that I know those honey coloured eyes. "Adrian Kingston?"
A smile tugs at his lips. "Or just Adrian. You don't have to include my last name, you know."
I let out an embarrassed laugh, my cheeks reddening. "Sorry, I'm a little preoccupied."
He chuckles. "Yeah, I can see that," he says, shoving his hands in his pant pockets.
"Come here often? Because I don't think I've ever seen you in Melting Memories before."
"Funny. I was about to tell you that I've seen you here with Nikitta once or twice. And right at this table."
"Oh," I blink before registering a throat clearing sound nearby.
"I hope I'm not interrupting anything." Rod is now standing next to Adrian, holding two cups of what look like rocky road ice cream with sprinkles and cherry on top, and unreadable look on his face.
"Right. Um, Adrian, this is Rodney. Ro—"
"Her boyfriend." Rod cutts me off, his gaze never leaving Adrian.
My eyes pop wide as I stare at him.
Adrian looks at me with a small frown. "I didn't know you had a boyfriend."
"Have," Rodney once again speaks for me, smirking. "We're still together. And its not going to change any time soon."
My mouth is full-on gaping as I bounce my still wide eyes between them. What is going on right now? Is there really a tension in the air and I'm not just imagining it? But for what? And why do they look like they're sizing each other up?
"Right." Adrian clears his throat, breaking the tension. Then turns to me with a forced smile. "Guess, I'll catch you later, Daphine."
I just nod, speechless, watching him head toward a group of his fellow Darrow students a few tables away.
"Who the hell was that?" Rodney demands as he pulls up the chair next to me instead of the ones across the table.
I frown at him. Why is he acting weird? "Well, if you had let me speak first, you would have known that I met him at Baldwin Reads." The name I accidentally uttered a couple nights ago, but I didn't add that part.
"Right. The potential new boyfriend," he scoffs, sliding the other cup of rocky road toward me as he starts diving into his.
So, he remembers. Is that why he's acting strange right now?
Not knowing what to make of his weird behaviour, I glance toward Adrian and his friends. He's staring this way so I lift a hand and wave. He responds with a wide grin.
At the same time, I hear Rodney scoot his chair closer. Then before I can ask him what's up, his arm is already draped over the back of my chair, making me freeze and my heart stutter.
When I whip my head to him In a silent question, he simply taps my nose and smiles. Seriously, what's going on with him?
Shaking my head and mentally taking note to ask him later, I shovel a spoonful of ice cream into my mouth, realising its flavour.
"So, uh, when did you meet him?"
"Who?" I ask, without raising my head, taking in another spoonful. This is why I love this place.
"This Adrian guy."
"Just over this weekend." I glance up at him. "Why do you want to know?"
"You have something in the corner of your mouth."
He gestures to the side of his mouth.
Ohh. Ughh. How embarrassing.
Blushing, I put my fingers to my mouth to wipe it off.
But then, Rod grabs my hand, his eyes suddenly dark and determined. "Let me."
But instead of wiping off my mouth, he takes my glasses off.
"Wait. What are you—" I'm not able to finish what I was about to say. Because the next thing I know, Rodney's lips are on mine.
I gasp in shock, my eyes flaring wide. Why is he—
But then his lips move against mine, soft and gentle at first, effectively obliterating the question in my head. Then his hand grips the back of my neck, applying pressure on the kiss, diving his tongue deep in my mouth, as if to demand response from me.
And I'm helpless against him. My eyes close as my lips answer his demand, matching the intensity of his movements. My hands shake. My heart beats wildly in my chest. My skin heats up deliciously.
The kiss— its nothing like the first one. That was quick and only lasted for a few seconds, but this one seems to go on forever, threatening to suck all the air out of my lungs and leave me breathless.
Who am I kidding? My lungs are probably emptied out.
When he pulls away, I slowly open my eyes, staring at him in a mixture of wonder and confusion. I have so many questions.
But Rod isn't staring back at me. There's a triumphant look on his face as he stares a head. When I put my glasses back on and follow his gaze, I see Adrian frowning at us.
Did...he kiss me because of him?
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