♠ 02: The favour
I need to pee. I've been holding it in for the last hour. Mr. Brown, my AP History teacher, loves pop quizzes and his test questions are always based on his lecture, rarely relying on the book. Which means I can't afford to miss even a minute of it.
Thankfully, the stalls are empty when I reach the girls' bathroom— I'm pretty sure I was the first one to get out of a classroom when the bell rang— so I quickly slip into one. I just finished flushing and about to step out when a conversation starts outside. I'm not an eavesdropper, but the next words I hear stop me.
"Did you hear? Paris Sydney just dumped Rodney Jackson," The first female voice says.
My eyes pop wide. Did I hear it right? Paris has broken up with Rodney? Heart thumping wildly in my chest, I press my ear to the stall door to listen closely.
"No way," A second voice gasps, in disbelief. "I thought they were already getting serious."
That's what I thought too. So why did Paris dump him? They were just together at the lake party last weekend, and they looked so sweet together. What changed?
"Maybe she caught him cheating."
"Or, she's grown bored. Isn't that the reason why she broke up with Tommy Norman?"
The girls continue to speculate and come up with other possible reasons while I impatiently eavesdrop. I want to get to the bottom of the whole thing, and listening to mere gossip won't get me the answers I want. I need to get to the source.
Which means I need to find Rodney and ask him myself. Wait doesn't he have basketball practice today? Guess I'll have to wait for him to finish. So that's exactly what I do when the last period ends. I sit in my car in the parking lot for an hour, listening to Break my heart by Dua Lipa while I think about the conversation I overheard.
Rodney is officially single.
Paris is no longer in the picture.
All these years, I've always been on the sidelines, content with being his friend and keeping my feelings for him all to myself. See I've always been the cautious and levelheaded. I'm known as the girl who doesn't take risks, preferring to stay on the safe side.
Well, I don't want to do that anymore. I've wasted enough time living a safe and boring life. Its time I take risks and get into crazy adventures.
Like letting Rodney Jackson know how I feel, for starters. And today's a good day as any to tell him that. Maybe I'm being selfish and impulsive, but the last thing I want is for him to get into another "relationship" without knowing about my feelings. Besides, I have seize the moment before I decide to chicken out.
Yeah, I can't give myself that chance.
Another hour later, I watch as Gun and Nikky walk toward Gun's Jeep, holding hands and laughing about something. My best friend has been making a point to watch— as if its not enough that she's religiously present at the games.
Ughh. They look so cute together. Its not fair..
I'm thankful that my car is still sandwiched between two other cars so they don't notice me as they stroll past. Well that, or they're too focused on each other to pay attention to their surroundings. Still, I thank my lucky stars when Gun finally pulls out of the parking lot. And when I spot Rodney coming out after, I hurriedly step out of my car with my bag slung over my shoulder.
He's staring down at his phone so he still hasn't noticed me. Here goes nothing. "Hey, Rod."
He looks up from his phone with a slight frown. But the crease on his forehead disappears and a small smile forms on his lips when he sees me. "Snookie, hey. What are you still doing here?"
I shrug my shoulders casually. "I had to stay a little late at the library. Homework and stuff." Liar. You're such a liar.
"So um, I heard something." Way to start the conversation Daphine.
His smile disappears as he stiffens, an unreadable mask sliding in place. "What did you hear?"
His body language tells me his breakup with Paris is the last thing he wants to talk about. And something tells me he would be less thrilled to hear me blurting my feelings for him.
Forcing a smile, I say, "I just want to say that if you need to talk to someone, I'm here."
He stares at me for a long moment that it makes me want to squirm.
He let's out an inaudible breath. "Actually Snookie, I need a favour."
I blink and push my glasses up my nose. "Um sure. What can I do for you?"
"I want you to be my fake girlfriend."
"Rodney asked you to do what?" Nikitta's hazel eyes are flared wide as she gapes at me, almost dropping the baby blue nail polish onto the rug. It reminds me of the reaction I had when she announced her ex-boyfriend Zac McCarthy, had dumped her. Which only happened, I don't know, over a month ago? Crazy that it feels like its been longer.
"Careful," I blurt, motioning for her to hand me the nail Polish.
What can I say? I'm a neat freak.
Smirking, she hands it over to me then rests her chin over her knees. "Tell me about Rodney's crazy idea."
Pushing up from my bed, I walk over to my dresser to put the nail polish down. Then I lift an eyebrow at her. "You mean the same idea that made you ask for my brother's help?"
"I wasn't secretly in love with Gun when I asked him to be my fake boyfriend."
I blink, then blink again. "I— I'm sorry. What?"
Surely she can't mean what I think she means. Nikitta may be my best friend but there are still somethings that I keep a secret from her— my real feelings for Rod being on top of those things.
Dread curls in my stomach. Did she somehow find out?
"I know you like Rodney, Daph."
Oh my God, she did. Suddenly, my knees feel like jelly. I walk back to my bed and flop down. "How did you find out?"
She gets up from the carpet, and sits next to me. "You're my best friend and I have eyes. Why didn't you tell me?"
"Because its embarrassing." I groan and burry my face in my hands. "I did the most cliché thing and I fell for my brother's best friend."
Nikky tucks a lock of hair behind my ear and tells me gently. "You can't help who you fall for. You love who you love."
I peek at her through my fingers. "Since when did you become so philosophical?"
She just smiles then turns serious a moment later. "So, what are you going to do."
"I'm going to help him."
I was already tempted to say yes when Rodney asked the question. But I was still having second thoughts then. Now, I'm a hundred percent sure that its what I want to do. He's not just my brother's best friend, he's my friend too. Which is why I can't leave him hanging.
And maybe it's just a wishful thinking, but I'm hoping that helping him will make him fall for me too.
You never know, right?
"That's what I thought," Nikitta sighs. "But you know Gun's gonna kill him right? You'd basically sign his death sentence."
"Isn't that a little overdramatic? I didn't react violently when I learned about you and my brother."
"Brothers tend to be overprotective when it comes to boys, remember? Irrationally so, sometimes. I'm honestly thankful that Lupita isn't a boy, otherwise it would probably drive me nuts." She winces. "Gun and Rodney may be best friends. But it doesn't mean that Gun wants Rod to involve you with his girl problems. Trust me. He'll be against it."
"I'll just have to deal with it."
Honestly, I don't know how. But I'd rather worry about it for another day.
"Okay. But what if you end up with a broken heart? I mean, think about it. Why did Rod ask you to be his fake girlfriend?"
"Um, I don't know."
I'd been too stunned to react when Rodney asked the question. And before I could tell him to clarify, his phone rang and he had to leave. He said we'd just talk tomorrow.
Nikitta gapes at me. "Are you serous? You agreed to help him without knowing his reason behind it?"
My cheeks flame. "Technically, I haven't told him yet."
"But you already decided that you would." She shakes her head, disappointment flashing in her eyes, making me feel embarrassed even more. "What if he asked you because he wanted your help to make Paris Sydney jealous? Because he wanted to win her back? What are you going to do then?"
I swallow hard, a sick feeling creeping into my stomach. Because why would Rodney even ask me to be his fake girlfriend?
You thought he wanted to take revenge on Paris for breaking up with him just like Nikky did with Zac.
"Oh God, I'm so pathetic. I made the wrong assumption." Am I really that desperate for Rodney's attention?
Yes. Yes, you are.
"Shut up." Nikky glares at me. "You're not pathetic." She takes my hand in hers. "Here's what you're going to do. You'll talk to Rodney and you're going to tell him your not interested. Tell him its not your problem and he can ask someone else to help him get his ex-girlfriend back. Okay?"
I give her a faint smile. "Okay."