|♠ 06: Hey there, Adrian
"He was basically giving you an out. You should have taken it." Nikky smiles at the middle-aged woman. She's ringing out behind the counter and hands her a paper bag filled with a few books. "Here you go, ma'am. Have a nice day."
"You too dear." Giving both of us a warm smile, the customer walks out of Baldwin Reads & Sno-cones, Ricky Baldwin— Nikky's dad— bookstore.
Ricky's out on an errand so its just me and Nikitta. I went over to the store when she called an hour ago and asked me to accompany her. Since I had nothing else to do, I obliged.
Nikitta steps out of the counter as we sit at the nearest coffee table where we can easily see customers coming in. "It's fine. I can handle Paris."
She purses her lips into a tight line. "You, know, there's a word that people use for girl's like you."
"A martyr?" I choke out a laugh. "Isn't that a little harsh?"
"Yeah, but its also the truth." She raises a brow, as if challenging me to argue.
"It's not that I'm being purposely pathetic. Its just that...." I bite my lip, unable to find the right words to say.
"You're still holding out hope that Rodney will finally see you," She finishes for me.
I give her a wry smile. "Too obvious, huh?"
"Well, you had your hair done. That alone clued me in. Which looks gorgeous, by the way. But when was the last time you did something like that?"
"Never," I admit with a sigh. "But honestly, I mostly I did it for myself. I felt like I needed a change so I went ahead and got one. But I'd be lying if I say I didn't think about what his reaction would be."
Her eyebrows quirk up. "And what was his reaction?"
I clear my throat, biting back a grin. "He said he loved my long hair but this short one looks better on me."
Nikky breaks out a huge grin which has me doing the same. For a moment, we just grin at each other, like typical teenage girls gushing over their crushes.
Then she turns serious once again. "Not to be a downer, but don't get your hopes up too high, okay? I mean, you have Paris as your competition. She's friend's with Gabriella Donovan, so its very likely that she knows how to play tricky."
Gabriella Donovan is another one of the FFB's. In fact, she's known as their leader. She also happens to have a thing for Gunther, and she played dirty tricks in the past to get his attention— threatening to out Nikky and Gun's fake relationship. She also manhandedly kissed Gun, being the worst of them.
Thankfully, nothing came out of that.
"Oh, I'm very aware of that. Trust me. I'm not at all confident that I'll be able to best her." I swallow hard and give my best friend a faint smile. "Its just.... Don't I owe myself this? A chance to see if I can get the boy I want? Maybe I'll get my heart broken in the end, or maybe I won't. But at least I can say that I tried."
That was the original plan, anyway, before Rodney asked me to pretend to he his girlfriend. No matter how many times I convince myself that I'm only doing him a favour as a friend, deep down I know I'm doing it for myself. Maybe it's something but a pipe dream, but like I told Nikky, I owe myself to give it a shot.
After a long moment, she nods. "I get it. I'm not a hundred percent into it, but I understand. So what's your plan, now?"
I open my mouth to answer her when the double door of the store swings open, which tells us a new customer just walked in.
A boy I've never seen before.
The first thing I notice is his shinny jet black hair as he glances around the place.
Nikky exchanges a raised eyebrow look with me before moving from her seat and approaching him.
I find myself trailing after her.
"Hi, Welcome to Baldwin Reads!" My best friend greets in a cheerful voice.
"Hello." He grins at Nikitta then at me, and I'm suddenly assaulted by his amber eyes. They have a scent that's warm, musky, rich and honey-like, and also somewhat earthy.
I push my glasses up my nose and give him an awkward wave, regretting it the moment I did.
Nikky shoots me an amused glance before asking the boy what he's looking for.
"I was wondering if you have a copy of the latest book in the Sons of Wonderland series. Cruel as a Queen by Kendra Moreno?"
"I think we have that in stock," She says, leading him toward the bookshelves.
I just stare after them, wondering why I've never seen the boy before. He seems to be our age, but he doesn't go to our school. I'd know if he were.
"I haven't read this book yet, but I've read great reviews about it. So I think you'll love it." Nikky tells him as he rings him up at the counter.
He gives her a sheepish smile. "Its actually for my little sister. She's a book nerd and a fan of the author."
"Your sister is my kindred spirit then," she chuckles.
"You don't go to Horizon High, do you?" I can't help but ask. "I don't think I've ever seen you around school."
"That's right." He smiles at me. "I go to The Darrow School."
"Oh," I figured as much. The Darrow School is all the way across town and known as an exclusive school. "One of the rich kids, then?"
His cheeks redden. "I wouldn't call myself rich, but my classmates sure are. Do you know the souvenir store across the street? It's my mom's. Its relatively new though, only around a few months."
With wide eyes, Nikitta snaps her fingers. "That's why you look familiar. I've seen you a few times before. Ughh. Where are my manners? I'm Nikitta and this is my best friend Daphine."
"Well, nice to meet you Nikitta and Daphine. I'm Adrian Kingston." He's smiling, but his eyes are on me even as he talks to the two of us. We just smile at each other until he visibly startles and fishes his phone out of his pocket. Frowning at the screen, he says, "I have to go. Mom is already calling for me. Guess I'll see you both around?"
"Sure," Nikitta and I say in unison, watching him walk out the door in long strides and across the street.
"He's hot, isn't he?" She nudges me.
Yeah. He definitely is.