|♠ 07: Uneventful dinner
"I think you should join us for dinner tonight." I tell Rodney as I grab some books from my locker.
He's waiting so that he can walk me to my next class. I'm getting used to being escorted by him that I'm practically dreading the day it stops. All I have to do to prevent that from happening is to make sure he won't go back to Paris. Should be easy, right?
His eyes bore into the side of my head. "Why do you think that?"
"Because its already been a week and your still not talking to Gun. You need to fix things with him. I swear he's getting grumpier by the day. Its driving me crazy."
He winces. "That sounds like a bummer. "
"Oh, you have no idea."
An audible sigh escapes his lips. "But every time I try to talk to him, he walks away or simply ignores me." His eyebrows pinch together. "I don't think he'll ever forgive me."
"He's just being an idiot. Which is why you need to come over tonight." So you and me can spend some time together, and you'll fall in love with me in no time. "You need to put more effort into groveling."
He smirks, his azure eyes gleaming in amusement. "You make it sound like we're a couple."
"Maybe you should have asked Gun to pretend to be your fake boyfriend then," I joke, keeping my voice low.
"Huh. Why didn't I think of that?" We burst out laughing. "Come on, let's take you to class." Taking my books from my hands, he hooks his arm over my shoulders and ushers me away from the locker.
His lemon and lavender, citrus and almost abrasive floral scent envelopes me, and its all I can do not to sniff him like a dog.
Rodney is a "touchy boyfriend." He has to have his hand on me all the time. Either he's holding my hand or resting his hand at the small of my back or hooking his arm over my shoulders. Butterflies flutter in my stomach every single time. And its getting harder and harder to pretend like I'm not at all affected by his touch. Especially when he kisses my cheek or forehead as a form of goodbye.
Like right now as we stand outside my next class where I try not to gawk at our clasped hands.
"Do you really think its a good idea to show up at your house tonight? You think your brother won't throw me out?" He probs with a cute crease on his forehead.
"Well, I can't promise that. But I can promise that I'll at least try to stop him. Does that sound better?"
"Maybe a little." Rodney chuckles nervously.
"Its going to be fine," I assure him, squeezing his hand. "Dinner is going to be so uneventful, it will be boring. But if the worst happens, I'll have your back, I promise."
He opens his mouth to respond, but then his eyes wander over my shoulder. The expression on his face telling me he just decided against whatever he planned to say. Then before I know it, his lips descend and slant over mine.
Its just a quick kiss maybe three seconds tops, but it knocks my whole world off just the same. My lips throb from the contact, and my heart is pumping way too fast in my chest, my knees threatening to give out under me.
My eyes are wide as saucers as I stare up at him, hope flickering alive in my chest. "W-What was that for?"
He looks over my shoulder then grins at me sheepishly. "Paris walked past and I just....blanked. Sorry, Snookie. I didn't mean to."
Disappointment hits my gut like a sucker punch. He kissed me not because he wanted to. He kissed me because he wanted to make her jealous. Isn't reality check a giant bitch?
"Right," I say tightly, clearing my throat. "Guess I better head inside before Ms. Bugsey gets in." I step inside the classroom without waiting for his response, the loud thud of the door behind me seeming like the sound of my heart hitting the floor.
"I'm glad you decided to join us for dinner, sweetie." Mom smiles at Rod from across the table as she scoops chicken casserole into Dad's plate.
"Its been a while" Dad nods in agreement before frowning a moment later. "Come to think of it, I haven't seen you around lately. Been busy at school, son?"
Gun visibly stiffens, his lips flattening into a thin line.
"Something like that." Rodney says with a chuckle, sending my brother a wary glance.
Which is completely unnecessary. Gunther isn't stupid to make a scene in front of our parents. He doesn't want them to know about the current rift between him and Rod.
Still, I have to make things less awkward. "You know how it is, Dad. School is crazy as it is, but paired it with basketball? Rod is practically a busy bee. Right?" I elbow Rodney— who's sitting right next to me— with a laugh.
Gunther snorts loudly, drawing everyone's attention. I cast him a glare, and it doesn't escape our parent's sharp eyes. Their gazes bounce between the three of us, sensing that something is a miss.
"Everything okay?" Mom asks with a slight frown. "Is there something the three of you need to tell us?"
"Nothing." I say, keeping my tone casual. "Gun is just being annoying. Just ignore him. I usually do."
Its my brother's turn to glare at me. "Really? You want to go there?"
"Oh, get over yourself. Your making a big deal over nothing." Seriously, he's the only one making the whole thing hard for all of us.
"Because your being stupid!"
"And your an idiot!"
"That's enough," Dad snaps in an authorotive voice. "We're having dinner and the two of you are being disrespectful. You can talk about whatever issue you have with each other later. And no yelling? Are we clear?"
"Yes, Dad." Gun and I mutter at the same time as Mom huffs out a frustrated breath.
Beside me, Rod is squirming in his seat, clearly feeling uncomfortable.
Great. I promised that dinner would be uneventful, yet I was the one who broke the promise. I just couldn't help myself and had to run my mouth. And here I thought I could use the opportunity to make Gun and Rod reconcile. Instead, I made things worse.
Damn Gunther for being such a jerk. He's making it easy for me to be pissed at him. I thought he'd be over it by now, but he's still acting like a big baby. Like Rodney hurt him or something. It wasn't as if his best friend went behind his back.. Rodney gave him a heads-up, didn't he?
"So, dinner was going to be uneventful, huh?" Rod gently bumps his shoulder against mine. The tense filled dinner is over and we're sitting outside on my front steps.
I wince. "Sorry about that. It was actually my fault. I couldn't shut my mouth fast enough."
"Nah. Gun didn't have to antagonize you like that." He falls silent for a moment. "The two of you are fighting. Paris is going after you. And its all because of me. Nothing is worth all this trouble. Shit. I feel like a selfish prick." He blows out a breath and stares out in the empty street. "Are you sure you don't want to drop our arrangement?"
"Didn't we already have this conversation?"
He groans. "Daph, I'm serious."
"And who says I'm not?" I give him a stern look. "Listen you need to stop this blame game you've been playing with yourself. I told you I'd help you and that's what I'm doing right now. So enough of the self-guilt, okay?"
He said nothing is worth all this trouble? But what he doesn't know is that he is.
"But what will happen when we "break up?" People will talk. " he scowls. "I don't want anyone talking shit about you."
When we "break up": Translation: When he and Paris are finally back together.
I huff out a fake laugh. "Don't worry about me. I can salvage my reputation by getting a new boyfriend. You know, to let everyone know that our "breakup " didn't affect me. They won't think I'm a pathetic loser then."
Rodney doesn't seem to share my humour though. He remains quiet for a long moment before turning to me with an unreadable expression on his face. "Why? Do you have someone in mind already?"
"The guy with amber eyes." I find myself blurting out.
"Adrian," I murmur without thinking. What the fuck.
With a frown, he probes. "Who the hell is Adrian? Adrian who?"
"Just a boy I met. I don't even know why I said his name." Crazy, I was even thinking about Adrian Kingston.
"So, where did you meet this Adrian?"
"At Nikky's dad's bookstore." I shake my head, waving a hand dismissively. "Forget I mentioned him. Just...let me handle it when the time comes."
And I really hope it won't come to that.