Chapter 59: Good,The Bad,and The Dirty - Panic!
Elle and I grew too good at sabotaging each other. Neither of us was in the running for winning the overall contest, but we kept up the competition amongst ourselves. Both of us were as dedicated as ever to win.
“Is the tie necessary? No one else is wearing one.” Milo loosened his as we waited to perform in the talent show.
“Yes. And no more talking. I need your voice in tip top shape.”
He glanced around backstage in hopes of getting a look at Izzie.
“Stop staring at her.” I watched the onstage performers to gauge how good we needed to be.
“Nope. It’s working.”
“I said stop talking.” I looked over at him.
He started using exaggerated hand gestures to communicate his argument. I didn’t need him to though. We were losing because of Izzie’s hold on him. Elle’s makeover had plenty to do with it, but she also upped her charm factor. She joked, smiled, and laughed all within earshot and she made a point to take care of him each time the opportunity arose. He was putty in her hands. I lessened her affect the night of the talent show by having Grace roll up Milo’s sleeves for him and keeping him away from Iz most of the day. It took some rearranging, but I had the perfect idea for shooting down Elle’s plan.
I caught sight of Elle before my team walked on stage. I winked. She narrowed her eyes at me.
Did I start with a crowd-pleasing, sing-along song? Yes. Did I move on to something nostalgic? Oh, yeah. A new but relevant song was our third song. It was received well. But the closer was a stroke of genius that I couldn’t be more proud of. When the song was announced and the heartfelt dedication to Izzie was given by Milo, Elle’s fury was practically audible.
Did I give my best friend a platform to stand up for his relationship? I sure did. Did I make one of my other best friends happy by allowing her boyfriend to play and sing the song that served as her ringtone? Yep. But did I also exploit their love because it sells? You bet your ass. It is a close second to sex and I regret nothing.
“Oh, I hate you. I really do.” Elle growled, getting right in my face.
“Now, now, Ellie. I get the sense that someone is bitter that they didn’t think of it first.”
“Not admitting that.”
“You should.” I retorted just as quickly as she did.
She sighed and placed a hand on my shoulder. “We’re winning for a reason, Dear. This was a good move. I’m sure Iz and Miles are going to be all over each other as soon as the bus pulls up to SMA, but I’ve got a trick that’s going to bring this home for us.”
Art came up behind her and tickled her sides. She turned around giggling.
“No touching here. You know that.” She massaged one of his shoulders.
“I wanted to wish you luck.” He kissed her forehead.
I rolled my eyes.
I was never jealous of their initial relationship, but I did not support their second try. He hurt her in ways I was unwilling to overlook. She meant the world to me. I knew from one look that he cut her to the core. Izzie and I did all that we could to stitch her back together, but one conversation with him is what made the light return to her eyes. He did not deserve her, but I knew better than to state my opinion. She’d turn it around on me and cite my past feelings.
“We’ve got this; no doubt.” I told her, pushing past them to catch up with my team.
I grabbed the back of Milo’s shirt and yanked him away from Izzie midstride.
“Hey.” He protested, stumbling.
“How much trouble do you think I would get into for fighting Art?”
“No, passive aggressive posts on social media. Of course I mean physically!” I whispered with sarcasm.
“A lot, both with the school and Elle. Why?”
I shook my head with distain as I thought of his hold over her. “He’s an idiot. It’d do him some good.”
“Even if you believe that to be the case, it is best you don’t interfere. She’d hate you if you if you butted into her romantic life without her say so.”
“But he hurt her.”
“But she’s forgiven him.”
I glanced over his shoulder and at them. “One more bad move on his part and I’m doing it.”
“Why do you care so much? I thought it was all platonic now.”
“I let her go because I didn’t think I could be all that she needed. I refuse to watch someone else stand at her side with fewer qualifications than I have. She deserves the best the world has to offer.”
“Word of advice: let him throw the punch metaphorically. Fight when actively provoked. It goes over better.”
“Hm. Good call.”
“Now get your head back in the game. If I have to be involved, so do you.” He pushed me playfully.