Jessica Thompson as That Girl

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XVI. Hotel del Grinch

Jessica’s POV:

He pulls me towards the parking lot before I can say another word to Todd.

“What are you doing?” I attempted to shake him off, but his grip was tight. He stopped walking and turned around. My face hit his chest. I motion my nostrils a few times and tilt my head upward. “Why did you- why do you look so creepy?”

“This is my first time.”

“What?”

“Getting in between a couple.”

I scoff, “Todd and I aren’t together.”

“No way.”

“Yes, way.”

“He’s my brother’s friend.”

“Well, your brother’s friend wants to fuck you. Now, get in before we look too weird.” He opens the car door.

I grunt slightly before I got inside his car. Jax threw his backpack into the trunk and gave Todd a victory smirk. I don’t know why he’s so proud. He got the guy friend’s sister into his car - big whoop. “Nice car,” I said.

He closes the door, “Thanks.”

“Yours?”

“No.” There was slight discomfort in his voice, so I decided not to question any further about the car.

“I’m going to clarify this.” Jax drove us out of the parking lot. “There isn’t anything between Todd and me.”

“Really?” Jax fixed the rearview mirror and grinned. “Because last time I checked. A guy wouldn’t look like that if he didn’t have a thing for the girl who’s driving away with the handsome bad boy.”

I cannot believe he manages to compliment himself in between the conversation.

I turn around. I would lie if I said I saw what Todd’s face looked like. I really need to go to the optometrist.

“Don’t turn around!” Jax screams.

Instantly, I turn my body. “You talked about his face, so I have to check.”

“You need to learn how to check subtly.” He adjusts the rearview mirror once more, showcasing his expert stalking skill.

I rest my elbow against the car door. “Todd has a girlfriend.”

“And?”

“I don’t mess with guys who have a girlfriend. Fact.”

“Well, who am I to judge others’ preferences.” I gave him a side glance but didn’t respond. “However-” I knew he was going to say something else. “I suggest not looking at a guy with a girlfriend that way if you’re not going to hook up with him.”

“What way?”

“The - I really want to be your girlfriend - look.”

“I do not look at Todd that way.”

“Okay, allow me to ask you some questions.”

“Even if I refuse, you’re going to ask anyway.” It’s odd. I have known Jax for less than a month, but somehow we’re talking as if we’ve known each other since childhood.

“Does his girlfriend glare at you?”

“Yeah.”

“Does his girlfriend somehow express hostility to you?”

“Yeah.”

“Why?”

“I dont know.”

“It’s simple.” I feel like he’s talking to himself, refusing to listen to anything coming out of my mouth. “She feels threatened by you.”

“And why would she?”

“Because she knows that Todd has a thing for you.”

“You’re overanalyzing the situation.”

“Nope.”

“You’ve seen Todd for less than five minutes.”

“But, I’ve been watching you guys in the hallway for a while now.”

I can hear it. Doomsday music in the background. It’s creepy to know the guy who’s sitting beside you, the one who controls the car and locks on the car, had been watching you for God knows how long.

“I mean, not in a creepy sense, but I noticed things.”

“Such as?”

“Such as the little triangle I just told you.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I also noticed two of your very few friends.” Am I a loner in everyone’s eyes? “The guy with glasses and the girl who’s avoiding her old group has a thing for each other.”

Hm. That’s interesting information. “Oh? That’s obvious. Anyone can tell.” Anyone except me.

“That girl that’s always with you-”

“Krista?”

“Krista got a thing for your older brother.”

“Now, that’s even more obvious.”

“Her boyfriend is also fake.”

I took a few blinks. How did he manage to notice that? They’ve been acting pretty well for the past week. If Krista didn’t tell me, I would’ve thought they were a real couple.

Jax grins, “He also has a thing for your friend.”

Now, this is getting creepy.

“And I happened to hear it all while you guys talked in the kitchen last weekend.”

“Really?” I exhale dramatically. I should’ve known.

“Don’t worry. It was only me. Your brother and everyone else was in the living room playing some game.”

“And here I was about to think you’re some professional analyst.”

“I hate to say this, but you’re putting me on a pedestal. I’m a normal person like you. I eat my noodles with a fork and put on my pants one leg at a time.” He nods to himself, “But, I did notice your brother having a thing for that crazy chick.”

“Krista?” I ask.

“Yeah.”

“Brody likes Krista?”

“Yeah. I mean, isn’t it obvious?”

“You’re lying.”

“Nope.”

“Then, why would he reject her?”

Jax shrugs, “Probably going through what that Toad-”

“Todd,” I corrected.

“That Todd guy is going through. You know, this code.”

“What code?”

“The universal code that everyone breaks.”

“Which is?”

“You don’t date a sibling’s friend or a friend’s sibling.”

I was too shocked for words. I cannot believe Brody has a thing for Krista. Wait. Am I really listening to Jax?

“You don’t believe me,” Jax said. He exhales and turns the wheel. He remembers the road to my house pretty well despite the lack of instruction. “Why would I lie?”

“Personal entertainment?”

“True. But, I’m not lying.”

“And I should believe you because-”

“Because I haven’t done anything that lost your trust.” I cannot believe he is using my line against me. “So, tell me. What are you going to do?”

“Nothing.”

“Nothing?”

“Even if Todd likes me, it doesn’t change anything. Reality is, he has a girlfriend, and my belief still stands.”

Instead of responding, Jax smiled and drove me the rest of the way. He pulls a stop at the front of my house. I open the door. “Thanks for the ride.”

Jax rests his head against the wheel. “See you around, Grinch.” I’m not going to lie; his grinning face is creeping me out slightly.

“See you, Panty Dropper.”

Once I got home, I took a nice warm shower. I need it after everything I heard today. With an exhausted exhalation, I flop onto the bed. My wet hair sways on the edge of the bed, and I look towards the window upside down to see Jax.

Wait. I sat upward, “Jax?”

Jax knocks against the glass and waves at me. I head towards the window and spread it open. “Why are you here?”

He hands me a twenty. “Hello, I would like to stay another night at the Hotel del Grinch.”

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