Jessica Thompson as That Girl

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XXIX. The Rumored Girl

Jessica’s POV:

I’m glad I put the drinks down before she spilled the beans. “What?”

“Yes!” She switches off the lights and urges me to sit down beside the bed. Krista clicks on her phone, puts in her passcode, and swipe until the screen lands on a photo.

In the picture, as clear as day, it shows Jax Rocco and Megan Miller.

“Can you imagine the hurricane that’s going to happen when we go back to school? I even heard Todd left in the middle of Megan’s performance to meet up with some girl!”

“Huh?” My brain speeds up in an attempt to understand the current situation. There’s no way she is talking about me. There are tons of other girls around Todd. I mean, he’s Todd freaking Barrett. What are the chances?

“Some people saw him talking to a girl near the couples’ ride! Holy cow!”

If this were a story, there would be a giant arrow that’s pointing at me. Besides the arrow, it would say - The rumored girl who was with Todd Barrett. The sweat began to make its appearance. “Did anyone mention who?”

“No. No one knows.” I exhale lightly. “But, rumors say Megan is pissed about him leaving in the middle of her performance. But, wait till she finds out about this! Oh, who am I kidding! She probably already knows.”

I swallow, “What do you think she would do?”

“What else? Hunt the girl down. You know-” she elbows me, “until Todd finds out she left the festival with Jax Rocco.”

I grabbed the blanket and wrapped it around myself. If I don’t do it, Krista may notice how my hands are shaking. I can’t believe I missed out on so much. How did I miss all that?

At one point, I was with both Jax and Todd.

No. That’s the problem. I was with both Jax and Todd. If I didn’t run into either of them, I wouldn’t be in this predicament.

Then again, what’s the predicament?

Yes, a few people saw Todd and me together, but they don’t know it’s me. The only person who knows it’s me is Todd, and he’s not the type to run his mouth. And even if people do find out, what can they do? Todd and I have known each other since we were in elementary school. He’s Brody’s friend. It’s not unusual for us to talk once in a while.

The most people can say is: “Maybe Todd and Jessica are going behind Megan’s back. Todd is cheating on Megan with Jessica?”

Even that doesn’t sound believable inside my head.

“It’s me,” I said.

The movie starts its introduction. It’s the same as every other one, with its fancy colorful logos and mellow tune. “What?”

“It’s me. The mysterious girl with Todd beside the couples’ ride is me. We bumped into each other when I was trying to find you all.”

After a few seconds, Krista’s mouth widens into a circle. “Oh. Well, that’s no fun.” She’s saying how the drama just got less juicy.

I wasn’t afraid of admitting that the mysterious girl is me because I expected this reaction.

“It must be another girl after you then!” Krista puts on her invisible detective hat.

I don’t know what to say anymore. I mean, there is a possibility that Todd met another girl after I left, but is it so hard for people to believe there may be something between us? I cannot believe I wanted people to think there was something between us. I should be grateful they didn’t. I dodged a massive bullet.

“Yeah. That must be it.” I’ll play along.

I can think of so many different scenarios, but even the most challenging situation would hardly affect me. Also, if Megan finds out the person Todd talked to was me. What can she do? We spoke in front of everyone. It’s a small festival. People are bound to run into each other.

Megan’s situation is different.

There’s evidence that she left with Jax. Jax and Megan hardly ever interact with each other. They don’t have a solid background like Todd and me to shield them from gossip.

With that thought, my chest squeezed. Maybe, I’m having a heart attack.

Just kidding.

I know it’s because I kind of like Jax.

I exhale lightly. I shouldn’t feel that way. Not to a guy like him.

I’ve ignored my feelings for Todd for nearly a decade, so I have some experience in ignoring emotions.

I push back the thought of Jax and Megan.

After the movie, Krista was deeply asleep. Somehow, I’m still widely awake. I’m not too fond of it—these unpredictable insomnias. After I threw a blanket on top of Krista, I gathered all the food and trash then made my way downstairs.

“Look, Vic,” Brody’s voice echoes inside the house. I halted in the hallway and made my way towards the front door. “Nothing is going on between Krista and me. For fuck sake, the girl is like my younger sister, and she has a boyfriend.”

“Well, I got a thing or two to say about that,” I mumbled. I debated on whether or not I should sneak back into my bedroom.

“Why am I fucking angry?” He whispered. “Because you fucking called my younger sister a loser! She is my fucking baby sister! You don’t fucking disrespect my family!”

I nearly dropped all the items. This is the first time I’ve heard Brody dropped the f-bomb so frequently.

I peek between the cracks.

“Yeah.” Brody rushes his fingers through his hair. “You think you can fucking apologize, and everything will be alright?”

I can hear the cries even from a distance away.

Brody looks up from the cement. That look can make anyone shit their pants. “I said it earlier, and I’ll repeat it. We’re through. I let you slide all this time, but this is the fucking last straw. Don’t call me again.”

While he angrily slides his thumb across the screen, I wobble backward until I’m in the kitchen.

I think Brody and Victoria broke up.

I did say they wouldn’t last, but I didn’t want their reason not to last to be me.

I set the plates inside the sink and snacks inside the storage closet. The guilt bloomed not inside my chest but my brain. I felt fine, but my mind won’t allow me to settle.

“Jess?”

I turn towards the sound of Krista’s voice. “I’m he-”

“Hey,” Krista said.

“Hey,” Brody responds.

Silence.

I stood in front of the snack closet, while they settled in the hallway entrance.

“How are you?” Krista asks.

“Good. Having a fun time sleeping over?” Brody responds. It was an awkward conversation, filled with mostly silence.

Earlier when Krista rode with us, she avoided eye contact with Brody. Brody did the same. I was the one who sat in the middle.

“Yeah. It’s fun. Sorry if we made any noise.”

“Nah. I could barely hear you two.” Brody’s room is beside mine.

“Oh, cool. Goodnight.” I can hear Krista’s footsteps making its way towards the kitchen.

“Kris?” Brody calls for her. There’s a part of me that wishes he didn’t.

“Yeah?”

More silence. “How are things between Francis and you?”

“Oh,” Krista chuckles. I can hear the force behind it. “Good. And you?” Krista is avoiding any talk about Francis.

I wonder how Brody would respond. Would he confess to her that he broke up with Victoria? Would he tell her how he really felt? Would he walk away? There’s so much possibility.

“We’re good,” Brody responds.

Why did he lie?

Why did I even question why he lied?

Of course, I know why he lied.

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