Jessica Thompson as That Girl

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VII. Todd Dolla Barrett

Jessica’s POV:

“Here,” I reply, knowing it’s terrible to study in a guy’s room - particularly one with a girlfriend.

Plus, we are already here, so it feels like a lot of work moving.

Todd sat down on the ground, and I sat across from him. He pulled out his books along with a binder and a mechanical pencil. “Why are you sitting over there?” he asks.

“So, I could teach you?” I reply, not knowing what else to say while I pull out my stuff.

“Why not here?” He points the pencil down at the position beside him.

The air between us thickens as we both kept quiet regarding his question of why I’m not sitting beside him.

I released a deep breath through my nostrils, positioning myself into a comfortable criss-cross and cupped my hands on top of the table. “Todd Dolla Barrett,” I said his full name as his mother does whenever he gets in trouble, causing him to groan.

“I told you never to say my middle name out loud,” he said shamefully, hanging his face inside his palm.

I fought the smile on my face and kept it severe. “Dolla,” I said, and he threw himself on the couch, knowing I won’t stop.

“You have a girlfriend,” I stated those four-letter words, and he slowly sat up, golden hair flowing across his deep blues.

“So, what does sitting beside me have to do with that?”

I sat up straighter, placing a hand on my beating chest. “I am a lady,” I said, causing him to snicker, but quickly tucked his lips over his mouth when I glared at him. “And as a lady, I shall not condone irksome rumors regarding me, tarnishing my reputation.”

A seemingly, “Ha-” sound left his mouth, “When were you ever a lady.”

“When you decided to stop talking to me in elementary school,” I spoke in a bitter tone, seeing the guilt flashing across his face.

“I’m sorry,” he mumbled, seemingly shrinking down.

I let out a humming sound to acknowledge his presence, but not accepting his apology. “So, let’s start with today’s homework. We don’t want to no finish our latest work, because of playing catch up,” I said, grabbing my book from my backpack.

Todd grab my hand, “I’m sorry,” he repeats.

I place my book down, removing my hand from his and open to the assigned homework.

He held my hand again, placing his finger under my chin, lifting my head. I froze at his actions as he grazes his thumb across my cheek, tucking a rebellious strand of hair behind my ear. The beating inside my heart was irritating, the same one I held for him since elementary school somehow dug it’s way out.

At that moment, I knew I was in trouble.

Big trouble.

The phone on the counter buzzed, catching both of us off guard. He retracted his hand, crunching it into a fist, and coughing a few times to clear the tension between us.

I grabbed my phone, seeing an unknown number, then excused myself, wanting some air. I stepped into the kitchen and exhaled, swiping the phone. “Hello?”

“Grinch,” with that familiar sound, I let out grunting noise and rolled my eyes.

I lean against the counter, crossing my arms. “Panty Dropper, congrats, you been demoted to a stalker. How did you get my number?”

“Doesn’t matter how,” he brushes off my question. “Now, I’m going to get revenge Grinch because I fucking swear no one -”

“Trip you,” I cut him off.

“Did you just-”

“Cut you off,” I cut him off again.

“Why do you keep-”

I bit my nails, “Cutting you off?”

“You better-”

“Stop it,” I continued.

“I swear I’ll-”

“Kill you?”

“You-”

“I got to go.”

“Wait-”

“Bye,” I end the call.

Two seconds later, my phone buzzes, and I snorted, seeing the familiar number. I rejected his call, then roughly three seconds later, there was a message.

[Unknown]: Pick up your fucking phone.

I chuckled and saved the number under the name, PD for Panty Dropper.

[PD]: Be prepared.

I rolled my eyes, and instead of replying, I went back into the living room. Todd was sitting there, scrolling through his phone, and spinning a pencil in his free hand. There weren’t any particular emotions on his face. Once in a while, he would chuckle, then stopped spinning the pen, typed on the phone, and then resume his actions.

Stalking closer, I bend down, overlooking his shoulders to see what he was laughing about. My face was entirely blank, as usual, when I saw him watching a video about a cat jumping on the trampoline while making a deadly look at the camera. The camera zooms in at the cat’s face, and it continued jumping like a boss until it bounced to the neighbor’s yard.

I duck down, watching him laugh and replaying the video. I wonder why he finds it so funny to the point that he starts crying.

“Oh, fucking cat,” he mumbled to himself before turning off the app and turning the phone face down on the table.

Suddenly, he turned towards me and leaped back with a startled look on his face. “What the -”

“Fuck?” I finish for him.

His brows furrow, a mischievous smirk on his lips. “You look-”

“Sexy? I know,” I gave him a triumphant smile before going back to my usual seat.

Todd leaned his chin on his palm, elbow on resting on the glass table as his blue eyes twinkle under the artificial dimmed lights “Wrong,” he whispers lowly. He rested both forearms on the table, leaning closer to me while I pick up a blue mechanical pencil getting ready to study. “I was going to say cute.”

Blinking a few times, I glanced up at him. “What?”

“Cute. I was going to say you’re cute.” He grins smugly, eyes crinkling in a downward manner showing some wrinkles on the sideline.

Instead of responding, I poke the pencil at his sharp nose. “Don’t do this.”

He blinks, “Do what?” He question, twerking his head to the side, swaying his hair gently.

“Flirting,” I removed my pencil from his nose. “Flirting with someone who is in a relationship brings nothing but trouble,” I grumbled, eyes scanning the homework today, then realized I’m screw because I barely understand it.

I don’t understand why Todd would ask me to tutor when there are smarter students at our school who are dying to hang out with him. Even if its merely tutoring Todd, their social status will climb where they are more likely to be invited to other social events with beer and whatever kids my age do nowadays.

Todd leaned forward, settling his chin on his forearm, eyes gazing into mine as he slightly tilted his head. He chewed on his plump bottom lips, taking a few hypnotizing blinks.

“What if I don’t have a girlfriend?”

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