The Jealousy Game

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Chapter 6: Aftermath

I don’t know what I had expected would happen when I kissed Noah. Maybe I thought he would push me away and do something immature like say, “Oh, my god, you gave me cooties!”

But that’s not what he did. Instead he reacted almost immediately and did something that had not really been on the agenda.

He kissed me back.

I was kissing—and I don’t mean a simple peck, I mean actually kissing—my old best friend, and then tormentor, and then sworn enemy, and then fake-boyfriend. In front of my whole school.

Well, I doubt people will be second-guessing our relationship now, I thought.

I don’t know what had possessed me to kiss him. Maybe the weight of Logan’s gaze. But the truth was, I had just taken things to a whole new level.

I had complicated what was going on between Noah and I.

I had made a huge mistake.

I was just about to pull away and apologize for my actions when a voice interrupted us. “Hey, Fordman, get your hands off of her.”

We both pulled back immediately, and I turned to see Logan staring at us with nostrils flared and fists clenched. I had never seen him this angry in my life.

“Mind your own business, Hawkins,” Noah replied caustically, keeping his arms around my waist possessively.

“She is my business,” Logan told him.

“Not anymore she’s not. Why don’t you run along and go back to your new girlfriend? She probably needs someone to help her read the scoreboard, anyway,” Noah said pleasantly, insinuating that Daisy was stupid.

And he was right.

Logan looked ready to kill Noah.

“Guys, knock it off,” I intervened, stepping in between them. “It’s not worth it.”

“What are you doing with him, Marley?” Logan asked, his attention turning to me. “Were you really that desperate?”

“I’m pretty sure that’s exactly what she was thinking when she got with you. ‘Wow, am I really that desperate?’” Noah countered, an arrogant smirk slipping onto his face.

Logan stepped forward, and I put a restraining arm on both of their chests. This could get very ugly very quickly. “Guys,” I cried, trying to get their attention. “Snap out of it. You,” I said, narrowing my eyes at Logan. “You should know better. And you,” I said, turning to Noah. “Walk away. He’s not worth it.”

Noah nodded, looking pleased I took his side, and slipping his hand into mine. “You’re right. Come on, babe. Let’s go.”

“This isn’t over, Fordman!” Logan yelled after us.

Noah flipped him off in return, but didn’t turn around. Instead he continued walking until we reached his truck.

He opened the door for me and then got in himself in the other side. I snapped my seatbelt and stared out the window.

After a few minutes of silence, Noah asked, “Did you just kiss me, Marley?”

So, he didn’t wanna talk about Logan and the almost-fight that went down between them. He wanted to talk about a petty kiss?

OK, so maybe it wasn’t petty. The kiss actually ruled. It was the superhero of kisses. It still gave me tingles thinking about it.

Except that this was Noah, my enemy. It was a fake kiss, just like everything else. I told Noah as much.

“Yes, I did. Just because I knew Logan was there,” I deflected quickly. “It was just a kiss for show. Completely fake.”

“Really? Because it didn’t feel fake to me,” Noah mused, blinkering into another lane as we made our way towards Betsy’s Diner. “It felt pretty real, actually.”’

“Well, then you’re delusional. There was nothing real about the kiss. It was as fake as Daisy’s hair extensions.”

“Really?” he asked again. “Because they seem pretty real as well.”

“Well, they aren’t. That’s the whole point of it, right? They make hair extensions look real, but the person who got them knows they’re fake. It’s just like our kiss. To everyone else, it looked pretty real. But I thought we both knew it was fake.”

Despite my embarrassing rambling, I was pretty proud of my quick thinking. It was actually a pretty plausible excuse. And the analogy made sense.

The truth was, it had started out as a fake kiss just to make Logan angry. But then something happened during the kiss. All of a sudden it seemed totally and completely real. I actually enjoyed kissing him.

And that thought scared me.

“What can I get you guys?” a chirpy voice asked fifteen minutes later.

I looked up from the menu I had been intently studying, my eyes raising to a sixteen-year-old girl with tanned skin, blue eyes, athletic legs, silky blonde hair and an enthusiastic smile. She popped her pink bubblegum in her mouth, and for a second she seemed almost like a doll.

She looked between us, and her eyes lingered on Noah longer than necessary. Geez, I knew he was good-looking, but honestly… were all the girls really that desperate?

I smiled, reminding her that the ‘girlfriend’ was still here.

“Hi,” I said. “I’ll have a garden burger, with a side of salad and fries.”

“Coolio,” she said enthusiastically. Her nametag read Britney. “Any drink?”

“Uh, sparkling water, thanks,” I said, pushing the menu away.

She nodded and turned towards Noah, her eyes lighting up. “And you?”

He gave her a charming smile, and said, “Hey. I’ll have a cheeseburger, fries, a chocolate milkshake and a sundae.”

How a man could eat that much and still be in such athletic form was a mystery to me.

The girl nodded and simpered off, looking proud of myself. I cocked an eyebrow at Noah.

“What?” he asked defensively. “I’m a growing boy.”

“You’ll be growing outwards if you continue to eat like that.”

“Well, excuse me, Miss Healthy-Garden-Burger-And-Sparkling-Water. Some of us like to splurge a little. What happened to you, anyway? You never used to eat so healthily.”

“My metabolism caught up with me,” I replied.

I looked around at the diner that was rapidly becoming filled. There were football jocks and cheerleaders everywhere. This was a very good place to be seen at. People could actually witness us on a date. I would have to thank Noah later on for his smart thinking.

“I think we need to talk about our relationship,” Noah said in a quiet voice, putting his elbows on the table and leaning forward.

My heart sped up in my chest, and I looked around hesitantly. “What? Here?”

“What’s going on with you and Logan? You say you want him back, but when you’re around him, you’re all of a sudden all over me. There’s jealousy, and then there’s plain just pushing a guy away.”

I tucked my hair behind my ears. “I don’t… I don’t know. I want him back, but he’s such a jerk when he’s around me.”

“That’s the jealousy kicking in, Mar.”

“I guess… I just want…” I furrowed my brow. But what did I want? The truth was, I had no idea what exactly I was doing. I wanted Logan back, but when he was around me, he always showed his more… repulsive side and all of a sudden he loses his appeal.

“Marley, I’m gonna be honest with you here. I’m gonna say something that I will never repeat ever again for the sake of my dignity and for the sake of our hatred towards each other.”

I was beyond intrigued at this statement, and leant forward eagerly. “What is it?”

He ran a hand through his hair and cast a glance out around us, as if afraid he would be overheard. I rolled my eyes.

“I think you deserve a better boyfriend.”

My eyes snapped to him and I froze as his words sank in. Noah thought I deserved better than Logan? He thought I was too good for him? For a second I was speechless, opening and closing my mouth like a guppy fish as I tried to string together some sort of sentence.

I had never been more thankful for the bouncy blonde waitress. She was almost bubbling with excitement as she placed our meals on the table.

“There you go, guys. Can I get you anything else?”

“No, we’re good, thanks,” Noah said, shooting her a smile that probably made her melt inside.

She giggled and almost ran off in her haste. How did a guy like Noah Fordman have such an effect on people?

I turned back to him, ready to tell him that I really appreciated his concern, but that I thought he was wrong.

Just as I opened my mouth, he yawned loudly and dug in. “Food smells nice. You should really dig in before things get cold.”

“Noah—” I said, but he cut me off.

“I mean, my food looks nice. A garden burger, not so much. I never understood girls and their diets. I mean, seriously, I get the metabolism, but girls are so convinced they have to be beautiful that they forsake the simpler things in life.”

Was he serious right now? He was going to prattle on about eating habits after what he had just told me?

I forced a smile. “That’s really great, and I’m glad you think that, but—”

“Maybe it’s the fact that girls think guys want pretty, slim, vegetarian girls, but to me a meat-eater is more attractive. Someone who isn’t so worried about their weight—”

“Are you serious, Noah?” I cried, throwing my hands up in exasperation. “You’re going to tell me that you think I deserve better, and then just leave it at that?”

Calmly, he laid down his fork. “I didn’t think anything else needed to be said on the matter.”

“Of course something else needs to be said! Maybe give me time to reply?”

“I gave you time to reply. All you did was open and close your mouth like a fly trap.”

“All I wanted to say was that it means a lot that you want the best for me, but it really isn’t necessary. You don’t know Logan like I do—”

“No, Marley. You don’t know him like I do.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“I know that you’re still innocent and naïve Marley Adams, but I can’t believe you would be that blind to everything.”

I took a deep breath, struggling to remain calm as our raised voices began to attract unwanted attention from other diner-goers.

“Look, Noah, Logan and I were together for a long time, OK? I know him better than anyone else.”

He shook his head. “How ironic. You’re right. You were together a long time. But then, you were probably the one who knew him the least out of everyone.”

“What does that even mean, Noah?”

“It means that while you think he’s some sweet, handsome, gentlemanly angel, all this time he’s been playing you like a toy. And I’m through with letting him.”

He threw a twenty on the table and pushed back his plate, standing up and leaving before I could even voice any protests.

I looked down at my food glumly as he exited. Even though it was obvious he was mad at me, he had still put down enough money for both of our meals and a sizeable tip.

My appetite suddenly gone, I stood up as well, lowering my eyes and stepping towards the front of the diner. His words rang loud and clear through me head.

All this time he’s been playing you like a toy.

And I’m through with letting him.

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