“Where are you going?” the only person in the world that could make her smile even as he pissed her off asked from where he stood, leaning back against the house where he’d apparently been waiting for her.
“Home,” she said, gesturing towards the woods and the path that would take her home where she could sit on her couch, eating cookie dough and watching old Saturday Night Live episodes while she pretended to study for her algebra test.
“I see,” Darrin murmured thoughtfully and as much as she’d love to ignore him and go home, something in his tone had her stopping and turning around to glare at him.
“You see what exactly?” she asked, narrowing her eyes on him.
“That you’re a chicken,” he said with that cocky smile of his, the same one that most of the men in his family seemed to have perfected by the age of ten.
She blinked up at him, sure that she’d misheard him. “I’m a chicken because I didn’t want to go in a closet and get felt up by some boy that I barely know?”
“No,” he said, shaking his head with a heavy sigh as he leaned back against the wall, “because you’re running away from your feelings for me.”
“My feelings for you?” she repeated back slowly, wondering if he’d managed to hit his head today.
“You’re madly in love with me,” he said solemnly, making her roll her eyes in exasperation.
“Puhlease,” she said, shaking her head as she turned around and headed for the path and the cookie dough that she’d hidden in the back of fridge.
“Then everyone is delusional,” she said, not bothering to bite back her smile as she ducked beneath an overhanging branch and stepped onto the well-worn path.
“This just proves how badly you want me,” he explained as he joined her on the path.
“Because I’m walking away from you?” she asked dryly as she ducked beneath another branch.
“I think running would be a more fitting word,” he said, sounding thoughtful and earning an exasperated shake of her head and a roll of her eyes as she placed her hand on his arm to steady herself as she stepped over a fallen log blocking their path.
“You do realize that I was leaving the party before you showed up, right?” she asked with a resigned sigh as he hung that large arm of his over her shoulders.
“Because you sensed me.”
“You’re right. I did,” she admitted with a solemn nod.
“I knew it,” he said, sighing heavily as he gave her shoulders a gentle squeeze.
“Want to tell me why you bothered to show up at all?” she asked, shooting him a curious glance to find him looking down at her.
“Why wouldn’t I show up?” he asked, frowning.
“Because you weren’t invited?”
He shrugged it off. “That usually doesn’t stop me.”
Well, that was true…
“There’s also the fact that you said that you had no interest in going to that party,” she reminded him as they navigated their way around a large puddle blocking their path.
“I changed my mind,” he simply said as they stepped back on the path.
“Waiting until later to give you your dare,” he said offhandedly and if she hadn’t been watching the cute little chipmunk sitting in the middle of the trail she probably would have realized what he’d said sooner.
As it was, she’d barely managed to break away from him before he asked, “Don’t you want to hear your dare?”
“No!” she yelled over her shoulder as she darted off towards the right, hoping the dense woods would provide her with some sort of protection, but thanks to her lack of athletic ability and a thick root sticking out of the ground, she didn’t make it very far before he turned his dare into a double dare that ended with her spending the next six months sentenced to doing grunt work for Uncle Jared and cursing the day that she’d heard the phrase, “Double Dare.”
“Looks like Trevor’s getting arrested.”
“Uh huh, that’s nice,” she said, not bothering to look up from the iPad mini that she felt was rightfully hers now.
“Marybeth-” the betraying bastard once again started with his bullshit apology, but she knew the tone that he was using a little too well.
“It’s not going to work,” she said, absently swiping her finger over the iPad’s screen, sighing heavily when the new page didn’t look any more promising than the last one had.
“But, I’m really sorry,” Darrin, the bastard that she couldn’t seem to shake, said, sounding like he was pouting, which he most likely was since his charming tone hadn’t worked on her.
“Rot in hell, you selfish bastard,” she said, trying not to cringe when she saw the asking price for a basic one bedroom apartment on Royal Ave, which wasn’t exactly encouraging since Royal Ave was located in one of the worst parts of the city.
“I can’t believe that you’re still mad,” the asshole muttered, grabbing her beer and finishing it off.
“Believe it, you male whore,” she muttered, once again swiping, cringing, and swiping again.
“But, she attacked me!” Darrin said with the typical Bradford arrogance and drama that she was, unfortunately, used to.
“Uh huh, that’s nice,” she said, wondering if she should look for a new roommate only to dismiss the idea seconds later. There was no way that she was going to be able to go through that again, not unless she cut the jerk stealing her hotdog out of her life and after all the years of bullshit that he’d put her through, she just couldn’t do it. She’d put too much time in training this one and at her age, she really didn’t like the idea of breaking in a new best friend.
“What if I told you that I could make it up to you?” Darrin asked, putting his arm around the back of her seat so that he could lean in next to her and look at the screen.
“I’d call you a lying bastard,” she said, not bothering to shove him away since it wouldn’t do any good. The bastard simply didn’t understand the concept of personal space, at least not where she was concerned.
He’d always been that way. When they were kids he’d grab her by the hand and drag her everywhere, demand to sit next to her at lunch or in class, and he always had his arm thrown around her, always. If he’d been any other guy, she probably would have shoved him away or kicked him in the balls, but….