When we last saw Keatyn, she was lying in bed and Katie told her to open her eyes. Below are the last few lines of Date Me.
Our entire ceiling is covered with hundreds of little glow-in-the-dark stars.
“They’re beautiful,” I tell Katie. “When did you find time to do that?”
“I didn’t do it. That’s why I asked if you did it. ”
“I didn’t do it,” I say again.
“Who do you think did?”
“I have no idea. Unless it was Annie. Is that why she was so adamant that we come to her room tonight? Is she trying to cheer us up?”
“Could be. But she was with us the whole time. ”
My mind drifts to Aiden handing me a little star today in French. Me getting mad at him and tossing it back.
Then tonight. The cake. The peace offering.
Could Aiden have done this?
But that doesn’t make sense.
They were for the dream girl.
But in class he said something about my sisters liking them. About how they reminded me of home. Was he just trying to get rid of them?
"I think I might know,” I whisper to Katie.
I grab my phone from my bedside table and call Aiden.
“Hey, Boots, what's up?” he says, in his smooth delicious voice. “Get it? What’s up?”
“Aiden, did you . . . ”
He doesn't let me finish. “The answer to your question is yes. I did put stars all over your ceiling. ”
“They’re beautiful. But I don’t understand why you did it. ”
“I did it because I think it’s time you finally knew that the stars were always for you. Always. Only. Ever. For you. ”
Monday, October 17th
Lie here and swoon.
“But why?” Tell me, Aiden. Tell me that you fell head over heels in love with me when I kicked a soccer ball at your head. Tell me that when we kiss it feels like I'm kissing your soul. Tell me that your heart beats for me. Tell me that I was made for you.
“I just thought you should know that you were the person I wanted to ask to Homecoming. ”
“But then why did you tell Riley what Whitney did? Why did you help keep Dawson and me together?”
“Because I don’t like to see you hurt. And, honestly, I didn’t think he’d come back right away. ”
“I cut my knee. ”
“I know you did. ”
“I thought they were for someone else. ”
“I know that too. ”
“Why didn’t you tell me?”
“Once Dawson asked you, it was like boom you were dating, then boom you were saying I love you. What was I supposed to do at that point? But I think it’s for the best that it worked out this way because I feel like I’ve gotten to know you better. I'm glad were getting to be friends. ”
Friends? Friends?! FRIENDS!?
I don't want to be his freaking friend. I don't even like him that much.
Shit. But still.
“It was sweet, Aiden. Whatever your reasons. ”
“It's not all sweet. Every night when you go to sleep, I know you’ll see the stars and think of me. Sweet dreams, Boots. ”
I end the call and look at my ceiling, remembering how sick I felt when I thought they were for someone else. How perfect it would’ve been. How he had touched my pinkie. How just his touch causes me to react in a way I've never experienced. How I would’ve said yes, then rolled to face him, and kissed him.
Maybe I would have even given that boy some tongue.
I want to lie here and swoon, but . . .
I sit up and flip on my lamp. "Katie?”
"So, Aiden did it?"
"Yeah. " I tell her about the stars. About all that happened. About how I was wrong. “But there's something else. "
"He told me he's glad we're becoming friends. "
She frowns. “Friends? He wants to be your friend?”
“I don’t know. Do you think I was just friend-zoned?”
“Do you really think he'd put up all these stars for just a friend?”
“Um, I don't know for sure. ”
“Turn your light back off. They’re pretty,” she says sleepily.
“Yeah, they are. ”
I lie down and wait for them to start glowing again.
And I keep reminding myself.
They are just stars. Just stars.
They don't mean he loves you. They mean he was going to ask you to Homecoming. As a friend.
My mind goes to the dream girl.
I so wish I was the dream girl.
But I’m not. He said friends. He wants peace and friendship.
He doesn't love you.
It can't happen.
You have to be smart.
But as the stars start to glow across my ceiling, I can’t help but lie here and wish he'd put up a moon.
Tuesday, October 18th
The mark of true love.
My phone vibrates with a text from Grandpa. I can picture him sitting at his desk, overlooking the rosebushes in his back yard.
But wait. Grandpa always emails me. When did he learn to text?
Grandpa: To answer your question about the difference between love and true love, I have a simple answer. True love leaves a mark. Sometimes with a frying pan. LOL
And when did he learn what LOL is?
Me: Grandpa, this is serious! Ask Grandma if you don’t know. And HOW CAN YOU NOT KNOW?? You’ve been married to the same woman for 39 years!!!
Grandpa: True love is a crapshoot. Sometimes you get lucky and hit the jackpot. Sometimes you’re left wallowing drunk and broke.
Me: You are not much help.
But as I’m walking to class, I’m thinking about Grandpa’s message and wondering if true love does leave a mark. Like the way Aiden’s kiss seared my skin that very first time he kissed me. Is that what it was? The mark of true love. Some sort of invisible hickey?
Speaking of hickeys.
Riley’s neck is covered with them.
“What? Did you get in a fight with a vacuum cleaner last night and lose?” I ask him.
He flips his collar up against his neck. “You know what they say, True love leaves a mark. ”
“My Grandpa just told me the same thing. That’s so weird you’d say that. But somehow I don’t think that’s what the great philosophers had in mind. ”
“Philosophers said that? That’s funny. I always thought it was something my dad made up. ” He grins naughtily at me. “You should see my chest. She wrote her name in hickeys. ”
I laugh. “I take it you and Ariela are back together? Did you sleep with her?”
“Naw, we’re having too much fun doing other stuff right now. ”
His words burn in my brain. We’re having too much fun doing other stuff. That’s what I missed with Dawson. I’ve never sucked on his neck long enough to give him even one hickey. Let alone written my name on his chest. I went way too fast with him. And I think because I did, we can’t really start over. I can’t take it back.
I feel like I should make a public service announcement over the loud speaker in school.
Note to all you daters out there:
Enjoy making out for hours.
Enjoy the way his lips feel on yours.
Enjoy embarrassing him with hickeys.
Enjoy holding his hand.
Enjoy the way he says your name when he tells you goodnight.
Enjoy when he shows up to walk you to your next class.
Enjoy how he licks hot fudge off your face.
Enjoy staring at the star
s with him.
Enjoy feeling crazy in love.
Like you will die if you don’t see him.
Like you will die if you have to stop kissing him.
Enjoy letting him romance you.
Revel in the slow pace.
Let your relationship build.
Then fall in love.
If only I could actually do that myself. I think of Aiden’s sex survey. Since I broke up with Sander, all of my relationships have happened really fast.
My mind flits to my mom saying, You need to love yourself.
Do I love myself?
Of course I do. I work out. I eat healthy. I try to get enough sleep. I always wear sunblock so I won’t get sun damage or premature wrinkles. I always try to look my best. Maybe I didn’t love myself when I was being a bitch to Vanessa, but since I’ve been here at Eastbrooke, I totally love who I am. I’m confident. I’m in lots of activities I love. I’m making friends with a wide variety of people. I’m nice to everyone.
Why wouldn’t I love myself? I’m awesome.
Except . . .
I felt embarrassed when I told Aiden how fast I slept with Cush.
At the time, it felt right. And I’d known Cush and Brooklyn for a long time. It’s not like I’d just met them.
I slept with Dawson fast.
Because I was hurt about B and needed to feel loved? Wanted? Adored?
Or was it just because he was so freaking hot that I couldn’t help myself?
The current state of your neck.
When class is almost over, the phone rings on our teacher’s desk.
He picks it up, listens, then frowns disapprovingly in my direction. “Mr. Johnson and Miss Monroe, your presence is requested in the dean’s office. ”
“Do you think we’re in trouble?” I ask Riley as we walk down the hall.
“I can’t think of anything I’ve done to get in trouble. ”
“I’m almost positive that the current state of your neck is against the school’s decency policy. ”
“Probably, but you didn’t give them to me. ”
We round the corner and run into Dallas.
“Did you get called to the office too?” Riley asks.
Dallas whispers, “If they saw the video, we’re screwed. ”
“What do you mean?” I whisper back.
“I mean, we had our school blazers on. We could get expelled. ”
I can’t get expelled. I’m safe here.
Plus, I like it.
The dean meets us at the door and says, “Have a seat in my office. ”
We walk in and sit in the three chairs lined up in front of his desk.
“It has come to my attention that the three of you recently created a video. ”
Shit. Shit. Shit.
He pulls out three pieces of paper. Pieces of papers with our signatures at the bottom and the words “Eastbrooke Code of Conduct” at the top. “Do you recall signing these at the beginning of the school year?”
We all nod.
“In this document, you all agreed to protect Eastbrooke’s reputation. In the video, Mr. McMahon and Mr. Johnson are wearing pieces of their Eastbrooke uniforms. Combine that with underage drinking, some unbecoming sexual behavior by Miss Monroe, and it all adds up to the three of you possibly being expelled. ”
Please let possibly be a way out of this. I can’t let Riley and Dallas get expelled because of me.
“I can explain,” I say. “I’m sorry. I was really upset. Dawson and I broke up and the video wasn’t supposed to be seen by anyone but him. ”
“Did the video serve its purpose?”
“Well, he was upset by it, if that’s what you mean. ”
“Although I was disappointed with the video’s content, I was impressed by the overall quality of it. ”
“Mr. Johnson, did you create this video? Do the editing and such? Can you tell me about the process?”
“Uh, sure,” Riley says. “Basically we did shots of us singing the same song a whole bunch of times in different situations, different settings. Then I pieced it together. ”
“Can I assume that none of you want to be expelled?”
We all nod.
“Then here’s what I expect. First, that video will be removed from YouTube before you leave my office. Second, I have a project for you. Eastbrooke understands the power of social media, and our upcoming Prospective Student Weekend does not have the number of participants that we would like. I’d like you to create a video showcasing the school. Give students a reason to come see what we’re all about. Obviously, it needs to be classy and uphold the Eastbrooke tradition, but maybe you can make it a little less stuffy than the informational video we have on the school’s website. Can you shoot the video, edit it, and have it ready for my approval by this afternoon?”
Riley nods his head yes, but I’m thinking about something else.
I just realized that uploading the video of me was really dumb. What if Vincent had come across it somehow? Actually, that’s silly. The internet is a massive place and since I wasn’t tagged in it with my name, he’d have better odds finding a needle in a haystack. But, still, the idea of me being in a video that could lead him straight here scares me.
“Um, do I have to be in the video? Can we recruit some other students?”
“Yes, Keatyn, you do have to be in the video. It’s better than the alternative, correct?”
“Yes, sir,” I gulp. I could mention that Vincent finding me would be much, much worse, but I don’t. I can’t. Riley and Dallas are my friends. I need to start being a good friend back. And a good friend wouldn’t let them get expelled.
“I don’t want you just getting your friends out of class,” he says, as he writes on a piece of paper. “But if you need additional students, use this pass. ”
Every boy’s fantasy.
Riley removes the slutty video before we leave the dean’s office. As soon as we get out of the building, Dallas says, “Getting expelled would not have been good. ”
“No, it wouldn’t have been,” I agree.