“I’m not sleeping with you if you win,” I say immediately, knowing that’s what his shortened Baise moi is suggesting.
“I wouldn't want you to,” he says.
My face drops. He doesn’t want to sleep with me? I look down at the grass and start studying the blades.
Oh, I have so been friend-zoned. He just wanted to get rid of the stupid stars. That’s all it was.
I’m not the one. Not the dream girl.
I see Aiden’s shoes coming toward me. He kneels down next to me, but I refuse to look at him. If I do, I’ll probably start crying.
Oh, I hate him.
“Boots?” he says. I pretend to be really interested in the single blade of grass I just picked. He puts his hand under my chin and pushes it up so I have to look into his sparkling emerald eyes. “When we sleep together, it's not going to be because of a bet. ”
And turn away quickly.
When we sleep together?
Is that what he wants? Is that why he wants to be my friend? Does he want to be friends with benefits?
Sorry, Aiden. Been there. Done that. Hacked the shirt with scissors, ripped it to shreds, then burned the effing thing to oblivion.
Fortunately, Riley runs by, flicks my hair, and steals the soccer ball out of Aiden’s hands, causing Aiden to tear off after him.
While they chase each other around, my mind wanders to what sleeping with Aiden would be like.
I’m pretty sure it would be like dropping the hairdryer in the tub while I'm taking a bath.
’d probably be majorly electrocuted and die.
But I bet it would be worth the risk.
All the guys show up, so Riley goes into director mode. Saying who he wants on which team. Who should take off their shirts. And what to do.
I’m sitting in the grass next to Maggie, thinking about how fitting it is that this field be included in the video. It was one of the first things I saw when I got here. When I took a deep breath and finally felt safe. And, later, how crazy I was to run down the hill, steal the ball from Dawson, and kick it past Aiden’s head. Dawson bringing me here to ask me out. Aiden and me sitting on the bench outside the library, overlooking the field, and watching the sunset.
Maggie elbows my side. “So, tell me about the stars. What happened? Are you and Aiden gonna get together now? What are you going to do about Dawson? Did you see Jake was teasing me? I think I might like him. Should I like him?”
I smile at her. Maggie is such a beautiful girl, and I adore her fun personality. She and Jake would be cute together, but it also seems like there’s something going on with her and Logan. Something about the way they look at each other.
I grab her hand. “Before I answer all that, I just want to say that I’m so glad we’re friends. Sitting here reminds me of when school started. ”
“I remember hearing about the crazy-ass girl who kicked a soccer ball past Aiden. I never imagined we’d become good friends. But I love you. You’re as crazy as me. ” She grabs me and pulls me into a hug.
Riley, who has apparently caught our moment on tape, yells from across the field, “Make out!”
Maggie and I respond in the exact same manner at the exact same time, both flipping him off and then lying back in the grass and giggling.
After getting an appropriate number of shirts vs. skins shots, I take Riley into the dance locker room and then get the girls together to hang out in my dorm room. We change into pajamas and do all the stuff we usually do. Gossip, paint our nails, talk on social media, do homework, and eat.
Then we do the same thing with the boys. Show a football practice. Riley lifting weights. Dallas running. Then all the guys piled into Aiden’s room, eating and playing video games. Aiden and me studying in the library. Him slaughtering the French language and me trying to protect it.
After that, we go back to the dean to tell him we’re done filming, but that Riley will need tonight to edit it.
He asks us to have it to him by tomorrow morning at eight. Apparently, the school is going to email it to their prospective student list in hopes of buoying this weekend’s attendance.
Wrapped up in a relationship.
I get to rehearsal a little early. The director immediately pulls me aside.
“So, Miss Monroe, what did you decide? Are you going to give me a committed performance or are you going to quit?”
I smile. “I’m going to give you an amazing performance. I’m really sorry about last week. I kind of got caught up in a guy. ”
“Who you’ve since broken up with, or so I’ve heard. ”
“Yeah, but I was going to keep doing it even if that hadn’t happened. Acting is something I really want to do. Like, maybe even with my life. So, it’s important to me. I just, I sort of forgot to think about me. Have you ever done that?”
“Gotten wrapped up in a relationship? Sure. Everyone does sometimes. Learning that it’s okay to be yourself, have your own interests, and still be part of a committed relationship is part of growing up. And something I learned the hard way. ”
“In college, I was in a one-act play. But the girl I was dating had a sorority function the same night and was upset that I couldn’t go. She was going to take another date, so I quit the play even though it was important to me. ”
“Was the sorority thing that big of a deal?”
“Not really. And I held it against her, which then undermined our relationship. ”
“The one that got away, huh?”
“Actually, no. I chose to get away because she wasn’t supportive of me. If it was a good relationship, she would’ve come to my play, then we would have gone to the last half of her formal. You have to want to make it work. ”
I think about Tommy and Mom and how they won’t do movies at the same time in different locations. How they won’t be apart for more than a week. How supportive they are of each other. What Aiden said to me at tryouts flits through my brain. How, if Dawson loved me, he should be there supporting me. Watching me try out. Not making me feel guilty for doing what I love.
“That makes sense. ”
He smiles at me. “And I do have some good news for you. Wednesday and Thursday, you get the night off. We’re going to be focusing those rehearsals on memorizing lines. Since you have yours down, you get a little reward. ”
“Really?! Thank you!”
“No, thank you. It’s nice to work with a professional. You, Logan, and Jake are the only ones in the cast who are prepared. ”
I take my usual seat in the back of the auditorium and pull out my homework. Might as well get started on it. I have a comparative essay due tomorrow for English, math problems, a science worksheet, and history chapter questions.
I’m tackling the essay when my phone buzzes. I expect it to be Aiden since it’s unusual for him to be late.
Dawson: I missed walking you to class today.
Me: We were working on a project for the dean.
Dawson: I heard. Was it fun?
Me: Yeah, sort of. The dean saw the video we made on the plane. This was sort of our punishment.
Dawson: That video really upset me.
His comment makes me feel bad and pisses me off at the same time. It’s like he’s trying to make me feel bad for making him feel bad when he made me feel bad.
Does that even make sense?