No, actually, I’m completely in knots. I hadn’t seen Jared at all since Friday. His house seemed abandoned until late last night when I heard the roar of his engine crawl up the driveway. I hadn’t seen him today either.
And I was looking for him. I was more irritated about that than anything.
“Spit it out, Madoc. What disgusting, demeaning prank are you pulling on me today?” Reaching my locker, I didn’t even spare him a glance as I dumped my bag and books.
“I have absolutely nothing up my sleeve, Tate. I’ve actually come to beg your forgiveness.” Madoc took my hand, and I turned my face to look at him.
He placed his hand over his heart and made a low bow.
Oh, what now?
Looking around to see the flood of students in the hall, all gawking at Madoc Caruthers making his grand gesture, I swatted him on the back.
“Get up!” I whisper-yelled as people around us laughed and murmured to eachother.
What was he up to?! Dread tightened my stomach.
“I am truly sorry for everything I’ve done to you.” Madoc raised his body again to face me. “I have no excuse. It’s not my thing to make an enemy out of beautiful girls.”
So you’ve said.
“Whatever.” I crossed my arms, ready to go get lunch. “Is that it?”
“Actually, no.” He waggled his eyebrows. “I was hoping you would go to the Homecoming dance with me?”
My muscles tensed. I immediately started scanning the hallway to see if anyone was laughing, a sign that this was all a joke.
But none of Madoc’s pals were around to witness the prank, and Jared was nowhere in sight.
Turning back to Madoc, I fixed him with a glare. “Did you really expect me to fall for that?”
“Fall for what? My charm and amazing body? Absolutely.”
His sarcasm did nothing to ease my distrust. I rolled my eyes, already wondering why the hell I’d stood here listening to him. “Enough. I’m going to lunch. Tell Jared that I’m not that stupid.”
I turned around and headed for the cafeteria.
“Wait.” Madoc jogged up beside me. “You think this is a setup?”
Ignoring him, I kept walking. Of course, this was a setup. Why would Madoc want to go to Homecoming with me? And why would he think that I’d say “yes?” We’d been at each other’s throats for years.
“Tate, Jared would probably set fire to my hair if he knew I was talking to you, let alone asking you out. I’m being serious here. No pranks. No jokes. I really want to take you to the dance.”
I pushed on towards the cafeteria hoping he’d get the hint. I started to feel like I was suffocating. He needed to get away from me.
“Tate, please stop.” Madoc touched my arm.
I whirled around to face him, hot with anger. “Even if you are being serious, did you really think I’d ever trust you? You’ve groped me, and I’ve broken your nose. You’re asking me out? Really?”
This was the dumbest turn of events I’d never anticipated, and what’s more? It was a waste of my time.
“I realize we have an interesting history,” Madoc started, holding up his hands, “and I want to assure you that I’m not asking you out in a romantic way. Jared will have my balls as it is. I’ve been a jerk, and I want to make amends. If you don’t already have a date, I’d love to take you and show you that I can be a good guy.”
Aww, what a nice little speech.
“No,” I replied.
His charm didn’t work on me the way it worked on others, but the shocked look on his face gave me a little pause. Part of me wanted to laugh, because he actually looked disappointed. And part of me was troubled, because he actually looked disappointed.
I owed Madoc nothing. I told myself.
After everything, I shouldn’t even be speaking to him. But then again, after overhearing his talk with Jared last week in the hall, it seemed like he never was fully on board when it came to trying to hurt me. Maybe he really did want to make amends.
Doesn’t matter. It’s not going to happen.
Twisting around, I headed for the cafeteria again when I really just wanted to run out the front door. It was only Monday morning, and I was already climbing the walls to get out of here.
It was true that I wanted to go to the dance, and I didn’t yet have a date. And going with Madoc would make Jared jealous. Maybe I wanted to see him twisted up in knots over me.
I shook the thoughts from my mind. Don’t go there, Tate.
“Are you thinking of trying for an athletic scholarship?” Jess asked me as we threw away the remains of our lunches.
“Not really. I like running, but I’m not sure if I want to make that kind of commitment while I’m in college,” I answered.
K.C. and Liam had joined us for lunch but had disappeared a while ago, probably underneath the bleachers near the football field to talk. She seemed happy, and Liam had been even sweeter than usual. It would be a long time before I could look at him without thinking about his betrayal, but I was glad they were together again.
After they’d left, I barely ate any of my chicken burrito. Madoc kept smiling at me from across the cafeteria.
Ben kept texting me, too. He wanted to talk before lunch was over, but thanks to my friends, I had an excuse not to be alone with him. He’d been stupid, and while I was aggravated, I knew I’d have to talk to him some time. Even if it’s just to say “let’s be friends.”