Read Me & My Invisible Guy Online

Authors: Sarah Jeffrey

Me & My Invisible Guy (7 page)

BOOK: Me & My Invisible Guy
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She laughed and hugged me back. “What’s that for?”

I kissed her on the cheek. “I’m just glad you’re so wonderfully normal.”

“Thanks. I think.”

I leaned on the counter. “Darby’s helping me with a cheerleading project.”

“Really? You’re sure it’s not too much for her? She’s taking those classes….” Mom’s face took on that look it always does when Darby’s name comes up. Kind of anxious and faraway.

“I don’t think so. She acted like she wanted to.” I picked up another towel to help her dry the dishes.

I watched my mom closely as she plunged her hands back into the sink and started to scrub at a glass dish. “We just don’t want to overtax her. And really, I think we all need to be more careful. We have to stick to the schedule. We can’t be lax. You know?”

I nodded but didn’t speak. It did no good to try and reassure Mom, because we all knew that no matter how things looked, none of us could really know what was under the surface.

I decided the best course was to change the subject. “Love the hair, by the way.”

“Ha. Ha.” She touched the pencil she had used to create a messy bun on top of her head. “Occupational hazard.” She gave me a small smile, then added, “I was in your room today.”

“Yeah.”

“What happened to all the pictures?”

“Todd and I broke up. For good. Finis.”

“Want to elaborate?”

“Nothing interesting to tell. Is Dad home yet?”

“No. That’s it?”

“I never got to see him. It just got to be kind of pointless, you know?”

“You and your invisible guy. Well, maybe now you’ll date someone your dad and I can actually meet.”

“Yeah, maybe. I’m going to finish my homework.” I went upstairs to my room, which still looked odd without the pictures. Mom and Dad had long called Todd the “invisible guy” because somehow, every time they were about to meet him, something would happen and he wouldn’t be able to come. Funny how that always happened.

At school, I’d told people that Todd lived next door to my grandparents and that we were super serious. My family thought Todd was a kid from school who had moved away soon after we got together, and that it wasn’t very serious. I usually got a headache just thinking about it all. But now I was free. Totally free.

I dropped onto my bed and stared at the ceiling, thoughts of Liam interspersed with thoughts of what Tess was facing at home. Tess had sworn me to secrecy years ago, and I had never really considered breaking the promise until recently. Not only because things were obviously getting worse, but because Tess was growing more and more determined to handle it all on her own. Being a mother to Ashley, taking care of their house, making sure that no one found out that her mom was always either drunk or passed out, and still trying to be a great cheerleader, friend, and—until she dumped Alex—girlfriend.

Tess was amazing, but she was showing signs of stress. For one, she was losing weight. Tess had always been slender and strong—cheerleading did that to a girl—but lately her face seemed thinner, and her uniform was just a bit too big. Not enough for anyone but me to notice probably.

But what scared me was the custody thing with Ashley. Tess had never talked about that. She was making long-range plans as if her mother was never going to improve. As if she had decided that this is what life was going to be, and she was going to have to make the best of it.

On top of that was the fact that her best friend was a huge liar—it made it all that much more depressing. Of course, things were going to be different for me now.

I just wished that things could be different for her, too.

CHAPTER 5

It was B Day and Friday, and I was completely conflicted. I wanted to avoid Liam, embarrassed by whatever information he had heard about me. But I didn’t want to just walk away either. Did I have the nerve to ask him out? A simple, casual date? Supposedly people did that sort of thing all the time. And I couldn’t shake Tess’s admonition that if Liam decided to date someone like Lexi, they may never break up. Plus, I was thinking about him nonstop. What was so special about him, anyway? He was just another guy, but totally
not
at the same time.

It made no sense.

If I asked him out, at least I’d know one way or the other. That would be better than nothing. Hopefully.

Tess picked me up, and I confessed my plan. I knew if I told her, she’d pester me until I did it.

Tess was all for it.

“What can I do?” she asked.

“Nothing. Just make sure I do it.”

I wanted to tell her how scared I was, but that would also mean admitting how inexperienced I really was. She didn’t need any more drama in her life. Nope, I’d just have to be confident… somehow.

Tess had the fund-raiser on her mind. Darby had left messages but was still trying to talk to the right people
about getting the space. We couldn’t set an exact date until we got the location nailed down, so we were waiting on Darby for several things. Olivia had agreed to handle the money for us. Katie and even Yvie and Sophie had all agreed to help.

“I was thinking we should dress up as elves,” Tess said on the way into school.

“Elves? You mean like pointy hat and shoes elves? C’mon, Tess.”

“It would look really cute. Besides, the Santa guy we’re using said he has some extra elf costumes if we’re interested. Gratis.”

“We’d look ridiculous.”

“It won’t matter, because you’ll already be dating Liam. After a few dates, you can afford to look ridiculous for one afternoon. Maybe we can get him into a costume, too.”

“Tess! I haven’t even asked him out yet.”

She waved me off. “Minor detail.” She leaned in close and whispered, “He’d be crazy to say no.”

A rush of warmth went through me. Tess always knew exactly what I needed.

After homeroom we hurried off to get to trig early. But when I got there, I saw Lexi leaning on the wall just outside the classroom. She caught my eye and shifted her body away from me, but I went up to her, anyway.

“Hey, Lexi. I’m glad you’re here. I… wanted to apologize. For PE the other day.”

Lexi looked surprised. “Thanks.” She also looked uncomfortable and kept scanning the hallway. “I’m sorry, too.”

She had to be waiting for Liam. So did I wait out here to catch him first or just go in and wait in there?

I spotted him about the same time Lexi did. Her face perked up, and she turned toward him. I shifted a little, too, so that we stood there side by side. Liam approached slowly, looking back and forth between us and obviously becoming more uncomfortable with each step he took.

I would not stoop to looking desperate. And I couldn’t afford to be worried about what Liam may or may not have heard about me. I didn’t know much about guys; but I knew that if I didn’t talk to him, show him that I was interested, he’d probably pick someone else. A girl like Lexi. Who was standing there wearing an expression that I wanted to avoid at all costs. Could she be any more obvious?

“Hey, Liam,” I chirped. I tried not to, but that’s how it came out.

“I wanted to talk to you,” Liam said to me.

Lexi’s mouth dropped open but only for a second.

“Hi, Lexi,” Liam said to her before turning back to me.

The warning bell rang, and the commotion in the hallway amped up a notch as everyone scrambled to get to their classes.

Lexi mumbled something about her class and ducked away.

Score one for me.

Liam stepped closer, and I was taken aback by how good he smelled. Shampoo? Cologne? I had no idea, but I had a hard time not closing my eyes and just breathing him in. Although keeping my eyes open wasn’t bad at all. Tanned skin, strong jaw, hair that fell into his face just enough to be
cute without being sloppy. He was close enough for me to see a small scar above his left eyebrow.

He fumbled with his earbuds and tucked them into his pocket. “I’m really sorry. I feel horrible about the other night. I should know better than to believe a bunch of rumors.”

The hallway emptied, and we stepped inside the classroom.

“That’s okay.”

“It’s not okay. I’d like to make it up to you….”

“Take your seats!” Mr. Petrini called out, and started passing around our quizzes.

Liam gave me a smile. “Can we talk after?”

I nodded, and we sat down. I knew Tess would be expecting an update, but I couldn’t tear my eyes from Liam.

He took his paper, then leaned over to get something out of his backpack. As he searched his bag, he frowned with this adorable look of concentration. I think I actually swooned a little. His bag was stuffed full of what looked like sheet music, and a pair of drumsticks poked out of a front pocket. Hanging from the zipper was a backstage pass of some sort. I couldn’t see a band name. He shoved his iPod into another pocket, and I wondered what kind of music was on it.

He wants to talk. That’s good.
But I was still nowhere close to asking him out. Talking to him was taking every bit of courage I had.

Trig was usually excruciating, but even after the quiz was turned in, Mr. Petrini seemed to take particular joy in dragging out the ninety-minute block to its extreme.

When the bell rang, I jumped from my chair and walked toward Liam without a plan in my head.

He turned and gave me a smile. “You have lunch next, right?”

“Yep.”
Could I be any less articulate
?

“Mind if I sit with you?”

“Sure.”

We walked toward the cafeteria together, but I couldn’t get my brain working.
Say something already.

I spotted Tess talking to Yvie and a couple of other girls, and she gave me a silent cheer.

“So what do we do?” Liam asked.

“About what?”

“Well, you usually sit with Tess, and I usually sit with Alex. But I doubt Tess will want to sit anywhere near Alex if even half of what he told me is true.”

“Good point.”

Liam turned and looked at me with those soft brown eyes. “We could sit by ourselves. Would Tess mind?”

Would Tess
mind
? She’d probably give me a medal. “I don’t think so.”

Liam walked up to one of the smaller tables by the window and dropped his notebook on one of the seats. “Is this all right?”

“Sure.” I dropped my bag onto another chair and walked with him to get food. I stuck to the salad line, and he got in the grease line.
So what if he eats garbage?

Tess was with some other cheerleaders, and she gave me a wave, letting me know that she would sit somewhere else.

I got back to the seats first, but Liam didn’t take long. He sat down with his tray of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and, thankfully, a side salad.

“So, you’re one of those healthy eaters?” he asked.

“Cheerleading. It’s a lot more work if you don’t eat right.”

Liam looked at his tray and frowned. “It just tastes so good.” He picked up one of the legs. “Come on, try it.” He held it out in front of me.

“No way.”

Liam laughed. “It won’t kill you. One bite. Come on.”

“I hardly know you, and you’re trying to clog my arteries?”

“Come on,” he urged.

“Hey, Liam.”

I didn’t even have to turn around to know that Lexi was standing right behind me.

“Hi, Lexi.” Liam set the chicken leg back down on his tray.

“Mind if I sit with you guys?” she asked.

“Uhhh, sure,” he said. What else was he supposed to say? But my heart felt as if it had dropped to the floor.

I managed to keep from letting out the groan I felt inside.

I looked around for Tess and caught her attention. She scowled when she saw Lexi settling herself in the chair next to Liam. I was trying to decide who had the advantage—me across from Liam, or Lexi next to him—when Tess appeared at the end of our table.

“Sorry to interrupt you two, but I need to borrow Lexi.”

“Excuse me?” Lexi asked.

“Tammy over at Hope House says that you volunteer there sometimes.” Tess was all sweetness and smiles. She was my hero.

“I did over the summer.”

“Perfect!” Tess clapped her hands together. “We’re
putting together a toy drive for Hope House, and I thought you might like to help us.”

BOOK: Me & My Invisible Guy
5.38Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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