But it wasn’t. It was right on time.
Our hands rested against the bench as we sat staring at the Greyed Rainbow.
Slowly I edged my pinkie toward his hand.
Slowly he edged his pinkie toward my hand.
Slowly, nervously, quietly, our pinkies locked together.
Yes, yes, yes.
* * *
Somehow we managed to return to the train station with two hours to spare before school let out. That meant that after our thirty minute walk back into town, I’d be able to spend eighth hour with Levi working on our foolproof project.
Mainly I just wanted to spend more time with him.
Being around him felt like being around someone who saw your scars and called them beautiful when you only saw your past mistakes.
“You know your brother got into a big fight on Saturday?” Levi asked.
“Mike? Yeah, well. He and his friends are always acting like idiots.”
“It was about you,” he said, making me pause. “Someone called you a whore, and he literally kicked their ass.”
“I thought he hated me,” I whispered as I started walking again.
“Quite the opposite.” He glanced down at the ground. “Your feet are swollen,” Levi said as we walked down the streets toward Mayfair Heights.
“We can take a break,” he offered. I refused.
“Oh! Before I forget, here.” He stopped walking and unzipped his backpack. He pulled out three packages wrapped in newspaper. “This one is for you, this one is for Avocado—”
“Mango,” I corrected. “It’s the size of an mango now.”
“What?!” He reached into his backpack, grabbed a pen, crossed out the word ‘Avocado’ on the paper, and wrote ‘Mango’. “You have to keep me updated on the stats, Art. Geez. Anyway, this one is for Baby Mango, this one is for you, and this one is for you both to share.”
I tore open the one for me and Baby Mango and smiled when I saw a new CD player with a set of headphones.
Then there were two mix CDs.
“Yours has a bit more rap music than Mango’s. I tried to keep that one PG. There are a lot of violin classics on Mango’s. You can put the headphones on your stomach for the baby to listen. Then the kid can be a musical genius like yours truly.”
“Why are you so nice to me?” I asked, a little confused. Before he could reply, a voice shouted behind us.
“What the fuck are you doing out here?!”
I turned around to see Dad sitting in his plumbing truck, his face red as ever. “Dad! What are you doing here?”
“What am I doing here?! Why the hell aren’t you in school?!”
Levi stepped forward. “Sorry, Mr. Watson, it’s my fault—I—”
Dad put his truck in park in the middle of the road, swung open his door, and marched over. “Of course she’s with you, you little shit. Stay the hell away from my daughter.”
“Dad!” I screamed, watching him charge toward Levi. “It’s not his fault I—”
“You told me the kid wasn’t his!” Dad hollered at me, his hands in fists. “I swear to God if I catch you anywhere near my daughter again I’ll have you put in jail.”
“Sir,” Levi said, putting his hands up in surrender, but Dad didn’t care.
“Get in the damn car, Aria,” he ordered, wrapping his hand around my forearm, yanking me toward him.
“Ow, Dad! Let go!” I screamed. Levi stepped forward out of reflex, and Dad dropped his hold.
“Take one more step and you’ll regret it, boy. Aria, car. NOW!” He swung the passenger door open and forced me to climb inside. Within seconds he was in the driver’s seat, speeding off down the road, leaving Levi behind.
“What’s wrong with you?!” I cried, slamming my hands against his stiff arm. “I can’t believe you did that!”
“You can’t believe I did that?! Watch it, Aria, because you are this close to—”
“To what?! Pissing you off? Having you ignore me? Having you hate me? Because I’m pretty sure you’ve already done all of those things. I made one mistake, the first mistake I’ve ever made, and you decide to pretty much disown me?!”
His fingers were still gripping the steering wheel tight. “So this is your reasoning? This is why you’re skipping school, running around town with a delinquent, and acting like a goddamned five-year-old? Because I haven’t been speaking to you?! Jesus, Aria. Grow up.”
Tears streamed down my face, and I shouted, “He’s not a delinquent!”
“Bullshit, I know his father. I know the shit that goes on in Kent Myers’ house. Plus, James told me how the kid’s been harassing you at school!” What?! “They are dirt bags, and I don’t want to see you anywhere near that boy again. And, if it wasn’t already clear as fucking day, you are not allowed to date, Aria!”
He went silent and stayed that way for the rest of the ride as tears fell from my eyes.
When we pulled into our driveway, I rushed out of the truck. “I hate you!” I cried, rushing into the house past a confused Mom.
“What the heck is going on?” she asked, holding KitKat in her arms. “Aria, what are you doing here?”
I ignored her and ran to my room, slamming the door shut. I hurried to text Levi to make sure he was okay, but he didn’t reply. Even with the door shut and my own sobbing, I could still hear Mom and Dad fighting.
“What’s going on, Adam? What are you doing with Aria?”