“I think it’s adorable,” he says. “She likes you, too. I can tell.”

“Really?”

He laughs. “You’re too easy. And yes, I don’t know how, but I can tell she likes you. Y’all are cute. Why are you hiding it? Or better yet, who are you hiding it from?”

“Holder. He says I can’t date her.” I begin walking toward class and Breckin falls into step with me.

“Why not? Because you’re an asshole?”

I stop and look at him. “I’m an asshole?”

Breckin nods. “Yeah. I thought you knew that.”

I laugh, then start walking again. “He thinks it’ll screw everything up since we’re all best friends.”

“He’s right. It will.”

I stop walking again. “Who’s to say things won’t work out with me and Six?”

“Didn’t you just meet her? Like two days ago?”

“Doesn’t matter,” I say defensively. “She’s different. I have a good feeling about her.”

Breckin studies me for a moment, then he smiles. “This should be fun. I’ll see you tonight.” He turns and walks in the opposite direction, but he stops and faces me again. “Call me Powder Puff again and your secret is out.”

“Okay, Powder Puff.”

He laughs and points at me. “See? Such an asshole.”

He spins and heads toward his class. I pull my phone out of my pocket and open up Val’s contact information. I hit delete, then add Six’s number into my phone. I’ll wait until I make it to my classroom before I text her.

Don’t want to seem desperate.

Chapter Four

Me: Pretend you’re going to the bathroom or something.

I place my phone back down on the table and begin eating again. I’ve been here almost an hour and Six and I have barely had a chance to talk. I don’t know if I’ll even need Breckin to out us, because I’m about to lose my patience and do it myself.

I know everyone’s curious about her trip to Italy, but she seems uncomfortable talking about it. Her answers are short and clipped and I hate that I’m the only one who seems to notice how much she doesn’t want to bring up Italy. I also like that I’m the only one who notices, because it proves that whatever connection I feel with her is more than likely genuine. I feel like I know her better than anyone else here. Maybe even better than Sky knows her.

Although it’s absurd to feel that way, since I still don’t even know her birthday.

Six: There’s only one bathroom in the hallway. Even if I were to go there it would be obvious if you got up and followed me.

I read her text and groan out loud.

“Everything okay?” Jack asks. He’s seated next to me at the table, which is fine any other time but I really wanted Six to be in his chair. I nod, then put my phone facedown on the table.

“Irritating girlfriend drama,” I say.

He laughs and turns back to Holder, continuing with their conversation. Six is involved in a discussion with Sky and Karen. Breckin ended up not being able to come, which was probably a good thing. Not sure I could have handled the fact that he knows.

Right now it’s just me and my impatience having a silent war at the dinner table.

“That reminds me,” Six says loudly. “I bought you all presents. I forgot.” She scoots back from the table. “They’re at my house. I’ll be right back.” She stands and takes two steps before turning back toward us. “Daniel? They’re kind of heavy. Mind giving me a hand?”

Don’t act too excited, Daniel.

I sigh heavily. “I guess,” I say as I scoot back from the table. I look at Holder and roll my eyes, then follow Six outside. Neither of us says a word while we make our way to the side of the house. She reaches her window, then turns around.

“I lied,” she says. Her eyes are worried, which causes me to worry.

“About what?”

She shakes her head. “I didn’t buy anyone presents. I just can’t take another second of all the questions, and then seeing you across the table and knowing how much I just wish it could be the two of us is making this whole dinner really irritating. But now I don’t have presents. How do I go back in there without presents?”

I try not to laugh, but I love that she’s been just as irritated as I’ve been. I was starting to worry I might have a few issues.

“We could just stay out here and never go back inside.”

“We could,” she says in agreement. “But they’d eventually come look for us. Not to mention it would be rude, since Jack and Karen went through all this trouble to cook for me and oh, my God, what if it’s true, Daniel?”

I don’t know if it’s me or if she’s just really difficult to keep up with, but I have no idea what she’s talking about. “What if what’s true?”

She exhales a quick breath. “What if our feelings are just reverse psychology? What if Holder had told you to date me Saturday night? You might not have been interested in me after that. What if the only reason we like each other so much is that it’s forbidden? What if the second they all find out the truth, we can’t stand each other?”

I hate that the worry in her voice sounds genuine, because that means she actually believes the shit she’s saying right now.

“You think there’s a chance I only like you because I’m not supposed to like you?”

She nods.

I grab her hand and yank her back toward the front of the house.

“Daniel, I don’t have presents!”

I ignore her and walk her up the front steps, open the door, and march her straight into the kitchen.

“Hey!” I yell. Everyone turns around and looks at us. I glance at Six and her eyes are wide. I inhale a deep breath, then turn back to the table. Specifically to Holder.

“She fist bumped me,” I say, pointing at Six. “It’s not my fault. She hates purses and she fist bumped me, then she made me push her on the damn merry-go-round. After that, she demanded to see where I had sex in the park, then she forced me to sneak into my own bedroom. She’s weird and half the time I can’t keep up with her, but she thinks I’m funny as hell. And Chunk asked me this morning if I wanted to love her someday, and I realized I’ve never hoped I could love someone more than I want to love her. So every single one of you who has an issue with us dating is going to have to get over it because . . .” I pause and turn toward Six. “Because you fist bumped me and I could care less who knows we’re together. I’m not going anywhere and I don’t want to go anywhere so stop thinking I’m into you because I’m not supposed to be into you.” I lift my hands and tilt her face toward mine. “I’m into you because you’re awesome. And because you let me accidentally touch your boob.”

She’s smiling wider than I’ve ever seen her smile. “Daniel Wesley, where’d you learn those smooth moves?”

I laugh. “Not moves, Six. Charisma.”

She throws her arms around my neck and kisses me. I wait for the moment Holder yanks me away from her, but that moment doesn’t come. We kiss for a solid thirty seconds before people begin clearing their throats. When Six pulls away from me, she’s still smiling.

“Does it feel different now that they know?” I ask her. “Because it actually feels better to me.”

She shoves my chest with an irritated laugh. “Stop! Stop saying things that make me grin like an idiot. My face has been hurting since the second I met you.”

I pull her to me and hug her, then suddenly become aware that we’re still standing in Sky’s kitchen and everyone is still staring at us. I hesitantly turn and look at Holder to gauge his level of anger. He’s never actually hit me before, but I’ve seen what he can do and I sure as hell don’t want to experience it.

When my eyes meet his, he’s . . . smiling. He’s actually smiling.

Sky has a napkin to her eyes and she’s wiping tears away.

Karen and Jack are both smiling.

It’s weird.

Too weird.

“Do you guys talk to my parents?” I ask cautiously. “Did they teach you their dirty reverse psychology tricks?”

Karen is the first to speak. “Sit down, you two. Your food is getting cold.”

I kiss Six on the forehead, then take my seat back at the table. I keep glancing at Holder, but he doesn’t look upset at all. He actually looks a little impressed.

“Where the hell is my present?” Jack asks Six.

She clears her throat. “I decided to wait until Christmas.” She picks up her glass and brings it to her lips, then glances at me. I smile at her.

Everyone else resumes whatever conversations were going on before my interruption. It’s like no one is even that shocked. They act like it’s completely normal. Like it’s a natural thing . . . me and Six.

And I totally get it, because it is. Whatever we have is good and even though I still don’t know her birthday . . . I know this is right. And based on the look on her face right now, so does she.

“I really like this one,” I say, looking at the picture in my hands. I’m leaning against the wall, sitting on the floor in Sky’s bedroom. Six is passing around pictures she took in Italy to Sky, Holder and me.

“Which pic are you looking at?” she says. She’s lying next to me on the floor. I look down at her and flip the photo over so she can see it. She shakes her head with a quick roll of her eyes. “You only like that one because my cleavage looks great.”

I immediately turn the photo back around. She’s right. It does look great. But that’s not at all why I liked it at first. She looks happy in this one. Peaceful.

“I took that picture the day I got to Italy,” she says. “You can keep it.”

“Thank you. I wasn’t planning on giving it back to you, anyway.”

“Consider it an anniversary present,” she says.

I immediately look down at the time on my phone. “Oh. Wow. It really is our anniversary.” I readjust myself until I’m leaning over her. “I almost forgot. I’m the worst boyfriend ever. I can’t believe you haven’t dumped me yet.”

She grins. “That’s okay. You can remember the next one.” She slips her hand to the back of my neck and pulls me forward until our lips meet.

“Anniversary?” Sky says, confused. “Exactly how long have the two of you been dating?”

I pull away from Six and sit back up against the wall. “Precisely twenty-four hours.”

An awkward silence follows, then of course Holder fills it. “Am I the only one who has a bad feeling about this?”

“I think it’s great,” Sky says. “I’ve never seen Six so . . . nice? Happy? Spoken for? It’s a good look for her.”

Six sits up and wraps her arms around my neck, then pulls me to the floor with her. “That’s because I’ve never met anyone as vulgar and inappropriate and horrible at first kisses as Daniel.” She pulls my mouth to hers and kisses me while she laughs at herself.

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