“Well, that’s the thing. I do. I don’t have a car. It was like pulling teeth whenever I wanted to borrow it to visit Bradley. And since my mom has to work, that’s not happening.”
“I can take you.”
“Why would you do that?”
“Because I owe you and I’m working on being a better person.”
I laughed. “You do not owe me. We’re even now. If you did this, I would owe you.”
“Bec would probably come too. She loves that artsy film stuff,” he said as if I hadn’t said anything at all. “It would be fun. An adventure.”
I pulled at a loose string on the bottom of my jeans. “I don’t know. My brother was pretty insistent about us not coming.”
“He probably just didn’t want to pressure you. I know that I hate to have people go out of their way for me.”
“You’re right. He’d probably be happy we came. Maybe he even wanted my parents to insist on coming.”
“He probably did. You said you two aren’t very close, right?”
“This is like you showing him that he’s important to you. That you support him.”
It felt weird making Hayden drive me three hours, but he was right, this would be a good show of support. I remembered the conversation I had walked into the middle of between Hayden and Spencer. How Spencer implied that Hayden was too nice, did things without thinking about himself. I hoped this wasn’t one of those times. “Are you sure?”
“I’ll give you gas money.”
“If you want to.”
“Thank you, Hayden.”
“You’re welcome, Gia.”
“Don’t get any ideas.” It was the first thing Bec said to me when I sat down in Government the next morning.
“About you and my brother. He’s too good for you.”
“I have no ideas.” Well . . . maybe I was getting a few ideas, but I was trying not to let them linger. If Hayden was in my life for real, I had a lot of explaining to do to my friends. I had a lot of explaining to do anyway. I needed to come clean. Especially since Jules seemed be unwilling to drop her suspicions.
Bec blinked once, lowering her brow like she’d heard my thoughts, then said, “I’m going with you on Saturday to keep an eye on you. Not because I want to help you or anything.”
“I thought maybe we were friends now,” I said.
“I’m not friends with anyone who won’t acknowledge my existence in public.”
“You didn’t acknowledge me at the beach either.”
She laughed. “Not with the pleading stares you were giving me to keep my mouth shut.”
“That’s more about prom than anything. They can’t know it was you at prom.”
“Right. Keep telling yourself that.”
It’s true, I wanted to insist. If my friends knew it was her that Hayden had fought with at prom, the whole story would’ve blown up right there on the beach. In front of everyone. I wasn’t sure why I needed her to believe this. She really wasn’t my friend. I should’ve been able to brush it off and move on.
But I couldn’t. “Hey, I helped you out yesterday. They wouldn’t have left you alone.”
She let out a single bark of a laugh. “Are you for real? You really thought you did some sort of good deed, didn’t you? Saving us from the snobs you hang out with. You’re practically a saint.” With that she turned back around.
I couldn’t shake off the conversation with Bec all day, so when Claire and I were walking to the parking lot for lunch and I saw her, I said, “Hi, Bec.”
She did a double take then just shook her head with a smile. “Touché.”
“What was that about?” Claire asked after we passed. “Who was that?”
“That was Bec. She’s the one I was telling you about the other day who set me up with her brother.”
“Her?” she asked, obviously shocked.
“She’s . . .”
“Really cool,” I said before she could fill in an adjective I didn’t want to hear.
“So are you two friends now?”
“I don’t think she wants to be my friend.”
Claire grunted. “Don’t you have that reversed?”
“No, I don’t.” My backpack dug into my shoulder so I shifted it to the other one.
“Is everything okay, Gia? You’ve seemed different lately. Distant.”
I took a deep breath and let it out in a rush. “I guess I’m just feeling reflective. We’re about to graduate and I’m wondering what I’ve really accomplished.”
“You are one of the most popular girls at school. When people look back ten years from now, they will remember your name. They’ll know who you were.”
How would other people know who I was when I didn’t even know that?
She nodded her head toward where Bec had been. “She won’t even enter their minds.”
“So, being remembered? Is that what life is about?”
“Better than being forgotten.”
“I guess I’d rather be remembered for something, though.”
“I have no idea.”
I looked at Bec’s retreating back. Maybe a lot of people from high school wouldn’t remember Bec in ten years, but the people who did would remember she was loud and confident and sometimes mean but always knew exactly what she wanted.
We reached Claire’s car, where Laney and Jules were already waiting.
“Where are we going for lunch today, girls?” Jules asked.
Laney and Claire looked at me like it was my decision. “I don’t care. You guys pick.”
Claire and Laney exchanged a look like I’d never said that before. I was sure I’d let them pick our lunch spot before. Although now that I thought about it, I remember often declaring I was in the mood for certain things. I hadn’t thought that was a demand. More of a suggestion.
“How about Las Palapas? I feel like Mexican food,” Jules said.
For some reason, Jules picking made me want to make a suggestion after all but I didn’t. “Sounds good.”
When Claire drove, I sat in the passenger seat. When Jules drove, Laney sat passenger. It’s just how it worked, how we always did it. So when I rounded the car after Claire had unlocked the doors and I saw Jules walk straight for the passenger door and open it without a pause, I stopped in my tracks. Over the hood of the car, Laney looked at me wide-eyed. I smiled at her and climbed into the back. Claire gave me one confused look over her shoulder but then started the car.
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