Just Me(5)

By: L.A. Fiore



She gave me a moment and then she asked, “So are we a go for operation “Win Sebastian?”

“No!”

“Well, you let me know when you're ready.”

“That's easy, I can answer that now, never.”

She said nothing, but I didn't miss the calculating look in her eyes. That was all I needed, for Poppy to have a mission and one that revolved around me. I resisted the urge to bang my head on the table. This was going to be a very long year.

***

On my way to art class for my free period, I noticed a cluster of boys farther down the hall. They were talking, leaning up against the lockers engaged in whatever it was boys talked about. When my eyes collided with Sebastian, I was surprised to see him in the mix or rather surprised at the ease in which he mingled with the others. He was new to school and yet to look at him, you'd think he had spent the past three years with these guys.

In English earlier, my reaction to Sebastian had been out of character but I had chalked that up as embarrassment because I had been acting like a bit of a goof. The same could not be said of now, since Sebastian wasn't even looking in my direction, and yet my heart fluttered. It wasn't an unpleasant feeling, quite the opposite, but physically reacting to a boy was definitely unusual for me. Nervousness filled me as I passed by the guys, or maybe it was self-consciousness. I didn't mean to look, I really didn't, but I felt his gaze on me and seeing those turquoise eyes staring so intently, turned the fluttering into a nearly painful thumping. There was no grin on his face; in fact he looked at me as if he was trying to figure me out. Pins and needles were shooting down my arms and my hands grew so damp, I feared my notebook might just slip from my grasp. I honestly didn't understand what I was feeling but I had to say, I really liked feeling it.

It was hard to pull my gaze from his but I managed it and as I continued down the hall, somehow I knew those eyes were still watching me.

***

After school, Poppy offered me a ride home but I could tell that Shawn was hoping to get Poppy alone, so I claimed I needed to stay late to chat with my art teacher, Ms. Whitney. Stepping outside, the bright afternoon sun blinded me, causing me to miss the small congregation that had formed in the parking lot. It only took a moment for understanding to dawn. I had been wrong. There wasn't a line of girls at Sebastian's locker; they instead were surrounding his bike. I wondered if his starry-eyed admirers were holding him captive. Though, from where I stood, he didn't appear to be in distress. And then my brain took a detour, as it had a tendency to do, and I envisioned rescuing him: the damsel saving the knight for a change. The idea was so comical, I nearly laughed out loud, again.

Since he was surrounded, literally, I blatantly stared. Resting up against his bike, his feet crossed at the ankles, he looked sexy. And though he wasn't grinning like he had in class, there was something about his expression that was very appealing. Maybe it was simply that he looked really comfortable in his own skin. I couldn't deny I was fascinated with him but clearly I wasn't the only one. And on the cusp of that observation, an unfamiliar and equally unpleasant feeling twisted in my gut but I had no desire to analyze it. What would be the point?

Just when I was about to turn my attention away from Sebastian and his horde, his head lifted and those eyes speared me from across the parking lot. I hadn't a clue what he was thinking, but the intensity of his focus turned the unpleasant feeling in my gut to a very pleasant one. Several in his fan club twisted their necks to see what had gained his attention. Having never been fond of the spotlight, I lowered my head and moved it along but I couldn't help the grin that curved my lips or the tingles that swept through my entire body.

***

Instead of heading home, I detoured into town for a cup of coffee. My cousins wouldn't be home yet from school and frankly I didn't want to be alone in the house with my aunt. She usually ignored me but there was no denying the hostility and tension from her aimed at me, so thick and prominent that at times it felt as if there was another person in the house with us.

I didn't understand her attitude toward me, especially since I was the daughter of her only sister: a sister she had lost at such a young age. You'd think she'd love and protect me based on that alone, but it definitely wasn't love that she felt for me.

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