Noah let go of my wrist, and looked genuinely confused. “What?”
“If you tell them that you broke up with me over the weekend, everyone will forget about this eventually. Tell them I was too needy or something,” I said.
Noah arched his eyebrows slightly. “That wasn’t exactly what I had in mind.”
“Fine,” I said, confused myself. “I’ll go along with whatever you want, okay?”
“I want Sunday. My parents are having a thing on Saturday, but Sunday I’m free.”
I didn’t understand. “And?”
“And you’re going to spend the day with me.”
That was not what I expected. “I am?” “Yes. You owe me,” he said. And he was right; I did. Noah wouldn’t have had to do anything to make Anna’s dream and my nightmare come true. He could have sat there and shrugged and stared, and it would have been enough to perfect my school-wide humiliation.
But he didn’t. He saved me, and I could not fathom why.
“Is there any point asking what you’re going to make me do on Sunday?”
Okay. “Is there any point asking what you’re going to do to me?”
He grinned wickedly. “Not really.”
Fabulous. “Does it involve the use of a safe word?”
“That will depend entirely on you.” Noah moved impossibly closer, just inches away. A few freckles disappeared into the scruff on his jaw. “I’ll be gentle,” Noah added. My breath caught in my throat as he looked at me from beneath those lashes, ruining me.
I narrowed my eyes at him. “You’re evil.”
In response, Noah smiled, and raised his finger to gently tap the tip of my nose.
“And you’re mine,” he said, then walked away.
AFTER SCHOOL, I FOUND DANIEL WAITING for me at the back gate. He shifted his overloaded backpack to his other shoulder.
“Well, well. If it isn’t the talk of the town.” “News travels fast ‘round these parts?” I asked, but as I did, I noticed quite a bit of staring from other Croyden students as we made our way to his car.
“On the contrary, dear sister. I didn’t hear about the showdown at Tiki Corral until a half an hour after it ended,” he said as we reached the car. “Are we going to talk about it?”
I barked out a laugh as I pulled my car door open and ducked inside. “No.”
Daniel followed in less than a second. “Noah Shaw, huh?”
“I said no.”
“When did that happen?”
“No means no.”
“You don’t actually think you’re going to be allowed out of the house with this guy without my help, do you?”
Daniel pulled out of the parking lot. “Something tells me you’ll come around,” he said, and smiled at the road in front of us the whole way home. So annoying. When he pulled into the driveway, I shot out of the passenger seat, almost missing the fact that our younger brother was crouched over the bushes that separated our house from the neighboring property. Daniel was already inside.
I made my way over to Joseph. As of yesterday, he’d seemed fine. Like the hospital never happened. I wanted to make sure it stayed that way.
“Hey,” I said as I walked up to him. “What’s—”
A black cat he’d been petting slit its yellow eyes and hissed at me. I took a step back.
Joseph withdrew his hand and turned, still crouched. “You’re scaring her.”
I raised my hands defensively. “Sorry. You coming inside?”
The cat issued a low meow and then darted away. My brother stood and wiped his hands on his shirt.
“I am now.”
Once in the house, I dropped my bag by the front table, ignoring the crunch of some unidentifiable object inside the canvas, and strolled into the kitchen. The phone rang. Joseph darted to pick it up.
“Dyer residence,” he answered formally.
“Hold please,” he said as he covered the mouthpiece. He really was hilarious. “It’s for you, Mara,” he said. “And it’s a booooy,” he sing-songed.
I rolled my eyes but wondered who it could be. “I’m taking it in my room,” I said as Joseph erupted in giggles. Horrible.
Out of his field of vision, I jogged the rest of the way and lifted my phone. “Hello?”
“Hello,” Noah answered, mimicking my American accent. But I’d know that voice anywhere.
“How did you get my phone number?” I blurted, before I could stop myself.
“It’s called research.” I could hear him smirking over the phone.
Noah chuckled. “You’re adorable when you’re bitchy.”
“You’re not,” I said, but smiled despite myself.
“What time shall I pick you up on Sunday? And where exactly do you live?”
Noah meeting my family could not happen. I would never hear the end of it. “You don’t have to pick me up,” I said in a rush.
“Considering you have no idea where we’re going and I have no intention of telling you, I’m quite sure that I do.”
“I can meet you somewhere centrally located.”
Noah sounded amused. “I promise to press my trousers before meeting your family. I’ll even bring flowers for the occasion.”
“Oh, God. Please don’t,” I said. Maybe honesty would be the best policy. “My family is going to screw with my life if you come over.” I knew them far too well.
“Congratulations—you just made the prospect all the more enticing. What’s your address?”
“I hate you more than you can know.”
“Give it up, Mara. You know I’ll find it anyway.”
I sighed, defeated, and gave it to him.
“I’ll be there at ten.”
“Oh,” I said, surprised. “For some reason I thought this was a day thing.”
“Hilarious. Ten in the morning, darling.”
“Can’t a girl sleep in on the weekend?”
“You don’t sleep. See you Sunday, and don’t wear stupid shoes.” Noah said, and hung up before I could reply.
I stood, staring at the phone. He was so aggravating. But a nervous thrill traveled through my stomach. Me and Noah. Sunday. Just us.
My mother poked her head into my room and spoke, startling me. “Dad’s going to be home for dinner tonight. Can you help set the table? Or does your arm hurt too much?”