Definitely, Maybe in Love(10)

By: Ophelia London

“They’re starting a limbo contest.”

“Is that where you’re headed?” I asked, trying not to sound disappointed.

“I was.” He pulled back a slow smile. “Not anymore.” Seeing all those teeth made me wonder what his breath smelled like. If it was anything like his aftershave, I was already wanting to be a little closer. He grabbed a drink and chugged half the cup. “Want one?” he asked.

“Not right now,” I said.

“Yeah, I’m done, too.” He handed his cup to some guy who was walking by.

“So, you took time off?” I asked. “Where’d you go?” Our heads naturally drew together as we moved off to the side, away from the center of revelry.

Alex was two years ahead of me in school and should have graduated last year, but he explained that he’d decided to defer his senior year to travel. As information poured out, I decided that such a decision—to just take off like that—was a pretty gutsy move. It made him intriguing, probably because I didn’t have that kind of freedom in me.

“Hi, Spring,” Julia said, appearing from behind us. Dart was at her side, their shoulders touching.

“Having fun?” I asked her.

“Yes, we are,” Dart answered for the both of them.

Oh, brother.

Alex’s muscular arm reached out as he and Dart shook hands while I briefly introduced them. Neither Dart nor Julia seemed to hear a word I was saying after that, so the four of us settled into two comfortable yet separate conversations.

But it didn’t last, as something hard and sharp jabbed me between the shoulder blades, knocking me forward, right into Alex’s chest. It wasn’t completely unfortunate, and we both laughed as he steadied me.

“Didn’t see you standing there, dear,” Lilah’s acidy voice apologized. One of her thin arms was looped through Knightly’s as she perched herself at her brother’s side. She combed her fingers through her ashy hair and prattled on about some band she’d seen over the summer.

Knightly stood silent, his dark eyes staring down at his cell. For ignoring Lilah, I gave him two points. With no one willing to add anything to Lilah’s line of conversation, she flung herself toward my guy, asking him about ten questions in a row.

“Yep, LA’s my home,” Alex answered, after she’d asked where he was from. “The sun, the beach, the babes. Home sweet home.”

“Well, isn’t this so cozy,” Lilah said over the music, applying another layer of red lipstick. “We should hang out together like this all night.”

No one replied.

“Right?” She turned her chin over her shoulder. “Henry?”

From the slight jerk in his jaw, I could tell her date heard but didn’t reply, his eyes still stuck on his phone. I mentally gave him another two points.

“Henry?” Jeez. Lilah would not give up.

Upon hearing his name repeated, he lowered his phone and took a step in our direction, then he froze. “Parks,” he muttered, although his parted lips had barely moved.

I looked from him to Alex, who was mid-way through asking Lilah to dance. They were gone before I had the chance to take another breath.

Knightly remained frozen right where he was, watching them leave. Behind him, Julia and Dart had missed the subtle yet tense exchange between he and Alex.

When I shifted my weight, Knightly’s eyes shot in my direction. A mixture of shock and indignity stared back at me, like he’d caught me listening in on a private conversation. The way his deep brown eyes weighed me down made my knees feel like they might buckle.

A moment later, his eyes snapped shut, and a little notch of stress appeared between them. When they opened again, they were right on me, as steady as before. He took a step toward me, his mouth opening.

“We’re going out again,” Dart called in our direction, cutting off whatever Knightly was about to say.

I turned to see Julia and Dart heading toward the other dancers. Alex and Lilah were along the outskirts. I could even make out the back of Mel’s head, her brown curls bobbing as she boogied. By the time I turned back, I was alone.

Chapter 4

“I’ll be…” I pointed off to the far side of the street.

After getting the A-Okay overhead wave from Mel, I headed through the crowd toward the curb. I weaved around a row of portable tables set off to the side where various card games and chess matches were going on under large lamps. Despite the dozen or so people gathered around those tables, it was the only semi-quiet corner of the street party. I slid between two tables, sat on the curb, and pulled out my cell to check messages.

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