Definitely, Maybe in Love(8)

By: Ophelia London

Dart was beside her, smiling ear-to-ear, nodding to strangers like he was actually enjoying himself. Huh. So maybe I was wrong about that. He was much cuter up close. His light hair was tousled yet tidy, and his pale eyes were radiant, mirroring another similar set of eyes right next to me.

I peeked at Julia, who had also spotted him. Beautiful, blushing color swept across her face as she zeroed in on him.

Oh, boy. Heaven help poor D’Artagnan Charleston.

She whispered to me in second-year French, her words tumbling from her mouth too quickly for her twisted American tongue. The only coherent message I could make out was that I must promise not to leave her side.

“Calme toi!” I replied, patting her arm. “I’m not going anywhere, bunny. Stay cool.”

The dark shadow a few steps behind the siblings, I guessed, was Henry Knightly. None of them was turned our way, but the next thing I knew, Lilah made a hard left and stood directly before us. She looked me dead in the eyes without the slightest hint of recognition, then set her gaze on Julia, giving her the crustiest up-down dismissive glare before turning to talk to whomever stood beside us.

Being this close to Lilah outside of class—in the wild!—made a ball of heat churn in my stomach.

After an appropriate amount of time passed, she looked our way again. “Oh. Hey, Spring,” she said in that low, sultry voice she’d been honing. “Didn’t see you there.”

I boldly held my stance, even though I wanted nothing more than to walk away from the scene.

“I never would have recognized you,” she continued.

“Nice to see you, Lilah,” I lied. “How has your first week been?”

“Oh, you know, I’m chairing this club and I’m president of that union      …”

As she droned on, I stole a glance at Julia. She’d lowered her chin, probably not knowing where to look and not wanting to say anything, fearing Lilah would twist it in some malicious way. For that, I wanted to clock Lilah squarely across her collagen-injected mouth. It was fine for her to have it in for me, but she had no excuse to hate Julia. My sweet, guileless roommate didn’t understand girls like Lilah, girls who were mean for no reason.

I attempted a smile, hoping it would stifle my desire to thump Lilah’s skull, then I glanced at Dart. He seemed, well, pleasant—not at all like Lilah. After a subtle clearing of his throat, he elbowed his sister.

“Oh, pardon me,” Lilah purred. “This is my brother.” She waved one bony hand at me by way of introduction.

Dart extended his hand. “It’s so nice to meet you.” His voice was happy and spirited. “Spring? That’s a cool name.”

“Thanks,” I said. “I’ve always liked it.” I wondered if I should tell him the rest of it, but rattling off Spring Elizabeth Honeycutt McNamara Shakespeare-Barnes always earned me the most peculiar looks. I kept meaning to scold my mother for changing our name to something so ridiculous.

Dart’s gaze held on me for only a second before it rolled naturally to Julia, who was pinching my arm so hard I was probably bleeding under my shirt.

“Ouch!” I winced. Julia elbowed me, and I’m sure Dart caught the gesture. “Uh, this is my roommate Julia,” I said, wondering if she’d cracked a rib.

Dart’s hand was now held out to my roommate. Her free hand slid into Dart’s as Lilah muttered some kind of apology about not noticing Julia standing right there next to me. Dart was smiling, Julia was glowing. They weren’t speaking, but their eyes were locked. Even I felt the sparks.

Lilah shifted her weight to one side impatiently, then pursed her lips. “Dart,” she said, “let’s mingle. You asked me to introduce you to the pretty girls on campus.” She narrowed her eyes at Julia.

Dart didn’t seem to hear his sister’s sneery remark. And with Julia’s hand still in his, she slowly began to pull away from me. Then Julia’s vice-grip hold on my arm was gone as the two of them broke free from the group.

“I like your hat,” Dart said to her, as they were swallowed up in the sea of other couples. When I turned back, I allowed my eyes to linger on Lilah, feeling one corner of my mouth lift. She was furious, causing the other side of my mouth to lift in response. I took one step backward, then turned on my heel. My job here was done.

“Oh, Spring, wait.” Lilah’s voice was nails on a chalkboard. I squinted in preparation before turning back. “You haven’t met my date.” Without moving her eyes from me, she reached one arm back and dragged forward the person standing behind her.

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