I sat down automatically, watching him with caution. He was still smiling. It was hard to believe that someone so beautiful could be real. I was afraid that hemight disappear in a sudden puff of smoke, and I would wake up. He seemed to be waiting for me to say something.
“This is different,” I finally managed.
“Well…” He paused, and then the rest of the words followed in a rush. “I
Decided as long as I was going to hell, I might as well do it thoroughly.”
I waited for him to say something that made sense. The seconds ticked by.
“You know I don’t have any idea what you mean,” I eventually pointed out.
“I know.” He smiled again, and then he changed the subject. “I think your friends are angry with me for stealing you.”
“They’ll survive.” I could feel their stares boring into my back.
“I may not give you back, though,” he said with a wicked glint in his eyes. I gulped.
He laughed. “You look worried.”
“No,” I said, but, ridiculously, my voice broke. “Surprised, actually… what brought all this on?”
“I told you – I got tired of trying to stay away from you. So I’m giving up.” He was still smiling, but his ocher eyes were serious.
“Giving up?” I repeated in confusion.
“Yes – giving up trying to be good. I’m just going to do what I want now, and let the chips fall where they may.” His smile faded as he explained, and a hard edge crept into his voice.
“You lost me again.”
The breathtaking crooked smile reappeared.
“I always say too much when I’m talking to you – that’s one of the problems.”
“Don’t worry – I don’t understand any of it,” I said wryly.
“So, in plain English, are we friends now?”
“Friends…” he mused, dubious.
“Or not,” I muttered.
He grinned. “Well, we can try, I suppose. But I’m warning you now that I’m not a good friend for you.” Behind his smile, the warning was real.
“You say that a lot,” I noted, trying to ignore the sudden trembling in my stomach and keep my voice even.
“Yes, because you’re not listening to me. I’m still waiting for you to believe it. If you’re smart, you’ll avoid me.”
“I think you’ve made your opinion on the subject of my intellect clear, too.” My eyes narrowed.
He smiled apologetically.
“So, as long as I’m being… not smart, we’ll try to be friends?” I struggled to sum up the confusing exchange.
“That sounds about right.”
I looked down at my hands wrapped around the lemonade bottle, not sure what to do now.
“What are you thinking?” he asked curiously.