“No. I told you that I haven’t found anything yet. Dante is very protective of him. No. I’ll keep trying. I’m sure there’s something to find. I just have to look harder. Don’t worry. Okay. We’ll talk soon.”
What the hell is he talking about?
Nate sticks his phone in his pocket and glances up. His ice blue eyes meet mine and I’m totally busted. He absolutely knows that I was eavesdropping and he doesn’t like it. His expression turns thunderous and he stalks immediately over to me.
I gulp and glance around. I’m here alone.
I gulp again.
“Is it polite in America to listen to private conversations?” he demands when he reaches me. “Because here in Caberra, or any polite society for that matter, it is considered rude.”
“Well, that’s something that you would know a lot about,” I zing back, my feathers ruffled. How dare he think he can lecture me on being rude? Really? He’s the rudest person I’ve ever met. Ever.
And that includes crusty old farmers who have been out in harvest trucks in the sun all day. And that’s saying a lot because they can get really grumpy.
Nate levels a glare at me and if looks could kill, I’d be deader than a doornail.
“I know that you’re an American heathen,” he begins. “So, I’ll educate you. Don’t eavesdrop again. It’s rude. And it’s unacceptable.”
I stare at him incredulously.
“Unacceptable? I don’t know a lot about Caberra, I will admit,” I say as icily as I can with my heart thumping in my throat. “But I’m pretty sure there is no law against standing on the beach. If you don’t want to be overheard, don’t talk so loudly. Have a good day.”
I spin on my heel and do my best stalking imitation.
And then I’m grabbed by the elbow and spun harshly around. I gasp and yank away.
Nate is staring at me again, and he thumps his finger on my chest.
“Mind your own business,” he says. “And leave me alone.”
He pivots and walks away before I can even say anything. I’m so shocked at his behavior and by the fact that he grabbed me-he actually freaking grabbed me- that I can’t even speak. I watch him retreat as I rub at my arm.
What the eff just happened?
To: Becca Cline <[email protected]
From: Reece Ellis <[email protected]
Subject: A package
I know that you’re really, really pissed at me. And I’m really, really sorry for never telling you that I had a crush on Quinn. I thought I was doing the right thing. I mean, it’s not cool to crush on your best friend’s boyfriend and I felt guilty about it. But I couldn’t help it. The feelings were always there. But they aren’t anymore. I don’t have a crush on him anymore, I promise.
Having you mad is KILLING ME. I hate it.
I found a little gift for you here. I just sent it down to be mailed. I hope you like it. I don’t know- I might arrive back at home before the package does. It’s hard to say. If only this stupid ash would clear up then the airports would open. They say it might be a few more days.
Please forgive me for being stupid.
I close the lid of the laptop again and rub at my elbow. I know there’s going to be a bruise. I can feel the black and blue forming already. Nate had grabbed me hard. Really hard. Way harder than was necessary for the context of our conversation. Not that physical violence was ever necessary at all.
Why had he gotten so angry? I replay his words in my head and I can’t help but wonder at them.
Dante is very protective of him, he had said.
Who is Dante protective of?
I’m sure there’s something to find. I’ll just have to look harder.
What is Nate trying to find? It is clearly something very important since he had gotten so angry with me. But his anger was senseless. I have no clue what he was talking about, other than it somehow concerns Dante. But Dante is Nate’s friend. So whatever it is can’t be a threat to Dante, right? I mean, they’re friends. But the tone of Nate’s voice hadn’t been so friendly. And even now, I’m getting goosebumps just thinking about it.
I look at the clock. It’s 7:00. Only an hour until the dinner, so I’d better start getting ready. My phone dings and I look.
Is it okay if I pick you up at your room at 7:45?
I fight the urge to sigh out loud. Even a simple text message from him sets my heart loose on a 100-yard sprint. Just the sight of his name or the sound of it on my tongue makes the breath catch in my throat. I feel paralyzed. And excited. And a little like a seventh-grader.
I text back.
Sure. I’ll be the one in the long blue dress.
I send it and then roll my eyes. I’m such a cornball.
Dante answers within a few seconds.
Thanks! I was wondering how I’d know it was you.
My heart smiles and the warmth spreads throughout my body. There is nothing hotter in the whole entire world than a great sense of humor. And Dante can make me smile almost without even speaking. He’s just that funny. I adore that. A-Dore.
7:10. I’d better get a move on it.
I shave my legs.
I shave my legs a second time for good measure.
I moan about a small zit in the crease of my nose.
I put some makeup on and then moan about the fact that I’m not Marilyn Monroe.
Then I moan about the fact that Marilyn Monroe has been dead for umpteen years.
Then I moan about the fact that I’m a lunatic who does not look glamorous at all.
Even though I’m wearing as floor length strapless gown bought for me by a beautiful boy.
There’s clearly something wrong with me. Anyone else would look ah-may-zing.
I stare into the mirror.
I had gotten some sun while I was out and about and my nose is a little pink. My eyes are pretty, like they always are, but I just look so little-girl-like, like I have an inner seventh-grader who is busting to get out. My hair falls over my shoulders in limp waves. And I decide that won’t do. I’ve got to pin it up.