Logan didn’t care. Really. I studied him the whole time to catch the slightest reaction—twitch, twerk, eye-roll—but nothing. Then it dawned on me. He really didn’t care if she was with another guy. I was at a loss after that. Later that evening, Helen wanted to have dinner with her sons, but I was spared another run-in with her.
I was also spared another run-in with Kate. Mason told me she had something planned for me, but it never happened. I wondered if she’d been distracted.
When I went to school on Monday, the words ‘Roussou Sucks’ were spray-painted on a banner. It hung over the archway at the front entrance of the school. Heather explained it was the big rivalry game. Fallen Crest Public’s basketball team was going to play Roussou High that Friday night.
She further spoiled my day when she told me Fallen Crest Academy didn’t have their own basketball game that night so my old friends would be in the stands.
Needless to say, I wasn’t in a great mood during the next week. Logan noticed and brought me a latte one day during lunch. It didn’t work. I still wasn’t happy so he told Mason to give me a quickie in their coach’s office. That certainly didn’t help.
It wasn’t until Friday morning when another bomb was dropped.
Helen Malbourne was going to attend their basketball game. From the way Mason worded it and how Logan started laughing behind him, I knew there was a joke somewhere. I didn’t care enough to figure it out. Instead, I remarked, “I’m sure she’ll have a great time.”
“Heather’s working.” Mason gave me a confused look.
“Yeah. And …”
Logan finished for him, “Don’t you want to sit with our mum for the game? She gets box seats every time. Thinks she’s a goddamn celebrity for a high school basketball game. Jokes on her. She’s got to share the box with the announcer, and they won’t be farting out popcorn for her.”
“What?” He glanced at his brother. “Mom thinks she’s a big-time celebrity, and you know it. I love her, but her ego’s massive. It’s gotten worse in the last few months. Wait.” He paused, frowning to himself. “Fuck. Is she dating someone new?” Logan gestured to me. “I’m surprised she hasn’t tried with Sam’s other dad, David.” He asked me, “Is he still dating Mark’s mom?”
“Um …” I wasn’t expecting the question, but my heart sank. I didn’t know. An image flashed in my mind. He looked so different when Mason had dropped Jeff off at Academy. He was heavier, muscled, and looked healthy. He looked good. He looked like he was better. I jerked a shoulder up before I turned away. “I guess so.”
As I grabbed my bag and headed for the door, I heard the sound of someone getting whacked behind me. Logan muttered, “Ouch. What was that for?” But I was already in the hallway and headed into the elevator.
I drove myself to school that day.
People were screaming in the hallway. Everyone wanted to murder Roussou that night. I knew Mason and Logan were both itching to do the same. Even Heather seemed excited, and she was going to miss the game. She had me sit with her friends at lunch. Since the clothes incident, her friend Cory had thawed towards me a little. I only got two glares instead of the fifteen. Baby steps. On a normal day, that would’ve been a big deal to me, but this wasn’t a normal day.
Logan’s comment about my dad had blindsided me.
Their parents were around. Their mother had come back to town. Where was mine? My mother was unfit. My biological father had disappeared back to Boston and David, there’d been no recent contact from him. I saw him the day I registered for school at Fallen Crest Public, but that conversation had been so slight, it’d been meaningless to me.
He moved on. That was the bottom line.
Someone snapped their fingers in front of me, jerking me out of my daze. “What?”
“Bitch Crew Walking. Head’s up.”
I think that came from Channing’s half-brother? Max? I wasn’t sure. None of them had made overt steps towards friendship. I was tolerated because of Heather.
Kate stopped at our table, and the other three fanned out behind her. Like the rest of the school, she was wearing the school colors. She had on red pants and a black shirt. The pants were more like tights, and the black shirt was transparent, showing off her red bra underneath. Her hands went to her hips and she glared at me.
I was getting used to all the glares. I felt naked without seeing a couple a day now.
I grinned up at her. “I feel like I should be a hot-air machine. For every bad look I get, I could pop out a balloon with a smiley face.” I smirked. “Bet the glares would stop then.”
Some of the guys snickered.
I added, “Like right now. You’d get one in black and red.” I gestured to Kate’s clothes. “It’d match your outfit.”
I caught a faint grin from Cory, but it was masked as soon as she saw me watching. Her eyebrows fixed and her face went blank again. I sighed. So close.
Kate’s sneer turned into a snarl. “You think you’re funny?”
One of the three added, “Maybe she’s taking lessons from Logan?”
Another snorted. “Probably. She needs all the lessons she can get.”
My smile had stretched from ear to ear now. It was genuine, too. “Is this another warning from you? I thought you moved past the cliché insults and name calling. Oh wait. You said lessons. Yes, that’s referencing that I’m dumb. That’s another cliché insult.” With my hand in the air, I lifted a finger with each point. “I’m ugly. I’m dumb. I have too much sex. Those are the three main ones most simpletons use to insult others. The clothes and the mannequin gave me hope. I thought you were starting to progress, but then I heard that you’ve already done that before. It’s recycled material. You guys need to find new stuff. You know what they say about comedians?” At their blank faces, I nodded. “What I expected. If they use old material, the act is boring. People move on. If you’re going to keep drawing fresh fear from everyone, you need new stuff.” I stood and patted Kate’s head. “You can do it. I believe in you.”