She was medium height, with thick dark hair in a cute bob and an average, pretty face. Vaguely familiar. Sporty but not thick. With boobs.
I growled internally.
She said something to Elliot and he nodded and then looked up at where Andreas and I sat watching them.
“Who is that?” I asked Andreas.
“Some chick named Emma from his school.”
“Emma? Prom Emma?” My insides froze. “Does he like her?”
Andreas looked at my face and laughed. “Oh, this is so good.”
“No, Andreas, don’t —” I hissed, frantic.
“Elliot,” he called out, ignoring me. “Bring your girlfriend up here to meet your other girlfriend!”
I closed my eyes and groaned.
When I looked back down at the ground, Emma was looking up at me, inspecting, eyes narrowed. Elliot was watching me, too, with a wide, terrified expression, and then looked at her.
I waved. I wasn’t going to play the petty game.
She waved back, calling out, “I’m Emma.”
“Hi, I’m Macy.”
“Did you just move here?”
“No,” I called down, “we live next door on the weekends and some vacations.”
“Elliot’s never mentioned you.”
Elliot looked at her in shock, and from the expression on his face I would have guessed he mentioned me plenty. Well. Apparently Emma was going to play the petty game.
“She’s my best friend, remember?” I heard Elliot say stiffly. “She goes to Berkeley High.”
Emma nodded and then looked back at him, putting her hand on his arm and laughing at something she whispered to him. He smiled, but it was his tight courteous expression.
I lay back down on my blanket, ignoring the nausea rising in my stomach. His words from only a week before – when he’d been on the brink of sleep on the roof and admitted quietly that he was more himself with me than anyone else – cycled through my mind.
I’d told him I felt that way, too. During the school year, my weekdays were a blur, hours smoothed together in a mess of homework and swim and crawling into bed hoping whatever I’d packed into my brain that day didn’t seep out onto my pillow at night. In a sense, my time away from him felt like going to work, and the weekends and summer were coming home – unwinding, being with Elliot and Dad, being myself. But then things like this happened – and I was reminded that most of Elliot’s world existed without me.
Several minutes passed before I heard the car start and drive away. Moments later, Elliot was climbing through the window back onto the roof. I quickly pushed my nose into my book.
“Smooth, Ell,” Andreas said.
His feet came into view in front of my book and I pretended to be so engrossed that I didn’t even notice.
“Hey,” he said quietly. “Want to grab a snack?”
I continued pseudo-reading. “I’m good.”
He kneeled down close to me, ducked lower to catch my eye. I could see his apology written all over his face. “Come inside, it’s sweltering.”
In the kitchen, he pulled out a pitcher of lemonade and two glasses, and started making us sandwiches. Andreas hadn’t followed us inside and the house was cool, dark, and quiet.
“Emma seems lovely,” I said dryly, rolling a lemon across the countertop.
“She’s the one you kissed at prom, right?”
He looked up at me and scrunched his glasses up his nose. “Yeah.”
“Do you still kiss her?”
Turning his attention back down to the sandwiches, he spread the peanut butter on the bread and added jelly before answering. “No.”
“Is that a lie by omission?”
When he met my gaze again, his eyes were tight. “I have kissed her on a few occasions, yes. I don’t still kiss her.”
His words hit my ears like bricks dropped from an airplane. “You kissed her other times besides prom last spring?”
He cleared his throat, turning a brilliant scarlet.
“Yeah.” He shifted his glasses up higher again. “Two other times.”
I felt like I’d swallowed a jagged ice cube; something cold and hard lodged in my chest. “But she’s not your girlfriend?”
He shook his head calmly. “No.”
“Do you have a girlfriend?” I wondered why I even had to ask this. Wouldn’t he tell me? Or spend time with her during the summer instead of me? He was always honest, but was he forthcoming?
He put down the knife and assembled the sandwiches before looking at me with a smirk. “No, Macy. I’ve been with you every day this summer. I wouldn’t do that if I had a girlfriend.”
I wanted to throw the lemon at his head. “Would you tell me if you had a girlfriend?”
Elliot gave this full consideration before answering, his eyes locked on mine. “I think so. But, I mean, to be honest, this is the one topic where I’m never sure how much to share with you.”
Even though a significant part of me knew what he meant, I still hated this answer. “Have you ever had a girlfriend?”
Blinking away, he returned his attention to the sandwiches. “No. Not technically.”
I rolled the lemon again and it fell onto the floor. He bent to pick it up and handed it back to me.
“Look, Macy. I guess what I’m trying to say is that I wouldn’t want to hear if you kissed someone if it didn’t mean anything, and kissing Emma didn’t mean anything to me. That’s why I never told you.”
“Did it mean anything to her?”
His shrug said everything his silence omitted.
“Maybe it isn’t my business,” I said, “but I do want to know those things. I feel weird that I didn’t know you have a thing with her.”
“We don’t have a thing.”
“You kissed her on three separate occasions!”
He accepted this with a nod. “Have you kissed anyone?”
He froze with his sandwich midway to his lips. “No one?”
I shook my head, taking a bite and breaking eye contact. “I would have told you.”
“Really?” he said.
I nodded, face burning. I was sixteen and hadn’t been kissed. His No one? echoed inside my head, and I felt completely pathetic.
“What about Donny? Or… what’s his name?”
I looked up at him and stared meaningfully. He knew Danny’s name.
He smiled, busted. “Yeah, Danny.”
“Nope. Not even Danny. Like I said, I would have told you. Because you’re my best friend – jerk.”
He took a ginormous bite of sandwich and stared at me as he chewed.
I thought back to all the weekends we’d spent together, all the stories he’d told me about Christian being a maniac or Brandon having zero game with girls at school. I thought about his updates about his brothers and their girlfriends, and wondered why Elliot was always so tight-lipped about his own escapades. It threw me. It made me feel like maybe we weren’t as close as I thought we were.
“Have you kissed a lot of girls?”
He mumbled, “A couple.”
Something inside me was rioting. “Have you done more than kiss?”
He turned a new shade of red and finally nodded, taking another big bite so he wouldn’t have to elaborate.
My jaw slowly lowered to the floor. I waited until he was done chewing and had taken a sip of lemonade to ask, “How far?”
Countries were established, went to war, and split into smaller countries in the time it took for Elliot to answer.
“Shirts off.” He scratched his eyebrow and nudged his glasses up his nose again with the tip of his finger. Stalling. Avoiding eye contact. “Um… and with one girl – not Emma – hands in pants.”
“You have?” I felt my eyes bug out. “Who?”
“Emma was just shirts off. The rest was this other girl, Jill.”
I put my sandwich down, my appetite completely gone. The kitchen was on the darkest side of the house this time of day, and it suddenly felt too cold. I lifted my hands, rubbing my bare arms.