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Kat.

 

I hate him. I hate the way he cuts his stupid curly hair, like he's deliberately trying to look like a Jonas brother. I hate his wanna-be bad boy leather jacket and his wanna-be bad boy attitude, as if he ever does anything that bad. I hate it when I feel him staring at me in the hall and I hate myself when I catch myself staring back at him. I hate that the guy I ended up liking turned out to be such a massive tool of the patriarchy and that I didn't realize it until it was too late.

 

Like Sunday night at school, during the fire evacuation. Dad had disappeared to God-knows-where and Bianca was off with that wretch Chastity, while I was helping the rescue committee distribute bottled water and other supplies to the victims. Dad being Dad had rushed us out of the house while we were still in our pajamas and we arrived at the school to find everyone immaculately dressed and standing around and gossiping like this was a social event, not a disaster.

 

Despite the fact that nobody looked like an actual victim, I had volunteered with the disaster committee to help distribute supplies and organize the school as a shelter in case we got stuck here for days. I was being helpful, distributing food and water and minding my own business when he appeared, striding down the hall in those big dumb combat boots that he's always wearing, hands casually in his pockets. I suppose I noticed and stared at him maybe a second too long.

 

Go after him already. Seize the moment! Life is short, trust me, I know,” urged the elderly woman I was opening a bottle of water for, who was interrupting my thoughts for the second time tonight. Just what I needed, someone else making sexist unsolicited assumptions that I must be in love with Patrick just because I looked at him for a moment. What did she know? She sounded like Bianca. Is this what Bianca is going to be like when we're senior citizens?

 

You're old. I get it,” I said back to her, annoyed. Her prune-like mouth shriveled up as she pursed her lips at me. Sweet old lady, my ass. She'd been hanging around hogging the fire rations all night.

 

Minutes later, Bianca came by, pulling me away from the old lady's clutches and whining to me about needed keys to an empty classroom. This idea reeked of Chastity and Bianca's constant catering to her whims made me sick.

 

No,” I rejected her request, despite the fact that I didn't have access to the keys anyway. “Why does everything you do have to be about Chastity? It's pathetic.”

 

Bianca's head waggled back and forth in consternation, looking all the while like a deranged poodle at a dessert buffet in her purple flannel cupcake print pj's and hair half done-up in spiral rollers. “Fine, be that way. I guess you'd rather be handing out water bottles to old ladies than making out with Patrick Verona. But you're right – I'm the one who's pathetic.” She stamped her foot and stormed away in a huff.

 

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Patrick strolling down the hall again and over to the stairwell door that lead to the roof. He turned his head and looked straight at me, meeting my eye and giving me a look . I immediately looked down at my tray of water bottles and willed the heat I felt rising in my face not to turn into a full blown blush. I did not want to prove them right – I did not want to make out with Patrick, I wanted to serve mankind by helping make sure the fire victims had adequate hydration. There was a fire going on, didn't they all understand that we had to pull together? And pulling together did not involve making out with that womanizer.

 

I peeked back up at him and I saw him still staring at me. Then he nonchalantly strode through the stairwell door, ignoring the huge “No Entry” sign. Jackass. I gripped my tray tightly and forced myself to head down to the big hallway outside of the auditorium, but I found myself grinding to a half as soon as I passed the door to the roof. I hesitated – he thought he was so cute disregarding the rules, with his cocky “I'm the man” attitude and his come hither stare, like his hot body and deep voice gave him a license to act however he wanted.

 

Eww, did I seriously just think that? He might like to think he was all that and that he could parade around making out with girls and antagonizing other girls like me with his snide comments about how I should keep my distance and take anger management classes. Oh yeah, a real sign he wanted me. Where was Bianca getting this from? Just because Patrick seemed to find me interesting after I converted my car to a bio-diesel in auto shop, I was supposed to take that as a sign Patrick wanted me and be grateful about it? Fall to his feet just because a man wanted me? Gimme a break.

 

It was not OK for him to randomly show up at my bedroom window at 11PM at night to rifle through my vinyl collection and be nosy about my life, especially when he wouldn't deign to talk to me the week prior. And completely not cool when his girlfriend (probably one of several) showed up tonight at the shelter, clinging to him like a limpet. So not worth a minute of my time. He needed someone to tell him the hard truth that he's a tool and show him that he's not God's gift to women. More like a charity case.

 

I rolled my eyes and did a 180, heading up the steps that Patrick went up a moment ago.

 

 


Patrick.

I knew she wouldn't be able to resist following me up here. I have to admit that I got a little nervous during the five minutes I was waiting up here alone, but when I heard the door creek open below, I knew I had her. I was sitting on the edge of the railing with my back to her when she climbed the steps.

 

"Don't jump." Her voiced dripped with sarcasm as I heard her footsteps approach me. I kept my vantage point, sitting on the edge of the rail, letting my feet dangle over the drop below. It was only two stories, no big deal.

 

I swiveled my head to look at her and I couldn't help but check her out. She was still wearing her pajamas, baggy plaid pants and a very tight navy blue tank top that left nothing to the imagination under her hoodie.

 

"Aww, I don't have to. You're here now," I crooned, unable to resist baiting her.

 

"Ok then, jump."

 

"I'm only three stories up," I said, stretching the truth a bit. "All I'd do is break a leg."

 

"It'd still be worth it."

 

There was a semi-awkward pause and I stared at the fire glowing in the distance. We had an amazing view. "Come check this out. It's really beautiful."

 

"Yeah, as long as you don't think about all the homes being destroyed," Kat replied. I didn't think about it, actually. Wildfires were a regular occurrence in California, I guess I was too used to them. It must seem a lot scarier to her, coming from whatever Midwestern state she moved here from.

 

Wanting to change the subject, I gestured off to the northwest and leaned closer to her ear. "Look over there." I turned in toward her to get back off the ledge and then suddenly pretended to lose my balance and fall backward toward the edge. She gasped and made a grab for me, wrenching me by my torso forward onto the rooftop. Her hand lingered on my stomach for a few more seconds before she realized what she was doing and suddenly pulled it away while I snickered at her. It was so fun to make her mad. It's like she forgot she was trying to piss me off and let down her defenses a little.

 

I moved to stand closer to her and she backed away slightly. "See? You don't really want me to jump after all."

 

"You're suck a jerk," she replied softly, not in her normal sarcastic tone. She said it almost tenderly. Who knew Little Ms. Perfect has a soft side?

 

She flushed and smacked me on my right arm. That was more like the Kat I know.

 

"Now, can I tell you what I wanted to tell you?" I moved slightly closer and she didn't step backward again.

 

Her chocolate eyes narrowed at me as I reached out for her hand.

 

"Ooh, I'm on pins and needles. Let me guess," her eyes widened incredulously, mocking me. "Is it the same thing you wanted to tell that girl downstairs?"

 

I smirked. "I like it when you're jealous."

 

"I'm not jealous. I'm appalled. There's a difference." Still sarcastic, but at least she was smiling now.

 

"No, I told her that she should stop stalking me," I explained.

 

"Big words from someone who shows up in my bedroom unannounced at 11 o'clock at night." She looked up at me from beneath her eyelashes and I swear she moved a step closer. "That's way past visiting hours."

I couldn't concentrate with her standing so close to me in her little blue tank top, arguing with me. Challenging me. Flirting.

 

I made the last small step closer until our bodies were nearly touching. "You talk a lot," I mumbled. I reached out to gently tilt her head and covered her mouth with mine, willing her to kiss me back.

 

Our lips came together like two pieces of the same puzzle. Her palms pressed against my chest as if to push me away, but were sort of gripping my shirt instead. I leaned into her, one arm around her waist while the other cradled her head. She rose up on her toes, pressing back against me and she kissed me back.

 

The kiss deepened and our mouths opened. She sucked gently on my bottom lip and it felt so right. I had never been more aware of her, and now she was here in my arms and it felt so right. After some time had passed - I'm not sure how long it had been - she pulled back a little. Her eyes were wide and she was smiling. "Was that what you wanted to tell me?"

 

I grinned. "Sure." I moved back in, eager to pick up where we left off. She giggled, which was surprising to me because I didn't ever think I'd hear her make that sound.

 

She pulled away again. "No, seriously," she started.

 

"Oh. Seriously." She nodded and I tucked her hair behind her ear. "Ok. Well, I realized why I find you so interesting."

 

"Do tell."

 

"You're different from other girls." I caressed the back of her neck. "You have a mind of your own."

 

"That must be a refreshing change for you."

 

"It is," I confessed. "You're not all clingy and needy. We can just make out and it doesn't have to be this whole big thing." I moved down and kissed her on the cheek, ready to trail my way back to her mouth. Secretly making out on a rooftop under the stars was even better than secretly making out in her bedroom.

 

But something was wrong. She was just standing there, this weird look on her face. Her hands fell limply to her sides. "Right. Right, because I'm a total slut. But, I have a mind of my own."

Oh, shit. "No, that's not what I meant."

 

"Well, what did you mean?" she challenged.

 

"I meant that you're not living some fairy tale wrapped around some Prince Charming."

She narrowed her eyes. "Trust me, no one would mistake you for Prince Charming. Prince Charles, maybe."

 

She stepped out of my arms walked over to the door, pissed off. My mind was blank and I couldn't think of what to say. She was seriously overreacting. She had majorly misinterpreted what I said. I ran my hand through my hair in frustration. “Argh! And we were having such a nice time."

 

"Unbelievable!" she yelled back at me. Clearly, I was only making things worse. "I'm worried about losing my home and losing every memory I ever had of my mother and all you're worried about is a hook up."

 

"Why do you have to make everything so difficult?" I shot back, exasperated. This was definitely nowhere near amazing.

 

"What can I say? I'm not easy!" She stormed away.

 

Shit!

 

I sat on the rail again, alone, watching the fire burn and wondering how I managed to screw this up so badly.

 

 

Kat.

So after Prince Charles told me how great it was that I was such an easy slut, I abandoned the misogynist ass. I was back in the hallway when we got the notice that the fire had changed directions and we were safe after all. I was sitting on the stairwell to the second floor, waiting for Bianca and Dad so that we could get the hell out of here. Ms. Sweet Old Lady shows up yet again and comes right up to me. She looks at me expectantly and I glare at her.

 

"Look, I'm off duty. Fire's over! Go!" I screech at her before she can start giving me her words of advice on how I need a man in my life to be complete.

 

She narrows her eyes right back at me. "So I guess I don't have to show you what your boyfriend left for you."

 

"He's not. my. boyfriend."

 

"Over there!" She pointed and I stand up to see what she's gesturing at. Then, before she walked away, she added, "Missy, lighten up. I know a lot of cat ladies who started off like you."

 

As if I cared about ending up single, with pets. Like that is the worst fate ever!

 

Then I saw what she was pointing at. My milk crate full of my mom's old vinyls were sitting on a table. Patrick must have rescued them. For me.

 

 

Patrick.

The next week Kat was avoiding me at school. I gave her some time to cool off on Monday, and when I tried to approach her Tuesday and Wednesday, she turned and went in the opposite direction whenever she saw me approach. I cornered Mandela Wednesday after school to try to get her to talk to Kat for me, and all she would do is glare. Though now that I think about it, Mandela has always avoided me after that rumor about me biting the head off of a bat in freshman year.

 

I was hanging out in the auto shop room after school on Thursday, way after everyone else had left. Mr. G was nice enough to let us use the shop whenever we wanted to, despite how much trouble he'd get into with the school board if they knew. It had sort of become my refuge. Things at home got sour pretty quickly after my dad took off for Australia when I was a kid, especially after my mom remarried that scumbag. I tried to spend as little time at home as possible.

 

I'd been fixing up cars here in the auto shop after school to make a few extra bucks. Technically, it was not something the school board would be cool with, but whatever. What they didn't know wouldn't hurt them, and in the meantime I was getting a pretty sweet deal out of it.

 

I had just changed the alternator in the old Bonneville I was working on today and I was underneath it, changing the oil filter when I heard one of the automatic garage doors open and someone pulled in next to me. Minutes later, someone got out of the car and slammed the door. I saw a pair of Converse shoes stomp by and then suddenly there was an oof! as the person tripped on the jack holding up the Bonneville. The car shook dangerously.

 

I quickly pushed myself out from under the car. I shoved off a little too quickly and the dolly I was on had one wobbly wheel, causing me to crash directly into the Converse wearer's ankles. “What do you think you're doing?!” I yelled and looked up to see Kat Stratford clutching her ankle and hopping around on one foot. “You!” I accused and jumped to my feet.

She raised both hands and backed away, like she was fending off a wild animal. “I'm sorry. I didn't see you there.”

 

Yeah? Well you'd better watch it. That was dangerous.”

 

I said I'm sorry. I know you're probably unfamiliar with what that means, but it's what you say when you do something wrong and you want to apologize,” she shot back and I didn't reply. I leaned over to check the jack to make sure it was still secure and that the car wasn't going to fall. She went over to her car and popped the hood, ignoring me. We focused on our own cars in silence for a few minutes.

 

I was finally alone with her after trying to track her down all week and I screwed it up yet again, before I even realized what was going on. Kat had that effect on me.

 

She was fumbling around under the hood and it sounded awful. I heard the metallic clang of a wrench against something it clearly wasn't supposed to be hitting and winced. Typical Kat. She was probably wrecking her car because she's too stubborn to ask anyone for help.

 

I found myself standing next to her, looking down into her engine. The temperature sensor dangled from its mounting bracket and it was dangling from its wire, knocking against the oil vent line. She noticed my presence and scowled at me. “Can I help you?” she questioned.

 

Wordlessly, I plucked the wrench from the hand she was holding it limply in and she glared at me.

Hey!”

 

Let me help you before you break something. What exactly are you trying to do?”

 

Her mouth formed an O and she tried to snatch the wrench back from me, but I held it over my head, just out of her reach. She made an attempt or two to jump up and get it but I moved it out of her reach both times. “Give it back you... you buffoon!”

 

I snorted. “No, let me help you. I... I need to lock this place down before I leave and I'm almost ready to go,” I lied, hoping she would give in.

 

Her forehead wrinkled. “My temperature gauge stopped working after I converted my car to a biodiesel and I'm replacing it. But I've got it under control, thanks.”

I brought my arm down and leaned in closer to inspect. “It looks like you blew a fuse. If you replace that sensor in there with that - ” I gestured to a newish gauge sitting on the floor on top of a thick manual, “- it's still not going to work. Let me show you how to fix it.”

 

She pressed her lips together and I smiled at her, trying to win her over. “Fine. But you better know what you're doing.”

Trust me. I know what I'm doing,” I leered at her and she snatched the wrench out of my hand, raising it up as if it hit me with it. “Er, I mean I'll respectfully show you how to do it yourself.” I flashed a hopeful smile.

 

Fine,” she acquiesced.

 

I spent the next ten minutes showing her how to locate the fuse box, how to use the test light to check if the fuse was still good, how to pop out the fuse and insert a new one (luckily I had extras in my tool box). We worked civilly together in almost complete silence aside from my short explanations and her nods. She followed my directions exactly and she quickly had the new fuse in place. She closed the hood with a slam.

We were done too quickly, I needed to stall. “Better turn it on and let it warm up for a minute to make sure it works.”

 

She turned it on in agreement and then leaned against the side car to wait. It was dark now, and a cool breeze blew in from the open garage door. I leaned next to her. I was painfully aware of her warm arm brushing against mine.

You know I didn't mean what you thought I meant on Sunday night.”

 

What, that you're glad I'm not one of those clingy girls that you have to waste all that time dating when you could really be cutting to the chase and hooking up instead?”

 

Way to read too much into it. I was just trying to say I felt comfortable with you. I don't like feeling pressured into something I'm not ready for. I just got out of a relationship like that. It was getting way too serious way too fast.”

She studied her shoes. “I may have overreacted slightly.”

"Slightly?”

She turned and looked in the car at the temperature sensor expectantly.

 

It needs another minute to warm up.”

 

I knew that.”

 

I wanted to reply back sarcastically, but I bit my tongue. I was trying to think of something appropriate to say when she brought up a new topic. “I don't understand you, Patrick. One minute you hate me and then all of a sudden you're sneaking into my bedroom at 11 o'clock at night and trying to seduce me on the school roof? How am I supposed to trust you when I can't tell what you're thinking?”

 

Right now? I'm thinking about you, Kat.” She stilled and I can tell I might have said the wrong thing again. I really was thinking of her, and the way the neckline of her tight black tshirt dipped into an interesting vee, but I doubted that was what she wanted to hear. I continued, “I admit, I may not have taken relationships too seriously in the past and at first impression I wasn't too into you-”

 

That's an understatement,” she muttered.

-until I got to know you better. But what happened in the past already happened and there's nothing I can do to change it. You can't be afraid to try something new. You might end up liking it.” I reach out and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear as I whispered into her ear, “like Sunday night on the roof.”

 

She rolled her eyes. “Dream on, loverboy.”

I moved to stand in front of her. I leaned into her and she leaned back, my hand on the driver's side window and my hair falling forward and brushing against hers. I hesitated for a second. I wanted to kiss her and I think she wanted me to kiss her, too, but I wasn't so sure.

 

We were staring at each other for a moment and just as I decided to go for it, a ringing noise came from her pocket. She tilted her head forward and she reached down to grab her cell and our foreheads collided with a thud. We both let out an exclamation and I jumped back, holding my throbbing forehead. Real smooth.

Hi Daddy,” she answered her phone. “Yes, I do know how late it is. I'm still at school. Yes, I had to fix something in my car.” There was a pause as she listened and she was sort of grimacing, her phone in one hand and the other matching mine on my forehead. That really hurt. “Yes, I'll be home soon. Bye!” She hung up.

 

Sorry,” I said sheepishly.


“It's ok. Look, I have to go – my father is going to kill me if I'm not home for dinner.” She collected her extra thermo gauge and the manual and climbed into the driver's seat.

 

The gauge reading ok?”

 

She peered at it. “Yup, looks good. Thanks!” and she put the car in gear and drove off before I could say another word.

 

 

 

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Patrick.

 

 

“Patrick!” The high-pitched voice yelling my name across the hallway was way too chipper for Friday morning at 7:30AM.

I slammed my locker closed and looked around. The girl that was the school's penguin mascot – I think she was Kat's little sister? - was dragging Kat down the hall toward me.

Can you take my sister to the fall fling?” she asked, batting her eyelashes. Kat scowled at her.

Excuse her, she was dropped on her head as a child,” Kat snapped and grabbed her sister's arm and started to drag her back down the hall. “Let's get you medicated!”

The sister broke away and spun back to face me. “Look,” she said, in a voice that clearly meant business, “Deep, deep down beneath my sister's crusty exoskeleton she has a soft spot for you.”

I raised an eyebrow. I wasn't so sure about that anymore.

I am going to kill you in your sleep,” Kat hissed at her, clearly appalled.

“Sorry, but I'm desperate!” the sister hissed back. She sighed dramatically and then plastered a big grin on her face again. “My father is a freak who won't let me date until she does, so would you please take her to the dance?"  Her voice was trembling and she was looked at me beseechingly. She was really putting forth an effort to manipulate me, I had to give it to her.

“You could consider it a charitable contribution to the free Bianca Stratford foundation.” Bianca's voice rose another octave.

“Ok. I'll do it,” I broke in, amused. “I'll take her to that dance.”

“Even if you are serious, what makes you think I'd go?” Kat glared at me.

Bianca poked her sister with glee. “Don't ask questions, just say yes!”

“I am serious,” I looked at her, trying to keep a straight face. It was funny to see Kat get bested by someone so princessy.

“I'd love to see how you'd look in a dress.” There – that should piss her off. “I'll pick you up at 7.” I cocked my head and smiled at her. Then, I got the hell out of there before she could respond.

Kat.

As I was headed to first period, my phone beeped. I checked to see who had messaged me:

CU @ 7

Sender:

15555744761

Received:

7:59:5am

10/16/2009

How had Patrick Verona gotten my number? He was going to pay.

*

Before lunch, Mandella and I were standing in front of my locker, hatching a plan.

“Why don't you just stand him up?” she asked.

“I would, but I'd feel kind of bad for Bianca. My dad would never let her go unless I did, too.  I just don't understand why Patrick agreed to it.”

“I can't see him willingly attending a school dance. Or you either, for that matter.” Mandella stroked her chin thoughtfully.

“That's what makes it so weird. It's almost as if he's up to something.”

“Want me to beat it out of him?” She pounded a fist against her palm.

Yikes. “Uh, I think I'll try a nonviolent approach first.”

The hallway was clearing out as everyone was making their way to the cafeteria. A loud slam reverberated through the hallway and we both looked up to see Patrick stalking away from his locker down the hall. “I'm going after him,” I whispered.

She nodded. “Good luck.”

I sprinted down the hallway after him to catch up. “Patrick!” I yelled, but he ignored me. I caught up a few seconds later and grabbed his shoulder. He spun around to face me.

“Couldn't wait to see me tonight at the dance?” he mocked in that disturbingly deep voice of his.

“I just can't contain myself. Oh baby, oh baby,” I shot back, rolling my eyes.

“Don't worry, there'll be plenty of time for that later on tonight.”

I snorted. “I need to talk to you about tonight, Patrick. Namely, about what is and is not happening.”

“I'd love to chat, but I've really got to go. See you at 7.” With that, he strode off and left me there.

My forehead wrinkled in confusion. Was he avoiding me? I was not letting him get away with this. I power-walked after him to catch up. He looked over his shoulder and ducked into the boys bathroom. So he thinks he's going to avoid me by hiding in the one place I can't go? Think again.

I stood in front of the door and hesitated. I decided to wait for a minute or two in case someone was using a urinal or whatever boys do and then I barged in.

But Patrick was standing there with his arms crossed, and I stormed directly into him. I yelped at him and stumbled, steadying myself with one hand against the wall. I looked around the room – the boys' bathroom appeared to be exactly the same as the girls' down the to the blue tile and the number of stalls and sinks. No urinals. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting, but I was somewhat disappointed.

“Looking for me?” he asked.

I smiled triumphantly. “Why, yes I am.”

“And whatever you have to tell me is so urgent that you couldn't wait for me to finish peeing?”

I look down at his crotch and look back up to his face. “Sure doesn't look like you're peeing right now to me.”

“Done checking me out, Stratford?”

We were interruped by a creaking sound as the bathroom door pushed in on his hinges. I heard the voice of Mr. Desko, my physics teacher, saying something to someone in the hallway. I shot Patrick a panicked look and we both dashed for the nearest stall and squeezed inside. “Shoes!” he hissed and I hopped up onto the toilet seat and crouched down so that my head wouldn't stick about the top of the stall.

We waited in silence while Mr. Desko finished and left, but by that time, someone else had come in and we were still trapped.

“Why did you come into the stall with me? You belong in the boys' bathroom, you idiot,” I whispered as soon as the person turned on the water to wash his hands, hoping it would drown out the sound of my voice.

“I'm just trying to help you out,” he whispered back.

“Yeah, well now we're both stuck in here.”

“What were you so desperate to tell me, anyway?” his voice was a low rumble.

“Tonight. I need to go through with it and act like you're going to take me to the dance. Once you pick me up from my house, you can drop me off at Mandella's so that my dad will let Bianca go on her date.”

“What gave you the impression I wasn't going through with it? We're going to dance.”

“Why do you want to take me out all of a sudden? To a school dance of all places?” The running water turned off and another person came into the bathroom.  I looked at my feet. I wasn't so sure I wanted to hear an answer to that – I wasn't even sure what I wanted his answer to that to be. Looking down at my feet turned out not to be such a great idea, because it appeared that I was standing in a puddle of questionable origin. Ewww. I tried to adjust my position so that I wouldn't be standing in some disgusting manchild's urine, but my balance turned unsteady and I had to brace my hand against the stall, one hand on the side and another on the door, right over his shoulder. Patrick put his hands on my waist to steady me. My shirt was riding up a little and his first two fingers made contact with my bare skin. We waited for a few minutes until we heard the water running again.

“I have my reasons,” he whispered and his breath tickled my ear.

I'm confused. He seems to actually want to go to the dance, when really it's event that we both normally wouldn't be caught dead at. “What's in it for you?”

“The pleasure of your company,” he assured me, seeming annoyed.

The water turned off again. Patrick seemed sincere, and maybe I was being overly suspicious. What was the worst that could happen if we went, anyway? I looked him in the eye and he looked back, our faces so close that we were almost touching. I mouthed at him, “I'm sorry for questioning your motives.” He wrinkled his forehead and mouthed “What?” back at me. I mouthed it again, but he still wasn't getting it. The other person in the bathroom still hadn't left, so talking was not an option.

I leaned in a few more inches and gave him a friendly kiss on the cheek as a means of assurance. His skin felt rough against my lips, like he was starting to develop a 5 o'clock shadow.  His breath hitched and he gave me a look.  I found myself leaning in again, this time pressing my lips against his. Patrick's grip tightened around my waist and his hands slid up slightly, until they were fully in contact with my skin. As we kissed, I experienced an unsettling melting feeling deep inside. I couldn't stop kissing him and I didn't want to stop, or else I'd have to think about what just happened. And I definitely didn't want to think about it.

A few minutes later, the bathroom was finally clear and he broke off the kiss. “We better leave while we have the chance,” he said, his voice sounding disturbingly loud after all that whispering. We squeezed out of the stall and dashed into the hallway after he checked that the coast was clear.

The bell rang, signifying that lunch was over and a stream of students started trickling back down from the cafeteria.

“So, I'll see you at 7,” he said, grinning.

I found myself grinning back. “See you.”

It wasn't until I was in study hall next period that I realized I didn't hate Patrick Verona and probably never had. Hate was a strong word. He did sort of apologize for his ignorance yesterday, which was a start. Though his apology sucked. And his hair still had that stupid Jonas brothers look to it. And his voice was still way too deep. And he was right about my car, which was annoying. But nice to Bianca for agreeing to the dance, though I'm sure he did it for his own reason. And he really did seem sincere about wanting to take me.

No, now I kind of hated the fact that I was actually looking forward to the stupid Fall Fling.