“Do your homework. There’s stuff for sandwiches in the kitchen if you’re hungry.”
As she leaves, she says again, “Do your homework, Taze.”
“Okay!” But instead I plug my phone in to charge and then call River.
She answers on the first ring. “You do Kai El-Khoury yet?”
“What? No! I lost his number. Do you have it?”
She laughs. “What the hell, did you have your arm amputated?”
“I took a shower.” I switch my phone to speaker as I pull up the camera app and start taking selfies of my make-up free, bruised face.
River’s laughing her ass off. It’d be funny if it was anyone but me. “Hold on,” she says and I hear the phone line click.
“What the heck? Hello? River?… Rithika!”
And then another click when a voice says, “Uhh… hello?” And oh, sweet mother, it’s Kai.
Be cool. Say something funny. I’m really funny, I can do this. “Hi.” Damn it!
“Taze?” He sounds confused. So am I, buddy.
“Are you with River right now?”
I hesitate because I feel like I should play this smooth. I don’t know if I can trust whatever River’s up to. Somehow that whole plan turns to crap when I say, “No. Are you?”
“…Well, no. I just wondered, because the caller ID on my phone says you’re calling from her number and—” he pauses “—Yeah, I just checked again. It’s her name.”
Tomorrow is the day that I drown River in a river of her very own. She three-wayed him, I think. Now the question is whether or not she’s still on the line.
“Can you give me your phone number again?”
“Tell me your phone number.”
What is wrong with this boy? “Yes, Kai.”
He rattles off the ten digits. I write them down on an actual piece of paper this time, and then I say, “I’ll call you back in twelve seconds. If you see a five-six-two number show up, it’s me.”
And then I do hang up and save his number in my phone before calling him back. He picks up really fast.
“It’s me.” My phone pings with a text from River: lol bitch
“Is this your cell?” he says. I push my book bag aside and sprawl out on the floor, phone pressed to my ear.
I hear a chair squeak and then he’s back saying, “I just saved your number.”
He clears his throat. “So you want to hang out with me.”
It’s, like, not even a question. As in, he’s not asking me. He’s saying, You have called me. Therefore, you are desperate and want to hangout with me.
Okay, the desperate thing is probably not what he’s saying.
“No?” he laughs. “Then why are you calling if you hate me and want to push me down the stairs and are too cool to hangout with me?”
“Western Civ,” I say. Don’t laugh, I remind myself. Don’t laugh or you’ll ruin it.
“You want to talk about Western Civ?”
“I need to borrow your book. I don’t have mine.” I stare at my obnoxious, dictionary-sized Western Civ book. It’s mocking me like, No, I’m definitely here, honey.
“Uh-huh. You couldn’t just ask me for it tomorrow?”
Stupid, logical boy! “Well, I could have. Even though there’s reading to be done tonight. But if you’re not volunteering to read it to me…”
“Can you pin-drop?”
“Pin-drop. On your phone. In your maps app. Right now.”
I’m so confused but I do it anyway. “Okay, I did it.”
“I’ll see you in ten minutes.”
Click and he hangs up. Holy hooker, is he coming over here? He can’t come over here! Make-up! I need Lennon’s make-up, so I run out to the living room where Lennon and Casey are watching a movie.
“Lennon, I need you to put make-up on me right now!”
Her head swivels in my direction, and she sits up from her reclined position against Casey’s chest. Sits up way too slowly for the sort of emergency I have on my hands.
“Taze, it’s nine o’clock,” she says. “I’ll help you tomorrow, okay? And then I’ll teach you how to do it yourself.”
No, no, no. I run back into the room and search through the drawers for—aha! Sunglasses.
I put them on and then realize how stupid it would be to wear sunglasses at night, so I take them off and then try Lennon again.
“Please, Lennie, please.”
She sits up again. “Tell me why you need this so badly right now.”
“I have to take a really important selfie.” Lie.
She rolls her eyes. “After the movie’s done, then.”
Godddddddd, fine! “Okay, fine. I’ll tell you. It’s because—” And that’s about the time we hear a knock on the door.