I don’t understand either one of you (Alex)

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I don’t understand either one of you (Alex)

“Alex, I need your help,” Kelly said the moment I walked into the room.

“Hey there. What’s up?” I asked, setting my bag down next to the bed. I settled in on the bed, curling around one of my pillow.

She looked at me, then said, “Okay, so … I think Joel may be coming around.”

I rolled my eyes. “Oh come on, Kelly. He just wants to be out there, getting laid.”

“You don’t know that.”

“What makes you think differently?”

She leaned back, her back against the wall, her legs hanging off the side of her bed. It looked extremely uncomfortable.

“Well,” she replied. “I told you he asked me out on Friday. I turned him down again. So he sends me a poem.”

“Oh, no, he didn’t.”

She nodded, grinning.  “It was awful. But really sweet, too.”

“I didn’t know he wrote poetry.”

“Well… don’t tell him I said this, but he really shouldn’t.”

I burst out laughing.

“So… this morning I was in Doctor Abernathy’s office.” Kelly was also on work-study, and spent two mornings a week as a receptionist at Columbia University Medical Center.  “And a courier comes in. With a bouquet of holyhock.”

“A bouquet of what?”

“Come on, Alex. It’s only my favorite flower. Point is, he remembered. He didn’t send me a dozen roses, which would be nice, but unoriginal. Instead, he sent me something he knew I would love.”

“Okay, that’s really sweet, I’ll admit it.”

“Okay, so he wants to go out Saturday. And I really want to. But … not alone. Not the first time. I need my best friend along.”

“Won’t that be awkward?”

“Not if you bring a date.”

“Um… no.”

“Alex! Come on!”

“Seriously, no. There’s no one I’m even remotely interested in dating.”

Now she rolled her eyes.  “Oh yeah, right. I see. Let me think. I’m trying to think of a guy you can ask.”

“Good luck with that,” I replied.

“Oh, I know,” she said, her voice sarcastic. “Let me think… I bet there’s someone you see every other day at work study. And spend hours with.  And then on the other days you get up at a nightmare hour to go running with.  Eww. Seriously.”

“Kelly, stop. It’s not like that.”

She sat up straight and threw a pillow at me.  “Come on, Alex! You’re my friend. I need you on this. And it’s not like you don’t spend six days a week with him anyway!”

“Yeah, but those aren’t dates!”

I was telling the truth. Even though he hadn’t asked me to come again, I’d been showing up at six am every other day. We ran together, sometimes in silence. This morning, in fact, we’d gone almost three miles. To be honest, I was secretly pleased I’d been able to keep up. And at least once or twice a week we had breakfast. Or coffee, after leaving the rare manuscripts library. But we weren’t dating. And, by and large, we’d avoided the kind of talk which had gotten us into trouble a couple weeks ago. We were following the rules, and it was working, and I didn’t want to ruin it.

I held my breath, thinking, hard.  I really didn’t want to ruin it.

I swallowed, then said, “All right. But it won’t be a date.”

“Whatever, Alex.”

I smiled at Kelly.  She said, “Thanks.”

“Don’t be surprised if he turns me down.”

“I don’t understand either one of you.”

I sighed. “I don’t either.”

This is first draft material from a story I’m working on during a two week hiatus before I start editing Insurgent. It’s a departure for me, because it falls under the “new adult” genre.You can find the beginning of the story, discussion of what NA books are, and contents of the story, here.

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