Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined (Page 25)

We stared at each other for a few seconds, but the quiet wasn’t awkward this time. It was more… charged. My face started to get hot again.

“So,” I said, looking away so that I could catch my breath. “In plain English, are we friends now?”

“Friends…,” she murmured. She sounded like it wasn’t her favorite word.

“Or not,” I offered.

“Well, we can try, I suppose. But I’m warning you again that I’m not a good friend for you to have.” Her smile was brittle now, the warning real.

“You say that a lot.” Funny how my stomach was rolling. Was it because I was hungry after all? Because she was smiling at me? Or because I suddenly almost believed her? I could tell that she believed what she was saying.

“I do, because you’re not listening. I’m still waiting for you to hear me. If you’re smart, you’ll avoid me.”

Then I had to smile, and I watched as her smile automatically got bigger in response. “I thought we’d already come to the conclusion that I’m an idiot. Or absurd, or whatever.”

“I did apologize—for the second one, at least. Will you forgive me for the first? I spoke without thinking.”

“Yeah, of course. You don’t have to apologize to me.”

She sighed. “Don’t I?”

I didn’t know how to answer—it sounded like a rhetorical question anyway. I stared down at my hands wrapped around the lemonade bottle, not sure what to do. It was so strange to sit with her here—like normal people. I was sure only one of us was normal.

“What are you thinking?” she asked.

I looked up. She was staring again, her gold eyes curious and—like the first time I’d seen her—frustrated. Once again, my thoughts refused to pass through the appropriate filter.

“I’m wondering what you are.”

Her smile tightened, like her teeth were suddenly clamped together, but she held it carefully in place.

“Are you having much luck with that?” Her voice was casual, like she didn’t really care about my answer.

My neck got hot and—I assumed—unattractively blotchy. During the last month I’d given it some thought, but the only solutions I could come up with were completely ridiculous. Like Clark Kent and Peter Parker–level nonsense.

She tilted her head to the side, staring into my eyes as if she was trying to see through them, right into my brain. She smiled—inviting this time, impossible to resist.

“Won’t you tell me?”

But I had to try to resist. She already thought I was an idiot. I shook my head. “Too embarrassing.”

“That’s really frustrating,” she complained.

“Really?” I raised my eyebrows. “Like… someone refusing to tell you what she’s thinking, even if all the while she’s making cryptic little comments designed to keep you up at night wondering what she could possibly mean… Frustrating like that?”

She frowned, her lips pouting out in a distracting way. I worked to hold on to my focus.

“Or is it frustrating like, say, she’s done a bunch of other strange things—for example, saving your life under impossible circumstances one day, then treating you like a pariah the next—and she never explained any of that, either, even after she promised? Frustrating like that?”

Her frown twitched, then settled into a deeper scowl. “You’re really not over that yet?”

“Not quite yet.”

“Would another apology help?”

“An explanation would be better.”

She pursed her lips, then glanced past my left arm and laughed once.

“What?”

“Your girlfriend thinks I’m being mean to you—she’s debating whether or not to come break up our fight.”

“I don’t have a girlfriend, and you’re trying to change the subject.”

She ignored the second half of my statement. “You might not think of her that way, but it’s how she thinks of you.”

“There’s no way that’s true.”

“It is. I told you, most people are very easy to read.”

“Except me.”

“Yes, except for you.” Her eyes shifted to me and intensified, drilling into mine. “I wonder why that is.”

I had to look away. I concentrated on unscrewing the lid of my lemonade. I took a swig, staring at the table without seeing it.

“Aren’t you hungry?” she asked.

Her stare was less penetrating now, I saw with relief. “No.” I didn’t think it was necessary to mention that my stomach wasn’t steady enough for food. “You?” I looked at the empty table in front of her.

“No, I’m not hungry.” She smiled like I was missing some inside joke.

“Can you do me a favor?” I asked, the words escaping before I could make sure they were allowed.

She got serious quickly. “That depends on what you want.”

“It’s not much,” I promised.

She waited, still guarded but clearly curious.

“Could you warn me beforehand? The next time you decide to ignore me? For my own good, or whatever. Just so I’m prepared.” I looked at the lemonade again as I asked, tracing the lip of the opening with one finger.

“That sounds fair.”

She looked like she was trying not to laugh when I glanced up.

“Thanks.”

“Can I have a favor in return?” she asked.

“Sure.” It was my turn to be curious. What would she want from me?

[X]

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