“We can’t do this.” Where did everyone else go?
“Why not?” It’s working.
“You know I have a girlfriend.” She doesn’t care that I have a girlfriend.
“I won’t tell if you don’t…” Anyone else will be a distant memory, by the time I’m through with him.
6 weeks earlier, in the back of an empty chemistry classroom, Sarah had Seth cornered. He felt the heat of her breath on his neck, and could practically hear her pulse.
“Besides, I’m not asking you to do anything wrong. Just come over.” She wore a devilish grin he found difficult to resist. “Our project is due in 3 weeks and we haven’t even started.”
A step backwards, then, “I have practice after school.” He had to try.
“Come over after,” Sarah put on her best coy act, toying with his collar after closing the gap.
This girl was dangerous.
“I have plans.”
Sarah didn’t mind his game. This was fun.”With your little girlfriend?” She never used her name- that was too personal.
“No.” This was the right button to push, but he didn’t want her catch on to that. “With some guys on the team.”
He didn’t know how much she knew… she always knew more than people expected. “Oh yeah?” She took a step back, before swiveling around. She didn’t want him to see her grinning.
He wanted to feel relieved by the reprieve, but something about Sarah’s line of questioning made him feel like he was running towards the cheese, about to get snapped.
“Well, my parents are gunna be gone all night, so you can stop over any time.” She had a feeling he would. “You know, in case you can’t get a hold of your girlfriend tonight.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” She found the button.
“Oh, nothing. I mean, I’m sure it’s nothing. I know how people like to talk. There probably isn’t any truth to it.” She had him. Maybe not right this second, but she knew she had him. It all started with doubt.
“Truth to what?” She was just trying to get under his skin. He shouldn’t let it get to him… but it did. Because, in the back of his mind, he already had his own suspicions of where Sophia was when she wasn’t reachable. “Wait. Forget I asked.” He shook his troubling thoughts away. This wasn’t the time to get distracted.
“You don’t deserve it, you know… there are a ton of other girls out there that would love to treat you right.” He could smell the rose scent her shampoo left. How did she get so close to him without him noticing? Sarah should come with an orange warning label.
“Look, I have to go. I’ll call you if anything changes.” It was nine steps to the door. Seth counted. It took all of his concentration to get out of that room.
It was the fifth time Sophie rejected his call. Seth was going to be really pissed, but she was starting not to care. He treated her like she was his property, but she wasn’t a possession to be kept. She was an independent, strong minded, individual. Mr. Krane saw that.
“Thank you for letting me do this here. You’re a life saver.” It had to be the fifth time he’d lent her his kitchen- more specifically, his oven.
It started out as a joke, but turned in to a genuine understanding. She knew her friends wouldn’t get it.
“You know, you’re welcomed any time. Mi casa, es su casa.” An affable smile took hold of his face.
“Well, the kids in the pediatric ward will have you to thank for their delicious treats tomorrow.”
They had worked out a system. He used a small buttered spoon to scoop the appropriate amount of dough on to the non-stick cookie sheet, and she would roll the wads into perfect little balls and space them out for maximum cookie output.
Well, he helped when he could. He did have a life, and didn’t creep. You know what else he had? Netflix and an extra macbook.
“Well, you really do most of the work. I’m mainly here for moral support.” He wiped his hands on the apron he never needed before she happened. “Do you need anything else? If you do, just add it to the list on the fridge, and I’ll make sure we’re stocked.”
“What? You don’t need to do that.” That was beyond generous.
“Please,” he scoffed, “You’re here enough, and no one else seems to be feeding you. Plus, I like contributing to good causes with minimal effort, and you’re always doing stuff for other people.” He grabbed a beer. “I’ve got some papers to grade, but no rush.” With that, Mr. Krane left her to bake.
Seth rang her for the sixth time. She had to answer. “Hello?”
“Where have you been? I’ve been calling you all afternoon?” She was right. He wasn’t happy.
“I’ve been busy. I’ve got that thing at the hospital tomorrow, remember?”
“Oh yeah, right. Well, what are you doing tonight?”
“I’ve got a ton of work to do.”
“I’ll come over. I can help”
“NO! I mean, I’m not home.”
“What? Well, where are you?”
“Seth, I’ve got to go. I’ve got like 500 more cookies to bake tonight. I’ll call you tomorrow ok?” As she pressed the end button, she hoped he wouldn’t call again. She hated lying to Seth, but he would overreact.
She was sure he would have called by now. It was 16 minuted after midnight when it finally happened.
She didn’t answer ’til the third ring. She didn’t want to seem too eager. “Seth?” she asked in the most disinterested voice she could muster.
“Hey Sarah, I wanted to ask you some questions about what you said earlier.” Sophie was avoiding his inquiry, but he knew Sarah would talk to him. Maybe she knew what Sophia was really up to. He had to find out.
“You know where I live.”