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Her Touch(6)

By:Alexa Riley



She hugs me back, and I can feel some of the tension leave her body.

“I swear I wasn’t with your boyfriend,” she says though a sob.

“I don’t have a boyfriend, so I agree,” I say teasingly, trying to get her to calm down a little. I can’t help the flash of Eli’s face in my mind when I think of having a boyfriend.

“You’re not with Nick?” she asks, pulling back, her eyes red-rimmed.

The freckles on her cheeks and nose stand out more now that I’m this close to her. I’d never noticed them before. They make her look younger than she is. She’s eighteen, a senior. She’s actually close to me in height, though, which is nice, because I’m used to everyone towering over me.

“He’s a jerk,” I tell her, and watch her lips tip up in a small smile.

“I thought you two—”

“Nope. I hope I never see his face again.” I smile at her, trying to make her feel better. Show her it doesn’t matter. They are a bunch of assholes.

“I can’t wait to finally graduate,” she mutters, still sniffling. “He told everyone we had sex and that I was terrible. And now I’m stalking him.” Another tear leaks down her face. “They wrote ‘slut’ on my locker.”

“Jesus.” I shake my head and pull her back into a hug. “They’re assholes,” I tell her.

“He’s mad at me because he tried to kiss me last week when I was leaving school late and I pushed him away.”

I pull back, taking a piece of toilet paper off the roll and handing it to her to wipe her eyes.

“Forget them. Like I said, he’s a jerk, and you probably hurt his giant ego.” I can’t believe I even dated him. He’s a sleazeball. If my dad knew how easily I was roped into Nick’s game, he’d be so disappointed in me.

“You believe me?”

“Of course I do,” I answer instantly. She gives me a big smile. “We can share a locker.”

“You don’t have to do that.”

“Please, you’d be doing me a favor. I don’t have any friends here.”

“I thought that you hang out with—”

I cut her off. “They aren’t my friends, and I don’t want to hang out with them anymore. Besides, that’d be bitchy to you if I hung out with the people who wrote ‘slut’ on your locker.”

She lets out a small laugh. “Maggie, right?”

“Yep.”

She lets a breath before wiping her eyes. “I look like a hot mess, don’t I?”

“A little bit. Your face is a bit blotchy, so we should probably wait before we leave. You’re walking out of here with your head held high,” I tell her.

I may be shy at times, but I never back down from anything, something I know I get from my dad. You don’t let anyone push you in a corner or tell you that you can’t do something.

“We’ll be late for class.”

I shrug. “One tardy isn’t going to kill me.”

We wait a few minutes, talking about our upcoming finals, and I hear the bell ring. Alice walks over to the mirror to look at her eyes. She pulls out a pair of glasses from her bag and slides them on.

“I think I’m good,” she says, turning to look at me.

“Yep.” I grab her by the arm, locking mine with hers, and pull her from the bathroom. We head for my locker, and I show her the code. She puts some of her stuff inside and seems to have her spirits lifted.

“I’m Group B lunch,” I say.

“Me too.”

“Awesome. We can have lunch together and go to algebra after.”

“I’d like that.”

Shutting my locker, we plan to meet up by the vending machines before we part ways at the end of the day.

I spend most of my morning thinking about Eli. He doesn’t seem to be far from my mind, and excitement fills me when I think about him picking me up today. But even with my good mood, it doesn’t take much to notice people are avoiding me. I’m sure Nick has something to do with that. I do my best to ignore them right back, and I don’t let it get to me.

Later that day, when I make it to the vending machines, I see Alice with her head down reading a book. I wonder if she’s really reading it or trying to avoid everyone.

“I’m starving,” I tell her, and she looks up from her book.

“Maybe we can get something from the machine and eat outside?” she suggests.

“If that’s what you want to do, I’m game.” I lean in a little “But don’t avoid going in there because you’re nervous. Might as well get it over with. I’ll be right next to you.”

She stares at me for a second.

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