Katie tackles me in a huge hug, and the plastic Guitar Hero guitar that’s still strung across her chest digs sharply into my side.
“Er, hi,” I gasp as she gives me a tighter squeeze before letting go.
“Omigod, I missed you!” Katie’s eyes are warm and sincere, and I instantly feel horrible for almost speaking badly about her to Brandon. Katie is such a good friend – I’m the weak link in our friendship.
“I missed you too! Didn’t you get any of my messages?”
“Ugh, who knows.” Katie rolls her eyes, pulling her long wavy hair over one shoulder. “I get soooo many messages, it’s like, almost ridiculous.” Her sweet laugh stings. “I want to tell people, I’m only one girl!” Katie does this a lot – reminding people of her popularity by calling it a burden. She shoots Brandon a dazzling smile. “Right?”
Brandon instantly turns bright red and looks toward the street. I can’t help but frown. “Yeah, well, um,” he mumbles, scratching the back of his head absently while keeping his eyes off of us, “I’ll let you two talk.” He rushes inside, closing the door behind him.
“Eeeeee.” Katie squeals softly the moment he’s gone, grabbing my hands and jumping up and down. “Isn’t he so cute?” She looks at the closed door and smirks, adding proudly, “He’s so embarrassed around me. He’s always blushing. It’s really cute.”
“Yeah. Cute.” If Katie notices my sarcasm, she ignores it.
“Sooooo, whaddaya think?” She looks at me with intense anticipation.
“About what?” I ask, my expression blank. I know I’m being spiteful but I don’t want to give her the satisfaction of knowing that Katie+Brandon is not just on my mind, but the only thing on my mind. I still just can’t believe–
“About me and Brandon. Duh.”
“Oh, right.” I shrug. “I think it’s great.”
Katie narrows her eyes. “You do?”
“Of course. My two best friends. It’s the best.”
I’m a horrible actress, and I’m not even trying to act enthusiastic, so I know Katie must notice my bland tone this time. But she smiles triumphantly. “Good. Because I like him.”
I stare back at her, and then smile. “Good.”
“Yep.” Katie pulls a lipgloss out of her pocket and smears it across her lips without breaking my gaze. And for a split second, I feel like we’re in some kind of showdown – me versus Katie, the underdog obvious. I wonder if she feels it too – for some reason I get the sense she can see right through me, like she can read my thoughts and knows exactly how I’m feeling.
But then Katie smiles warmly and the feeling is gone. She grabs my hand. “I’m so glad you’re back. For real.”
“Me too.” My smile is genuine this time. But I can’t say the same about my answer...