Wyatt and Jen were trying to not make it obvious that they were shooting each other glances, a concern-filled gleam in their eyes. I sat across from them, slouched in my usual chair with my feet propped up on the table. I lazily stared through the two of them, but could still tell that they were now watching me.
I groaned. "Okay, what do you want?" I snapped, but I didn't even have enough energy to look right at them, and my eyes rolled and landed on the Lemon, which was currently closed due to Caitlin's absence.
"Nothing," Jen tried to sound casual and even ran her fingers through her hair before it got caught in a knot.
"We were just wondering how things were going," chimed in Wyatt, "you know, things going on in the life of Nikki."
"Please shut up," I answered flatly, "You both have to be complete idiots if you think I don't see where this conversation is going. I absolutely know where this conversation is going!"
Jen held up her hands in defense, as if she were worried I were about to pounce on her. Part of me didn't blame her though. After recent events, I hadn't bothered to stop the bitch part of me run loose. For the past two weeks I had been almost nothing but sarcastic comments and rude putdowns… even more so than usual.
"We know you're not an idiot," Jen answered at last, "but we have a right to be concerned about you, Nikki. We're you're friends." She smiled warmly at me, that famous Jen smile that could melt even a terrorist's heart. But my heart had been trampled on, so it was easy to push that smile away.
I scowled. "Why do you need to be concerned? I'm perfectly normal. There's no reason to be concerned for me at all!"
Jen and Wyatt glanced at each other again, not even close to being convinced. "Nikki," Wyatt said at last, "Jonesy broke up with you fourteen days ago."
"Looks like someone's been counting," I muttered.
"All I'm saying," Wyatt continued, "is that you haven't been yourself, even fourteen days later!"
I suddenly glared at them. "And why do you think I would be alright just fourteen days later?" I practically yelled, "I mean it's not like Jonesy even had a…" my voice quickly faded as I saw the eager expression on Jen and Wyatt's faces. I quickly shook my head, "What am I doing? I'm not about to talk about my feelings to you two."
"Come on, we're your friends Nikki," argued Wyatt, "you've known us forever which means you can tell us anything."
"And besides, if you can't even tell us what's going on in your head, who can you tell?" Jen added.
"No one," I retorted, "because it's my head and whatever is insides means absolutely nothing to anyone else!"
They weren't going to give up so easily. I could tell by their eyes, which had the same determined shine to them. I almost felt bad for being so harsh to them lately, but I wasn't about to apologize and talk about my feelings. Jen and Wyatt's mouths opened at the same time, and if it hadn't been for the bubbly blonde that showed up, I'm sure they would have argued the case further.
"Hey guys!" Caitlin smiled widely at us as she floated up to our table, her purse in one hand and a coffee in the other. "Cute sweater Jen, I don't know if I already told you, and Wyatt here's your coffee you asked for. Ew, I can't believe you drink so much of it. Nikki –" She suddenly stopped for a second and gasped, "Nikki!"
"Hi Caitlin," I replied, my voice expressionless.
"Nikki, you have to get out of here quick," Caitlin exclaimed, her eyes as wide as saucers, "Jonesy just sent me a text saying he'll be on his lunch break soon. He'll be here any minute!"
An appreciative smirk cracked across my lips as I jumped out of my chair. "Thanks so much Caitlin. I'll see you guys around."
"Hold up just a second!" Jen cried, stopping me in my tracks, "What exactly is going on between you two?" She then pointed at me and Caitlin.
"Oh, nothing…" I began to say before Caitlin started blabbing away our no longer secret. She spoke quickly and easily, as if just giving away her phone number to a boy. I almost smacked myself in the forehead.
Caitlin giggled. "Oh it's nothing. Nikki just wanted me to give her the heads up if I saw Jonesy coming. That way she could get away without him seeing her, and she could continue ignoring him like she has for the past two weeks."
"Caitlin!" I cried, and the blonde's expression suddenly fell.
Wyatt arched his bushy eyebrows in disbelief. "Are you seriously avoiding Jonesy, Nikki?" I didn't answer. "Maybe you should just wait for him to get here this time. We can all leave so you two can talk things over."
I folded my arms over my stomach. "There's nothing to talk about, tell me what exactly you think we need to talk about! Jonesy broke up with me, that's that. You guys don't need to go anywhere, I'll just leave."
There were a number of protests as I stormed away from the table, but to my relief no one tried to run after me. My hands clenched into a fist as I heard Jonesy's booming voice across the food court. I so badly wanted to turn around and see his face after two weeks, but not when there was a chance he could see me. My eyes started to burn at the thought of him greeting his friends. I didn't even think he considered me a friend after avoiding him for so long. It was hard to believe that I had even been his girlfriend at one time.
My head snapped up, eyes brimming with tears. I quickly swallowed the rising lump in my throat as I met the bright blue eyes of a blonde, shaggy haired boy. He stood behind the counter of a new food stand. Fruitee Slushee, the sign above it read.
"J-Jude," I stammered, "what are you doing here?"
He replied slowly, lazily, as he always did. "Gotta new job. Pretty slick, isn't it?"
"Yeah Jude," my voice was weak, "pretty slick."
There was a moment of silence as Jude looked me over carefully. I had to drop my eyes to the floor to avoid his bright blue gaze. After a moment, he asked, "Whatcha doing?"
A feeble laugh escaped me. "In all honesty, I'm trying to find a place to hide." I finally looked up, my eyes meeting Jude's. There was something so soft about them that I felt myself calm down for the first time in days. And god, how had I missed how blue they were? Jude suddenly grinned lopsidedly at me.
"So you want a place to hide. Would you like a slushee with that?"
Exactly seven minutes later, I was sitting on the floor, hidden by the Fruitee Slushee counter. Jude sat next to me in the crammed space, the sides of our bodies just touching each other. In my hands was a large slushee, free of charge. I soon learned something very quickly about Jude as we sat there, which surprised me. He was a very good listener.
Jude didn't even ask me about Jonesy. We just sat there in silence, me sipping my slushee, until I suddenly broke down. I could tell Jude was listening intently as I blubbered away, because he stared right at me and nodded every now and then.
"He didn't even have a reason, you know?" I confessed as hot tears rolled down my face, "I asked him why he wanted to break up with me and he just shrugged. Then, to make matters worse, I saw him fooling around with some chick the next day, almost as if we had only been dating for a week and not a whole year." I paused, wiping the sticky mess off of my cheeks. "I sometimes wonder if he just got bored of me, you know?"
Jude looked up for a second as he thought about this. "No, I don't know," he replied, meeting my eyes again, "because you have never once in your life been boring Nikki. You're probably one of the coolest people I know." He then smiled at me and I smiled back as something inside fluttered briefly.
"God, look at me!" I croaked, looking away as I laughed slightly, "I'm such a mess. Jen and Wyatt have been trying for days to get me to talk, and all it took for you to find out was a free slushee and a bit of
silence." I laughed again before the laughter quickly faded. In a soft voice, I added, "All they want to talk about is Jonesy."
"Then we'll talk about something different," Jude said, "We won't mention your ex-boyfriend's name from this point on, understand? In fact, you're going to tell me all about your new boyfriend."
I arched my pierced eyebrow. "What new boyfriend?"
"The new boyfriend you're going to find very quickly because you're so cool. Make up exactly what you would want him to be like."
"What, is this Jude Therapy or something?" I asked, but Jude insisted that I did as I was told. With a sigh, I closed my eyes in hopes of imagining the perfect boyfriend. "Well he won't be rude," I began, "or arrogant. There has to be an adventurous side to him, but be able to just sit back and do nothing once in a while. He should be able to make me laugh. And also be able to always make me smile." I then added.
"Very good, very good." I heard Jude say, "These are all good qualities of a perfect boyfriend."
"God, Jonesy was arrogant, wasn't he?"
"Ah, we do not speak of that name here."
"Oh right, sorry." I quickly apologized.
"That's alright. Now tell me what you want him to look like."
"You want what he looks like too? God, I don't know Jude." Silence followed this, which was Jude's way of telling me to just go with it. I sighed again. "Alright… he should be taller than me, but not overly tall. His eyes should be big so that they can express emotion without him having to say anything." I paused before adding with a small smile, "And he should have a mullet."
My eyes snapped open. Jude was grinning at me, causing me to grin back. "Yes," I answered simply, "a nice, greasy mullet."
Jude laughed at this. "He would have a mullet."
"Mullets are very much in style," I had forgotten what it felt like to just joke with someone, so I went along with it, "in fact, I think you should get one."
I lifted up my hands to Jude's face and began tucking wisps of soft blonde hair behind his ears. I then tried to brush his bangs back, but they quickly fell to their original placing just above Jude's eyes. Almost as quickly as I had rearranged Jude's hair, it just as quickly flopped into its messy shag. "I think my hair likes the way it is," Jude told me.
"I think I like the way your hair is too."
My hand floated up and began to play with his soft hair again, laughing just a little before Jude lightly grabbed my hand. I hadn't realized how cold the slushee had made me, but I began to warm up instantly as he wrapped both hands around my one. Jude stared at our hands for a moment.
"Do you think…" he began slowly before he stopped mid-sentence.
"Do I think what?" I asked, that flutter sort of feeling pumping through my veins. Jude looked up, his eyes bright and shining and hopeful and full of understanding.
I don't know who leaned in first. Maybe we both did it at the same time. I suppose it didn't matter though, now that both our eyes were closed, our lips touching, kissing. He tasted just like I thought he would: sweet.
My thoughts slowly faded into nothingness. I no longer cared about having to fight off Jen and Wyatt. I no longer had to glance around for Caitlin's warning. And I certainly no longer gave a damn about Jonesy and the heart he broke. All I cared about were the sweet tasting boy that I was kissing…
I was kissing Jude.
And then I pulled back, my hand rising to touch my lips. I glanced at Jude who looked more hurt that I had pulled away than surprised by what had just happened. What had happened? Did this suddenly mean I really like Jude, or was my heart pounding for some other reason?
"I'm sorry," I whispered quickly, "I should go."
"Wait, don't." This surprised me, and as I looked at Jude I could tell that he meant it. His eyes should be big so that they can express emotion without having to say anything. We both quickly stared ahead of us. I was breathing hard as we were swallowed by silence, although I couldn't tell if it was uncomfortable or not.
"Yo, Nikki?" Jude spoke at last.
"Does this mean that…"
"I'm not sure."
"Well do you want it to…"
"I don't know yet."
"Because I think you should know I've always kind of liked you –"
"Don't say it," I quickly stopped him, "please, not yet, okay?"
"I'm sorry I don't have a mullet."
A smile broke across my face. I couldn't tell if he was serious or not, so I turned to look at him to see that his eyes were already on me. "I'm not," I told him warmly, and those bright blue eyes of his seemed to relax with hope. "I should go," I whispered after some time, "can we meet a little later and talk… or not talk?" I added in hopes of not sounding so serious.
Jude nodded. We hesitated before we both leaned in awkwardly, both laughing awkwardly, as we pecked each other on the lips. I then rose to my feet and stepped out from behind the counter, relieved that no one was around to see. A moment later, Jude popped up. "So I'll see you here in a little bit to talk or not talk?" he asked in complete seriousness.
"Yup," I told him, "I promise."
We smiled shyly at each other before I walked off. Half way through the food court on my way to work, I saw Jonesy. He hadn't noticed me yet – or if he had he was doing a very good job at not reacting – but I no longer cared. What had gone on between me and Jonesy was a thing of the past, and I was suddenly more distracted by someone else, someone who was much sweeter than Jonesy ever was, someone who meant more to me then I had ever realized before.