I couldn't believe a new week was already starting. I still hadn't completely recovered from the weekend and my very first hangover, and here I was, having to pretend for another week. I was seriously getting tired of all this. On the one hand, I just wanted the truth to come out so I wouldn't have to lie to anybody anymore, but on the other hand, I was terrified of what everyone would say once they'd find out I had lied to them. And by everyone I mean my mom and Jessie. My mom would kill me, that's for sure. As for Jessie…God, I didn't even want to think about it. Our relationship was bad enough as it was, there was no way we would ever get along if she found out the truth.
"Grace, sweetie, are you okay?" my mom asked, interrupting my thoughts as I was slowly sipping my coffee in the kitchen.
She didn't even wait for my answer as she kept running everywhere in the house.
Apparently today was the day she was having this big meeting at the radio station. At least that's what I had heard her rambling about the day before. But I had other thoughts on my mind. Too many thoughts. So many thoughts that my brain was seriously threatening to explode, especially this early in the morning.
But these thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the doorbell, followed by mom asking us to go and open the door because she was too busy looking for her right shoe.
"Zoe, get the door!" I yelled from the kitchen.
I heard her protesting and explaining how watching cartoons was more important to her and that I should go and get the door myself. Of course this was followed by an argument until my mom told me to leave Zoe alone and get the door.
I sighed, not at all surprised by that. This was always how it worked. I was always the one who had to get the door, to drive everyone around, or to be nice to others. Zoe was the youngest so she still had the right to act like a brat, and Jessie…well, Jessie could do anything she wanted since she was so perfect.
I cringed, ordering myself not to be jealous this early in the morning, and went to get the door.
"Morning, sunshine!" Katie exclaimed as soon as the door was opened.
I groaned, wondering if there was ever going to be an easy day for me.
"What are you doing here?" I asked, actually surprised to see her there since we were supposed to meet at school.
"I thought I'd come and surprise you. And I brought donuts," she said, holding up the huge pink box in her hands.
And I know it didn't happen very often, but I was speechless.
I was still very aware of how I had behaved towards her at Tad's party, and I still felt pretty bad about it. But now that she was standing in front of me, all smiles and carrying a box full of donuts, I just felt guilty.
I didn't know there was still some guilt left in me after all that had happened during the past few weeks but apparently there was.
"Wow," I finally said, dumbfounded. "You…how...really?"
Katie chuckled and was about to respond when Zoe decided watching cartoons was not important anymore.
"Did I hear donuts?" she asked, trying to push me aside to see who was at the door.
"Yep," Katie answered, still brandishing the box. "Frosted, Boston cream, jelly…brought to you by yours truly!"
"Awesome!" Zoe exclaimed, grabbing the box and going to the kitchen.
Katie winked at me before entering and following Zoe, leaving me in the doorway, still trying to process what was happening.
When I finally recovered from the shock, I couldn't help the small smile that appeared on my lips.
I knew Katie was in no way my girlfriend, but that was probably the sweetest thing anyone had ever done to me, and that made me feel even more guilty. So at the moment, I decided to try and be a better fake girlfriend, even though I had no idea how I was supposed to do that. I didn't even know how to be a girlfriend. But Katie was obviously making every efforts to be a good one so I could at least try.
With that thought in mind, I closed the door and hoped to the kitchen, my smile getting bigger with every step I took. I don't think I had ever smiled that early in the morning, but I guess everyone was right when they said Katie Singer was the charmer.
"Your girlfriend is cool," Zoe told me with her mouth full as I sat next to Katie around the kitchen island.
That's when my mom entered the kitchen in a hurry but with both her shoes on.
"Mom, look what Katie brought!" Zoe exclaimed, spitting half of what was in her mouth in the process.
And for the first time that morning, my mom actually stopped and paid attention to something for more than five seconds, that is after she did a double take on Katie.
I still couldn't believe how cool my mom had been about all this. Although I knew she was probably still freaking out internally, she had been pretty amazing at handling the situation. I think that if all parents reacted the way she had done, there would be less suicidal gay kids in this world.
"Morning Mrs Sammler," Katie said, flashing her famous smile.
She really did have a pretty smile.
My mom was obviously as surprised as I had been to see Katie here as she greeted her, but soon enough her initial shock we replaced by panic as she realized she only had half an hour to drop by my dad's to get Zoe's books, drop Zoe off to school, and go to the radio station. I knew that because that's what she kept on repeating as she ushered Zoe out the back door.
"I think you just scored some high points among the Sammler-Manning family," I said once the car had pulled out of the driveway.
She chuckled around her third donut but didn't say anything. I observed her for a moment, wondering how she managed to still be so skinny.
I suddenly felt very nervous, because I knew what I had to do, and it was something I wasn't very good at. But we were alone, at least until Jessie was in the bathroom, and I knew the occasion wouldn't present itself in while, so I took a big breath and went for it.
"Look, I...I'm sorry," I said, looking down at the counter. "About the way I acted the other night, I mean. And the day before that. And the day before that. Basically I'm sorry for the way I acted since we…started 'dating'."
I closed my eyes, waiting for her to tell me what a bitch I had been, but I looked up when I heard her chuckle again.
"Didn't know 'sorry' was in your vocabulary," she said, raising an eyebrow.
But she was smiling, so I relaxed a little.
"Yeah, well," I said with a small smile on my lips. "It's because I'm right most of the time."
Katie let out a small laugh at that.
"I'm serious, though," I said, after a while. "I shouldn't have been such a bitch to you."
"Don't sweat it," she said, shrugging. "We're cool."
"No, we're not," I objected, frowning. "Look what you just did! You bring me donuts in the morning. How sweet is that?"
"It's really not a big –"
"Yes, it is! Forget what I said the other night, you're a great girlfriend. I'm the bad girlfriend. But I guess it's because I don't know how to be one. I mean, it's not like I have a lot of experience in the matter."
Now I was embarrassed. I really should have stuck with an 'I'm sorry', because now Katie was looking at me all confused.
"You mean you never had a boyfriend?" she asked slowly.
I just shook my head, feeling my cheeks becoming red.
Great. I had never told that to anyone, and Katie Singer was the last person I wanted to talk to about that.
I expected her to burst out laughing any second now but all she did was look down at her hands that were now playing with her donut.
"Well, it's not like I have a lot experience either," she mumbled, and it was the first time I saw her being embarrassed.
Now that was something I wasn't expecting.
I had heard a lot of stories about Katie Singer. About how she could turn any straight girl gay, and that she had done that a lot of times in the past. There was even a rumor that she had once dated a famous actress. I didn't know how that was possible considering where we were but still.
"You mean you've never been with a girl?" I asked, without even trying to hide the shock in my voice.
"Oh, I've been with girls alright!" she answered with a smirk. "Just…you know, nothing serious. I mean, it's not like Evanston is famous for its strong gay community."
I didn't say anything for a while, realizing how little I knew about Katie. And once again, how stupid rumors could be.
"Well, for what it's worth, I think you're doing really well," I said, smiling.
She smiled back, and I swear I saw her blush a little.
But I decided not to say anything. That was part of my new plan to be a better girlfriend.
"I was gonna say 'you too' but…" she said, frowning.
"Nah," I finished for her, chuckling.
"Nah," she repeated, laughing a little.
We fell into a comfortable silence after that, actually enjoying the fact that we were finally getting along. That was definitely a weird feeling, but a nice one too. It felt good not to be defensive and bitchy for once.
But the moment didn't last long as Jessie entered the kitchen.
"Grace, have you seen my…" she started, but stopped abruptly when she saw Katie. "Oh. Hi."
"Hey!" Katie exclaimed, getting up quickly. "I brought donuts!"
Jessie frowned at that before glancing over at me. I frowned too, looking at Katie.
"Okay," Jessie said slowly, obviously not knowing what else to say.
And then as if this wasn't weird enough, the weirdest thing happen.
Katie started babbling. And I mean, really babbling. About donuts. She started listing all the different kinds of donuts, how they were made, how they were called in other countries, and other stuff that normal people shouldn't even know.
I looked over at Jessie, just to check if she was just as confused as I was at Katie's attitude, and what I saw almost made my jaw literally hit the floor.
Jessie was smiling. Not an awkward smile because she was uncomfortable and didn't know what else to do, but a real smile, like Katie's babbling was the most adorable thing in the world.
And that's when I got it. All of it. Katie liked Jessie. That's why she had come over that morning. That's why she had brought donuts. And that's why she still couldn't stop talking.
Katie liked Jessie! And Jessie knew about it. And she was enjoying every second of it.
I felt my blood boiling at that thought. That was so her! One more person who was crazy about her, and she was loving it! Like she wasn't happy enough with the other two hundred people already madly in love with her! I wanted to smack her at that moment. But mostly, I wanted to smack Katie, if only to get some sense into her.
"Actually," Jessie said, interrupting my thoughts and Katie's babbling. "I'm not very hungry this morning."
"Oh," was all Katie said, obviously disappointed.
"But thanks," Jessie added quickly.
And with that she flashed that adorable smile of hers that could make anyone melt.
"You're welcome," Katie said softly.
And she smiled too. It was a big smile fest, and I had to restrain myself from puking, or killing them both.
"You wanted to ask me something?" I asked Jessie a little louder than I wanted to.
I had to stop the monstrosity that was happening.
"Mm?" Jessie said, looking at me as if she had just remembered that I was even there. "Oh, right. Have you seen my grey sweater?"
"I think it's in Zoe's room," I answered quickly, mostly because I couldn't wait for her to get out of that kitchen, far away from us.
"Of course," Jessie said, rolling her eyes. "Why did I even ask?"
With that she turned around, but not before flashing another smile at Katie.
I waited until I heard Jessie walk up the stairs, before I turned toward Katie.
She was still smiling like an idiot so I counted until ten before I punched her in the arm. Hard.
"Ow!" she exclaimed, immediately rubbing the sore spot. "What the hell was that for? What happened to 'you're the best girlfriend ever'?"
I actually growled at that.
"You like her!" I hissed, trying to keep my voice as low as my anger allowed me to.
"What?" she exclaimed in a voice that was scarily high. "No!"
"Don't," I threatened, pointing my finger at her. "I'm not an idiot. I have eyes. And that was…You like her!"
"Okay, fine!" Katie sighed, rolling her eyes. "I like her. So what?"
For someone who had just been caught, she was amazingly calm, which made me even madder.
"So what?!," I exclaimed. "So what?! It's Jessie!"
"I know! You don't think I realize how fucked up and unexpected this is? But she's so great, Grace! She's so not who I thought she was!"
With that she got this dreamy look people get when they're in love, and that made me punch her again.
"Exactly!" I said. "She's manipulative! She's trying to seduce you! Just like she's always done with any guy that I liked!"
Katie's smile faded at that and she frowned.
"You like me?" she asked, actually taking a step back!
"No, you idiot! I don't like you! But she thinks I do! And that's why she's giving you the innocent looks and the flirty smiles!"
And the goofy smile was back on.
"She gives me flirty smiles?" she asked.
"Will you get down from your cloud for a second!" I said, slapping her arm one more time. "I'm trying to explain to you that she's only doing that because she thinks we're together. And she can't stand that someone's interested in me and not her for once! But I guess you're too stupid to notice it!"
Once I had finished my rant I started pacing, because I was so mad at that moment that I might have exploded if I didn't do something.
"Wow," Katie said after watching me for a while. "You really have issues."
"Excuse me?" I asked, stopping to glare at her.
How dared she be so calm? How dared she pretend she knew what was going on inside my head?
"You're so jealous of Jessie that you can't even see her for who she really is."
And now she pretended she knew Jessie. How the hell was that even possible?
"Oh, because, you do?" I objected, throwing my arms in the air.
"No," Katie answered calmly. "But at least I don't hate her for no reason."
I scoffed and started pacing again.
"Yeah, that's for sure! Now you're one of them."
"One of them?"
"One of the many, many people who are crazy about her! For once, I had something that she didn't. And she still managed to take that away from me, too."
I had started to calm down then. My anger was slowly starting to be replaced by sadness, because I knew this was always going to be that way. I would meet someone that I liked, and they might actually like me back, until they would meet Jessie. It had been that way with Tad, with Zoe, and even my mom. I knew my mom loved me to death, but I also knew she secretly wanted me to be more like Jessie.
"But…we're not together," Katie said slowly, frowning.
"I know that!" I sighed, stopping in front of her. "But she thinks we are, and now she wants you."
Katie's goofy grin was back at that, of course.
God, was she an idiot? Didn't she realize that the only reason Jessie was showing any interest in her was because she just wanted to steal her away from me?
I realized how unfair it sounded to Katie, like she was some sort of toy or something that I didn't want to share with anyone, but it was what it was. But it wasn't her fault. At least not entirely. It was mostly Jessie's fault. Once again she had used her charms on someone I was supposed to like, and there was nothing Katie could do about it, no one could.
"You really like her?" I asked softly, unable to hide the disappointment in my voice.
Not because I wanted Katie to like me, but simply because, one more time, someone had chosen Jessie over me.
Katie looked down at her feet and thought about it for a moment, and I could tell she wasn't used to feel this way.
"I think so," she finally said, looking up to meet my eyes. "I've never felt this way before so I can't really tell what it is but…When she's around I…I don't know, it's like…I don't know how to be around her."
That made me want to puke. Not because I didn't believe in love, because if I didn't we wouldn't be in this situation in the first place, but because I had no idea how the hell it had even happened. One second Katie was my fake girlfriend, and the next she was crazy about Jessie. And once again I wondered how Jessie did it, to make people fall for her so fast, and without even doing anything.
"I know how you're supposed to be," I said softly, taking a step towards Katie, thinking that it was time to put some sense into her.
"How?" she asked expectantly, as if I had the answers to all her questions.
My soft expression was replaced by a scowl.
"Insanely attentive to me!" I exclaimed, punctuating each word with a slap on her arm.
"Ow!" she exclaimed, trying to get away from me but she was trapped between me and the counter. "Stop doing that! That hurts!"
But I kept on hitting her arm, and this time she hit me back, making us look like five-year olds. And it lasted until I heard Jessie coming down the stairs, and then I did the first thing that came to my mind, and I crashed my lips against Katie's.
I had no idea why I had done that, but now that I think about it, it wasn't because I was trying to pretend Katie was girlfriend. It was just to piss Jessie off. To show her that Katie was mine, even though she really wasn't. God, this was so messed up!
I finally pulled away when I heard Jessie clear her throat and I fought the way to wipe my mouth off as I looked over at her.
"Oops, sorry, Jessie," I said cheerfully. "We just got a little carried away."
"Yeah, I can see that," she said, her eyes briefly drifting towards Katie, who didn't know where to look. "You guys are ready to go?"
"Yep," I answered, grabbing my back that was on one of the stool. "Katie?"
It took her a second to react before she finally turned around.
It was actually funny to see her that embarrassed, especially because it was because of me. But I also felt bad about her, because if her feelings towards Jessie were real, then it meant she was going to have her heart broken.
"Yeah, I'm ready," she said, still avoiding looking at Jessie, who had suddenly found the floor fascinating.
This was going to be a long day.