"Eli!" Clare yells from behind me. I turn to face her.
"Yeah?" I answer.
"Where are you going? And in such a hurry?" she demands. If my face could show how embarrassed I am, I'd be a tomato right now. Thank God for my good genes.
"Um, nowhere important," I lie in response.
"Oh, good, because I was wondering if you could give me a ride," she says. Clare's my friend, and how am I supposed to say no to her when she's looking at me like that? Her innocent, beautiful eyes open and she flutters her eyelashes. She's flirting with me, again. Okay, I might have led her on. Okay, I did lead her on. But, still…
"Sure," I answer. I race to my Hearse, practically jumping into it as I start the engine.
"You are trying to get somewhere," she tells me. "I'll just catch a ride with Jenna or Alli."
"No," I exclaim, perhaps too quickly.
"Any specific reason?" she teases. Oh, God, I've done it now.
"Um, what I mean is I'm not in a hurry," I reply.
"Oh," she says, her face falling.
"I just, I have to, I mean, I'm meeting Adam at The Dot," I explain. She smiles at me, suddenly, and I can tell that she has some amazing idea.
"Can I come with?" she asks.
"Um, no, I don't think that's a good idea," I tell her. Her face falls, again, and she looks away from me. "I'm really sorry. It's just…you wouldn't have any fun. It's guy stuff."
"Got to be better than listening to my parents arguing," she responds.
"Oh yeah, how are the headphones working out for you?" I ask her, trying to change the subject, quickly and painlessly.
"Great. Thanks so much for giving them to me," she answers.
"Amazing. Okay, we're here," I say to her. Now get out of the freaking car!
"Thanks for the ride," she tells me. And she finally gets out of my car. I go past the speed limit, trying to make it to The Dot on time. When I get there, 10 minutes late, Adam's talking to Peter Stone, the bartender-ish guy.
"Hey," I say. He turns around as I walk up behind him.
"You're late," he answers.
"I know, Clare needed a ride," I explain.
"Ah, how was that?" he asks, suggestively wiggling his eyebrows. I punch him, not turning red, and order. "So, what do you want to do this time?" he queries.
"I have a plan," I reply. Adam rolls his eyes. He's overreacting, of course. Not all my plans end badly. We eat, pay, and climb into my Hearse. I'm explaining something, very important, to him. "…it was huge!" I exclaim, talking about the amp my grandma bought me for my last birthday.
"That's what my ex-girlfriend said," he interjects. My stomach falls and I feel the tears prickling my eyes. "Eli, I was kidding, calm down," he screams, as I swerve unintentionally from not being able to fight back the tears.
"That's not why I'm crying," I manage to choke out, even though it is. He reaches across me and leads the car into a parking space along the sidewalk.
"Eli," he says quietly, testing to see what I'll do. "Did something happen with Clare?" he asks.
"No, something did not happen with Clare," I defend angrily.
"I see…" he replies.
"No, you don't!" I yell. "You don't get it, damn it!"
"Eli, man, calm down," he says.
"I will not calm down! Stop trying to tell me what to do! Do you think just because you have my heart, you can take away my free will, too?"
"Oh, man, okay, this is…um…unexpected. I'm gonna call Clare, okay?"
"No way! She'll flip!"
"Can't be worse than you."
"You wanna bet? She's a chick, it'll be wayyyyyyyy worse."
"I'm just gonna leave, then."
"And leave me here in a car. A car that I could go drive off the edge of a cliff. Yeah, smart thinking right there."
"Don't…" I warn.
"Mr. Hearse-driver, sir. Would you please calm down?"
"Come on, now, please."
"Obviously, you've never humiliated yourself and had your heart broken within the same 5 minutes, or else you'd stop telling me to calm the fuck down."
"Eli, you're my friend. I don't want to see you suffer. Tell me where your house is and I'll drive there. Then, I'll get you inside and, um, call Clare for directions."
"Fine." We made it back to my house, where Adam did get me inside and did call Clare for directions.
"Here's some tea," he says, handing me the mug.
"Great," I answer sarcastically.
"Remind me why I'm still here," he answers.
"Because I'm your friend and you feel bad for hurting me beyond belief. Like, way beyond belief, because of forces out of our control."
"Or because you think that if you don't stick around that I'll jump back in my Hearse and drive it off a cliff. Even though that's completely ridiculous because I would never damage such a great car. Or because you don't have a ride without me."
"Yeah, third one, definitely."
"Really feeling the love here, Adam."
"You should be."
"Hey, that's not fair!"
"You ordered me around."
"You liked me."
"You're such a girl."
"You're such a guy."
"You're so annoying."
"You're so hot."
"I'm so not answering that."
"You already did."
"You're so rude."
"You're such a jerk."
"You didn't tell Clare what actually happened, right?"
"No. I saved your ego from her."
"All right, next on Clare's list: Get rid of everything pertaining to the person in question. Do you have anything around your house that's mine or that reminds you of me?"
"Apart from you? Hmm, no."
"What? No stolen jacket? You're such a bad person to have crushing on me."
"I was looking forward to some ceremonial burning of my stuff."
"That could be arranged."
"Stop looking at me like that!"
"Like I'm going to break."
"Because I'm not."
"Really, because you seemed pretty close."
"All right, since you don't have any of my stuff, Clare suggests a mani-pedi."
"My nails could use some touching up."
"Whatever, the next thing is: Go out and flirt."
"Great, then you have to leave, and I'll call up Zane."
"I don't have a ride."
"I don't care."
"No, get one."
"I had one. Until the driver fell in love with me."
"Okay." And, then, I kissed him. Probably not the best decision, but whatever. He looked shocked, and somewhat disgusted, but to me it was like heaven.
"Now, drive me home."
"Then, call Zane."
"And, be safe. You're still my friend, after all. And I don't want you getting anything."
"Down on my knees?"
"You are bad."
"I know." I drove him home, the ride filled with odd banter of the same kind.
"Don't have too much fun."
"Get out of here."
"Gladly, Zane's waiting."