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Home > Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(13)

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(13)
Author: Kasie West

“Yeah, grounded.”

He laughs really loud for a long time.

“Hanging up now.”

“So much for the typical reaction.”

“Yes. It’s so funny. Bye.” I hang up and then stare at my phone for a few minutes before going into Recent Calls. I find the last number listed under Received and enter it into my contacts with his name. I feel a slight thrill. Girls would kill to have Duke’s cell phone number, and I just got it without even asking. He had actually searched mine out. I’m beyond flattered. But then I remind myself that Duke and I are incompatible. He loves to be the center of attention. I hate it. He is the king of the school. I do not want to be the queen.

I sit in my car longer than normal the next morning, waiting for Laila. Since I lost my phone privileges, she has no idea I’m grounded. The clock on my dash tells me I have five minutes to get to class. Did I really expect her to be on time? I get out of my car.

“So when does phase two commence?” Duke asks, catching up to me in the hall.

“Phase two?”

“Sneaking out from your prison sentence and hanging with the bad boy.”

“You know, I’m actually a good girl. For the most part I do what I’m told.” I’m not necessarily happy about it, but I do it.

“Only because you’ve been forced to live with a lie detector. Your dad is gone now. Time to hone your skills.”

My dad is gone now. I haven’t gotten used to that thought. “Wow, you really are trying to fulfill the role of the guy who’s not good for me.”

“Yes, it needs to be authentic, right?”

I stop in the middle of the hall. It’s time to end this. He takes two more steps before he notices, then turns. “What?”

“Duke, I can’t do this.”

He bites his lip. “Really?”

My heart flutters a little, seeming to disagree with my statement. I scold it for its betrayal.

“This isn’t a marriage proposal, Addie. Just a date. We don’t even have to call it a date.”

I have obviously hesitated for way too long because he grabs my hand and leads me toward class. I sigh and pick up my speed. “Duke, I’m grounded.” We round a row of lockers, and I’m forced to stop in shock. His hold on my hand jerks it forward once before he stops as well.

“What’s that?” I ask. In front of us, where the library used to be, is now just the blue sky and floating red letters that spell out: “Give him a chance.”

“So, what do you say, Addie?” he asks, turning to face me completely, the letters at his back. “Will you give me a chance?”

“Make them stop.” I look around, searching for the Perceptive who’s creating the illusion, but it could be anybody. It’s not like we wear name tags announcing our abilities. People are piling up where the door of the building should be, looking for a way in. My face is getting hotter by the second. “Duke, seriously don’t. Tell whoever is doing that to stop.”

He’s holding my hand with both of his now and he has his standard charming face on. “Say you’ll go out with me.”

I look back at the floating letters. The bell rings, and I jump. “Fine.”

“Really?”

“Yes. Really. Now have the building put back.”

He points to someone over my shoulder and gives the thumbs-up sign. Slowly, the letters fade and the red bricks of the library come into view. It takes my face a little longer to return to normal temperature.

He squeezes my hand, then lets go. “I’ll pick you up on the corner of your street Friday at ten.”

“Don’t you have a game Friday?”

“Yes, but it’s a home game. I’ll be done by ten. And I’m always in a good mood after we win.”

“And if you lose?”

“I don’t lose.” He smiles. “Okay, I’m going to disappear until Friday so you can’t change your mind.”

I rub my arms as I watch him retreat. So much for my resolve.

CHAPTER 12

ab-NOR-Mal: adj. out of the ordinary, like zombies and certain creepy boys

Trevor opens the passenger-side door for me and I climb in. When he’s in his own seat, pulling away from the curb, I say, “Sorry, my dad is kind of overprotective.” My dad just treated Trevor like he was the main suspect in a crime investigation, and I know he used his ability.

“No big deal. He’s never met me.”

“Yeah, I tried to tell him there’d be a bunch of people he’s never met before, but that didn’t seem to make a difference.”

He smiles. “I don’t understand why.”

“I know, right?”

“He has an intense stare.”

“He’s really good at telling if someone’s lying or not.”

“Oh yeah?”

It’s the first time since I’ve been here that I wish I could tell someone about the psychologically advanced. “Freakishly good.”

“I’m glad I passed the test.”

He not only passed but even got my dad to smile and give me the I’m-impressed eyebrow raise. “Me too.” I glance at my cell phone again.

He nods toward my phone. “You waiting for a phone call?”

“No. Yes. Sort of.” I haven’t heard from Laila in a couple days. It isn’t too weird. We don’t speak every day, but she seemed so sad last time we talked, and she didn’t answer her phone earlier.

“Sort of?”

“My best friend from home.”

“Where is home?”

I freeze, still not comfortable with the lie. I curse myself for straying from the Compound-appointed backstory. At least that would’ve been partly true. What I really want to say is, Well, you see, there’s this walled city in Southeast Texas. If you ever did happen upon it, which is highly unlikely, it would just look like a mountain range. But that’s where I lived, along with thousands of other gifted people.

“California. Uh, the southern part.” I unzip the small inside pocket of my purse, pull out a metal container, and pop an Altoids in my mouth. It doesn’t help get rid of the bitter taste of lies.

“Cool.”

“What about you? Have you lived in Dallas your whole life?”

“Yup.” He reaches for the radio, but then stops. “Are you a music or a no-music kind of girl?”

“It just depends on the situation.”

“For this situation?”

“Yes, music. It will hide any awkward silences.”

“You already have me failing at conversation?” He drops his hand, leaving the radio off.

“Well, you just seem like the perfectly-okay-with-silence type. I’m the oh-crap-why-can’t-I-think-of-anything-to-say? type.”

He laughs. “No worries. The people we’re hanging out with tonight have no problem filling the silence.”

“Who are we hanging out with tonight?” I shift in my seat, and my foot crunches a piece of paper on the floorboard.

“Oh, sorry.” He grabs it and throws it behind his seat, where it joins a floor full of others. My eyes linger on the mess. So Trevor isn’t exactly the tidiest guy in the world. Not everyone needs a perfectly organized environment to function, I hear Laila say in my head. I force my attention back to Trevor as he says, “We’re meeting the guys you met at the football game and some girls you’ve probably met at school.”

“I haven’t met anyone at school.”

“Maybe you should join the land of the living at lunch.”

“Point taken.” And the exact point taken is that he wants me to hang out with him and his friends at lunch. Awesome. No more roaming the library in Loner Loserdom.

After a few minutes of silence, I turn on the radio. He laughs.

When we arrive at the theater, his friends are already there, hanging out by a large fountain outside. After buying tickets, we join them. He introduces everyone, and I listen so I can match some of the names I already know with their faces. They all wave and say hi, then go back to their conversation. It seems to be about how much money Rowan gathered when he jumped in the fountain last week.

“Five bucks,” Rowan says, as if that amount made it totally worth the effort. I remember that Rowan was the one who tried to get me to go to the party after the football game. Without paint and the hot-pink wig, his skin is a creamy brown and his hair is black and shoulder length. He’s cute, if you’re into pretty boys.

A girl weaves her way through the group and arrives in front of Trevor, then gives him a hug. “Hey, Stephanie,” he says, hugging her back. Her eyes look at me and say, Back off, he’s mine, but her mouth says, “Good to meet you, Addison. We have math together.”

“Yeah, I recognize you.” She’s tall, with ridiculously long legs, dark hair, and chocolate eyes. She kind of looks like Trevor, except his lashes are longer. Her hair is pulled back in a high ponytail, not a single strand out of place, and her outfit looks like it went straight from a magazine to her body. I take a small step away from Trevor to let her know we just came as friends. Though I’m a little surprised Trevor didn’t mention her, I’m not here to steal anyone’s boyfriend.

Rowan uses the newly created space to slip between Trevor and me. “Important question,” he says, looking at me. “Do you scream at scary movies?”

“I’m more of an eye coverer,” I say.

“Awesome. I call a seat next to Addison!” he announces, throwing his arm around my neck. Not a big fan of personal-space invasion—especially by strangers—I immediately twist out of his hold, playing it off with a laugh. It doesn’t seem to faze him.

“I just barely got my hearing back from the last movie we went to.” He rubs his ear and glares at Stephanie.

She rolls her eyes. “Oh, please. I don’t scream that loud.”

Several people surrounding the fountain shout out their confirmations of Stephanie’s screaming abilities. Her scowl quiets the group.

“See,” Rowan says. “I’m not alone.” As if sensing Stephanie is about to implode, he changes the subject. “So, Trevor.”

“Yeah?”

“I found another one.”

Trevor sighs. “Give it a rest, Rowan. It’s over. Come on, let’s get our seats.”

As we walk, Rowan still between Trevor and me, he says, “Just hear me out. His name is Neal Summers. He blew out his knee at the beginning of this season.”

“Rowan, it’s football; people get hurt. Lots of people. There’s no connection.”

I have no idea what Rowan is referring to, and it doesn’t seem like Trevor feels like explaining—not even after I give him the yes-I’m-curious head tilt. So I just work on maintaining a comfortable distance between Rowan and me. Despite my efforts, he still manages to brush against my shoulder several times.

The boys pause at the door, and as I look over my shoulder at them, confused, I remember why, too late. My face meets the glass with a thud. “Ouch.” I step back, rubbing my cheek. This place is so confusing. Why are some of their doors automatic and some not?

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