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Home > Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(14)

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(14)
Author: Kasie West

“Addie, door handle. Door handle, Addie,” Rowan says, opening the door for me. “You two should get to know each other.”

“Funny,” I mumble.

“You okay?” Trevor asks.

“Fine.”

Inside, Rowan holds true to his word and sits next to me. Stephanie somehow ends up on my other side, separating Trevor and me by a seat. I really want to sit next to Trevor but can’t think of a good excuse to seat hop.

The lights lower.

“Do you want some popcorn?” Rowan asks, putting his hand on my forearm. I’m sure he did it just to get my attention, but my reflexes are faster than that thought, and I yank my arm out from under his, bumping the popcorn he’s holding. It spills all over.

“I’m so sorry,” I say.

He laughs. “It’s okay. You’re nice and jumpy. You’re going to be more fun to watch this movie with than I thought.”

“Is it buttered?” I ask. “I hope I didn’t ruin your clothes.” Considering Rowan is dressed nicer than I am, I really do hope his jeans aren’t splotched with grease stains.

“Nah, they’re fine.” He stands and shakes himself off, then sits back down.

I fold my arms. “I promise to keep my out-of-control limbs to myself for the rest of the night.”

“No, no, no. It’s okay. Here, have the armrest.” He pulls one of my hands over to the armrest and places it there, patting it twice as if it’s some sort of pet he has asked to stay put. Then, much to my relief, he passes the popcorn down the aisle to Lisa and places his own hands on his knees.

I know why I’m jumpy. It’s that it’s dark, and the last time I was in the dark sitting next to a guy, it didn’t end well. It wasn’t just that Bobby got handsy and rough, although that was bad, it was that I froze. It took me several minutes to defend myself. And then several more to free myself. To be able to push him away and walk out of his house. And that reaction—my inability to react—scared me more than anything. Even though seconds later I snapped out of the Search, it still felt so real.

Stephanie looks over, and in a loud voice says, “Could you two get to know each other after the movie? I’m trying to watch here.”

I look at the screen, my face hot. The movie hasn’t started. I want to tell her to chill, that it’s just the previews, but then Rowan might think I actually want to get to know him and that I’m mad at Stephanie for interrupting. So I just say, “Sorry, popcorn dilemma.”

Trevor leans forward and says, “Yes, Addison, pay attention. There’ll be a zombie-hunting quiz after the movie.” He smiles, then leans back.

Stephanie scowls, but I don’t care; those two sentences make me feel infinitely better. That is, until halfway through the movie when Rowan’s arm decides it wants to share the armrest with mine. This time I resist the urge to jerk away. Nothing is happening. It’s just an armrest. People share them all the time. I once shared one with a hairy-armed old man, and I managed that just fine. I count to ten and then move my arm.

The guy is undeterred though, and he leans over me to tell Stephanie, “I haven’t heard any screaming yet.”

“That’s because this movie is lame.”

“Claustrophobic,” I say.

Rowan laughs and pulls back. I lean a little closer to Stephanie, who is leaning really close to Trevor.

I put all my energy into watching the movie, which so far hasn’t been too gruesome.

One of my friends at the Compound has a photographic memory. Everything she ever sees, reads, or hears, she remembers forever in perfect detail. I used to be so jealous of that ability when I took tests. I begin to realize that her ability might not be as great as I once thought. She probably has to be really careful about everything she lets enter her mind. And what about her Bobby-like experiences? Does she remember them perfectly forever?

The graphic image of a boy getting his head bit off by a one-armed zombie makes me cringe away from the screen. Next to me, Stephanie screams and grabs onto Trevor’s arm, burying her face in his shoulder.

On my opposite side, Rowan chuckles and then pets my shoulder. “It’s okay, Addison, it’s over now.”

I stand abruptly and climb my way past Rowan and down the aisle, not looking back until I make it into the bathroom. I shut myself in the nearest stall so I can hear if anyone comes in and dig out my phone from my pocket. Praying that Laila will be home this time, I dial her number. By the third ring, I can hardly breathe.

“Hey, girl.”

“Hi,” I say in relief. “You’re there. Where have you been?”

“You’re not the only one who had to get a new social life.”

The words sting, even though I know she doesn’t mean for them to. Of course she has to get new friends. It’s not like I’m sitting at home waiting on her phone call. I am out, trying to have some sort of life without my best friend. Just like she is.

“So, what’s wrong?” she asks.

“I thought we could be friends, but I don’t think he likes me at all and he probably brought me here as a favor for his really creepy friend and I hate Bobby Baker,” I say, my words tumbling over one another.

“What? Slow down. Who are we talking about? Bobby?”

I try to breathe deep, but it feels like the air can’t get through the emotions wedged in my chest. “No. I wish you could come pick me up.”

“Where are you?”

“At the movies.” I sit on the back of the toilet and rest my feet on the seat.

“With who?”

“I came with Trevor, but like I said, I think he brought me here as a favor for his friend Rowan, who’s like an overzealous Chihuahua.”

“Aw, Chihuahuas are cute.”

“Okay, fine then, a hairless cat that wants you to pet it so it rubs along your leg all night.”

“Ew.”

“Exactly.”

“What makes you think he’s setting you up with his friend?”

A long section of toilet paper is clinging by a corner to the roll. I kick it and watch it slide to the ground. “Well, the first time I met Rowan he was really adamant about me going to this party. So now I’m thinking maybe Rowan said something to Trevor about me. Trevor probably told Rowan he’d get me to come on a group date or something.”

“You were right. Trevor is my replacement. I would totally do something like that.”

“Set me up with a creepy guy?”

“No, Trevor doesn’t think Rowan is a creep. What I mean is, if a guy I thought was cool came up to me and told me he liked you, I would definitely make it my goal to get the two of you in the same place to see if you liked him too. It’s my job as your best friend. So see, Trevor thinks you’re cool.”

“Really?”

“Yes, for sure.”

I’m finally able to take a deep breath. She’s right. Trevor has no idea how Rowan makes me feel.

“Hey, I have something that will cheer you up,” she says.

“What?”

“I was looking at the football schedule, and in two weeks, the Compound plays Carter High. I’m going to go so I can see you.”

“Really?” I almost slip off the back of the toilet in my excitement. “That makes me so happy. I didn’t realize they played schools so far away.”

“That’s because you don’t follow football.”

“You only follow it because of the hot guys.”

She gasps in faux offense. “So untrue … sort of. Anyway, you aren’t that far away. Your school is in our league because they have Containment Committee members stationed there to supervise and prevent leaks. It’s all carefully calculated, my pet. But you’re missing the point. The point is that our football team is playing your football team.”

“You’re right. I am missing that amazing point. I’m excited. You have to come. You can stay with me, make a weekend out of it.”

“I think I will. Now put your game face on until you get home. Don’t let that hairless cat see you upset.”

“Thanks.” I hang up and exit the bathroom.

Trevor is waiting in the hall, a concerned look on his face. “You okay?”

I’m surprised by how happy I feel that he’s standing there. “I’m fine. Just got a little nauseous.”

He lowers his brows. “Hmm.”

“What?”

“I don’t know if you can stomach zombie-hunting after all.”

It’s your friend I can’t stomach, almost slips out of my mouth. I’m able to stop the thought before it becomes words. “I think I can handle it.” I grab his arm and pull him back toward the theater.

CHAPTER 13

PAR-A-dise: n. a place of extreme happiness Friday night around eight o’clock, my bedroom door slides open and my mom walks in. I look up from the book I’m reading, then back down without saying a word. She sits on the end of my bed.

“I think I overreacted,” she says.

You think? “What do you mean?”

“About your hair. I’m sorry.”

I shrug one shoulder. I want to apologize for what I said too, about my dad leaving because of her control issues, but I can’t bring myself to do it. Mostly because I still believe it’s true. I just want everything to be the way it was a month ago. The happy front may have been a charade for my parents, but it was real to me.

“Do you want to go to a movie with me tonight? There’s one that starts at eight forty-five.”

Great. She picked tonight to be typical? I look at the clock on my wall monitor. Only two hours until I’m supposed to sneak out to meet Duke. “I’m actually really tired tonight.”

“Are you sure?” She rubs my leg, making me feel immediately guilty for my future actions. Maybe I should go with her. It would probably be good for us. I look at her hand still moving along my leg and wonder if she’s trying to Persuade me to go. Her voice sounded the same, but she’s talented at subtlety. “Can we do it tomorrow night?” I ask.

“Of course, hon.”

I nod, still not sure if she made me agree to go out tomorrow or if I chose that on my own. When she doesn’t leave I wonder what else she wants from me.

“Addie? Would you be interested in a mind relaxer to help you transition through this challenging time in your life? The department has some really good programs. Some I even helped develop. I can load one onto your tablet.”

Does my mom seriously think a mind-pattern program is going to make everything better again? As if it’s my mind that needs to change. I realize I haven’t said anything, but I’m pretty sure my look says it all. Just in case it doesn’t, I shake my head. “No.”

When she leaves I just want to pull the blanket over my head and go to sleep. I run my thumb along the keys on my phone and toy with the idea of canceling my ten o’clock meeting with Duke. Even though I know he’s in the middle of his game, I text: Make it eleven.

At ten o’clock the doorbell rings. I leap out of bed but am not fast enough to beat my mother, who was in the living room watching television. I had been wondering if she was going to sleep anytime soon. I arrive at the door just as Duke says, “Hi, you must be Addie’s mom. I’m Duke.”

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