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Home > Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(15)

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(15)
Author: Kasie West

My mom is cold when she answers, “Yes, I am. How can I help you?”

“I know it’s late, but I just got done with a football game.”

Duke will be disappointed to find out that my football-liking gene—or lack thereof—comes from my mom. Only, she likes it less than I do. He can’t use his star status to persuade her to do whatever it is he showed up at my door to do. Why didn’t he just meet me on the corner at eleven?

“And I know Addie is grounded,” he continues.

“She is.”

“But I hoped we could watch a movie together.” He runs a hand through his wet hair, sending off a wave of soap-scented goodness that I can smell from where I stand behind my mom.

“She can’t go anywhere.”

“I know. I expected as much.” He produces a smile. “That’s why I brought the movie here.” He holds up his digital card, where he must’ve uploaded a movie.

Nice try. My mom shifts from one foot to another and looks back at me. My jaw almost drops, and I have to clench my teeth to keep it in place. She is wavering. My mom doesn’t waver. “Well …”

“I promise to leave the minute it’s over. You should watch it with us too. I hear it’s a good one.”

Because that will be fun—my mom, Duke, and me, watching a movie together.

“If you’d rather I leave with my tail between my legs, just say the word.” He slowly starts to back up.

“No,” my mom says, and I let out a surprised, “Huh?”

She glances back at me again, and when she does, Duke winks. I don’t understand why my heart seems to think that action is so irresistible.

“Stay,” my mom says. “Addie has been the perfect detainee for the last thirty-six hours; she deserves a little fun.” Ah, there it is, the reason she’s relenting. It’s the same reason she wanted to go to a movie—she feels guilty. She steps aside, and Duke comes in. His arm wraps around my frozen-in-shock shoulders as he passes. Then he twists me until I stand in front of him, my back to his chest.

“Hi,” he says, and kisses my cheek before releasing me.

My mom gives me the look that says I’ve been holding out on her. I’m sure the only look I’m returning is the I’m-just-as-weirded-out-as-you-are one. My mom clasps her hands together. “Okay, well, you kids have fun. There’s popcorn in the kitchen if you want some, and Duke, don’t forget your condition of leaving right after the movie is over.”

“I thought you were going to watch it with us, Ms. Coleman.”

“No, thanks.”

As soon as my mom is gone, I hiss, “What happened to meeting me on the corner?”

“I had a feeling you were going to text your way out of that. And besides, sneaking around isn’t a good way to start a relationship. Especially one I want you to take seriously.”

One he wants me to take seriously? I walk past him to the kitchen without a word. In the pantry, I find a bag of popcorn and remove the plastic wrapping. While it’s popping, I grab a couple of water bottles from the fridge and put them on the counter. When the popcorn is done, I pour it into a bowl and carry it back to the living room. Duke’s card is already plugged into the port and he’s sitting on the lair, feet on the coffee table, arms stretched along the back cushion.

“Make yourself at home.” I place the popcorn on the coffee table and sit on the couch, even though he left plenty of space next to him. The lair may be bigger than a chair, but it’s the smaller-than-a-love-seat part that keeps me away. He doesn’t seem to notice my choice of seats or at least doesn’t act like he does.

“Do you have any water?” he asks.

“Oh, yeah, I left it on the counter.” I point to the island in the kitchen visible from where we sit. I don’t get up because I know he can whisk it over in the blink of an eye.

“You’re closer,” he says with a smile, grabbing a handful of popcorn.

“Are you serious?”

“I don’t want to show off.”

“Since when?”

He raises his hands in front of him. “Watch closely.” He stands and slowly moves toward the kitchen. “Did you see that? They came to me.” He grabs the waters and throws one toward the couch. It lands perfectly next to me. “You need anything else?”

I smile at him. “No, I’m good.”

When he comes back, he sits right next to me and I realize the real reason he stood. Subtle. He reaches across me and grabs a handful of popcorn.

I take the bowl and put it between us, scooting over to make room, and then say, “Play.” The movie starts. His arm goes to the back of the couch, and as we watch the movie, his fingers find my blue strip of hair and gently pull on the ends of it. I have to resist the urge to melt into him. I try to pretend like I’m following the movie and I laugh whenever Duke does. In reality, I have no idea what it’s even about.

When the popcorn is gone, Duke moves the bowl to the coffee table and settles in closer to me. He drapes his arm around my shoulders, and this time his fingers trace a pattern on my upper arm. Every nerve ending in my body comes to life. It doesn’t even seem like he is consciously aware of his actions, because he intently watches the TV. It reminds me that he probably does this kind of stuff all the time with girls. The thought sends me plummeting off the cloud I’d been floating on for the last hour.

I stand. “I have to use the bathroom.”

In the restroom, I turn off the water’s motion-sensor device, then step into the tub. I pull the shower curtain closed, as if that will help muffle the sound of my voice, and dial Laila’s number.

“Hey, girl,” she answers.

“Remind me of who I am.”

“Excuse me?”

“I hate obvious boys. Tell me that.”

“You hate obvious boys. Because heaven forbid you like something that everyone else does. If you don’t have to hunt for it, and carefully plan its capture, it must not be worth having.”

I ignore the fact that she just made a guy sound like a prize elk and say, “No, it’s not that. It’s that if everyone else likes something, that something usually knows it and has a huge head because of it. The things I have to hunt for don’t even realize how awesome they are.” I take a deep breath now that I’ve remembered myself.

“Do you feel better?”

I shift and lean my shoulder against the wall. The faucet in the shower has a leak, something my dad didn’t fix before leaving, and a drop of water lands on my foot. I use my other foot to dry it. “Yes. Much better.”

“But there’s an exception to your rule.”

“What?” Another drop lands on my foot, so I move back a little.

“Not what, who. Duke Rivers. I think you’re kind of into him, and he’s more obvious than any boy I’ve ever met.”

“He totally is,” I say. “He’s hot and the most popular guy in school and over-the-top charming. I don’t think there’s a single girl who would meet him and not wish she could be with him. So obvious.”

“And you have to stick by your principles. I mean, sure they’re based on punishing a guy just because he’s too perfect, but whatever.”

“No, you have to help me talk myself out of him, not into him.”

“I thought you were grounded. How are you calling me?”

“I thought I was grounded too, but my mom let him in.”

“Who in?”

“Duke,” I say with a sigh.

“Duke’s in your house, and you’re talking to me?”

“Yes.”

“Leaving now. Oh, next time we talk, remind me to tell you about the football schedule. And there’s nothing wrong with obvious boys, Addie.” The line goes dead.

I shove the phone in my pocket and walk back out.

Duke says, “Pause,” and the movie goes quiet. “What did Laila say?”

I stand over him, staring at his perfect smile. I take in his eyes that I’ve never allowed myself to look at for very long. They’re crystal blue and hold mine intently. “She said you’re too obvious,” I say quietly.

He runs a hand through his hair and sends another waft of clean-soap scent my way. “I’ve tried subtle before. I’m not very good at it.”

I laugh. He couldn’t be subtle if he tried. I sit back down next to him.

He looks at the television. “Which part did you leave off on? I’ll skip back.”

“I—uh.”

“Had the guy revealed his ability yet?”

If I confess I have no clue, he’ll know he’s been a distraction. I bite my lip. “No, he hadn’t.”

“Okay, cool. This part is really good. Scene Menu.” The scenes come up in little boxes on the screen. “Scene twenty. Play.” For the first time, I notice Duke’s lips are quite full. “Are you watching?” He glances my way and catches me staring. I avert my gaze to the TV, but it’s too late, he’s already caught me. He lets out a low chuckle. “You like your guys obvious, huh?”

“No, actually, I usually don’t.”

“Usually?” His hand goes to my neck before I answer. Tingles spread from his fingertips all the way down my spine. As his fingers weave themselves into my hair, I try to maintain clarity.

“What about you? What’s your type?” I ask.

“I thought that was obvious.”

He pulls me toward him and when his lips touch mine, I try not to audibly sigh. I can’t help it though, and he chuckles again, against my mouth. In the back of my mind I still wonder if we’re right for each other, but the rest of my mind doesn’t seem to care.

CHAPTER 14

NORM-games: n. strangely foreign, slightly lame, and yet unexplainably compelling rites of passage in the Normal world

Back in the theater, I let go of Trevor’s arm. Our entry is accompanied by the horrified screams of really bad actors. I glance up at the screen in time to see the decaying face of the lead zombie. This movie is so dumb.

Once I’ve taken my seat, Rowan leans in. “Are you sick or something?”

“No, I’m okay.” And I’ll be even better once I tell Trevor that he doesn’t need to set me up with his friends.

After the movie, I turn my back on Rowan to exit to my left. I hope he follows Lisa, Brandon, and the others who are leaving the opposite way. He doesn’t.

“That was the lamest movie ever,” he says behind me.

“I’ve seen lamer,” Stephanie says, and even though we’re standing, she’s cuddled up to Trevor’s arm.

“Remember that werewolf movie we saw last year?” Trevor says. “That was worse than this.”

I have no idea which movie they’re talking about, so I keep my mouth shut. We get new movies way before they come out here.

“I don’t know,” Rowan disagrees, squeezing himself alongside me. “That had the scene where the three wolves fought the big wolf, and that totally redeemed it. Well, until Stephanie’s screams ruined it all.”

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