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Home > Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(5)

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(5)
Author: Kasie West

I’ve sneaked to Laila’s truck, climbed in the back where she had a couple lawn chairs set up, and retrieved the book she didn’t know I brought out of my bag. Just when I start to settle into a reading rhythm, the book is ripped from my hands. In vain, I try to grab for it and end up swiping at the air a few times.

“I don’t think so,” Laila says. “This was not part of the deal.”

“Come on. I came. I’m still involved.”

“How is this”—she points at the floor of the truck bed where she stands—“involved?”

“I could’ve sat in the cab.” I look at Laila. She’s beautiful with her dark hair piled on her head and her big, dark eyes staring down at me in mock anger. She belongs here, with these people—the popular kids. Sometimes I wonder if Laila would be my friend if we had met now versus in kindergarten.

She laughs and sits in the chair next to me. “Are you really that bored?”

I lean back, resting my head on the chair. The night sky shines bright with an oversize moon and two smaller ones. Someone at the party obviously wanted extra light. I look around to see if I can pick out the Perceptive responsible for the altered sky.

“You’re the only one I know who still lugs around actual books,” she says, flipping through it.

I take it from her and put it back in my bag. “I like books. They’re pretty.”

A drink floats through the air, and Duke, who is leaning against a tree, catches it. He smirks at me as though I should be impressed. I raise my eyebrows and nod at all the other drinks in the air. Telekinetics are such show-offs.

“Okay, what’s up with you and Duke?” Laila asks. “That seemed like the kind of look only exchanged by good friends. Like you have some sort of inside joke or something.”

“We don’t.”

“Yeah, well, it’s obvious you know him well enough to introduce me.”

“You know him too,” I say.

“The whole school knows him. The whole Compound. He’s the quarterback. But he has no idea who I am. Come on, you’re going to remedy that.”

She drags me out of the truck and through the crowd. I have to apologize to several people she plows me into as we go.

“He has no idea who I am either …,” I start to say, but then remember he had called me by name the other day when his football hit my car. How does he know my name?

Halfway to Duke, a guy steps in front of us. “Hey, Laila. Interested in a block enhancer?” He holds up a clear plastic bag full of electronic chips. “Twenty bucks.”

“Who does it help block?”

“Telepaths.”

Laila reaches into her pocket as though she’s going to pull out her card and clip one of his chips to it. “What’s the—”

“No.” I push the guy’s hand away. “She’s not interested.” When he walks away, I turn toward her. “What’s wrong with you? You’re going to waste your money on some unproven, untested mind-expanding pattern?”

“I wasn’t going to buy it. I was just curious. If your father were Telepathic, you might be a little more open-minded about alternative methods of blocking too.”

“Just stick with the programs on our meditation track. They’re the only ones proven to help.”

“They’re just so slow.…”

I sigh, but before I can say anything, she says, “Yeah, yeah, I know, slow and steady is the best way to come into our full abilities. Blah, blah, blah. You sound like your mom.”

“Ugh. Don’t say that.” My mom is the last person I want to be compared to.

“Come on, you still have to introduce me.” We stop in front of Duke, and she looks at me expectantly.

“Um, hi,” I say. Have I ever introduced two people to each other before? Laila had always been in charge of introductions. Considering I have no idea what to say next, my guess is that I haven’t.

“Hey, Addie.”

Laila clears her throat.

“Duke, this is Laila. Laila, this is Duke.” That sounded right. But maybe I’m supposed to include a little something about each of them. Like, Duke, this is Laila; she thinks you’re hot. Laila, this is Duke; he and his mirror share a close relationship.

Obviously they don’t need my help with conversation starters, because they begin a perfectly comfortable exchange all on their own. “Yeah, I’ve seen you around. Nice to meet you,” Duke says.

“Great game tonight. That last touchdown pass was amazing.”

He smiles. “Thanks.”

“What’s your secret for throwing so far?” She pats his arm. “Killer biceps?”

“He’s been practicing,” I add unhelpfully. I hadn’t gone to the game, so it’s the best contribution I have.

He laughs. “Yes, I have.”

Even though Laila is an expert at flirting, I feel so uncomfortable. “Anyway, good to see you. We’re going to talk to our friend now.” I point blindly to the side and then let my gaze follow. I’m now staring at the lake and a group of people standing on the sandy bank. I realize I’m pointing right at Bobby, who’s showing everyone he can manipulate mass by walking across the water. Speaking of show-offs. Ugh. I roll my eyes.

“Bobby? He’s one of my best friends.”

It makes sense that the two of them would be friends. It confirms my feelings about Duke’s true nature. This also solves the mystery of how Duke knows my name. Bobby probably told him who he was going to ask to homecoming. “Really? You’re best friends?” Laila asks. “But I’ve never seen you hang out. I thought you and Ray were best friends.” She looks around as if she just realized Ray wasn’t there to prove her point and she now must find him.

“Yeah, we are. All three of us. We live on the same block, grew up together. We’ve known each other since we could walk.”

“Oh.” Laila hums as if the relationship now makes complete sense.

“Good to know.” I grab Laila’s arm. “We’ll see you at the next football game.” I start to pull her away.

“Well, you probably won’t see me at the next football game,” he says, and Laila jerks to a halt.

“Why not? Did you get hurt or something?” she asks.

“No, I meant Addie.” His eyes lock on mine. “What is it? You don’t like football, or you just don’t believe in supporting your school?”

“Ever since a football hit me in the head, I can’t seem to look at them the same.”

He scoffs. “So you’re telling me before two weeks ago you went to every football game?”

“How do you know I didn’t?” Did this guy do a background check on me or something?

“I don’t. It was a question.”

“It sounds like one you think you already know the answer to.”

“I believe I do. But you can still tell me I’m wrong.”

He wasn’t wrong. I’d only been to one football game. It was my freshman year. I learned rather quickly that Para-football wasn’t really my thing. Aside from the fact that it was a complete waste of my time, it wasn’t like the Norm football I sometimes watched with my dad. They rarely tackled one another, the Telekinetics on the team kept the ball airborne, tugging it back and forth. Occasionally a player would trip with no one around. In the end, the team with the best abilities won. But because I can’t stand the smug look on his face I say, “You’re wrong.”

He takes a drink. “Well then, I’m sorry I’ve ruined your football enjoyment for life with my stray ball.”

“I thought you had perfect aim,” I remind him.

He raises his glass slightly in a mocking toast. “I do.”

Confused, I start to question him, but instead shake my head and successfully pull Laila away.

“Holy crap. What was that all about?” she asks, when we’re out of earshot. “He likes you. In a big way.”

“He does not. It’s Duke. He flirts with everyone. Besides, you heard him, he’s Bobby’s good friend. I’m sure man code applies.”

“But you hate Bobby. It’s obvious he knows that and now wants to swoop in.”

I stop by a speaker. The music is loud, and I yell, “Swoop in?”

“Don’t you dare get sidetracked by my word choice. The boy likes you. You have to Search it. Find out if … I don’t know, find out if he asks you out or something.”

“First of all, I can’t just ask the universe if Duke likes me. It doesn’t work that way. I have to be faced with a choice. There is no choice here. Second, even if I did get the opportunity to find out my future with Duke, I wouldn’t, because if it tells me I end up liking that guy then I’ll just kill myself now.”

“That guy? That guy is Duke Rivers, Addie. What is wrong with you?”

“He’s a player.” The song has ended and my words seem to echo in the new silence. My head whips around to Duke, and he holds my eyes for a single count, then looks away.

Laila lowers her voice and leans toward me. “And maybe you can be the girl to help him change his ways.”

I shake my head. I don’t want to argue about this. And I definitely don’t want to be that girl. Every other girl may go weak in the knees anytime Duke is around, but I don’t.

The next song starts, and a group of people behind us cheer and start dancing.

This is ridiculous. Even if I was interested, I didn’t get “fought over” or “handed off” or whatever this was. Laila is reading way too much into this.

“I must be their charity case. The popular crowd is having ‘do a good deed’ month. Or maybe they’re having a bet or something. I see it in the movies all the time—two popular guys see who can get the average girl first.”

Laila throws back her head and groans. “Seriously, who taught you to be so cynical? You’re gorgeous and smart. Who wouldn’t like you? Just relax a little and give the guy the benefit of the doubt.”

“Hey, I’m still in my-parents-just-got-a-divorce mode. Remember? This is the time when I’m allowed to question all relationships, wonder if true love exists at all anymore, and swear to a life of celibacy.”

“Are you trying to live out every cliché?”

“Yes. If I’m forced to live through a divorce, it better be exactly like I’ve seen it play out in books and movies.” I start listing the characteristics on my fingers. “Teen’s parents fight over her through bribes, teen gets to be full of angst, teen’s friends feel sorry for her, teen trusts no one.…”

“Except her best friend.”

“Of course. And then teen’s parents realize they made a huge mistake and teen helps them get back together after she matures or has an ‘aha’ moment or something.” All five of my fingers are extended with my list, and I hold up my hand as if that reiterates my point.

Laila laughs. “Have you seriously planned out how you’re going to deal with this divorce? What movies have you been watching, anyway, The Parent Trap?”

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