Tuesday, September 21, 2010

I Dare You

“Today is your birthday?” Chance blinked, matching his inquisitive tone.

I shrugged and looked away from him. My gaze came to rest on Karma, who didn’t look so much surprised as she did upset. Narrowed eyes focused on me and her lips pursed with unspoken words. All but stumbling in haste, I moved towards the plate of sugar cookies Drima had set down, glancing instead at Theo. He seemed to share my awkward sentiments, judging by the way he squirmed in place. The tension in the air seemed to crackle.

“Didn’t you know?” Drima’s voice was triumphant, her smile smug. “Gee. I guess Crickette didn’t you’re important enough to tell?”

“Drima! God!” I snapped, annoyed.

Karma ignored Drima’s ribbing. “You should have told me. I don’t have anything for you.”

“I don’t care. I didn’t want anything,” I explained. In my peripheral vision, Drima continued her smug grin and hot anger filled my chest and head. “My birthday is no big. I don’t celebrate. It’s why I didn’t tell anyone.”

“You know I love to celebrate, though! Parties! Fun! Food!”

“And you know I hate attention.”

Something touched my wrist and I jolted, before I found Chance was somehow at my side. Annoyed, surprised, pleased, my stomach fluttered and my heart sped up. Stupid, stupid, stupid, I lectured myself and I tried to focus on something else, like Karma’s pout.

“C’mon, Crickette,” wheedled Drima, in her sugary voice. “I went through all this trouble for you. Just enjoy it!”

I took in a slow, deep breath through my nose.

“It’s just a birthday,” Chance murmured near my ear. “Just have some fun and humor them. They’re your friends.”

But I didn’t want to. Drima was being a brat, doing this not because she wanted to be a good friend, but to mark her territory. And I wasn’t territory to be marked! Never before had she been interested in throwing me a surprise party and had it not been for her alleged fear that Karma was stealing me, she probably wouldn’t have this year, either. Hot-headed, I narrowed my eyes on Drima, opened my mouth to tell her what I thought of this stupid party scheme, tell her I knew her real intentions, but fingers slipped between my own and I froze.

“I dare you,” Chance whispered.

And I swear, I felt lips on my ear.


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