"Den!" barked Dad's voice, a dagger in my ear. "Get that girl out of the house and come to the lounge immediately!"
I felt my lips scorch to scaly uncertainty, and they moved shakily.
"Why?" Dad shot the word at me through a pistol, and I realised that he was talking about Deanna. Why was she here?
I felt her leg beneath me, tense and quivering, and I remembered. But I could not tell Dad. I couldn't tell him, or show that repulsive man who was leering at me with such rude interest. Let them think what they wanted to think! It wasn't what it seemed.
Was it? I snorted at my own thoughts, and Dad treated me to a glare. They all thought I was mad. Let them think it.
"You heard me. Get that girl out of my house," growled Dad, and he pulled the door to with a sharp click.
I breathed outwards and rubbed the grease from my forehead. What now? How could I get Deanna out of my bedroom in her state? Should I even try? Wouldn't she be better off here, while I got questioned and pulped and eventually hanged by the curious man in the suit?
Full of misgivings, and unsure of what the hell to do next, I turned my head to Deanna, looking for guidance. Surely she would have some idea. I could feel myself sweating everywhere; in fact I could smell the stale stench. My eyes were hazy and I felt completely disorientated. I hoped I wasn't the only one.
I closed my eyes with a silent prayer to the cold empty air before I looked at her. And as my eyelids slowly slid upwards, I realised that my vision was obscured by a pale face and dark eyes full of tears and intensity.
I froze, meeting those eyes just millimetres from the tip of my fleshy nose. The moments elongated, each one stretching to a mile long and more.
After forever, time fluctuated frantically like the wing of a bird, with it the long dark eyelashes framing the deep soft eyes, glancing downwards for a split second. Downwards, to where my jugular vein bulged with each heavy pulse. Downwards, to where my shirt clung clammily to my body. Downwards, to where my calves clamped her injured thigh as if in a vice.
I felt the suck of her nostrils as she breathed in, slowly, the push of her chest as her lungs processed the oxygen. Then her neck stretched, and I felt her lips searching up my chin for mine. Was I relaxed or was I still tense? I couldn't tell.
A moment later Deanna Macpherson was kissing me on the lips. And I was kissing her back. The most beautiful girl in the school...and the ugliest boy ever.