“Stop it, Kota. You’re going to make me blush.” he said and looked away embarrassedly.
I laughed softly. “Oh yeah. Sorry.”
“It’s okay. But thanks about the thought with Sue. She is so amazing. Her mind is so unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s wonderful.” he said.
“Yeah, that pretty much describes Sue as a whole. She is definitely unique.” I said and nodded.
“Yeah.” Ivan said with an amazed breath.
“Um, Dale was wondering if Connelly would like to sit with us at lunch.” I looked at him.
Ivan was quiet for a minute, no doubt asking Connelly, but then he asked, “Will Louis be there?” He looked at me.
“Then he can’t. He says he’s sorry.” he looked down.
“Why not? Why did you and your family run off when you first saw Louis? Do you have something against him?” I asked.
“You could say that.” he looked at me sideways.
“I’ll let Connelly tell you some other time when you’re alone.” he said, seeing my blank expression. I didn’t understand, but I trusted him so I didn’t push it. We entered the lunchroom and he was about to leave my side, but I pulled him into a hug.
I heard him gasp and then felt him become extremely tense. I let go of him and he took a step back from me, his hands in front of him like he was going to stop me from doing it again. “Careful. I can’t take that out of the blue yet.” he said.
“I’m sorry.” I said, smiling apologetically.
“It’s okay, but just give me a little more warning next time. Sue did that to me yesterday and it nearly killed me.” he said, letting his hands fall to his sides and smiling.
“Can I give you a hug?” I asked, moving my arms up slightly, waiting for an okay.
“Sure.” he said. He walked over and put his arms around me. It was a tight hug, but it wasn’t the kind of intimate hug a couple would do. It was the kind of hug that family members would do. I liked that. He thought I was family. I nearly got teary eyed at the thought. Then, after a minute, he pulled away and looked at me.
“Yes I do. You know our biggest and most dangerous secret. You’re now practically family. But don’t cry on me okay, I couldn’t handle tears.” he smiled at me sweetly. Then he leaned over and kissed me on the forehead, like a brother would a sister, and then walked off to sit with his family. Our family. As soon as I thought that, he looked back at me and smiled.
I smiled back and then ran to the lunch line, happier than a bird in the sunshine.
“Kota, what happened?” asked Dale. He put both arms on my shoulders and held me out at arm’s length, looking me over for injuries. I had no injuries, I was happier than ever.
“I thought you were right behind me.” he said.
“Someone tripped me, but I caught myself before I could hit the floor.” I smiled reassuringly, having to smile anyway. I didn’t want to tell them about Ivan because if they had already seen him at his table, it would raise suspicion. I had to remember that they didn’t know what he was.
“Louis, did you see the person who tripped Kota?” asked Dale, looking over me. Louis was just coming in the room and looked at me worriedly. I suddenly tensed when I saw him. What if he saw Ivan? What if he somehow found out what he was? Did I screw up already? I thought and looked at Louis with a little nervousness in my eyes.
“No, what happened? Someone tripped her? Are you alright?” he asked, taking me in his hands now.
“I’m fine. You guys worry too much.” I pulled out of Louis’s arms and fixed my skirt.
“Good, because it would be a shame if I had to kill someone for hurting you.” Louis looked into my eyes seriously. I blushed and looked away. I didn’t see what Connelly had against Louis. He seemed to be an alright guy. Very protective; he apparently thought highly of me.
“Don’t kill him. He probably didn’t mean to do it.” I said.
“So it was a guy.” Louis said and he and Dale looked at each other.
“Oh stop it. He didn’t hurt me, did he?” I said. I was getting annoyed with them.
“Hey guys. I’ll save you seats.” said Sue, who already had a tray of food.
“Okay. See you in a minute.” I said and she walked off with Chase.
“So Louis, I was just wondering –What classes do you have? I haven’t seen you in any of mine, except Home Ec.” I said. I wanted to get the subject off of my incident and wanted to make sure it didn’t turn to Connelly, which it seemed to do when the three of us were all silent.
“Oh, well I’m about to have Math next. There was a new student who needed the teacher’s special attention in that particular period so she changed my class period with her.” Louis said pleasantly.
“Oh, that’s my next class too. What a coincidence.” I said and turned around just in time to see Dale talking to Louis behind my back and cover it up by pretending to chew gum.
“Dale?” I asked. He raised his eyebrows in question. I glanced at Louis and he was smiling, knowing that what Dale was doing wouldn’t fool me.
“I thought we weren’t allowed to chew gum in school.” I looked at him sideways, one eyebrow raised.
“Shh, don’t tell anyone.” Dale whispered and I laughed. We got our food and then went on to the table.
“What did your boyfriend say?” Dale asked as he settled down next to me.
“Boyfriend?” repeated Louis. He looked at me confusedly.
“Connelly said that he couldn’t.” I said, looking at Louis. For an instant, I saw anger flash over his face, but then it went back to normal.
“Since when?” asked Louis, all of a sudden rough. We all looked at him in surprise, even Dale seemed a little taken off guard by its intensity.
“Um, he confirmed it this morning actually.” I said and Sue nudged my arm excitedly.
“Aren’t you happy for me?” I asked him.
“Mmhmm.” was all he said. He didn’t look at me, but speared his potatoes with his spork.
“We’re all happy for you.” said Dale. Suddenly, Louis jumped and glared at him. Dale had kicked him.
“Who’s excited about the dance competition in California?” Dale asked, changing the subject.
“What do you think it’ll be like?” asked Sue.
“I think it’ll be like that movie ‘Take the Lead’.” said Dale.
“What dances are you doing in the competition?” I asked, smiling at the turn of the conversation. I speared my own potato and put it in my mouth, glancing up at Louis, who quickly averted his angry eyes.
“I signed up for the swing, but do you think she’ll change it if there are too many doing that one?” asked Dale.
“I don’t know. Ivan and I signed up for Swing too.” Sue looked a little worriedly at me.
“What’s your favorite dance?” asked Louis, looking at me finally.
“I don’t know. I like the tango, salsa, and the swing, but Connelly and I went ahead and signed up for the tango.” I answered with a smile.
“Why no slow dances?” he asked.
“No idea. The others just seem a little more experimental. You can do a lot of different things with them. With the slow ones, you can only add a small number of new twists to them.” I still looked at him.
“If you say so.” he looked down again.
“What do you mean?” I asked. I’m not one to back down from a confrontation easily.
“I just meant that it only depends on the dancers. Different dancers produce different results.” he looked at me. I waited for more, knowing it would come. “For example, if a couple who just likes each other dance, they won’t produce as good of results as a couple who really love each other would.” Louis looked straight into my eyes, but I didn’t look away.
“What exactly are you implying?” I knew what he meant. I just wanted him to say it out loud. I felt Dale tense with nervousness, but I ignored him.
“I think I explained it pretty well. Did you not get my meaning?” he asked, playing with me now.
“No, I understand completely, but I’m not sure if you understand what the dancer’s feelings are for each other. Maybe you’ve mixed up who is what couple.” I said.
“No, it includes two guys and one girl. And if she dances with both guys, the results will show which one she cares most for.” Louis said, one corner of his mouth turned upwards in a slight smirk like he knew the answer.
“And you think you know which one she cares most for?” I wasn’t ruffled.
“Not yet, but I know that she cares for both dancers and is wondering which one to be with completely.” Louis smiled. My eyes flashed to the table behind us, where Connelly and his family were. Connelly’s back had gone stiff as stone and Ivan’s wide eyes were on me. Ivan seemed just as surprised at Louis’s words as I was and the look on his face mirrored mine in saying, “OH MY GOSH!” and, “I can’t believe he just said that!”
Thankfully the bell rang just then.