“Nova, I need your help. I’m so out of place here, way out of my league. Tell me how to act rich and fancy!” The words tumbled from my lips as I sat down on one of the chairs that decorated the entry way of the restroom.
“What?” Nova asked as I clutched the phone to my ear. “What are you talking about?” When I bit my lip and declined to answer, she sighed angrily. “Mina!”
“It’s just…it’s horrible, Nova.” I buried my face in my free hand and leaned forward so my elbows rested on my knees and propped my whole head up. “The date, I mean. It’s just…” What was the best way to put it?
“Tell me what the problem is,” Nova said defensively, and I could hear the same steel in her voice as she got before a major fight. “I swear to God, Mina, I’ll fuck him up if that’s what you want. Is he being a jerk to you?”
“No,” I said, dragging my voice along so that the one word lasted several seconds. It’d be a whole lot easier if Ezra was a jerk. I could deal with jerks just fine on my own without getting Nova involved.
“Is he boring?” Nova seemed to be wracking her brain for other reasons why the date might be bad. “Do you…need a distraction or something? Do Simon and I have to show up so you can make your escape?”
“Nova, you don’t get it. I barely get it. He’s being great and that’s the thing; he’s being an absolutely perfect gentleman.” I could just imagine Nova’s eyebrows trying to leap off her forehead in shock.
“That…honestly doesn’t seem like a bad thing, Mina,” she said cautiously, as though she were afraid that I might start freaking out again. “Seriously, tell me the real problem. What’s up?”
“It’s me. I’m the problem, don’t you see? He acts all nice. He’s super sweet. He took me to the fanciest restaurant in the entire city and it’s all wrong, Nova! I’m all wrong!” I raked a hand through my hair and groaned. “So I need you to tell me how to act rich so I can fit in better.”
“Mina, just calm down,” I could hear Nova’s fingernails tapping away on her laptop. Seeing as how it wasn’t even nine on a Friday night, there were two things she could be using her computer to do right now. The most obvious answer was homework, although I knew from searching her computer’s history that her classes this semester consisted mostly of English and Math classes, with the exception of Italian; I also knew that, again with the exception of Italian, she wouldn’t have any essays or big assignments due yet…that is, nothing she’d waste a prime Friday night on. It was too early in the year. That only left one logical option for something that she could be doing right now.
Trolling for dates.
Nova was a serial dater; in fact, Simon had affectionately nicknamed her the Ted Bundy of Online Dating one day when he was trying to make a point about our horrible dating lives. But the thing was, he was pretty spot on. For as long as I’d known her, Nova had never been one for settling down or even doing the same thing in one place for more than a few hours. Her longest romantic relationship was during our sophomore year of high school, when a popular football player had asked her to the prom months in advance; unromantically, Simon and I were the only friends she’d ever retained for more than a few weeks at a time. She frequented dating websites on a regular basis and I hadn’t seen her remain in a real relationship since high school had let out.
“It’ll all be okay,” she reassured me. “You’re awesome. You’re a cyborg. You are Mina Freaking Percival. Ezra should be counting his lucky stars that he even gets to take such a fantastic girl out to dinner.” I took a deep breath and smoothed my hair back into place. Nova was right. He was the lucky one of the two of us; I was just the girl who got a free dinner. My job tonight was to sit there and look pretty.
“Thanks for the encouragement, Nova. Breakfast tomorrow, right?” It was a standing engagement for Nova and I to have breakfast every Saturday morning at the diner across the street from Nova’s dorm. Simon used to come with us, but nowadays, he liked to spend Saturday mornings sleeping off the hangovers he got from going out with his art buddies. It was okay with us, though; I personally met up with him at least once a week to go out drinking and that was guaranteed to lead to chatting and gossip.
“Yeah, I’ll see you there.” She hung up on me and I was about to slip my phone back into the clutch when it rang. This time, it played a funeral march; a drastic opposition to my normally cheery ringtone of bells. I didn’t even need to glance at the caller ID to confirm it was my mother.