Sandra didn’t know if she could trust Rhyley, of course she didn’t. But she knew that she’d try for as long as he tried to find a way of respecting her while coping with his physical feelings. Sandra used the rest of the P.S. to test him. She got on with her homework while he relaxed against the sofa beside her, playing a game on his phone. For the whole of that time he didn’t touch her once. When the bell rang, she looked at him and smiled.
“You passed,” she told him.
Rhyley blinked as he put his phone away.
“You passed my test,” she said, enjoying the mysteriousness of her words. She put her things back in her bag and stood up. “I’ve got English now. What about you?”
“Want to walk with me as far as my block?”
Rhyley looked surprised.
“Yep, but hurry up. I don’t want to be late.”
“Okay.” Rhyley picked up his bag and followed her out of the common room. “So what kind of a test did I pass?”
“A no touching test.”
“Oh, I see.”
“It may sound a bit silly, but it’s a good one to pass,” Sandra told him as they walked. “It’ll help me trust you.”
“I’ll try to pass more in the future.”
Sandra smiled at how seriously he was taking it. Looking at him like this, it was hard to believe he’d broken any rules. But she couldn’t allow herself to forget that he had. If they were truly going to get somewhere - and stay there - she’d need to be firm with him. She smiled inwardly at the thought of that. Sandra the ‘mother’ of her badly behaved soulmate.
As they reached the Language block, Rhyley asked, “Should I meet you here for lunch?”
“Oh, I’m going to lunch with Roger,” Sandra told him ruefully.
“Ah, well, maybe another time. See you round.”
“See you.” Sandra entered the building and walked to her classroom. The teacher wasn’t there yet and Sandra absently checked her texts. There was one from Roger: ‘How did it go?’
‘I’ll tell you at lunch,’ she managed to send before the teacher arrived.
“So he kissed you and you’re forgiving him?” Roger clearly disapproved.
“Roger, he’s not all bad,” Sandra insisted.
“He’s deceiving you,” Roger told her. “Pretending to be sorry so that he can get what he wants from you again and again.”
“No, it’s not like that...”
“How can you know?” Roger interrupted. “You don’t know him, Sandra. I knew I was right to distrust him. You just tell me when you’re ready and you’ll be my soulmate instead.”
Those words made Sandra feel a little ill inside. Changing soulmates, when she thought about it, sounded grossly wrong. She knew that if she allowed it, Roger would be intervening where he really shouldn’t.
“Maybe I’ll never be ready,” she said crossly.
Roger looked pained.
“Look, Sandra, I’m just trying to look out for you. I’d be as crushed as you would if Rhyley succeeded in getting you to break your chastity vow. It’s a major part of you and I don’t think you’d ever be the same again.”
“You’re right,” Sandra told him. “But I need to try with Rhyley. Kissing him on Sunday... taught me that love might be about compromise.”
Roger stiffened on his bench.
“What? You kissed him? I thought you said you only talked.”
Sandra bit her lip, feeling guilty.
“I was worried how you’d react,” she told him honestly.
Roger’s expression, rather than becoming angry or hurt, turned neutral, which in Sandra’s opinion was altogether worse.
Sandra felt his anger at not having been told and winced.
“Roger, please. You’re my best friend. I don’t want to fall out with you too.”
“No, how can I be your best friend? You didn’t tell me you kissed Rhyley.”
Roger finished his meal.
“I’m done now. I’ll see you at home time.”
“Not even for our PS last period?” Sandra asked, crestfallen.
“Depends. You might want to spend it with Rhyley.”
“Roger, stop it!”
Roger got up wordlessly and left the table. He left Sandra all on her own, walking away without a backward glance.
Sandra almost cried. She finished her lunch and put her tray away, and walked out into the chilly October air. Support was something she could do with while trying to make things work with Rhyley. But now Roger was upset with her. He wasn’t just her best friend - he was one of her only friends. This was awful.