Once we’re at the candy stand, Terrence places his order while I scope out the scenery. I keep a low profile until I see Micah. He leans against the edge of the carousel booth and motions someone over to him. It’s a guy. He’s shorter than me, about Micah’s height. Brunette. Thin but somewhat athletic. Then Micah hugs him.
“Uh oh,” Terrence says, following my gaze. “You better go squash that now or someone else will be playing your Xbox games.”
“Shut up,” I mumble. But he’s right. Micah is all too friendly with this guy.
It physically stings. What the fuck is wrong with me? There’s no way I’m jealous. I mean, yeah, if this dude showed up at his house and crashed an Xbox session, I’d be pissed. But Micah is free to talk to whomever he damn well pleases.
Except this guy.
I tell Terrence that I’ll be back and make a beeline for the carousel. I slow down once I’m a bit closer, shake my hair like an emo kid to look a little more natural, and stand tall – because you know, male dominance and all that. Whatever that other guy says is in one ear and out the other the moment Micah sees me.
“What are you doing here?” he asks. He smiles, though, so obviously this isn’t an awkward moment…unless he’s expecting an orgy.
“Terrence had to bring something to his cousin, so I just tagged along,” I say as nonchalantly as I can. “Busy night?”
Micah shakes his head. “Nah, dead actually,” he says. “Oh, this is Tyler, Emilia’s boyfriend. You remember my cousin Emilia, right? Pax’s sister?”
I swear, something inside of me literally crumbles like a broken statue. I don’t know if it’s my lungs or my heart or maybe my entire ribcage. I should have the words ‘fucking idiot’ permanently inked into my forehead, branded like a goddamn cow.
Tyler reaches out to shake my hand, mumbles something about Emilia wasting too much time looking at nail polish, and how he better get back and find her. I finally catch a bubble of oxygen about the time he walks away.
“So, Fourth of July? You coming?” Micah asks, completely oblivious to my male dominance and green glow of envy.
Terrence’s shadow closes in on us just as the question leaves Micah’s mouth.
“What’s happening on the fourth?” he asks, looking at me instead of Micah. Terrence is damn good at playing dumb as shit.
“We’re having a cookout on the res, pretty huge,” Micah says. “And then we go down to our side of the river for the firework show. It’s epic. You should come too.”
“Hell yeah,” Terrence says, nodding along like this is such a freaking brilliant idea. “McCoy here can give me directions. I’ll definitely swing by.”
And then, as quickly as he popped over here to seal the deal for my weekend, Terrence makes some lame excuse about going to look for some Adidas shorts and that he’ll wait for me at the sports store but “no rush.”
When I finally break away from Micah fifteen minutes later, I take the walk of shame down the mall to find Terrence. I dread having to look him in the eye when I know, without a doubt, that he was right.
I want Micah to want me.