When we got assigned as project partners in English class, I never expected to care about who she was outside of class. I never expected to care about who she was in class if I’m being honest. If someone had told me two months ago, all I’d want to do is be wrapped up in the smell of Remington Wade’s freshly washed hair, I would have laughed for a good six weeks.
But now? Now I was in her bed, kissing her with my hand inching its way up under her shirt. Her hands gripped my hips, and her mouth meshed with mine, our tongues sharing secrets.
Two copies of The Crucible by Arthur Miller dropped off her bed, startling us for a split second, before we returned to making out, our English class project completely forgotten. After a few more extremely fervent kisses, she slowly pulled away. Her eyes drifted down to the books on the floor; she bit her lip.
Remy shifted, moving out from under my touch, and picked up the books. “We should probably do the project, huh? It’s due tomorrow.”
I took the outstretched book and sighed. “Thanks. Yeah, I guess we should.”
She sat down in her desk chair, leaving me to sit on her bed alone. I grabbed my laptop and opened the blank cloud document we’d started two weeks ago. She tapped her fingers against the book cover and read the assignment guidelines; I stared at my bag across the room, my cheerleading outfit poked out from the unzipped pouch, reminding me why Remy didn’t want anyone to know we were hooking up, or dating, or doing whatever this was.
“I know we have to focus on this project right now, but can we talk about what we’re doing after the project before I leave tonight?” I held my breath, bracing for the bad news that these make out sessions would discontinue after the project was presented and turned in.
“Sure,” she said. Her attention was still on the guidelines, but she sounded relaxed. And just like that, it was all business. “We have to write an updated script for this as if it’s a movie coming out this year. We have to bring this story into the present. Ms. Roster wants a four-page report on how our version would be different from the original, and why we’d make those changes. And it has to appeal to people our age.”
“Right.” I let out a deep exhale, trying to mask my nerves by focusing on the project with her. “What would make you go watch this?”
She shrugged and ran her finger across the edge of the book. “I guess I’m not a fan of how they treat the women in this play.”
“But that was normal for that time period. And I think he was making a point.” Despite what I was saying, I typed out her complaint with the first one. “But I see what you’re saying.”
We worked, trading complaints and ideas back and forth for several hours; the orange light trickling in through the window blinds let us know when it was time to stop for dinner.
After dinner with her parents, we kept working on the project. At eight, I called my mom to let her know I’d be home late. And finally, we were done. She looked exhausted, but her smile was bright.
I leaned in and kissed her, and she kissed back. She turned back to her laptop and gestured to the screen.
“I can print all of this. Just give me a second to set up my printer.” She gave my arm a squeeze before heading to her closet. “When we present tomorrow, how should we do that?”
“Oh, I don’t know. We can block off who talks about what after you print some copies. Can you do three copies? One for the teacher, and then two for us to make notes on about presenting.”
“Of course.” The printer groaned and beeped in protest, but she slid paper into the tray. Shortly after its chirps subsided, the printer got to work. She cleared her throat and turned back to me, grabbing her water bottle from the edge of the desk.
“So,” she said, between sips of water. “You wanted to talk about you and me, you still want to?”
My heart soared. I’d been expecting her to deflect and tell me we’d talk about it later, because it was so late. I hadn’t even brought it up, because I didn’t want to bring the mood down. But she was bringing it up, and the mood seemed fine so far.
“It’s okay if not.” She still wore the tired, bright smile.
I shook my head, realizing I hadn’t spoken. “No. I definitely want to if that’s possible. I just figured it’s midnight, I thought you wouldn’t want to.”
Her eyebrows shot up, and somehow her smile got even warmer. “No, it’s okay. I know this is important to you.”
My brow twitched between confusion and excitement, but I smiled, hoping my nerves weren’t noticeable. “Yeah, it is.”
I wanted to ask if it was important to her, too, but I refrained. I licked my lips, trying to find moisture and failing. I reached for my glass of water and took a long drink. What did I want to ask? Why had she wanted me to keep our little hook up situation to myself? Did she want to be my girlfriend? What had I wanted to talk about exactly?
“Ava?” Her head tilted, her arm outstretched, she touched my arm.
“Sorry. I’m tired. I got lost for a second.” I rubbed my eyes and shook my head, focusing on her face. “I guess I have a couple of, um, I don’t know. Questions?”
“Sure. Ask whatever you’d like.” She leaned back in her chair.
I shifted into a new position; my legs tucked up under me. “You told me to keep our situation, or uh, whatever we’re doing, you told me to keep it to myself. I know you said it’s because I’m a cheerleader, but we’re both out.”
She nodded, opening her mouth, but I continued.
“Also! I’m pretty sure your parents already know there’s something, or well, they either know or they suspect there’s something between us. Wait, sorry, that’s not the point. My point, I guess, is I’m confused. Why don’t you want anyone to know?”
Her smile fell into a crooked, almost sheepish, half grin. She leaned forward, settled back into her chair, and then she laughed and covered her face. She shook her head.
“Does that mean you don’t want to answer?” I stretched out on her bed; my eyelids were getting heavy.
“No, no, it’s not that.” She yawned. “It’s stupid.”
“Remy.” I knew I was whining, but I didn’t care. I was tired, and this felt like pulling teeth. “Please just tell me?”
“You’re not my type.” She gestured to me. Her tone was amusement, but there was a current of uncertainty under that lightheartedness. “Your whole…everything, you’re not my type, and yet, I can’t seem to get enough of you. It feels ridiculous.”
I frowned, unsure if this was good or bad, or what it meant. “Who is your type? Does this mean you’re not interested in being my girlfriend?”
Her smile fell and she looked like a deer in headlights. “Oh, are you asking?”
“Maybe.” I sat up, crossing my arms. “I would like to ask if you’d be my girlfriend, but if I’m not your type, does that mean you’re going to say no?”
She shook her head. “No, it’s just…I like goth types, I like broken types, and you just…you’re bright, and you’re really levelheaded. And this has been the smoothest group project I’ve ever done. I was worried we wouldn’t get it done, but honestly, I’m impressed that we work so well together, and I’ve been more turned on than I knew was possible while doing a school project.”
My heart pounded; I laughed. “That’s it? That’s why you didn’t want people to know? Because you’re not usually into cheerleaders?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I was just embarrassed at the thought of hearing people go, ‘oh, really?’ and giving me shit for it. And let’s be real, I’m sure I’m not your usual type either. Granted, I’ve never seen you with a girlfriend, so maybe I don’t know who you’re interested in.”
I was balled up again on the edge of her bed, my legs tucked against my chest. “You hang out with the guys who play tabletop games and do that LARP-shit, the thespian kids, and you inexplicably hang out with the jocks in gym class, all because you outlasted all of them in your first keg stand? And you’re afraid to get shit for dating a cheerleader?”
She ran her hand through her hair and shrugged again. “Like I said, it’s stupid. With you, I guess it’s just different, because in a super short amount of time, I already feel like I have really serious feelings for you.”
Biting my lip, I slid off the bed and stood in front of her. “Is it stupid if I say what I’m about to say?”
Blood rushed in my ears, but I tried to listen for her response.
“I don’t know.” She was smirking. “Try me?”
“I—” I paused. Our eyes locked. “Love you?”
She laughed, and I relaxed, laughing with her. Standing up, she took my hands. “Is it dumb to say I love you, too?”
Kissing her, my thrumming heart vibrated my smile against hers.