Rules of attraction, p.37
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       Rules of Attraction, p.37

         Part #2 of Perfect Chemistry series by Simone Elkeles
Page 37


  Not listening to me, Carlos starts dancing. He doesn’t act like he’s in pain. In fact, he acts like he’s been street dancing his entire life. The blaring music has a fast beat. Most guys I know don’t have rhythm, but Carlos does. He’s amazing. I want to step back and just watch him move his body to the beat.

  “Show me what you got,” he says at one point. He’s got a mischievous gleam in his eye as he cocks an eyebrow. “I dare you, chica. ”



  Kiara can dance like a pro. Man, one little dare and the girl moves to the music as if she owns it. I dance with her, our movements suddenly coming together. We’re finding our own rhythm together, dancing to each song without stopping. Kiara takes me away from thoughts of Devlin and the Brittany/Alex drama that’s going on.

  Right in the middle of a fast song, the DJ mixes it up. A painfully slow song about love and loss echoes through the gymnasium. Kiara looks at me, unsure of how we’re gonna do this.

  I take her hands and wrap them around my neck. Damn, she smells great . . . like fresh raspberries you can inhale forever. When I pull her so her body is pressed up against mine, all I want to do is steal her away and never give her back. I’m trying to pretend Devlin doesn’t exist and that I’m not leaving her for good at the end of the month. I want to savor today, ’cause my future is one big mess right now.

  “What are you thinking about?” she asks me.

  “Leavin’ here,” I say, telling her the truth. She doesn’t know I’m actually talking about leaving Colorado, but that’s okay. If she knew what my plans were, she’d probably call Alex and her parents and arrange an intervention. Hell, she’d probably invite Tuck, too, while she was at it.

  With her arms still wrapped around my neck, she looks up at me. I lean down and kiss her gently on her soft, shiny lips, not caring that the teachers are watching. The entire student body has been warned about the possibility of being kicked out of the dance for PDA.

  “We c-c-can’t kiss,” Kiara says, leaning away.

  “Then let’s go somewhere where we can. ” My hand slides down her back and rests on the curve right above her ass.

  “Hey, Carlos!” Ram yells as he and his date walk up to us after we’ve danced and eaten and are ready to bounce. “We’re gonna head out and hang at my parents’ lake house. Want to come?”

  I look over at my date. She nods.

  “You sure?” I ask.

  “Yeah. ”

  It’s raining, so we hurry to the car. I follow Ram and a few other cars out of the parking lot. A half hour later we all turn off the main road and head up a long driveway to a small house on a private lake.

  “You sure you’re okay with us bein’ here?” I ask her. She hasn’t said much since we left the dance.

  “Yeah. I d-d-don’t want the night to be over. ”

  Me either. After tonight, reality will start to set in. We follow three other couples inside the house, running because now it’s pouring. It’s not a big house, but it’s got huge windows with lake views. I’m sure if it wasn’t dark outside we’d actually be able to see the lake. Now all we see is the rain pelting the windows.

  Ram has the refrigerator stocked with cans of beer. “It’s all ours,” Ram says as he tosses one to each person. “And there’s more in the garage, if we want it. ”

  Kiara is holding the can of beer Ram tossed her. It’s still unopened. “Are you going to drink?” she asks me.

  “Maybe. ”

  She holds out her hand. “Then give me the keys. I don’t want you driving if you’re drinking,” she says softly so the other couples can’t hear.

  “By the way,” Ram yells out, “everyone who drinks here needs to crash here. House rules. ”

  I look around. It seems as if the other couples are ready to shack up. “Wait here,” I tell Kiara, then run outside to the car and pull out the cell that I stashed on the dash. Five minutes later, I come back in the house. Despite her self-proclaimed shyness, Kiara is doing just fine. Ram has her talking about the benefits of diesel fuel and I’m tempted to say, “That’s my girl. ” But she’s not really my girl. At least, she won’t be soon. Tonight she is, though.

  I pull Kiara aside. “We’re crashin’ here,” I tell her. “I just called your parents. They said it was okay. ”

  “How did you get them to agree to us sleeping out?”

  “I told them we’d been drinkin’. Ends up they’d rather have us crash here than drive drunk. ”

  “But I wasn’t planning on drinking at all. ”

  I flash her a mischievous grin. “What they don’t know won’t kill them, chica. ”

  While the rest of the party finds their own private places to crash for the night, I grab a bunch of blankets Ram pulled out of the closet and lead Kiara outside.

  “Where are we going?” she asks.

  “I saw a dock by the lake. I know it’s cold out, and rainin’ . . . but it’s covered and private. ” I take off my suit jacket and give it to her. “Here. ”

  She slides her arms through the holes and holds it closed. I like her wearing my jacket, as if somehow she’s mine and nobody else’s.

  “Wait!” Kiara says, grabbing me by the wrist. “Give me your keys. ”

  Oh, hell. This is it. This is where she tells me that she’s not mine— and that she’s still in love with Michael and wants to leave. Or that she just wanted me to take her to Homecoming and I got the wrong idea. While I had only one beer and am still painfully sober, I don’t want to take her back home. I want this night to last as long as possible.

  “I need my purse,” she explains. “I left it in the car. ”

  Oh. Her purse. I stand in the rain, looking dumbfounded at the girl who makes me want to hold on to her and never let go, as if she’s my security blanket. My emotions are scaring the hell out of me. On the way to the dock we stop off at the car. She pulls out her purse and clutches it while we walk through the grass.

  “My heels are sinking,” she tells me.

  I hand her the blankets and pick her up.

  “Don’t drop me,” she says, trying to juggle the blankets on her lap while holding on to my neck for dear life.

  “Trust me. ” That’s the second time tonight I told her to trust me. Truth is that she shouldn’t, because after tonight all bets are off. But I don’t want to think about tomorrow. Tonight needs to last me a lifetime. Tonight . . . tonight she can trust me, and I can trust her.

  I set her down on the covered dock. It’s dark, and the black clouds are covering the light of the moon. The top blanket is wet, so I’m glad I grabbed a bunch. I take them from her and set the dry blankets on the wood dock, giving us a padded place to sleep.

  I just don’t know if sleep is all we’ll be doing tonight. “Kiara?” I say.

  “Y-y-yeah?” she says, her word echoing in the darkness.

  “Come lie with me. ”



  My heart flutters and I get a flush of excitement at his words. “It’s d-d-dark. I can’t see anything. ”

  “Follow my voice, chica. I won’t let you fall. ”

  I reach out in the darkness as if I’m blind, all the while shivering from nervousness or the cold rain. I can’t tell which one is making me shake more. When our hands connect through the black night, he guides me to the blankets. I place my purse with the condom in it beside the blanket, then awkwardly hitch up my dress so I can sit in front of him.

  He wraps his strong, muscular arms around me. “You’re shakin’,” he says, pulling me back against his chest.

  “I c-c-can’t help it. ”

  “Are you cold? I can find more blankets if you—”

  “No, don’t leave. S-s-stay with me. ” I turn so my arms are wrapped around his waist. I’m nuzzling into his body heat, not letting him go. “I’m just n-n-nervous. ”

  He strokes my hair, now wet from the rain. “Me, too. ”

nbsp; “Carlos?”


  Since I can’t see him, I reach up and feel his clean-shaven jaw. “Tell me something about your childhood that you remember. Something g-g-good. ”

  It takes him a long time to respond. Doesn’t he remember anything happy about his life in Chicago?

  “Alex and I always got in trouble after school when my ma was workin’. Alex was supposed to be in charge of everythin’, but the last thing a thirteen-year-old kid wanted to do was schoolwork right when we got home. We’d have these contests we called the Fuentes Olympics and create the most ridiculous events. ”

  “Like what?”

  “Alex had this stupid idea to cut off the tops of my mom’s panty hose and put tennis balls inside each leg. He called them the Panty Discus. We’d fling them around and around like windmills, then throw ’em as hard as we could. Sometimes the farthest would win, and sometimes the highest. ” He chuckles. “We were such idiots we’d stick them back in my ma’s drawer and think she’d never suspect it was us who mutilated them. ”

  “Was she tough with you?”

  “Let’s just say my ass still hurts from that day, and it was seven years ago. ”

  “Ouch. ”

  “Yeah. Alex and I spent a lot of time together back then. Once I wanted to be a pirate, so I went in my ma’s room, took her jewelry box, and buried it in the woods by our house. Most of it was fake jewelry and stupid free pins she had to wear at work. I came home and drew a map with a big red X where I’d hidden the box, then told Alex to find it. ”

  “Did he?”

  “No. ” He gives a short laugh. “And neither could I. ”

  “Did your mom freak?”

  “Freak is an understatement, chica. Every day after school I went to the woods to dig up her jewelry, but never could find it. Worst part is that her weddin’ ring was in the box . . . she never wore it because after mi papá died she didn’t want to risk losin’ it. ”

  “Oh my God. That’s horrible. ”

  “Yeah. It wasn’t funny at the time, that’s for sure. But one day I’ll find that box, if someone else hasn’t gotten to it first. Okay, your turn. What did you do to piss off the almighty Professor and the Queen Mother of Organic Teas?”

  “I once hid my dad’s car keys so he wouldn’t go to work,” I tell him.

  “Not bad enough. Give me somethin’ else. ”

  “I used to pretend to be sick so I could stay home from school. ”

  “Please, I was the champion at that. Don’t you got anythin’ really bad? Or have you been a Goody Two-shoes your entire life?”

  “When I was mad at my parents, I used to spike their toothpaste with Tabasco sauce. ”

  “Now that’s what I’m talkin’ about. Nice. ”

  “But my parents never hit me; they don’t believe in it. I got a lot of time-outs during my rebellious stage when I was twelve, though. ”

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