Wednesday, April 2, 2014

{Just Another Directionless Excerpt}

{I wrote something controversial HERE. *wiggles eyebrows* What's your opinion on "slut-shaming?"}

"What are we talking about?" Jake asked, putting his plate down next to Megan. Megan glanced up and made a shrugging gesture with her hand. Her shoulder stayed still as she opened her mouth to reply:


Ashley interrupted her. "Caleb likes Meg."

"Ah," Jake said. "Tales of unrequited love at the lunch table. Classic." His voice was smooth with lofty sarcasm.

Megan's eyebrows pinched with concern. "What makes you think it's unrequited?"

Ashley laughed, her own eyebrows arching into her bangs. It was Jake who answered:

"When feelings for you are involved, when is it NOT unrequited?" Megan glared at him. "No, seriously," he prompted. "I'm resubmitting that question as non-rhetorical. When have you ever liked someone?"

"I mean, I did have a boyfriend once," Megan said. "What, you don't think I liked him?" She took a large bite of her hamburger.

Ashley made a high-pitched, non-committal noise. "I mean, you guys weren't really serious."

Pain spiked through Megan's eyes, which dropped to her stomach as if she expected to see a fist planted there. The mush of hamburger and bun in her mouth created a motionless bulge in her right cheek. "We were serious," she said simply. She reached for her water glass.

"Oh." Ashley blinked and gave Jake a look of shallow panic. "Really?"

Jake blinked and gave her the world's most hands-off facial expression imaginable. "It's not like she spills her guts to me in her spare time."

"Well, me neither!" Ashley's voice thrust desperation into their brief aside. "When someone never mentions their boyfriend, you get the feeling it's not a big deal... I mean, right?"

Megan squeezed energy into her eyes until her expression was passable as a smile. "It's fine, Ash. I guess I didn't talk much about him."

"Yeah, I didn't even know you had a boyfriend until weeks after--"

"But so this Caleb guy," Jake interrupted. His fork stabbed straight through his Thai food and made a dignified noise against the plate. "You don't like him?"

Megan rolled her eyes. "Let's not paint with such a broad brush, shall we?" Jake's eyebrows elevated. "Caleb is great. I'm just not interested."

"What's wrong with him?" Ashley asked, in the voice of someone arguing a lost cause. "He's gorgeous. He treats you right. He's smart. He's going places in life."

Megan shrugged. "He doesn't tip at restaurants." She took another hamburger bite. Jake and Ashley stared at her, mouths in varying degrees of openness.

Ashley look personally affronted. "You're not dating a guy because he doesn't tip?"

"Which you discovered, I presume, at an event where he paid for your meal?" Jake pointed out.

"Yep." She looked them both calmly in the eye, in turn. They exchanged glances.

"Is that the only reason?" Ashley asked. "Because you can just ask him to tip. Or you could tip."

"I think it's nice when girls offer to tip," Jake said philosophically. "Guys are expected to pay for meals, and I support that, but I think it shows consideration when the girl takes responsibility for part of the experience." He gave Megan a single nod. "Hey, maybe he was testing you."

"He cheats on tests," Megan offered lightly. Her lips turned up in the corners, but she didn't bother manipulating the look in her eyes this time.

"We've all done that," Ashley said, rolling her eyes.

Jake frowned. "Oooh." He shook his head and twirled his fork around his lo mien. "That is a deal-breaker."

Ashley turned on him. "What do you mean? You've never cheated on a test?"

"Not in college," Jake said. He jutted his chin out for emphasis. "This is real life stuff. Cheating isn't cool." A single chuckle escaped his throat. "What's his major? It's not pre-law, is it? 'Cause that would be ironic."

"I don't know," Megan said. She put her hamburger down and took one of Ashley's French fries. Ashley slid her plate closer to her friend.

"Well," Ashley began, clearly gearing up for an ultimatum.  "All I'm saying is that if you let every great guy go like this, you're literally asking to be forever alone."

"Not literally," Megan said, giving her friend a teasing look.

"Do you correct this Caleb guy's grammar too?" Jake said. "Because if you don't, I would start right away. It's a great way to make people not want to be with you."

"Very funny," Megan grinned.


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