“You know what.” Her lips curled back into some kind of sneer and she stepped her Jimmy Choos over my dirty clothes strewn about my room.
Out of the corner of my eye, I could see the alarm clock telling me it was 11:13 am, and I grimaced. It wasn’t even noon yet, and Jane was in heels and red lipstick.
“I really don’t,” I yawned and pulled the covers up over me more.
“Why haven’t you answered my zillions of text messages or phone calls?” Jane yanked my covers off me, forcing me to talk to her.
“Because there were zillions of them,” I said and grudgingly sat up.
“Ugh,” Jane groaned. She sat down next to me in a terrific huff. “There wouldn’t have been so many if you just answered me.”
“Well?” Jane looked at me.
Her expression had softened, so she’d apparently forgiven me, which was pretty amazing. Jane’s one Cardinal Sin was ignoring her, and I had managed to for almost two days.
“What?” I didn’t really know what she was trying to get at. Was I supposed to thank her or something?
“Have you talked to him?” she asked, and I rolled my eyes.
“Him who?” Milo visibly puffed up at the mention of a guy, preparing himself to defend my honor.
Milo was the kid at school that got shoved into lockers, and he was younger than me. I don’t know who exactly he could protect me from, but it would be a pretty sorry excuse for a guy.
“Jack!” Jane answered him like it should be completely obvious. When she realized that Milo had no idea who she was talking about, her mouth fell open. “Oh my god, Alice! You didn’t tell him about Jack?”
“I have not, no,” I shook my head. In fact, I hadn’t planned to tell Milo about Jack until I had things sorted out better, but thanks to Jane, that would no longer be an option.
“How could you not tell him?” This fact just flabbergasted her. She couldn’t grasp a world where one didn’t incessantly talk about Jack.
“I don’t know, Jane,” I sighed. “It just didn’t come up.”
To be honest, her instant obsession with Jack was the first thing about him that truly made me nervous. If he had this affect on her, what was he doing to other people? And why wasn’t I the same way?
“Wait,” Milo said as it dawned on him, and I would’ve cut off my leg to keep him from completing his thought. “Is Jack the guy you went out with last night?”
“You went out with him?” Jane gasped.
“We just went to a concert. It was no big deal.” I kept my tone casual and nonchalant, but I heard her sharp intake of breath.
“Who is this guy?” Milo demanded. Jane’s reaction made him nervous, and he did his best to look as threatening as he could.
“Jack is just like the most amazing guy ever,” Jane said eloquently.
“He’s just a guy,” I continued with my ultra-casual voice, and even added a shoulder shrug for good measure.
“How can you even say that?” Jane asked. In her mind, he’d been stacked up with the gods and should only be gushed about in revered tones normally reserved for shoes and hand bags.
“You know what, I just don’t get it.” I turned to her. “What is it about him that you like so much?”
“You’ve got to be kidding.”
“But you’ve met him!” Jane insisted.
“I know that. I still don’t get it. You’re crazy about him. You’ve got to be able to articulate what it is that you’re attracted to.”
“He’s just…” Jane fumbled for words. He’d been the only thing on her mind, so why couldn’t she explain him? “It’s like… There’s just something about him. It’s completely indescribable. I just want him. More than I’ve ever wanted anything.”
“Huh.” That was all I could think to say.
“You’re telling me that you don’t want him?” Jane asked me in total disbelief.
“No, I don’t,” I said honestly.
I liked Jack in a really weird way, but not like Jane. It was much simpler and less carnal. Or at least that’s what I gathered from the way she talked and acted.
“Did he say anything about me?” Jane returned to the only topic that truly mattered to her – herself.
“Nope.” I stood up and started going through my dresser drawers for clothes. The whole conversation had run its course with me, and I was moving on to take a shower and start my day.
“Not a thing?” Her voice sounded so small and sad, but I ignored it.
“Nope,” I repeated. “But, look, I’m gonna hop in the shower. And you’ve probably got better things to do than wait around for me.”
“I guess,” Jane mumbled.
She looked totally dejected, but I figured that in a few short hours, she’d probably be drunk and dancing topless on some poor guy’s table. It was kinda hard to feel sorry for her.
After she finally pulled herself together and left, Milo questioned me about Jack. It took a little while, but I managed to convince him that everything was okay. Reluctantly, he dropped the subject and allowed me to take a shower.
The hot water felt good on my skin, and I let my thoughts wander to where I had left off last night. Something Jane said, about how in love she was with Jack even though she couldn’t think of a single reason why, stuck in my head.
That’s when it hit me. Jack, the way I saw Jack – attractive with a boyish charm – that’s who he really was. What everyone else saw, like Jane and the waitress at the diner, they were just responding to something that wasn’t real. The pheromones or whatever created some kind of illusion.
But maybe I wasn’t immune. Maybe there was nothing spectacular about Jack at all, but I was just responding to it on a smaller scale. Maybe I was falling for the same trap Jane was.
- 4 -
The television channel TNT, in its infinite wisdom, had a John Hughes marathon running on all day. Milo, who had never understood the appeal of Molly Ringwald, watched them with me. He tried to convince me to watch something else, but I was stronger than him and manhandled the remote.
We started onto our second viewing of Pretty in Pink when my cell phone started to jingle. It was going on midnight and I assumed it was Jane calling for some kind of sober cab service (even though I did not possess a car), but I picked up my phone off the coffee table anyway.