“I didn’t say anything. The bell rang and I told him we’d have to talk later.”
The teacher glanced their way, and they pretended not to be talking to each other. Violet decided that she didn’t need to get in trouble for not listening, especially after being marked late, so she made an effort to pay attention to the lecture. It was nearly impossible to concentrate, though.
She had thought about going to the dance even before Grady had asked her, and she’d hoped, probably in vain, that Jay might ask her to go with him, even if it meant they only went as friends. She would rather spend an evening in his company, even innocently, than in anyone else’s. But now that she’d been asked by Grady, she had to at least consider the possibility of going with him. Why not? She and Grady had been friends for almost as long as she and Jay had been, and as long as he understood that was all they would be, it might be fun to go with someone else.
When class was over, Violet practically had to run to keep up with Jay, who had left the classroom so fast she barely had time to put her books away. She hurried after him, frustrated that he was making her chase him.
By the time she caught up to him, Violet didn’t bother to hide her annoyance. “Why are you in such a hurry?”
He started to say something, and then he seemed to change his mind. “No hurry. I just don’t want you to make me late too.”
Violet shook her head as she watched Jay disappear into the crowd, irritated that he’d left her feeling like she’d done something wrong. Between Grady and Jay, she was more than a little confused about guys in general.
When school was out, Violet wondered if Jay would still want a ride home. He’d spent the entire day snubbing her. That’s what it felt like anyway. He even ate his lunch with some of his guy friends instead of sitting with her and Chelsea. She thought about leaving him at school without waiting to find out what was up with him, but she wasn’t quite mad enough to be that bitchy. So instead, she waited in her car for nearly twenty minutes.
When she heard the tapping on the passenger-side window, she looked up, expecting to see Jay standing outside, waiting for her to unlock the car’s doors and let him in.
But it wasn’t Jay. It was Grady Spencer, and suddenly Violet wished that she hadn’t waited, that she’d followed her first malicious thought and left Jay behind altogether.
She rolled down the window, trying not to look horrified by the prospect of talking to Grady. “Um, hey there,” she said as cheerfully as she could. “What’s up?”
“You’re not waiting for Jay, are you?” Grady asked, surprising her with his question.
“Sort of.” She cringed, suddenly feeling foolish for sitting in her car for so long. “Why?”
Grady looked embarrassed to be the one to tell her, and he hesitated before blurting it out. “Jay got a ride with Lissie Adams and a couple of her friends.”
Violet wouldn’t have been more surprised if Grady had just slapped her across the face, and the sting of his news was just as vicious. She sat there for a stunned moment, completely dazed and unsure of what she should say or what she should do.
And then a jealous, bitterly hot anger flashed through her, and she wasn’t sure which was worse…that Jay had gone home without even telling her why he was avoiding her…or that he’d gone home with Lissie Adams.
It didn’t really matter, though, because suddenly she wasn’t just annoyed with him…she was furious.
She was also acutely aware that Grady was still anxiously watching her, and she didn’t want him to see how upset she was, so she shoved her hands beneath her legs so he couldn’t see them shaking. She took a breath before rolling her eyes and saying, “It would have been nice if he’d said something to me.” Somehow she managed to say it in a voice that sounded teasing and light, even though she was filled with angry frustration.
Grady was visibly relieved, and that seemed to give him the courage he needed to do what he’d come there for. “So, I was wondering if you’d thought about the dance at all.”
Violet looked at his hopeful face. He was smiling at her as he leaned down and peered at her through the passenger window. It was just a dance, just one night, and it was a chance to dress up and hang out with someone she genuinely liked.
And then she thought of Jay, and bitter resentment washed over her.
She smiled back at Grady’s handsome face, making her choice right then and there. “Yeah,” she said, feeling unexpectedly decisive about her last-minute decision. “I’d love to go to Homecoming with you, Grady. In fact, there’s no one else I’d rather go with.”
Grady grinned back at her. “Cool. I’ll give you a call, and we can figure out the details later.”
As she pulled out of the parking lot, thirty-three minutes after school had let out, she waved at Grady, who looked like he’d just won the lottery and needed to find someone he could gloat to.
He waved back at her, but she never even saw him. She was already lost in her own thoughts, trying to figure out why Jay had blown her off so unexpectedly.
VIOLET SPENT THE REST OF THE AFTERNOON brooding…getting angrier and angrier, and feeling worse and worse. She’d hoped that her homework might provide some sort of diversion, occupying her thoughts with something other than being annoyed with Jay.
But there hadn’t been enough homework for her to do, there probably wasn’t enough homework in the world, to distract her for very long. She thought about Jay while she was doing her trig assignment, she thought about him while she wrote her English paper, and she even thought about him when she was reading about the Lewis and Clark expedition. And not a single one of the thoughts she’d had was very pleasant at all.