Ann Aguirre's THE QUEEN OF BRIGHT AND SHINY THINGS - Review & Excerpt Tour
The sophomores can't hear us down the table, as it's loud in here, but I pitch my voice low just in case. “Basically, Ryan was never my boyfriend. He just let people think we were together. Because I'm an idiot, I didn't guess why.” Those last words come out bitter.
“So why did he do that?” I hear all kinds of nuances in his voice, questions, doubts.
Here's where it gets tricky. “It's complicated. He lied to me, though, and that's what I can't just get over. Maybe someday we'll be friends again, but for now...” I shrug.
“Friends?” he repeats.
“So he didn't break your heart.” He sounds relieved.
“Did you want him to?”
“I was afraid he had. That maybe you were talking to me...” His eyes cut away from mine.
“Because I was trying to make Ryan jealous? Not my style.”
I want to say, OMG, Shane, you think I'm a dude magnet? I've been Ryan's sidekick, his not-girlfriend so long, that I have no idea what this is or what I'm doing. But I love it.
“I'm not looking for drama,” Shane tells me.
I understand the reason for the pronouncement immediately. Ryan's watching us from across the cafeteria, but he won't be shoving Shane into any doorjambs or cornering him in the boys toilet. In some ways, his silent, wounded eyes are worse. I can tell he feels horrible and that he misses me, but what am I supposed to do? After what I've learned, I don't want to be his girlfriend, which is what he was shooting for when he made his big confession. I feel like I hardly know the guy, and that hurts most of all.
“There won't be any.”
“I just... I can't afford any trouble,” he says softly, not looking at me. “Any more, and I'm off to juvie until I'm eighteen.”
Possibly he thinks this will scare me off.But I have my dark side, too. The staff at the group home pulled me off an emotional ledge years ago, so I know what it's like to feel completely out of control, doing stuff you know deep down is a terrible idea and yet you cannot stop. I study the rigid line of his shoulders. Did you put that post-it on my locker?” I ask.
He's dead silent, but his eyes answer where his lips do not. I see the yes written in aquamarine. In this moment, I want to kiss him so bad it hurts.
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