“Look Lucas, I don’t have time for this! I have to get back inside to work, before my mom–”
Lucas kissed her again before she could finish the sentence, a bit more demandingly this time. This time when he drew back, she licked her lips, clearly thinking about her next sentence, which made him smirk.
“I thought you wanted to talk.”
The smirk turned into a genuine smile, amused and finally feeling back on firm ground for the first time since the girl in front of him had fallen literally into his lap on the subway. “I do want to talk. That was just to get your attention.”
She raised her brows at that, but moved away to sit on the intricate iron wrought bench on the far side of the courtyard. He followed her, deliberately sitting close enough that their knees touched.
Riley took a deep breath, bracing herself. “Lucas, whatever you’re going to say – we can’t. Even if you’re not with Maya, which she hasn’t told me one way or another, I already told you. We don’t work as a couple. We’re better off as friends.” She said quickly.
He sat back and regarded her for a long moment. “Why exactly not? And don’t give me any BS about Maya, Riley. Even if she did actually have more than friendly feelings towards me, I don’t feel the same way about her.“
“That changes nothing.” She said, jumping up and walking away from him before he could catch her. “Whatever crush I had is gone.”
“Yeah, so you’ve said, but I don’t think that’s true.” He interrupted, before she could get started. “I think that you do care for me, and you’re running scared because things are changing and we’re growing up. And I’m also very hurt and kind of insulted that you think so little of me after three years of friendship.”
“I am not scared!” She sputtered. “And I do think a lot of you. It’s just that we’re not compatible as a couple, so— “
“You decided this after one date that we were pressured into by our classmates? C’mon, Riley.” He snorted scornfully. “Admit it. You’re just scared that you might actually have feelings for me, and that we could have something really good together.”
“I am not scared. And I had a crush on you, but it’s gone. And you’re with Maya now.”
“First off, if you honestly believe that I would kiss you while being with your best friend, then you don’t know me, and we were never really friends at all.” He snapped, incensed. “Friends talk and real friends listen, Riley. Well, you’ve did a lot of talking lately, both in Texas and on New Year’s. Now it’s your turn to listen for once, because I’m about to make some things explicitly clear here.”
She stilled, taking a deep breath. “Very well.”
“I care about Maya; she is a very good friend, and I can’t imagine life without her.” He said, watching her stiffen. “But dammit Riley! Maya can feel however she wants. This is between me and you. And how I feel, since you haven’t yet bothered to ask, is that I don’t want to be your brother. Or just your friend.”
“So then what do you want, Lucas?”
“I want another chance to be with you.” He answered instantly, intensity vibrating from every pore. “We had two dates, Riley. Neither one of which were on our terms. That first date, we were both too young but there was a promise, an unspoken understanding – or so I thought. The second time we were pressured into it, and while it wasn’t nearly as awkward as your imagination has made it out to be, the timing still wasn’t right. And now you claim that your feelings have changed, that you don’t like me like that anymore.”