“We’re fifteen, Lucas. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.”
“But Riley,” he murmured. “Didn’t you know? I’m in this for the long game.”
She sucked in a sharp breath, and shook her head. “It’s nothing but a crush. Feelings fade, but friendships don’t. Admit it, Lucas. If Charlie hadn’t asked me out, would anything have changed between us? You assumed that we were going to the semi-formal together because that’s what we’ve done for all the other dances and school events. We’ve gone together. As friends. And it was nice. Because that’s what we are. We’re nice. We’re safe. We’re comfortable. We’re summer rain, not fire.”
He opened his mouth to speak, but she wasn’t done. “Do you remember how you described me and Maya to Zay before he came here? ‘The blonde beauty. And the pretty brunette, who would do anything for her friends.” The corner of her mouth lifted in a sad smile, but the look she sent him was full of anguish. “I know what I am, and where I stand. I’ve accepted that. You should, too. Be my brother or be my friend, but those are the only choices I have to keep you in my life.” She slipped out the door, leaving him alone and staring after her.
Lucas stared after her, utterly bewildered. “What just happened?” he asked the empty air. He had thought that this was just a case of normal teen nerves – Riley had always been the type of person who worried more about the unknown, rather than focusing on what was solid and tangible in front of her – but this was more than that. He pulled out his phone. Something big was going on with his favorite brown eyed girl, and he intended to get to the bottom of it. It was time to call in the big guns.
Riley stopped just before re-entering the café, taking a deep breath to still the trembling and tears, and to send a reply to the last text she had received.
It’s done. I did what you wanted. Now will you leave me alone?
The reply came almost instantly.
No. You’re still in my way.
Her jaw clenched as she typed furiously. Why are you doing this? I am nothing to you!
That’s true. You are nothing. But somehow, you still get everything I want. Stop taking everything I want, and I’ll go away.
I can’t force him to stop being my friend.
No…but you can stop being his.