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Head Over Heels
an SAT/ACT vocabulary novel
  

April 17

I sought out Jeremy today, after school, and found him at Olympia, this joint right near school where they sell candy and doughnuts and other such nutritious lures. It’s the main nexus spot for meeting up with friends, primarily because of its proximity to school, but also because of the congenial Greek family that runs it. (What is it with me and the Greeks lately, anyway?)

When I walked in, Jeremy was sitting at a corner booth with his regular group of jock stooges. His right arm was around the shoulders of some nondescript sophomore blonde. Not that I cared, but it just helped seal the decision that I’d already made.

“Jeremy,” I said. “I need to talk to you.”

As soon as he saw me, he dropped his arm from the girl, his face going white. “Francesca, hey—”

“Outside, if you don’t mind.” I didn’t wait for his answer. I just walked out.

I crossed my arms, enjoying the sunlight on my face. The door opened. Jeremy affected a casual stroll as he walked toward me. “You liked the flowers, baby?” he asked.

“I did. I wanted to thank you. They’re very beautiful.” I leaned in and gave him a kiss on the cheek.

“No problem,” he said. “That’s my way of saying no hard feelings.”

“Very effective,” I said.

“To be honest,” he said. “I think I’m almost ready to take you back.”

I tried not to laugh. “Sorry, Jeremy. But I don’t think that’s going to work.”

“What?”

“I appreciate the flowers, but I still think we should take a hiatus.”

“A whuh?”

“I just know I want to stay broken up . . .” I trailed off, realizing this sounded too much like an affront, which I knew would translate, in Jeremy’s eyes, to fighting words. “Don’t be mad, please.”

His lips were pulled so tight they were turning blue. “You mean permanently?”

“Well . . . yeah.”

“That’s almost funny.” His tone was caustic. “God . . . I made you.”

“And then you released me,” I said, as amicably as I could manage.

“No, I didn’t,” he adamantly insisted.

“Actually, you did.” I hadn’t expected him to be this reluctant to abdicate his position. I crossed my arms in front of me to show I could be just as obdurate as him.

He snorted. “I’ll bet Luke is psyched to know you’re finally free for the taking.”

I sighed. “Luke has no idea, Jeremy, so please don’t vilify him. This has nothing to do with him.”

“Right. I’ll bet.” Jeremy pressed his lips together and nodded in sarcastic abjuration. “Well, you two have fun together. Feel free to give him a few flowers from that bouquet I bought you.”

“Come on, Jeremy,” I said softly, in a last-ditch effort to placate him. “This really isn’t about him. I just feel like our relationship has run its course, and it’s time for us both to be unfettered for a bit. Can’t we try to be nice here?”

“Cool, cool. I know a few girls who will be happy to know that I’m back on the market. I won’t have any trouble finding a replacement for you, you know.”

My jaw tightened. This was the last thing I wanted— incendiary words tossed back and forth like Chinese throwing stars. I refused to stoop to that. “That’s your prerogative. Whatever it takes to move on. I don’t understand why you’re being so sophomoric about this, Jeremy. I was thinking we would be friends.”

“Or enemies,” he said. “Either way works for me.”

You impudent little infant. He was pulling out all the stops to get me to retaliate. I pressed my tongue against the back of my teeth to keep from snapping.

“Actually, this is good,” Jeremy said. “This works well. At least I know my next girl won’t torment me until I’m blue in the face—my next girlfriend won’t be afraid to have sex.”

Okay, he wanted it to be like that. Well, not much I could do then.

“Bye, Jeremy,” I said. I turned and walked away.

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