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an SAT/ACT vocabulary novel

Chapter Three

Part 1

“Oh, wow. I had no idea she would be there. Did you, Mike? Did you know she was going to be there?” Winter asked me in the darkened movie theater, at the top of her voice. “I mean, this movie is so unconventional! It is so unlike every other romantic comedy I have ever seen. Like, when he spontaneously fell over in the middle of the restaurant because his new shoes were too new? I did not see that coming!”

Winter was all sarcasm, all the time, and I was loving every minute of it. Unlike the rest of the audience, who clearly regarded her outbursts as abrasive rather than humorous. I slid down in my seat, trying to stifle my laughter as the people in front of us turned around, shushing Winter. A bunch more shot her irritated looks from all around the theater.

“Omigod! Who likes this excrement?” Winter said with a guffaw, as the protagonist wrapped his true love up in a romantic kiss.

“All right, you two. Now you’re getting profane,” the elderly gentleman behind us upbraided us. He gave me a stern look, like I was somehow Winter’s accomplice. I didn’t see how excrement was profane, but I shushed her anyway.

“Sorry. Sorry,” she said to me, then to him, though her amused smile was anything but penitent. She hunkered down in her seat and ate a fistful of popcorn, and for a few minutes I thought she was actually done. In hindsight, that was a stupid assumption.

“The thing is, I love you,” the guy on the screen said. “Even if you are the most impertinent woman I know.”

Winter laughed loudly. At least a dozen people turned around and scowled. The woman on the screen swooned and kissed the guy again.

“Oh, come on!” Winter shouted. “ ‘I love you even if you are the most impertinent woman I know’? He should get a slap for that line!”

Some woman stood up in the front of the theater. “Would you shut up already?”

Just then, a scrawny usher came in and knelt down next to Winter’s aisle seat. He looked at me with trepidation—I was about three times his size—then directed his comments at Winter.

“Excuse me, Miss, but I’m afraid talking during the film is prohibited,” he said, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down.

Winter adopted an innocent façade. “I wasn’t talking.”

The usher looked at me skeptically as the people behind us laughed and groaned. I shrugged. It wasn’t as if I could refute his accusation. “I’m sorry, but I heard you myself,” he said.

“Well I’m sorry that this movie sucks,” Winter said.

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. The usher looked like he just wanted to die. “I’m afraid I’m going to have to ask you to leave,” he said. “Both of you.”

“Are you kidding me? You’re banishing me from the theater?” Winter said. “But I’m having so much fun!”

The usher looked at me imploringly. He was starting to sweat, and I could tell he was afraid I was going to start a fight, or at the very least make more of a scene than Winter already had.

“Maybe we should just go,” I said to Winter, taking pity on this poor guy. After all, he was just trying to do his job.

“Yeah?” she asked, widening her eyes at me.

“Yeah. Let these people watch the rest of the movie. I’m starving anyway,” I said. “Is there anyplace we can procure a burger around here?” I whispered to the usher.

He smiled in relief. Apparently my behavior was atypical of the situations he usually encountered around here.

“Most expeditiously, sir. Joe’s Grill is just around the corner,” he said graciously.

“Okay. If you want to bow to the Man, we’ll bow to the Man,” she stood up and handed the rest of her popcorn to the usher. “Have a snack on me.”

I slid out of my seat and followed her up the aisle, to the tune of thunderous applause from the rest of the theater. Right before we got to the door, Winter turned around and curtseyed, and a few people laughed. So not everyone hated us. We were still cracking up when we hit the sidewalk.

“I gotta say, I’ve never been booted before,” I told Winter.

“Really? Happens to me all the time,” she said happily, pulling her velvet jacket closer to her.

“Why am I not surprised?” I asked, amused.

“I’m sorry. Are you mad? It’s just that movie was so prosaic,” she said.

“Actually, it was kind of cool. Getting kicked out, I mean,” I said with pride.

“Yeah. You are such a badass now,” she teased.

“Ha ha,” I said flatly. “Anyway, I’m sorry you hated it. I thought girls liked romantic comedies.”

“Well, you’re not dealing with your average girl,” she said, taking my hand.

I looked down at our entwined fingers, surprised. But in a good way. Winter was, hands down, the most extroverted, funny, unsettling girl I’d ever known. And I liked it.

“I’m getting that idea,” I said.

Winter smiled slowly, then stood on her tiptoes and pulled me to her. It was the most intense kiss I had ever experienced. For the first time I realized that there was no way I had been in love with Marcy. Because even though she was hotter than hot, kissing her had never felt like this.

“And just for the record, I do like romantic comedies,” she said when she pulled away.

“Wha?” I said, my head still swimming.

“I love them. I just love to deride them and laugh at them, that’s all. I mean, did it not look like I was having fun in there?” she asked, arching one eyebrow.

I blinked. “Good point.”

Winter laughed and grabbed both my hands, leaning back to pull me forward. “Come on. Let’s go get you some food, football star,” she teased.

I smiled and followed her down the street. Right then I would have followed her anywhere.

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