Dangerous to Know & Love(11) by Jane Harvey-Berrick

Daniel strolled in a few minutes later, a smear of lipstick on his left cheek. He did his usual trick of throwing his jacket onto one seat and his shoulder bag onto another. Lisanne ducked her head down. She didn’t want him to catch her staring. But when she looked up again, she saw his head turning toward the front and had the distinct impression that he’d been looking for her. But had he?

Professor Walden walked in and the lecture began. Lisanne managed to make some sensible notes but her attention was only half there, at best.

Fifty minutes later, Lisanne still hadn’t decided what to say to Daniel, but she didn’t get the chance either. As soon as the lecture finished, Kirsty claimed her attention by telling Vin all about Lisanne’s upcoming gig, and by the time she could get away without being too rude, Daniel had gone.

Her apology would have to remain unsaid: unless she wanted to be a coward and send it by text. So she took the simple way out.

She did nothing.

* * *

The weekend passed in a haze of rehearsals, homework, and spending time with Kirsty and her friends. Unfortunately, that meant spending time with the ghastly Shawna, too, but Lisanne had the pleasure of seeing that nobody else seemed to enjoy her company either. In fact, she distinctly saw Vin roll his eyes at some bitchy remark Shawna had made, and he’d winked when Lisanne caught his eye.

Vin and Kirsty were fast becoming inseparable, but Lisanne noticed that Kirsty made every effort to make time for her roommate, as well – she was more than grateful for that. Lisanne had come to the conclusion that being on her own sucked. Right now, she hated her own company as much as she hated her guilty thoughts.

She still hadn’t fixed the Daniel situation – a situation that she’d dug for herself – so she decided to man up and text him.

* L: library tomorrow? 4 pm? *

Okay, maybe ‘man up’ was putting it too strongly.

Daniel’s reply was even briefer.

* D: Fine *

Four letters and no winking smiley. Definitely no flirting or sexting. And, was he deliberately mimicking her words of a week ago: fine? If he was, Lisanne knew she deserved it. Her penance was to feel like shit and spend five bucks on chips and cookies. She owed him.

The next day, she took her place at their usual table, feeling anxious and uncomfortable. When someone touched her shoulder, she squealed and jumped.

Daniel slouched into the seat opposite her and muttered “Hi” without waiting for her to reply.

He looked tired, which was accentuated by the fact that he hadn’t shaved. She realized the stubble was hiding a dark bruise on one side of his jaw. Maybe he’d gotten into another fight.

She touched his hand lightly and he looked up at her.

“I’m sorry about last week. You’re right. I was being a bitch. Can we start over?”

He gave a lopsided smile.

“Yeah, sure. It’s not been the same without you yelling at me.”

Lisanne breathed out in a long, relieved sigh.

“I brought cookies and chips.”

“Do I get to eat any this week?”

“If you’re quick,” she said.

“I’m always quick.”

Lisanne raised an eyebrow, and Daniel’s eyes widened as he realized what he’d said.

“God! Don’t ever repeat that! I’ll completely deny saying it.”

“Your secret is safe with me,” she teased.

He nodded, his face serious.

“I know it is. Thanks.”

His tone surprised her and she had to look away from his intense gaze.

They worked peacefully, the only interruption being the rustle of illicit chip bags.

But when they finished up, there was no offer of coffee, no offer of a ride on Sirona, just a smile and a casual, “See ya next week.”

“Daniel, wait!”

But he’d already turned his back and was walking away. Lisanne leapt up from her chair, hearing it clatter backward as she tried to grab his arm.

Daniel turned around, surprised.

“What’s up?”

“Daniel, I… I…”

“What is it, LA?”

She was surprised to hear him use Roy’s silly nickname for her, but it gave her enough confidence to speak.

“Will you come – on Saturday? To the gig? I know you can’t… but… I’d like… will you?”

His mouth twisted in distaste and he shook his head.

“Lis, don’t…”

She immediately stepped back.

“I’m sorry,” she said at once. “That was selfish of me. I’m sorry.”

He scrubbed his hand over his face in frustration.

“I just… I can’t…” he said, his voice tense, as if he was in pain.

“I know. I’m sorry. Really. Forget I said anything. I… I’ll see you in class on Friday.”

He nodded, but didn’t reply. As he walked from the library, Lisanne could see that his shoulders were slumped and his head hung down, as if pulled by a great weight.

Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! Stupid and cruel, her conscience chided.

Sighing and internally berating herself, she stuffed the rest of the cookies and chips into her bag, piled up her books and laptop, and dragged herself back to her room – where she proceeded to finish the cookies, and went to bed feeling nauseous.

* * *

But on Thursday morning, Lisanne woke up feeling worse. She was bathed in sweat, her throat was dry, and her tongue felt as if it had been lying at the bottom of a parrot’s cage.

She made a rush for the bathroom, then crawled back to bed, groaning loudly. She could just about manage to drink water without throwing up. She turned off her phone and slept for several more hours. At the end of the school day, Kirsty arrived and was horrified to see the sweaty, shivering mess.

“Why the hell didn’t you call me?” she said, angrily. “Jeez! You look horrible.”

Lisanne moaned and clutched her stomach.

Kirsty sat on the edge of her bed and felt Lisanne’s forehead.

“Ugh, you’re all clammy, but you’re not too hot. I think it’s just stomach flu. Stay in bed and I’ll make you some herbal tea. My mom always makes it with ginger – it’s good for settling bad stomachs.”

Kirsty wanted to cancel her own plans for the evening, but Lisanne insisted that all she needed to do was sleep, and that it would be as boring as hell for Kirsty to stay in and watch her.

They agreed on a compromise: Kirsty would go for dinner with Vin as planned, but come back by 10 pm to check on the patient. She was as good as her word, dosing Lisanne with more herbal tea, and fortifying her with crackers.

By Friday, Lisanne was feeling a little better, but Kirsty decided for her that another day resting in bed would seal the deal.

“Besides,” she insisted, “you want to be well for the gig. We can’t have you throwing up on stage – that would be too much like punk rock.”

As she walked out of the dorm room to their Business class, Kirsty called over her shoulder, “I’ll say ‘hi’ to Daniel for you,” then laughed as she saw Lisanne’s jaw drop.

Twenty minutes later, Lisanne was just falling asleep again when her cellphone beeped, waking her thoroughly.

Irritated, she opened the message. Her heart gave a happy jolt when she saw it was from Daniel.

* D: heard you sick? You need anything?

Can come by after this? *

A smile lit her up from the inside out. He wanted to make her feel better. He cared about her. And then the realization hit. If he came over, he’d see her looking like a reject from a drug ed video – or something that had been dug up and ought to be reburied. Her longing to see him warred with her vanity. Vanity won.

Gritting her teeth, she sent a text back.

* L: Thanx. Feel gross but better than yesterday.

Won’t subject u to fugly parade. LA xx *

* D: Am open-minded ;)

Seriously – you need anything? *

He was so sweet.

* L: I’m good. Kirsty looking after me

like momma bear. See you next week? LA xx *

* D: ok. Be good *

Daniel had told her to ‘be good’. She sighed – as if she’d ever been anything else. She wanted to be just a little bit bad. Or rather, she wanted to have a little bit of bad – a Daniel-shaped slice of wickedness. Just a small taste. Or a large one.

She sighed again.

By Saturday, she was feeling semi-human, which was a huge step up.

“Well, you don’t look too gross,” was Kirsty’s verdict.

Lisanne suspected she was being kind.

But she managed to eat some breakfast, and had soup and a roll for lunch.

Operation ‘Make Lisanne Look Smoking Hot’ began four hours before the gig. Kirsty had wanted to start earlier, citing stomach flu ickyness required drastic action, but Lisanne had taken herself off to a practice room in the music block to warm up her voice by singing scales – something she absolutely refused to do in front of Kirsty.

Lisanne’s nerves, never particularly resilient, were tap dancing up and down her spine, sending quivering shudders throughout her entire body.

When her cellphone started beeping every 30 seconds with texts from Kirsty, Lisanne dragged herself back to the dorm room.

It was a nightmarish version of Dress Up Barbie, where every lotion, potion, spray and powder in Kirsty’s scarily comprehensive makeup arsenal, was lavished on Lisanne. Three hours of pampering was followed by Kirsty unveiling the outfit she’d decided should adorn her creation.

“I can’t wear that!” gasped Lisanne, shocked beyond words.

She stared at the dress that Kirsty was holding out like a proud game show hostess. Well, calling it a ‘dress’ would have been a vast exaggeration: it was more like a scrap of material with bondage style leather laces up the side. It was strapless, backless and damn near skirtless.

“Nonsense,” said Kirsty, firmly. “You’ll look amazing. You’ll look hot. Daniel won’t be able to take his eyes off of you.”

“He won’t be there,” Lisanne answered, sadly.

“What? Why the hell not?!”

Lisanne shrugged, feeling guilty and knowing that Kirsty couldn’t possibly understand his reasons. She wondered again at the price Daniel paid, when everyone assumed he behaved like a jerk.

“Um, I think he was busy,” she replied, lamely.

Kirsty muttered something under her breath, and thrust a pair of knee-high boots at Lisanne. This time, she didn’t even try to argue, but wondered if you could get vertigo from five inch heels.

Lisanne sat on the bed, taking deep breaths to try and quell her nerves – if only a little – while Kirsty poured herself into a deep red halter top and skinny jeans.

Her cell beeped and she glanced at the message, hoping it would be from Daniel. But it wasn’t.

* Wish I could be there.

Break a leg! Rodney xx *

Lisanne smiled to herself, happy that her high school friend had remembered it was her big night, and was about to reply when a knock at the door had her heart thumping painfully.

“Hey! Two gorgeous girls,” said Vin, with a surprised look.

He swept Kirsty into a hug but she yelled out, “Don’t smudge my lipstick.”

He laughed.

“Okay, okay! I don’t won’t to get my ass kicked. Lookin’ good, ladies. Your chariot awaits.”

Kirsty took his arm, and he offered his other to Lisanne.

Gratefully, she hooked her hand through his, and hung on for dear life as she tottered toward his car.

Luke, CJ and Manek, three of his football buddies, were already squeezed into the back seat. Lisanne had no option but to hop onto Kirsty’s knee in the passenger seat.

Luke sighed.

“Oh man, that is so close to one of my fantasies coming true.”

Kirsty snorted.

“From what I’ve heard, fantasies are the only things you’ve got coming – true or otherwise.”

The others laughed and Lisanne managed a weak smile. She felt as sick as a dog.

They parked half a block away from the club and Lisanne had an entourage to escort her to the back door.

Unfortunately, that meant that they had to walk past the waiting line. They all turned when someone called Kirsty’s name.

Shawna.

Ugh.

“I called your cell like a thousand times,” she said to Kirsty, accusingly.

“Oh, I must have put it on silent by mistake,” came the even reply.

But Shawna wasn’t put off that easily, and threaded her arm through CJ’s. He looked rather surprised and raised his eyebrows at Vin, but didn’t say anything.

“This is so cool!” said Kirsty, as the bouncer escorted them in through the back. “It’s like being VIPs! Well, Lis, you are a VIP tonight. See you out front, honey. Knock ‘em dead!”

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