“Hey, Rory, how’s it going?” Shawn asked, approaching us.
Rory put on a bright smile and said, “Hey Shawn, how was summer after theatre camp?”
“It could’ve been better, but it wasn’t the worst of my life.” He looked at Dara and did a double take. His brown eyes widened and he ran a hand through his long black hair. “How have you been?”
“Shawn, this is my friend, Dara. Dara, this is Shawn.” Rory giggled, and pushed Dara towards Shawn. We moved ahead in the line, and left them to talk. “I’ve never seen Dara this hesitant before. I guess I didn’t need your help to get rid of this one.”
“Why did you date all those guys if you weren’t into them?” I asked and noticed Zack’s eyebrows rise, even though he was pretending to read nearby.
“I’m not sure,” Rory shrugged and gave me a confused look. “They all seemed like princes at first. Blake, Prince Cyber-Charming, made me feel so special when we chatted online, but when I got there … it was like I didn’t exist. Pat was basically Sir Chronic-Lancelot. Blake was his best friend, and he made me feel better. Then he made Jackie feel better, and Laura … Amanda was just the last straw.”
“What a fucking prick!”
She sighed. “It’s not surprising they weren’t very interested in me. I’m pudgy, geeky, awkward, weird, and funny looking.”
I narrowed my eyes at her. “Rory, you are not pudgy or funny looking. You are definitely a weird geek, though.” She punched my arm. “But it’s why we love you!” I said rubbing the spot she hit me. Zack and Sissy made encouraging gestures for me to say more so I blurted out, “That’s why I love you.”
A grin spread across her face and she threw her arms around my shoulders. “I love you, too, Ray-Ray. Sorry for hitting you.” She pulled away but continued to lean on me.
This kind of contact was not new between us, but I felt every point of her body against mine and it was euphoric to have this privilege. “Sorry?” I coughed. “You never say sorry.”
She grinned and lightly elbowed me. Then her eyes narrowed at the spot where Dara and Shawn were chatting, and I noticed Pat and Blake were standing with them, heads together, talking. Dara looked like she was laughing, and I heard Rory’s name float over to us. I could hear Rory grit her teeth as embarrassment swept over her in a bright red blush. She looked gorgeous, but furious, which immediately made me want to Hulk out.
For some reason, my ears tuned into the music coming out of the speakers nearby, though I couldn’t remember a single thing played up to this point. It sounded like “Hello, I Love You,” by The Doors, and just as that registered, the music got much louder, and it wasn’t Jim Morrison’s voice pouring out of the speakers; it was Rory’s. The words were not the ones I remembered. Rory always enjoyed making up her own lyrics to songs.
She sang, twirling into the middle of the hunched conference taking place beside us, stopping in front of Blake and pointing down his chest.
“Hell no, you Princes, you won’t make me insane,
Now go, you bastards, or I’ll make you feel pain.”