Prom Nights from Hell Chapter Nine
He said, “Hi.”
And she said, “Ho.” God. GOD. Could she just say one normal thing? Thanks Crazy Mouth.
He cocked an eyebrow at her. “I didn’t know you were coming to prom.”
“I-changed my mind at the last minute.”
“You look nice.”
“You too.” Which was an understatement. He looked like a double stack of cinnamon apple pancakes with a side order of bacon and hash browns (extra crispy). Like the best thing Miranda had ever laid eyes on.
She felt herself staring at him, then looked away, blushing. There was a moment of silence. Another one. Don’t let it go beyond four seconds, she reminded herself. It had to have been one second already; that left three, now two, say something! Say-
“Are you wearing space pants?” Miranda asked him.
How did it end? Oh, right. She said, “Because your butt is fine.”
He gazed at her in that way he had like he was measuring her for a straitjacket. “I think-” he started, then stopped and seemed to be having trouble talking. Cleared his throat three times before finally saying, “I think the line is ‘because your butt is out of this world. “
“Oh. That makes a lot more sense. I can see that. See, I read it in this book about how to get guys to like you and they said it was a line that never failed but I got interrupted in the middle and the line before it was about china-not the country, the kind you eat off of-and that is where the fine part was but I must have gotten them confused.” He just kept staring at her. She remembered the other advice from the book, “when in doubt, make an offer,” reached out, grabbed the first thing she could put her hand on, held it up to his chin, and said, “Nuts?”
He looked like he was about to choke. He cleared his throat a few times, took the nuts from her, put the bowl back on the table, stepped toward her so that their noses were almost touching, and said, “You read a book about this?”
Miranda couldn’t even hear his heartbeat over the sound of her own. “Yes, I did. Because clearly I wasn’t doing it right. I mean, if you kiss a guy and he pulls away from you and looks at you like your skin just turned to purple slime, clearly you need to spend some time at the self-help section of-“
“You talk more when you’re nervous,” he said, still standing close to her.
“No I don’t. That’s absurd. I’m just trying to explain to you-“
“Do I make you nervous?”
“No. I’m not nervous.”
“I’m cold. I’m wearing practically zero clothes.”
His glance went to her lips, then back to her eyes. “I noticed.”
Miranda gulped. “Look, I should-“
He caught her wrist before she could take off. “That kiss you gave me was the hottest kiss I’ve ever had. I pulled away because I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from ripping off your clothes. And that didn’t seem like the right way to end a first date. I didn’t want you to think that was all I was interested in.”
She stared at him. There was silence again, but this time she didn’t worry about how long it went on.
“Why didn’t you tell me?” she said finally.
“I tried to, but every time I saw you afterward you disappeared. I got the feeling you were avoiding me.”
“I didn’t want things to be awkward.”
“Yeah, there was nothing awkward about you hiding behind a plant when I came into the dining hall at lunch on Wednesday.”
“I wasn’t hiding. I was, um, breathing. You know, oxygen. From the plant. Very oxygenated, that air is.”
Insert head in oven now.
“Of course. I should have thought of that.”
“It’s a health thing. Not many people know about it.”
Leave until no longer HALF BAKED.
“No, I’m sure they-“
Miranda blurted. “Did you really mean that? About liking it when I kissed you?”
“I really did. A lot.”
Her hands were shaking. She reached up and pulled him toward her.
Just as the music went off, the emergency-exit lighting went on and a tinny voice announced over a loudspeaker, “Please make your way to the nearest exit and leave the building immediately.”
She and Will were pushed in different directions by the crowd surging to the door, being guided by four men in full body armor. The message kept repeating, but Miranda wasn’t hearing it or Ariel West screaming that someone was going to PAY for RUINING her NIGHT or the person saying that dude, this was the sweetest way to end a prom ever, man, he was so high. She was hearing again the one-two-three cha-cha heartbeat of Deputy Reynolds, slightly muffled by body armor. This was no drill.
“It’s us, isn’t it?” Sibby said, rushing over to stand next to Miranda. “That’s why those storm-trooper guys are here. For us.”
“You were right. I should have stayed hidden. This is my fault. I don’t want anyone to get hurt. I’ll just turn myself over to these people, and they’ll have to let-“
Miranda interrupted her. “After all that? With only three hours left to go? And you, blend-it-like-butter girl? No way. It’s not over. We can totally get out of this.”
She tried to sound confident, but she was terrified. Just what do you think you’re doing? U-Suck channel demanded.
I have no idea.
Sibby looked at her, eyes blazing with hope. “Do you mean it? You have a way out?”
Miranda swallowed, took a deep breath, and said to Sibby, “Follow me.” To herself: Please don’t fail.