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Don't Go (For You 3) Alexa Riley 2022/8/3 13:49:53

“My tells?” I ask, feeling defensive.

Pandora rolls her eyes and Penelope smiles as she folds her hands in front of her.

“Just a few things here and there. But don’t worry, we’ll only use this knowledge against you in poker.” Penelope takes a drink and then raises an eyebrow. “So, are you asking her to prom or not? You didn’t even go last year.”

I shrug and glance back over to the kitchen. “She doesn’t even know I’m alive,” I mutter.

“Henry, I hate to break it to you, but with the exception of me and Penelope, you’ve got the vaginas well aware of your presence,” Pandora says, leaning back in her chair and rubbing her stomach. “Just ask her. She’ll say yes, and you can get over this weird phobia you’ve got of chicks.”

“I don’t have a phobia,” I protest, but already I see the two of them give me identical eye rolls.

“You can call it what you want, but there’s nothing wrong with being in love,” Penelope says.

“Not all of us can find it every week like you do,” Pandora pokes at her, and I fight a smile.

“I can’t help it if you two aren’t as romantic as I am.” Penelope takes a bite of her fries and looks over to Kory, then back to me. “What’s different about her?”

I shrug because I honestly don’t know. I can’t explain why no girl before her ever made me turn my head, but this one has me spun in circles.

“I can’t believe she dresses like that,” Pandora says, and my eyes snap to hers. “Hey, don’t look at me like that. You know I don’t care. I’m just saying, it’s kind of badass. I like that she doesn’t give a fuck. She’s got my vote.”

“I’m not taking a vote on it,” I say, but Penelope sits up straighter.

“She doesn’t roll her uniform skirts up like most of the hoochies here, and she wears a hoodie almost every day. She’s definitely not seeking attention. If anything, she’s trying to disappear. You’re a really nice guy, Henry. I think you’d be a good match. I vote yes, too.”

“Uggghh,” I groan, burying my face in my hands.

“She’s got gym next period, but she hides out in the campus library. She has a doctor’s note,” Pandora says as she piles up her tray with trash and stands.

“Wait, how do you know that?” I reach out, grabbing for her arm, but she moves it too fast.

“I know everything.” She’s smug as she walks away, and Penelope just giggles.

“All right, I’m off to meet the prom committee. We’ve got lots to do before this weekend.” Penelope leans forward on her elbows and looks into my eyes. “Don’t let fear stop you, Henry. You owe it to yourself to see it through.”

I remain silent as she leaves and don’t move until the bell rings. When it does, I’m on my feet and headed in the direction of the library before my mind can do anything to stop me. I’ve listened to it for long enough. I’m going to see what my heart has to say.

The library is on the other end of our high school campus and it looks like it might as well be a cathedral for the size of it. The doors are gigantic, as well as the vaulted ceilings and stained-glass windows inside. There are about five floors below the first one, and while I’ve been inside plenty of times before, I have no idea where to even begin looking for her.

When I walk inside, there’s an older lady at the front desk, scanning barcodes on the backs of books. The sign in front of her reads “Information,” and it may be my only chance. When I walk up, she glances at me then back at her books.

“How can I help you?” she asks, not looking at me.

“I’m here to meet my study group, but I don’t know where to meet them.” The lie is so easy I surprise myself.

“Don’t you know how to text? Even I do that.”

“I would, but I didn’t get her number.” The librarian looks up at me over the tops of her glasses with a patronizing look. “She’s short, blond hair, sweatshirt and glasses.”

Something flashes in her eyes, then they narrow on me. “Three floors down. Back left corner,” is all she says, and I move on before she can stop me.

I take the stairs, because I don’t want to die in an elevator that looks like a death trap. When I go down three floors, it’s freezing. The cool air, combined with being underground, turns this floor into an icebox. No wonder Kory is always in a hoodie.

The corner is blocked off by rows of books that go from floor to ceiling. There are hundreds in just this area, but I don’t pay attention to them. I don’t really have a plan for when I find her, I’m just going to wing it.