going to enter that gap in the fence that I just came through, and I’ll have a lot more questions to answer. So I pull away and walk past Dylan and Silas toward the house, forcing them to turn and follow me.
“Oh, I just went for a walk. The sprinklers came on in one of the neighbors’ yards as I was passing, and I didn’t react fast enough to avoid getting wet.” I look behind me just in time to see Torres step through the hole in the fence. He freezes when he sees his friends, and I ask Dylan, loud enough for him to hear, “Would you care if I went home? This just really isn’t my scene.”
She frowns. “Sure, of course.”
Silas says, “We were about to kick most everyone out anyway. We’ve got a game tomorrow night, so McClain put a strict curfew on this thing.”
Dylan looks up at him, and I realize she doesn’t want to leave. Can’t really blame her for that.
“You could stay,” I say. “If you don’t mind me taking your car. I can come pick you up tomorrow morning.”
She leans into Silas’s side, and he places his hand on her hip. I try not to stare, try not to think about what that must feel like. Comforting? Possessive?
“If it’s okay with you,” Dylan says, “that would be great. You don’t even have to pick me up. I’ve already got plans to go to the game tomorrow with Dallas, and I’ve got some clothes here I could wear. Unless you want to go to the game with us?”
“Uh, no. No, I’ve got some homework to do.”
Lie. I’m all caught up, and the professors didn’t really assign anything since it’s Halloween weekend. But given all the Saturday nights I’ve spent studying, it doesn’t occur to Dylan to question me.
“Okay. Well, let me go grab my keys from inside, and you can go.”
I let her and Silas pass me, and even though I shouldn’t, I glance back at Torres. He’s leaning on the fence, and he should look ridiculous in that costume, but he doesn’t. He looks good. And not at all happy.
W HEN I WAKE to an empty apartment the next morning, it doesn’t seem to matter that the sun coming through the window lights up every corner. I thought I’d felt lonely last week when this whole list business started, but no . . .
No, this is loneliness.
This experiment was supposed to make me realize how good I had it. It was supposed to get rid of my doubts. Well, as experiments are wont to do, it has no care for what I’d wanted the outcome to be.
I make myself a huge breakfast that I couldn’t possibly eat alone, like if I just go about my business as if I’m cooking for two, it could make it so. I eat in the kitchen, leaning against the counter because that’s what I usually do when I’m busy, when I’m moving so fast and have so much to do that there’s no time to feel alone.
But I’m not busy.
I don’t have any homework. And for the first time ever, I wish I had a job. Just a normal, boring job like working retail or in an office or anywhere. It would give me something to do, somewhere to be, people to know who have nothing to do with my classes or my family or a group of friends I couldn’t possibly fit into. I would maybe even be willing to work in a restaurant . . . something I swore I would never, ever do.
My grandparents started their own restaurant. My parents run it now with occasional help from Nonna, and my brother started working for them full-time as a manager right after high school. It’s this huge family affair with aunts and uncles and cousins, and they’re so good at putting their hearts into that place, into the food, into every bit of it.
But my heart? My heart never wanted any part of it.
The restaurant is easy for them. Comfortable. I can remember my brother, Leo, hanging out in the kitchen, talking to the employees, stealing food. We’d head to that place every day after school, and he couldn’t wait to get there. I dragged my feet. When we both started working as waiters in high school, Leo thrived. I . . . didn’t. I