Rush me, p.60
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       Rush Me, p.60

         Part #1 of New York Leopards series by Allison Parr
 
Page 60

  For the next few minutes, people kept sidling up to Ryan, including, I was fairly certain, the clump that had booed him. There was a bit of awkwardness with people like former high school quarterback Chris Howell, who acted particularly chummy, and class nerd Gerald Jones, who thought Ryan might want to fund his start-up. But Ryan handled them all with the serenity he applied whenever he played public figure.

  Ryan was speaking to a group of former druggies and I was planning a strategic retreat back to my friends when Sophie sashayed to our side. She inserted herself between us and the other classmates. “I’m so glad you’re here. She hugged me and then kissed Ryan on the cheek as though it wasn’t totally affected. “It was so nice of you to come. ”

  Ryan smiled politely and began to respond, but one of the guys who’d been speaking shunted Sophie away and regained his attention.

  Good, because enough was enough. “Hey, can I talk to you for a moment?”

  “Sure, Rach,” Sophie chirped. “What’s up?”

  Shit about to hit the fan. “What the hell was that about?”

  Her pretty face froze, her perfect lips parting in faux confusion. “I was just saying hi. ”

  “There was no reason for you to mention Ryan on stage. Not only is this Ashbury’s reunion and you shouldn’t have been talking about someone who didn’t even go to this school, but you dragged a person into the limelight without any indication that he wanted to be there. ”

  As my words went on, outrage stretched across Sophie’s face. “I did that for you. I was being nice!”

  Someone needed to teach Sophie a new value system. “Sorry, I don’t follow. How is bothering my boyfriend ‘for me’?”

  “So people would know he was with you! It was like a compliment!”

  “You didn’t even say my name. ”

  She let out a huff of incredulity. “Yeah, but everyone knew. ”

  I shook my head in disgust. “You know what, Sophie? It sounded like you were trying to drag yourself up on his coattails. And why didn’t you mention David?”

  “Why would I?” she snapped. “He didn’t even want to be up there!”

  “Excuse me?”

  Bitterness infused her voice. “Trust me. He made that very clear. ”

  Good for David. There was no reason he should be dragged on stage and used as a Ken doll in Sophie’s perfect life. “Why are you even dating my brother?”

  Her nose scrunched up unattractively, and her lips pursed, mouse-like. “Because I like him. ”

  I snorted. “Yeah. You like his money. And trips to San Leandro. ”

  She looked, of all things, infuriated. Like she might even stomp her foot. “No! I like him! God, what is your problem?”

  How could she possibly like my brother, who was such a far cry from her usual thick-necked paramours? My shoulders tensed and my neck stiffened. “And it’s just sheer coincidence you started dating him after he became hugely successful at his job?”

  “Yeah, it is. I’m not a gold-digger. After all, I have my own job. I can support myself. ”

  I bit the inside of my lip, resisting the urge to derail into my own relationship. “David deserves someone who really cares about him. He deserves someone kind, and intelligent, and good. ”

  Her brows flew together. “Excuse me? What is that supposed to mean? I do care about David! How could you say that!”

  Easily. Because while she flattered and cooed in David’s presence, I hadn’t seen much proof that she’d changed from the girl who tripped me at graduation. She couldn’t possibly be so unaware of her own behavior, could she?

  “Because I don’t think you’re good enough for him. ” My words came out crisp and annunciated, as though, after years of sitting on them, I knew exactly what I wanted to say. “You were the pettiest, cruelest person I’d ever known. You were a bully, Sophie. You made my freshman year miserable. You hurt my friends. Didn’t you realize the detrimental effect you had on everyone around you? Did you really not know you were a bully, or did you just not care?” I shook my head. “You still are a bully. ”

  “No, I’m not!” she cried, and I actually looked at her, instead of inward, at the teenage adversary I’d never been able to speak against. But now, the girl in front of me looked like she wanted to cry. “Are you kidding? All I’ve tried to do is fit in!”

  I crossed my arms, unable to respond. Sophie may have been a classic case of insecure mean girl, but wanting people to like her didn’t excuse mocking everyone who didn’t. It didn’t excuse making fun of at me at my family’s table and flirting with my boyfriend for attention while her own sat beside her.

  Instead of snapping again, Sophie’s face crumbled. “Look, I know we didn’t get along in high school—”

  “Didn’t get along?” I shook my head. “You hated me. You made fun of Carly’s accent and called Madison a lesbian. God, you weren’t just insulting them, you insulted entire demographics. ”

  “We were kids!”

  “Yeah, then. And what about two months ago, when you told the table about the garbage incident?”

  “It was funny!” she protested. “Everyone laughed!”

  “Everyone laughed at me. And good God, Sophie, so did my own brother. You’re poisoning him. You’re turning him into one of your clone-like sycophants. All he ever does is talk about how wonderful you are, and echo your ideas and put you ahead of his own family. What have you done to him?”

  She pressed her hands to her eyes. “You’re a bitch. ”

  I stared at her. Oh my God. I had just made Sophie Salisbury cry.

  Maybe I was a bitch. Maybe my mother was right, and the green-eyed monster had reared its head when David spent all his energy on Sophie.

  I couldn’t quite stop, though most of the venom drained from my voice. “You ruined my life for a solid year. I begged my parents to let me transfer because of you. I could have given Sylvia Plath a run for her money in the suicidal poetry department. Ten minutes of insults isn’t torture, Sophie. Four years is. ”

  She was silent. Her mouth twisted up, and she shook her head in a tiny movement. “What do you want me to say? That I’m sorry?”

  I blinked. Actually, I had never imagined she would say such a thing. “Are you?”

  She glared at me through watery eyes. “Are you sorry for making fun of me all the time?”

  “What are you talking about?”

  Her cheeks reddened prettily, as though she’d streaked rouge across them. “You always looked down your nose at me. You said no one liked me. You’re still saying that. You think you’re better than me. ” She blinked rapidly, and not from shock. “How do you think I liked that, knowing you were judging me all the time?”

  I tried not to gape. “I was never judging you. I was trying to stay out of your way!”

  “Freshman year you said people were only friends with me because they were scared of me. Sophomore, when I ran for Homecoming, you were always sneering and saying things like ‘no one would dare run against her. ’ As though I was a monster. ” She repeated this bitterly, as though it had been burned into her memory.

 
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ALLISON PARR SERIES:

New York Leopards