“You mean we can’t hang out ever again?” Tendai looks totally devastated. “But, why? Was it something I said? Something I did?”
I can’t help wincing at the pain in his eyes. It’s a good thing I’m ending this now. If I’d let it go on any longer it would have been much worse for both of us. Tendai is a really sweet, gentle guy. He doesn’t deserve any of this.
“No, it’s not you,” I say quickly. “I’m just not feeling comfortable hanging out with another guy while Jayden is out of town.”
We’re at Bridles Steakhouse in the Grayston Shopping Centre. I deliberately chose a public place that’s full of Innesfree High students. I thought it would make it easier if things went wrong tonight. Tendai ordered me a Brutal Fruit earlier. He can easily pass for 18. I’m not much of a drinker and can already feel it going to my head. I try to slow down, but I’m really thirsty and it tastes just like cooldrink.
“I know how tough it’s been for you with Jayden away,” Tendai says, reaching out and covering my hand with his. “Has he been paying any more attention to you lately? Or is he still so obsessed with surfing?”
“He’s… he’s pretty obsessed,” I admit. This isn’t what I came here to talk about, but I can’t resist the sympathy in his eyes. “I tried talking to him last night but he just couldn’t get his mind off surfing.”
“You must feel so lonely and rejected.”
“I guess I do, in a way. And the worst part is not knowing for sure whether he’ll ever come back.”
“You deserve so much more, Latoya,” Tendai says, still holding my hand. I try to pull it away, but he tightens his grip. “You deserve someone who recognises what a great girl you are. Someone who really appreciates you.”
“Jayden does,” I say, but without much conviction.
“Well, as long as you know that you’ve always got me as a friend.”
I look up into Tendai’s eyes, slightly surprised to find his face so close to mine. He’s got lovely eyes, I realise. They’re dark brown and really warm. When I look into them I feel so safe and appreciated.
“You’re a good friend, Tendai,” I say woozily. Whoo – that Brutal Fruit has gone straight to my head.
Tendai’s face gets closer and closer until it seems like the most natural thing in the world to let him kiss me. The kiss feels… weird. Kind of like kissing your brother. But when I open my eyes again, I see something that sobers me up instantly.
Jayden Depaul is standing watching us with an expression of total shock on his face.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? Have you ever done something you really, really regretted?