Whether out of revenge for a slur on Texas, or from sheer morbid curiosity, we may never know. But what we do know is that our winner has chosen her genre. A vampire romance.
As my own words are insufficient to convey the emotional response to this choice, I shall fall back on someone else's. To quote that one guy from Jurassic Park, "Hold on to your butts."
** Any resemblance to persons living, dead, or undead is entirely deliberate.
His fingers tenderly brushed past her knee as they sat together on the park bench. He didn't realize it. It was just one of those unconscious signs of affection. After all, he was madly in love. It was adorable. It was nice.
And it was kind of sickening.
Mandy turned away from the couple and tried to eat her lunch in peace. But out of the corner of her eye, she still saw the sappy expression on Mark's face as he didn't study algebra.
"If I ever meet the guy who invented Valentine's day, I'm gonna feed him to a pack of rabid weasels." She grumbled.
She looked down at her sandwich. Ham and cheese didn't seem quite as appetizing anymore. She crumpled the wrapper around it and tossed it back into the bag. In the same movement, she snatched the zingers and had them halfway out before she stopped herself.
"Oh, no you don't!" She shouted at Mark and Trina. "You will not ruin chocolate for me too!"
Mark looked like he had just been hit in the face with a cricket bat. Trina, to Mandy's disgust, hadn't even noticed the outburst. She was far too busy not studying photosynthesis.
Mandy gathered her things and ran off to find a more suitable place for enjoying her dessert.
There weren't very many of them.
Everywhere she went, she came across couples. The place was a nauseating jumble of cheesy poems and cheap candy.
"Awful, isn't it."
Mandy looked around and found the speaker.
"Oh, hey Jace."
Jason slurped the last of his strawberry milkshake through an unnecessarily complicated crazy straw.
"I guess it's just you and me." He said casually.
"That aren't hooked up on Valentine's Day." He winked at her.
"Jason, I've known you for a week and a half. There will be no making out."
He laughed. It was a nice laugh.
"Come on. Give me a little credit." He said. "I'm not that creepy. And anyway, I don't know much about you. You might be a serial killer."
He tried to fake a concerned expression, but it didn't work. They both laughed.
"You never know." She said cryptically.
"Just a date." He said.
"A date. You know, dinner and a movie or something. Strictly non-psychopath."
She considered him for a moment. He was cute enough. Maybe a little dorky. Nice enough. Definitely not a serial killer. And certainly brave enough to ask her on a date so smoothly.
"Only one condition." She replied.
"Sorry, but no. I'm not giving you my social security number."
She couldn't help but laugh. "Alright. Have it your way. I'll just pick something else."
"Tomorrow, not tonight. I don't do first dates on Valentine's day."
"Deal." He grinned and then looked at his watch. "Uh oh. We've got about 27 seconds to get to class. Sorry."
He snatched up his backpack and sprinted for the door. Mandy walked. They weren't the only ones who were late, so she wasn't very concerned. Lunch rarely ended on time.
What she was wondering about, though, was the relative ease with which Jason Maverick had broken down her no-romance-on-valentine's barrier.
She just about slapped herself. Romance? Hardly. He'd asked her out to dinner. A date to be held the following evening. There was nothing out of the ordinary there.
Still, she couldn't help smiling. He'd seemed like a good guy ever since his family moved in a month ago. And they had been actual friends for at least a week. Deep down inside of her there was a girly girl fighting to get out, and she had to wonder about a possible Jason and Mandy future.
Later, in math class, she sat next to her best friend, who immediately noticed her half-dazed expression.
"I saw you talking to that new kid. What is it, Jason?"
"Yeah." She replied. Then she recognized the tone of voice. "Oh, come on, Eddy. Don't sound so paranoid. It's just a date. And he's just a normal kid."
"I don't know about that." He mumbled.
"What's that supposed to mean?" She asked a little too loudly. A few people turned to watch the confrontation.
Eddy shrunk under the weight of observation. "Nothing."
"At any rate, you're my best friend, not my dad. And if you were my dad, you'd see how nice he is."
"There's just something weird about him. What's his last name?"
"Who cares?" Mandy protested. She'd never encountered so much resistance to a date before.
"Nobody cares. I was just asking." Eddy pouted a little.
"Maverick. Jason Maverick."
Eddy's face went from sour to furious. His eyes almost glowed, and he looked like he was about to tear the desk apart with his bare hands.
Normally Mandy would have said something snide or sarcastic to cool him down, but she'd never seen him like that before. For the third time in her entire life, she was stricken utterly speechless.
After a few seconds, Eddy gained enough composure to realize that he'd been making a scene, and he dashed out of the room before anyone else could stare at him. Mandy's gaze followed him out the door, and she suddenly wondered if there wasn't something real behind all of Eddy's odd behavior that day.