The Body Finder (The Body Finder 1) - Page 20

She heard him groan, followed by the sound of his locker slamming, before he finally caught up with her.

“Why didn’t you say anything? Sometimes you really piss me off.”

It was easy to ignore the harsh words when his tone was anything but scolding.

She shrugged. “It’s fun to watch you scramble.”

“Yeah, fun. That’s what I was thinking.”

Grady Spencer fell into step beside Jay.

Grady had started out as one of Jay’s friends but had quickly become Violet’s too. When they were younger, in fourth grade, she’d had a crush on Grady, passing him notes in school that asked him whether he “liked” her too. One even had boxes to check “yes” or “no.” He’d picked yes, and they were officially boyfriend and girlfriend for the rest of the year, which only meant that she chased him at recess, and he pretended he didn’t want her to.

Later, after the first day of fifth grade, she’d cried when she’d realized that they wouldn’t be in the same classroom that year. And that had pretty much been the end of that particular childhood crush. He had moved on to Miranda Grant, a new girl in his class, and Violet fell in love with her fifth-grade teacher, Mr. Strozyk.

“What’s up?” Jay asked Grady.

It was funny to see Grady now, because, like Jay, he’d grown nearly six inches since the last school year, and now he towered over her. Half of the boys in her class had suddenly sprouted and developed into men; the other half were still lingering in boyhood. The girls had been waiting for the boys to catch up for a couple of years, and those who had were considered fair game. It was like open season at White River High School.

“Not much, man,” Grady answered in a deeper voice than she remembered. “You guys going to the game on Friday?”

“’Course. Right, Vi?” Jay said, pretty much answering for her.

“Sure.” She shrugged.

She didn’t mind; she knew they were going. It was autumn, which meant football season. And home games were practically a religion in her town.

They got to the classroom she and Jay shared this period, but it wasn’t Grady’s class. Instead of walking on, Grady paused.

“Violet, can I talk to you for a minute?” His deep voice surprised her again.

“Yeah, okay,” Violet agreed, curious about what he might have to say to her.

Jay stopped and waited too, but when Grady didn’t say anything, it became clear that he’d meant he wanted to talk to her…alone.

Jay suddenly seemed uncomfortable and tried to excuse himself as casually as he could. “I’ll see you inside,” he finally said to Violet.

She nodded to him as he left.

Violet was a little worried that the bell was going to ring and she’d be tardy again, but her curiosity had kicked up a notch when she realized that Grady didn’t want Jay to hear what he had to say, and that far outweighed her concern for late slips.

When they were alone, and Grady didn’t start talking right away, Violet prompted him. “What’s going on?”

She watched him swallow, and his Adam’s apple bobbed up and down along the length of his throat. It was strange to see her old guy friends in this new light. He’d always been a good-looking kid, but now he looked like a man…even though he still acted like a boy. He shifted back and forth, and if she had taken the time to think about it, she would have realized that he was nervous.

But she misread his discomfort altogether. She thought that, like her, he was worried about being late. “Do you want to talk after school? I could meet you in the parking lot.”

“No. No. Now’s good.” He ran his hand through his hair in a discouraged gesture. He took a deep breath, but his voice was still shaking when he spoke. “I…I was wondering…” He looked Violet right in the eye now, and suddenly she felt very nervous about where this might be going. She was desperately wishing she hadn’t let Jay leave her here alone. “I was wondering if you’re planning to go to Homecoming,” Grady finally blurted out.

She stood there, looking at him, feeling trapped by the question and not sure what she was going to say.

The bell rang, and both of them jumped.

Violet was grateful for the excuse, and she clung to it like a life preserver. Her eyes were wide, and she pointed to the door behind her. “I gotta…can we…” She pointed again, and she knew she looked and sounded like an idiot, incapable of coherent speech. “Can we talk after school?”

Grady seemed relieved to have been let off the hook for the moment. “Sure. Yeah. I’ll talk to you after school.”

He left without saying good-bye, and Violet, thankful herself, tried to slip into her classroom unnoticed.

But she had no such luck. The teacher marked her tardy, and everyone in class watched as she made her way to her seat beside Jay’s. Her face felt flushed and hot.

“What was that all about?” Jay asked in a loud whisper.

She still felt like her head was reeling. She had no idea what she was going to say to Grady when school was out. “I think Grady just asked me to Homecoming,” she announced to Jay.

He looked at her suspiciously. “The game?”

Violet cocked her head to the side and gave him a look that told him to be serious.

“No, I’m pretty sure he meant the dance,” Violet clarified, exasperated by the obtuse question.

Jay frowned at her. “What did you say?”

Tags: Kimberly Derting The Body Finder
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