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167. Open Door, Closed Arms

“You… can… cook?!” Alex exclaimed, “Are you supposed to be an expert chef?”

How could a 14-year-old cook cream of mushroom soup? Did he make a roux? Or did he add the flour mixture when it boiled? Or was it actually just ready in a can and he just added some mushrooms and spices to make it fancy?

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Logan leaned his head on the door, smiling at her reaction, “You know that’s easy to cook, right? Just chop everything, sauté a bit, then wait for everything to boil and thicken.”

“Yeah, my Chicken Noodle Soup is quaking” Alex snorted, “Do you have more stories to tell? Or would I have to guess who flirted with who?”

“I did not flirt.”

“Oh, yeah. ‘Did you fall for me?’ is just the most casual thing to say to people” she retorted, rolling her eyes.

The door suddenly opened behind Alex. She muttered a curse and quickly shifted her weight before she could fall. Her head snapped towards the bedroom ceiling with a glare. How could someone do that without warning? Then, she spotted mischievous green eyes.

Uh-oh.

Logan sat back down, legs apart and knees pointed upwards. Only this time, he faced the same direction as Alex. Pulling her closer to his chest, his breath tickled her ear.

His voice dropped to a husky whisper, “Did you fall for me?”

His bent legs matched hers and his arms wrapped around her shoulders. Alex jumped in her seat and her hands immediately held his arms. She tried to stand but Logan pulled her back. He buried his face on her shoulder, laughing breathily.

Alex slapped his arm, “What’s so funny?”

When he composed himself, Logan tilted his head up and placed his chin on her shoulder instead, “So was that flirting or a casual statement?”

Alex scowled at his teasing tone. She jabbed her elbow in his ribs, her ears turning pink. She turned away to hide the blush. His torso arched a bit from her attack but his hold on her merely grew stronger. He ignored the pain and laughed at her antics.

“Fine, fine, it wasn’t flirting” she huffed, glaring at the floor. Did Logan really need to tease her like that? She could feel his chest rumbling on her back. His shoulders also must be shaking.

“You are so precious. It’s cute” he mumbled, placing his head next to hers, “So you want to hear the rest of my first failed relationship?”

The topic wasn’t pleasing, Logan thought, but Alex still needed to know about it. It wasn’t the most tragic past but it did shape him. He wanted her to understand all of him, not just the surface. That included mistakes and wrong decisions. He hoped she could see all these parts of him…

… and accept them.

“Before you continue, I’d like to say that I don’t want to hear about graphic scenes of where you kissed and where you made out… because those should be kept private between the two of you” Alex clarified.

It didn’t matter who it was. There were details that shouldn’t be spoken.

“Well, what do you want to know then?” Logan asked, still amused.

Alex thought about it for a while. Hearing the first part, she realized that she didn’t know much about the story. Sure, she heard how they broke up but how deep was that wound? Hearing it from Jae didn’t justify what she heard in their discussion earlier.

“How did you start dating?” She decided to ask, “If you had such a bad attitude, why would anyone want to date you?”

“Gee, thanks” Logan replied sarcastically. He rolled his eyes, “How Skye and I started dating, hmmm…”

===

“The dance?” A 14-year-old Logan raised his eyebrow. He stood by his locker, leaning his shoulder on it. Classes just ended for the day and he only dropped by to take out the subjects that didn’t have homework.

It wasn’t a lot but anything to make his bag lighter helped him.

“Yeah, you know how the student committee made it an event where ‘Girls Asks Boys’” Skye began to explain, “I don’t really want to go with a random boy so please just agree.”

Logan made a face, “Why not ask Jae?”

“Along with a bajillion girls fawning over him ever since he got rid of those glasses and played basketball?” She snorted, “Yeah, highly unlikely. Max is the same.”

“And Colin?” Logan pressed. He already rejected club activities to avoid social gatherings. Although, he needed it for his GPA. One club agreed that he didn’t need to come to meetings. They only needed to complete the member count so he agreed.

What was the name of the club again? He wondered. Then, he shook his head. The point was… if club was out of the question, why would he go to a social event that would finish late? Not to mention, he’d need a tux.

“Someone already asked him out.”

“Wait, really?” He gasped, blinking a few times. Colin hadn’t mentioned anything to him.

“Yeah” Skye nodded, “His Science partner asked him. Since they practically spent the semester together, they thought ‘why not go to the last even together?’ They’re both not interested in anyone anyway.”

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“But you and I both know I’d make a terrible date.”

“Well, I’d say others would be more terrible,” Skye pointed out. She supported her head against a locker and clasped her hands together. She placed them closer to her chest, pouting, “Come on. It would be the last day of 2nd year middle school. We can always just leave early and binge reality shows—maybe even pig out at a pizza place.”

Logan tucked his hands in his jean pockets and narrowed his eyes, “Who is paying?”

Skye rolled her eyes, hanging her head. She pursed her lips at the ceiling. Trust herself to pick a date that cared about free food. Then again, at least, it would be something she could fulfill. She turned her attention back to Logan.

“Fine, I’ll pay” she grumbled, “Just for the food. I think Uncle Steve will cover the transport since he’d be so happy that you’d go out.”

Logan pushed himself off the locker and turned around. He headed for the exit. Swift footsteps sounded from behind him. He pulled out the earphones in his pocket and popped the buds on. Game music boomed in his ears.

The neckline of his hoodie choked the front of his neck. His feet shuffled to regain balance.

Skye released him and pulled out an ear bud, “Where do you think you’re going? You didn’t even give me an answer yet.”

“If I don’t go now, I’ll miss the bus” he defended, taking his earphone back, “Don’t you have cheer practice? I’m sure you and Jae will go tell dad about the dance and he’d nag me into going anyway.”

“IF I do—” Logan raised a finger. It hovered close to her nose, “We’d only stay an hour and leave. Whatever we’d do after that would be decided by me. Are we clear?”

===

“Gods, Logan” Alex scoffed, “You were way worse back then. Props to her for tolerating your annoying ass.”

Logan chuckled, “Don’t I sound familiar to you?”

“How so?”

“I sound like you when I first met you” he bellowed a laugh. He pulled his arms back, clutching his stomach. Then, he his legs’ length to trap hers underneath them. He gave her zero chance to escape.

Alex looked flabbergasted. She twisted to her side. She found Logan leaning back to freely laugh out loud. The sight only annoyed her more. She stretched her arm and smacked the back of his head.

“I was not as bad as you are.”

“Oh, yeah” he replied, straightening his posture. His amusement slowly died down, “You were worse since you didn’t even let me talk to you at the end of class.”

His statement made her pause and think back to the first day of school. It was the time Ms. Smith handed out the Romeo and Juliet project. They argued about the roles and fell into a bad mood for the rest of the day. She didn’t want to talk to him since she was going to meet her parents.

If they had, it would just make her late and more annoyed.

Alex shook her head out of the daze.

She smacked his head again, “That still doesn’t answer how you dated.”

Logan fully recovered. His back slouched. He unhooked his legs from hers, rewrapping his arms around her shoulders. He heard her tongue click. It made him smile.

Then, he sighed.

“Well, it was technically the first date. We stayed at a pizza place like she suggested. I was in a tux and she was in this poofy dress. Neither clothing was spared from food stains. It was unusual from my daily routine and, surprisingly, I had fun.”

“After that… I guess, I got used to having her around. It came to the point when I’d notice she’s missing. Didn’t she already hang around me before? You may ask. Well, not really since I was actually quite sociable. I had groups of friends other than Jae, Colin and Max. We’d hang out after school and Skye would be with her cheer friends.”

Remembering the sequence of events, Logan could hardly believe they happened.

“When the guys noticed how I kept asking about Skye, they told me I liked her. And that if I liked her, I should ask her out. Simple male logic.”

Alex blinked. He made it sound so simple. Most of what she heard from Emily seemed complicated. The next simple start for a relationship she heard had been from Lauren—if she ignored Max’s feelings in the matter.

“Anything else?” Logan perked up when she didn’t say anything, “Wanna hear about the breakup?”

“No, I think I had a good idea about that so far” Alex replied softly. The mood already lightened up. She didn’t want it to go down again because of it.

“Do you know why I broke up with her?”

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