Definitely, Maybe in Love(7)

By: Ophelia London

My mouth opened, ready to deny this. But as always, Mel was pretty dead-on. I didn’t know this guy, and the loathing in the pit of my stomach wasn’t exactly hard evidence against him. Even though his connection to Lilah Charleston was pretty damning on its own.

“He went to Duke too,” Mel said, fluffing the back of her hair. “That’s where he met Dart when they were freshmen. They were roommates, played ball together. They’ve been best friends for years.”

Julia suddenly unthawed. I’d almost forgotten she was there, as still as Venus de Milo. “Mel,” she said, “how the hell do you know all this?”

I snickered, always loving it when Lady Julia swore.

“I will never reveal my sources,” Mel said.

Dart reappeared in the front yard. He walked over to Henry Knightly, who was on his cell. It was evident that Dart wanted to talk to him, but his roommate held up an index finger in a curt “silence, I am already speaking” fashion.

“Is it going to absolutely kill you?” Mel asked, picking at a nail. “Living across the street from him?”

“Nope,” I answered, my eyes fixed on my dark-haired neighbor as he turned around, pressing buttons on his phone. He slid his sunglasses to the top of his head, giving me another very clear view. I couldn’t help moving a couple inches toward the glass. “His presence isn’t going to affect me in the least—”

My head jerked back when Knightly suddenly looked up at the window, zeroing in on me. When he took a step forward, I drew away from the glass and spun around.

“I…” I cleared my throat. “I’ll probably never speak to him.”

“Not even tonight at the party?” Mel asked, catching the tail end of my reaction, then peering outside. I hoped the guy wasn’t still staring up.

“Especially not tonight,” I said firmly, toying with a handful of braids.

Mel glanced from the window to me, then snickered under her breath. “You keep telling yourself that.”

I didn’t like the way she was grinning.

Chapter 2

“I don’t see him.” Julia clutched my arm so tightly that I was losing feeling from the elbow down.

Mel flanked my other side. “How’s my breath?” she asked, then exhaled in my face like only a best friend could.

“Like ponies and rainbows,” I reported.

As we approached the street known as Party Cul-de-sac, I could hear it was packed, simply by the shrieks from flirty girls. Just for tonight, I didn’t mind joining the crowd of two hundred other students ready to celebrate a fresh beginning.

Chinese lanterns lit the perimeter of the street while blinking white fairy lights wrapped around all trees, telephone poles, and street signs. Friends, classmates, and colleagues we hadn’t seen since June greeted us as our threesome, arms linked, made our way through the crowd.

Despite the chilliness in the air after the sun went down, Julia wore a lemon-yellow spaghetti-strap sundress. Then there was the modish dark-haired, dark-eyed, black-clad Melanie on my other side. They probably would have made a more impressive entrance had I not been between them.

The white cotton peasant top I sported came from my favorite consignment shop in San Francisco. My jeans were faded to a sky-blue; their threadbare hems and holes further endeared to me. For tonight, I also chose to wear my one pair of silver dangly earrings.

It was a rarity, but my festive mood swelled, something about the start of a school year. I knocked my hip against Mel’s, and we shared an animated smile.

“Spring,” said Julia, “I still don’t see him anywhere.”



Ahhh, right.

“He might not be coming,” I said as we passed by the DJ corner. The guy behind the barricade held a single earphone up to one ear. His other hand moved between a laptop and an equalizer, body rocking to the beat. “He looked pretty conventional, Jules. This party might be too bohemian.”

Julia’s grip on my arm went slack, my opinion apparently making her depressed. I wished I could have offered a kinder excuse, but instead sealed my lips. Better she was disappointed about Dart Charleston now than crushed later. Any acquaintance of Lilah was bad news for us.

My lab partner from last semester called out from a few feet away. I waved back. She held a red Solo cup over her head. I waved it off. No drinking for me, thanks.

“Oh, I love this song!” Mel exclaimed. Not two seconds later, she was swept away by a tall stranger in a Kappa Alpha T-shirt. I laughed, watching her disappear into the sea of people.

Then I spotted Lilah.

Dressed in the latest fashionable finery, she blew Hollywood kisses to people she passed. Her shoulder-length bleached hair was straight as a razor, perfectly framing the conspicuous year-round tan on her angular face, light eyes behind dark and heavy eye makeup, and the reddest lips this side of Taylor Swift. Surprisingly, no leather.