Switched / Page 6

Page 6


“I’m a wonderful dancer,” Finn replied matter-of-factly. “I just need a better partner.”

“Okay.” I stopped looking up at him and stared straight ahead over his shoulder. “I don’t know what to say to that.”

“Why do you need to say anything to that? It’s not necessary for you to speak incessantly. Although I’m not sure you’ve realized that yet.” Finn’s tone had gotten icy, but I still danced with him because I couldn’t come up with enough sense to walk away.

“I’ve barely said anything. I’ve just been dancing with you.” I swallowed hard and didn’t appreciate how crushed I felt. “And you asked me to dance! It’s not like you’re doing me a favor.”

“Oh, come on,” Finn said with an exaggerated eye roll. “The desperation was coming off you in waves. You were all but begging to dance with me. I am doing you a favor.”

“Wow.” I stepped back from him, feeling confused tears threatening and this awful pain growing inside of me. “I don’t know what I did to you!” His expression softened, but it was too late.

“Wendy—”

“No!” I cut him off. Everyone nearby had stopped dancing to stare at us, but I didn’t care. “You are a total dick!”

“Wendy!” Finn repeated, but I turned and hurried through the crowd.

There was nothing in the world I wanted more than to get out of here. Patrick, a kid from biology class, stood by the punch bowl, and I rushed over to him. We weren’t friends, but he’d been one of the few kids here who had been nice to me. When he saw me, he looked confused and concerned, but at least I had his attention.

“I want to leave. Now,” I hissed at Patrick.

“What—” Before Patrick could ask what had happened, Finn appeared at my side.

“Look, Wendy, I’m sorry,” Finn apologized sincerely, which only pissed me off more.

“I don’t wanna hear anything from you!” I snapped and refused to look at him. Patrick looked back and forth between the two of us, trying to decipher what was going on.

“Wendy,” Finn floundered. “I didn’t mean—”

“I said I don’t want to hear it!” I glared at him, but only for a second.

“Maybe you should let the guy apologize,” Patrick suggested gently.

“No, I shouldn’t.” Then, like a small child, I stomped my foot. “I want to go!”

Finn stood just to the side of us, watching me intently. I clenched my fists and looked at Patrick directly in his eyes. I didn’t like doing this when people watched, but I had to get out of here. I kept chanting what I wanted over and over in my head. I want to go home, just take me home, please, please, just take me home. I can’t be here anymore.

Patrick’s face started to change, his expression growing relaxed and faraway. Blinking, he stared blankly at me for a minute.

“I think I should just take you home,” Patrick said groggily.

“What did you just do?” Finn asked, narrowing his eyes.

My heart stopped beating, and for one terrifying second I was certain he knew what I’d done. But then I realized that’d be impossible, so I shook it off.

“I didn’t do anything!” I snapped and looked back at Patrick. “Let’s get out of here.”

“Wendy!” Finn said, giving me a hard look. “Do you even know what you just did?”

“I didn’t do anything!” I grabbed Patrick’s wrist, dragging him toward the exit, and, much to my relief, Finn didn’t follow.

In the car, Patrick tried to ask me what had happened with Finn, but I wouldn’t talk about it. He drove around for a while, so I was reasonably calm by the time he dropped me off, and I couldn’t thank him enough for it.

Matt and Maggie were waiting by the door for me, but I barely said a word to them. That freaked out Matt, who started threatening to kill every boy at the dance, but I managed to reassure him that I was fine and nothing bad had happened. Finally, he let me go up to my room, where I proceeded to throw myself onto the bed and not cry.

The night swirled in my head like some bizarre dream. I couldn’t get a read on the way I felt about Finn. Most of the time he seemed weird and bordering on creepy. But then we had that glorious moment when we danced together, before he completely shattered it.

Even now, after the way he’d treated me, I couldn’t shake how wonderful it had felt being in his arms like that. In general, I never liked being touched or being close to people, but I loved the way I had felt with him.

His hand was strong and warm on the small of my back and the soft heat that flowed from him. When he had looked at me then, so sincerely, I had thought . . .

I don’t know what I had thought, but it turned out to be a lie.

Strangest of all, he seemed to be able to tell that I had done something to Patrick. I didn’t know how anyone could know. I wasn’t even sure that I was doing it. But a normal, sane person wouldn’t even suspect that I could do that.

I could suddenly explain all Finn’s odd behavior: he was completely insane.

What it came down to was that I knew nothing about him. I could barely tell when he was mocking me and when he was being sincere. Sometimes I thought he was into me, and other times he obviously hated me.

There wasn’t anything I knew about him for sure. Except that despite everything, I was starting to like him.

Sometime in the night, after I had changed into sweats and a tank top, and after I had spent a very long time tossing and turning, I must’ve finally fallen asleep. When I woke up, it was still dark out, and I had drying tears on my cheeks. I had been crying in my sleep, which seemed unfair, since I never let myself cry when I was awake.

I rolled over and glanced at the alarm clock. Its angry numbers declared it was a little after three in the morning, and I wasn’t sure why I was awake. I flicked on my bedside lamp, casting everything in a warm glow, and I saw something that scared me so badly, my heart stopped.

THREE


stalker

A figure was crouched outside my window, my second-story window. Admittedly, a small roof was right outside of it, but a person standing on it was about the last thing I expected to see. On top of that, it wasn’t just anybody.

Finn Holmes looked hopeful, but not at all ashamed or frightened at having been caught peeping into my room. He knocked gently at the glass, and belatedly I realized that’s what had woken me up.


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