Fable Page 17

“No, I actually know Brody through a mutual friend of ours.”

“Oh,” she said sadly, wondering if Brody had been unable to find anyone from their own school who would actually go on a date with her.

“Wow, Brody. You forgot to tell me that she was so cute.” Reid punched his friend in the shoulder.

Brody frowned, and he was visibly grinding his teeth. “Didn’t I?”

Jared never got out of the car, and revved the engine irritably in response to their chitchat. “Let’s get this over with. Unless you want to hit the nine o’clock showing of Death Pledge, we need to get going.”

Mina hurried over. Reid opened the rear door for her and she slid into the car, her skin slightly catching on the leather seats. Reid slid in after her and turned so he could face her in the seat.

“So, Mina, tell me about yourself.”

She felt uncomfortable, nervous, and she felt like she was going to be sick. She watched Nan jump into the front seat with Brody, and she looked just as nervous, even more so. Maybe the two of them were not meant to date…ever. Neither one of them had any luck so far keeping the guys they really wanted.

“Um, let’s see. I’m a junior at Kennedy High, and I like…” She blanked. Completely blanked. In that second she realized how utterly boring and plain she was. Anything even remotely interesting wasn’t something that she could come right out and say. I chase down fairy-tale villains in my spare time and entrap them in my magic book. Yeah, she couldn’t say that. “…I like my family and kids and animals.”

Nan turned around and made a disgusted noise at her. “You sound like you’re being interviewed for Miss America. Here, let me help. She’s artistic, one of the best in her advanced art class. Her pencil sketches, if you can ever get her to show them to you, are phenomenal, along with her pastels. She likes to read, but not that smutty stuff—classics, and books that have depth to them. She remembers everything someone tells her and has a knack for finding the good in everyone.”

Brody looked back at her through the rearview mirror. “And she kills at flag football. Don’t let her fool you. She’s got some fight in her.”

Mina blushed, and Reid laughed. “I’ll remember that.”

Because Nan was a great icebreaker, the drive to the movie theater went by fast. She learned that Reid was the youngest of five brothers. His family was all lawyers, of a sort, and that he was lined up to work in the family business when he was done with school. He liked working with metals, welding and sculpting.

She felt herself smiling and laughing at Reid. When they arrived at AMC Theaters, she was prepared to buy her own ticket, but Reid wouldn’t let her. He bought both of their tickets, two drinks, and a large popcorn. She was secretly relieved that this date was actually going well.

Jared grudgingly paid for Ever’s ticket and her box of Sour Patch Kids. Ever flipped out and began to dance around in excitement when she saw that the theater also sold packages of Pixie Stix.

Nan ran ahead to the theater, then came back and announced that the theater was packed and that they would have to split up. Mina bit the inside of her cheek to keep from making a terrified face, but they all filed into the darkened room and tried to find seats that weren’t so close they would have neck aches from looking straight up.

Brody and Nan found seats a few rows in front of them and to their left. Jared and Ever ended up in the very back row. Mina and Reid found seats on the right side of the theater, next to an overly large man with a beard and glasses who had enough popcorn and snacks to last for three movies. Most of the teens had their phones out and were texting or tweeting while they waited for the movie to start. Reid leaned back and stretched out his long legs in front of him, and stared at her thoughtfully.

“So I see you’re not that fond of texting,” Mina said, after noticing that he hadn’t pulled out a cell phone, either.

“Nah, don’t see what the big deal is about those things.”

It was an odd choice of words, and Mina meant to ask him about it when the lights dimmed and the previews started, which ninety percent of them turned out to be commercials for Toyotas, Coca-Cola, and “please turn off your cell phone” warnings.

The movie finally began, and Mina had to squint when the 3D effects started. The red and blue lines made her dizzy, so she reached over and held out her hand to Reid expectantly.

He looked at the screen, completely baffled, and his face was scrunched up in disgust.

“Uh, the glasses,” Mina teased him.

“What?” He looked irritated.

“The 3D glasses they gave you when you bought the tickets.”

“Oh, those.” He reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out two pairs of plastic glasses and handed one of them to Mina. He watched her put them on and mimicked her. “Ah, that’s better.” He smiled and settled in to watch the movie.

He sure was an odd one, she thought to herself, but quickly forgot as the first action scene filled the screen. A girl was running and being chased by a man through dark back alleys. The scene was very similar to her own life and made her feel slightly uncomfortable. Reid leaned forward and jumped when the action scene intensified. He seemed unprepared for the 3D effects. She reached forward to take a handful of popcorn, and he reluctantly moved the bucket closer to her.

Gee, maybe she’d spoken too soon about a good date. It seemed like as soon as they split from the group, he dropped the façade. He was acting as if he was more interested in the movie than her. She should have expected that, and been prepared. If she were smart, she would have slipped a book in with her, which she had done in the past, and turned around in her seat and read by the light of the movie screen when the movie was something dumb.

Her eyes kept drifting to watch Brody and Nan. They weren’t holding hands, and neither one of them were leaning into each other. Oh, wait. Nan just jumped, and Brody put his arm around her shoulders. She watched as Nan leaned in and whispered something in his ear. Brody whispered something back, and when he turned he caught Mina’s stare. His smile faltered, and Mina felt the need to do something daring. She leaned in and snuggled into Reid’s shoulder. Reid looked surprised, but then he raised his arm and put it around her. Brody frowned and turned around.

After a while, she forgot about Reid, Brody, and even Jared as she became engrossed in the story unfolding before her. It was intense, about an orphaned young girl whose brother was kidnapped and held hostage. If she didn’t assassinate the President, then they would kill her brother.

Mina reached her hand into the almost empty popcorn tub and realized it was starting to taste odd—like pennies. She watched as Reid’s hand reached in and pulled out a few handfuls, and ate them without noticing the taste. She pulled the bucket out of his hands and looked into it. The popcorn had turned brown. He reached in for another handful, but she slapped his hand away.

“Don’t eat it. There’s something wrong with it.” She pulled out a piece and noticed that it had flecks of color swirling around the white. She crumbled the popcorn in her fingers, and it was filled with something hard. Like wire.

“There’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just how I like it.” Reid grabbed the bucket back from her and began eating it with a vengeance.

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