Two minutes later, I find him sitting in his truck. The parking lot is full of cars, being only lunch time, but it’s vacant of any people.
I guess the principal didn’t detain him for long.
“You really are wired wrong, aren’t you?” I bark through the open passenger side door.
He grins, starting the engine, and I pull open the door, climbing in. “I mean, seriously. She can make your life miserable until graduation, Masen. Wasn’t it you who wanted to stay off the authority’s radar?”
“I’m not scared of her.”
Well, I am. I never skip school, simply because I’d rather be here than home, and I nervously glance around me one last time as he pulls out of the parking lot. I’d thought about making up a lie to my friends, but instead, I’d just tossed my uneaten lunch away and headed to my locker to grab my wallet. I didn’t know if he was coming back to school today, and I didn’t have his cell number. I had to leave with him if I wanted to make sure I would see more of him.
“Tacos, burgers, subs…?” he asks, trailing off.
I look across the street, and I see Falcon’s Franks, and I point. “Hot dogs.”
I haven’t been there in forever, and I suddenly don’t feel like a salad anymore.
Masen pulls through the drive-thru and stops in front of the menu.
“Welcome to Falcon’s,” the person on the intercom says. “Go ahead when you’re ready.”
Masen looks over to me, and I sit up, leaning over the center console on my hands and knees to tease him.
“Hi,” I shout, “can I have a plain hot dog and a bottle of water, please?”
Masen scoffs and squeezes the back of my thigh, yelling into the intercom, “She means she’ll a chili dog with onions and a Coke. A large one. I’ll take a chili dog with cheese and a Coke.”
I scowl, turning my head toward him. “How did you know I liked my hot dogs that way?”
“Why are you acting like you’re a demure little flower with the appetite of a bird?”
I roll my eyes, sitting back in my seat. But secretly I’m happy. Yay, chili dog.
How the heck did he know that? Good thing the restaurant gives mints with the meal. I’ll want to kiss him today, onions of not.
He pays for our food, and I’m glad to see money in his wallet. I have no idea what he and I are or what to expect from him, but I can’t but worry a little. The Cove is not a home.
And no matter how tough he acts, the stress of whatever situation he’s in is in there somewhere. Buried deep or right underneath the surface. I’m growing increasingly curious about it even though I try to tell myself I don’t care.
He pulls into the empty car wash we came to a couple of weeks ago, and I remain silent as he parks in a bay and climbs out.
What is he doing?
I watch as he starts the hose and hops up on the step, placing it on the roof and letting the water spill down the windshield. Whatever light enters the dark truck is now dimmed, and the gentle rush of wash feels like I’m in a cave.
Flutters spread under my skin at the memory of the last time we were here.
He opens the door and collects his food, telling me, “Climb in the backseat.” The he slams the door and opens the back one, climbing inside.
Hopping over the console, I reach up and grab my food and drink, but he takes my Coke and places it in the cup holder on the door.
“Come here,” he directs.
Holding my thighs, he guides me on his lap, and I straddle him. He sits back and takes out his hot dog and begins eating as I start to relax. The cab is dark and no one knows where we are. No one can see us.
And thanks to the hose, we can’t see or hear anything out there. The ultimate escape.
“You know, you’re wasting water,” I tease, pulling my chili-dog out of the bag.
“You know, we’re not in the desert.”
I smile to myself and take a bite. I like him.
“Did you know there’s as much water on the planet now as when the planet formed billions of years ago?” he asks, looking at me and taking a drink of his soda.
“Yeah, I took 2nd grade science.” I take a bite of chilidog, holding back the moan as the flavor hits me. It’s been too long.
“Did you know that 70% of bottled water isn’t regulated by the FDA, unlike tap water, which is?”
I shake my head, taking another bite.
“Did you know that sunlight is our most important renewable energy source and yet, only about one percent of the world’s electricity is generated by the sun?”
My stomach shakes with a silent laugh. I swallow and dip down, taking a drink of his soda. Chili is spilling on my finger, and I don’t have enough hands to unwrap the straw for my Coke.
“I did not know that,” I finally answer. I take another bite, wiping the chili from the corner of my mouth.
“Did you know that your open thighs are directly responsible for my renewable energy source?”
I snort, the hot dog catching in my throat, and I try not to laugh as I force it down and dive down for another drink.
I let my eyes fall to his jeans. “I’m wondering if everyone is starting to notice that.”
He sticks the last bite of hot dog in his mouth and scoots down a little, laying his head back.
I set mine down on top of the bag on the seat and take hi soda, washing my last bite down. “So how do you know all that stuff?”
“Thought I was a dumb punk, huh?”
“No,” I answer honestly. “On the contrary…”
His hands run up and down my thighs, and he’s quiet for a moment. “My sister was an encyclopedia.”
Was an encyclopedia? Was?
“I don’t want to talk about it, okay?”
He speaks quietly, and I force a shrug. “Whatever. You brought it up.”
What should I say? No, no, I want to know. Tell me about her. Tell me about you. Tell me what you’re doing here, where your family is, and let me meet your friends. Tell me you like me. Tell me we’ll go to the baseball game and joke around with our friends and kiss in public and laugh like normal teenagers.
Tell me I’m crazy for thinking you’re holding back from me as much as I’m hiding you.
We stay there, the silence weighing heavy inside the truck, and I wonder if we should get back to school. Fifth period would’ve started by now.
But I look down, and I see something silver in the compartment on the door. Reaching down, I pluck it out and hold it up.
The small, triangular object shines, and I can feel the line grooves where your fingers are supposed to grip.
“A guitar pick?” I look at him. “You play?”
He stares at it, and something I can’t place passes in his eyes. Like fear, almost.
But he slowly shakes his head. “No. It’s probably one of my friends’.”