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Authors: Kate Brian

Lucky T (18 page)

BOOK: Lucky T
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But what choice did she have? She came all this way for her lucky T and nothing should get in the way of her finding it.

"Fine. What do you want?" Carrie asked tersely.

"Get me a date with that guy you were dancing with."

Carrie shook her head, thinking she misheard. "Uh, what?"

"I want to go out with that guy you work for," Doreen said.

"I see," Carrie said calmly, right before screaming, "ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MIND?"

"Hey, one date with the hottie gets you the license plate number. Take it or leave it."

Carrie decided to counterattack. "How do I even know you really memorized it?"

"How do you know I didn't? Are you willing to take that risk?" Doreen barked.

Carrie thought about how desperately she wanted the shirt back and heaved a heavy sigh. "Okay, I'll do it."

Doreen looked very satisfied with herself. "Good. I'll come by CCS tomorrow night."

Carrie couldn't do anything else but glare at her.

"See you later, loser," Doreen said before blending into the crowd.

A mil isecond later Dee was there to the rescue.

"Carrie! What happened? Are you okay?" Dee asked, breathing hard as he placed his hand on her back.

"I just want to go home," Carrie heard herself whimper.

"Home home or back to CCS?" Dee asked in a comforting voice.

Much to her surprise, Carrie let out a strained laugh, brought on by sheer desperation and helplessness. "Both, I guess."

Dee wrapped his arm around her and started walking. Clearly sensing she didn't want to talk, Dee didn't ask her a single question during the fifteen-

minute strol back to CCS. It was the nicest thing anyone could have done for her.

And how would Carrie repay him for his kindness? Tomorrow she had to turn him over to the ghastly Dor-mean.

The next day Carrie and Dee stood in the laundry room at the Indian Christian Women's Coalition, picking through bags and bags of clothes. Dee worked quickly and methodically, pulling out only red items, checking them for the star Carrie had described, then folding them into a pile. Carrie, meanwhile, was barely paying attention as she listlessly pulled out shirt after sweater after il -conceived vest.

"You know what? This is pointless. It's not here," she said finally, col apsing into an orange plastic chair. The gray sky outside cast the whitewashed room in a bleak shadow that the one fluorescent bulb couldn't combat. Rain slid down the thin windowpane behind Carrie as the soft purr of the dryers provided a fittingly dul and lulling hum.

"I thought we decided to be positive about this," Dee said. "The woman you saw last night probably works at one of these shelters. It might be this one."

That morning over breakfast Carrie had explained her bizarre behavior from the night before to Dee. His jaw had dropped slightly as he realized that she had, in fact, seen the T-shirt she had come here to find--that it was even possible that she was in the same section of the city as the shirt. Seeing how upset she was, he had taken it upon himself to pep-talk her into renewing her search. However, Carrie had yet to tell Dee that her "friend" Doreen might hold the key to the entire mystery and that in her weakened state she had sold him out for access to that key. She felt so awful about agreeing to pimp Dee out for the night and had been trying to come up with a way to get out of the whole thing. But at this point no bril iant ideas had come to her, and the day was half over.

"I don't think so. Why would someone with a laundry room right in her own building be out doing laundry?" Carrie asked as the two industrial-size washing machines swished away. "That doesn't make any sense."

Dee sighed and sat down across from her. He laced his fingers together and his biceps flexed. Even in her depressed state Carrie had to channel all her will power so that she didn't throw herself on top of him.

You can't give this guy up to Doreen, a little voice inside her said. Go back and tell her to stuff it, then find the T-shirt yourself.

But even though Carrie knew this was the wiser thing to do, she couldn't help feeling beaten down by the universe. With Doreen's help she could get to the lucky T faster and then life would be normal again.

"You still haven't told me why this T-shirt is so important for you," Dee said while inspecting a few more red T-shirts.

Carrie looked at him, at his soulful hazel eyes so open and patient. For a split second she heard herself telling him about the lucky T's connection to her father. How the moment she realized it was really gone, it felt as if her dad was gone as wel . But she felt strange confiding this type of intimate information when she might just turn around and give him up as a sacrificial lamb hours later.

Think about what you're doing, Carrie, the little voice piped up again. Just look at those kids back at CCS. They think the world of Dee. Would they ever forgive you for hurting him? Carrie took a deep breath and leaned forward. It didn't matter how many times her inner voice chided her. Just then she decided to swal ow all her morals and make good on her word to Dor-mean.

"The T-shirt is good luck," she said finally. "I need it back because it's always brought me good luck and ever since I lost it. . ."

"You've had bad luck?" Dee asked.

"Something like that," Carrie said, thinking of Piper and Jason, then Fido and her bio test and her dad going to Tokyo. "Actually, I'm as superstitious as they come."

"Ah, so that's why you shuddered when I opened an umbrella indoors last week."

"Yeah, and the reason I almost cried when Manisha crossed two kitchen knives when she was setting the tables," Carrie said with embarrassment.

"WellI don't believe in superstitions or luck," Dee said matter-of-factly.

"You don't?" Carrie asked, taken aback. To her that was like someone saying he or she didn't believe in trees. Luck was just a fact of life.

"No. I believe we make our own luck," Dee said. "It's all in how you look at things."

Okay, Carrie thought. It's now or never.

"That's true. I'm not as unlucky as some people," Carrie said, wondering where this was going to lead. She hadn't quite thought it through.

"Absolutely," Dee said. "There's always someone else out there with bigger problems to face."

Carrie smiled, her heartbeat giving an extra-hard thump. Dee obviously was one of the kindest guys on the planet, which was why she felt like a ogre for what she was about to do.

"Right, like Doreen," Carrie blurted.

"What's the matter with Doreen?" he asked.

A good question, Carrie thought. With so many possible answers.

"Uh--wel --you see," she stammered. Think fast. He's waiting. "She's . . . kind of. . . like . . . dying."

"Oh my God," Dee said, completely shocked.

Did I just say she was dying? I am SO going to hel .

"She didn't look sick to me at all ," Dee added.

"Yeah, uh, she's a tough one. Fighting it every step of the way, that Doreen," Carrie said, gulping hard.

"What is she fighting?" Dee asked with concern.

Carrie realized that even Dee's inquisitive nature was charming. So far he only had one flaw, and that was being overly zealous about volunteering. As for Carrie, she was hitting a new low with this Dr.-Death-vs.- Doreen story.

"Oh . . . um . . . it's a rare . . . brain . . . tissue . . . abnormality." Carrie stumbled over each and every word as if she were on a racetrack, jumping over the hurdles blindfolded. "I can't really pronounce the medical term because it has a lot of consonants."

Dee looked perplexed. "Wow, that sounds awful."

Hel . I am going straight to hel .

Carrie tried to make the situation a little brighter. "Well, she's here with a group who makes wishes come true for sick kids, so she's really happy."

Once she said it, she knew what was going to come next.

"Real y? Coming to India was her wish?" Dee sounded impressed.

"Uh-huh," Carrie replied nervously, and wrung her hands together. "But there's something else, too. And you can help."

"Sure. What can I do?"

Carrie closed her eyes and paused. This was the most inane thing she had ever done (except for flying to India to get her lucky T-shirt back, of course).

"Take her out on a date?" she mumbled.

"I'm sorry, did you just ask me to take her out?"

"Yeah, uh . . . she really would love a romantic evening here, you know, before she ..." Carrie made some sort of face that was supposed to indicate "kick the bucket."

"I see," Dee said pensively.

Is there a place worse than hel ? If so, I might be heading there instead, Carrie thought.

Dee sat quietly for a moment, thinking about whether or not to take a terminally il teenage girl out for a nice evening. Carrie sat there thinking about her dad and how disappointed he'd be in her right now, even if all this was just part of the plan of getting her precious T-shirt back. Her posture slumped forward as if a baby grand piano had been just set on her shoulders.

Then Dee took her by the hands, which she hadn't stopped wringing, and spoke while looking longingly into her eyes. "Carrie, I know it must have been awkward to ask me this favor, but you did it because you care about your friend. So I'll do it because it means something to you. Okay?"

Carrie's heart sank down into her feet. "Okay."

"Good. Should I call her up or something?"

"No, I'll talk to her and tell her to come by tonight. Is that okay?" Carrie said as enormous pangs of guilt beat her up inside.

"Yeah, that's fine," he said.

"Oh, just one thing. She's very secretive about the whole brain thing, so don't let her know you know, okay?" Carrie couldn't wait for this lie fest to be over.

Stil holding her hands in his, he pulled her up from her chair so that they were standing inches apart from each other. Then he leaned over and whispered in her ear, "It'll be our little secret."

A few hours later Carrie rested her chin on her hand and propped her head up as she lay facedown on her bed. She tried to concentrate on the India guidebook in front of her instead of checking the clock every five minutes and running to the window to see if Dee's bike was out front, which would mean he was home from his date with Doreen. Right now Carrie was hoping to distract herself by reading the section on birthdays. Since hers was coming up soon, she thought she might find something cool for her--and maybe Dee--to do, that is, if he hadn't fallen madly in love and run off with her nemesis to get married. She also thought it might take her mind off the fact that she wouldn't be home for the traditional party and shopping spree with her mom. But it was so hot and humid in her room that Carrie couldn't seem to concentrate. She had read the same sentence at least ten times and had stripped down to a tank top and her Hel o Kitty panties.

"In India it's traditional for the birthday girl or boy to give presents rather than to receive. ..."

Carrie had this image of herself handing out presents to the kids at CCS on her birthday. She'd be like Santa Claus for a day and see their happy smiles. Perhaps she'd also be able to get rid of the horrible taste of shame that had been in her mouth since yesterday. Here she was, scheming and lying to a good guy for the sake of her lucky T, and there were all these children that she should have been paying attention to. From now on she would be all about prioritizing and putting other people's needs first.

Just as she made that mental vow, she heard a sound coming from outside, like a chain had just been locked. Carrie hurried over to the window and saw Dee's bike. Then she raced over to her door, opened it up, and ran down the stairs to greet him. She had to know right away how it went. Hopefully Doreen hadn't given him the worst night of his life.

Carrie called out to Dee as he was going up the stairs to the third floor. "Hey, how'd it go?"

Dee spun around, looked at Carrie, and smiled widely. "It was fine."

"That's it? Just 'fine'?" she asked.

Dee started chuckling really hard now.

Okay, weird.

"Yes, Carrie. Everything is fine," he said, smirking.

"What's so funny?" Carrie said, crossing her arms in front of her chest. "Were you and Doreen making jokes about me all night or something?"

"No," Dee said, smiling mischievously. "I just hadn't pegged you as a Hel o Kitty person, that's all ."

Carrie gasped in horror. Then she glanced down at herself just to make sure.

Yep, she was standing in front of Dee ... in her underwear.

This is not bad luck, Carrie thought. This is karma.

Now she had two choices: (1) run back to her room squealing as if she had just seen a rat and lock herself in her room for a few days or (2) stand there and act completely unashamed. After all , they were both grown-ups, sort of, and it was just underwear.

Carrie decided to do a combination of both (1) and (2).

"Yeah, Hel o Kitty. She rocks," Carrie said in this odd, I'm-trying-to-be-cool-when-I'm-obviously-mortified tone of voice. "Wish I could stay here and chat, Dee, but I'm beat, so off to bed I go."

"Sure, Carrie. Whatever you say," Dee said, flashing her another one of his heart-stopping grins.

And with that, Carrie dashed off to her room and beat herself over the head with her India guidebook for a few minutes. Then she sat on her bed and smiled. Tomorrow Doreen would give her the license plate number, she'd get her lucky T back, and it seemed that Dee had had a good time, so no one would be getting hurt. This might have worked out after all .

Carrie woke up in the middle of the night to a tap, tap on the window. Instead of feeling afraid, she was annoyed.

She was in the middle of a pretty stel ar dream that involved Dee wearing Hel o Kitty underwear, and whoever was trying to get her attention had completely interrupted her. Carrie stomped over and threw open the window, after which a few pebbles hit her in the face. She looked down and saw a shadowy figure on the ground below.

It was Doreen. As far as Carrie could see, she was wearing this very pretty, shimmering purple dress and her hair was done in an upsweep.

BOOK: Lucky T
6.14Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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