Read The Trouble With Flirting Online

Authors: Rachel Morgan

Tags: #happily ever after, #Humor, #musician, #sweet NA, #Romance, #The Trouble Series, #mature YA, #Love, #comedy, #nerd

The Trouble With Flirting (18 page)

BOOK: The Trouble With Flirting
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I look through my files until I find the right sheet music. I pull out the piano accompaniment and hand it to Adam. He places his hands over the keys. I get my bow ready. He looks at me. I nod and murmur, “Three and four and …”

The music begins.

Day five after the holiday. I hurry into my first period lecture towards my new spot next to Salima Who Never Talks To Me, only to find that she isn’t here. I’ve only recently begun paying attention to her, but I doubt she’s ever missed a lecture before, and I’m pretty sure being late isn’t part of her summa cum laude plans. I crane my neck as I search every other row in here, but I don’t see Salima. Perhaps I scared her off for good when I sat next to her in yesterday afternoon’s mathematics tutorial and read every question out loud while she ignored me and answered them on her own. I made no effort to hide the fact that I was looking at her answer page for ‘assistance’ with my problem-solving theories. Perhaps she didn’t like that.

The lecture begins.

Salima still isn’t here.

Oddly enough, I’m starting to worry about her. It’s clear she doesn’t like me, and if I didn’t arrive at the last minute for every single lecture, she’d probably move away as soon as I sit my butt down next to her. But I can’t help feeling that Rude Unfriendly Loner Girl isn’t who she really is, and I’m determined to get her to talk to me. I think we could be friends. So it worries me that my potential friend, who thinks lectures are the most important part of every weekday, hasn’t shown up yet.

It also means I’m sitting alone, which isn’t great.

The lecturer starts shouting things from the front of the room, and I write down everything that shows up on the projector screen. Whenever he heads off on a boring tangent, I doodle music notes and treble clefs in the corner of my page before the next slide comes up and I carry on writing. Doodling means my eyes are stuck on my notebook rather than wandering a few rows forward to where Allegra, Courtney and Amber are sliding cell phones back and forth across the desk and quietly giggling at whatever’s on them.

After about fifteen minutes, I notice movement from the corner of my eye. The long desk that spans from one side of the row to the other wobbles slightly as Salima hurries towards me and sits down, leaving one empty seat between us. Breathless, she hastily tucks her long black hair behind her ears, grabs a pen and pad of paper from her bag, and frowns at the screen. Her lips move silently. She writes something down, then frowns again.

I clear my throat. When she glances over at me, I raise an eyebrow and nudge my notebook towards her.
Time to make friends, Salima!
She eyes the notebook as if it may bite her, then relents and slides it closer. She quickly copies down everything she missed, then passes it back to me, hesitantly mouthing,
Thank you
.

Score!
We are totally on our way to becoming best buddies.

The lecturer takes off on another boring tangent that ends up with him answering a complicated and pointless question posed by someone in the front row. He leans against the front desk as he gets deeper into a discussion with the student, and the rest of us shuffle around and start chattering, because we can’t hear a thing the guys at the front are saying, and it doesn’t really bother us.

I lean towards Salima and say, “I doubt you’ve ever been late for a lecture before.”

For a moment, I think she might ignore me, but after taking down a few more notes, she says, “My stupid car. My parents insisted I live off campus so I wouldn’t be distracted, but that means I have to fight through traffic every day, and when my car misbehaves, like today, then I wind up late. I’ve never been as late as I was today, though, so … thank you.” She glances up quickly, then turns back to the page in front of her and writes something else down. What exactly, I have no idea, since nothing new has gone up on the projector screen in the last five minutes.

“Your parents sound like hard-asses,” I say.

She looks up, startled, then laughs.

“Oh my hat. You
laughed
. I didn’t even know you could
smile
.”

She laughs again, then looks quickly to the front of the room to see if she’s missing anything.

“Don’t worry,” I tell her. “I’m sure that boring discussion is going to go on for at least another three minutes.”

She gives me a smile. A SMILE. “I’m sorry I was so rude to you on Monday. I know who your group of friends is, and I assumed you were sitting next to me as a joke. But you actually seem like a nice person, Livi. I’m sorry we can’t be friends.”

Can’t be friends? I’m confused for a moment until I realise she’s joking. “Oh right,” I say with an eye-roll. “Because you didn’t come to university to make friends.”

“Exactly.”

Wait. She’s not joking. “You—you were being serious about that?”

She nods. “Hard-ass parents, remember? It took me two years to convince them to let me move across the country for university. Our deal is that I get above 90% for every assignment, test and exam, or I’ll have to move back to Durban. Maintaining those kinds of results means lots of work. Hence, no time for friends.”

“I—that’s—90%?” Before I can form a coherent response, the next slide comes up and the lecture continues. Salima begins scribbling words down at lightning speed—I think she writes down everything the lecturer
says
, as well as what’s on the screen—while I compose a note to Salima that I’ll probably never pass to her because she’d probably ignore it.

You’re also from Durban? Cool! Me too! What school were you at? We should hang out some time. DON’T tell me you don’t have time for friends. You probably get 100% for everything, so you can afford to slip a few % if it means having a tiny bit of an actual LIFE. And I don’t mean clubs and drinking and drugs and hair salon dates. Trust me, that stuff is overrated. I mean movies and wine tasting and Xbox and chilling at this cool music cafe by my house. What’s your phone number?

At the end of the lecture, we pack up our things and Salima turns to me. “Thank you for helping me catch up at the beginning. And I’m sorry again for being rude. You’re welcome to sit with me in the future, as long as you don’t distract me while the lecture is happening.”

“Wow. How magnanimous of you. You’re welcome to read this note I wrote you, but only if you respond immediately.”

She frowns, take the folded paper I’m holding out to her, and reads it. Her eyes scan my words before looking up. “I don’t drink. My parents wouldn’t allow my brother to get an Xbox, so I don’t know how to play games on it. And my phone won’t let me add new contact.”

“Are you kidding me? Your phone won’t let you add new contacts? That’s the worst lie I’ve ever heard.”

“I’m not lying.” She pulls her phone out of her bag and holds it up. “It’s an old phone—my parents didn’t want me distracted by a new one with, as they say, all the bells and whistles—and it won’t let me add contacts or take photos or use the hash key.”

I eye the phone suspiciously. “I wouldn’t be surprised if your parents got someone to disable those functions before giving it to you.”

She laughs and puts the phone away. “Neither would I. But I’m living on a strict allowance, and I don’t have extra cash to get a new phone. And I don’t really need one,” she adds, heading for the door.

“You know, my friend Adam could probably fix that phone for you,” I say as I follow her outside. “He’s a total genius with all things tech. And music too, but I think most people know him for the tech stuff. He’s doing computer science here.”

Salima frowns at me. “Is that Adam Anderson by any chance?”

“Yes! You know him?”

She nods, and even though it’s difficult to tell with her darker skin, I’m pretty sure she’s blushing. “Yes. I’m taking a computer science course as an elective. Just for fun.”

“Oh my goodness. Somebody needs to show you what fun actually means.”

She smacks my arm, but I can tell she’s trying not to smile.

***

“Why do they make us do maths as part of a Marketing degree?” I whine. “Seriously. I am never going to use these mattress things in real life.”

Adam looks up from across the table at
Jazzy Beanbag
. We had dinner here earlier and now he’s doing some complicated coding thing on the laptop he just bought from someone on Gumtree while I try to understand the newest section in my mathematics course. “Mattress things?” he asks.

“Yes.” I hold up my notes to show him the heading I wrote down based on Professor Muzenda’s garbled words before he spent the entire lecture scribbling numbers and brackets hastily across the board. I barely managed to keep up with note taking, let alone brain processing. “See? Mattresses.”

Adam makes his trying-really-hard-not-to-laugh face. “I think you mean ‘matrices.’” He spells it out for me while I write it down.


Oh.
” I tilt my head to the side while examining the word. “That’s what he was saying?”

“Oh my goodness, Liv.”

“What? He’s foreign. I only understand about twenty percent of what he says.”

“Does that mean you’ll only be getting twenty percent for your exam?”

“I hope not. But what am I supposed to do? I can’t make his accent disappear.”

“I don’t know. Ask one of the tutors for help?”

I smile and flutter my eyelashes. “Want to be my tutor?”

“Uh …” Adam swallows. “I guess I could.”

“Relax. I’m not such a terrible student. It shouldn’t be that difficult for you to help me.”

Adam mutters something before turning back to his coding.

“What was that?”

“NOTHING,” he says, which probably means he was making fun of my mathematics ability. “Oh. Livi.” He looks around his work area, disoriented for a moment, then reaches under the table for his laptop bag. “Livi, Livi, Livi. I can’t believe I forgot to tell you.”

“What? What’s wrong?”

“I was surfing YouTube and I found this
amazing
group. A pianist and a cellist. They do these incredible covers and mash-ups. I don’t know how I haven’t come across them before.”

I laugh to myself. Given Adam’s level of excitement, I should have known it had something to do with music.

“Here.” Adam plugs a pair of headphones into his laptop and hands them to me across the table. I adjust them before placing them over my ears. “Ready?” Adam asks. I nod, and he presses a button on his laptop.

I close my eyes as the music begins, shutting out all distractions so I can concentrate. It’s familiar, but I’ve never heard it played on only a cello and a piano, so it takes me a while to think of the name.
I know it, I know it, I know it. It’s from …
The Mission
. Yes, that’s it.
I smile to myself when I get the name. And then again, when I recognise the hymn layered over the music. Clever. They go perfectly together. I keep my eyes closed, only opening them when the final mournful tones of the cello have faded to silence.

“Beautiful,” I say to Adam, who’s watching me with a small smile on his lips. I pull the headphones off and hand them back. “Can you send me the link to their YouTube channel? I want to listen to more of their stuff.”

“Already sent,” Adam says, winding the cord around the headphones and returning them to his bag.

“Thanks.” I pick up one of my highlighters. “And now, back to the boring stuff.” I add some more colours to my notes, but I can’t concentrate for long. I lean back with a sigh. “I can’t believe we’re
studying
on a Saturday night.”

“Missing the cool crowd?” Adam says absently, clicking away on the laptop keys.

“Definitely not. They can keep their parties to themselves. I kinda miss the dancing, but that’s about it.”

“You can dance here,” Adam says. “Go stand by the stage and shake your behind to the beats of the …” He tilts back on his chair to read the flyer stuck to the window. “
Dofkop Donkies
.”

“You know—” I tap my chin with my highlighter “—I’m not usually a fan of Afrikaans music, but these songs are quite catchy.”

“They need a better name for their band, though.”

“Definitely.”

“Like …
Die Koeksisters
.”

I laugh. “Brilliant, but I think they make take exception to that, considering they’re all
guys
.”

“Hmm.
Kortbroek Laaitjies?
” he suggests.


Die Jean Pant?
” Hugo says, dropping into the chair next to me.

“Ha! Yes. That.” I point at Hugo. “Awesome name for an Afrikaans band. Oh, hey, aren’t you meant to be working?”

BOOK: The Trouble With Flirting
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