I went over my plans for the day. My dad was right—I wasn’t clear of this thing just because I beat the wolf for one night. I needed information. I needed the Web. The library should have Internet access. I showered, ate, and hopped on my bike.
By the time I pedaled out of the neighborhood and reached the paved road, I felt like I was back in the shower. My hair dripped into my eyes, and my shirt clung to my back. I wasn’t used to the bike, wasn’t used to the humidity. My newfound energy had all but left me. But the land was flat. The road was smooth. I made good time the rest of the way into town.
Southern Boulevard was way busier than the previous morning, but still not up to big city standards. As I merged with the slow-moving traffic, I set landmarks in my mind. I passed the Coffee Café and the street that led to Howard’s place. To my right was the Walgreens we stopped at. Across the way, I saw the Crestwood Shopping Center. A green Beetle sat in the parking lot.
Video Stop girl.
I copped a left so fast, a driver honked at me. My bike coasted as I glided up the driveway and onto the sidewalk. The car was parked near a light pole. I leaned my bike against a wall, wiped my palms against my jeans, and stepped toward the store.
A bell dinged as I opened the door. Cool air swept over me. I stood in the entrance and looked around. Movie posters covered the walls, and racks of used DVDs stood in rows.
From behind an Entertainment magazine, a girl said, “Welcome to Video Stop.”
The girl I saw before. She had black, spiky hair and wore a T-shirt with Spear Britney printed across the front. I wanted to stand there and stare.
But that would be too weird.
So I walked slowly up and down the aisles, one eye on her. I decided I could get information here as easily as I could at the library. I picked up a copy of Teen Wolf with Michael J. Fox and took it to the counter.
“Hmm.” She tapped the cover. “You know, if you’re interested in werewolf movies, you might like the Ginger Snap series.”
She came around the counter and brushed by me. She smelled like fresh mangoes. Maybe her hair gel. I followed her, feeling self-conscious. She plucked a DVD from the wire rack and held it out.
“I just like to watch movies about werewolves,” I said. “I don’t really care about them or anything.” I took the movie from her without looking at it and backed smack into the shelves behind me, which caused an avalanche of DVDs.
“Hmm,” she said. She knelt to pick them up, and her miniskirt rose up her thighs.
I tore my eyes away and knelt beside her to help with the mess. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to do that.”
“That’s a relief.” She pursed her lips as if holding back a laugh.
“Uh, I’m Cody. What’s your name?”
“Brittany.” She stressed the tany as if I might get her mixed up with the other one.
“You’re really knowledgeable about movies. You must like working here.”
She shrugged. “I only work on school breaks. My mother thinks it will keep me out of trouble. Of course, she didn’t know you were coming in today.”
She cocked a brow at me, but her eyes sparkled, and I knew she wasn’t angry. Together we restocked the upper shelves. Many of the movies didn’t have their original cases, which made it difficult for me to spot their titles. Brittany was a lot quicker at alphabetizing than I was.
She stood back to look at our handiwork. “So, do you want to buy Ginger Snap or not?”
She breezed past me again, and I breathed in her scent. “Cash or credit?” she asked.
I felt a sinking sensation. Were my parents angry enough to cancel my debit card? Brittany stood behind the counter, brows raised, looking at me.
I handed her my card. She swiped it, watched the screen, and then handed it back. The transaction went through without a problem.
“Come again.” She smiled a perfect smile.
I took the bag with the movies and backed toward the door. “Sorry about...” I gestured with my thumb, “all that.” I bumped into a rack labeled New Arrivals. This time, I only dislodged one movie. As I bent to pick it up, I knocked over a life-sized cutout of Darth Vader.
“It’s all right. I’ll get it.” She hurried toward me. “Just go.”
“Sorry,” I murmured and slipped out the door.
I walked to my bike and leaned against the wall. As far as first impressions went, I’d done worse. Like the time I was shooting baskets and wanted to show off in front of Meredith Taney by hanging from the hoop. Only I missed, seeing how I’m not that tall, and my watch tangled in the net. I just swung there until the backboard came down on my head.
At least, Brittany didn’t seem to think I was a total dork. Closing my eyes, I thought about her smile. She wore purple lipstick. I wondered what it tasted like. Then I looked at the bag with the movies and realized I had no way to play them.
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