“Who are you?”
“I’m Monroe,” the boy said, walking forward and holding out his hand.
“Cassidy,” I said, accepting his implicit request to shake hands.
“You’d already told me that,” Monroe said with a wink, “but I appreciate the proper introduction.” An unpleasant feeling spread to my cheeks, and I had to place a hand on one of them before I realized it was embarrassment.
“Why are you here?” I said, my eyes shifting around the room as I tried to plan an escape route.
“Grace called and told me she had a rough time bowling the other night. So I figured I’d sneak into her house and, you know, surprise her.”
“So what are you doing in here?”
“Well, I didn’t know where she was, and I didn’t want to just wander around like a fool until I found her,” Monroe said, giving me ‘duh’ eyes. “I was hoping someone, like you for instance, could tell me where she is so that I could just walk in all subtly.”
I stared at Monroe and thought about the way he had burst into this room, and how each of his gestures seemed to be executed with one hundred percent of his effort. The combination of these observations made it hard for me to imagine that he could ever surprise everyone.
“Yes,” I half-spoke, half-muttered to myself, “because you are truly the ‘b’ in subtle.”
“So can you help me find her?” Monroe asked, giving me a look that he probably intended to be compelling.
“This place isn’t that big!” I said, stretching my arms out. “You shouldn’t need a map.”
A huge grin erupted onto Monroe’s face. “Actually, I do need a map.”
“Why?” I said slowly, sensing a trap ahead.
“Because I keep getting lost in your eyes.”
I narrowed my eyes at him. “Was that supposed to be a pick-up line?”
“Wow, you know what those are? Grace told me you were a brainiac at everything except how to be social.” I felt my face twist. “Oh, was that insulting?” Monroe said, holding out his hands. “Crap, I’m sorry. I don’t really have an inner filter. I say stupid stuff sometimes.”
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