Jim winced and stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “That’s…” he coughed to clear a crack from his throat. “That’s too bad.”
Tabitha glanced at him through her thick frames. Her braided pig tails swayed over her bony shoulders covered in a snug sage cardigan. “Why? Are you going?” She nibbled at her lower lip and clutched her books tightly to her flat chest.
Jim shrugged. “I was thinking about it.”
“Oh.” Tabitha cast her gaze over the stretch of lawn between the Gothic style buildings making up the center of campus. Crisp air tumbled through leaves falling onto shades of autumn and stirred the few dried debris littering the raked trails. Tabitha looked down to follow her flats as they traversed the asphalt path and made sure to avoid the jagged cracks. “I hope you have fun.”
“We’ll see if I end up going.”
“Why wouldn’t you?”
“I don’t think I’ll know anyone other than Max and Andy.” Jim dug his fingers into the back of his head, shaking the shoulder length locks. “Probably just skip it…”
Tabitha bumped his shoulder with hers. “Go.”
A grin bloomed on his clean shaven face. “Come with us then.”
She rolled her eyes and stared down at the books in her arms. Tightening her grip, she brushed away invisible strands of hair from around her face. “I’ve got Chem on Tuesday.”
“That’s next week.”
“Yeah, but it is a mid-term. Unlike you, some of us have to study.”
“Study?” Max gave them both a toothy grin as he trotted up beside Tabitha, his flannel jacket swaying and chestnut eyes sparkling. “Who’s making you do such a horrible thing?”
“Chemistry,” replied Tabitha with a weak smile.
“You know the Delta’s are having a party tonight. Should be a blast,” said Max.
“That’s what I was telling her,” murmured Jim.
Max’s grin spread and Tabitha felt his gaze leaping from her to Jim like a ping pong match. She clomped back down on her lip and stared down the brick path.
“You coming?” asked Max.
Tabitha shook her head.
“You’ve got to,” said Max, poking her with his elbow.
Jim let out a sigh. “Give her a break, Max.”
“What? Can’t I ask?”
Jim scowled into Max’s innocent expression and tucked his hands back into his pockets. “I’ll see you tomorrow,” said Jim to Tabitha.
She watched him peel off on a side trail, his head bowed.
“Ouch,” muttered Max.
“What did I say?” Tabitha tore her gaze from Jim’s dwindling back and frowned at Max.
Max shook his head and snorted. “You said no.”
“What? I don’t want to go to the Deltas party. It’s just going to be a bunch of people drinking and…and…you know.”
“Yeah,” said Max, his smile stretching deviously. “But he was going to be there. You were going to be there.” Max raised both his eyebrows.
Tabitha covered her gaping mouth with her hand. “So he was asking me out? Like on a date?”
Max laughed. “And I thought guys were supposed to be the dense ones.”
She grabbed his sleeve and gave his arm a shake. “What do I do? How do I fix this? I mean…I…” She clamped her jaw shut to keep it from flapping. The wind whipped up and helped cool the sudden heat coloring her cheeks.
“But he’s not going to be there…”
Max patted her hand. “Leave that to me.”