Six Steps to a Girl

Six Steps to a Girl by Sophie McKenzie Read Free Book Online

Book: Six Steps to a Girl by Sophie McKenzie Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sophie McKenzie
Patel emerged from the art room and I dragged myself downstairs, sending a silent prayer of thanks to whoever, in their utter and total brilliance, had invented the wooden button.

 
7
Humiliation
    And I thought I was mistaken
And I thought I heard you speak
Tell me how do I feel?
Tell me now how should I feel?
    Now I stand here waiting.
    ‘Blue Monday’
New Order
    Ryan was impressed when I told him. “Fast work, man,” he said. “You’ve cracked Step Two at the first attempt. Plus, that kind of vibe only happens when something real’s going on.”
    We were in the high street, getting a lunchtime burger. It was the day after the after-school Art Club and I was still grinning like an idiot.
    “Don’t tell Numbers about it, though.” Ryan leaned back in his chair and smiled. “He’ll pester you for weeks to explain how you did it.”
    “I didn’t ‘do’ anything,” I said. “It just happened.”
    Ryan took a bite of his burger. “Yeah well, that’s a bit subtle for Numbers. Remember all he wants is to get as far as he can, as quickly as he can, as often as he can. He’s not fussy – he’d snog a lampost if it had tits and moved.”
    I laughed.
    “Still, you gotta hand it to him – Numbers is brilliant at Step Three,” Ryan said enigmatically. “Almost got a sixth sense about it.”
    I opened my mouth to ask what Step Three was, but at that moment the doors of the burger bar flew open and Ben strode in with a couple of his equally beefy, ugly mates. They sprawled across the large booth behind ours and yelled for the waitress. After she’d delivered their menus and they’d refused to move to a smaller table, they began boasting loudly at each other.
    With a horrible, sinking sensation, I realised Ben must be talking about Eve.
    “. . . Yeah, we did that last night. She was all over me.”
    I froze, my burger halfway to my mouth.
    “Stupid cow wouldn’t go any further, though. So I told her I’d wait until she was sixteen for the actual shag.” Ben laughed. “I made out I had no idea when that would be, that it didn’t matter if it was months away, but really I knew and – get this – her birthday’s in three weeks.”
    “Nice one,” one of the other blokes said in a deep, gruff voice.
    “Yeah.” Ben was laughing so much now he was choking. “She was so grateful it was pathetic. All ‘you’re so amazing, Ben’; ‘So sensitive to wait till I’m ready, Ben’.” He said this in a high, silly falsetto as much unlike Eve’s raspy voice as it could be.
    My stomach twisted into this tearing, burning knot.
    “After another fortnight she’ll be gagging for it,” Ben sneered. “Begging me to do her.”
    I put down my burger and looked up at Ryan. He was staring sympathetically at me.
    His sympathy was the last thing I wanted.
    “I’m not hungry,” I said. I stumbled blindly out of the burger bar. Had I imagined the look that passed between me and Eve? No. And I certainly hadn’t imagined her blushing. But maybe she hadn’t felt it the same way I had. Maybe all I’d done was remind her of how she felt about her stupid thug of a boyfriend.
    I fantasised about going back in the burger bar and punching Ben in the face. But I was too scared. He was much bigger than me. And he was with two friends.
    Humiliated, I stomped off back to school.
    Ryan turned up on the doorstep half an hour after Chloe and I got home that evening. “Hey, Luke, man . . .” He gave me a pitying smile.
    “Forget it.” I started shutting the door in his face, hating that he felt sorry for me. “I’m not interested anymore.”
    Ryan shoved his foot in the gap and pushed against me. “Don’t be so lame,” he said. “You should be more determined than ever now.”
    “Oh yeah? How d’you work that out?”
    “Because Ben’s handed you Step Three on a plate, you idiot.”
    I opened the door. “What d’you mean?”
    “I’m not telling you out here. Let me in.”
    Reluctantly, I led Ryan into the

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