Gabe and Mona chat at the end of Mimi’s first day

“So. New girl.” Mona grinned at me as we headed towards the dorms.young man

“Oh, there was a new girl?” I feigned innocence but couldn’t help a smirk.

She elbowed me in the ribs, in usual Mona style, nodding at Mimi’s back. Mimi was walking with Patience. She looked like she was trying, in a shy, stilted way, to chat with Patience. Good luck, I thought. Patience was even more shy than Mimi. “Whaddya reckon?” Mona persisted.

“She’s got a secret. She seems scared. She’s got a lot of determination, too. She won’t be giving up her secret in a hurry.”

“Do you think she’s one of us?”

“Could be. The main vibe I got from her was surrounded.”

“Huh?” Mona frowned. “By us? We were just being friendly.”

I shrugged. “Maybe by us; I’m not sure.”

“Anyway, when I asked what you reckon, Gabe, I was asking what you thought of her. Mimi, as a girl.”

“She’s a girl?” The elbow dug in again. “Ow! Okay. Yes, I did notice she’s a girl. A pretty hot-looking one, too,” I added in a low voice.

“I knew it,” she screeched. Mimi glanced back over her shoulder at the noise, and I grinned at her quickly, giving Mona an elbow in return.

“Keep it down,” I muttered.

“You should ask her out,” Mona commanded. “I think you guys would make the cutest couple.”

“I know, right? We totally would,” I adopted a girly tone and sighed like I’d been struck by Cupid. I wanted to keep the conversation jokey. I knew what Mona was like with her matchmaking. Handle with care. Now Mona was giggling and I relaxed a little. “Maybe she’s not my type, though. She could be, like, a total princess, or something.”

“She’s not a princess,” said Mona. “You can tell. I think she’s gonna be really cool, when we get to know her. She’s no Cassie.”

I snorted. “Nice, Mona.”

“You know what I mean. She’s cute, huh?”

I surveyed Mimi as she walked ahead. I wasn’t going to say it to Mona, but yes, I thought Mimi was incredibly cute. I watched her gorgeous long hair and that butt in her faded jeans. I shrugged. “She’s pretty cute.”

“Hey, I’m not the Empath, but I know what you’re thinking,” Mona sniggered.

“I’d have competition, if I did want to make a move.”

“What?”

“Drew.”

Drew?” Mona glanced over at Drew, staring at the ground as he walked, his hair sticking up in those crazy black spikes. “You think she likes him?” she asked dubiously.

“Not sure. She feels something for him. She got pretty excited about him in Homeroom this morning. But it’s more what he felt for her.”

“What was it?”

“Like … volcanic shock. And then he was up and down, roller coaster style – angry, sad, excited, happy. It was weird.” I thought about it for a moment. Mona had been trying to hook me up with girls for over a year now. This was the first time I’d actually felt any kind of serious interest. There were a couple of girls I’d dated but they’d both gone kinda Cassie on me. Princessy. Mimi looked different, to me. “Anyway, how about we let the poor girl settle in before anyone starts dating her?”

“If it comes down to you and Drew, Gabe,” said Mona, “he doesn’t stand a chance. Get in there, boy!”

I couldn’t help a smile.

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