Malcolm instantly knew what she was getting at, and if it had been any other girl, he might have jumped at the chance, but this was Darlene, and while she was an attractive girl, she also had bunny boiler tendencies. He was not about to take the bait. Over Malcolm's shoulder Sam bit back a laugh. Darlene was making herself look so desperate, that's not to say he wouldn't if she'd made that offer to him, but even he liked girls to at least play hard to get.
Malcolm sighed and gave Darlene a weak smile. Telling himself to man up, he told her a half truth. He genuinely didn't want to hurt her feelings, but he was far from stupid. If he thought Darlene would still like him if he was broke, he may have given it a shot, but he knew that wasn't the case. "Look Darlene, your a cool girl and everything but... I don't wanna ruin our friendship, we've been friends for so long, if this doesn't work I'll be really upset about it, I mean, I don't want you to get hurt, you know?" he said, stroking the back of her hand and doing his best 'concerned male friend' expression. He fed her the same line he's used on so many girls he wasn't interested in. It worked like a charm, or so he thought.
"Aw Malcolm" she batted her eyelashes, "Just think about it some more okay? We could so make this work" she purred stroking his face gently. His face fell. Behind him, Sam began having a coughing fit trying to hide the fit of laughter bubbling up inside him, Darlene 1, Malcolm 0, he chuckled to himself. Malcolm gave her a weak smile and excused himself from the table. Shit, I'm losing my touch, what the hell am I supposed to do now?! he thought to himself. Darlene sat at the table smiling to herself, it was only a matter of time until he was hers. He didn't know it yet, but she'd make him see. They were perfect for each other. She just knew it.
"I really don't know babe, but I can't believe she doesn't get the hint. He can't have made it any clearer to her that he doesn't want to know. Darlene is just not his type, he's had girls after him because his parents are rich all his life, he can spot the real from the fake a mile away, it's kinda sad really " Mortimer said. "I know" Kaci sighed, "But you must be the same, your dads a rock star for crying out loud" she laughed. Mortimer just shrugged, Kaci sensed she might have hit a nerve, she changed the subject back to Darlene, "The thing is, I think she does get it, but she's so used to having her own way that it's going in one ear out of the other" she continued. Mortimer murmured in agreement. Kaci tried to push it to the back of her mind as she continued typing up the last paragraph of her assignment. About five minutes later she heard him snoring slightly. She shook her head and smiled clicked save on her now finished assignment. She'd worked so hard on it, she was aiming for an A but you never knew with her lecturer. Her door knocked and she heard Sandi ask if she could come in. "Sure, but we'll go onto the balcony, Mort's asleep". They tiptoed out onto the balcony and flopped down onto the chairs.
"Whats up Sand?" Kaci asked concerned, Sandi had been quieter than usual ever since they'd gotten back from Shang Simla. "Ugh, I don't know Kace, I'm just, I don't know what I am, confused I guess?" she laughed. Kaci smiled but said nothing, she knew Sandi, she'd talk when she was ready. They were quiet for a while and then Sandi burst into speech, "My life's just not how I pictured it you know? Don't get me wrong, its better, way better than I pictured, I just, kinda feel like I don't deserve it" she sighed. "Oh Sand, don't think that, you deserve it was more than any of us do, you haven't had it easy you know. I know your all smiles and jokes but if I'd had to deal with half of the things you have I honestly don't know where I'd be, your the strongest one out of all us, and don't you forget that!" Kaci reminded her kindly. Sandi smiled at her, "I knew you were my best friend for a reason" she grinned. "Anyway whats up with Darlene, she'd really mad at me over Malcolm and I don't get it, it's so totally not like that it's not even funny anymore." she moaned.
"I know but you know how Darlene is, she takes the littlest thing and blows it out of proportion. Although, I think she may have a point, ah let me finish" Kaci laughed upon seeing Sandi's shocked expression. "I do think Malcolm has a slight crush on you, you may not notice but I did, the way he looks at you, it might not be major, but there's definitely a little more than just friendship there, on his part that is. Now I can't speak for you but..." she trailed off, ducking as Sandi threw the cushion from the chair at her. "NO CHANCE!" she yelled. "It's Malcolm for crying out loud, its just not like that, its just not." Sandi huffed. Kaci laughed even harder, Sandi was so easy to tease, she didn't really think Malcolm liked Sandi, he was fiercely protective of her but Kaci put that down to them being so close. The door to her room opened and Mortimer came out yawning, "Hey Sand" he said sleepily, "Hey Mort, excuse me a sec" she said, rushing to answer her phone.
"Babe, I'm gonna take a shower, talk to Sandi okay?" she whispered, slipping inside and closing the door behind her. Sandi finished her phone call and sat down at the same time as Mortimer. "So, whats going on with you these days Miss French? Other than Darlene giving you the cold shoulder" he rolled his eyes. Sandi laughed, she knew Darlene wasn't Mortimers favourite person, never had been. In fact, she'd go so far as to say he just tolerated her for Kaci's sake. If she was completely honest with herself, she was the same, Darlene was not her favourite person either. She tried to like her, she really did, but the older she got, the less patience she had with her self centered ways.
"Anyway" he continued, "Malcolm's got it bad for someone else, he won't tell me who though, so I know it serious, I think its a girl one of our classes though, every time she walks in he gets all tongue tied and goes so red" Mortimer laughed out loud. Sandi laughed too, "He told me he liked someone but he wouldn't tell me who, I am so gonna tease him about this, who would have thought, Malcolm, love struck" she laughed again.
"I know I-" Kaci screamed cutting him off, "What the hell?" Mortimer jumped up, ready to run inside. Sandi burst out laughing, "I bet its the water, its probably gone cold again" she said wiping tears from her eyes, "Oh" Mortimer relaxed a little and let out a sigh, "I'll go see if I can fix it, see you in a little while French" he saluted her, "Later Goth" she saluted back smiling.
Sandi sat on her own for a while, looking at the night sky, the light from the Lighthouse was, a distant speck in her vision. She was so happy she had friends like Kaci and Mortimer. They were always there for her when she needed them, day or night. Malcolm too, sometimes more than the others. Obviously she was closer to Kaci, they were girls after all. But Malcolm had been the one to come pick her up at three in the morning and sneak her into his house, letting her sleep in his bed, whenever her mother kicked her out.
Even after his Dad went crazy and told him to take her home, Malcolm would disobey him and let her stay. He'd grab some pillows and a comforter and get comfy on the floor. He never tried anything with her, never made her feel like she owed him, and he never tried to make her talk about anything she didn't want to. For that, she was eternally grateful. The sound of his voice distracted her from her thoughts.
"Duude, why are you all out here one your lonesome?" he asked, sliding into one of the chairs.
"What is this? 'Don't leave Sandi alone for a minute' night?!" she joked. "Ooh! I know who your little crush is mister" she teased him. "What?! How?" he asked eyebrow raised. "Never you mind, a girl in one of your classes I hear. So come, on spill, who is she, whats her name?" she probed him. Malcolm laughed and brushed it off, "Nope. I'm not telling, at least not until I know she feels the same" he smiled. "Aww, come on Malc, do I know her? I know her don't I! Aw you gotta tell me now! No secrets remember?" she said doing her best wounded puppy dog eyes. "Oooh no, no you don't, don't try that on me!" he held his hands up and looked away. 'No secrets' was their thing. Ever since he'd helped her out so much he'd made her promise that they wouldn't hide anything from each other. She used it whenever she wanted him to tell her something, but he wasn't budging.
"Well, in that case, if your not gonna tell me, I'm just gonna go inside." she pretended to be offended. "No, Sandi wait, I'll tell you, it's just, I didn't wanna jinx it you know? Tell you before I've spoken to her about it." he sighed, rubbing his neck with one hand. "Jinx it? I'm your lucky charm" she winked. He didn't speak fora minute. "Sooo, who is she? Come one dude, it can't be that bad?" Malcolm looked at her quite intensely for a moment, and then he spoke. "You know her. . . you know her really well actually" he said quietly, never moving his eyes from her. Suddenly Sandi felt a little weird and she didn't know why. She didn't understand why he was looking at her so intently. "I do?" she asked, confused. "Yea, you do", he said, taking a step closer to her. And just like that she knew what he was trying to say. "Who... who is she?" she mumbled weakly. She didn't know why but she was rooted to the spot. She could feel her limbs freezing where they were. She stared back at him, unblinking, as he grabbed her hand and moved in closer still. Their lips were barely brushing when he smiled and finally answered her. "It's you". And then he kissed her and it all fell into place. She liked him too, really liked him. She always had. She'd just been denying it, probably because she knew Darlene did, but now as his lips touched hers, she couldn't deny it any more.
He held her hand and pulled her closer to him. She felt like she'd been shocked. It was like someone had ignited something in the two of them the moment their lips met. She'd never felt anything like it. She was about to pull away when he lifted her chin and kissed her again. She knew then he was in complete control of her, it both scared and excited her. No one had ever made her feel like this, and she could tell he knew it. He was teasing her mouth in ways she'd never imagined possible but his hands never moved, he didn't try to grope her, or make any move to take her inside and upstairs to his room, which again was something new. Okay, so maybe she'd been the one doing the leading but still, this was different. She felt surprisingly vulnerable. And weirdly, she liked the feeling.
They didn't hear the sound of the footsteps coming up the stairs, or the sound of Kaci's bedroom door open and close. They didn't notice they person standing the other side of the glass door, eyes, narrowed, arms crossed fuming.
Darlene stood there, face burning, eyes locked onto them. How could he do this to her. They were meant to be together. Maybe Sandi threw herself at him she told herself, ignoring the fact that it was obvious Malcolm was in total control. Sandi looked as though she was just following his lead. She couldn't keep her arms crossed and she realized she was shaking. No, this had to be Sandi's doing. Malcolm wouldn't do that to her. He wanted to be with her as much she wanted to be with him. He didn't show it but she knew it.
Watching the way he kissed her tenderly drove her insane. She'd only ever dreamed about being kissed like that, and especially by him. Sandi didn't deserve that, she didn't deserve him. She slept with anything moving, everyone knew that. Maybe she'd helped spread the rumors but what Sandi didn't know wouldn't hurt her. However what Darlene knew would. She decided to keep what she'd seen to herself until she knew how to play this. Sandi didn't know who she was messing with. She'd never been so angry in her life. There was no way she was going to let her have him. No way in hell.
"Did you hear that?" Sandi mumbled, "Hear what.." Malcolm asked, only really half interested, he'd been lost in her soft lips for what felt like forever and he didn't care what she heard, he didn't want to stop. "No Malcolm, stop" she said, putting her hands on his chest and looking at the door "I'm sure I just heard Kaci's door close", she whispered worriedly. Malcolm tilted her head towards him and looked into her eyes, "I don't care, let them see. Look, I like you, I've liked you for a while, and I don't know what this is, but I'd like to see where it goes, I don't want to pressure you into anything, but I want to be honest. . . if you don't want that yet that's fine, I just want you know".
Sandi's breath caught in her chest. Her instant reaction was to run, commitment wasn't her thing, but something stopped her, made her think twice. She didn't say anything at first, she just nodded. Malcolm smiled and pulled her into a hug. Eventually, she answered him. "Malcolm?" she said. "Yea?" he answered. Sandi smiled, somehow knowing she was doing the right thing, "I'd like that too".