Danielle? What’s she doing here? Shouldn’t she be off…painting her girlfriends’ toenails or at the mall getting all the latest clothes…or doing whatever it is girls do? Come to think of it, what do girls do when they’re not at school? I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that it doesn’t involve being here in the mall elevator with me.
The mall.
Wait just a second.
Oh, man. Oh, man.
The mall. Of course. That is where girls hang out, right? But still, what’s she doing going up to the arcade? Can’t you see the sign that clearly states that this elevator is to be used only by Thornton Winslow?
Well, who am I kidding? There is no sign. And even if there were, would someone with a name like mine actually get to ride the elevator? Alone?
My palms break out in sweat. I can’t do this. I can’t even look in her direction. Her eyes. They’re brown. Just like…oh, good grief, no. Don’t even think about it, Thorton. You can’t afford a meltdown in front of the cutest girl in all of town.
Danielle pulls out her phone and looks at it, then laughs. It sounds like…oh, wait. Didn’t I just say not to go that way? God help me. So I tap my toes. Twiddle my thumbs. Chew a fingernail. She casts me a look. I attempt a half-hearted grin.
Suddenly, the lights flicker off and the elevator comes to a grinding halt. I involuntarily win the Guinness World record for screaming the most like a little girl, and Danielle looks in my direction, bemused. Inwardly, I moan.
Silence. Oh, the blessed silence. I breathe in and out. Once. Twice. Then look around. We appear to be stuck.
“We appear to be stuck,” I croak. Danielle raises an eyebrow at me. She punches buttons. Nothing.
“Maybe I can c—” she mutters.
“Maybe you should try the call button,” I interrupt her helpfully, nodding.
She rolls her eyes. “That,” she says, “is what I was going to say.”
Not trusting myself to say anything, I bob my head rapidly. From what I hear, it appears we will be stuck for at least a half hour. I jerk my head in her direction. A half hour? 30 minutes? 1,800 seconds? With Danielle Coffey?
This can’t be happening. Not to me. It could be anyone else. But no. Of course not. It’s me. Danielle sighs, resigned to fate. It’s easy for her. She’s not stuck with her lifelong crush…well, if 3 years ago counts as anything lifelong.
She’s on her phone again. This can’t go on much longer. I need to do something. Anything. It’s now or never. And if I perish…well, then, she’d better be sorry. Maybe give me a decent burial or something while she’s at it. Whatever.
I take a breath. Remember that once I speak, there’s no going back. And then…
“Uh, hi. My name’s Thorton.”

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