“Azure?” whispers Paeline. “Are you okay?”
I shake my head, clenching my stinging hands into fists. The scrapes on my palms burn even with the bandages. I’d fallen face-first into the dirt when Peter had turned away, and now I am paying the price for my own stupidity.
I don’t respond.
With a heavy puff of air, she lopes over to my bed and plops down beside me. “Did you fall into a basket of salty dresses?” she asks.
I sniff and swipe at the tears on my cheeks. “No.”
“What happened, then? Did Dominique break up with you yet? Did you find out that he’s an axe murderer?”
I shake my head. “No. It wasn’t Dominique.”
“Does it have to do with the dirt on your dress? Was it demon pox? Does it have to do with aliens? I knew Dominique was an alien, I told you-”
“It wasn’t Dominique, okay? Will you please leave me be?”
Paeline’s face fills my vision as she bends awkwardly over me. “Was it Peter?!”
My silence betrays me, and Paeline gasps. “It was Peter!!!” she exclaims. “What happened with Peter?!”
I sit up and let my head fall back against the wall. “Dominique kissed me, okay?”
“And then, after he left, Peter showed up. And… and he almost kissed me.”
I stare back.
“What is wrong with you two?! It’s like you’re determined not to be together!!! No matter how many times I try to get you two alone together, no matter how many times I tell you how stupid you’re being-”
I blink and turn to face her. “Excuse me? Since when do you have the right to comment on my love life?”
“Since you signed on to be my big sister!” she yells.
“I didn’t sign on to be your big sister! Our relationship is completely based on a coincidence.”
Hurt gleams in Paeline’s dark eyes. For a moment, she is unusually quiet. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“I was born. You were born. It isn’t like we were predestined to be related.” I sigh. “Look, Mama is asleep. That means we have to quiet down, okay?” I tilt my head at Paeline. “Got it?”
“Fine! Calm down.”
I roll my eyes and flop back down on the bed, hoping Paeline will go away.
She takes her cue to leave. The mattress shifts slightly as her weight leaves the bed. I barely hear the footsteps as she approaches the door.
Just before she leaves, her sock feet slow to a stop. “Wanna know why you and Peter need to be together?”
I think back to the night of my concert. The look on Peter’s face had made my heart race, my hands sweat. I’m not sure whether to be angry or confused anymore. Not after tonight.
“Because what you have runs deeper than romance. He’s your best friend. He’s the only person who will always be there for you.”
She slams my door behind her. I flop down on my bed and cover my ears with my pillow, but the words she’d said won’t stop echoing in my head.