Rules of a Rebel and a Shy Girl(9)

By: Jessica Sorensen

“I’m guessing Claude the nose picker broke up with her?”

“Was he the nose picker? I thought that was Wally.”

“No, I’m pretty sure Claude was the nose picker. Wally was caterpillar brows.”

“You know what? I think you’re right.” I’m on the verge of smiling, something only Beck can get me to do when we’re talking about my mom’s many ex-boyfriends.

He actually came up with the idea of giving them nicknames after I divulged I had a difficult time remembering their names. We started giving them quirky names based on their habits and weird characteristics, like Claude the nose picker, Wally the caterpillar brows, and Ed the wedgie picker.

The headlights spotlight my car as a vehicle pulls up right behind me.

Fuck, someone stopped.

When I turn in my seat, someone raps on my window. Whirling back around, I damn near bump my head on the ceiling.

“You need some help?” A guy in his late twenties smiles at me through the window. “I’m not very good with cars, but I can give you a ride somewhere.”

I swallow down a shaky breath. “I’m fine. My friend is actually on his way to pick me up. He’ll be here in a few minutes,” I lie. It’ll take Beck at least twenty minutes to get here.

“You sure?” he asks, squinting through the window to get a better look at me.

I gulp. “I’m fine. I promise.”

His gaze travels across my exposed legs, and I shift in the seat, tugging the hem of my jacket lower.

“Well, all right, then.” He stares at me for another slamming heartbeat before hiking back to his car.

“Willow, what the hell is going on?” Beck asks through the phone I’m clutching.

Letting out an uneven breath, I put the phone back to my ear. “Some guy just stopped to see if I need a ride.” I cast an anxious glance in the rearview mirror at the unmoving car. “How far away are you?”

“I’ll be there in about ten minutes,” he says. “Did the guy leave?”

“No. He’s just sitting in his car right now … I’m sure he’ll leave soon, though.” I hope.

“Are your doors locked?”


“Do you still have that pepper spray I gave you?”

“Yeah, it’s in the glovebox.” I lean over the console to get it out. “I hope it still works. You gave it to me forever ago.” It was about a year ago after I had to pick up my mom from some sketchy bar and got harassed by a group of drunken guys. When I told Beck about what happened and how scared I was, he went out and bought me a can of pepper spray and made me take a self-defense class.

That’s Beck for you, always looking out for me. He has been since we were kids, and he promised me in the car that he would always be there for me.

At the time, I believed he’d never break the promise. Now that I’m older, I understand that one day after he falls in love, he’ll become a knight in shining armor for someone else. Whoever she is, she’ll be very lucky because Beck is great. Perfect. But not for me.

No guy is perfect for me. And I’m not perfect for any guy.

Nothing is ever perfect.

I really need to learn to stop relying on him so much. Stop spending so much time with him.

The last thought makes me feel sick.

I clutch the can of pepper spray in my hand. “I wonder if pepper spray expires.”

“I’m not sure.” He sounds unnervingly worried, a rare occurrence for Beck, and my uneasiness skyrockets. “Is he still there?”

“Yeah.” I don’t even have to look to know. The blinding headlights announce his presence.

“If he gets out of the car again, hang up and call the police.”

My heart rate accelerates so rapidly I worry I’m about to have a heart attack. “Beck, I think—”

The guy knocks on the passenger side window, and I’m startled, dropping the phone.


“Hey, I was thinking that maybe I could sit with you until your friend shows up.” His lips curl into a grin. “I’m Dane, by the way.”

Like telling me his name will somehow make me more willing to let him in my car.

Keeping my eyes on him, I lean forward and feel around for the phone.

“Come on,” Dane continues, grinning at me. “I don’t bite. I swear.”

“L-look, Dane, thanks for the offer.” Take deep breaths, Willow. Deep breaths. Find your phone and call the police. “B-but, like I said, my friend will be here any minute.”

He glances up and down the empty road then back at me. “Are you sure about that? Because I don’t see any cars coming.”

“Y-yes, I’m sure.” Calm down. Steady your voice. Stop panicking.

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