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Loveboat in μ„œμšΈ

How Would It Be


"You'reΒ the artist."

Prickles run down my back. Kang was drawing me before he and Sohee even got together. I wouldn't be human if I denied that part of me incredibly flattered. One of the most sought-after guys on Loveboat has rendered my portrait five times.

This guy wants you, Sohee had said.

He smiles. "Did you think it was Target?"

"OfΒ courseΒ not," I say. Too quickly. His eyes flicker. I knew it couldn't it. But why this rush of disappointment? IΒ don'tΒ want the Wonder Boy my parents would swoon over. And if JoohyukΒ hadΒ been the artist, dating Rosie, sending me this unspeakable message while pretending to help me figure it out, my respect for him would have diminished.

"Why?" I ask Kang.

"Why what?"

"Why are you drawing me?"

"Am I any good?"

Just like that, he's forced me to study it: My miniature hand hovers aΒ pilΒ over my rice paper. The first of a character waits for a companion. Inky hair waterfalls along my face and my profile is turnedβ€”not toward the paper, but the bo fighters outside the glass doors.

Watching Joohyuk.

I blush. Caught doing something I hadn't even realized I was doing.

"It's incredible." He sees the world in bursts of color and shapes, rather than coloring-book outlines.

Kang exhales. He was waiting for my verdictβ€”and it mattered to him. But why would he care? Right now, all I see is the guytryign to seduce me with his sketchesβ€”and almost succeeding.

Almost.

I push the picture back at him. "You can't draw me."

His lashes flicker. "Why not?"

My voice sharpens. "You're with Sohee. You should drawΒ Sohee." It would be her dream come trueβ€”just as she's three times more excited to get her glamour shot proofs than me.

"Maybe I don't want to draw Sohee. Maybe I'm not with her either."

"Maybe?" I shove my chair back, scraping the floor. "I shouldn't even be having this conversation!" The teacher glances our way and I lowered my voice. "Maybe sleeping with a girl means nothing to you, but it does to most girls, okay?"

His upper lip curls. "Sometimes things aren't always the way they seem."

We're talking in circles. This is dangerous. We're headed into a weekend that Sohee's spent every waking minute planning endured a full-body wax forβ€”all for Kang.

Wendy will never know half of the bone-crushing agony I felt when she told me she was dating Nick, and there's no way I'd do that to Sohee.

Kang leans into me. I catch the spicy scent of his cologne and snatch my arm away, hating myself for the part of me that's enjoying his balant interest. Hating myself for the curl of curiosity of what it would feel like to have those soft lips on the palaces of me he's drawn.

I tear Kang's painting in half, then fourths, then eighths. It's like stomping on a butterfly to spite the bully who hatched it from its cocoon, but I don't let on.

Kang's gaze follows my movements, but he makes no move to stop me. His expression doesn't change. Class is ending. Students are clipping damp calligraphy pages to a clothesline to dry.

I drop the pieces onto his notebook, brace my paint-smudged hands on the table, and rise over him.

"Don't you dare say a word about this to Sohee," I say fiercely. "You'reΒ herΒ boyfriend. You bought her thatΒ rug."

his mouth sets in a line. He's used to being accused, as well as he should be.

"Just for the record," he says. "I've never slept with Sohee."

What?

Uncertainty flutters like a trapped month inside me. The pieces of painting swirl over his hand.

But I've heard every detail from her lips myselfβ€”all the girls have. I have no idea why, but he must be lying. Thank goodness Joohyuk neverΒ didΒ find out Kang was my artistβ€”he'd have told Sohee and then what?

"You know what? It doesn't matter." With a jerk, I grab my calligraphy book. "And for the record, you're an . Stop drawing me."

I storm to the clothesline, clip my page to it, then escape out the door.

But I can't escape the fear that our weekend has just grown exponentially more complicated.

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