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   Chapter 3 Fran's and Ex-Friends

Cuddle Application By Anna Rae Characters: 14754

Updated: 2018-01-09 13:16

"Reality continues to ruin my life."

~Bill Watterson


I shoot up from the swivel chair, brain hammering against my skull as a reminder of last night. Walking backwards and away from the computer, my knees knocked against the chair and it rolled, quick and unstable, towards the beanbag where the cat is sitting. Mr. Snubs bolted away from the chair, hissing, the orange-brown hair on his neck shooting high. He all but tumbled out of the bedroom door and into the long hallway leading to the stairs. I started to follow him.

"I don't want any of this, " I said. "Shut down the website. Delete the account."

Nothing good could come from an early morning, Jack Daniels infused Cuddle Account. I stopped in the doorway, a hand on the white, wooden door frame to steady myself, and looked at my friends. Cora was staring at me, the definition of collected, trying to smother a laugh, and Lina was glancing between me and the computer, presumably trying to decide what to do.

Of course it was me in this situation. While drunk, Cora never made bad decisions. She just laughed a lot, red faced and tongue-tied. And Lina - well Lina just talked and talked, saying anything that came to mind.

I was the one who made bad decisions. Another reason to stop drinking.

"Lina, " I said again. "This is just a recipe for disaster - close it." Her fiery red hair looked as fierce as I felt, and even fiercer still with the sunlight from the open window shining on the curls. A bird chirped from outside and the sound irritated my head. I closed my eyes for a brief moment.

"But, " Lina started to say suddenly, "but don't you want to see this guy - this cuddle buddy?" Her eyes looked so hopeful, but it wasn't hard to crush the ever growing dreams that flourished behind her eyes.


Cora sighed. "You're being stupid. Last night, your drunk ass made this lame account and now you don't even want to see what's on it?" She leaned towards me, hope in her eyes.

I paused, thinking of what I could have said on my profile. I was probably too drunk to comprehend anything so none of the information probably made a lick of sense anyway.

"No, " I answered. "And I don't care about the guy, okay, I have Josh."

Josh. I remembered who he was suddenly.

Cora and Lina both rolled their eyes at this and I simply ignored their glares.

Josh was my boyfriend-but-not-boyfriend. We'd met sophomore year of high school, both part of the same big group of friends. I liked him from the start, but it wasn't until I grew boobs that he finally started liking me back. Cora and Lina thought he was stubborn and a jerk, but he was different when it was just us two - always kind and gentlemanly.

Josh was my not-boyfriend because neither of us wanted to put a label on it, whatever "it" was that we had, but I liked Josh, maybe even loved him. I definitely didn't need some stupid cuddle application to come in and ruin what we had.

"Josh treats you like shit, Sky, " Cora grumbled, looking down towards the floor. Lina stared at her open mouthed. Cora despised Josh, but Lina tolerated him because she knew how much I liked him. The few fights Cora and I had usually revolved around Josh, and Lina was always stuck in the middle.

"Cora-" she started, but with that, I turned from the room, padded angrily down the stairs, and pushed outside towards the car.

As I walked, I could hear them arguing about something before one of them laughed. I waited to hear them coming down the stairs, but they never did, so I advanced towards the car in the driveway. Somewhere along the way, I'd grabbed my backpack, which was now looped across my back. The morning air was brisk and dewy, the signs of upcoming summer becoming evident in the Oregon landscapes. The bird kept chirping and I want to scream at it. I was in no mood for noises or arguments.

I just wanted to go home and sleep.

I reached for a car door on the blue Bug that belongs to Cora, but the handle clicked when I pull it, and made no advance towards opening. I grumbled and dropped my backpack, leaning against the back of the car. The sun had warmed the metal and I closed my eyes.

Cora lived in a richer neighborhood. The houses were all looming and bright, with large windows that showed off the expensive furniture inside, and balconies jutting out from second and third floors. Some had large, white pillars rising to the full length of the house, giving them a White-House architectural feel.

I lived in a smaller neighborhood with less impressive houses, but my home was still very nice. Lina and I became next door neighbors when she moved in two houses down roughly a year after we'd met. It had been one of the greatest moments of our little, prepubescent lives.

We lived in a town called Helaci, Oregon, which was just under Oregon City. With a population of 6, 708, we weren't a tiny town, but Helaci still held a lot of small town stereotypes and drama. A large percent of the population was the elderly, but the only adults present were the ones who could get jobs. Helaci was older - a town based off a previous mining area. Now it was a mix between new and old, struggling to find it's niche. Jobs were not in abundance, so looking to the future often included looking outside where we lived.

A large portion of Helaci were kids or teenagers that couldn't wait to graduate and leave. It was not a town of future promise, though I did love it.

There were two schools on opposite sides of the river, which created a rivalry on each side. The biggest difference was if you were looking for trouble, my school, Helaci High, focused on alcohol, and the other school, Pemberson High, named after the first mayor, Mr. Pemberson, focused on drugs.

We were rivals, but I never minded to that, considering we all came from one middle school. Most things in Helaci depended on what side of the river you were on.

Towards the north side of town, Helaci River was a rough Rapids area, housing a small waterfall that tumbled from the tall, rockey hills into a bubbly pool of wavy currents. The river traveled its way, smooth and gentle, into town, where it created a wide, majestic lake and the base of the town before becoming a river once more and traveling further south. Most big events and parties happened on the river.

I was still thinking about Helaci when my friends finally stepped out of the house.

"What took you so long?" I asked impatiently. "I couldn't even wait in the car because it was locked."

I was fully aware of how I was acting, but what Cora had said earlier about Josh was untrue, and it always made me mad when they talked about Josh as if they even knew him. And to add to that, I was seriously hungry and hungover.

"Sorry, " Lina said softly, bright blue eyes looking down at the ground. "And we deleted the account."

Cora, however, smirked while unlocking the car. As the vehicle beeped and I opened the door, I wasn't sure I believed either one of them. Cora's face looked like she was up to no good, but that wasn't unusual because the girl usually was.

I didn't dwell too hard on it, however, because I was never visiting the shitty website again, my drunken websurfing be damned.

The ride to school was quiet and tension-filled. I ignored both of them, feeling somewhat of an outsider with both of my fr

iends. I didn't understand why they cared about my decision to ignore the cuddle account. The whole thing was probably bullshit, a way for creepy guys and perverts to find their next victim. It was like online dating but worse. Why would anyone want to cuddle with someone they don't know? I couldn't understand why anyone would sign up for such a thing, and the fact that I'd never heard of it before added to my feeling of doubt.

Nothing good could come of it, of that I was certain.

We arrived at school, a red brick building with two floors and not enough windows. On one side, the building was higher, were the auditorium was. Our school was in charge of theater, while Pemberton had the pools needed for swimming. They were the only two things we shared.

"Can you believe we only have a month left in this place?" I heard Lina ask.

There were students hanging around by the gates leading into the courtyard, but other than that, the parking lot was crammed with cars and virtually empty of students. The bell would ring at any moment, and we'd probably be late to first hour.

I hopped out of the car after Cora's parked, grabbing my backpack and slamming the door behind me. Cora snickered when she exits the vehicle and I couldn't stop myself before I whipped around.

"What?" I demanded. "Why are you laughing?" When she tried to deny it I said, "No. Even in the car you were smiling to yourself. What's going on?"

Cora's eyes cut to Lina's, where I could tell even Lina is hiding something.

"Lina, what?" I asked. "Guys seriously."

I felt so left out, which was a thing that doesn't normally happen in our friend group.

"Nothing, " they both said simultaneously. Cora looked down at her phone suddenly, and typed something. Lina was staring at a spot behind me.

Then there were arms around my torso, snaking me in. The musky smell of spicy cologne enveloped my senses.

"Josh, " I said.

His voice was warm on my ear. "Hey Skylar, babe." I felt his lips on the spot below my ear and I nudged him away slightly, smiling, because Cora was giving us both the death stare.

"Get a room, " she mumbled, walking past us with Lina in tow. Josh laughed.

I turned around, still in Josh's arms, and looked into his brown eyes. The sun was enhancing the gold slices in the irises. He was like someone out of a magazine, with his chiseled jaw and high male cheekbones. I sighed and slid further into the hug.

"You smell like booze, " he said, voice deep. I chuckled, cursing last night for so many reasons that he'll never know.

"Partied too hard, " I replied.

He made a low noise in the back of his throat. "Should have invited me."

"How are you?" I asked, laughing, and felt his hand sliding down my back until it rested on my butt. I squirmed as I heard male voices behind us.

"Yeah, Josh! Get that fine ass!" Josh's friends cooed, and I pushed him off of me. I glared behind me at them - at Dumb, Dumber, and Dumbest - before shoving past Josh.

"Dude, how come you haven't tapped that yet?!" One of them bellowed.

The fact that Josh didn't defend me didn't sting anymore, after so long of him not demanding respect from his friends. I wanted to blame him for their words, but like he often said, "you can't control your friends." Even still, you could chastise, but I don't tell him that.

You can't say stuff like that to your not-boyfriend.

The school day went by fairly quickly and uneventfully. My teachers droned on about the subjects that they taught and I saw Lina and Cora a few times, and they ignored my glares and walked away when I tried to talk to them. All day, I felt like I was fighting a battle I knew nothing about.

What is going on? I even scribbled on a piece of paper in English class. When Mrs. Tallman wasn't looking, I launched it across two rows of desks until it landed on Cora's desktop. She unfolded it, paused, and crumpled it up again.

I shot daggers at her blonde head.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted. My clothes were wrinkled and my head was hammering, the hangover gone, replaced with a headache of a different kind. I went to leave school but then remembered that my car wouldn't be in the parking lot. I walked over to Cora's blue bug to see her and Lina standing there, waiting for me.

Finally. Now I won't be ignored.

"Okay, now we're gonna talk, " I said firmly, hands on my hip and attempting to look fierce. "You're going to tell me what you've been hiding all day."

They looked at each other and laughed. I fought the urge to slap someone.

"Yes, we will, " Lina said, still smiling.

"Just not here, " Cora finished, putting a matching smile on her lips.

"Let's go for a ride." Lina grabbed me by the arm and led me towards Cora's car.

"I don't get why we have to go any-" I started to say, but got cut off when Lina grabbed my head and pushed me through the small car door. I yelped in surprise and started protesting when she slammed the door in my face. Half of my hair was caught, long locks of hair crimped and dangling on the outside window. "Lina-"

I went to open the door when suddenly the whole car shot forward. I screamed and slid left and right whenever the vehicle turned. I wasn't buckled in, but my hair kept me from going far. It almost ripped out of my skull as I slipped across the leather seats.

"Cora!" I screamed. "Slow down, my hair is stuck-"

She turned sharply down another street and I slammed into the window, my cheek making contact with the cool glass. My eyes closed and for a second I wasn't moving, until Cora flew down another street and I went tumbling across the seat again.

After what seemed like a good hour, but I knew was only a few minutes, the car stopped. I almost felt like throwing up because of how nauseating the ride was, but Cora simply ripped the car door open, releasing my hair, and tugged me out of the vehicle.

"Come on!" She ordered. "We're gonna be late!"

I was about to ask late for what, when I realized where we were. The small cafe stood in front of the parking lot we were standing in, small but cozy. It was the definition of a 50's cafe, with it's red and blacked checkered theme and overly padded booths. They served anything from burgers to shakes, and played old music from a jukebox in the corner.

"Okay, why are we at Fran's?" I asked.

Without answering, they pushed me through the swinging doors. The smell of fries and grease washed over me, making my stomach grumble. I suddenly realized that I hadn't eaten anything since breakfast that morning.

Cora gave me one last push further into the restaurant and I noticed that it was empty save for two older couples and one boy sitting in the corner, his back to us. Cora whistled, and to my horror, the guy turned around.

Time slowed down and I was face to face with the boy from the Cuddle account. I would've recognized his face anywhere, even though I only saw his tiny picture in the corner of a screen. He was the one who applied to be my cuddle buddy.

I froze in horror, my mouth agape, though I'm not sure whether it was from shock, or my response to how gorgeous this boy was.

His green eyes were piercing even from twenty feet away.

"Good luck, " Cora smirked, before sprinting out of the door with Lina.

I was glued to the spot.

Oh god, what have they done?

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