At school, Meghan found Maura and Judith standing together by the lockers. Eager for the latest gossip, she approached Maura. "So how'd it go after I saw you Saturday night? Did you finally talk to Jeremy?"
Maura shook her head. "I didn't get the chance. After I talked to you he went off with one of his friends and by the time he came back the music had started and it was too loud to talk."
"Maybe that wasn't the best time to talk to him. You'll get another chance."
Maura shook her head sadly. "It was a stupid idea to begin with. I think it's just not meant to be. How was your night?"
"Lame," Meghan replied. "I spend the whole time as the fifth wheel."
"Sounds like it was a bust all around," Maura said with a sigh. "A total waste of time."
"Speak for yourselves," Judith finally spoke up. "Vince and I had fun."
Maura and Meghan exchanged a look before turning back to Judith again.
"You and Vince?" Meghan asked with a suggestive raise of her eyebrows.
Finally catching on to what they were implying, Judith huffed out a sigh of frustration and rolled her eyes. "Don't you two ever think about anything else? You both have one track minds," she said and shook her head as she walked away.
* * * * *
"Hey," Jeremy greeted Natalie as he approached the sophomore in the hallway.
"We missed you at the concert the other night. I hope everything is okay."
"Yeah, it's fine. I just wasn't really in the mood for it," she replied with a shrug.
"Neither was I," Jeremy admitted. "I kind of got roped into it by Maura and my sister."
At the mention of Maura, Natalie smiled weakly and looked away. She felt like for the sake of her friend, she should get out of this conversation.
Jeremy could sense the shift in her mood and wondered what he said or did to make her pull away. He pressed on with the conversation keeping his tone cheerful and light. "It was kind of fun though. Maybe next time something's going on, you can come."
"Maybe," Natalie replied. She really wanted to be more enthusiastic, but when she saw Maura coming down the hallway, she felt guilty. "We'll see."
Normally Maura would have been thrilled to run into Jeremy in the hallway. On any other day she would have skipped over to him and tried to start a conversation, but after the disappointment of last weekend's concert, she couldn't even bring herself to make eye contact with him. A part of her still hoped he would call out to her and if he had, she would have happily gone back to the way things were, but she decided she was done chasing after him and kept her eyes averted as she tried to walk past without notice. She was secretly disappointed when he didn't say anything to her and only Natalie fell in step with her as she continued down the hall.
Meghan watched the awkward exchange with growing curiosity and decided to hang back with her cousin as she watched him watch the two other girls walk away. She was about to question him, but he spoke up first.
"Did I do something to offend her?"
"Uh, yeah! You don't know?" Meghan asked, as if it were obvious. When Jeremy looked at her with utter confusion, she sighed and continued on, annoyed that she had to spell it out for him. "She really likes you and you were kind of jerk to her."
"What? When was I jerk?" he asked, frowning. He couldn't recall anything he'd said or done around Natalie that would be considered jerk-like behavior, unless just talking to her in the hallway occasionally was making her uncomfortable. If it was, he'd stop.
"The concert . . ." she said slowly, expecting him to follow her line of thought.
"All I said was I was sorry she didn't go. Was that the wrong thing to say?"
"Wait, what?" Meghan asked, confused. Her mind was turning his words over, trying to make sense of them when she realized they couldn't be talking about the same person. "Are you talking about Natalie?"
"Yeah . . . who were you talking about?" There was only one person it could logically be, but it didn't make sense. "Maura?" When Meghan nodded, he asked, "She's mad at me about the concert? Why?"
"Because you ditched her for your friend."
"I just went to talk to him for a few minutes and she had Judith and Vince with her. I didn't think she'd care."
"Oh my gosh, are you really that blind? What did you think that whole concert scheme was about anyway?"
"Judith . . ." he started, but cut himself short. He knew it was a weak explanation that he didn't believe himself at this point.
"Why are guys always so clueless? I mean, Maura's not exactly subtle. You're probably the only one who doesn't already know that she's totally in love with you."
Meghan continued on her tirade about how guys always fall for the wrong girls, but Jeremy wasn't listening. Meghan's revelation left him with a sickly feeling in the pit of his stomach.
As if she had read his mind, Meghan asked, "You seriously had no idea?"
"No," he simply said. Now he really did feel like a jerk. "Are you sure that's how she feels?" Meghan didn't even have to respond to that question, her face said it all. "I didn't mean to hurt her feelings. Is she really upset?"
Meghan shrugged. The passing period was almost over and she was ready to end this conversation before she was late to class. "She'll get over it."
As Meghan walked away, Jeremy started towards his next class alone. He replayed the past in his mind and was convinced that he couldn't have done anything differently and that he hadn't done anything wrong, but he couldn't help feeling bad about the entire situation. He didn't want Maura to feel hurt, especially about him. He decided he needed to make this up to her and to find a way to let her down easy.