"You are despicable!" I could see the spit fly.

"Don't be such a bitch, Lexi." Sarcasm could not accurately portray how much I loved being present for whisper-scream arguments. They're the best.

Is this terrible?

I looked up from the text to the sender, Cody, and nodded my assent; that yes seeing our best friends whisper arguing in a Target was in fact terrible.

"You know what Ben…"

"Oh, what Lexi?!"

Lexi and Ben were that couple, the couple that had been together since middle school; since the times when everyone (even the stinky kid that picked his nose) got a valentine on Valentine's Day. And to be completely honest, they were pretty perfect - and I, being the special friend that I am, have been privy to a considerable amount of their fights. They were currently arguing over something insignificant while pretending to shop; they had perfected the arguing in public politely routine and because of this tended to bring along friends, when tensions rose, for two major reasons, (1) more of a semblance of normal shopping and (2) backup.

However, there was always a cue for us to leave them be. And it came when Lexi said: "Stop it, Benjamin! We're in public!" On cue a text dinged on my phone: Finally, thank god. I smiled at my phone before composing myself, "Hey, Lex, I actually needed to pick up some things, would you mind if…?" I waved my hand in the specific direction of away.

"Oh, of course!" she squeezed my shoulder, "Meet up at one?" I nodded and waved at Ben, before turning on my heels and practically running away. I ducked into another aisle and waited for the inevitable arrival of Cody on my heels. As he began to walk past, I gripped his sleeve and pulled him in, laughing: "Boo!"

"Shit!" he jumped and dissolved into laughter next to me.

"Well," he continued, composing himself, "If it isn't my secret best friend Allison Brownstone." He ruffled my hair, "Get off," I growled, straightening my hair. As we walked out of the pillow aisle, I shoved him lightly, "I'm not your secret best friend."

He shrugged nonchalantly and smiled at me, "Well, no. But we only talk at times like this."

"Yeah, I guess."

"I really do need some shoes though," he commented and began dragging me by the wrist to the shoe section. He released me when we got there and we went our separate ways to browse shoes. I was peering at boots and pondering Cody Gold. I never really thought about Cody Gold or considered him in anyway, but when he called me his "secret best friend" I definitely felt something in my gut. We never talked really, except when stuck with our friends (arguing or no). Now that I thought about it, however, he was cute. Not super tall, but good for someone my height. He dressed reasonably well, had nice sandy blonde hair (probably soft). He had a nice smile, with this one sort of crooked tooth that made it imperfect and beautiful. Cody also had, like, gorgeous hands.

"Hey, Allison," someone drawled my name, and a heavy arm tucked itself around my neck. When I looked up I found Bobby Aguilar. He smirked at me and I smiled back, blushing at the look in his eyes.

"Hi Bobby," I twisted myself out from under his overtly large, muscly arm. "Congrats on the math grade," I told him.

"Couldn't have done it without my gorgeous tutor!" he winked at me and put his hand on my shoulder. His hand was huge and meaty, making me feel hot and uncomfortable. I looked away from him, suddenly feeling awkward, "I'm sure that's not true…"

"No," he said, his face getting close to mine, "It is." We were inches apart now and I could smell pink bubblegum on his breath. I suppressed a shudder and looked away, desperate to put distance between us without offending him.

"Hey Ally, what do you think…" I heard Cody call from down the aisle, but his sentence trailed off in the middle of his question. Desperately I twisted away from Bobby and took a few steps towards Cody, "Think of what?" I wondered, staring directly at him, hoping he would sense my Bobby-distress.

Cody was looking at Bobby, but he held out a shoe and said: "Of these shoes?" I nearly leaped for the shoe. Once in my hands, I looked at it with concentration before recognizing the long pause that seemed to engulf the size-six shoe aisle. I looked up at Cody, who wasn't looking at me, and then over at Bobby who was glaring menacingly in our direction. I gulped and blushed mumbling, "Um, I really like these - they'll look good on you."

Bobby lumbered over to us, crossing his arms and frowning deeply. He paused between us and said gruffly: "You two a thing?"

My jaw dropped and I stared at him, when I looked at Cody he was looking at me with his eyebrows raised. My eyes flashed between them, my body frozen before finally mumbling out, "N-no." I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts. Because it was true, we weren't "a thing." But there was a deep ache in my chest that told me something different…shit.

"Good," Bobby said, slinging his arm across my shoulders and leading me away from Cody. My eyes widened and I looked back at him desperately. Bobby was saying something about pizza. I shook my head, "N-no," I planted my feet, "Um, I'm not hungry." And I turned and practically ran away from the tall athlete.

When I was back in front of Cody there was a pause before I said: "But yeah, I like the shoes." My cheeks felt hot and my heart was racing; these last five minutes had been incredibly stressful. Cody chuckled and looked down at me, a huge grin plastered across his face.

"Cool," he said, placing the shoe in the box and looping his arm through mine he led me away. When I looked back Bobby Aguilar was looking extremely disgruntled and unhappy. He was hunched over a small object in his hands – I assumed his phone.

My heart was pounding against my chest and heat was surging through my body from the point of contact between Cody and I. How was I supposed to act around him now…now that I liked him? I kept glancing up at him nervously, completely unsure of what I should be saying. Why weren't we talking? Shouldn't we be talking? What am I supposed to say? What's the least weird thing I could say? I have to say something! Is this an awkward pause? I felt words bubbling up out of necessity and it wasn't until after I said: "I need to buy some underwear!" that I realized that was probably the worst thing I could have said.

Cody froze, his entire body going stiff and he stared down at me with wide eyes. I broke away from him and put my face in my hands. I shook my head, "No, no that's not what I…not underwear for me, for a toddler!" I looked at him and he looked even more confused. I shook my head again, trying to get my thoughts straight, dying inside, "For my brother…" I whispered the words, hoping they'd be my salvation and realizing that I just became the most uncool girl in the world. This conversation thing had taken a turn for the worst.

Suddenly there was a huge guffaw of laughter and when I looked up from my hands Cody was bent over laughing. My jaw dropped and I just stared at him. He hooked his arm through mine again and said: "Okay then, let's go buy your brother some underwear."

In the underwear section, I came to believe that my cheeks would remain permanently red from the embarrassment I had invited onto myself. Cody and I were standing next to each, shoulder-to-shoulder, staring at the boys underwear display. I wasn't even looking at the underwear, I was trying to gauge his reaction; I needed to calculate how long I would have to go without speaking to him before this ordeal would blow over.

Cody took a step forward, toward the rack, and said: "I like Superman, personally." There was laughter in his voice, and I stood stock still, my mortification never ending because I had to say: "Um…my brother doesn't really like superheroes…"

"Huh," Cody said, going with me, "Race cars, then?"

I shook my head, letting my hair cover my perpetually burning face, biting my bottom lip. "N-no."

There was a pause and when I looked up at Cody he had an eyebrow raised as if to say, "Do you even know what kind of underwear you need to buy? Or did you bring me over here for nothing?" I covered my face with my hands and mumbled, "Frozen." I heard his footsteps approach me, "Sorry, what?"


His slim, cool hands clasped around my wrists. He gently tugged my hands away from my face and he looked at me, "Excuse me?" I took a deep steadying breath and said clearly, "My brother likes Frozen."

There was a painstakingly long pause where we just stood there, his face inches from mine, his hands looped gently around my wrists. Then, as the information seemed to have finished being computed in his brain, a huge goofy smile broke out across his face. He laughed lightly, his head dipping down so it grazed the tops of my hands. In an unexpected move, he let go of my wrists and wrapped me in his arms. Laughter still rumbled from his chest as he incased me in his thin arms, his chin resting gently on the top of my head. And in that moment I was cleared of all thoughts except: I was right, he's perfect for my height.

Without releasing me he said: "Mine, too," in raspy, laughter filled breaths. I broke into a smile, relieved, my heart racing. When he stepped back, he looked at me for a moment and shook his head still chuckling lightly. He scooped up a package of Frozen underwear and walked out of the aisle.

I took my face in my hands and brushed my fingers across my forehead, as if trying to wash away past embarrassment and keep in the feeling of his hug. I was in deep emotional shit right now, and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face. "Oh, crap," I murmured gleefully.

"You coming?" When I looked up Cody was smiling at me from further down the aisle, and I dropped my hands and followed him.

"I can't believe your brother likes Frozen," he said, and as we walked his hand had casually found mine and neither of us was letting go. Our hands swung between us and I smiled at him, "What a coincidence."

And as I looked at his smile, the one that took up most of his face and had a little crooked, perfect tooth. And his slim fingers enveloped in my shorter ones. And his green eyes scrunched up in laughter. As I looked at him, I realized what I was going to do. So I planted my feet in the ground, so that he was pulled back to stand in front of me. I took a deep breath and willed my cheeks to remain a constant skin-color.

"Before we buy this underwear I have to tell you something."

"It's really for you?" he joked, and I laughed because of course he would say that. I punched his shoulder lightly.

"I realized something today," I told him and his face got serious and his eyebrows raised and I said, "I think, I sort of, kind of, maybe a lot, or just a little, like you a lot." I realized after the fact that I used about thirteen too many words in that sentence. Upon completing my confession I could not find it within myself to look at him and see his reaction, but I continued and mumbled something like: "And maybe we could, sometime, when you're free, if you want to, maybe get coffee or food or something." I realized I was sort of directing this sentence at my shoes, but I hoped Cody would figure out that I was talking to him.

"Why Ally Brownstone," he said, "Are you asking me out?" I clenched my teeth and resolved to look at him, "Yes." The word came hard pressed between gritted teeth and it took all of my will and power to keep looking at him. He chuckled and I felt my heart fall. But then he cupped my cheek and with his lips inches away from mine he said: "As long as you're not my secret girlfriend," and he kissed me.