Home > Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2)(16)

Leah on the Offbeat (Creekwood #2)(16)
Author: Becky Albertalli

Bram bites his lip. “Do you think I could borrow that drum kit?”

11

THE TRICKY PART IS THE timing. Getting Simon to school by 8:15 is easy. Getting him there at exactly 8:15 takes a little more finesse. Thank God Nora talked me into spending the night, because who knew Simon Spier was so aggressively punctual in the mornings. It’s taking all our combined efforts to stall him.

“You guys,” Simon bellows up the stairs at 7:44. “Come on, let’s go!”

“Just a minute!” Nora yells back.

“What are you guys even doing up there?”

Nora pokes her head out into the hallway. “Dude. Cool your jets.”

“Is he always this excited about school?” I mutter.

Nora rolls her eyes. “Yeah. He likes to do homework in the mornings with Bram.”

“Homework,” I say, with air quotes.

“Exactly.”

Simon clambers up the stairs and hovers in Nora’s doorway. “Guys. We’re going to be late.”

“No we’re not.” Nora calmly latches her guitar case. “You just want to get there early to see your boyfriend.”

Simon huffs. “I have homework. Come on. We’re leaving.” He grabs Nora’s backpack.

“Wait,” Nora says. Simon looks exasperated, but Nora just shrugs. “I think I’m wearing two left socks.”

“No. No you’re not. That’s not a thing,” says Simon. “Let’s go.”

Then he hoists the backpack onto his shoulder, already tugging his keys out of his pocket. I swear to God, that clueless little peanut. It’s like he’s determined to ruin his own promposal.

Nora and I exchange wry glances as soon as he leaves the room. “It’s fine. We can stall him in the parking lot.” She grabs her guitar case.

The Spiers live five minutes from school—I think they can technically walk there. Simon pulls into the senior lot and checks his phone as soon as the car’s off. I check the clock on the dashboard: 7:57.

“Actually, I need advice,” I blurt.

It’s a foolproof question—Simon loves being needed. And sure enough, his whole face lights up. “Yeah. Okay, yeah, sure. Let me just text Bram . . . okay. What’s up?” He turns all the way around to face me.

“It’s about Garrett,” I say, leaning forward between the seats.

Ten minutes later, Simon’s talking in circles. “So, you just no-showed?” he asks.

I shrug sheepishly. “Yeah.”

“But Garrett thinks you went to the game.”

I nod.

“Leah!”

“Am I the worst person?”

“Well, no,” says Simon. “That would be Voldemort.”

“But I’m close, right? Like, Voldemort is here.” I level my hand up, almost to the roof of the car. “And I’m here.” I drop my hand a few inches. “And then the next worst guy is down here. Like, the dentist who killed that lion. He’s right here.”

Nora laughs. “Wow.”

“You have to tell him,” says Simon.

My stomach drops. “You think?”

“Yeah.” He nods. “You should be honest. Just explain what happened, you know? Garrett’s a really nice guy. He’ll totally understand.” Simon rubs his cheek, pondering this. “Or . . . you could say you got sick. Okay, that actually sounds more plausible. You could just be like, ‘Hey, I was about to leave, but then I got really, really sick, and I couldn’t even check my phone.’”

The corners of my mouth tug upward. “So I should be honest . . . but also lie.”

“Yes,” Simon says.

“Simon.”

“I could tell him for you. I could hint that you had really bad diarrhea and were too embarrassed to mention it. Garrett, of all people, would definitely understand that.” Simon snickers.

“I’m not telling Garrett I had diarrhea!”

“Right, I’ll tell him.”

“I will hurt you.”

“Me too,” Nora says.

“Why are girls so violent?” asks Simon.

I don’t even respond. I just side-eye him to hell.

“Maybe you shouldn’t mention it,” Simon says a moment later. “He’ll probably just forget about the whole thing.”

“So now you’re saying she shouldn’t say anything?” Nora asks.

“Definitely not.” He nods firmly.

So I should definitely tell the truth and definitely lie and also definitely avoid the conversation altogether. Thank you for this classic Simon wisdom.

“Hey, so what do you think of Garrett?” Simon asks slyly.

“Oh, hey! Will you look at that? It’s almost eight fifteen,” I say. Already, my hand’s on the door.

Now I just have to get Simon to the music room. I could ask him to watch me drum. Is that weird? I don’t think he’d suspect anything, but what if he’s just like nah? Then it’s basically game over, unless I want to seem pushy and obsessed. But I can’t let Bram down, so—

“I have to go the bathroom. Here.” Nora shoves her guitar case at Simon, and hurries into school.

“Diarrhea,” Simon says, nodding sagely. He glances down at the guitar case. “What do I do with this?”

Nora, you fucking hero.

“We could drop it off in the music room,” I say with the most casual shrug I can muster.

The entire music room is lit up with Christmas lights. In March. And Simon doesn’t even notice.

“Someone left your drum kit out,” he remarks, setting Nora’s guitar beside it.

“It’s not actually my drum kit.” I glance at the storage closet before turning back to Simon. “Anyone can use it.”

“Really?” His whole face lights up.

“Totally.” I nod. “You should try it.”

Simon settles onto the stool, looking like a toddler about to fly an airplane. I bring him some drumsticks and he peers up at me, beaming. “I’ve seriously always wanted to do this.”

“Really?”

He nods. “So, do I just . . . ?”

I glance at the storage closet again, biting back a giggle. “Just go for it. Bang it.”

As soon as he does, I hit record on my phone. There’s a loud rustle from the storage closet, followed by a soft chime of music.

“What was that?” asks Simon.

Someone cranks up the volume, and the storage closet bursts open, revealing Bram, holding a hairbrush.

“Ohhhh I . . . don’t want a lot for Christmas . . .”

I step hurriedly back to catch the reaction shot. Simon’s perched on the drum stool, hands over his mouth, eyes saucer-wide. The music speeds up, and Bram takes a step closer—and then Garrett, Nick, and Abby rush up behind him.

And it’s a revelation. Abby and the guys wag their fingers and throw their arms up, letting them shimmy down slowly—while Bram flawlessly lip-synchs into the hairbrush, a single word centered boldly on his chest in black stick-on letters.

Joaquin.

Meanwhile, Simon’s at the drum kit, quietly losing his shit.

I don’t even know where to look. It’s too goddamn wonderful. Simon’s fanfiction dream come to life. I can’t believe Bram thought of this. I can’t believe they’re pulling it off.

Of course, Abby’s the real professional, hitting every cue and grinning like she’s on Broadway. Nick plays it tongue in cheek, smiling self-consciously. It’s funny—they seem totally normal with each other. Watching them, you’d think they’d never fought in their lives.

Garrett, though. Total hot mess. Limbs everywhere, hopping sideways on one foot. He’s definitely almost fallen over twice.

When the song ends, Bram points straight at Simon, smiling breathlessly. “Simon Spier, will you go to prom with me?”

Simon nods and jumps up to hug him, laughing so hard he can barely speak. “I hate you so much. Oh my God. Yes,” he says, cupping Bram’s face. Then he gives him a giant swoony movie kiss.

Garrett whoops, and Simon flips him off over Bram’s shoulder.

“I can’t believe you guys,” Simon says when he resurfaces. He pokes Bram in the chest, grinning. “Joaquin.”

   
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