Free Panic by Sharon M. Draper

Book: Panic by Sharon M. Draper Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sharon M. Draper
    â€œWell, okay, so I was a little shaky about going onstage because Diamond wasn’t there,” she began. “She’s, like, my rock. She makes me feel like I can do anything just because she says so. And she’s, like, seriously missing. Nobody has heard from her for hours.”
    â€œYeah, and?”
    â€œ And I’m standing in the wings, trying to visualize my dance, and you come backstage and start yelling at me!”
    â€œDon’t make me the bad guy!”
    Layla turned away from him. “I knew I couldn’t talk to you about this.”
    â€œI’m cool. I’m cool. Go on.”
    She waited a moment, then said, “I needed you on my side tonight. Not hassling me. You’ve got me, body and soul, and you don’t need to growl at me like I’m your dog on a leash.”
    â€œOkay. Okay. I guess I went a little overboard. But you looked so good in that costume, and I didn’t want to share that with an auditorium full of people.”
    â€œI looked good?”
    â€œGood enough to lick the plate.”
    â€œThen why did you say I was getting fat?”
    â€œCan’t you take a joke?”
    â€œIt wasn’t funny to me . I think I messed up my dance because I was worried about you.”
    â€œYou messed up?”
    â€œDidn’t you see me wipe out?”
    â€œI went outside after your teacher chased me away. All those dances look the same to me anyway. Girls jumpin’ all over the stage. I had to get some air.”
    â€œYou’re kidding, right? You missed my dance ?” Layla asked incredulously.
    â€œTurns out I didn’t miss much, to hear you tell it.”
    â€œI thought you came to see me perform—to support me.”
    â€œI did. But by the time I got back to my seat, you were just leaving the stage. People were clapping, so I figured you did fine. You always do.”
    â€œSo not one person I care about saw me dance.” Layla slumped back into the seat.
    â€œGet over yourself. I told you—I sat through most of that boring stuff for you. Anyway, wasn’t that you in the back row in the second half of the show?”
    â€œYeah, probably.”
    â€œSo cheer up. I did my part. You owe me.”
    â€œOwe you? What?”
    â€œYou know.”
    â€œNot tonight, Donny. I gotta get home.”
    â€œWhy? Your mom is out. We’ve got all night.”
    â€œDon’t you have to get to work?”
    â€œI’ll call in sick.”
    â€œI’m wiped, Donny. I just want to get some sleep.”
    â€œI thought you loved me.”
    â€œYou know I love you.”
    â€œSoooooo . . . ”
    â€œDonny, don’t be like this.”
    â€œI saw you checkin’ out Justin backstage.”
    â€œHuh? What are you talkin’ about?”
    â€œYou savin’ it for him?”
    â€œWhat? You trippin’! Justin means nothing to me. Why you always gotta go there?”
    â€œI’m just sayin’ . . . ”
    â€œTake me home, Donny. Please. Don’t make me prove anything tonight. I need to be alone to think and rest. Please.”
    He stopped at another red light, reached over, and grabbed her left arm. Hard. His fingernails clawed into her skin.
    Layla cried out. “You’re hurting me,” she whispered.
    â€œLove hurts,” he said sharply. He released her arm when the light changed. But his face was stone.
    â€œI want to go home,” she pleaded, rubbing her arm.
    â€œOkay, you win,” he said finally. “But remember, you owe me.”

JUSTIN, Saturday, April 13 10 p.m.
    â€œÂ . . . he had dreams and they were more painful than the dreams of other boys.”
    â€”from Peter Pan
    â€œYou hungry, Jus?” Justin’s dad asked, peeking into his son’s room. “You’ve been moping around since you got home.”
    â€œI had a sandwich earlier. I just feel kinda maxed

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