Okay, this is a shorter chapter than usual, but it goes faster than usual and the whole chapter is basically one big one shot. There's no real cliff hanger at the end. Next time we'll get the showdown between Percy and Annabeth's parents and see Percy fight to win Athena's approval.
Maggie McKeel is the girl I met two days later.
Despite my desperate attempts to get Annabeth to talk to me, I was lucky if I got a “hello” and not once did she visit me after dinner or sit with me at the campfires. She was avoiding me, and I was going to find out why. But I got a little side tracked.
Maggie was a pretty girl. Long brown hair and blue eyes. Her lips were perfect and looked soft and inviting—not that I would even think about that. I mean, I was in love with Annabeth… Right? I shook off the thought for the moment. Maggie. Maggie was tall and lean, had pale, porcelain skin. The only thing I felt was unnecessary was the makeup she insisted on wearing. It was like Rachel. Neither of them needed it, but they wore it anyway. Annabeth didn’t bother with things like that.
I was sitting around the fire—Annabeth was on the opposite side, eyes on the ground—when Maggie came up to me, sat next to me and said, “Daughter of Apollo. Maggie McKeel. You’re Percy Jackson.”
It had kind of been like this with Rachel at the beginning. We met randomly, became friends. She was easy to talk to, and I could be myself. It was never like this with Annabeth. I winced at the thought. Annabeth…wasn’t like other girls. I used to think that was a good thing. Now…I wasn’t so sure.
Now I was sitting in my cabin, on my bed cross-legged, with Maggie across from me. She was going on and on about something—I honestly wasn’t paying much attention. Later that day I had to meet up with Nico for battle training, then I had to track down Annabeth. She was incredibly good at hiding.
“Percy? Are you listening?”
“Huh? Oh. Sorry.”
She smiled sweetly. “It’s okay. I can be boring sometimes.” Her eyes went down the mattress, avoiding my gaze but her smile stayed on her lips. “So…tell me about Annabeth.”
Annabeth? Annabeth who?
I shook my head, clearing the weird thought. Annabeth. Pretty. Blonde. Excellent kisser.
Who? I don’t know an Annabeth. I know Maggie. Maggie’s pretty. Maggie could be an excellent kisser.
“Who?” I said, cocking my head.
Her eyebrows arched. “Your…girlfriend? She is, isn’t she?”
I don’t have a girlfriend. Maybe Maggie could be my girlfriend…
No! You’re in love with Annabeth! She kissed you under Mt. St. Helens, she helped you save the world, and she loves you back.
“I don’t think so,” I whispered, trying to fight past the arguing voices in my head.
She scooted closer to me, leaning so she was barely a hands length away from me. Her lips looked welcoming.
Kiss her. You have nothing to lose. Kiss her.
“Well, Percy, if you’re not dating her… Maybe you’d like to date me.”
She twisted the fingers of one hand into my shirt and yanked, pulling me closer to her. “Kiss me, Percy.”
Yes. Yes. Just kiss her. What could go wrong?
You could lose Annabeth!
Annabeth? Annabeth, who?
Her lips pressed against mine. They were soft and warm…
I gasped, and backed away from her kiss. “No. I’m sorry, Maggie. I can’t—I don’t—”
“Percy? What’s wrong?”
Without a word, I stood and ran. Just ran. Ran through the middle of the camp, ran to the row of cabins that held Athena’s and froze. What were the odds she was in there?
What does that matter? She’s nothing. She’s so boyish! Maggie’s feminine. Maggie’s a good kisser. Maggie cares about me. Annabeth has been ignoring me. She doesn’t care about me.
“Annabeth!” I hollered, knocking on the door. “Are you in there?”
Heidi was the one who opened the door. “Percy? What are you doing here?”
“I have to talk to Annabeth.”
Her eyebrow scrunched up like she was confused. “Why?”
“Is she in there or not?”
“Not. She’s by the lake. With Riley.” I turned to go towards the lake but her voice stopped me. “Percy? Why do you have a pink arrow in your back?”
I couldn’t move. I couldn’t breathe. There she was, sitting in our spot, and she leaning against him, and it looked…it looked like they were about to kiss. Somewhere inside me I knew that it was wrong to be angry at her over this. I’d done the same thing. I’d gone falling for some other girl. Then again, Aphrodite had intruded. But who was to say that she wasn’t doing the same with Annabeth?
I took a step when it looked like their lips had met, but then the boy did something I had never been able to do when it came to Annabeth. He backed away, stood, pulled her up with him and I could clearly see him apologizing. And then I felt a disturbance in the force. Aphrodite’s plan was falling apart, thank Zeus.
He kissed her forehead and looked up towards me. He winked.
When Annabeth turned around to see me, my heart hurt. The only problem was I didn’t know if it was because it was breaking or healing.
“Seaweed Brain!” she yelled, running towards me.
Her arms were thrown around my neck and she kissed me like there was no tomorrow. And it didn’t feel like there was. There was just me and her, and there was just the fact that we loved each other.
“No! No, no, no! This is not how it’s supposed to happen!”
It wasn’t the voice that should have gone with the words. When I looked toward the voice, it wasn’t Aphrodite, but Kensey—who was fuming in anger—and he was standing next to a bored looking Maggie, who was busy examining her bright pink nails.
“Forget it, Kensey. It’s over,” she said, and her uncaring, self-absorbed tone of voice that clearly communicated she would rather be anywhere else made me do a double take.
Daughter of Apollo—yeah right. More like Goddess of Love.
Ew. I’d kissed Aphrodite.
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