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“What’s the deal, Malone?” she asked suddenly.
“What do you mean?”
“I mean…are you even the same guy I’ve seen at school?”
“Well…yes, obviously!” I laughed.
“You are going to make my head explode,” she mumbled.
“Excuse me?” I questioned back.
“You are a total jerk at school,” she pointed out.
I laughed through my nose.
“Don’t hold back,” I advised. “It’ll give you ulcers.”
“You are an ass on the field.”
“That’s a whole different costume,” I replied without thinking.
“Costume?” Nicole stopped her rant long enough to look up at me with her brow furrowed.
I glanced down and tapped the lapel of my tuxedo jacket with my thumb.
“This is a whole different costume from my team uniform,” I explained.
“So what,” she exclaimed, “you become a whole other person because you are in a different…costume?”
The Bard’s words rolled off my tongue without permission.
“All the world’s a stage, Rumple,” I said with a wink.
“And all the men and women merely players,” she continued. She smiled and raised her eyebrows at me.
I spun her around in a slow circle and then brought her back close.
“They have their exits and their entrances,” I quoted. “And one man in his time plays many parts.”
Her smile broadened, and she was stunning. My chest clenched, and breathing became more difficult. I lost my step in the dance.
I wanted to know her.
I wanted her to know me.
Not the jerk at school.
Not the guy in the tux.
Not the goalie on the field.
But I didn’t know who that was.