Chapter Twenty-Seven: “My cousin had a baby that looked like Gollum”

Iggy had been avoiding Miles for weeks, which had proved something of a challenge considering the number of things Melly kept inviting her to. Iggy was in a bit of a tight spot too, because she couldn’t decline any of Melly’s invitations without her huffing and getting angry about Iggy never making the time for their friendship, which always led back to how Iggy was inconsiderately late for everything. As a result, Iggy had begun spending an inordinate amount of time staring at Melly’s daughter and avoiding eye contact with Miles at dinner parties. It was becoming exhausting. She was going to have to do something about it soon or else she’d be stuck in a revolving door of awkward social gatherings for the rest of her life.

But then Miles did something about it before she got the chance. They were at Melly and David’s for yet another dinner party with Melly and David’s horrible couple friends Jake and Danielle. Danielle had already made roughly fifteen comments about Iggy being single and it was beginning to grate on the nerves just a touch. Iggy, in fact, had seriously considered giving Danielle a swift kick in the shins underneath the dining table, but the chance of her catching someone else’s leg instead was too great. She couldn’t afford to ruin one of Melly’s dinner parties. She’d never live it down.

Instead, she excused herself to go check on Madison, claiming that she just couldn’t get enough of how cute she was. It was a bald-faced lie, but Melly was delighted and Iggy got to leave the table to be in peace for at least a little while. She could hear Danielle’s horrific cackle of a laugh emanating from downstairs and it almost drowned out the sound of Miles entering the nursery behind Iggy. He came to stand next to her by the crib, but didn’t say anything for a while, the pair of them standing in silence in the darkness.

“She is reasonably cute,” Miles said after a moment.

“All babies are cute,” Iggy replied. “It’s a baby thing. Even weird-looking babies are inherently cute just because they’re babies.”

“I’m not sure that’s true,” Miles said thoughtfully. “My cousin had a baby that looked like Gollum.”

“Good Christ,” Iggy returned.

“Yeah, it was terrifying,” Miles said. “Poor little Stephanie.”

Iggy snorted and then focussed all her attention back to Madison. She could feel Miles shift next to her. She wanted to say so many things at once, but she also didn’t want to say anything at all. It was very complicated. Part of her was hoping that they could go the rest of their lives without addressing the fact that they’d kissed several times for no reasons at all, but that was seeming less and less like a viable option given the way Iggy had been dodging him. She couldn’t keep ignoring him at social events and hoping he’d do the same. Melly was far too determined to set them up for that to be a good solution.

“Why did you kiss me?” She blurted out after a long moment. She still didn’t look away from Madison and her head of berets.

“Oh,” Miles said in response, clearly caught off guard. Iggy didn’t necessarily blame him. The way she’d been acting suggested that she’d never willingly bring it up to any living human for the rest of the time, let alone ask him directly to his face.

“I’m just curious,” Iggy added, hoping that would make it seem less accusatory and uncomfortable.

“Sure, of course,” Miles replied. Iggy couldn’t tell if he was being serious without looking over at him, which she was highly unwilling to do.

“Because it’s never seemed like you wanted to kiss me before,” she continued, apparently unable to stop now. She was fairly concerned that she was going to embarrass herself soon, if she hadn’t already.

“I never have wanted to kiss you before,” Miles answered truthfully and Iggy finally looked his way. He was looking directly back at her and Iggy was caught off guard by how much he looked like a young Scott Baio and how that wasn’t actually as unappealing as she’d previously thought it was.

“Okay,” she nodded.

“Yeah,” Miles nodded back. There was more silence. Iggy could feel the awkwardness as if it was vibrating through her very bones. She wasn’t good at these conversations, which was likely why she was single in the first place.

“None of this makes sense,” she eventually told him after another particularly painful and lengthy silence.

“You’re not wrong,” he agreed.

“And you never told me why you kissed me in the first place,” she pointed out. By this point, she was determined to get some semblance of an explanation for his weird behaviour. She’d already come too far to turn back. There was no way she’d ever be so brave again.

“Because I wanted to,” he said simply, shrugging as if it was that easy.

“But why?” She pressed.

“Because I think you’re funny,” he said, which wasn’t the answer Iggy had been expecting. She wasn’t sure what she’d been expecting, but it hadn’t been that.

“You think I’m funny,” she repeated incredulously.

“Yeah,” he nodded. “And you’re pretty.”

“I think you look like Scott Baio,” she replied and he immediately recoiled, like she’d slapped him across the face. She supposed the way she’d said he looked like Scott Baio before may have been like a metaphorical slap to the face.

“Oh,” he said, taking a step back.

“No!” She protested immediately, reaching out and grabbing onto his elbow before he could get too far. “Not, like, in a bad way.”

“You think I look like Scott Baio in a good way?” He returned, but he was fighting a smirk.

“Yeah,” Iggy nodded. “He was the heartthrob of Happy Days after all.”

“Wasn’t that The Fonz?” He returned.

“Do you want to be the heartthrob or not?” She retorted.

“No, no, I want be the heartthrob,” he said quickly.

“Yeah, you do,” Iggy replied, smiling as she leaned in to kiss him.

The rest of dinner was significantly less awkward after that. It was even better because Melly couldn’t figure out what had changed. She forced Miles to give Iggy a ride home again at the end of the night, which he did without any complaint, and then they made out in his car for about forty minutes before she finally left to go inside.

The next morning, Iggy stopped by Bernie, Tallulah, and Priscilla’s apartment on the way home from the gym. Jemima was over as well, probably because Jemima spent more time at their  apartment than she did her own. Iggy poured herself a glass of water from the pitcher in the fridge and then went to join the other four in the living room, where they were lounging about, drinking tea and eating breakfast. Bernie had made pancakes to celebrate the fact that she’d finally managed to break up with Callum.

“So I think I might be into Miles,” Iggy announced to the group at large.

“Oh, you must be so angry about that,” Tallulah returned immediately. Iggy considered it for a moment.

“A little, yeah,” she nodded. “But I’ve made out with him, like, three times at this point so I might be too far past that point to do anything about it now.”

“How is this the first I’m hearing about this?” Jemima demanded, looking stunned. “You’ve made out with Miles three times? Isn’t he, like, your supreme nemesis?”

“What’s a supreme nemesis?” Priscilla cut in.

“You know, your worst nemesis,” Jemima answered, waving around a hand dismissively and vaguely.

“As opposed to all your other nemesises?” Priscilla retorted.

“Nemeses,” Bernie corrected.

“I’m pretty sure we’re missing the point here,” Iggy said, trying to get the conversation back on track.

“Yeah,” Tallulah agreed. “That you can’t have more than one nemesis.”

“Surprisingly, not what I meant,” Iggy said, rolling her eyes.

“I can’t believe you made out with Miles,” Jemima said, still shocked.

“Yeah, that’s what I meant!” Iggy replied, pointing at Jemima, a little like she was Oprah giving away free cars.

“So are you guys dating now?” Bernie asked Iggy.

“I have no idea,” Iggy answered.

“Are you going to keep making out?” Priscilla asked dryly.

“I don’t know,” Iggy answered.

“Do you think he’s into you too then?” Bernie asked.

“I would assume so,” Iggy replied. “But I don’t know.”

The other four stared at her for a moment.

“See, now that would bother me,” Jemima broke the silence. “But you’re cool as a cucumber.”

“Nah,” Iggy returned dismissively. “My life is just too much of a clusterfuck for this to make it any worse than it already is.”

“Ah, strong words of wisdom and reassurance,” Priscilla said dryly.

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