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Kiss Cam
Author: Kiara London


 


I KNOW JAS is up to no good the minute he plunks his tray down across from mine and flashes me a mischievous grin.

“You’ll never believe what I convinced Lenny to do,” he dares after he’s dropped his schoolbag to the floor and seated himself slightly askew on the other side of the bench.

I raise an eyebrow and tip my head sideways to search for Lenny among the lunch lines. “What’s he going to do?” I ask curiously, and turn to face Jasper again when I’ve decided there are too many students blocking him from my sight.

His eyes glint, smile growing when he answers, “He’s going to eat a nasty combination of whatever I want.”

“That’s disgusting,” I comment, and snap off the cap on my flavored water. “He’s going to puke.”

“Who’s going to puke?” Allison, my best friend and go-to history project partner, asks as she drops her tray beside mine.

“Lenny’s probably going to eat mayo and peaches,” I update her. And mayo and peaches it’s likely to be. We always grab fruit cups for Lenny, and I dip my french fries in mayo.

“Ew.” She grimaces and then shoots a look at Jasper. “And you’re going to film it, aren’t you?”

Jasper lifts his backpack into his lap, unzips the first pocket, and pulls out his video camera, which he, Lenny, and I all pitched in to buy but is technically his. “Yep!” he chirps, and sets the camera beside his tray.

Allison’s eyes narrow at him, and she shakes her head hard enough to make her dark hair sway. “You guys and your vlog,” she mutters to herself.

It’s no secret that Allison hates our vlogging antics, and it’s mostly due to her camera shyness—something I got over six years ago, and it’s all because Jasper Lahey, self-proclaimed news broadcaster of his life and all with whom he decides to tangle fates. If it hadn’t been for dorky twelve-year-old Jasper inviting me to join in on his and Lenny’s shenanigans, I would have remained camera and people shy.

As for my history partner, no one is getting Allison Steele out of her tightly woven cocoon. After all, it is I who does all the talking during our history presentations. For now, the girl has decided to hate the player and the game—covering her face from every camera shot and kicking Jasper under the table for trying to include her.

Lenny now joins our group with a sour face, making Jasper grin wickedly. Looking at the assortment of odd things on Lenny’s tray, I can already tell that this will end badly. Not only are there peaches and a glob of mayonnaise, but pickles, coleslaw, ketchup, fruit snacks, lime Jell-O, and a bag of croutons. Just the thought of all those things being combined and consumed is enough to make me gag.

“Oh, please don’t eat that,” Allison groans, and hides her eyes behind her painted fingernails. I nod in agreement and scoot away from Lenny when he seats himself on the other side of me.

“Puke in the other direction.” I frown.

“Nah, man. Spray June. That’s comedy gold!” Jasper cheers.

Scowling, I glance up at Jasper, who has now turned on the video camera and propped it up, waiting with a boyish grin on his face.

Jasper is all jokes, dark hair, and long legs. And he would sacrifice me for comedy, too. Back in the day, he almost used me as a guinea pig to see if Mentos and Coke would still fizz up if someone drank it. That was one of the first things he wanted to do after inviting me to join Lenny and him in their games. I was about ready to walk away from it all when Lenny took a bullet for me and did the experiment instead. And, yes, Mentos and Coke still fizz up. Lenny laughs about it now, but he still won’t drink anything that fizzes.

“You’re despicable,” I tell him jokingly.

Jasper knows I’m wearing new leather boots I got for my birthday a few weeks back. It’s evil of him to wish for me to get puked on when this is the first day they’ve made it outside my house.

“C’mon, June, take one for the team.” Jasper laughs and turns the camera on me, the red light glowing in the corner. I should have known he’d document the moments leading up to the gross food challenge.

“I hope the splatter is so violent that chunks hit you,” I deadpan, and Allison squawks her disapproval of my word choice while Jasper cracks up.

Meanwhile, Lenny mixes together the pickles, lime Jell-O, and whatever else is on his tray. Having gained confidence now that the camera is on, he begins talking smack and placing bets on how much he can eat.

There are two things one should know about Lenny. First, he can’t say no to anything. Second, he’s the easiest person to make laugh. The first one is relevant in this case.

“Just don’t eat it,” Allison whines, shielding her eyes behind her hand. I glance at her and laugh a little, thinking the only strong thing about this girl is her jawline.

“Twenty bucks I can eat all of it,” Lenny barters, ignoring Allison’s pleas. “Thirty if I can keep it down.”

“Deal,” Jasper chuckles, and then sprinkles ground croutons over the slimy and very chunky food combination.

Lenny leans down to take a whiff of the concoction but pulls back quickly, trying not to make a face. “Well, that doesn’t smell poisonous at all.”

“I’m sure it doesn’t,” Jasper comments, and then charmingly adds, “Juniper, darling, could you show the camera how absolutely revolting that looks?”

“Juniper, darling . . . ,” I mumble under my breath, and give him the stink-eye while I accept the camera from him.

Lenny leans back while I scoot forward and bring the lens right up to the slightly green and watery mixture. The pickles, peaches, and fruit snacks make it extra chunky and colorful, while the Jell-O has been mushed into slime. It looks the same way it’s going to look when it comes back up.

“Would you eat this for twenty bucks?” I ask the camera with a grimace. “I wouldn’t.”

Jasper snatches the camera away from me and looks up at Lenny. “On the count of three you have to eat all of that for twenty bucks. Keep it down and it’s thirty.” Lenny nods and lifts his plastic spoon, looking nervous but still wearing a goofy smile for the camera. “One. Two . . . Three!”

I have to look away when Lenny dives spoon-first into the hearty-style peach-mayo-and-more soup. Like Allison, I can’t watch him take that first bite, swallow, gag a little, and push forward. Unlike Allison, I sneak tiny peeks at Lenny, who struggles to spoon another glob into his mouth.

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