Betty Cooper was not sexy.
Out of the many adjectives that could be applied to her, it wouldn’t even crack the first page of the list. “Sweet”? Sure. “Nice”? Probably in the Top 5. “Dependable”? “Honest”? “Friendly”? Of course. Maybe even words like “Pretty” and “Attractive” could get jotted down, somewhere. But “sexy”? It just wasn’t her.
Now, when it came to her best friend, Veronica Lodge…
Veronica was standing at the lockers, and Betty watched her swing the dark curtain of her hair over her shoulder in a practiced, seductive move.
The word “sexy” had to be in the top spot. Probably bolded. And in all caps.
It normally didn’t bother Betty. Betty was the Girl Next Door, the one you could depend on. It worked for her. She never had wanted to be someone that she wasn’t.
The problem was, the Boy Next Door seemed to want someone that she wasn’t. Archie Andrews was standing at the lockers, too. Hanging on Veronica’s every word. She tried to ignore the stab of jealousy in the pit of her stomach. It was fine. It wasn’t like they were together now, obviously. So he wasn’t doing anything wrong. So it was fine. She and Archie had been exclusive for almost a full three months, last summer. It had been their longest stretch ever of being together, and she was counting that as exclusive.
She ignored the voice in her head that unhelpfully reminded her that Veronica had been in Europe that summer and during those three months, and that once she’d returned to Riverdale, it had only been a week before they’d decided to… slow down a little.
But during those three months, it had been really good. So good they’d even…well. Betty flushed and tore her eyes away from Archie and Veronica, putting her books back in her locker.
She wasn’t pathetic. She was in love with Archie Andrews, and she’d always imagined he was going to be the first. And he was, and it had been perfect. It had been sweet, and romantic, and if it had been a little fumbling and stilted—and maybe uncomfortable, but that wasn’t Archie’s fault—well, it was bound to get better, right? They just needed to keep trying.
But then the summer had been over, and they’d decided to ‘take a step back’ and their relationship had gone back to casual and friendly. There had been dates, but nothing beyond long, heated kisses in the front seat of Archie’s car. Betty knew that she had a blind spot around Archie Andrews, but she was not going to sleep with him if he was actively dating her best friend as well.
She still had a little self-respect.
Besides, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to try again, not right away. She just wanted Archie back.
She checked her reflection in the small side mirror that was stuck to the inside of her locker door, determined not to look over at Veronica’s locker again. Her eyes flicked over the exposed corner of the magazine.
It was something she’d picked up by mistake—she’d brought her school notes to the dentist last week, and when they’d called her from the waiting room she’d accidentally scooped it up along with her math workbook. It must’ve been lying on the chair where she’d put it down. She’d only noticed when she was home again. She’d been about to throw it away, but then she’d seen one of the headlines.
Seven Sexy Tips for Catching the Eye of Your Dream Guy!
It had piqued her interest. Some of the tips sounded ridiculous, but she was pretty sure she’d seen Veronica deploy variations on a few of the others. And, well, it wasn’t like she was any good at this to begin with. She needed all the help she could get.
She glanced over at where Archie was standing again, forgetting her resolution not to. She could continue being dependable, and helpful, and hope Archie would someday realize she was the right person for him…or she could try something a little different.
Veronica laughed in that musical and carrying way she had perfected to draw every eye in the room. Betty watched her brush her fingers gently along Archie’s cheekbone. He looked a little dumbstruck.
Who was she kidding? She couldn’t flirt like that. She was boring, uncomplicated, predictable Betty Cooper. And predictably, that meant that she was uncomplicatedly dateless to the Winter Formal. Archie had asked Veronica last week. Betty had gone and signed herself up for volunteering at the refreshment table almost immediately after she’d heard. She’d told herself it was because raising money for the French Club was important.
She glanced at the grinning blonde on the cover of the magazine again. It was so stupid. She was going to make a fool out of herself in front of everyone and, even worse, in front of Archie. She’d probably look like a friendly poodle trying to dance on two legs.
Okay, that would be adorable, usually, but she didn’t want to be adorable. She wanted to sultry. Seductive. Sexy.
She needed to practice.
The thought of practicing flirting on someone was almost as mortifying as making a fool of herself in front of Archie, though. She needed to find someone who wouldn’t care. Someone who probably would barely notice.
Her eyes flickered around the hall. Jughead? Maybe. He definitely wouldn’t notice—he barely registered anything she did unless she was holding a cheeseburger while doing it. She needed a little more of a reaction than that, though, so she could tell if she was doing it right.
Moose was out. Besides the fact that she felt just wrong leading him, he and Midge had been going out for six months straight now—a Riverdale record. Chuck had Nancy. Kevin would be sympathetic and understanding, but wouldn’t work, for obvious reasons. Dilton…? Betty glanced around for him. In the library, probably, or the science lab. Not exactly places she usually went.
Reggie Mantle sauntered into the hall, looking arrogant and cocky and—well—straight, single, and definitely not Archie.
Betty bit her lip.
Tip #1: While conversing with your cutie, lean in so you’re about six inches from his face. Linger for three counts, then slowly return to your original position.
Reggie wasn’t so bad.
Oh, he could be a huge jerk sometimes, and that was on a good day. On bad days, he could be downright insufferable.
Sometimes, though, he showed evidence of having a heart. It may be buried beneath a concrete ton of bravado and self-obsession, but she had actual proof that it existed back in her desk drawer at home. Anyway, it didn’t matter. She wasn’t going to do this because he secretly had a heart.
The best part of all was the instant deniability. She felt a little guilty thinking about that, but it was true. No one would ever think Miss Betty Cooper would be flirting with someone like Reggie. So she wouldn’t even have to worry about it getting back to Archie, or worse—looking ridiculous if anyone noticed or if Reggie said anything.
The first tip to try was pretty easy. It barely involved talking. She saw Reggie often enough—they sat next to each other in English class. It was one of the few courses he actually did well in, so he was smug and satisfied and tolerable most of the time.
She could do this. She could. If Betty Cooper could painstakingly restore an L-78 eight-cylinder engine by hand, she could flirt.
Miss Grundy had slipped out of the classroom for a few minutes, with strict instructions for everyone to work on their own, quietly. This meant the room was filled with idle chatter now, as everyone took the opportunity for a break. Reggie had slipped out of his seat and wandered over by the bookshelf. She inhaled slowly, took one final glance over the article she’d ripped out of the magazine that morning and tucked it discreetly back into the side pocket of her binder, and then got up to join him.
“Hey.” She forced the smile she’d practiced in front of the mirror that morning, only feeling a little like an idiot.
Reggie glanced at her impassively. “Hey.”
“So what are you writing your Gatsby essay on?” she tried, taking a tentative step forward.
Reggie was leafing through the shelf of books Grundy had, along with spare copies of the assigned reading. He glanced away from that to raise an eyebrow at her.
“The death of the American dream,” he said grandly. He noticed her falter, and then smirked. “That’s how I’ll be titling it, anyway. It’s all about why Gatsby should’ve just dumped Daisy straight off.”
Betty was momentarily distracted from her mission of flirtation. “What?”
“Of course,” he said, shrugging. “That guy had it made for himself—rich, great parties—and he got all hung up on some girl in the end and it ruined everything for him. Rookie mistake.”
Betty scoffed, her hands finding her hips, forgetting about the ‘alluring body language’ pose. “Well, that’s not exactly fair.”
Reggie crossed his arms, looking pleased, and too late she realized she’d fallen into the trap. He loved to wind people up like this.
“Well, it’s not,” she continued, unable to resist. “It’s not Daisy’s fault—Gatsby loved her, but the 1920s were so restrictive for women—”
“Jordan Baker,” he said, flipping the book in his hands to review the pages quickly. “That’s who he should’ve hooked up with. Smart, fun, sporty, knew what she wanted…”
“He was in love—”
“With someone who didn’t love him back. Jordan was cool.”
“She was dating—”
“And she was way too cool for Nick,” he said, rolling his eyes. “He was a poseur. Jordan would’ve been good for—”
“Gatsby—” she began.
“What are you all doing?” Grundy said, reappearing at the door with a scowl. The other students hurriedly headed back toward their seats and, too late, Betty realized she hadn’t even tried out her maneuver. Reggie was just good at distracting her.
The students were settling, and she had to act fast. She took the book from Reggie’s hand so she could step in and slide it back on the shelf.
“Well, I think it’ll be a good essay,” she said, and smiled. Okay, so far the first tip seemed pretty easy.
He looked puzzled at the sudden change in her proximity. One. That was good, wasn’t it? Two. She took a slow breath and then exhaled, maintaining eye contact as she smiled. Three.
She leaned back again.
“Well, obviously,” he said, furrowing his dark brows at her. Yes, maybe the execution wasn’t an A+, Betty thought, but it was definitely at least a B.
“Were you counting under your breath just now?” he said.
Maybe a B-.
Tip #2: Say that you're trying out a new perfume, then hold out your wrist or expose your neck and ask his opinion.
Okay, so the first try hadn’t gone spectacular, but it was only the first try.
It still took her a day to completely work up the nerve for the next one.
Thankfully, Reggie’s locker was only two down from hers. The next day, she hurried away from science class, determined to get there first so she could apply a layer of Chapstick (the magazine had suggested lipstick, but Betty didn’t own any) and her secret weapon.
She’d found the perfume at the drugstore. Everything in the store had smelled flowery and musky, and the small roll-on bottle was the only one that didn’t remind her of Miss Grundy or her grandmother. It smelled a little like lemons and grass. She liked it.
She quickly dabbed a tiny bit behind her ears and tucked a few tendrils that kept spilling forward back, out of her face. Reggie was coming up the hall now, so she hurriedly tucked it away and then grabbed her books for the next class. By the time she’d adjusted them in her arms, he’d gotten to his locker.
Reggie was a little taller than Archie. She knew that the general opinion that he was better-looking—and okay, maybe objectively she had to agree with that—but he certainly knew how handsome he was. And Reggie had the tendency to look at people like he alone held the answers to the universe. It was really annoying.
Thinking about Reggie Mantle’s faults made her nerves relax, a little. She took an even breath and the closed her locker.
He was checking his hair in his own (bigger than Betty’s) mirror inside his locker door, and the impulse to suddenly roll her eyes and laugh made most of the remaining nerves dissipate.
Reggie glanced at her over his shoulder and smiled slightly—that was a good sign.
“So…I need your opinion,” she said, trying for coy.
He didn’t notice. He turned back to his locker, shouldering his bag up higher as he closed it shut. “I do live to give opinions.”
Betty resisted the urge to rise to that bait. “So, um—I’ve been trying out this new perfume, and I’m not sure…if I like it. I wanted to ask you what you thought.”
“I can’t smell any perfume,” he said, spinning the lock.
What would Veronica do? What would Veronica do? Betty resisted the urge to quickly say never mind and get out of there as fast as she could.
“Oh, I just put some on,” she said, forcing her voice out. “Right…here.”
She inclined her chin a little, away from him, gently touching her pulse point.
Reggie glanced over at her and for a moment looked momentarily surprised. She braced herself for his mocking laughter. This was so dumb. Her face was hot.
After a second—it felt like an eternity—his mouth curved into a faint smile. Reggie shifted in closer, and she felt the blush spread down her neck and then lower, beneath the neckline of her shirt as she met his eyes.
He tilted his head very carefully toward her, raising a brow, still smirking as if he were waiting for the punchline. When she didn’t move, he widened his eyes before he very deliberately slid a tendril of her hair behind her ear, away from her exposed jawline.
It was suddenly very difficult to inhale, with the lock of hair tickling her ear and with him close enough that she could feel his breath against her skin. She felt frozen.
“Smells nice,” he said, breaking the sudden silence and distracting her from the thud of her pulse. At her wide eyes, he grinned, and she swallowed, stepping back quickly.
“Oh…good,” she managed. “Thanks.”
“Anything else I can do for you, Cooper?” he said.
She tried to glare at him and utterly failed, distracted with how warm she suddenly felt.
“No, thanks,” she said breezily, before she turned and hurried away. It was only once she had managed to find her seat at her desk that she allowed herself to rub the spot where his breath had danced against her skin, trying to erase the heat of it.
Tip #3: Proclaim that you're thinking about changing your name. Then say with a smile, "Do I strike you as more of a Sienna or a Bambi?"
Reggie stared at her, as if he’d heard her wrong. Betty thought, not for the first time, that maybe she shouldn’t always be taking the fashion magazine’s advice at their word.
“Mmm,” said Betty, dying inside.
“Are you serious?”
He was grinning. She felt her perfected smile falter and resisted the urge to ignore him completely and pretend the last five minutes had not happened. They were supposed to be editing essays in pairs, and Miss Grundy’s sharp eyes were flicking from group to group. Betty shuffled her papers, trying to look industrious. Her essay copy had a scattering of red marks littering the text; Reggie’s pen was still stuck ridiculously behind his ear and his copy was nowhere in sight.
“Forget it—” she muttered beneath her breath, but it was too late.
“Bambi Cooper—” he said airily, just loud enough that she saw some heads turn. She grit her teeth.
“Shut up—” she hissed.
“No, seriously, I think it’s great,” he said, not bothering to drop his voice. Out of the corner of her eye, Betty saw Grundy’s head swivel toward them. “I just want to imagine the crazy shenanigans Bambi Cooper would get up to. Mild-mannered young lady by day, but by night—“
Flushing, she kicked Reggie hard underneath the desk, and he yelped.
“Problem, Miss Cooper? Mister Mantle?” Grundy had swept down on them, unamused, and Reggie was glaring at Betty.
She supposed she could just scratch that tip off the list.
Tip #4: Tell him that you're an amateur palm reader. While you're peering at his hand, trace any creases and predict that there will be lots of passion in his future. Seriously? Who writes these?
“This is a travesty,” Veronica announced, for the third time. Outside the window, the traffic was barely moving. Cars crawled slowly along the highway. The sun wasn’t quite at the horizon, but it seemed to be making a beeline for it.
They’d all gone for a debate meeting that day. Veronica had only reluctantly joined in when she realized Betty managed to get a Friday off school once a month to attend the conferences. Of course, she’d been initially dismayed to realize she was stuck in a room all day where people debated, but it didn’t surprise Betty that Ronnie had eventually taken to it like a duck in water. Her best friend had a way of deploying her opinion with absolute authority and sincerity, leaving a wake of flustered opponents.
Reggie was good at it too, unsurprisingly. Archie had tried to join, for all of two sessions, but had given up.
Betty found she liked…crafting arguments and the pitter-patter of the parliamentary procedure that ran the meetings, but public speaking wasn’t exactly her forte.
But then, that’s why she’d joined. To practice.
Okay, and the Fridays off. She was only human.
“They can’t exactly control traffic, Veronica,” Betty said lightly.
“I knew I shouldn’t have ignored you and taken the town car—look at this—I’m on a bus and it’s absurd, Lodges don’t ride buses—”
“You’d still be stuck in traffic in the town car,” Betty pointed out.
Veronica stared at her as if she’d grown a second head. “Yes, but I’d be sitting on leather. Not…” She pursed her lips in a little moue of disdain and gestured again, as if to encompass the entirety of the bus and her irritation for it. “Vinyl.”
“Does that really feel better?” Betty asked curiously.
Veronica gave her a withering look, the one that seemed to mix with disbelief and incredulousness that they were best friends. She let out a long, put-upon exhale, and tugged her short skirt down her thighs an inch. “What are you wearing to the dance?”
“I haven’t really picked anything out,” Betty said. “I don’t even have a date.”
To Veronica’s credit, she did not look smug. She only flicked her hand dismissively. “That’s barely an excuse, Betty Cooper, and a terrible one for us not to go shopping. Besides—” she glanced toward the front of the bus before she looked at Betty and smiled, like a cat who’d inherited the deed to a canary farm. “You could ask Reggie. He’s not going with anyone.”
“What—” she said quickly. Reggie was sitting a few rows ahead, and from his slumped shoulders Betty thought he looked like he was asleep. “No!”
Veronica raised a brow.
“I mean… I already volunteered to help the French club, and I can’t back out,” Betty said, trying to recover.
“Well, if you’re determined to be a nun, I can’t stop you,” she said. “But I am not letting you wear a habit.”
Betty felt oddly touched by that, and so she smiled. “I don’t think I’m gonna stay long, anyway.”
“Mmmhm.” Veronica tousled her hair with her fingers, looking a little bored. “Well, we’ll go shopping. Nancy!”
Nancy was sitting a few rows ahead, and turned around. Veronica beckoned her imperiously. She smiled—they were all used to Veronica—and headed over to them.
“What are you wearing to the dance?”
Nancy’s face broke into a grin. “Oh, well—”
“Take seats, please,” the bus driver warned, glancing at them in the rearview mirror.
Nancy looked a little crestfallen. Betty took pity on her and on Ronnie, who was obviously itching for someone to chat with about the dance.
“Here—” Betty said, and quickly slid out of her seat so Nancy could take it. The other girl shot her a grateful smile.
“Sit down—” the driver called again.
Betty headed forward, intent on taking Nancy’s seat next to Dilton, but the vehicle gave a quick jolt as it eased forward a few feet in traffic and then hit the brakes. She took a closer seat instead before she could fall, sitting down next to Reggie.
He didn’t even stir. His temple was resting against the glass, his hair mussed, and she watched him for a second.
It was a little intrusive, but he was asleep. She took a second to study him.
Reggie looked different like this. The handsomeness of his face was softened by sleep, and his hair was definitely messed up. Not in that careful way he did sometimes, either. It was all stuck up on one side. It made him look more…human.
She liked it.
The bench seats were long enough that they both had plenty of space, but she could almost feel the warmth of him next to her. Her eyes flicked from his hair and his face to his shirt collar, where he’d loosened his tie. During the debate, it had been a perfect knot.
Now there were a few inches of exposed skin, where his collar had popped open, and his throat bare. For some reason, it made her feel a little…warm. He shifted, his thigh just grazing hers. She instinctively drew back half an inch, maintaining the appropriate distance.
She thought about his breath against her neck.
Reggie wasn’t like Archie.
She wondered why she felt like she’d had to remind herself of that the past week. And then there was the fact that…just for a second, after she’d drawn back, she’d found herself instead wanting to press forward. Or maybe not move at all—just let the pressure of his thigh linger against hers. Pretend she hadn’t noticed it.
The impulse was not at all like her. It made her stomach tighten.
The bus jolted again, and she took a sharp breath, startled out of her thoughts.
Reggie was awake and watching her, his eyes heavy-lidded. She felt herself flush, as if she’d been caught doing something she shouldn’t have been.
“Hi,” she said.
He shifted back, stretching as much as his long frame would allow in the cramped bus seat. She pointedly looked away.
“I can’t believe we’re still on this thing.” He raked his hand through his hair, and Betty found herself smiling. “What?” he asked.
“We could’ve just taken my car.”
His words unconsciously echoed Ronnie. Betty snorted. “Oh, we would have been able to fit the whole debate team on that?”
Reggie smirked. “Nope.”
She rolled her eyes. “And where would your ego sit?”
“It’s a convertible,” he said, smug. “I could have rolled the top down.”
“Would that still have been enough room?”
“—But I guess we’re here together, now. How shall we pass the time?”
He never stopped. His teasing tone made her smile, though. “In your dreams, Mantle.”
“Every night, Cooper.”
And maybe a week ago, she would have just laughed at him. This time she blushed and looked away.
Tip #5: While standing in line, inquire if he thinks it's worth the wait.
Betty shut her locker, glancing over her shoulder as Archie approached. The first half of the week had dragged on and on, and the brightly-colored decorations in the hall advertising Saturday’s dance weren’t helping. She still had gym and science class to get through today—normally something she wouldn’t mind. The only bright spot was that their gym class was paired with the boy’s class this week for fitness trials, and she still had a few more flirting tips to try out before the end of the week. She balled up her clean gym shirt and shorts and tucked them under her arm.
“Hey, Archie. “ She gave him a smile.
Archie looked slightly out-of-breath, and there was an expression on his face Betty couldn’t quite read.
“Hey,” he said again, leaning against her neighbor’s locker. She was glad that she’d actually dabbed on some of that perfume she’d gotten last week.
Archie was just staring at her, and so she raised her eyebrows. “What’s up, Archie?”
“Are you going out or something with Reggie Mantle?”
Panic flicked through her.
“What?” she said stupidly, although she’d heard him. “No, of course not.”
He looked a little uncertain. “Oh.”
Had someone said something? She hadn’t really said anything during band practice to Reggie—okay, there had been a point where she’d gone past him, maybe, and skimmed a little closer than she might have done normally and then he’d smiled at her and she’d smiled back, but no one else had noticed that. She was pretty sure.
She turned toward her locker to spin open the lock again, controlling her expression. “Why?”
“Nothing. He just said something. After band practice.”
“What did he say?”
That might have come out a little more quickly than she’d meant, because Archie blinked. She took a breath and threw him a casual smile that she hoped didn’t look too forced.
“Just... something.” He looked around, evasive, apparently surprised she’d actually ask. “I saw you guys, you know, talking. And he was staring at you.”
“He was not staring at me.”
“And so I asked him if he…you know, liked you, and he said what wasn’t there to like?”
The reply made her cheeks feel hot and yet she felt disappointed at the same time. Reggie was always shooting his mouth off about something. That wasn’t exactly a declaration of…well, anything.
Not that she wanted a declaration from Reggie.
“So?” she said, frowning.
“Well, it was the way he said it—“
“What way did he say it?”
Archie’s face looked tomato-red. “Just like….innuendo.”
She opened her mouth, ready to remind him that Reggie’s middle name would’ve been “Innuendo,” if “Jerk” hadn’t already been there, but Archie cut her off.
“So I just told him that he didn’t know what he was talking about.”
The warmth evaporated in Betty’s veins.
Archie put his hand on her shoulder, mistaking the sudden look on her face. “I told him to shut his stupid mouth, Betts. He’s always shooting his mouth off about something, and I know that you’re not that kind of girl.”
The fact that his words echoed her own thoughts in that instant made her even angrier, for some reason. She closed her locker again without getting anything out of it. His tone irritated her more than anything, and it took her a second to realize why. It was because there was just a trace of pity in it.
She stepped away from his hand, and it fell back to his side as Archie’s brow creased just a little.
“What kind of girl am I, Archie Andrews?” Her tone was frosty. “Maybe you don’t know what kind of girl I am—did you ever think of that?”
Archie’s mouth fell open; he looked like she’d just declared herself an alien from outer space. “Betty, I mean—we were—”
“Maybe,” she said, as coldly as she could muster, suddenly angrier with him than she’d ever been before. “Maybe you don’t know anything, Archie Andrews.”
She turned on her heel and stalked away, leaving him gaping after her. The hall was mostly empty, but the few people who had been within hearing range were staring at her too. There was a familiar twinge in her chest—the impulse to turn around, to apologize, because if anyone knew her it was Archie. He’d always known her best.
This time, she ignored it. She let herself fume all the way to the gym, stripping quickly and pulling on her workout clothes with such a grim expression it made Veronica raise a wordless eyebrow.
She ignored her, too.
The boys were already lined up in the main gym, Coach Clayton calling out times and shouting encouragement as they took turns trying to grapple with the climbing rope. Reggie was standing at the end.
She jogged a little in front of the other girls so she could be the first to step behind him and pushed the tendrils of her ponytail behind her ears. She banished the thought of Archie Andrews and his stupid opinions, and forced a smile.
“So,” she said lightly, and Reggie glanced over his shoulder.
He smiled, a slow curve of his lips that she’d seen before, but this time it made her mouth feel suddenly dry and her skin warm.
“So, Cooper?” he drawled.
She forgot what she was supposed to say and closed her mouth instead.
Tip #6: Ask him if it's hot (or cold) in the room and put his hands on your cheeks or neck for a temperature check.
Reggie didn’t show up to the dance until almost nine.
Of course, Betty had been there to set up at six-thirty, and had been sitting in the white-folded chair at the refreshment table for hours. She’d watched her classmates filter in, two by two.
Despite what Archie had said, Reggie hadn’t asked her to the dance. She didn’t know if she was more irritated at Archie or Reggie for that. It wasn’t like she even wanted him to ask, after all. And he did know that she was supposed to be working.
She wasn’t watching for him. But Archie and Veronica had already arrived, and she was trying not to stare at them. So, her attention happened to be on the front door when he sauntered in. For a mad moment, she thought maybe he’d brought a date (her stomach twisted unexpectedly). But he came in alone.
He didn’t notice her.
Of course, she was tucked away by the side of the wall on the edge of the gym. She picked up a Styrofoam cup and filled it halfway with red punch before she edged it into the already-full row of similar cups. She’d had to mix the red punch herself a few minutes before the dance, since the person who was supposed to be helping her hadn’t shown up. She’d managed to get a nice smear of drink powder along her skirt that smelled vaguely tropical.
He didn’t even look over.
Instead, he took a slow, meandering pass around the room. Moose and Midge were standing nearest the dance floor, Moose’s arm draped heavily over Midge’s slight shoulders. Every few minutes, Midge would slip out from underneath it, but somehow Moose managed to find a way to put his arm around her again.
Betty watched Moose’s face darken as Reggie sauntered by. Reggie didn’t even stop as usual for a round of pointed flirtation that usually left Moose red and bellowing and Midge on the brink of frustrated tears.
He seemed to be moving purposefully. He didn’t stay longer than a few minutes, just long enough to make a few comments to each group. He lingered by Veronica and Archie the longest. They were too far away and the music was too loud to hear, but Betty could see them exchange a few words. Archie made a face at Reggie and tried to sweep Veronica away, onto the dance floor. Veronica resisted a few minutes before she let her date lead her away.
And that was when Reggie turned and looked directly at her, catching her gaze.
Betty flushed and looked hurriedly away. She’d been caught staring. She brushed the smear of red powder on her skirt again—that was probably never coming off—and then quickly went back to replenishing Styrofoam cups.
When she looked up again, he was nearly at the table. She blinked.
“Hi,” she said, as casually as she could.
Reggie smirked as he slowed to a half, his eyes sweeping over everything—the table, the cups, her dress—and she felt an unwilling blush rise to her cheeks.
“Wow. And here I thought indentured servitude was a thing of the past.”
“I think it’s called volunteering now.”
“Is it?” He took a cup of punch and examined it. “Well, I guess I can’t deny anyone a good rebranding. So how’s volunteering?”
Betty wished he wouldn’t grin at her like that. It was a grin that was pleased and knowing, all at once. Her response had been sarcastic, of course, but she usually wasn’t that way. She actually liked volunteering, most of the time. Maybe hanging around him was just bringing out the worst in her.
“What were you talking about with Veronica?” she asked finally, because of course he’d noticed her watching. It was silly to pretend she hadn’t been.
Reggie shrugged. “Don’t remember. Something to get Archie riled up, I’m sure.”
He arched an eyebrow. “So, are you glued here? Or will the Refreshment Masters allow you to take a break?”
Betty tried not to smile at that and bit her lip. Reggie’s eyes flicked from hers to her mouth and then back for just a second, and he extended his hand, taking her hesitation as agreement. “Come on.”
“I really shouldn’t—”
He didn’t listen. He reached over the side of the table and pulled her out, toward the dance.
It was silly to focus on his warm hand. His hands were broader than Archie’s, and hers felt small in it. She let him tug her toward the center of the room. They’d been playing fast songs all night, and this one was nearly the same, but he pulled her into his arms anyway.
“I didn’t think you’d come here alone.”
“Don’t like to tie myself down,” he said, too smoothly.
“So I’m gonna be the first in the line of dance conquests? I’m honored.”
“Nah,” Reggie said, and then smirked. “I asked you because you looked downright pathetic over there by the table. You were single-handedly bringing down the entire vibe of the dance.”
“You’re such a jerk,” she said, annoyed, but he only tugged her a bit closer and laughed again as if to prove how much of an ass he was.
“”Don’t go all stiff on me,” he said, forcing her into half of a twirl. “Jesus, Betty—you look hot enough in that dress—why didn’t you get yourself a date to this thing?”
Her face burned as she let him pull her back again, both at the buried compliment and at his question. Reggie took one look at her face and then rolled his eyes.
“You know, you’re absolutely wasted on Andrews. You really ought to throw all that misplaced loyalty at someone else.”
“Like who? You?”
He grinned, and she felt herself go an even deeper shade of crimson. The song changed, and slowed, and he pulled her a little closer. “Why not? I’m pretty sure you’re a little obsessed with me already.”
“Not as obsessed as you are with yourself.”
“True.” The word sounded a little by-rote, like he’d been planning on her exact response. At some point, it had become a pattern: he was an ass, she insulted him, he deflected and grinned that stupid grin that had at some point stopped irritating her so much and now just made her feel... warm. Betty wondered if Reggie even believed his own press or if it had just become an automatic reflex for him now.
“And besides,” she dared, mimicking his arrogant tone. “It’s not like anyone interesting even asked me.”
Reggie glanced at her and she waited for the smart remark, but it didn’t come right away. Instead, he slid his hand over her waist. She tensed, but finally reluctantly stepped closer so she pressed more thoroughly against him. It made her breath catch with how good it suddenly felt, but it was probably the warmth of the room that sent her pulse suddenly thumping hard.
“Well, you went and declared yourself the Cookies-and-Punch martyr five seconds after Andrews asked out Ronnie,” he said. “I don’t do charity cases.”
Forget it. He was awful.
She opened her mouth, and then faltered, narrowing her eyes instead.
“How’d you know it was five seconds?”
Reggie blinked, raising his brows, but now it was her turn to smirk. “Were you keeping tabs on me?”
“Please,” he said.
“You don’t really think I’m a charity case.”
“The worst charity case there is,” he said, and she believed him even less.
“Do you know,” she said, glancing up at the ceiling for a second. “That I have actual proof that Reggie Mantle has a soul? Maybe even a heart?”
He looked amused, lazy and arrogant in that manner he’d probably perfected on the kindergarten playground. “Oh?”
“If you’re threatening blackmail, Cooper... fine, it’s working. I thought I destroyed all proof of that years ago.”
“Not this,” she said. “A flyer advertising the one-time-only performance of Mantle, the Magnificent.” She smiled prettily at him. “Master Magician.”
“I have no recollection of that.”
“Oh, I do.” Despite his denial, he was paying close attention. “I seem to remember a magical finale that was supposed to involve making my cat disappear.”
“That worked,” he said, before instantly looking chagrined that he had actually admitted to remembering this.
“Yeah, but then you couldn't bring her back again.”
“Which is why you helped me take down your Mantle the Magnificent flyers and we drew Lost Cat signs on the back all afternoon. We hung them up around the neighborhood until we found Caramel asleep under my porch.”
“Oh, god,” Reggie said, faltering and looking perfectly annoyed for a minute. “Seriously, Betty, you better destroy that. I’m going to run for office someday and that makes you a threat to my political career—”
She threw back her head and laughed. “No way. It’s literally sometimes the only thing I have that proves you’re a good person. Deep, deep down.”
“I’m not a nice person,” he said, his eyes flicking upward as she met his gaze again. He leaned in. Maybe it wasn’t the warmth of the room. Maybe it was just her. She felt warm.
“I didn’t say nice. I said a good person.”
He was very close now. She was pressed close to him. At some point, his hands had migrated to down along her lower back, and she must have wrapped her arms around his neck, because she was pressing along the length of him.
He smiled, and she exhaled softly, because at close range… yeah, the smile was worse.
“I’m not a good person either,” he murmured. His lips barely brushed against hers.
Her reply died in her throat. She sensed him draw back, just a little, his lips beginning to curl into a smirk and then she understood. It was part of the pattern. She was supposed to draw away quickly now.
So she didn’t.
She leaned forward, pressing her lips against his. Reggie made a noise, a slightly startled but pleasant noise, and then his hand was stealing up high along her back, sliding into her hair. He kissed her back, parting her lips with a soft exhale. Her fingertips curled into his lapels with the first brush of his tongue, heat instantly flickering through her. The kiss went deeper, and she gasped.
Archie was suddenly at her elbow, looking pale. Betty jerked back.
Veronica was at Archie’s elbow, looking by turns deeply annoyed and impressed. “Archie, I said to leave them alone.”
Betty must have been crimson. Reggie hadn’t let her go, and she pushed back against his chest before he finally loosened his grip.
“Yeah, Archie,” Reggie said, glaring. “Why don’t you just leave us alone—”
Archie was ignoring him, his eyes on Betty. “I need to talk to you.”
He’d been watching them. Betty felt frozen.
“Archie—” Veronica hissed.
Archie ignored his date as well, and furrowed his brow.
“Okay,” Betty said quietly, not daring to look at the others. Archie’s faced smoothed over and he stepped to the side as Betty stepped away. She deliberately avoided Reggie in particular as Archie guided her toward the refreshment table. Halfway there, she realized his hand had settled to the small of her back to steer her and she flinched away from it.
“What are you doing—?” she said, a little belatedly. Her face must have been five shades of red, but she no longer cared about that. “What are you doing, Archie—?”
“Betts—” he said, looking at her seriously. “What are you doing? That’s Reggie Mantle—”
“I think I know that. I grew up with him, the same as you.”
“And you were—”
“I was what?” she said. She felt suddenly furious, more angry with him than she’d ever thought she’d be. “Archie, you’re here with Veronica.”
Betty knew the but. But Archie Andrews had expected Betty Cooper to be standing by the refreshment table all night, waiting for him. But he hadn’t expected she’d ever do anything unpredictable. But she’d never be that kind of girl.
“I just want you to be safe, Betty,” he said instead. She crossed her arms in front of her chest tightly.
“Well, I am safe. I’m fine.”
“I just know—”
“No, you don’t,” she said, and watched surprise flicker over his features. “Because I don’t either, Archie. So you need to go back to Veronica and just... not think about me.”
“I always think about you, Betts,” he said earnestly. The expression on his face was... well, it softened some of the anger she felt.
“Well, you don’t have to,” she said, and then stepped forward, hugging him. He did know her. He knew the Betty Cooper he’d grown up with, for so many years. The problem was, she wasn’t sure if she knew that person right now.
She broke away, smiling at him before she stepped back. “Go back to Ronnie. Don’t worry about me.”
Archie still looked unsure, but Betty gestured toward Veronica, who was still standing across the room and looking murderous. When Archie finally turned on his heel to head back toward her she turned crisply away—but not before she caught Betty’s eye with a quick arch of her eyebrow that told her best friend that she was going to have to explain some things later in great detail.
That was going to be fun. She wasn’t sure how to explain it to herself.
Betty exhaled as she looked around. Reggie had moved across the room, toward the door, and she watched as he stopped to talk to Midge and Moose again. Moose looked annoyed. Betty’s face fell a little, but she finally bit her lip and started to head that way.
She’d kissed him. And it hadn’t been a boring, nice girl kiss either.
Midge spotted her as she neared, welcome blossoming over her expression. Betty glanced over at Reggie, but he looked away.
“Hi, Betty,” Midge gushed, shaking free of Moose’s protective arm. “I just love your dress—”
“Thanks.” Reggie was looking away, his features frozen in that arrogant look he got when he was at his worst. Betty’s heart fell a little. “You look nice too, Midge.”
Her friend took one look at her expression and then at Reggie’s, before she raised an eyebrow and grabbed her boyfriend’s arm. “Moose, let’s get a drink—”
“Oh,” Betty said guiltily. She glanced at the refreshment table. “I’m supposed to—”
“We can manage!”
Now that there wasn’t a buffer, he had no choice but to look at her. She still felt unsettled by the expression on his face, and by the kiss. She cleared her throat. “So…”
She was pulling a blank with what to say.
“Do you feel warm? Because I’m feeling…”
Reggie raised a cool eyebrow, and she faltered. “Oh, are you? Let’s go outside, then.” He grabbed her wrist, and she sucked in a breath as he tugged her out toward the back door. She nearly tripped over her heels, following him, but she kept up as he pulled her outside.
Outside was chilly, and she wrapped her arms around herself reflexively, pulling to a stop as they stepped a little outside of the gym. A concrete partition, shielding an outpost of lockers, concealed them partially from the door.
“What are you doing?” he asked flatly, turning on her.
“Wh- what? I’m not doing—”
“Oh, right,” he said. She was nearest the wall, and as he took a step forward she took one back, her back skimming the cold concrete. “You’re not doing anything—except this little tease routine you’ve been keeping up all week. Except, of course, when Andrews snaps his fingers. Is it all for him, Betty? Are you trying to make him jealous or something?”
“No,” she stammered, feeling a blush stain her cheeks. “No-- I’m not-- I mean--”
“Because it’s not like I care,” he said recklessly. “Except I think you’d let me know so you’re not rubbing against me one minute and then hanging off Andrews the next—”
Too late, she realized the sudden change in his mood. “Reggie, I was just…”
“Yeah, you were—” He glared at her. “So I get it, Betty. So the flirting? That kiss? Wasn’t for my benefit. So what’s going on?”
She wasn’t much shorter than Reggie, but for some reason it felt like he was looming over her. She took another step back and felt the concrete press more firmly against her.
The truth. Panic was coiling in her, and she’d never been good at lying. She stared at her feet.
“I’m just… just terrible, okay,” she said. “At all this. Flirting. And I thought, maybe if I had… some practice…”
“Yeah,” she said, glancing up. “I thought you wouldn’t...care, and then—”
“And then once you got really good you could practice on Andrews, right?” She winced. “So why me, huh? There’s plenty of guys who you can practice on here—”
This was the worst part. Her throat felt thick. She looked away. “I didn’t think... it would matter.” She exhaled, and felt her stomach twist and then drop. “And I thought that if anyone... that no one would believe I’d be… you know. With you.”
She thought she heard him inhale, but he said nothing. Nothing at all. The silence stretched, and when she finally dared peak back up at him she felt the blood drain out of her face with the expression on his.
“No one would believe me,” he said slowly. He looked coldly furious. His tone was smooth and hard.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—’
“No, I don’t think you did.” He leaned forward, so unexpectedly she flinched. He was barely touching her, just blocking her from escape. The freezing stone beneath her made her back arch, and that put her brushing against him as she exhaled.
He was angry. She knew he was angry.
“So it was all for Andrews?” His voice was low, and she could hear the loud music of the dance at the gym, but he was close enough that it didn’t matter. She could hear him. “You thought-- let’s just get in some practice, see if you can get someone else good and hot and then go skipping over to Archie Andrews when he was ready to give it another go?”
She felt mortified, embarrassed. His hand brushed against her hair, tucking back one of those tendrils as if it irritated him. “Maybe that would even make him jealous,” he said. “And that’d be just perfect, wouldn’t it?”
“Stop it,” she said, exhaling. “Don’t be like this.”
“Like what?” he said, and then he leaned in, his knee pressing against her thighs. She gasped, her eyes flying open as he leaned in. It was menacing, intimate, and he pressed hard enough that her knees parted a little and she pressed her hands to his chest, her face reddening. Her voice felt trapped inside her throat, and she looked up at him, at the cruel smile that wasn’t the one she liked. “Like this? Because deep down I’m such a good person? Well, I’m not, Betty. And guess what? Neither are you.”
She wondered at the note of viciousness in his tone. Underneath the anger he sounded... hurt. She glared at him instead. “You aren’t going to hurt me.”
He pressed harder, and she bit her lip to bite back another gasp. His chest hitched under her hands and then he smiled again.
“Did you like it? Being a tease…?”
Betty could feel the faintest brush of his lips on her cheek with those words, and she was suddenly thinking about the kiss, the press of his mouth, that way his hand had felt in her hair. The memory made her blush, and he laughed, low in his chest as if he knew. His lips brushed her ear. “Did you expect to be so good at it?”
The words-- the smell of him, soap and cologne-- made her want to part her thighs a little more. She swallowed hard, tensing them tighter.
She had liked it. She could barely admit that to herself, but she had liked it. Liked making him want her.
“Everyone thinks you’re such a good girl, you know,” he murmured. “I wonder what they’d say if—”
Betty didn’t want to hear what they’d say. She really didn’t care.
“Please let me go.”
Reggie laughed softly, and the sensation sent a shiver down her spine. His lips traced her ear, and then the corner of her mouth.
“Go ahead,” he said. “Call for help. Scream. I’m sure there’s someone who’ll come rescue poor Betty Cooper, Good Girl. Archie’s probably waiting just outside the door to save you since he saw us leave.”
The whisper against her skin was a taunt all by itself, and she opened her eyes, sucking in a breath so she could do just that. She turned her head and caught sight of that look on his face, the hard one, the one where he seemed so arrogantly right.
That was what he wanted. She’d be the Good Girl again, and he’d be the Jerk. And people would blame him, be angry with him, and shake their heads about how he could have treated poor Betty Cooper like this.
She was just so sick of everyone’s pity.
Her lips parted, and before she thought about it she leaned into him again. She kissed him again, for a second time that night, reaching up with one hand to crush his mouth to hers.
For an instant, he went tense. But then he shifted into even more-- perfect-- and his hands slid into her hair again, forcing her mouth higher and harder against his.
It wasn’t gentle. It wasn’t soft, or respectful, or hesitant. His tongue was in her mouth, a deep exchange of lips and breath. She was swept away with the sudden heat of it, and her fingers curled into his shirt as her leg slid slightly along his, shifting into the friction of his knee between her thighs. It felt good, so good, and she moaned softly into his mouth, and before she knew it he jerked back, looking stunned.
For once, he looked at a loss for words. She could feel the rapid pulse of his heartbeat beneath her fingertips, and it gratified her.
“Yeah,” she admitted, her cheeks burning. “I liked it.”
He sucked in a breath.
Her hands were trapped between them and she found herself pressing against him, away from the cold stone and into the warmth of his body. This time, he kissed her, and she made a helpless sound as she slid her arms around his neck. This kiss only lasted a second, and his hands were in her hair, tangling in the ponytail, exposing her neck as his mouth traced down.
“Oh,” she breathed. She was aware of the long, hard length of him, and the way his hips were pressing between her thighs now. She arched her back, and it felt impossible to remain still because of how he fit against her, just right there against the burn between her thighs. She shifted slowly against him, arching her hips as she flushed, the wanton movement sending her pulse spiking.
Reggie hissed softly in her ear, his teeth grazing delicate skin.
“Fuck,” he breathed, and this time she didn’t flush. She slid her knee higher, curling around his hip. He was hard. She could feel him against her and all she wanted was more.
“Andrews has no idea about you, does he?” His voice wavered a little as he arched against her, and the sudden movement made her gasp and his grip on her hips tightened. He did it again, grinding into her. “You’re a tease, Betty Cooper.”
The accusation made her eyelids flutter, and she turned her head to brush her lips against his temple, her fingernails biting into his shoulders. “Yes.”
A shiver went through her, or maybe it was him, because he was suddenly jerking her knee higher along his waist. She had to lean up, balancing on the ball of her foot, and then Reggie pushed against her to pin her to the wall before he kissed her, harder.
She’d never been kissed like this, or maybe she’d never kissed someone back like this, meeting him, greedily drinking him in, not worrying about anything but how good he felt.
Reggie suddenly stopped, and the loss sent a sharp exhale from her lungs. She arched against him, but he curled his fists into her dress, stilling her.
“That might work with someone like him,” he said, his voice flat. “But you’re not here with him.”
She stared at Reggie, wide-eyed and flushed and unbearably hot. Her throat felt tight. The problem was, she hadn’t given much thought to Archie lately. And he hadn’t been on her mind just now. She thought about returning to the dance, and felt her stomach tighten in protest. She wanted Reggie to lean into her and kiss her again, and she wanted to tighten her knee around his waist—
“Do you want me to let you go,” he said, half a sneer in his voice, but some of the mockery was lost as he faltered.
For a moment, she considered it. She knew that if she pushed him off, he’d let her go. And she’d go back to the dance and man the refreshment table, because she said that she would and Betty Cooper was dependable. There was nothing wrong with that.
But maybe there wasn’t anything wrong with wanting more than that, either.
“Or you can stay out here,” he said, noting her hesitation. His hand slipped down to the thigh that was around his waist, and for a moment she thought he was going to make her choice for her and push her away. Instead, she felt his fingertips trace the inside of her knee and then slip underneath the hem of her dress.
His hand slid up her thigh, and she gasped, closing her eyes. It was so slow that she could have pushed him off, forced his hand away, but she instead she closed her eyes and clung to him for just another second. It was a dare. Just another dare.
Reggie hesitated, as if waiting for her to protest before his hand slid between her thighs and over the thin lace of her panties. She heard his breath hitch, and his forehead pressed against hers as he swallowed hard.
“Fuck, you’re wet.” He sounded stunned and no longer mocking. She could only manage her own gasp at his words and the pressure of his hand. She was wet, she was soaked, she was hot against his fingers and oh god, she was really just a few feet from the school dance where the music was thumping and loud and Reggie Mantle had his hand up her skirt.
His touch slid underneath the lace barrier, and she cried out softly, barely loud enough to be heard. She felt him shudder.
“You’re gonna let me do this?” His tone bordered on incredulousness, but her hips were already angling toward his hand. She bit her lip to keep from nodding. His fingers slipped inside her and it felt good-- he felt so good. She tightened around him and the palm of his hand rested right where she wanted it. He found a slow rhythm, echoing the catch of her breath. She began to meet him, arching into his hand and he kissed her again. It had never built like this. She felt wild, on the edge, and she could only cling to his jacket and moan into his mouth, hoping he’d keep her from falling.
Reggie broke away from her, gasping hard. The look on his face would’ve made her blush, but she felt a little beyond that now. Instead it made her feel hot, powerful, and she leaned in to press her lips to his ear and feel him shiver.
He pulled back catching the look on her face and laughed, breathlessly, before he pressed his lips to her ear again. “So you liked teasing me--” his hand arched into her again, and she gasped. “Did you?,” he challenged, and she could just bite the inside of her lip to swallow her answer.
Good girls weren’t supposed to want things like this. Good girls didn’t disappear behind the school gym with guys like Reggie Mantle, and good girls definitely didn’t agree to…
He stilled for a second, and she cried out softly in protest, and then dug her fingernails into his shoulder blades when he laughed. God, sometimes she hated him.
“Please,” she whispered, and he stilled, drawing back a little, but that was not what she wanted. Her hand closed around his tie and she pulled him forward, drawing him into another desperate kiss. Her hands traced down to the edge of his belt, tracing the buckle, and Reggie broke away with a hiss of breath. “I want you—“
She barely thought about the words before she spoke them, but the impact on him was unmistakable. He went very still, and she felt him draw away again, his hand stilling. She opened her eyes, ready for a smug smile, a quick retort, but instead he looked…a little shocked.
That was a first. She thought she liked it.
She met his eyes, not daring to look away as she leaned forward and fumbled with his belt, her hands a little unsteady. It was halfway undone before he seemed to come back to himself. “Are you—“
“Please shut up,” she murmured, and then she got them undone and slipped her hand inside his pants. He gasped, his eyes flicking shut, and she managed her own smile. “Has anyone told you you talk way, way too much—“
He leaned into her, cutting her off that time, and she could barely have time to think before he was picking her up with both hands, pressing her hard against the wall. There was a brief, breathless second as he took over, and she was gasping as he pressed into her, her legs around his waist.
There was no sound except the pounding of the music beyond, the irregular gasps of their breathing. She’d only done this a few times before, but she was so wet for him she felt him slide into her fully and her body pulse around his. Reggie groaned aloud, muffling it against her throat.
Her hands were in his hair, and she was trying to stifle her own gasps, her body tightening against his with every thrust. She felt wild, out of control, and good girls shouldn’t feel like this. Good girls didn’t…
He shifted and Betty stopped thinking about what good girls did and didn’t do.
Every thrust was deep, and it was hard to think about a rhythm like this. She felt him slowly shift into something more uneven, more frantic than the thump of the music behind them. She could feel the faint vibration of it through the concrete wall against her skin.
His breath was sharp against her skin, more erratic, and so she pressed her lips to his ear and tried to keep from moaning. She was close. So close.
“Don’t stop,” she begged, tightening her knees against his hips as she arched her back. His only reply was a groan, and his hands gripped her harder, and that was enough. It filled her up, and she moaned, loud and uncaring of who heard it. It was muffled when he caught her mouth, kissing her again, deep and long as she shuddered around his cock. A few quicker, sharp thrusts, and then he was groaning against her too. She swallowed the sound.
It took her a few seconds to come back to herself. Her legs were wrapped around his like a vise, holding him deep inside her, and she slowly let herself melt and relax, breathing hard.
Reggie’s face was buried against the side of her neck, and she shifted down he looked at her, an expression on his face she couldn’t quite identify. He watched her for another second, but when she smiled he slowly, gently, tucked the tendrils of hair behind her ears again. It was such a soft gesture she kissed him again, harder this time until she had to break away with a gasp and felt him laugh softly against her mouth.
“And everyone thinks you’re such a good girl.” He grinned, and if the ache of him between her thighs hadn’t felt so good she might have hit him. She bit his bottom lip instead, and the soft hitch of his breath was satisfying enough that she kissed him again, tongue and lips and just a little teeth. When she was done his inhale was sharper than normal. She liked the way his hands slid over her again, and she shifted down, finding the ground gingerly as she gripped onto his shoulders to keep her steady on her feet and his mouth within reach of hers.
“I’m a nice girl,” she corrected, and then kissed him again. When she’d found her footing, she stepped back so she could enjoy the expression on his face. “Not a good girl.”
Reggie grinned. “I think we can work with that.”
Tip #7: Set yourself apart from a crowd at a party and perch on a counter or tabletop. If you're feeling extrabold, use his shoulders to steady yourself for the boost up. You'll be closer to his eye level, and he can scope out your, um, assets.
“So I think we need to have a talk.”
“Right now?” Betty called, frowning. It had seemed cute when Reggie had started showing up at the auto shop when she worked there. He’d claimed it was because he liked to remind himself he still had the best car in Riverdale. She had the feeling it really was because she was a perfectly captive audience, slid underneath the chassis of whatever project she was tinkering with that day.
She hadn’t had the heart to kick him out. Yet.
“Yeah—“ Reggie said airily, and she hesitated a second before rolling out from underneath the engine to stare at him. He looked smug. That wasn’t a great sign.
“I went to look at your Gatsby essay—“ Of course he had. She’d scored a point better than him when Grundy had handed back the papers a week ago and he was so competitive—“And I found this in your folder.”
He waved a slightly crumpled piece of paper at her and Betty felt the bottom of her stomach drop out.
Seven Sexy Tips—
She exhaled sharply and rolled out the rest of the way as Reggie smoothed the folded paper.
“I especially enjoyed the notations...”
She lunged for it. “Give that back!”
“Hey- hey- hey—I swear if you get engine grease on me we’re done forever—“
“Give it back—“
“No, it’s mine now,” he said, with that stupid grin. “Can I just say, Cooper, the fact that you gave each one you tried out a letter grade is why I like you so much—“
She went to grab it again, not caring if she ruined his dumb t-shirt with her grungy clothes—at least he’d stopped wearing collared shirts in here—but he held it high enough to read aloud and still keep it away from her.
“The perfume thing-- A, I agree, that was pretty hot-- but Bambi vs. Sienna, an F? That’s a little harsh, personally I find Bambi Cooper very intriguing…”
She managed to just snag the corner of the paper and tore it out of his grip, balling it up in her fists, her face red. Reggie was still grinning at her.
“And you didn’t feel up to trying out the final tip?” he said. “I would have enjoyed the opportunity to scope out your, um, assets—“
“Come on,” he said. “How would that have gone? I’m curious.”
God, he was insufferable. She arched an eyebrow, and glanced behind her. The workbench was about the right height. She hesitated for a moment before she brushed her ponytail over her shoulder and stepped closer to him.
She hopped up, using his shoulders as leverage. The workbench wobbled dangerously, but he steadied her, grinning as his hands slid over his hips.
It did put her a little higher than normal, although she wasn’t sure how much her assets were on display with the coveralls. Betty raised a brow archly. He stepped in a little closer.
“Yeah, I think I like this one,” Reggie said. “Would have saved some time.”
“I’ll remember that.”
He snorted, and then kissed her. He didn’t seem to mind the engine grease at all.