Ellie has just turned 17 last week, smalland golden-skinned with thick dark brown hair that fell to her shoulders. She’d once asked her mother at dinner where she got the hair.“Your father,” her mother had said in her cool detective’s voice.“You say I’m half-Filipino, what’s theother half?”Her mother had sipped her water andchanged the subject. That was almost alwaysthe case.“Life’s too short,” she told Paul now.“And I’m hungry.” She smiled back at him. “Hey,you ordered as much as me. What’s your excuse?”“I’m a guy,” he said, baiting her. Shedidn’t disappoint.“What’s that supposed to mean?”Paul enjoyed the glare she gave him.“Girls shouldn’t pig out. They should look goodfor the guys.”She was about to kick him under thetable when she realized that—“You’re playingme again.” Her face broke into a grin to matchhis.“Got ya,” he laughed. She laughed too,but still kicked him under the table. As he cried,“Ow!” and rubbed his leg, she winked.“Don’t ever say anything sexist again.”By the time this was happening, I wascircling the block and following Ellie’s scent. Shesmelled fresh and citrusy, a smell I always lovedbesides chicken adobo and pizza. As I paddedmy way down the street, people and kids smiledand cried, “Oh! How cute!” Some even madebeckoning motions at me but I ignored them.My focus was on Ellie. She was goingto die in 10 minutes.***Anna the waitress came back with aladen tray. The food was slipping precariouslyon the plastic plates and Paul had to get up andhelp her place it on the table.“Thanks,” Anna told him curtly. Shedidn’t look at either of them.Then, out of the blue, she said, “I knowyou’re mother.”Ellie looked up. “Who? My mother?”“Uh-huh.” She gave Ellie a cold sneer.“We go way back.”Before Ellie could ask any further, sheturned around and left.Ellie watched her go. Finally, sheshrugged it off.“Probably had a long day,” Paul saidwith his mouth full of burger. Ellie pouredketchup at her mound of fries and dug in. Shewas already forgetting the weird talk with thewaitress. She began laughing.“What?” Paul asked, though it came outas “MWAART?”“I just can’t believe the college cashier can run like that,” she said. “She doesn’t look it.”“Fast as hell,” he agreed.You would’ve thought the universitywould have better security during sign-ups. Thatmorning, a man had tried to snatch an incomingstudent’s tuition money. As he was about tomake a getaway with the cash—and with threesecurity guards on his tail—the cashier, Mrs.White had taken it upon herself and chased after him too. Ellie and Paul saw the whole thing.“She overtook the guards,” Ellie said.She could still see the overweight Mrs. Whiterun, her whole body shaking with effort, her large bosom like melons jiggling against eachother.“And tackled the thief,” Paul said.“She sure can run,” she said, lickingketchup from her lips.“Fast as hell,” he said, and withoutthinking, leaned across the table and licked theketchup off of her himself.They didn’t know who was moresurprised. They sprang apart as if doused withcold water. Their eyes were wide, but somethingelse was also there.Ellie’s heart hammered in her chest. Itdidn’t pump as hard as the time she and her mother were walking home when some vagranthad jumped behind a tree and came at themwith a cleaver (her mother, being a policedetective, had made a sweeping motion with her leg and took the man down).This rapid heartbeat of Ellie’s was not of fear. This heartbeat felt good. It was of excitement. Her face grew warm as she staredat Paul.Attraction is the weirdest thing; it makeseven ketchup sexy.“What just happened?” Ellie whisperedat him. Outside, the sun died to make way for the night. Lights began flickering from everybuilding in the block.“I don’t know,” Paul said. “It justhappened.”They didn’t move; the food lay forgottenin the moment. Both were thinking that theywere hungry for something else.Something that involves a lot of kissingand touching and…“Are you sorry?” Ellie asked.Paul thought for a second. “No. I’m not.”“Good,” Ellie said.