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As Alex, Tom, and Cindy walked through the outdoor market, Alex kept looking over at Cindy. Every time her eyes met his, he quickly look elsewhere.
"Hey. Check out these peppers," Alex's best friend Tom said. "Says their hotter than a party on the sun."
Yeah Alex thought But are they hotter than Cindy.
"Dare ya to take one and eat it," Tom challenged.
"No way," Alex said. He never liked spicy foods.
"What's the problem. You a wimp?" Tom asked.
Alex looked at Tom and then Cindy. She smiled. Such a beautiful smile. He could get lost in that all day long. Maybe she'd think he was more of a man if he ate the pepper. Maybe it would impress her. Love can make people do strange things, and Alex decided this was one of them.
"Fine," Alex said. "Give me one."
Tom reached into the large basket of habanero peppers and pulled one out. Alex could swear it was the largest pepper in the basket.
"Here you go," Tom said. "You gotta eat the whole thing."
Alex grabbed the pepper in his hand, stared at it, then looked at Cindy. She just smiled. Why didn't she try to stop him from this mistake? Why was she letting him impress her this way? He put the pepper in his mouth, bit the thing from the stem, and started chewing it.
He couldn't chew it any longer. The heat forming in his mouth became so overwhelming that he spit the entire pepper out of his mouth. The pain was horrible, shooting from his tongue, to his lips, and back of his throat. Not thirty seconds after he ate the pepper, he threw up on the ground.
"Ew, gross," Tom said.
"You okay?" Cindy asked. She went over to Alex, and started rubbing his back.
"I'm...I'm fine." He had to stay tough. Had to impress her, but the world felt like it was spinning. The pain of the pepper caused beads of sweat to form on his forehead.
Tom leaned in close to Alex, who now lay on the ground while he waited for the pain to pass. Cindy knelt next to him on his right side. She looked beautiful. Eating the pepper was worth it. As he laid there staring at her beautiful smile, he heard Tom whisper something in his left ear.
"You can thank me later. But I can tell you this. You'll probably have just as hard a time handling her."