Ryan glanced up as the door was thrown open “what happened to you?” he asked concerned by Vincent’s stunned faced “you like you saw a ghost or something.”
“She said yes,” he mumbled a goofy grin spreading across his face “I can’t believe she said yes.”
Watching with apprehension as his friend stumbled to the bed and flopped down on it, Ryan’s heart dropped. He couldn’t it believe it. The little nerd actually did it. He asked Hannah and she said yes. His stomach did a somersault. That means he had to ask Charity. He dropped his head into his hands dreading what he had to do. It could change everything they had or nothing at all would happen.
He swallowed feeling sick to his stomach. Why did the guy have to grow some balls now? He shot Vincent an angry glare. He wanted to wipe that stupid grin off his face. The room felt stuffy and stale. He couldn’t breathe. His heart beat quickened. Closing his book Ryan stood on feet that no longer felt attached to his body. He shuffled to the door and into the hall.
Somehow he found himself staring at Charity’s door. Numbly he raised his hand breathing out in ragged shallow breaths. He could still turn back. He didn’t have to do this. He knocked before his fears took control.
The door opened and Charity poked her head out, eyes slightly unfocused from too much studying. “Ryan” she frowned turning she glanced at the time “you’re early.”
“Early,” he mumbled confusion knitting his eyebrows together.
“I thought we were going to play Sims Effect tonight,” she now sounded as confused as he looked “you did still want to play right?”
“Yeah yeah” he nodded “I uh” he flicked his tongue out running it along his dry lips.
“Are you alright?” she asked “you look kind of green.”
He grunted “I’m alright.”
She put a hand on his forehead “you feel clammy” she said “if you don’t feel up to it we can play another night.”
“No, no I’m fine,” he attempted to smile at her “too much studying I guess. A little headache nothing more.”
She went back inside and returned a few seconds later “take these and get some rest,” she told him “I’ll come check on you at 10 ok?”
“Thanks” he mumbled. She gave him a sweet smile before closing the door leaving him standing there alone. He stared at the pills in his hand. Why was it so hard for him to admit he liked her? Why couldn’t he tell her he didn’t want to be just friends? What if she didn’t want anything more than friendship? Would he ruin everything they had by wanting more?
“Did you ask her?” Hannah asked causing him to jump at the sound of her voice.
His fingers curled around the pills “no” he mumbled as his feelings of inadequacies and stupidity washed over him. The fragile pills broke apart under his clenched fingers grinding them into powder in his palms.
Hannah gently laid a hand on his shoulder “you need to tell her how you feel” she coaxed “otherwise you’ll always be in the friend zone.”
“Maybe that’s where we want to be,” he snapped “at least she’s not a hypocrite.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” Hannah demanded.
“Vincent,” he snapped.
Mention of the shy, blond extinguished Hannah’s joy over the kiss Donovan had given her. “What about him?” she asked attempting to appear innocent while her eyes darted around refusing to look at him.
“He thinks you like him,” he growled moving away from her “you should have seen the goofy happy grin he had.” Leaning against the wall he sighed “why couldn’t you have just told him no? It would have been kinder to him in the long run.”
“I” sighing she walked a few steps away “I didn’t mean to say yes. I was confused.”
“Confused? How do you confuse yes with no?” he demanded crossing his arms.
“I was distracted alright?” she cried “I thought Donovan was going to ask me. I was imagining it was him when Vincent asked me.” She hugged her arms around herself looking towards the floor “I said yes to him when I should have said no.” Looking up she said “I’ll explain it to Vince. He’ll understand. I’ve never liked him as anything more than a friend.”
Shaking his head Ryan growled deep in his throat “you’ll do no such thing. You’ll keep your date…”
“But I…” she jumped when he banged his fist into the wall behind him.
“You will” he told her “he likes you. If you tell him it was a mistake it’d crush him. Let him have his dream at least for one night.”
“Alright alright I’ll do it,” she mumbled “I just don’t want to hurt him anymore than I already have.” Tears sprang into her eyes “I didn’t mean to hurt him.”
Pulling his cousin close he held her while she cried on his shoulder “I know but I think Vincent will realize on his own that you and he aren’t the right fit. Sometimes you have to have what you want before you realize it isn’t what you need.”
“Like you and Charity?” she sniffed.
“Maybe” he shrugged “I’ve liked her since we were eight years old.” He smiled fondly “I was her knight protecting her from hordes of angry pillow ninjas. She just hasn’t grown up enough to see me as anything else.”
“Give her time,” Hannah advised giving him a squeeze.
He stepped back as sadness enveloped him. He wasn’t sure he wanted to wait anymore. He had devoted too much time to this dream. It was time to move on no matter how much it broke his heart to do so.
Divia didn’t know how long or how far she had run before she collapsed to her knees. Her body heaving gasping for air. She was such an idiot. Of course Teasha didn’t like her that way. She was straight. Why couldn’t she have left things alone? Loud angry screaming nearby had her looking around in fear.
A young woman with blond hair sat down on a nearby bench mumbling to herself. Divia couldn’t help but stare. The woman was exquisite. Curves in all the right places. Her shapely toned legs crossed swaying in the air. “Who are you?” the woman’s voice demanded harsh and angry.
Her unfriendly angry demeanor made Divia scramble backwards towards some nearby bushes. She pulled her knees to her chest. Burying her face in her knees. The woman was probably angry at her for not making her presence known. Maybe she saw the lust in her eyes. Maybe she was telepathic and she read her mind. She cowered further into the bushes as she heard the rustle of clothing as the woman got up. The soft foot steps as she moved closer to her spot. Divia’s heart raced as she felt the woman’s hand on her shoulder “are you alright?” The woman no longer sounded angry just concerned.
“I’m sorry,” Divia cried as her whole body seemed to zero in on the woman’s touch. How could one touch feel so thrilling and terrifying at the same time?
“Are you hurt?” she asked “do you need help?”
Divia looked into the kind warm eyes of the woman whose face she had been admiring. “I’m … fine,” she sniffed wiping tears from her face. The thought of this gorgeous woman seeing her like this was enough to send her deeper into the bushes. All she wanted to do was hide.
“I’m Marzia,” the girl said with a smile gracing her full sensual lips. She held a hand out to help Divia to her feet “what’s your name sweetie?”
Her soothing words calmed Divia’s nerves as she took Marzia’s hand. “I’m Divia,” she said blushing as a wave of heat flushed her body as she smiled at the girl. Looking down Divia let Marzia lead her by the hand towards the bench.
“You heard what happened to me?” Marzia said laughing a little “the old ball and chain finally got tired of me.”
A sad little sigh escaped Divia. Of course this beautiful vision was straight. “Sorry,” she mumbled inching away from her on the bench.
“Sweetie you don’t have to be scared,” Marzia said taking the girl’s hand “I’m not going to hurt you.”
Shaking her head Divia glanced at Marzia “it’s not that its…” she bit her lip afraid she’d somehow say the wrong thing and this lovely vision would fade away.
Marzia gave her another smile “I’m a good listener. I may not have all the answers but I’ll try.” She shrugged looking up at the building “did you have a fight with your boyfriend?”
Divia shook her head “no” her voice quivered.
A light of understanding shown in Marzia’s eyes. “The girlfriend then. Did she break up with you?” There was a sadness in her eyes and voice “did she tell you she met someone else?” A tear trickled down her cheek unheeded.
Divia watched the progress of that single tear. The perfect drop as it rolled across Marzia’s smooth complexion “is that what happened to you?” she asked unable to fathom how someone could hurt such a perfect creature.
“I screwed up once too many times,” Marzia scowled up at a second story window “I always let my insecurities and jealousy get the better of me.” She shook her head “that’s enough about me. We’re talking about you. What happened to you?”
“I…told my roommate that I liked her,” she blurted out needing someone to tell.
“I take it she didn’t take the news well,” Marzia asked feeling sorry for the girl. She wanted to reach over and run her hands through the girls long blue hair. Pull her close, tell her everything would be alright. She did neither of those things. Just held her hand rubbing her thumb back and forth across her skin.
“I’ve liked her forever,” Divia admitted relieved to have someone she could confide in “we grew up together. She’s my best friend. I thought… I hoped she felt the same. I’m so stupid,” she wailed wiping her eyes “she likes boys. Always has. I was just too blind to see it. She would only ever see me as her friend.” She closed her eyes breathing deeply “it’s going to be so awkward in our room now.”
“If she’s your friend it won’t be,” Marzia assured her “talk to her. You’ll see it will be alright.”
“You think so?” she asked looking at Marzia for reassurance. Smiling when the girl gave her a firm nod. Divia stood up “I should be going,” she took a couple of steps before stopping “thank you for listening.” She turned and waved towards Marzia.
“You’re welcome,” Marzia smiled at her.
“Will you be alright?” Divia asked retracing her steps drawn to Marzia.
“I will be,” she shrugged as if it didn’t matter.
“Can I,” Divia bit her lip scared of what she was about to ask “can I have your number? I mean” she looked around the area “I want to make sure your alright.”
Waylon looked across the room towards the silent blond. He yearned to run his fingers through the young man’s long soft hair. Sighing he pushed his books aside. So far in the eight weeks since school started he’d gotten a couple of bashful looks, a few mumbled responses to questions and a whole lot of silence. Why did he feel compelled to speak to this adorable reclusive boy? Maybe it was the pain the boy exuded. It made him want to put his arms around him and shield him from it.
Unable to stand the silent room Waylon got up and switched on the old radio he had brought with him from home. The sounds of Green Day filled the room. “Can you turn that down?” a soft timid voice asked.
Turning Waylon found the blond looking at him, his books spread across the floor, irritation clear on his handsome face. “Sorry,” he mumbled turning the radio off. He stood awkwardly scratching the back of his neck.
Zach bent his face towards his assignment. His hair falling over his face. He attempted to concentrate on his homework. His face flushed sensing Waylon’s eyes on him, watching. “What?” he growled pushing his book aside watching as it fell to the floor.
“Nothing,” Waylon muttered taken aback by Zach’s dark mood.
Running a trembling hand through his hair Zach mumbled “I’m sorry I…” he leaned back a picture of abject dejection “it’s not you.”
Waylon hesitated for just a moment watching his roommate. The way he sat on the floor made his heart ache as memories cascaded through his mind. How many times had he himself lashed out at others who cared about him? His feet propelled him forward. He sank to the floor as the blond looked up at him tears clear in his eyes “I’m sorry,” he said unsure why he was saying it but it was something at least.
“It’s not you,” Zach repeated “it’s me.” He bent his head forward onto his knees. Shoulders shaking as he began to cry “I shouldn’t be here….”
Waylon sat on the floor silently watching, itching to pull the blond into his arms. Assure him he wasn’t alone. He tried so hard, Waylon knew to put on a brave face so that his friends and sister wouldn’t worry. Waylon had seen how protective everyone was of the delicate boy. Maybe it was his china blue eyes and porcelain white skin that give him the appearance of being fragile. Waylon knew it went deeper than that. “Do you want me to get your sister?” he asked moving to get up.
Zach shook his head “no it’s just …. she’ll make a big deal out of it.”
Nodding Waylon waited a moment before asking “do you want to tell me? I promise I won’t tell anyone.”
Zach looked up lips quivering, eyes red “he’s here. I….” he choked sobbing.
This time Waylon allowed instinct to take control. He pulled the blond into his arms. He could feel the sobs wracking his tense body as Zach fought to control them and failed.
A red hot fury coursed through him as he listened to Zach recount his first kiss, first love. The betrayal and pain as the boy stood aside and watched him get beat. All the while denying any and all feelings for him. Waylon could hear the bewilderment in Zach’s voice as he tried to understand how someone he thought loved him could do that to him. Waylon knew that pain all too well. It was the same pain he had towards his own father. How could his father set fire to their house with his family fast asleep. He couldn’t do anything about what his father did but he could do something for the boy in his arms. “Is this boy on campus?” he asked. Zach nodded his head against Waylon’s chest “did he talk to you?” Waylon asked pushing Zach’s hair away from his face.
“No,” Zach pulled away searching for his book. Reaching it he pulled out a folded piece of paper “I found this in my book today in the library.”
Waylon took the note from Zach’s trembling fingers. His lips moved as he read it through. A muscle ticked in his jar “you’re not going alone.”
“Everyone else will be at the party,” Zach said sounding sad and defeated.
“Did you want to go to the party?” Waylon asked picking up on the sadness. If he had known or even thought Zach would want to go he would have asked him.
“If I had been asked,” he mumbled looking up through his bangs, cheeks turning bright red “it’s too late now.”
“It is if we wanted to win the prize for best costume,” Waylon agreed “but we can just go as Mr and Mr newly weds.”
Zach’s eyes grew large “yyyou don’t mind if people know or think your gay?”
Shrugging Waylon asked “why should I care what others think? It only matters what I think.” While Zach absorbed that comment Waylon looked back at the note crumpled in his fist “I’ll go with you,” he announced firmly.
“You don’t have to,” Zach told him sounding defeated.
“I know I don’t have to,” Waylon held the blond’s face in his hands “I want to.” Standing he held his hand out to help Zach up “besides you’re my date. I’m not letting you out of my sight.”