“No, he knows the people bothering me. He stopped them doing stupid stuff more than once,” I explained.
“Maybe he did it because he couldn't stand the idea of you getting hurt?” she suggested, that little smile coming back. I sighed, knowing the real reason why, but unable to tell her.
“Well, none of it matters. He's not my type,” I said sharply, wanting to end the conversation. She blinked at me, her mouth hanging open a little.
“Not your type? Tall, dark-haired, broad-shoulders. He looked similar to he-who-shall-not-be-named, only hotter still,” she said. I frowned at her and realised she was kind of right. Maybe that would explain why I felt more comfortable around him than I should've.
“Did it ever cross your mind I'm just not interested in finding someone?” I asked.
“No, it didn't. Because people say that, but they never really mean it,” she replied. I rolled my eyes, opening my mouth to reply. The door opened and the teacher hurried in, murmuring her apologies for being late.
Unfortunately Diane was back on topic the moment class ended and lunch started.
“Are you refusing to check out guys because of your family? Is that it?” she mused before we'd even found a table. I groaned at her and sent her pleading look. “Puppy-dog eyes won't work on me. I refuse to go out with another guy and have you sit there like a third wheel. You're my best friend, it's my job to embarrass you and help you find a guy,” she declared. We found a table and I left to grab food before she could ask more awkward questions. It was a futile effort, she was ready to pounce the moment I returned to the table. Though she smirked at the pile of food on my tray. Werewolves burned through a lot more energy than a human did.
“I wish I could eat all that and stay thin as a stick like you,” she muttered enviously. “So, is it your family?” she asked. I nearly choked on my mouthful.
“Can't you just leave it alone?” I muttered.
“I told you-” she began, ready to start the spiel all over again.
“Yes,” I cut her off. “Somehow the idea of finding a guy is ruined by my family. Penny is always bringing guys home to show off. I mean, I wouldn't do it like that. I'd only bring him home if I really liked him. But I can't,” I finished with a loud sigh. Diane matched it and frowned.
“So … why don't you just tell them?” she asked.
“And if they don't like it?” I asked. Having imagined more than once my dad's bad reaction. I knew I was being unreasonably. My parents might not like the idea, but they'd still accept it in time. That's how it worked with most families, right?
“They'll be fine with it Luca,” she said. “And if it goes wrong, feel free to run away to my house,” she suggested.
“Thanks for the confidence boost,” I laughed. “How's your mum doing?” I asked. Diane froze as the spotlight moved onto her.
“She's fine. My dad's sending money now,” she replied with an off-hand shrug. Though I could see her eyes were a little shiny. She tried to cover the bags with make-up, but I could still see them.
“How are the monsters?” I asked, using the nickname we gave to her younger twin bothers.
“They're fine. Still too young to really understand what's going on. I have to take over if one of them asks where daddy is,” she replied. “Mum has to take a moment when they mention him,” she explained.
“And you?” I asked. She sighed, chewing her lower lip. She was giving her food too much attention as she spoke.
“I'm good. I mean, it's not like me and him were ever close. And he was never technically my dad,” she shrugged. Diane's real father passed away when she was two. Her mum remarried when Diane was nine. Diane never went through the I-hate-you and you're-not-my-real-dad stages. She'd accepted him instantly; now he and her mum were divorcing.
“Let's go outside. It's a nice day,” she said, changing the subject. I hadn't eaten all my food but I agreed, binning what was left. I could always eat during my free period if I was still hungry. The college grounds were nice. There was a small wooded area to one side of the main buildings. Close to that were flowerbeds, a pond and stone benches. Even though I'd taken countless photos of the area before, I pulled out my camera.
“Have you told her about your uni application yet?” I asked as I focussed the lens. I was trying to get a good picture of the sunlight bouncing off the ponds surface. I got off the bench and knelt on the ground, hoping to get a better vantage point. I glanced back at her when she didn't reply.
“No,” she admitted. “I don't know if she'll be able to cope without me. I might take a gap year or something,” she shrugged.
“Don't you think that'll just make her feel bad?” I asked. She frowned, thinking about it.
“I guess you have a point,” she sighed. I grinned at her and she smiled back, it was small. But it was better than seeing her slumped and miserable. I refocussed the lens once more and managed to get a good picture. Diane leaned on the grass next to me to look at over my shoulder.
“Nice,” she murmured.