Days have passed--two weeks, to be exact. Two weeks of glaring and sneering from Kevin and his friend, Fiasco, and not so much as a passing glance from Dante. Haylie has stayed by my side though, refusing to leave whether to save her reputation from further tarnishment by hanging out with me (apparently there's something wrong with the way I look) or me from being bullied. Not that I've told her about Kevin yet...
The days are getting shorter, cooler, summer transitioning into fall. Today, Haylie and I are walking home together. This is a usual routine. She comes to my house, eats my fridge clean, sleeps in my bed, and leaves when she has to go to work. Last I asked her, she had an apartment, but...she hardly stays there, for some reason. She plucks her sunglasses off the collar of her shirt, sliding them onto her nose. "Caleb, darling, we need to talk." She starts in a fake condescending tone. She has a habit of using it whenever she wants to suggest something.
I glance at her from my Mythology textbook. "Hmm?"
"I'm going to your house today."
The information sinks in slowly. I close my book, hugging it to my chest. "...and this is news because...?"
"I'm going to your house today," She flicks up a finger, "and we are going to work on your wardrobe. Because,"the lightly tanned finger presses into my arm, "damn it all if you keep walking around like this."
I send a look down at my clothes. They seem alright enough. "But, these are clean."
"Khaki is so not in style this era, Caleb. Even Vesci agreed in art class." a dark pink brow rises over the rim of her glasses. "And when hyper Italian art professors agree, that's serious business." Haylie hooks her arm around mine now, splaying a hand wide out in front of us. "Besides, I know you're arse over tits for someone. You get this faraway look whenever you think I'm not looking, and you've started that sighing thing again. This'll help you get their attention! And me figure out who it is." She adds, smirking.
I think of a steel grey gaze that does a double take and fixes on me. My cheeks warm, despite the cool air chilling them. "Um,"
"Exactly! Come on now, let's get to it!" Haylie squeals happily, tugging me along.
"As long as I don't come out sporting pink hair, I guess..." I shrug.
"It's too good for you, lovely. Sorry!" She chirps. "No pink hair for you! Maybe lime green though...that'd be a good contrast to your eyes."
And that's how I find myself shoved into a chair, having my hair cut and trimmed by a bouncing blur of pink, crooning about how well I take care of it and that my new look will be perfect for the shape of my face and...the next thing I know, she's in my room, tearing my closet apart, throwing clothes around. I swivel in the chair, biting my lower lip. That's a big mess I'll have to clean later...if she even decides to go home today. I'm spinning idly from my perch when I hear her give a cry.
"Ah! I knew you had to have something worthwhile in here! I found a cream colored turtleneck and some black skinnies!" She howls delightedly, throwing them into my lap. "Here! Quick, quick, put them on!"
My face goes hot when she watches me expectantly while I lift my shirt. "At least turn around, would you?" I pull it back down rapidly.
She pouts, but goes back to ripping into my wardrobe, humming to herself.
Will this really help me...? This shirt feels a little tight...and my butt feels awkward in these jeans. "Is this necessary?" I ask out loud.
"Yes," Haylie peers around the doorway at me, a grey scarf in her grip, then walks into the bathroom, circling me like a predator. "Hmm..." She tugs on my belt loops, smoothing my shirt out. "I'm liking this... Take a peek." She hands me my glasses, grinning. "Even your dorky glasses look hot now."
I open my mouth to defend my lenses when I catch a glimpse of my reflection. "Oh..."
"If you weren't gay, I'd have gone after you by now," She winks, resting her hands on my shoulders. "This look works on you...like a classy nerd!"
"I'm not..." I mumble, but then the thought of Dante's smile surfaces, and my words die. "Haylie, I don't think I can do this," I say, suddenly.
"Do what?" Her expression transitions from pleased to worried. "You look amazing! You could so pull this off." She winds the scarf loosely around my neck, letting one side dangle longer than the other. "What's wrong? Why the lack of confidence? Well, you never really had any to begin with..."
I frown. "But...I just...I've never...I'm not gay." I drop my gaze, "And even if I was, how do I know he is?"
Haylie doesn't comment on my latter statement, but takes my hand and draws me into my room, setting me down on the bed. Wordlessly, she clasps my face in her hands. She's done this before, once, after a certain day she was just quiet and out of her usual giddiness. She stares into my eyes, then presses a kiss onto my cheek.
"This is us," She says softly. "Best friends."
Then, her lips trail down to my own, and I stiffen.
"That," She smiles, knowingly. "Caleb...if you weren't gay, then you wouldn't try to back away from this. A normal nerd wouldn't turn down some action from a girl like me. Just face it," Her hand lifts my chin, gently. "You like someone who happens to be a guy."
I know she's not being arrogant. She was virtually the most popular girl in the college until her friends abandoned her. And with her figure, I wouldn't doubt a lot of guys were drooling over her. I close my eyes and lean into her hand against my cheek, "Haylie..." I shake my head, looking at her again. "That still doesn't make him gay."
"You just have to give it a try. If you don't, then you'll never know. It's not like you're professing your undying love to him or anything." She huffs, patting my cheek. "I'll be there to support you. Like a good bra."
"You really have a way with words, you know?" I deadpan.
"Obviously," She grins.