"You offered help because you care."
I wrench the hood up from a rickety Chevrolet Astro, staring uncomprehendingly, mind ticking.
"Bad people don't care. You do."
Not for the first time, Wicked glances over at me. His eyes stay on my face momentarily, then flicker away just before I bristle.
I bare my teeth at the slick, filthy cylinder causing this van millions of problems. But right now, right now, I can't bring myself to fix the damn thing. Normally I'd blame Wicked's annoying hovering around me...only I know that this time, it isn't that. Professor Vesci's words are replaying in my mind over and over, repeatedly pointing out the moment I extended my hand to Caleb.
Not that I ever would, physically, of course.
I know it was a mistake. I should have stayed away. I should have laughed in his face for being so weak. I should have...
But I didn't. And now I'm in this mess. I bump my head into the rim of the hood, smearing dirt across my brow. Let this be a lesson to not barge in where I'm not needed. I slam the hood down again, turning to angle my expression from Wicked's scrutiny as I bend to open my toolbox. Last thing I need is to get my ass fired for denting a customers property, especially since I'm supposed to repair it.
Footsteps sound, and I sigh when I realize Wicked's finally left. Now I can be frustrated in peace.
The relief is short lived-much too short lived-when he returns, surprise buried under nonchalance. "Dante, someone is asking for you." He jerks his head towards the garage door, looking at me expectantly.
I stare back at him, then back to my toolbox. "They can wait. Have one of the twins talk to them."
The twins, Dave and Darren, are the two I mostly tolerate, Wicked(on good days) aside. They're virtually the only ones I haven't gotten into a fight with quite yet. They can be a bit overeager to work, but...they aren't out to get me fired like the others are. They're simply a pair of dark haired hyperactive boys searching to do work.
Still, Wicked stays.
"They're asking for you." He frowns at me from the corner of my sight. I continue digging through my toolbox, reaching for the wrench--
--when the lights go out. Damn that man, knowing I hate being touched. The only way to stop me from working is to render me blind.
"Fuck! Wicked, damn it--"
"Get out there. You need a breather anyway."
I stand, eyes adjusting to the dark slowly, and snarl, storming towards the door. "Don't you fucking tell me what I need." I kick the roller board out of my way, not bothering to listen for where it clatters to a stop. What kind of shit does he think he is, telling me to take a break? He flicks the light on again, just as I shove past him. "I don't take orders from you," I spit.
"You work for me, Dante. As far as I'm concerned, that means you do." He doesn't bother narrowing his eyes at me. He simply crosses his arms, leaning against the door frame in that haughty manner of his, not batting an eyelid at my glare. And, sadly, I know it's true. I need this job, as much as it pains me to admit it. I can't go blowing it because of a skinny little nerd and his surrogate father--
"You may not be kind or very trusting, but you are not bad."
The words ring in my head clearly. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, and pinch the bridge of my nose, willing the red haze of anger to back down. I can deal with it later. Right now...it's business first. I have to at least make it to my next paycheck before getting dumped on my ass. I turn on my heel without looking at the long haired male known as my boss.
Vesci doesn't know jack. Not about me, not about my feelings.
My gaze lands on the chocolate haired brunette standing near the cash desk, one hand folded under an elbow, the other up by his mouth, the curve of his cheekbones defined by a trimmed fringe. There's a lock of brown hair down the length of his forehead, resting along the bend of his brow, the tip stopping above his upper lip. Those bright, stunningly clear blue eyes...cast downward, looking at his fingers, toying with the hem of the white scarf around his shoulders. The cream colored turtleneck he's wearing compliments his porcelain skin tone, while contrasting the curvatures of his hips, clad in black jeans. All in all, I almost failed to recognize him as the same nerd I met in Professor Vesci's office that day. The glasses folded against his chest and his electric blue eyes gaze him away, though. And now those eyes rise, falling on me.
"Dante," He says, as if he's surprised to see me here, in front of him. "Oh, um," He sends a look over his shoulder, then shuffles a bit closer. "I...I missed you at school today,"
Before I can check my tongue, I find myself responding. "Yeah...you too. You...look nice. I like your haircut." Mentally, I bash my head. What the actual fuck? What am I saying?! "It really brings out your eyes."
But then Caleb is smiling, and suddenly sputtering like an idiot doesn't seem so bad. He has a dimple, peeking out from his right cheek. "Thanks...Haylie razored it for me." And that's when I see her, near the entrance, talking quietly on her phone. How odd. It's like she's on mute. "Um...I don't want to take much of your time, since...y'know, you're busy and all." He fiddles with his scarf again, his blue eyes dancing. "I just wanted to ask if you'd like to get something to eat with us, after you get out of work." He looks up at me again, a welcoming smile on his lips, "So...how about it?"
I take in his expression, open and honest.
"There are no bad people--only bad choices and the thoughts that they make."
Those ethereal eyes. He seems almost trustworthy.
"No." I say.