Caleb's jaw goes slack with surprise, his features quickly turning red. "H-he showed it to you?" His voice is a tiny squeak.
I raise my brows, tilting my head. "You have a good memory. Not many people notice this scar here." I point out the tiny, crescent shaped line of tissue under my jaw. "And all from one look, too."
Haylie looks between Caleb and me, her grin widening. "Caleb, you don't waste any time, do you?"
He sputters incomprehensibly, choking on the swig of lemonade that he takes. "I-I don't know what you're talking about!" His cerulean eyes flit around the room, avoiding both of us completely. "I was just doodling, that day. Leonzio must have found it...I had a lot on my mind." He explains, then clasps a hand over his mouth, groaning softly just as Haylie crows in delight.
"Obviously you had Dante on your mind!" She guffaws, waving her fork at me.
I doubt I could raise my brows higher. This little nerd, have feelings for me? For a slacking, careless guy like me? They must be both out of their minds. Caleb for thinking that, and Haylie for believing it. But, as I turn my sights to the nerd, I take in the averted eyes, the fidget of his hands, now holding burning cheeks, the way he's been looking at me since I've arrived... Could it be true?
"A-anyway..." Caleb laughs nervously, digging into his salmon fillet with a renewed vigor, "d-did he show you anything else?"
"No, not then, anyway." I shake my head after a moment. "We were talking."
Haylie looks up from her dish, leering. "About Caleb, maybe?"
To my disgust--Am I losing control over my features, too? Are my thoughts and half dead emotions not enough?--my eyes widen at her inquiry, and I feel my face warm. "If we were, it's not your damn business."
"Callie's my best friend," She scowls at me, "I have a right to know. I'll ask Vesci, anyway, if you don't tell me."
Caleb's mutter of 'I'm your only friend' is completely ignored by both of us.
"Then ask the professor. I don't care." I snort, cutting the remainder of my steak into strips. "And what the hell kind of a nickname is 'Callie'? Either way, we talked. He said some stupid things, and I left." At their questioning stares, I give a small shrug. "Something about my being lonely."
Haylie's brows raise halfway up her forehead, completely ignoring my jab at her awful name-choosing skills, "Relationship-wise?"
"I haven't the slightest clue."
"That sounds like Vesci, alright." Caleb smiles gently down at his hands. "He can be so weird and silly, but so deep and serious at the same time. That day," Those cerulean, glowing eyes turn up to me, engulfing me like the sky itself. "in his office, the first time we spoke, do you remember?"
Despite not wanting to answer, I nod.
"He was so kind, letting me borrow his clothes until mine were dry. He didn't even mind letting me stay in his office the whole day." His gaze softens. "Then, after you left--"
"Whoa, whoa, wait," Haylie cuts in, her hands wringing the air. "Why were you soaking wet in the first place? What happened? Didn't you tell me you have a morbid fear of water?" She seems genuinely confused about this.
Caleb flushes, pursing his lips, idly stirring his lemonade.
My eyes flicker between both of them. A part of me wonders why Caleb hasn't told her...but then, why would anyone share their humiliating experiences with someone? Especially their fears. Why give someone that power?
The brunette keeps his gaze on his drink, opens his mouth to explain, when a shrill ringtone cuts him off, not unlike the way Haylie herself did. And it's Haylie, too, who digs into her sweater's pocket, face going pale at the screen. "Oh fuckfuckfuck, I forgot I have an early shift today!"
So she works. Huh.
Caleb, to my surprise, looks a little worried. "Oh, um, then..."
But Haylie sicks her wide, slightly panicked gaze to me, pleading even before she speaks. "Dante, I really don't wanna leave Caleb or you like this, but can you take Caleb home? I'm late as it is, and I don't want him to have to walk or anything." She's already standing, tucking a five dollar bill under the tater sauce bowl. I get to my feet, raising a brow.
"Um, I can just take a bus..." Caleb says at my expression.
"No," Haylie and I say in unison.
"Please, please, please, Dante!" She bites her lip, bright blue eyes sincere, almost as much as when she apologized (or, well, Caleb apologized for her) for asking about my scars. "I really don't wanna leave him, and I can't take him with me, either, my boss would kill me!"
I almost want to laugh at her and tell her to just take him...but out of the corner of my vision, Caleb seems just about ready to leave on his own to save her the trouble. "I'll take him," the words tumble from my mouth, "but you owe me. You should've fucking remembered you have a job," I hastily add at their expressions. I can't let them think I have a heart.
Isn't that why you're taking Caleb home?
I stomp down on that intruding thought, swallowing hard as Haylie slumps with relief, thanking me profusely on her way out. She hugs Caleb tightly, then grins at me, winking, and leaves me with the nerd. Or, technically, the nerd with an angry wolf. I lift my gaze to the ceiling, breathing in and out silently.
"At least she paid for us," his expression, again, is apologetic.
"Well," I nod at Caleb's empty plate. "Let's go."
He keeps his eyes cast downward, following me as I lead the way to my motorcycle, parked around the side of the restaurant. I stay my tongue from asking why he doesn't have a car of his own. That'd be giving him the impression that I care, for sure. And I don't. I really don't. I could care less why he doesn't have a car.
He glances around, then looks at me, confused, when I stop in front of my bike. His eyes widen slightly as he remembers that I came to the restaurant on this motorbike. "Oh, that's right, you have a motorcycle." He fidgets nervously, cheeks tinged with pink. "I, um, forgot."
"Here," I hand him the helmet, sliding onto the seat and putting the key in the ignition.
The nerd slips the protective gear on, climbing hesitantly after me, his arms wrapping snugly around my chest. A small quiver travels through him, and I rev the engine, kicking the stand up. "Hold on tight," I warn him, knowing it's more than likely his first time riding a motorcycle. He lets out a whimper with the turn heading out of the parking space, tightening his grip on me. A barricade of questions flare up in my consciousness at his touch.
Why did I say yes? Why doesn't he have his own car yet? Why did I come to a fucking seafood restaurant? Why won't they leave me alone? Why won't my heart calm down?
Why the fuck am I okay with his arms around me?