“Hey, Beck, can I ask you something?” Levi plopped down into the desk in front of mine. “It’s about that girl Willow you’re always hanging out with.”
I peered up from my doodling, confused. “Okay.”
He twisted in his seat and rested his arms on my desk. “Does she have a boyfriend?”
His question threw me off guard.
I wasn’t sure how to respond. Normally, with Wynter, I answered honestly. Now, I found myself desperate to lie, to say that she did have a boyfriend so Levi wouldn’t ask her out. Not that I didn’t like Levi; I just didn’t want Willow to have a boyfriend.
“She does, actually.” I sat back in my seat. “I think he’s a grade ahead of us.”
“Really?” Levi frowned, thrumming his fingers on top of the desk. “Well, that sucks. She seems pretty cool. Plus, she’s hot.”
I shrugged, feeling a little guilty for lying. What would Willow do if she knew what I did? She always trusted me. Did I just break her trust?
What if she wanted to date Levi? Then I’d see less of her, and I barely survived the summer without her.
She trusted me so much, and she hardly trusted anyone.
I sighed and decided to tell her at lunchtime, even though I didn’t want to.
“Levi likes me? Really?” she asked after I sat down at the lunch table and reluctantly told her what happened in math class.
“Yeah. That’s what he said.” I stuffed a handful of chips into my mouth, eyeing her over. “You don’t seem that happy about it.”
“That’s because Levi’s not her type.” Wynter squeezed between Willow and me while Luna took a seat across the table.
“You have a type?” I asked Willow.
She shook her head, but a blush crept up her cheeks. “No.”
“Yes, you do.” Wynter popped the tab of her soda. “You told me this summer that you liked—”
Willow threw a carrot at Wynter, pegging her right in the face. “Shush. You promised you wouldn’t tell.”
I frowned. Willow told Wynter a secret that she didn’t tell me?
“Hey,” Wynter whined, chucking the carrot back at Willow. “That wasn’t very nice.”
Willow ducked out of the way, and the carrot fell onto the floor. “Well, you promised you wouldn’t tell anyone.”
“What’s the big deal?” Wynter asked, tearing open a bag of chips. “So, you like a guy? It was bound to happen sometime.”
Willow glared at Wynter. “Stop talking about this in front of everyone.”
My frown deepened. Okay, now I’m part of the everyone.
Then the craziest thought occurred to me. What if Willow had a crush on me, and that’s why she was so mad at Wynter? The idea should’ve made me uncomfortable, but honestly, I kind of liked it.
A few moments later, though, Wynter blabbed that Willow had a crush on Dominic, a guy who was a grade above us and wore studded bracelets and, I was pretty sure, eyeliner. That was the day I realized Willow had a type, and I was far from it.
I also realized I had a crush on my best friend.
My crush lasted all through middle school up to our junior year of high school. That year, everything changed. I went from thinking of Willow as my hot best friend to thinking she was a beautiful, kind, smart, caring girl I wanted to kiss all the time.
And I mean, all the fucking time.
I remember the first time I actually considered doing it. We were hanging out at my house, watching some stupid soap opera that was boring as shit, but there was nothing else on. Willow muted the volume and began ad-libbing for the characters. I joined in, and by the time the show was over, we were laughing our asses off.
That’s when my dad walked in and ruined the moment by being his douchey self.
“What the hell are you doing?” He grabbed the remote from my hand and shut off the television. He was wearing a grey suit and red tie, ready to go off to work, on a Sunday, something he did every single week, never taking days off, always worrying about work, work, work. “Get off your ass and do something. Quit wasting your life.”
He wasn’t a horrible guy, just a huge believer that people should spend life working their asses off. The problem was, I loved to mess around, have fun, party, and play sports. I didn’t have big goals or any real plans other than to pass Algebra and kick ass on the soccer field. I knew a lot of people my age who didn’t have any major life goals yet.
“We were just watching TV.” I frowned at the disappointment on his face. “It’s Sunday morning. There’s nothing else to do.”
He crossed his arms and stared me down. “Well, if you had a job, then that wouldn’t be a problem.”
“I have a job,” I argued, lowering my feet to the floor.
He laughed, and the noise made my muscles constrict. “Selling shit and lending out money isn’t a job.”
“Why?” I questioned with a crook of my brow. “I make money. Isn’t that what a job is?”
“Watch your tone,” he warned. “And no, that’s not a job … unless you want to work in sales. Is that what you want to do for the rest of your life? Spend hours in a store, trying to bullshit people into buying stuff? And doing so for a crap salary?” His tone dripped with sarcasm. “Sounds pretty rewarding, doesn’t it?”
“Some people have to work in sales. There’s nothing wrong with that. And I’m sure it’s just as hard of work as what you do.” I wanted to add that his job wasn’t all that rewarding, either, that his career as a lawyer had turned him into a liar, a jerk, and a snob. Whatever. There was only so far I could push my father before I had to pay some extreme consequence.
“Get your ass up and come help me at the office,” he snapped. “I’m going to teach you a thing or two about hard work.”
His gaze shifted to Willow, and I had the strongest compulsion to move in front of her, protect her, though I knew my dad wouldn’t harm her. I didn’t even like that she had to sit here and witness his shit-fit.
“You should take my advice, too, young lady. There are better things to do than sit around, wasting your time and my son’s.” He eyed over her cut-offs, her unlaced boots, and the worn T-shirt she was wearing, and disgust flashed in his eyes. “Although, I’d suggest cleaning up a little before you tried to apply for jobs. Most companies won’t hire people who look like they spend their nights sleeping in a cardboard box.”