Chapter 1
 



“So…  What’s the verdict?”  Gabe asked.  

“Hopelessly straight.  I told you!  If you paid attention to anything below the torso, you’d have seen how he looks at the Professor Alden when she wears the too-small lab coat.”

“Look Kira, I’ve been doing a lot of reading.  It doesn’t matter what people think they are.  Especially guys.  They are far more flexible on the Kinsey Scale than they let on, especially in college.  Nothin’ is set in stone yet.”

“So does that mean you might like girls?”  Kira looked smug, but he also noticed a hint of a blush touch her cheek.  She tried to freeze that smile on her face when he grabbed at his neck and started making overly-dramatic choking sounds.  Inside she was crestfallen for about the 40th time that day, and she didn’t think anything could have beat when he asked HER of all people, to go up and flat out ask that…  that GUY if he was gay.

Ok, he was attractive, she’d admit.  But he’d never had really grabbed her attention until Gabe couldn’t shut up about him.  You’d think he was the jackpot in a scratch-off boy-ticket.  Of course, ever since Gabe made his interest the dominating subject of EVERY CONVERSATION they had had in the past two months, she’d started studying him.  At first, she wanted to see if she’d missed something about him.  What was it that Gabe was seeing that she didn’t?  Was he that much more observant when it came to manflesh?  

No.  

Quickly, after she’d dismissed the possibility Gabe wasn’t a total idiot, she’d moved to studying him so she had something to argue about.  She noted every time he’d said something stupid in class, did something dumb, said something dumb, so that when Gabe brought up his “oh-so-perfect” specimen of love-sick interest, she’d have facts behind her to show he wasn’t paying close enough attention.  

This was not Kira’s first rodeo.  She may not have been able to hogtie Gabe just yet – but there was no way she was getting bucked off now.  She’d fallen for Gabe the first moment she saw him, when she was 7 years old.  She’d run home and told her mom, “Mom!  I found the ONE!”  Her mom had smiled and said, “That’s sweet baby girl!  When is the wedding planned, and when it’s over, will you be moving into his parents’ house, or should we clear out the attic?”  

“Mom!!” Kira had said with a bemused moan.  “I’m only SEVEN!  You have to be fifteen to get married!”  At this her mom had finally broke her attention from the noodles she was tending to.  “Who…  Who told you you could get married at fifteen?”  

“Kristen.  She said her mom said she was fifteen when she got pegged-nant.  Pegged nant is the first thing you do to start your family!”

“Kristen’s mom…” Nancy thought.  “…that woman.  Of course she was 15 when she got pegged in the ‘nant.’  I’m surprised she waited that long, I thought maybe she’d not have been out of her pull-ups yet.  K&K – inseparable, but good lord I wish Kira had connected with someone whose family wasn’t such a… A mess.”  She realized she’d been lost in thought for a moment too long, “Honey, sometimes people do things sooner than others.  Life isn’t a race.  What’s your new beaux’s name?  Is he ready for married life too?”  Kira’s confusion over her mom’s odd statement vanished, totally forgotten.  “Oh YES!  I saw him up at the neighborhood park.  He is so handsome!  I told him my name, and that he was going to be my husband.”  

“And he said yes?”

“…well.  He didn’t say anything.  But he didn’t say no!  Mom he’s beautiful!  He has dark hair and dark eyes, and had a little hoodie on, and he was building a little racetrack in the sand!  It had a jump and everything!”

“So, you are getting married to an architect!  That’s a good job! And who knows?  It might be nice to have a quiet son-in-law who won’t argue as much as some daughters.”

“I don’t argue!”

“That’s an argument dear.”

“No it isn’t!”

Nancy sighed, trying not to laugh.  “Well, let me be the first to congratulate you on your future husband, and I’m sure the two of you will be very happy.  When you see him next, let him know I’ll be getting him an official set of earplugs for his bachelor’s gift.”

Kira’s nose wrinkled in confusion.  “Earplugs?  What for?”

“Peace dear.  Peace.”


Ok, so she was a bit of a strong personality.  Was that so bad?  Since she was first mobile, she went for what she wanted, and nothing could stop her – not a $40 babygate, and certainly not the Kinsey Scale, which Gabe probably made up anyway.  He’d do anything to prove that straight guys weren’t really straight, they were just a little lower on the scale to his six.  SIX!?  It’s just that stupid college age where he wants to be different and stand for something.  


“Ok, so you asked – but what did he specifically say?” Gabe tried to edge into whatever little world she was obviously lost in now.

“Well…  I didn’t exactly ask.”  She recoiled as Gabe excitedly grabbed her by the shoulders.  He was way too hopeful for someone he’d not even talked to yet.  Talking wasn’t exactly Gabe’s strong suit.  At least, not when he was nervous.

“So he didn’t say he was straight – you’re just hoping he’s straight!  See, this is why we’re best friends.  We both want him to be playing for our ball team.  Well, in your case – boob team.”  He started cackling at his own joke.  When anyone else did that, she wanted to kick them right where the pants tip the triangle, but when Gabe did it she just found it too adorable.  “So you’re hoping he’s straight, I’m hoping he’s gay.  You didn’t even ask him because you like him too!  Am I right?  Right?  RIGHT?”  

“No…  Gabe?  Have you ever paid attention to him other than when you’re watching him walk out of class?  Don’t think I haven’t noticed that you need a moment after he leaves before you’ll stand up.  But have you actually paid REALLY close attention?  What is it that you like about him, aside from how he looks?”

Gabe shrugged.  “I can’t tell you why I like him.  I just like him!  He’s cute. Yes.  But he seems so nice!  Like I wrap my body pillow around me, and pretend it’s him spooning me while I sleep.  I smelled him once you know.”

“You…  You smelled him?”

“I did!  He brushed past my desk really close, and he smelled like woodchips and rain.  UGH!  He’s not like a jock-jerk.  He’s never made fun of me.  When some of the other guys crack jokes about me, he never laughs with them.”

“It’s not like he defends you either.”

“That’s because he doesn’t want his mutual love for me to show too clearly! He doesn’t want his…” Gabe broke out into his signature bad-opera singer voice, “truuuuuue colors!!!!  …shining through!!!  His freakin’ truuuuuuuuuuue coooooooolors!  That’s why I’m hiiiiiiiis booooooo!”  He started laughing again, and this time Kira couldn’t help but crack up with him.

“You are such a freaking dork.”

“I know that.  But you actually don’t.  That’s why you wanted to marry me when you were ten!”

“Seven,” Kira breathed.

“What?”

“What?  Oh! I said your singing is heaven.”  She smirked, knowing the little joke would throw him off the line of questioning she didn’t want to go down right now.  Yes, he knew she’d always liked him, but they pretended it was a funny game of the past.  For her, it was daggers every day – but it kept him close.

“You still haven’t answered my question.  If you didn’t ask him, how do you know?”  

Inspiration hit her.  She didn’t need to tell him what really happened just yet.  This was her little treasure, and she decided she was going to bury this little trove right under his skin.  Serves him right.  He might not know how deeply he tortured her daily, but that still doesn’t make it ok.  She deserves to get him back a little.  She knew exactly how she was going to make him feel just a little of what she felt every day, spending all her time with him and denying that it probably will never happen with them.

“Well, like we’d planned, I casually went up to him and asked if he’d mind answering a survey question I’m doing for statistics class.  He said sure.  I asked him what his favorite animal was…”  Gabe thought he could peg anyone’s sexuality based on what animal they liked best. “…I told him it could be imaginary or real.  And he said, ‘How will this be used for anything in statistics?’  I told him I was studying sample-size and confidence levels, and he…  He asked me out.”

“HE WHAT!!???  No, no…  You said you had a question for statistics, and after asking what animal was his favorite, he was just all, ‘Oh, will you go out with me?”

“NO…  Actually, he made a crude joke asking if I wanted to ‘sample his size’ and when I snapped at him for being a pig, he said he was sorry, he was just trying to make me laugh because he thought I was cute, and he asked me if he could take me to dinner to make up for it.”

“No.  No, no no nonononononono.  This isn’t happening.  I can’t be wrong about him!  I know what I know, and I may have been wrong three hundred million times in the past but HE is a ball player!  No.”

“Look, I know this isn’t what you wanted.  And let me be clear – I’m not interested in that.  No way.  I was hopeful for you!  I really was!”

Gabe just kicked at his shoes.  “Well…  I guess I should be used to it by now.  I don’t get how I can keep getting this so wrong!  So…  What did he say when you blew him off?”

“Oh…  So, about that…”  She looked down at her own shoes, and as understanding dawned on Gabe, his eyes were in as wide of surprise as the day a little girl told him they were getting married.  “You…  Are a bitch,” Gabe said.  But he knew he didn’t really mean it.  

…yet