Maybe it is a simple matter of fascination that he keeps looking at me. And even though I know I’m not a toad, I can’t help but wonder why. Why stare at me when he’s surrounded by girls who are, by anyone’s standards, gorgeous. God, he’s probably thinking the same thing: she keeps looking at me. Only he’s probably not wondering why. Everyone looks at Baylor.
They’re looking now. He’s at the far side of the hall with a hulking group of football players, and all heads are turned his way. I’ve always thought Baylor was big and tall, but one of the guys next to him looks like he eats screaming villagers for breakfast. A linebacker, if I had to guess. He even has a beard, full and bushy. Hagrid’s younger brother maybe.
The guys are laughing, talking to other friends who come up to see them. A group of girls head straight for them as if they’ve been waiting. And their arrival is greeted with appreciation.
But not by Baylor. He’s still watching me, his expression almost grim and so intent that my heartbeat speeds up. I want to look away. I ought to, but I just stare back like an idiot.
“Do you know Drew Baylor?”
The question jumps out at me, loud and in my ear, and my pen clatters to the table.
“Jesus, Iris,” I say as my best friend slips into my side of the both. “You scared the shit out of me.”
“I can see how you’d be distracted.” Her dark eyes shine with an evil light that I know means trouble. “What with you eye-fucking Battle Baylor and all.”
My face is likely pink because it burns. “I’m not ‘eye-fucking’ anyone.” It’s a mumble. And there is absolutely no way I’m looking back at Baylor now, even though I’m dying to.
Iris snorts and grabs a drink of my iced coffee. “Eye-molesting doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.” When I open my mouth to protest again, she waves me off. “Don’t bother denying it. I know what I saw.”
“How do you even know what I’m looking at anyway?” I slap my notebook closed and take back my drink. “I could have been checking the time.” There’s a big clock hanging on the wall behind Baylor, so I’m hoping that excuse is believable.
Iris’s smirk tells me it’s not. “Because he was eye-fucking you back.”
I nearly choke on my drink. “Would you please stop using that phrase?”
Iris laughs a little. “Sorry, but it was kind of hot and obvious, you know.”
Hell. Was it?
Her eyes narrow. “You haven’t answered my question, and it’s clear that you know him in some way.”
When she shifts like she’s about to glance in his direction, I react like I’m five, and pinch her thigh in a panic.
“Shit, Anna!” she squeals.
“I’m sorry. But don’t look at him.” The last thing I want is for Baylor to know we’re talking about him. I’d expire of mortification on the spot.
She glares, rubbing her thigh. “Drama Mama. I’ve never seen you so flustered. He’s gone, by the way.”
“I’m not flustered.” I run a hand through my hair. “It’s just… Don’t make it something that it’s not. We have a class together, and we happened to make eye contact just now. That’s all.”
God, I feel like I’m in junior high again. I hate it, and I hate myself for reacting the way I do. I’ve worked for years to harden myself, to no longer care what others think of me, to not need to care. My walls cannot crumble.
Thankfully, Iris shrugs. “That’s too bad. He’s totally hot.”
“And he knows it,” I mutter.
“How can he not? I mean, like, damn. That face. Those brooding eyes. Those pouty, kiss-me lips. I swear to God, he’s like Captain Freaking America.”
“I was always more of a Tony Stark kind of gal.” I absolutely do not think of the animated gif I have on my computer of Captain America’s fine ass rippling as he pounds a punching bag. Over. And over.
Ignoring me, Iris fans herself in dramatic fashion. “God, that body. You just know he’s cut. Like a freaking diamond.”
I try not to smile as I take another sip of coffee. “I need a nap.”
“Oh, right, he’s so boring to you. Or maybe you shouldn’t stay up reading all night long. Which reminds me,” she slaps my thigh, “we’re so going out tonight.”
“No.” Usually I like going out, but lately I haven’t had the desire.
“Don’t you ‘no’ me.” Iris leans in, her silky black hair sliding over her shoulder. “You haven’t been out in weeks. Being a homebody is one thing. Turning into a hermit is just wrong.”
“You pay way too much attention to my social life.”
Her lips purse. “Kind of hard to ignore when we live together.”
Freshman year, I started off living in a dorm, but that was a bit too much like high school for my liking, and the public bathrooms flat-out sucked. Then I met Iris, who also had a dislike of cinderblock walls and wearing flip-flops in the shower. We decided working to pay for an apartment of our own was worth it and moved out by the end of the year. Because we got along so well, we kept the place year round rather than go home during the summers.
Iris sighs, her slim shoulders lifting high before dropping. I bite my lip to keep from smiling, but she sees and plays on my weakness. “Come onnn, Banana.” Like a kid, she taps her feet on the ground in an impatient dance. “I don’t want to go alone. I need a girlfriend with me tonight.”