There he is. Connor Sanders. All six feet four inches, broad shouldered, rock hard muscled, starting quarterback of him. As he walks toward me (well, not toward me, but in my direction), bright blue eyes smiling at all the beautiful, popular girls dripping from his arms, my heart sinks down to my toes. Because if I am the GPS and Connor is my target, I really wish I knew how to program a new destination, because there is no way Connor Sanders is ever going to look at me as anything-
“Oh. Hey, Connor.”
-as anything more than his best friend. Standing there, as the single hottest guy at my high school makes his way to his first period AP Chemistry class, I have to wonder if fate was being kind or cruel to plunk two-year-old Connor, who would grow up to be the absolute best at everything and beautiful to boot, next to newborn little me who would grow up to be the plainest Jane in three counties. Don’t get me wrong, Connor is an amazing best friend. That’s where fate was kind. But the chances of friendship turning to something more- well, let’s just say if I ever were to meet fate- it would be with a throat punch.
“I don’t know how you can stand it.”
I turn my head just enough to see my other best friend, and pretty much my only female friend, Eden Crenshaw, standing beside me shoulder to shoulder. Her cute pixie face is characteristically scrunched with a look of disgust as we continue to Connor Stalk, watching as he and his rippling muscles lead his harem around the corner. Eden has known about my crush on Connor almost as long as I have.
“What are you talking about?” I ask, already knowing. The school year may be new, but this conversation was not. I turn down the hall toward my first period class. We have it together, so I know she will follow, bringing her explanation with her.
“Kayla! That’s what I’m talking about. How can you just stand by and let her hang all over your man like that?”
My man. I wish. But alas, Connor is not my man. He is Kayla’s man, at least he has been for the last six weeks.
“We’ve been over this a thousand times, Eden, Connor is not my man. We are just friends. He’s with Kayla,” I recite the facts, knowing Connor doesn’t see me as anything other than his best friend at best or little sister at worst. Eden is determined Connor is secretly pining for me, but is too afraid to admit to his feelings.
“Well, he could be yours if you would just man up and make a move on him.”
“Eden!” I giggle. I can’t help it. Eden definitely has a way with words.
“I’m serious. One of these days while you’re in your room shooting zombies in that dumb video game you’re always playing, just lean in and lay one on him.” She punctuates her advice with a loud kissing noise.
“And send him screaming from the room and my life? Not going to happen. ‘Friends’ is better than nothing.” And it's true. Believe me, I’ve played the scenario in my head since I was eleven and Connor was thirteen and pretty much already looked like a grown man. I dreamed of one day, gazing deeply into his blue, blue eyes and declaring my undying love for him.
Those kinds of dreams always end one of two ways. A) Connor will gaze at me, pity burning in his eyes and tell me I’m more little sister material than make out material. Our friendship turns awkward and uncomfortable and Connor starts hanging out at JJ’s house instead of mine to get his video game fix. Or B) Connor asks what has taken me so long to fess up to my real feelings and pulls me into his arms for a five hour make out session, completely undisturbed because my mom will never believe we are anything more than just friends.
B would be amazing- toe-curling, life-altering, the fulfillment of my every dream- amazing. On the other hand, A- my heart stutters in my chest just thinking about A- A would be unendurable, leading me to curl up into a tiny ball of misery in my room, never to come out until I’m an old woman and my life has been taken over by the five hundred and twenty-seven cats my mom has sent in one by one to cheer me up. No, making a move, as Eden so eloquently put it, is out of the question. Being doomed to eternal friendship with Connor is worth my silence, if speaking up means losing him completely.
“If you say so. I just don’t understand how you can spend hour after hour every Saturday afternoon with Mr. Hottie McHotness and not just tell him how you feel.”
“If declarations of love are so easy, why haven’t you made one yourself?” I ask, staring pointedly, because there, at 2 o’clock, is Micah Porter, the only guy in school who can make Eden’s black little heart go pitter patter.
“I’ve told you, I’m going to be a nun.”
“You sound convincing, but the drool dripping down your chin gives you away.” Eden drags her gaze from the back of Micah’s head long enough to stick her tongue out at me.
“I can’t help my biological reaction to a beautiful man,” Eden says, stalking Micah with her eyes again as we pass his locker, turning away only when threatened with looking like a scene from The Exorcist.
“Biology. Right. It has nothing to do with the fact that Micah is a skater. And he’s super smart. And he is really nice. Did I mention, he’s hot?” I tease, bumping her hip with mine as we reach our classroom.
“He really is,” Eden sighs, dropping dramatically into a seat in the back row of our physics class. “It doesn’t matter. You know I’ve sworn off guys until college. No more high school drama for me.”
“Some friend you are, leaving me to suffer all by myself.” I say the words lightly, but my heart pinches at Eden’s words, worried. Eden doesn’t like to talk about it, but something happened to her last year. I don’t know what exactly, but after that Eden vowed to live out the remainder of our high school career sans boys.
I miss whatever quip Eden might have come back with, however, because Mr. Richardson, our physics teacher, just walked into the room and immediately launched into his lecture on Newton’s Laws. So much for easing into junior year.