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Chapter Three

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"What the hell gives you the right to act so damn superior, Carson?" Taylor yelled, shoving the football player against the row of gym lockers while the rest of the players stood around watching.

"Why are you defending him?" Carson yelled back, pushing himself off the lockers and getting in Taylor's face.

"Because he's my friend!"

"He shouldn't even be allowed in here!"

"Why? Because he might see you? He's got more sense than to find anything about you attractive."

Carson narrowed his eyes. "Are you a homo?"

"No. I'm just more evolved than you. I don't let something like being gay change my opinion of my best friend. I might not agree with his preference, but I know that it doesn't change the person he is."

"The person he is is nothing but—"

A loud grunt had my eyes jerking up in time to see Taylor's fist coming away from Carson's face. My eyes widened and I grabbed the back of Taylor's shirt, jerking him away from the scene. What does he think he's doing? God, he can be so dumb sometimes!

"Get off me!" he growled, attempting to jerk out of my grasp, but my grip only tightened. "Dude!" he barked.

I finally let go of him and spun him around. "I love that you're so adamant about sticking up for me, but don't be stupid. That's a team member and you know how Coach gets when it comes to fighting between players."

Taylor shoved my hands away. "He shouldn't be allowed to say stuff like that!"

"No, he shouldn't. But punching him in the face isn't going to change his attitude. I've been around plenty of people like him and I don't worry about it anymore and you shouldn't either. Don't let your impulsiveness get in the way of your common sense. The team needs you."

A look flashed across his face that took me by surprise; it was so full of rage it had me taking a step back. "I don't care about the team!" he snarled. "I care about you. And if someone talks crap about you, I'm not going to let them get away with it!"

My heart almost quit pumping. Of course, I knew he meant he cared about me as his best friend but hearing those words was something I certainly hadn't expected. The happiness was short-lived, though, as my thoughts drifted away.

What would it be like to hear him say that with more meaning? I bowed my head and sat down on a locker bench.

"You're a good friend, Taylor."

He sat down beside me and sighed. "I have your back. I always will. We've been looking out for each other for a long time, and that's not going to change."

My heart beat harder against my chest and I was paranoid he would hear it. What would he think if he were to hear it. Would he automatically know why it's doing that, or would he be naïve?

Taylor chuckled and I looked up in confusion. "What?" A brief moment of fear caused my chest to tighten and I almost scoffed. It's not like he would suddenly pick up supersonic hearing.

"Do you remember when we were kids and we were watching some movie and there was this guy who popped up on the screen and you said, 'Wow, his eyes are gorgeous.'" Taylor shook his head and grinned. "I can't believe I didn't catch on."

My lips twitched up into a smile. "Well, I've told you many times...you're dense."

"Oh shut up," Taylor said, rolling his eyes and pushing me. "Man, why did things have to get so complicated?"

You're asking me. "It doesn't have to be, you know."

"How? I mean...now that you're openly gay, you can expect for closed-minded people to have an opinion."

"So what if they do? I knew what to expect when I made the decision to come out at school about who I was." I bit my lip, thinking twice about speaking what was on my mind. "Taylor..." I looked down at my shoes. "The only opinion I care about is yours. If you accept me then...that's all that matters."

After nothing was said for a few seconds, I dared to peek up through my eyelashes at Taylor. He sat there staring at the floor deep in thought. Panic seeped into my chest, which seemed to happen a lot these days. What if he became less dense just long enough to figure it out? Why did I say that? I shouldn't let my guard down around him; I knew he wasn't stupid—just naïve—and he wasn't always like that.

His lips turned up into a smile and he finally tore his eyes from the tiled floor and looked at me. "You being gay doesn't make a difference to anything. You're one of the most caring, selfless, intelligent, loving people I have ever met, and you better not ever change that. So that's my opinion and everyone else can suck it."

Relief washed through my body and I grinned. Hearing those words made me happy. So happy my heart wanted to break out of my chest and soar to cloud nine. I smiled as I stood up and grabbed Taylor's arm, pulling him up with me. We left the gym in content silence. It meant so much to hear Taylor utter those words. He had always been an honest person. He believed it was better to tell someone the truth and not hold it in, even if the truth hurt. I had always respected that about him.

"Aww," a voice cooed from behind us.

We turned to Sara who was standing there with her hands clasped. "You guys made up." She approached and put her arm around mine. "Does that mean you asked—"

"Yes, Sara. I got Taylor to agree to help at the fair."

"Yay! It's going to be so much fun! I've gotten a lot of volunteers to bake for the fundraiser. How about you two? Up for the challenge?"

I grinned and looked over at Taylor. He didn't know his way around kitchens at all, not even his own. "Sure. We'll make something." Taylor's eyes widened then narrowed, earning an innocent smile from me. "When do we need to make it?"

"The day before the fair."

"Okay, sounds good."

"Well, I'm going to go recruit some more people if I can. See you at lunch." She let go of me and waved before veering off to a locker where a group of girls stood.

"Why did you agree to that?" Taylor groaned, gliding his hand through his chestnut brown hair before dragging it across his face.

"Because I know you can't bake or cook, and I think it'll be funny."

"Ass," he mumbled.

I grinned and draped my arm over his shoulder. "Too late, Taylor, I already know what you really think."

"Don't do that," he snapped, shrugging my arm off.

"Do what?"

"Flirt with me!"

My mouth fell open as I stared at him. Did I just flirt with him? Am I so far gone that I can't even notice something like that? "Flirt?"

"Well, I don't know if you were, but it sounded like it."

"Dude, I assure you I was not flirting with you." Although I was denying it, I wasn't completely convinced that I wasn't. "There's a difference between flirting and teasing." I rolled my eyes and shook my head. "Don't tell me you're going to start acting like Carson and think you're so great that I can't resist you."

"No! I don't think that!"

"Good. Don't make things awkward, man." I forced a grin and looked away, my good mood drying up.

Another slip up.

Why can't you hold it together? But I knew why; I was getting tired of hiding my feelings. I wanted him to know the truth, but I also wasn't stupid. I would never tell him how I actually felt. I was never going to destroy our relationship because of my greediness. He was too essential in my life.

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