Chapter 18: Like, Very, Very Hot?

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Wynter took out her phone to ask Indio what an Orange Tiny Terror was. She tapped out her message, then looked up to see Keira and Sharmila approaching. Her heart dropped. Stacey was off sick today but had been less than friendly all week because Wynter had been spending too much time with her fledgling band. Keira and Sharmila were unlikely to be any more forgiving.

"Is that guy at the front office your brother?" Keira said, chewing forbidden gum.

"I don't know. What guy?"

"We walked past just now and heard someone call him Caleb. That's his name, right?"

It probably was Caleb. He'd planned to show up at school early and take a look around.

Sharmila said, "Dark hair, blue eyes? Six foot something? Like, very, very hot?"

Wynter remembered Jesse's advice, and said, "His girlfriend thinks he's hot."

"How old is he?"

"Twenty-five."

"That's a good age," Keira said. "Mature, but not dad-like. I like older guys. I told you that, yeah? Does he work out?" Her jaw worked the gum with uncharacteristic vigor. "Cuz he looks like he works out."

"He teaches karate and swims before or after work a few times a week. And he lifts weights in the garage."

"OMG," Sharmila said excitedly, "he has muscles under that shirt. I knew it."

Wynter thought they were being ridiculous. It wasn't like either of them was going to get a date with Caleb. Why were they ogling him like they had a chance?

"I'm gonna go over there and talk to him," Keira drawled. "I'll pretend I need to fill out a form or something."

"You can't do that," Sharmila said. "We have Spanish."

Keira shrugged and walked off.

"He hates gum!" Wynter called after her. She knew Caleb hated gum because he'd pulled a face at a disgusting joke Jesse told about gum and kissing. Not that Keira and Caleb would be kissing. Still, she saw Keira take out the gum and stick it on someone's locker as she went past.

"Ugh, gross. She's so gross. So, what's his type? Sultry Asian beauty?" Sharmila giggled, coiffing her long dark hair and batting her eyelashes. She was quite striking.

"I guess I don't know his type. Didn't Stacey tell you she already met him?"

"She didn't mention him at all. She's madly in love with Jesse, though. Are you in Hunter's band? That's pretty cool."

"It's my band. My band. My name. My music choices."

Sharmila's eyes widened, genuinely impressed. "Really? Girl power! Stacey's annoyed you never eat lunch with us anymore."

"I'm sorry about that. The band is important to me."

Wynter headed off to her last class, concerned about Keira waylaying Caleb at the office. Should she intervene? Surely Caleb would ignore a fourteen-year-old girl flirting with him. It felt strange, sitting in Tech knowing he was in the building. He didn't belong here. She wondered what he thought of the school—it was a very good school, supposedly, and he believed education was important. She'd rather be two hundred miles west, living in his house in Columbia City, attending the local junior high and doing her homework at the dining room table with Jesse.

At the final bell she went to the office, where Caleb had said he'd meet her. Caleb wasn't there, but Keira was.

"Have you been here this whole time?" Wynter said.

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