Better off Friends

Page 22


I studied Ian. He was tall and skinny with dark hair that curled up at the ends. I guess he’d be considered handsome, if you liked lanky guys. I mean, I could be considered lanky. So would I be Macallan’s type?
He took to the starting line and was in the middle lane with seven other guys.
“What times are we looking for?” Macallan asked me. She didn’t seem too interested in him. Maybe Danielle was the one with the crush?
“I usually do the four-hundred in fifty-five seconds. So, hopefully, they’re around that time.”
The shot fired off and the runners began sprinting. I noticed that they held their chests out more than I do. I have a tendency to slouch when I run. Not good for speed.
Ian was in a close second, and as they rounded the final corner of the track, he sped up.
“GO, IAN!” Danielle stood up and cheered. She grabbed Macallan to join her.
“Could you be more embarrassing?” Macallan asked her.
“Challenge accepted.”
Macallan waved her hands. “Never mind. I give in!”
They both cheered as Ian finished first by a hair. We waited for the official times to be announced. Ian finished in 50.82 — nearly four seconds faster than my best time. And while four seconds doesn’t seem like a lot of time, in track it might as well be four hours.
“How do you know Ian?” I asked as Macallan watched him cool down.
“Oh, he came to …” She winced.
“He was at the New Year’s Eve party,” Danielle finished for her. “And he’s been asking about Macallan.”
“Oh.” I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that Macallan would have guys interested in her. And I had a girlfriend, so it would’ve been completely hypocritical of me to be jealous that she could potentially have a boyfriend.
I told myself I wasn’t jealous. Just protective.
Danielle jumped up. “I’m going to get something to drink. And it so happens that I’ll need to walk right by Ian. Imagine that.”
Macallan groaned. “Have fun — not like I could ever stop you from doing otherwise.”
“At least you understand your limitations.” Danielle hopped down the bleachers and leaned against the fence as she talked to Ian.
“Is it too late to transfer schools next year?” Macallan asked.
“So, do you like him?” The words came out before I had a chance to stop them.
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t really know him that well. He’s cute.”
So he was Macallan’s type.
“Well …” I didn’t know what to say. I knew I should’ve been supportive about it, but it was making me uneasy. I decided to pretend she was one of my buddies back home. “Why don’t you invite him out and we could go on a double date?”
That wince again.
I decided to not dance around this anymore. “Are you in a fight with Emily?” I asked.
“Not exactly.” Macallan started digging through her bag. I knew that meant she was avoiding something.
“What’s going on, then? You’ve been acting weird. You’re both acting weird.” I grabbed her bag so she would stop doing whatever it was she was doing and be forced to pay attention to me.
“I don’t want to be stuck in the middle between you two. Just talk to Emily,” she stated bluntly.
“I talk to Emily all the time,” I reminded her.
“MACALLAN!” Danielle screamed from the track below. “COME SAY HI!”
She groaned. “Look, Levi, I’m in a very awkward position between the two of you and I don’t want to have to lie anymore. So talk to Emily. Really talk to her.”
“What do you mean you don’t want to lie to me anymore? Have you been lying?” I’d never thought Macallan was the lying type.
“Not exactly.” She grabbed my hand and leaned in. “I’m really sorry. Just talk to Emily.”
She hopped up and made her way down to Ian.
I didn’t know what bothered me more: the fact that my best friend had been keeping something from me or that she was currently flirting with some guy.
I climbed the steps to Emily’s house slowly, feeling the weight of whatever revelation was on the other side of the door.
“Hey!” Emily greeted me with her usual kiss.
“Hey.” I tried to smile back at her, but I could tell something was wrong. Something was different. Maybe it had been there for a while, but now I was paying attention.
And so was Emily.
“Is everything okay?” she asked with a tilt of her head, like she was trying to size me up.
“Not really,” I confessed. “I think we need to talk.”
“Oh.” Emily didn’t seem surprised. She led me to the couch in the living room. “What’s going on?”
“I think you need to tell me.”
She paused. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” But that pause told me she knew exactly what I was talking about.
“I talked to Macallan today.”
At the mention of Macallan’s name, Emily’s smile vanished. “And what did Macallan have to say?” There was a sudden hardness in her voice.
“She said you and I needed to talk. She wouldn’t say what it was, but it’s been pretty clear to me something’s been going on. I really wish someone would just tell me. All I know is that it seems Macallan’s trying to be a good friend.”