The Basics

There are always those certain things that you're not really certain at all. For example, I had no clue what my major was actually going to be in college next fall. I guessed my chosen major would have been literature, but that wouldn't exactly have pleased my parents, who would have liked me to major in accounting, or pre-med, or something similar that would guarantee to make a lot of money. Leave it to them to have been divorced and still have the same opinion about my education. I would have loved to be a famous writer one day, but most people seemed to think that I didn't have the writing talent God gave a goose. Not that I even pretended to understand that particular saying, but I digress.

Speaking of my parents, I also didn't know where I was going to spend holidays this next year: Thanksgiving, Christmas, my birthday, etc. Given that my parents had only divorced just three short months ago, it was safe to assume that neither of them had given a bit of thought as to my feelings on the subject. Not that I didn't understand why they divorced, because I feel like I did. If you had lived in the same house as them, you would have understood, too. But if they had paused to consider me in these affairs, would they have stayed together for my sake? At least until I went off to college? But if you'd have asked my mother about holidays, and she would have told you that "everything will be okay in the end." If you asked my father the same question, he would have responded by telling you to "ask your mom. I don't know." So when my friends asked me "What are you doing for break, Quinn?" I had the privilege of answering, "I have no idea." Truthfully, too.

On the flip side, there are many things that you know are facts, pure and simple. 2+24, for instance was, is and always will be one of those things. I'd always been good at math—hence the familial push towards a degree involving mathematics—even if it wasn't my favorite subject in the world. Therefore, there were tons of things in this world related to math that I knew for sure, even if some people would scratch their heads if asked about it. Any number that ended in a five or zero was a multiple of five. The Pythagorean theorem is a2 +b2c2, which was used to find the length of sides in a right triangle. And if there was ever any number, any number at all, in the numerator of a fraction whose denominator was zero, the world was going to collapse in on itself at any moment.

Similarly, there are things in the world outside of mathematical equations that I knew to be true. George W. Bush really was president for eight years (unfortunately). Britney Spears really did shave her own head (amusingly). And I had worked at the Delia's at our mall for exactly one year that day.

The one thing I knew for sure in the world, however, had nothing to do with math, the world, or even my own life. If this fact had ever changed, I might have needed to see a doctor for an aneurysm. And it was exactly this:

Logan Franklin was the most perfect specimen of the male species alive on this planet.

No joke. No contest. if anyone ever even thought of denying it or telling me that I was wrong, I probably would have decapitated them with my bare hands. And I didn't think I'd ever even hurt a fly. But I would have for Logan Franklin.

Which was exactly why, just after I had picked up my paycheck and spending it all in the very store I worked at, my best friend Mallory and I were boy-watching in the food court at the mall.

Delia's—I refused to spell it any other way with any other capital letters, even if the company itself spelled it as 'dELiA's' on anything you could possibly imagine: catalogues, websites, shopping bags, etc.—was my favorite store at the mall, so it only made sense that I would work there, but it made it extremely difficult to keep my paycheck for long. I spent most of my on-the-job time watching what other people were buying and cataloguing everything I wanted to buy in my head. That way, when it came to a day I had off, I knew exactly where to go to get what was on my list. However, even with my fairly generous employee discount, it only made me feel like I could buy more for less, so I ended up spending the same amount of money, which resulted in very little money actually saved.

Stepping off of the elevator and into the food court every time was a new adventure. Each day, the area smelled like a different food, a different culture, which usually influenced my decision on what to get for lunch that day. Today, the atmosphere was distinctly Asian. The smell of teriyaki filled the air, young Asian girls who worked behind the counters of the establishments walked around offering free samples to those milling around, and little bits of steamed rice littered the floor around the dining tables. So while Mallory and I sat at one end of the oval-shaped food court keeping our eyes out for Logan, the rest of the mall population chowed down on crab Rangoon and orange chicken.

"So really, how long have you been totally head over heels in love with Logan?" Mallory asked before picking up a nacho chip and dipping it into the cheese in front of her, popping it delicately into her mouth.

I studied her profile from where I sat next to her. I could see why most guys would be totally head over heels in love with her, at least. That was easy. From her full, pouty lips and her pin-straight, rich, dark brown hair to her tall, slender frame and perfect curves, she was basically a teenage male's fantasy incarnate. She tended to use her looks when she knew they would get her somewhere, but that didn't mean that she was anything less than intelligent. I might have been the math whiz, but Mallory was the literary genius, which was exactly where I envied her, not where her looks were concerned. Did she aspire to be the next great American novelist? No, that was me. She wanted to be an actress. With her looks? Go figure.

"Quinn?"

I glanced at her eyes and realized she was looking at me as she called my name. "Sorry. Zoned out there for a moment."

She grinned widely, her perfect white teeth glaring back at me. I chewed my lip self-consciously, well aware that my smile was less than perfect. My own chompers were slightly crooked, which I thought was kind of cute, but everyone else thought they made me look like a vampire. Like I cared.

"Well, I think it started in second grade…" I began, answering her earlier question.

She nearly choked on the next chip. "Second grade?" she sputtered. "That long?"

I frowned defensively, stealing one of her chips. I didn't have money for lunch that day; I had just spent my paycheck on Delia's merchandise, remember? "It's not that big a deal."

She pressed her lips firmly together, clearly intent on not bursting out laughing at me. I adored her for it.

"Shut up," I mumbled, pushing her shoulder playfully, which caused the floodgates to lower anyway. She let out her fullest laugh, which believe it or not, was no louder than the sound of a bird's wings as it fluttered away. That tinkling, girly laugh—oh how I despised it. Simply because it drove the guys even crazier, while my rambunctious laugh tended to drive them away.

Suddenly, her laughter ceased. I peeked at her from behind the hand I was holding in front of my face and saw that her face was now completely serious, intently staring up. I followed her gaze, and then…

Bam. There he was. Logan Franklin was standing at the railing on the next level up, staring down into the food court as he chatted casually with the guy next to him. I was so caught off guard that my Logan-befuddled brain didn't even register the guy next to him. Logan's presence was enough to knock the breath straight out of my lungs.

"Okay, I don't blame you," Mallory whispered from my side.

That knocked me right out of the haze I was sitting in. I exploded. "What?! No, you cannot—I repeat, CANNOT—like Logan!"

She leaned away from him slightly, though out of fear or out of disgust of my breath, I wasn't sure. "Calm down, Quinn. I don't like him; he's just not bad-looking. So I understand where you're coming from when you say you've loved him since second grade."

At which point I remembered to breathe. I exhaled and blinked. "Okay. Good. Because you know that if you liked him, too, I'd have to kill you."

She smiled and glanced back up towards him. "I know. Who's his friend?"

Like I said before, I hadn't even bothered to notice the face of the guy standing next to him. Until now, that is. I glanced back up with adoration in my eyes, I'm sure, to catch a glimpse of them as they began to walk away. "No," I whispered. "Come back." Then the guy behind Logan glanced back around and I saw his face.

"No fucking way."

Mallory gasped. I didn't swear often, but when I did, it wasn't pretty. Mallory, however, nearly never cursed, which only added to her charm.

"What the heck?" Mallory cried, appearing bewildered. She glanced back up at their retreating figures, but I couldn't bear it for fear of catching his gaze by some freak accident.

"His friend," I explained hastily. "I didn't know that they were friends."

She blinked and held her hands up. "Well, whoever he was, he was kind of cute."

I growled involuntarily and caught her hand before she could pick up another chip. "Please. Don't ever say that Paul Banks is cute, ever again."