"Leila, have you seen the new kid?" Jayde asked as she placed her lunch tray next to the stack of books that I was resting my head on.
"New kid?" I asked groggily, even though I'd hardly been sleeping.
"Yeah, evidently he moved here from England or something. He's kind of cute," she remarked nonchalantly, shrugging while she opened the small carton of milk on her tray.
"I didn't even know we had any new kids," I answered bluntly, furrowing my eyebrows.
"You don't know anything," Jayde scolded me somewhat.
"Well, given that I don't even know half the kids that go to this school, I may have seen him and just not known that he was new," I speculated rationally.
"He's gorgeous! You would've noticed," she said, not really giving her statement much thought.
"Really? I would've noticed? Unless he's some sort of God, I doubt I would've noticed him," I informed her blandly, continuing to doodle on my Spanish book cover.
"Oh, that's right Ms. Asexual," she stuck her tongue out at me, "You probably wouldn't have."
"Exactly, now what was the Spanish homework, I should get it done before next period."
"I can't believe you'd rather do Spanish homework than talk about boys," she exhaled in exasperation, but flipped through her agenda to get me the Spanish questions anyways.
"Thank you," I smiled at her cheekily, flipping Continuemos to page 14 and became scribbling down the questions, rolling my eyes at our professor's love for tedious busywork.
"You know something?" Jayde mumbled, grabbing my attention for a second.
"Hmm?" I asked, half-listening, half-paying attention to the Spanish work.
"Someday, God knows when, but someday you're gonna find 'The Guy' and it'll be 'Love at First' sight, and you'll finally know how it feels to just be like a girl."
"I don't believe in that stuff, what's the answer to number 12?"
"Jesus Christ," Jayde shook her head in disbelief, "And it's persigue."
"Cool," I nod, only gaining another look from Jayde before she started on her grilled cheese.
"Buenas dias, clase," Mrs. Schuester greets us as always, questioning our plans for after school and the weekend.
"Blahblah," I mumbled under my breath, annoyed at the monotony that the professor insisted on using to teach us.
"Nice," the boy sitting beside me remarked with a lopsided grin.
"Yeah, thanks," I respond sarcastically, rolling my eyes are something Mrs. Schuester said that was supposed to be funny, but definitely wasn't. The dark-haired boy sent me another amused glance, but didn't comment for the remainder of the lesson.
"So, clase, here's the assignment for the weekend, I'll give you the rest of class to get a start on it," the tall, blonde teacher droned on, writing a slew of numbers on the board in yellow chalk.
"Yo, this blows," the boy from earlier mutters under his breath, yet loud enough for me to hear.
"Tell me about it, I hate Spanish homework," I respond.
"I just don't like her," he confessed, jerking his thumb towards Mrs. Schuester who sat at her desk, checking e-mails.
"Hahaha! That too," I laughed a little too loudly, gaining a stern look from the aforementioned teacher.
"I'm Callum," the till-now nameless boy introduced himself.
"Leila Banks," I introduced myself, sticking out a hand to high-five him.
"Nice," he chuckled, hitting my open palm with his right before the bell rang.
"So, what class do you have next?" he asked, waiting for me to grab my books.
"Really? I do too," Callum stated, "How come I've never seen you in the commons?" he asked, referring to the area that most students spent their free periods in.
"I usually go to the art wing work on stuff," I shrugged.
"Oh, so you're into art and stuff?" Callum asked, eyebrows rising with intrigue.
"Yup," I nodded.
"Wait, Leila Banks, I saw your photos in the halls! You're really good," Callum shouted, coming to a revelation.
"Uh, thanks," I mumbled, always uncomfortable with attention to my work.
"No problem," he shrugged, "I don't mind giving compliments that are deserved. So what do you say? Wanna hang out with me in the commons today instead of the Art wing?"
"Probably not," I told him, raising an eyebrow, "I don't really like most of the people who stay in the commons during their free periods. Plus, I have a project I'm working on."
"Oh," he stated, a little let down but now discouraged, "Maybe tomorrow."
"Yeah, maybe," I smiled at his persistence.
"Alright, well I look forward to seeing your next work of art displayed on the walls," Callum informed me, sweeping low to bow.
"Why thank you kind sir," I laughed, curtsying in response. Laughing, he sent me a curt salute before jogging down the hall towards the commons. After seeing him sit, I turned around and headed in the opposite direction towards the darkroom.
"Leila!" Jayde shrieked, seeing me at the lockers after school, "You told me that you didn't know the new kid!"
"I don't," I answered, not understanding her choice in conversation topic.
"I saw you walking before free today," she pressed.
"Oh, Callum? He's not the new kid is he?"
"Uh, yeah. He is," she deadpanned, "Haven't you noticed? He's gorgeous."
"Uh, not really, but ok. You know my taste in male aesthetics is not the same as yours," I reminded her lightly.
"Yes, yes, but Callum has the face of a model! I figured you and all your art and photography would have picked up on that," she complained, slinging her backpack over her shoulder, waiting for me to grab my canvases and go.
"He does have very delicate features," I conceded, nodding, "He'd make a very good photo subject, or maybe even a painted portrait, if he's patient and sits still," I murmured, fantasizing about various artistic scenarios.
"See? You do find him attractive!" Jayde crowed in a nearly triumphant fashion.
"Not attractive, just aesthetically pleasing," I reminded her once again.
"Whatever, you're impossible," she muttered, shaking her head while I ticked my things under my arm and shut the door of my locker, which shut with an unpleasant, metallic clang.
"Ready?" she asked, already walking towards the stairs.
"Yeah," I nodded, following her, shuffling slightly to catch up to her pace.
"How can you not find him godly?" Jayde gushed, choosing to continue the conversation about Callum as I tried not to stumble down the stairs.
"I don't know," I shrugged, "I guess personality trumps looks for me. And I don't know Callum well at all. He's just the guy who sits next to me in Spanish."
"Oh my God! He sits next to you? Will you become friends with him and then set me up with him?" she asked, "Please, please, please, please?"
"No, you know I hate playing matchmaker," I shook my head, "Remember freshman year? Shane and Tiffany? Not a pleasant outcome."
"Oh but he's practically a demi-god! Please, oh please, oh please, oh, please," she moaned incessantly, "I'll get you the Speedlight you've been wanting!"
"Really?" I perked up at her offer.
"I'd try to," she shrugged, "Or maybe the remote control you've wanted for a while."
"I'll see what I can do," I told her as my desire to own more camera equipment took over my mouth.
"Yay!" she squealed, hugging me tightly, "I love you! I love you! I love you!"
"Good to know," I muttered sarcastically, "I'll ask him if he wants to go out with you tomorrow."
"I thought you liked him," I asked in confusion.
"Yes, I think he's hot, but don't you think I should get to know him before you ask him if he wants to date me?" she asked me, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"Uh, well okay," I conceded, "What do you want me to do though?"
"Ask him if he wants to hang out this weekend and if he's free invite me along."
"Should I tell him that you'd be coming too?"
"You can mention it, but don't focus on it," she instructed me, "Just be like, 'Hey wanna do whatever with me and my friend Jayde this weekend?' Easy peasy," she shrugged.
"Okay, I can do that," I promised as we drew closer to the sidewalk leading to my house, "See you tomorrow."
"Seeya!" Jayde waved enthusiastically at me, "I love you!"
"Alright," I laughed, shaking my head at her excitement, "Nuts," I muttered under my breath as I opened the front door. Setting my canvas down, I grabbed a few things before going upstairs to take a nap before my shift later.
"Hey Callum," I turned to the boy next to me after Mrs. Schuester had finished her daily rant, which she called a lesson, "Are you free this weekend? If you are, I was wondering if you wanted to do something with my friend Jayde and me."
"Yeah, I don't have anything going on," he nodded, "Mind if I bring a friend along as well?"
"Sure!" I nodded; secretly glad to not having to be a third wheel.
"Cool, so what were you thinking about doing?" he asked, down with the idea as well.
"I was thinking maybe catch a movie, I kind of wanted to see something, and then we could chill in the food court or if you know anywhere fun, we could do that," I suggested.
"Sounds good to me, just let me know a time and place, Tyler and I could come pick you up," he offered.
"That sounds pretty cool," I smiled, "I just have to check with Jayde and I'll let you know a final time or something."
"Awesome," Callum said as the bell rang, signaling the end of Spanish, "So you gonna hang out with me today?" he asked, his blue eyes twinkling mischievously.
"I don't think so," I shook my head, casting a doubtful glance towards his friends horsing around on the commons benches.
"You sure?" he asked dashingly, "I promise my friends are cooler than they seem."
"Maybe tomorrow," I answered coyly, already turning towards the art wing.
"One of these days," Callum declared, "I'll get you," he promised, sending a wink in my direction.
"Don't get your hopes up, sweetie," I smiled back at him.
"Oh my gosh, I can't believe we're hanging out with Callum Torrens!" Jayde squealed as she stood in my bedroom, applying mascara to her eyelashes.
"What's not to believe?" I asked, lying on my bed and staring at the glow-in-the-dark stars on the ceiling.
"Well, he's Callum Torrens," she gaped at me, "I mean you guys are practically friends, but I don't want to be just friends with him."
"Me neither," I shrugged, "I wouldn't have initiated another conversation with him if it weren't for you and your obsession with him. You're the reason I even talk to him."
"And you can thank me," Jayde smirked, brushing dark brown bangs from her eyes so she could apply the golden eye shadow that she reserved for special occasions.
"Oh thank you, wise philosopher man," I drawled, kneeling on the bed and kow-towing her like we read about in history class.
"Oh shut up," she stuck her tongue out at me, "Is his friend Tyler hot?" she asked, "Maybe you could go out with him," she suggested, "Oh my gosh, we could be like best friend couples! Those are the cutest!"
"Sometimes I wonder if you're even sane," I informed her, "You have an unnaturally high obsession with boys."
"No! You're the one who's not normal," Jayde insisted, "You're the only girl I know who doesn't care about boys."
"It's not that I don't care," I shrugged, "I just…am too lazy to think about them. My art is much more important to me."
"Oh, Leila, I know," she sighed, "But I don't have anything else to think about. I'm not talented at art like you."
"You could be though," I insisted, "If you spent less time thinking about boys, you totally could pick up your writing again! Remember how good you were in middle school? You won state competitions with your poems!"
"I know, but," she faltered, "You know how my parents are about my being a writer."
"You gotta start living for yourself," I told her softly, "Now come on, enough of this depressing stuff. If what you want it to snag yourself a demi-god, then that's what we're gonna do," I assured her, seeing a car pull up in the driveway.
"Thanks, Leila," she perked up, but the look in her eyes was different than her usual boy-eyes.
"Callum!" I greeted him from the window, "We'll be down in a second," I told him, receiving a nod from him and a wave from his friend, Tyler.
"Come on," Jayde said, "Let's see how hot Tyler is," she grinned at me before running down the stairs.
"Yes, let's," I rolled my eyes before running after her down the stairs as well.
"Hey, Leila, Jayde," Callum nodded at us as we climbed into the car, "This is my friend Tyler," he introduced us to his friend.
"Hi!" Jayde greeted him enthusiastically, which could only mean that she found him aesthetically pleasing, maybe even more so than Callum. Tyler was a bit lankier than Callum and his hair was many shades lighter than his friend's. They both possessed blue eyes, but Tyler's were tinged green while Callum's were straight blue, like the deep blue of the beat up Acura that I drove.
"Hello," I smiled at him from the far side of the car.
"You're Leila?" Tyler asked, smiling at me in a knowing way.
"Yes," I nodded, a bit put off by his grin.
"I see," he smirked, glancing at Callum discreetly as he drove.
"Where do you go to school?" Jayde inquired, as was her nature when she wasn't receiving adequate attention.
"Gloverdale," Tyler responded, smiling down at her and I could practically see the zap of attraction between the two. Smiling to myself, I rested my head back on the nice leather seat of Callum's extremely comfortable car. Between the combination of the soft seats, the rhythmic bumping of the road, and the music coming from the radio, I could feel myself nodding as Callum drove and Tyler and Jayde flirted.
"Leila," a strange voice invaded my dreams as the person nudged me lightly, "Leila."
"Where am I?" I rubbed my eyes groggily, looking around at my surroundings, "Oh my God, did you kidnap me?" I asked worriedly.
"No, I didn't kidnap you," Callum promised, cracking up as he tried to answer me seriously.
"Where did Jayde and Tyler go?" I asked, not seeing my friend or her new blonde conquest.
"They went to see the movie, I didn't want to wake you, so I stayed here."
"Oh, honey, thanks," I smiled at him, "That was so sweet of you," I yawned, leaning my cheek against his broad shoulder.
"You gonna fall asleep again?" Callum asked, highly amused at my slight narcolepsy.
"Probably," I yawned again, snuggling against him arm.
"Alright, naptime," he conceded, yawning himself.
"Goodnight," I murmured as my eyes fluttered shut.
"Night," he chuckled, resting his head on mine, sandwiching it between his shoulder and his head.
"Aww, look how cute they are?" a high, female voice gushed, causing my eyes to flutter open.
"I can't believe they fell asleep," a deeper, male one observed, "We were supposed to be hanging out, and they took a nap."
"Shut up, we're narcoleptic," Callum's voice rumbled from behind me, sending shivers up my spine as I realized his arms were around me and we were, for lack of a better word, spooning on the backseat of his car.
"This is true," I laughed, trying to untangle myself from his, but only succeeding in falling on top of him, to which Jayde cooed some more and Callum blushed lightly.
"Come on kids, knock it off," Tyler said in a deep voice, mimicking cops who found college students engaging in less than friendly activities in various locations.
"Oh hush, sweetie," I brushed his comment off, finally succeeding in sitting upright and straightening myself up, "How was the movie?"
"Uh, it was good," Jayde stuttered.
"We didn't really get around to watching much of it though," Tyler added on, this time causing Jayde's pale cheeks to flame up.
"What time is it?" Callum asked from behind, making me all too aware of his presence as his warm breath hit the back of my neck.
"A little past nine," Tyler read from his watch.
"Boy am I getting old," I yawned, rubbing my eyes, "I can't even stay up past seven now," I laughed.
"Aw, well I have an idea," Callum interjected, "If you guys are up for it, I know a place that's ten times more fun than this," he grinned.
"Where?" Jayde asked nervously.
"Are you guys game?" Callum asked, sending Tyler a reassuring nod.
"If you're going to take us to some secret dog fighting circle or a gang initiation ceremony, I swear to god Callum Torrens, I will castrate you," I threatened, half joking half serious.
"I'm not taking you to a dog fight!" he guffawed in response, "It's somewhere fun, I promise."
"I guess I'm game then," Jayde conceded, wanting to hang out more with Tyler.
"Fine," I sighed, "Though I'd much rather go home and sleep."
"Yeah, maybe Cal can take care of that too," Tyler muttered under his breath, to which Callum punched him soundly in the arm.
"Remember the arcade? I still can't believe that you took us there," I laughed as we walked towards the commons, as had become our routine.
"Why? Why is that so hard to believe?" Callum demanded, "It's been like a month."
"I don't know! You just looked so devious when you were asking us if we were game or not," I said, throwing my hands into the air, "I was seriously scared for a moment."
"You were scared?" he asked incredulously, "Of me?"
"Yes," I admitted.
"Honey, you have no reason to be scared of you," he promised charmingly.
"Yes, well I know that now," I told him, "I'd only just met you then."
"Trust me, I would never hurt you. Jayde, though, sometimes I do want to throw her down an elevator shaft," he muttered.
"Oh sweetie, that's just the way she is. She's harmless," I reassured him with a pat on the back.
"Yes, but I still can't believe that Tyler decided to go out with her. She is so not his usual type."
"What's his usual type?" I asked, somewhat curious.
"I don't know how to describe it, he usually goes for the stunners, you know? But nothing that I could see as long term. Him and Jayde, I could see that lasting for the long haul."
"But that's good, right?" I asked, drawing to stop at the entrance arch of the commons.
"Yeah, its good, I guess," he smiled, his cheeks dimpling in the most adorable, "So, you gonna come in with me?" he asked, and I smiled. Every day since I'd know him we would walk together to the commons, I would never enter with him, but he'd still ask. Every day was the same question and every day I gave the same answer. Even though Callum was the first boy that I'd had feelings like this about in a long time, there was a part of me that was apprehensive, even if without reason.
"You have a project you're working on?" he finished the sentence for me, "Alright," he shrugged, "But-,"
"One of these, days, I know."
"Have fun," he waved at me before jogging to meet his table of friends.
"I will," I replied softly, even though he couldn't hear me. As I walked towards the darkroom, I couldn't help but feel, somehow, disappointed. Maybe I'd hoped that Cal would one day force me to spend the mod with him, because he secretly wanted to become closer. But it was apparent that my feelings were one-sided and unreciprocated. Sitting down in the room, I pulled out the portfolio that had sketches from the last few days.
"Who's that boy?" Mr. Collins asked, pointing towards the most recent one.
"Cal," I told him.
"Boyfriend?" he asked.
"No," I laughed, "Just a friend."
"I see," Mr. Collins nodded in a knowing way, "There are a lot of these," he observed, rifling through at least four sketches of Callum.
"Ugh, I've been in a rut lately. I'll try to sketch something, and it always ends up looking like him. Even if my original subject was a girl," I explained in frustration, "I don't know what's wrong with me!"
"Perhaps there's nothing wrong," Mr. Collins advised, hinting at something, "Maybe your mind is telling you that there is something that you need to accomplish with this Cal before you can move on to other works of art."
"But-," I started, trying to figure out what he meant when a knock came from the door. Mr. Collins held up a finger signaling me to wait for a moment before he went to answer the door.
"Hi, is Leila here?" Callum's voice came from the adjacent room.
"Yes," Mr. Collins affirmed and I heard the door open further, causing my heart to flutter in panic.
"Hey Leila," Callum smiled at me from the darkroom doorframe, "I figured you weren't doing much."
"What do you mean?" I asked.
"You've just been avoiding me," he shrugged, making his way over, "These are nice," he complimented, his fingertips brushing the sketches of him that were out on the table.
"Thanks," I murmured, glad that it we were in the darkroom, because if it'd been light Callum definitely would've seen the blush that had graced my cheeks.
"But I don't seen to remember posing for any of these," he laughed in a lighthearted way, "Wanna do a real one?"
"A portrait sitting?" I asked, "You sure you're up for that? It's typically a very long process."
"I've seen you during Spanish, your sketches of Schuester don't ever take more than half a mod, and they're always dead on," Callum stated, "I have full faith that you can finish this before the period ends."
"Alright," I agreed, "In here? Or where?"
"Here's is fine. Do you have a desk though?"
"Yeah, I'm just gonna grab a desk easel real quick," I informed him, growing excited, "This is the first portrait sitting I've done in a while, so sorry if it's not real good."
"I told you, I have faith in you," Callum stated, almost proudly.
"Okay, I'm ready if you are, just sit comfortably please."
"Alright," he nodded, bringing his right ankle up to rest on his left knee, leaning back slightly, he smiled at me to let me know that he was read, and I began drawing. The next ten minutes went by silently as I studied Callum's feature and rendered them as best I could on paper. The dim lighting in the room intensified his features and made his eyes, if possible, seem an even more intense shade of blue. After finishing the general outlines and areas, I began to concentrate on the shading and hatching to fill empty space and shadows. I didn't have to refer to Cal for a while and the next time I looked up he was gone. With a sigh, I blew a few piece of hair out of my face and glanced down at the paper in front of me. He really was something.
"Did you think I was gone?" his voice startled me from behind before his chin came to rest on my shoulder.
"Jesus Christ," I breathed, my heart beating quickly from fright.
"That's really good," he complimented, reaching a strong arm through the gap between my arm and ribs, playing with the corner of the sheet.
"Thanks," I breathed, flustered by his proximity.
"Am I making you nervous," Callum asked, so close that his lips grazed my ear and I could practically hear the smirk from his voice.
"N-no," I stuttered, completely contradicting myself.
"Really?" he asked, spinning the stool around to make me face him.
"No," I admitted, staring at the tiny pocket on the chest of his shirt.
"Good, so I'm not the only one," he murmured, pressing his forehead against mine, exposing me to his beautiful blue eyes.
"What?" I breathed.
"You make me nervous," he explained, "When I'm around you I get all jittery and I'm always unsure about myself. I'm pretty sure that I like you."
"What? Why?" I asked dumbfounded, "You could get any girl in this school, even outside of this school," I informed him.
"Can I?" he asked huskily, and I realized that he was talking about me. He wanted me?
"But why me? I'm not pretty or cool or funny or anything."
"But you are," he said, distracting me as he fiddled with my sweatshirt tie, "And I pretty much fell in love with you after we slept together in the car," he smirked at me. As this was said, I heard a cough from the next room and I suddenly remembered that Mr. Collins was next door.
"No! Not like that, Mr. C!" I protested, hopping off the stool and ducking under Cal's arm to explain to him, "I fell asleep on him in the car while our friends were making out in the movie theatre."
"Well," Mr. Collins cleared his throat again, "If you're going to make a habit of sleeping together, I'd prefer it if you kept it out of the darkroom," he said with a twinkle in his eye.
"Yes sir," Cal nodded, saluting the old art teacher, "I'm pretty sure we'd prefer something more comfortable," he laughed, pulling me close to him by the waist and pressing a kiss to my right temple.
"Keep dreaming," I smiled so wide I thought my face was going to split.