My friends were talking about hot girls, and the times when looking at those girls had been a little too hot. They all had a story to share about trying to hide their embarrassing responses in public. We were hanging out at my house and playing video games. My mom worked the night shift at a factory five and sometimes six days a week, so we freely talked about anything and everything.
"What about you, Cam?" Adam asked me before looking embarrassed when he remembered that I was a girl.
My best friend, Kyle, hooted with laughter. "Hers is probably bigger than yours."
"Shut up," Adam said. "Anyway, you haven't shared anything."
"Just saving the best for last." Kyle got a look on his face like he was remembering. "One time I hid in the girls locker room and watched the cheerleaders change clothes after practice."
Knowing him as well as I did, I kept my face expressionless while the others listened with rapt attention to this male fantasy.
"Two of them stayed behind after the other girls left. They started kissing and making out. I wanted to get a better look, so I quietly moved closer. They were so into each other that I took a chance and got even closer. I guess I made a sound, because they saw me standing there watching them. Then they asked if I wanted to join them."
"You're full of shit." Adam looked angry that he had been momentarily taken in by Kyle's story.
Everyone laughed and said rude things to Kyle. I smiled and stood up to go get a drink out of the kitchen. Hanging out with my friends was one of my favorite things in the world. It had been that way since elementary school, and it hadn't changed in all these years. We were now in high school, but our bond was as strong as ever. I had always felt more comfortable around guys than girls. They felt comfortable around me too, as evidenced by Adam's slip. It wasn't the first time that one of them had forgotten that I'm a girl.
Probably the most girly thing about me was my long hair, but I had it up in a ponytail most of the time. It was an ordinary brown just like my eyes. My body was fit from playing soccer and skateboarding with my friends, but I mostly dressed like a teenage boy. I mean that literally. I bought most of my clothes in the boys department, like the shorts and t-shirt I was wearing now. My mom would shake her head and comment that she didn't know she had given birth to twin boys. I told her that she had been right to give me a unisex name like Cameron. She had named my twin brother Connor.
He and I were close, but we had our own separate friends. His best friend, Jake, was in the kitchen when I went in to get my drink. He had five brothers and sisters, and he was the oldest child in his family. Like I said, our friends tended to gravitate toward our house for the freedom from parents. I was used to seeing Jake around at all hours. At this point there was still no animosity between us. That was about to change, but I was blissfully unaware of this that Friday evening. I poured myself a glass of my favorite drink, orange juice, and turned around to see him studying me.
"I can't believe they don't see it." His blue eyes held an appraising look.
"See what? And who are they?" I asked before taking a refreshing sip of my juice.
"Your buddies out there. I can't believe they don't see you, Cam." His gaze was still taking me in.
Now I was really confused. "What do you mean? They see me practically everyday."
He smiled in amusement like I had said something funny. "You're still a kid, aren't you? That's okay. I can wait for you to grow up."
I had just turned seventeen, and I was hardly a kid. What in the world had gotten into him? He had always been an okay guy, but now he was acting decidedly strange. What was up with that comment about waiting for me to grow up? Whatever was going on with him, I decided that it was none of my concern. Yet I could still feel his eyes on me as I walked out of the kitchen to return to my friends.
I hadn't always been the only girl in our group. In elementary school there had been several other tomboys that played just as rough as the boys. That had changed in middle school as they suddenly developed crushes on boys and began to wear makeup and dress more girly. It soon became apparent that they only wanted to be friends with me so they could be near my brother and his friends. By high school I was the only one who had no interest in dating. Connor and Jake, on the other hand, were two of the most popular boys at school.
Connor had the same ordinary brown eyes and brown hair as I did, but girls found him attractive for some reason. Sure he was in good shape from playing basketball, but I didn't see why that made him anymore appealing than any other guy. Jake, as I already mentioned had blue eyes. They were the kind of blue eyes that people noticed. Not that I paid anymore attention to them than I did to anyone else's eyes. It's just that girls at school always talked about his eyes. He also played basketball, but he must do some kind of weight training too if the muscles in his arms were any indication. The only reason I had noticed his arms was because Kyle had said something about them. I was the only one who knew that Kyle was gay. His boyfriend went to another school, and Kyle had decided that his love life was nobody else's business. He only told me, his best friend since elementary school.
I was the only one of my friends who had never been on a date or had a crush on anyone. Kyle was waiting to see who would catch my interest, but nobody had so far. I loved being friends with guys, but I had no desire to date them. My parents had divorced when I was little, and I had watched my mom move from one failed relationship to another. My father was an alcoholic, and our visits with him had dwindled as his drinking got worse. Now we were down to talking on the phone from time to time.
Romantic relationships seemed like they weren't worth the trouble. They made it look so great in the movies, but real life didn't work that way. I had seen a lot of heartbreak around me, and it baffled me as to why people still kept trying to find true love.
"It's such a high when you're with that person," Kyle told me. "Just wait until your hormones kick in. You'll see." He had spotted Jake then. "Oh hot damn! How can you have that delicious piece of eye candy practically living with you and not be drooling over him everyday? Just look at his arms for one thing."
I surreptitiously glanced at Jake's arms. "He does look strong."
"Strong?" Kyle asked in disbelief. "He looks freaking hot! If only he wasn't straight…" He had trailed off dreamily.
I hoped that my hormones would never kick in if it meant I could avoid being obsessed with someone's body parts. I sure didn't want to drool over anyone. Kyle had said that it was a high, but I didn't need to be high that way. I got a rush when I was playing sports, and I had a warm and fuzzy feeling when I was with my family or friends. I was perfectly content with that.
After my friends went home that night when Jake had that strange conversation with me, I took a nice long shower. My room was right across the hall from the bathroom, so I always walked the few steps wrapped in a towel after my showers. It had never been a problem until that night. When I opened the bathroom door, Jake was leaning against the wall beside my room.
"Oh, sorry I took so long. It's all yours now." Even as I spoke, I wondered why I was apologizing. There was another bathroom downstairs.
He was studying me again, but his gaze was more intense than it had been in the kitchen earlier that evening. "You can't be walking around like that. You might not know that you're a girl, but any guy who sees you like this will never forget it. You could even give Kyle a hard on in that towel."
I looked at him in alarm. "What's that supposed to mean?"
He flashed a smile. "Don't worry. His secret's safe with me. I've seen you guys checking me out."
"I was not checking you out," I said in indignation.
"Whatever you need to tell yourself, Cam. What I'm worried about now is how clueless you are about walking around practically naked. Your buddies might get the wrong idea if they see you like this." He gestured toward my body. "You can't keep doing this."
Now I was getting really annoyed. Who did he think he was? "I can do whatever I want. This is my house. If you don't like it, you can leave."
His smile was different now. It seemed—dangerous. That didn't even make any sense. How could a smile be dangerous? He pushed off from the wall and stepped closer. "The problem is that I do like it. Remember what you guys were talking about before? About how a guy's body reacts to a hot girl? Do you see how much I like it?"
My eyes followed his hand down to where he indicated. I had seen him many times in just boxer shorts, but I hadn't ever noticed that reaction before. What an annoying thing to have to deal with, I thought. "Boy, I'm glad I'm not a guy."
His blue eyes traveled down the length of me one more time. "Me too, Cam. Me too." Then he walked away without even bothering to use the bathroom.