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Cookie O'Gorman

“Parents,” Becks said, as if it was some great mystery. “Who can say what makes them do what they do.”

Stopping outside my first period, I tried to make my voice sound ultra-casual. “You never thought that, right?”

“Thought what?” Becks waved as someone called his name.

“That I was, you know—” I swallowed. “—gay?”

Becks gave me a half-smile, looking completely unaware of how much his answer mattered—to me, at least.

“Sal,” he said as I held my breath. “Gay or straight, we would’ve always been best friends.”

I exhaled. Wasn’t exactly the answer I was looking for, but I’d take it.

“I’ll see you at practice?”

“Of course,” I smiled. “Someone’s got to write about the early years before you went pro. Might as well be me.”

Shaking his head, Becks said, “See ya, Sal,” and then kept going down the hall. As he walked, people—girls mostly, but a fair share of the boys—greeted Becks with catcalls, pats on the back, more cheek rubs. He took it all in stride, even when Trent Zuckerman gave him a chest bump that nearly sent him sprawling.

“So Spitz, you coming tonight?”

I turned and came face-to-face with my self-appointed matchmaker. Lillian Hooker was the only person who had permission to call me that name and my closest bestie right after Becks. On paper, she and I looked a lot alike: same height, same pant size, same long hair. In reality? Hooker’s hair was dark chocolate, mine sandy brown. Confidence and curves-in-all-the-right-places set her apart. The caramel complexion didn’t hurt either. She was exotic while I was ordinary.

In other words, Hooker was the Amidala to my Hermione.

“Don’t know, Hooker.” We’d bonded in the seventh grade over a great love of superhero movies and a deep hatred of unfortunate surnames. That first sleepover made our bestie status official. Hooker and I had been stuffing our faces with popcorn and watching TV when we flipped to a cheesy Western called Tombstone. Instant obsession. While other girls were dressing up like pretty princesses, we were Doc Holiday and Johnny Ringo for Halloween. “I’m still recovering from last night.”

“I heard it went well.”

I cocked a brow. “Should I even ask?”

She shrugged. “Martha texted me. She said you and Daisy really hit it off.”

The fact that my mom and Hooker were texting buddies…well…I guess, I should’ve seen that coming.

“Did she also tell you—” I lowered my voice. “—that I’m not batting for the same team?”

Hooker laughed as we walked into our class.

“And by that, I mean: I like boys.”

“I knew it was a long shot. If you were gay, there’s no way you could’ve resisted all this.” She gestured to herself, and I couldn’t stop my smile. “But you haven’t responded to any of my guys. Stella’s been doing my hair for years, and when I saw Daisy the other day, I figured why not?”

“Hmm, let’s see…maybe because I’m. Not. Gay.”

“Yeah, sorry about that,” she said. “I’ll make it up to you, promise. Anyway, you are coming tonight, right?”

“I’ve got some reading to catch up on, so I might have to pass.”

“But you can’t!”

I was immediately suspicious. “Why not?”

Once seated, she waved me off. “Oh, no reason,” she said, her face completely guileless. “I was really hoping you’d come, though. It’s going to be a lot of fun tonight. You just have to be there.”

I narrowed my eyes. “Why?”

“Oh now, what kind of question is that?”

“A good one,” I replied, watching her closely. “This isn’t another setup is it, Hooker? I told you I’m through with that. No more mystery dates.”

Instead of answering, Hooker gave a long-suffering sigh and started chipping away at her nail polish. Today’s color was a bright sea blue that perfectly matched the color of her eyes. The same eyes that, at the moment, wouldn’t meet my own.

“I mean it,” I insisted. “I told you before: I’ll start dating when I want to.”

“And when might that be?” Hooker was pushing back her cuticles with short efficient jabs. “Before or after the day of reckoning?”

I crossed my arms, refusing to let it go.

“Okay, okay.” She stopped the assault and looked me in the eye. “Opening night, new X-Men. You in or out, Spitz? I thought you’d like to go to the midnight show and see Storm kick some evil mutant ass. Excuse me if I was mistaken.”

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