“Was that ... Katie?!” For some reason I’m whispering.
Brandon raises his eyebrows at me and smiles. “I know, right? I can’t believe it either.” He glances down the hall and then steps out onto the front stoop next to me, quietly closing the door behind him. “We’ve been hanging out like, every day. Weird, right?”
“Really weird!” I blurt out before thinking. Brandon looks at my quizzically. “But, but ... awesome!” I add quickly.
He shakes his head and his goofy smile returns. “I know. Luce, she's like, the perfect girl. She loves PlayStation and hanging out with my brothers. And she's totally into X-Men.”
“Katie?!” I squeal incredulously. I suddenly wonder if my plane landed in an alternate universe instead of Fort Myers. Katie? Playing video games? What is going on?
“Yeah. Katie.” He shoots me a look like the answer is obvious. “Luce, why didn’t you tell me she was so laid back and, I dunno, cool?”
Because laid back and cool are two words I would never, ever associate with Katie Heeley, I think, trying to keep from scowling. But instead I mumble, “I’m sure I’ve said that.”
Brandon gives me a sideways look, and I force my face into an exaggerated smile. “So,” I ask cheerfully, “are you guys, like ... together?”
Brandon shrugs. “I guess. I dunno. But I really like her, Luce. I mean, a lot.” He lowers his eyes and starts kicking loose chucks of cement off the edge of the step. “I keep thinking I must be dreaming or something, that a girl like her actually likes me. I mean, me. No one ever likes me.”
He looks up and grins. He looks so hopeful, and well, dopey. But in a cute way.
It makes me suddenly furious. I have the overwhelming urge to shake him. To yell, That’s not true, you idiot! Lots of girls like you! She should be thankful that you like her! You’re the cool one. She hates video games. I’m sure she’s annoyed by your brothers. And she probably thinks Jean Grey is a nail polish color. She is totally wrong for you!
But then his brown eyes catch mine, and my chest tightens. I know that if I’m ever going to say something, to tell him what I’m thinking, it has to be now. This moment. I take a deep breath. “Brandon, I…”
“OmiGOD! Lucy!! You’re HOME!”
My head snaps up to see Katie’s face pressed against the window screen for a split second, and then the front door swings open.