Girl Code(4)

By: L.D. Davis

A few hours, many broken pencil points, a box of pizza, and a whole bottle of Pepsi later, I was stressed and pulling my chestnut brown hair out of my head trying to understand. Leo was like a whole different person while trying to help me. I expected him to lord his skills over me and to poke fun at me. Honestly, I didn’t even expect him to be serious for more than a few minutes, but he surprised me. Not only was he serious, but he was patient and didn’t make me feel any dumber than I already felt. By the time Leslie had to collect her things to make curfew, I had almost forgotten that this was the same Leo that I passionately hated.

“I’m almost fifteen years old and I still have an eight-thirty curfew,” Leslie said disgustedly as she slung her backpack over her shoulder.

“At least you understand what you’re doing for that test tomorrow,” I said tiredly. I rubbed my forehead with two fingers as I stared at a problem I had been struggling with for a long time.

“At least you have a cute teacher,” she said with a grin and a wink at Leo.

I stared absently for a moment and then said, “You think Mr. Harris is cute? Gross, Les, he’s like fifty.”

She frowned at me and smacked me with one of my bed pillows.

“Maybe she’s into balding guys.” Leo chuckled.

Leslie raised her hand to smack Leo’s arm, but he caught her hand and stood up. “I’ll walk you home, Mrs. Harris.”

Her face softened as she peered up at him through her lashes. How the hell did she do that and look so attractive doing it? I tried it once with a guy I had a crush on over the summer and I looked stupid.

“Really?” she asked in a soft voice.

“I can call Mr. Harris and see if he’s available instead,” Leo said with a shrug.

She smacked his chest lightly and tried to look angry, but failed. Leo laughed again and gestured for the door. “Let’s go, Loopy Leslie.”

She smiled at him before turning her gaze on me and wiggled her eyebrows conspiringly. I offered her a small smile. It seemed that her scheme of inviting Leo over for studying was paying off, at least for her. She seemed to be winning Leo over and she learned enough to pass her math test. I was still mathematically challenged and no closer to passing the test than I was before Leo walked into my bedroom.

“I’ll be back,” Leo said to me.

I stared up at him blankly. “What?”

“I’ll be back,” he repeated and looked at me like I was daft. “You still need a lot of help, right?”

I nodded.

“Then I’ll be back in a little bit.”

He tossed me his pencil. Leslie gave me a wave, and then the pair was out the door.

I had to admit, I was rather skeptical about Leo coming back to help me. I had no idea why he was so interested in helping me when he was usually only interested in making my life hell. I was very worried that it would somehow blow up in my face later, but I was desperate for the help. There was no way I was going to turn him away if he was willing to sit and work with me. I would have to deal with the consequences later.

Leo returned a little under twenty minutes later. I heard my mom let him in a few seconds before he reentered my room. He looked confused as he sat down across from me on the bed.

“Your mom just let me come up here like it was no big deal,” he whispered. “I half expected her to tell me to go home, or to at least make us go in the kitchen to work or something.”

I felt my brow crinkle, but couldn’t smooth it away. “It isn’t a big deal to her,” I said.

The confusion on Leo’s face deepened. “What—”

I cut him off to change the subject. “I’m still struggling with this problem, Pesciano. Please enlighten me.”

Leo stared at me with that befuddled expression for a moment, but when it was clear I wasn’t going to talk about my mom, especially to him, he cleared his throat and stood up with his books in his hands.

“Move over,” he commanded. “I can’t teach you upside down.”

I moved myself and my books over and made room for Leo. He sat down close beside me. To cover for the slight discomfort I felt at his nearness as he got situated, I pretended to be engrossed in the problem at hand until I heard a distinct crunching sound coming from him. I looked over just in time to see something colorful drop away from his mouth. He attempted to give me a blank look.

“What?” he asked innocently.

With my eyes narrowed in suspicion and curiosity and already forgetting about his close proximity, I yanked on the collar of his shirt. My eyes widened at what I saw against his neck.

“Seriously?” I asked, not sure if I should laugh or just ignore what I was seeing.