I hadn’t decided yet if I actually liked guys. Girls didn’t fascinate me as much as they did my friends. I still noticed them, though. Then again, I was younger than Shawn and Eddie by several months. Maybe when I was older I’d be more into girls. I hoped so. I didn’t want to think about what my friends, and especially my parents, would say if I turned out gay. I didn’t think finding guys hot had anything to do with how old I was.
“That guy’s weird,” Eddie said. “He’s been here a few times lately.”
“I haven’t seen him.” I started to look back over my shoulder and stopped myself. I’d calmed down my first reaction to him. I didn’t know if I’d be as successful again.
“You just haven’t been here at the same time as him. Your stupid mother keeps making you go home early.”
“Shut up.” I shot him a look that made him look away fast. I wasn’t always happy about Mom telling me to be home in time to help with Peri and Amber, but I didn’t want Eddie whining about it. And he had no business insulting my mother. Mom wasn’t stupid, just overwhelmed.
“I think that guy’s kind of a creep,” he said after a few seconds. “I mean, he’s a lot older than us, and he’s hanging around a place where kids go? Kind of weird, don’t you think?”
“Maybe he just likes pinball, dummy.” The guy hadn’t looked too old to me. I didn’t think he looked much more than twenty or so. Which was still older than us. It just wasn’t ancient or anything.
“He was looking at you, wasn’t he?” Eddie made a face. “That’s disgusting, man.”
“I guess.” I didn’t quite dare to ask if he meant the guy’s age or the guy checking me out. Knowing Eddie, he might have meant either or both.
Another reason not to let on that sometimes guys interested me. I’d lose the few friends I had.
“Just watch your back.” Eddie gave a little laugh. “Or maybe I should say watch your ass.”
I wanted to slug him. Instead I just said, “Dude, stop being a dink,” and kept walking.
We finally took over our favorite machine. I had the top three scores on the game, and Eddie had the next two. I sent him to the change counter for quarters while I stayed put so no one else took our game.
Before I even turned around, I knew the voice behind me belonged to the guy in the white T-shirt. I couldn’t have explained how I knew; I just did. I was almost afraid to look at him, but my parents’ constant manners drills got the better of me. Not responding to someone who’d spoken to you was rude.
I took a deep breath and turned. Up close, those piercing eyes turned out to be grey. His hair was shaggy, light brown or dark blond depending on how you looked at it. It kind of shone under the overhead light. His shirt outlined his chest and abs, and the tattoo stood out against the tan skin on his arm. Seeing him more clearly, I couldn’t do much about the sudden bulge in my shorts. I just hoped he wouldn’t notice.
My mouth went dry and for a few seconds, I couldn’t talk.
He looked amused. “Yes, I was speaking to you. Hi.”
“Um, hi.” Yeah, I was great at conversation.
He held out his hand. “I’m Larry.”
When I shook his hand, something like a lightning bolt shot through me. Startled, I looked into his eyes, and the electricity grew stronger. I wouldn’t have been able to look away if I’d wanted to. Fortunately, I didn’t want to.