Something crackled between them—a tinge of tension that had been building from the moment they’d met in gym class during the first semester, both assessing one another up and down, panting after a game of basketball while sweat had glistened on their skins. The same heat from that moment coated Bryan’s flesh.
It didn’t matter the temperature was quickly dropping. Nothing could dispel the warmth flowing through his blood. His beating heart seemed to sit in his throat. “Maybe you should ask.”
The fire in Elliot’s eyes flickered out. “Ask who?”
“Ask whoever you think sent the card.”
“Uh…” Elliot shifted and glanced away. He crumbled up his food containers and stuffed them inside the bag. “I can’t ask. I’d look like a total tool asking everyone at school if they sent me a card.”
“But you have an idea who sent it, don’t you?”
The familiar shade of pink claimed Elliot’s cheeks. “Um… no.” He threw open the door. “I need a dart.”
Bryan also got out, since he couldn’t smoke in the car because Dad always did his sniff check. He headed to the wooden railing where Elliot had left his boot prints in the ankle-length snow. Even the spruce trees were weighed down with white.
The sky wasn’t visible because of the storm. The flakes were harsh smacks of ice on Bryan’s face. He reached inside his jacket for his own pack of cigarettes, keeping his head ducked and hood up to ward off the chill of the wind.
“Well?” he asked while sliding the cigarette between his lips. He kept his back to the fierce snowfall.
Elliot moved beside him, also turning his back on the storm. “Well what?”
“Who do you think sent you the cards? Dedicated the song to you?” Bryan was walking on a tightrope, but considering he’d never gotten a sucker punch to the face or heard Elliot sneer at the tokens of admiration, it was apparent he didn’t mind that a dude was digging on him.
“You keep bugging me about this. Never let up.” Elliot’s voice shook. “I… I…”
“I never heard you listen to a ballad before.” To quell his shaking insides, Bryan took a drag off the cigarette. The nicotine did its job and slowed the fierce rapids of angry white water his blood had become thundering through his veins.
“I… I… I think it’s you.” Elliot’s words came out slow and soft.
The blood slowed to a halt. Finally, what Bryan had begged for, wished for, prayed for, was in the open—and it was up to him to respond.