Damage Control

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Maybe He's Just Not That Into You

After slipping away quietly from Sienna and Cole, her boyfriend, I made my way towards my first class which was History.

I absolutely hated history, and the fact that it was in the morning irked me even more. There were only a few things in history that remotely interested me, but other than that, I did not care about people like Henry VIII and his six wives.

Plopping down into my designated seat, I pulled out my notebook and began doodling as students filed into the classroom.

“Hey Mallory, do you mind if we have lunch together today?” A soft voice questioned from beside me. Looking up, my eyes locked onto Rachel, my history partner that I had formed a quick friendship with at the start of this year.

Flashing her a quick smile, I nodded in response to her question.

Rachel had been experiencing issues with her boyfriend for a while now and I had invested various lunches listening to her rants and complaints. Usually she would just share her troubles and I would let her vent before sharing my input, which usually flew right over her head seeing as she often returned with the same problems.

She shot me a grateful smile before she turned away and began unpacking her things from her backpack. Diverting my eyes from her, I faced the front of the classroom and placed my chin in my palm as I waited for class to begin.

A couple minutes passed before the tardy bell rang and my teacher Mr. Barrett waltzed in. Despite teaching a boring subject, he was the most lively and energetic teacher I had ever met. It baffled me how happy someone could be whilst teaching a bunch moody high schoolers about history.

I don’t know about anyone else, but I aspired to be as content as him at my job in the future.

The class periods drawled on slowly throughout the day and I practically kissed the ground when the bell for lunch rang. Shooting Sienna a quick text about my whereabouts, I made my way outside towards the courtyard where I spotted Rachel sitting on the bench we usually met up at.

Upon hearing my footsteps, hear head shot in my direction to look at me as she flashed me a shaky smile. I could tell there was an inner battle brewing in her as I approached her. Her usually friendly eyes now looked worrisome and a massive frown was etched on her face.

“Whats up?” I questioned as I took a seat beside her. She seemed to be deep in thought so I gave her a minute to collect herself as I preoccupied myself by pulling out a granola bar to nibble on while waiting.

She let out a deep sigh and stared up at the sky before finally turning towards me with a shaky smile on her lips.

“You know how Jackson and I have been having issues? Well things are no better. I just don’t get it! I’ve tried everything but he just seems so disinterested. The other night, he refused to...you know what.” She trailed off as my eyes widened at what she was insinuating.

Even after giving advice to numerous people and hearing the dirty details for a whole year, I still wasn’t quite accustomed to the whole wham bam process.

It was a little too raw for my virgin ears.

I swear, I should get paid for some of the stuff I’ve had to listen to.

Rachel was a sweet timid girl who usually stuck with her little group and didn’t really hang around anyone else besides them or Jackson. I don’t know if she was extremely oblivious or simply ignoring the obvious, but practically the whole school knew that Jackson was slightly bent if you understand what I mean.

Long story short, he was gay.

As in not straight.

Not into females.

Batted for the same team.

You get what I’m trying to say.

As I stared at her wide eyes that threatened to shed tears, I internally cringed as I attempted to rack my brain for any way to let Rachel down easy. Despite dropping strong hints about the situation in the many times we’ve spoken since the start of the school year, she was still blind to the obvious.

Taking a deep breath, I mentally scolded myself to man up and tell her. If everyone else refused to tell it to her straight, then it came down to me to do it.

“Is it because I smell or something? His behavior has just been so weird!” She exclaimed throwing her hands in the air. I watched as she held back tears and slightly edged closer to her to comfort her in the best way I could.

Usually that just meant patting her on the back until they stopped their sobbing fest.

It was safe to say my only strong suit was in the advice section.

And I kind of sucked at that too.

I opened my mouth to speak but clamped it shut as I saw her a tear roll down her face.

Well, there goes my initial plan of blurting it out to her no matter how harsh or brutal.

Time for Plan B.

“Maybe he’s just not that into you.” I slowly said before pinching my eyes shut. Mentally cursing myself out for my response, I nearly face palmed myself right then and there and judging from Rachel’s reaction, she was just as confused and probably even offended.

Way to go Mallory.

If this was a job, I definitely would have gotten fired.

“What do you mean?” She asked as she pushed her hair back from her face as her eyes bore into mine. Letting out a deep sigh, I threw my granola bar in the trash before turning to face her fully.

She deserved to know the truth and whatever she chose to do after would be up to her.

“Listen Rachel, I don’t know if its true but I’ve heard rumors and even observed it myself..but I think the reason why Jackson isn’t showing interest is because he’s gay.” I spit out before inching away from her as I watched for a reaction.

This could end in two ways.

The good way or the bad way.

Hopefully it was the first.

I highly doubted that though because Rachel was a sweet girl until messed with. I swear its like a switch goes off in her brain when she’s angry and she transforms into a demon child.

“What?” She softly said to herself as she furrowed her eyebrows in confusion. I watched as she stared at the ground, most likely absorbing what I had just revealed to her. Its not exactly easy finding out someone you’ve been dating swings for a different team.

“I honestly don’t know if its true but I think its best if you confront him yourself. And if its true, then at least you know that you weren’t the problem.” I advised her soothingly while placing a hand on her shoulder. She was silent and still for a few minutes before she sat up straight and turned to me. Her mascara was slightly smudged and she look exhausted as she gathered her items around her.

Flashing me a small smile, she nodded her head before responding, “You’re right, I’m going to talk to him now. Thanks Mallory, I’ll let you know how it goes.” She simply said before standing up and making her way into the school, most likely to find Jackson.

Giving her a thumbs up for encouragement, I watched as she sauntered into the school before letting out a deep breath and slumping back into the bench I was seated at. Staring up at the soft blue sky, I shut my eyes as I relished the feeling of the bright sun shining on my face.

I really hope I applied sunscreen this morning or else I would be sporting a sexy sunburn for the next few days.

I was engulfed in peaceful silence for a few minutes before it was disrupted by a shadow looming over me.

Peeling one of my eyes open, my gaze landed on Cole who was staring down at me, a bright smile illuminating his gorgeous face. His hair was styled to perfection and he was dressed in what appeared to be an old sweatshirt with the words ‘Westbridge Football’ etched across the center.

Sitting up from my slumped position, I scooted to the side and returned his smile as he slid onto the bench beside me.

My eyes flickered down to our hands that slightly touched as he made himself comfortable on the bench. Ignoring the slight flutter in my traitorous heart, I forced myself to look away from his handsome face and stare straight ahead at the courtyard.

Quit acting like a freaking middle schooler, Mallory!

Its just a touch, not to mention from your best friends boyfriend!

I was suddenly snapped out of my bickering thoughts by Cole’s voice as I turned to face him, “I’m pretty sure I just saw Rachel punch Jackson back there. I’m assuming you don’t know anything about that?” He questioned, an amused look plastered across his face.

I let out a small giggle before turning towards him. “I may or may not have told her that Jackson is gay?” I innocently said in a meek voice causing him to throw his head back and laugh loudly, his eyes sparkling beneath the glistening sun.

“At least tell me you let her down easy? I mean practically the whole school has known since last summer except for her.” He said as he casually slung his arm around the bench.

Ignoring the thoughts that engulfed my mind at his gesture, I sent him a mischievous smile before replying, “I tried my best.” I defended as I held my hands up. He simply shook his head at me in mock disappointment before turning to stare ahead.

Cole was the typical golden guy.

He was one of the best football players at our school, friendly, and a smart guy.

But above all, what I liked the most about him was the atmosphere he brought whenever he was around. Maybe thats why I began to like him as more than just friends. When it was just him and I, I was comfortable. He reserved no judgment towards me and always brought a positive calming vibe when he was around.

I knew that I was trekking on dangerous grounds by having the hots for someone completely off limits, but its like my heart refused to listen to what my brain was screaming.

I was snapped out of my train of thoughts by Cole who suddenly cleared his throat before speaking, “I heard Harrison Reid has his eyes on you.” He said as he ran a hand through his thick hair.

Of course Cole would know about that. He and Harrison both played football together and nearly every guy on the team spread word of any rumors faster than any of the gossiping females that attended school with us.

Snorting loudly, I answered, “Yeah, me and fifty other girls.”

I stared at Cole as he chuckled at my comment before a serious look washed over his usually smiling face. Looking at him in confusion, I watched as he turned to face me, his eyes staring directly into mine, an unknown look brewing through them.

“You deserve better than him, Mallory.” He softly said as he closed the gap between our hands. I could feel my heart race at an unsteady pace as I kept my eyes locked onto his. He didn’t say anything and simply gave my hand a slight squeeze before releasing it and standing up.

Why did he just touch my hand and what did he mean by that?

Of course I knew that Harrison was bad news but wasn’t Cole his friend? Last I heard, guys jumped at the chance to hook their friends up with any girl.

“I’ll see you later.” He said before I could even utter a response back to him. Flashing me one last look, he turned on his heels before making his way back into the school.

Letting out another sigh, I slumped back into the bench and stared up at the sky again.

Why did I have to like the one guy I knew I could never have?

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