His One and OnlyBy: Theodora Taylor
“I can’t believe you got caught kissing Beau Prescott’s girlfriend under the stairs!”
Josie Witherspoon and her best friend, Colin Fairgood, were walking home from school. The large mansions, which lined both sides of the street, bore stately and placid witness to their conversation.
“Everybody on the bus was talking about it!”
Colin shrugged his skinny shoulders, like string-bean violinists stole the hearts of popular cheerleaders every day. “I can’t believe you can’t believe a girl like Mindy wouldn’t rather go out with me than that dumb-ass quarterback you live with.”
“I don’t live with him,” she said, exasperated. “I live in his parent’s house with my mom. Big difference. We barely talk.”
“Whatever. Just because you can’t see what a catch I am doesn’t mean Mindy don’t.”
Josie pushed her cat-eye glasses up on her nose, and looked at Colin sideways. She could never tell if he was joking or serious when he insinuated that she was missing out by not having him as a boyfriend.
They’d been friends since elementary school. Really, it had been a friendship made out of desperation more than anything else. Josie was one of the few black kids in the Forest Brook school system, and definitely the only black nerd, while tall and skinny Colin had been the only kid playing concert-level violin. Plus, despite the fact that she was black and he was white, both of their mothers happened to be live-in help for affluent families with homes on the same street, so technically they had more in common with each other than with other kids who were their own race.
Back when they’d first met, they’d been a pair of misfits with the misfortune of going to an elite school that valued its wealthy student body and athletics over diversity and musical prowess. Why not hang out with each other, who else would want to hang out with them?
But lately Colin had been making jokes suggesting he wanted more than friendship from Josie, and she didn’t know how she felt about that.
“It’s not that I don’t think you’re a great catch,” she said. “It’s more like I’m surprised Mindy was smart enough to realize it.”
Really surprised. On the few occasions she’d talked to Mindy, when she’d come by the house looking for Beau, Josie didn’t think there was much more than cotton candy and cheerleader chants going on between her pretty ears.
“Jealous?” Colin asked with an impish grin.
“More like scared,” Josie answered. “I’m just hoping Beau don’t come after you. You know how he gets.”
Then, as if she had summoned him out of thin air just by saying his name, Beau’s over-large, shiny blue pick-up truck screeched to a halt on the other side of the road. And Beau himself came barreling out with Mike Lacer, their school’s starting wide receiver and the son of the family Colin’s mother worked for, right behind him.
Most girls, including her—though she’d never admit it out loud—found Beau mesmerizing. With his thick black hair, contrasting silver eyes, chiseled body, aquiline nose, and All-American good looks, he was like the living embodiment of a Ralph Lauren ad. But right now, he looked a lot less preppy and a whole lot more intimidating as he came straight at Colin, his muscle-bound body tight with anger.
“Fairgood,” he said, pointing at the ground halfway between them. “You and me. Right now.”
“Aw man,” Colin said under his breath. But nonetheless, he put his violin case down and removed his backpack.
“Are you kidding me?” Josie hissed. “You can’t fight them. They’re, like, twice your size!”
Colin eyed Beau and Mike warily. “I don’t think I have much of a choice.”
“Run, fool!” she said, stating what, she felt, was the obvious sol
“I’m not running,” he answered, clenching his fists at his sides. “I might be skinny. But I’m not a coward.”
“How about your hands? You can’t be getting in fights. You’ve got the Youth Symphony concert at the ASC this weekend.”
She could tell that thought gave him pause. He’d been playing violin since the age of four, and he’d been taught to protect his hands above all things for most of his life. But still, he set his jaw and said it again: “I’m not running.”
And then it was too late to run. Beau was standing right in front of them, his meaty right fist covered with his left hand. His silver eyes almost seemed to glitter with anger in the afternoon light. “Time for you to get out of here, Josie.”
He and Mike reeked of alcohol.