At Face Value

Free At Face Value by Emily Franklin

Book: At Face Value by Emily Franklin Read Free Book Online
Authors: Emily Franklin
say that,” I nod.
    “Well, I want a good lead, so to speak. So I want your advice.”
    I turn to him. His face looks serious—not his usual sarcastic glances and shy smiles. “I’m guessing this is not paper-related,” I say.
    “Correct,” says Linus. “Are you free later?”
    I check my watch for no good reason except that whenever someone asks me what I’m doing later—this minute, today, next year—I feel compelled to check my watch. “I’m actually not,” I tell him, remembering I have a double dose of Eddie—first en route to drama, and then potentially at my house tonight for, um, auction stuff. “But we could go to Any Time Now right after class tomorrow?”
    Linus shakes his head. “I’m covering Night of Knights, remember?” Night of Knights—while the event holds zero appeal for me, Leyla is going and maybe she has a point: I’m a senior, and I should go to things this year just so I don’t regret it. And aren’t you supposed to regret the things you haven’t done more than the things you actually do?
    I open my mouth to say of course I remember that Linus is writing the Night of Knights feature. He’s one of the only writers we have who can reliably handle the pressure of writing, editing, and proofing an article by Monday publication. Plus, I assigned the piece. “Linus, I …” But I’m interrupted by Eddie.
    He appears at the doorway, his hair wet from showering. He waves to me, and I notice his cheeks are flushed. I tell myself the blush is from his workout, but maybe a tiny bit is due to seeing me? It’s a slim chance—but not as impossible as I used to think.
    “I want to help you, Linus, I do … maybe IM me later?”
    Linus shakes his head. “I’m not into the screen thing. Let’s just try to hang out at some point this weekend.”
    I nod, and give Eddie a “one minute” sign so I can duck to the bathroom before Drama. Without knowing more about Linus’ situation, it’s hard to predict how I’ll help him. Most likely, he wants to petition Reynolds for a better title (staff writer isn’t the catchiest of terms for college applications). But it could be something more hidden—he could like someone, and want to ask them out. But in that case, I’m not exactly the go-to girl. He’d be better off asking someone else for advice. Unless—I think back to our canoe ride this summer. He met me at my house, packed a picnic, paid for the boat even though I insisted on splitting the cost, and listened to everything I said. When I think about it like that, it feels like we went on a date …
    What if Linus—my buddy, my paper pal—likes me? There’s no doubt that he’s adorable and smart and all that, but up until this moment in the girls’ bathroom, with its ugly green-hued lighting and cracked tiles, I’ve never thought about Linus with even a remote romantic interest. But … if there were a guy who could overlook my nose, my giant feature, the unfortunate center of my face, Linus would be that guy. He’s the advertisement for “beauty comes from within.” He’s serious and sensitive and always a little disheveled (like with the lettuce on his shirt, or on the days he’s buttoned his shirt wrong or his socks don’t match). And he just doesn’t care.
    Before I can complete my thoughts on this matter, it’s time to go. I do one last check in the mirror—jeans, fitted V-neck shirt, boots, clean hair—and push open the squeaky door. Just like I hoped, Eddie is leaning against the wall opposite the door, waiting just for me.
    Weston High is U-shaped, and Drama is held in the small old auditorium at one end of the U. So Eddie and I have the entire length of the school to walk together. The marathon journey produces a whole bunch of looks, a couple of giggles, and one shout-out: “Hey Rox, where’d you get the hood ornament?”
    Eddie pretends not to hear this—or maybe he really doesn’t, he’s so wrapped up in his thoughts.
    “Care to share?” I ask and

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