“You’re such an ass**le, Ryan,” Hailey muttered, crossing her arms in a hissy fit.

“You love me, youngin’,” he said, rubbing his hand on the top of her head, giving her a slight reminder that he was older than she was.

I was still confused. “So…you’re g*y?”

The two paused and looked my way. I shifted around from the uncomfortable glares they were giving me. Hailey cleared her throat. “We don’t use labels at this table, Ashlyn.”

“Yeah. How would you like it if we called you straight? Or white? Or a bookworm? Or watermelon?”Ryan said, snatching up some more fries.

“I-I’m sorry. I didn’t mean—” I stuttered, feeling guilty for having said the wrong thing.

“It’s okay. We don’t apologize at this table either. Because we know harm is never the intent.” Hailey smiled, picked up all of her fries from her tray, and placed them on mine.

“So…can I ask another question?” I said warily.

Ryan shoved me in the shoulder. “Go for it.”

“Tony got mad at you because you slept with Tony?”

They both laughed at me, and Ryan snatched up the fries Hailey had given me. Note to self: Don’t sit next to Ryan.

“Tony is the name I give to all of the guys I date. Most of them aren’t really comfortable with the world of Edgewood knowing what we do…and I’m not looking to out anyone. Besides, I’m not even out.”

Hailey jumped in to explain. “Our mom is kind of—”

“Close-minded,” Ryan said, finishing her thought. “She comes from a pretty religious background, and being g*y? Not really high on her list of family blessings. She doesn’t even know that Hailey—”

“Studies Buddhism.” Hailey smiled, finishing Ryan’s thought now. I wondered how often they did that without even knowing it. “She thinks my painted ceiling is so I can be closer to God.”

“You two are pretty complicated.” I paused. “So you’re not a womanizer.”

“A manizer,” Ryan smirked. “I told you. They tag you as something you’re not. I was tagged as a guy who liked vaginas. Gross, right?”

I chuckled. “So how many Tonys are there?”

“If I tell you, you’ll think I’m a slut.” Ryan grinned.

“If you don’t tell me, I’ll think you’re a bigger slut.” I grabbed some fries from his tray and shoved them into my mouth. He looked at me with narrowed eyes and then turned to his sister.

“I like this girl.”

Hailey smiled and crossed her arms as she leaned back in her chair. “Yeah, me too.”

“Going to get more food. Be back soon.” Ryan stood from his chair. He didn’t go to the lunch line though. He went table to table where people greeted him with hugs and high-fives. From the looks of it, everyone liked Ryan, and I could completely understand why.

Hailey frowned as she watched her brother leave the table. “Don’t let his loud, silly personality fool you. He’s a lot more sensitive then he puts on. And I doubt he cheated on Tony.”

“Why do you say that?”

She shrugged. “Because I’d never seen two people who loved each other so quietly.”

I didn’t know what she meant by that. But I figured over time she would explain it more. “What about you Hailey? What were you tagged as?” I asked.

“Oh, a girl who has a weird infatuation with her brother.” She paused and rolled her eyes. “Two years ago, when I was a freshman, I was super overweight, awkward, and had no friends really. I ate alone in the cafeteria every day. Until Ryan ditched his friends and joined me.”

Well…that was the nicest thing I’d ever heard. Maybe I would start to crush on Ryan—I had a way of going for unavailable men.

“And then I made some new friends, got a boyfriend. But eating with Ryan just felt safe… I don’t know what I’m going to do next year after he graduates.”

When Ryan returned, his entire being was different. His hands formed fists and he slammed them against the table. “Is that Lia over there, Hailey?”

Her lips hardened as she looked across the lunchroom and stared at someone. I followed her stare. Our eyes landed on a guy with shaggy hair who had his hands all over another girl. Kisses on the neck, kisses on the lips—all kinds of public groping.

Hailey nodded, her eyes watering over. “Yes.”

“Who’s Lia?” She looked familiar to me, yet I wasn’t sure how.

“My, um, best friend.” Hailey released one tear and wiped it away fast as we all watched Lia’s head fall backwards from something the guy had whispered against her ear.

“I’m going to kill him,” Ryan muttered, stepping away from the table. The veins in his neck started to pop out the more he came to realize what was happening. I was still trying to catch up. Hailey reached for her brother’s arm and stopped him.

“No, Ryan,” she ordered. “You know he’ll out you.”

“I don’t care,” he said, his anger clouding his judgment.

“Well, I do,” Hailey commanded, making him sit back down.

“Who is that?” I asked.

Hailey sighed. “My boyfriend, Theo. And my best friend, who he cheated on me with.”

That’s how I knew both of them. They were each sitting in framed pictures next to Hailey’s bed. I replayed her words in my mind. Assholes. “When did you find out?”

“About…two seconds ago.”