Just a thing i've been working on between projects. It's kind of bizarre, so i don't expect a huge audience for it. Just for fun.

High school had been so easy for Layla El. Exotically pretty, smart, and popular, she'd been admired by students and teachers alike. Boys wanted to be with her and girls wanted to be her. She was captain of the cheer squad and salutatorian of her graduating class. What she didn't realize was she'd been a big fish in a little pond. College turned out to be an ocean, and Layla got swallowed up in the waves.

She actually had to struggle for grades in some classes. The sorority she'd rushed for hadn't chosen her as a pledge. Her friends, who had different majors and sororities of their own, drifted away from Layla. She'd at least been accepted into the cheer squad, but she was at the bottom of the pyramid, metaphorically and physically. Being on the squad did get her into frat parties, but she was so wary of being drugged or date-raped that she never really enjoyed herself. In all, the past year and a half of college had been a bust. Except, of course, for Heath.

Heath Slater was a dreamboat. He was tall and toned, wore leather and jeans, and had long red hair that fell about his broad shoulders and framed his face. He walked with a rockstar swagger and regarded everything with a sparkle in his rich, deep brown eyes. Layla figured they must have the same major, since they had a class or two together every semester. With his build, she'd expected him to be out on the football field, but he didn't seem into sports. Too bad. She'd have loved to see him in those little pants, all sweaty from mowing down his opponents... unf.

Not that Layla had ever bucked up the courage to talk to him. She disgusted herself. Two years ago she could have charmed herself onto Heath's arm in an hour. Instead, she just watched him during class, admiring the million-watt smile he always wore, one that reminded her of the smile that used to grace her own lips.

Then one day after algebra class, the professor called her back. Turned out Heath was failing miserably and had asked for a tutor, and Layla had a strong grasp on the concepts they were studying. Heath offered to pay, but Layla wouldn't hear of it. Since then they'd spent two or three hours a week studying, either at a picnic table in the quad or at her mom's kitchen table. Heath was polite and friendly, always a gentleman, though a couple times she caught him peeking down the low-cut shirts she'd taken to wearing. They'd chat some about television and music. He'd complain about his roommate sometimes, and was always interested in her stories about her family or friends. They were forming a bond, and she hoped he would ask her out soon. Couldn't he tell by her coquettish looks and innuendos that she wanted him? That she dreamed of him every night? They both lived in town so he wouldn't be going away after finals, maybe he was just waiting for summer so they could concentrate on their new relationship without school in the way...

When Layla got the results of her algebra finals, she waited at their picnic table, just as they had agreed. If he'd passed, maybe today would be the day. Of course, she had passed with flying colors, but Heath had been so far behind. Soon she spotted him across the manicured lawn bounding towards her, ginger mane streaming behind him and shining in the early-summer sun, pecs bunching and relaxing under his tight tee as he ran. She wanted to leap into his arms and wrap her legs around his waist, but she managed to compose herself. In seconds, she found herself pressed against those pecs, Heath having enfolded her in his warm, strong embrace. He lifted her petite body off the ground with ease and spun her around as he cried, "WOOO!" Layla flung her arms around his neck and laughed, her long dark hair flying around them.

"I take it you passed?" she managed to gasp.

"You know it, baby!" He set her down and they both collapsed onto the bench, table at their backs. "Man, I thought I was done for. I am taking you out for a big-ass fancy dinner tonight to celebrate," he said with a grin. This was it! She knew it. He was finally asking her out. "Order anything you want, even lobster. You deserve it for pulling me out of that mess."

"Oh, Heath, you worked hard. I'm really proud of you," Layla said, feeling giddy. Then he pinned her with a hard gaze, and her breath caught in her throat.

"I mean it," he said in his low drawl. "Really. I couldn't have done it without you."

Layla stared back at him, speechless. In the peripheral of her vision she saw his tongue flick out to wet his lips, but her focus remained on his eyes. They drew her in, she was drowning in the intensity of those dark mahogany pools. She leaned in and pressed her lips to his, her heart fluttering at how warm and soft they felt against her mouth... then blinked when he jerked away.

"Whoa whoa, Layla, what? I have a boyfriend, remember?"

Boyfriend? Layla's chest felt like it was collapsing in on itself as some missing pieces clicked into place. "Justin... isn't just your roommate..?" It was half-question and half-statement.

"No. I thought you knew. It's not exactly a secret." Heath looked at her almost sheepishly. Layla felt her face heat and she looked around, unable to stand the sympathy in his eyes and suddenly sure that everyone was pointing and laughing at the girl who tried to kiss the gay man.

"I gotta go," she mumbled, her heart still shattering in a million tiny pieces.

"Layla wait! I'm sorry, I... aw, shit."

o~o~o

"I was humiliated!" Layla wailed into her phone, pacing her bedroom and sobbing into a tissue. "I've been pining over Heath for over a year, and now this! I'm so stupid!"

"You're not stupid," Michelle cooed. They may not be as close as they were in high school, but she still loved Layla and would always be a good shoulder to cry on.

"I am! I thought he was asking me out, then he hit me with a boyfriend."

"He hit you with his boyfriend?" Michelle smirked, trying to make her friend laugh. "Just picked him up by the ankles and walloped you over the head with him?"

"You know what I mean," Layla hissed, and took another lap around the room. "He doesn't like women. I really thought we had something..." She trailed off, breaking down in tears.

Layla's mother, listening just outside the door, was furious. Her daughter had been moving around so she hadn't caught every word, but she knew Heath had broken Layla's heart, had hit her and hated women. She'd let that ginger monster into her house! He'd sat at her table and she'd served him fucking cookies! At the table.

Mrs. El had a flash of inspiration. No... she shouldn't... but he'd hit her little girl.

Needing no more convincing that that, she stormed downstairs. She scoured the kitchen and the bathroom, places Heath had been, and thanked herself for being a shitty housekeeper. In the end, she managed to scrounge up twelve long red hairs from the carpet and chairs. She'd left this part of her life behind long ago, but no one, NO ONE fucked with her precious daughter. She locked herself in her room and pulled an old book from the depths of her closet, then grabbed some paper and started charting the phases of the moon.

She was going to teach that misogynistic asshole a lesson he'd never forget.