Leigh liked to go swimming during thunderstorms. As soon as the sky darkened you could count on seeing her walk towards the pool in that no nonsense green one-piece, her long black hair streaming behind her like a banner. She always went barefoot. The cynical boys of Braun Hall had bets going about when she'd meet her maker, sizzling and lit up like a Christmas tree and whether the big gold hoops she wore in her ears would be fused to her skin when they fished her out of the pool. I never bet. Her eyes were the exact color of her swimsuit when it was wet. The exact color. I figured that she either had luck on her side or was more willful than anyone gave her credit for.
The whole ugly mess with Keaton Nelson had only happened a few months before, and there was still a lot of animosity towards Leigh, especially at Braun Hall. No one was painting the word "whore" in accusatory red letters on her door anymore, but there were still whispers and nasty snickers and stares whenever she walked down the hall. It might have blown over quicker if she had acted embarrassed, had allowed them to shame her. But she never did. She didn't answer questions about what happened, either. Anyone approaching her with an outraged ‘how could you’ on their lips was shot down by an icy glare and an imperious toss of her head. Then she'd turn and walk away, just like that.
One day I got up the nerve to ask her about Evan and Keaton and what had happened when the wind was high and howling, and how the girls had found her half-naked and flushed from love. We met over lunch and I made timid conversation until she finally got annoyed. “You want to ask about Evan, don’t you?”
I nodded. “Didn’t know how to bring it up. There are a lot of stories running around.”
"He wasn't something I had to have," She said, shading her eyes with one hand. The sun was setting. The shadows playing about her face made her look a little treacherous. It was difficult to read her expression.
She sighed and took a long, slow sip from her glass of iced tea, "I mean, he's not even that handsome. You'd never notice him in a crowd. But I wanted him."
I think I must have turned as red as a fire engine. Because she got a funny little smile looking at me.
She tossed her hair again. "Maybe covet is a better word. It smacks of Biblical fire and retribution. It's a good, old-fashioned word, covet."
"It sounds like something that isn't good for you." My heart was galloping like a racehorse. Say it, you fool, say it.
She closed her swimsuit green eyes. “It’s not that. It’s hard to explain.”
I sat there staring at her with her eyes closed for what must have been five minutes. My hands were sweating and I was shaking. I wanted to tell her what I really wanted. But all I could manage to croak out was, "Well?"
"Evan was never what was bad for me," she said darkly. Our conversation was over. She stood up, turned and walked away from me. Just like that.