Shannon’s mother was late, as usual, but it gave Shannon more time to get her story straight with Ally. The buses huffed and growled and Frederick or Callahan or whatever leaned against the stone steps across the street.
“He looks like a vampire,” Ally said. “Like in Twilight. If he let his hair grow longer in front…”
“Maybe.” Shannon waited for the traffic to thin out. A few parents’ cars weaved in and out among the buses, never mind the flashing red lights.
“Listen, I’ve got to talk to him again, see if I can settle tomorrow. If I don’t get away from mom for a day or two, I will go seriously mental. I’m going to tell her we’ve got that big project, so back me up, OK?”
“I thought we started on that yesterday.” Ally looked like she wanted to wave at Frederick. “It’ll be easy to keep going, makes it sound even better.”
“Right. But if he doesn’t come through, I am seriously fucked.”
“Oooh, you wish, girl.”
“Euwww. Don’t be gross.” Shannon planned to save it as long as she could. Which didn’t mean she didn’t know where the parts went and how they felt. She’d made a few guys happy without opening up the tunnel of love, and she knew girls who even swallowed. Ally might be one of them.
“He likes music,” she said. “I want to ask him if he plays.” He was holding a magazine open while he stood there looking tall and hot, but she was pretty sure he wasn’t really reading it.
“Sure. And my brother has a Porsche. A little Matchbox one, two inches long.”
“Like his dick.”
“Like you’d know.”
The last bus pulled out and Shannon hoped her mom was still a few minutes away. “I’m going over to talk to him. Try not to drool while I’m gone, OK?”
Shannon felt Ally’s eyes on her, right through her backpack. Frederick looked up from the magazine and watched her come, and she almost tripped over the white line in the pavement when she saw his black hair, dark eyes, and those amazing cheekbones. The black coat made him look taller than the light poles on the street, and his pale face brighter than the burned-out lamps. Maybe he was a vampire.
“Hey.” He closed the magazine. “What’s up?”
“The sky, the clouds.” The magazine had a guitar on the cover. If he really did play, that was a serious sign that she was supposed to do this.
“You can do better than that, Miranda.”
“My name’s Shannon, remember?”
“To me, you’re Miranda.” He looked over her shoulder. “Your friend’s trying to get a picture with her phone.”
“She’s jealous.” Shannon didn’t want to take her eyes off Frederick’s face. His eyes looked so old, but so young, too. A little kid seeing his first circus.
“Listen, you said you’d be up to hanging out this weekend. You still mean that?”
He looked into her eyes. “Maybe. When?”
“I’ve told my mom I’m studying with Ally all day.”
“Ally? That’s…” His eyes drifted over Shannon’s shoulder.
“Yeah. She’s going to cover, tell my mom we’re together. We can go somewhere, talk, just hang out. Can you do that?”
“Tomorrow. What time?”
“Noonish, maybe. You said you’ve got a car.”
“I can get one. No problem.” He kept his eyes on Ally but she could feel his attention on her, so strong she felt it coiling around her. “You gave me your address, too, remember?”
“No, don’t come to my house, my mom’ll see you and have a cow. I’ll tell her I’m going to the phone store, download an app or something.”
“The Sprint in Grosse Pointe. That’s where my mom and I live. You know the Sprint store, on Charlevoix?”
“I can find it.”
“There’s a Starbucks about two blocks down from there.” She picked up his magazine. Yes, Guitar Player. Jack White on the cover, a two-year old issue.
“I’m re-reading it,” he said. “Lots of cool scale exercises, good for technique.”
“So you do play.” She looked at his hands, those long fingers.
“I do.” He rolled the magazine up and slid it into his coat pocket. It was chilly, a cloudy day and the breeze came down the alley between the buildings where they stood now. Shannon watched his hair ruffle a little and knew hers was doing the same. Great romantic photo op.
“My father collects guitars. But he moved out.”
“A few months ago. He’s still got a whole room full of them at our house. His apartment doesn’t have enough space, my mom keeps busting his ass, telling him she’s going to sell them. Or maybe just toss them. He told her if she did, he’d rip her fingers off and stuff them up her ass.”
“Whoa.” Frederick raised his eyebrows.
“He loves those guitars.”
“If your mom’s such a bitch, maybe you should find somewhere else to keep them.”
“I could bring one with me tomorrow, you could play it.”
His eyes got even bigger.
“If you’ll pick me up, give me a ride. I swear to God, if I don’t get away for a few hours, I will go absolutely batshit crazy.”
“What kinds of guitars does your father have?”
She shrugged. “I don’t know, just guitars. Like fifteen, twenty of them.”
“No, are they electric, or acoustic, or what? What brands?”
Shannon screwed around a little on piano, but guitar strings hurt her fingers. “I don’t know, I never really looked. But some of them are seriously old. My father calls a couple of them arch tops, whatever that means. And I think one’s a Fender, does that sound right?”
“Arch tops?” He looked even taller. “An old jazz box? That would be mad cool.” He stared at her so hard she felt herself step back. Those huge dark eyes… Beautiful, but scary, too.
“Can you bring one of those old ones with you? If I give you a ride?”
“Sure.” She could sneak one out, mom wouldn’t know. And wouldn’t give a shit even if she noticed. “No problem.”
“I will. I do. But you’ve got to be there. At noon.”
“Make it the Starbucks. We can grab a bite, talk a little before we go… somewhere.”
“OK. Um, what kind of car do you have?”
“I’ll have to borrow one, I don’t know what I’ll have yet.”
He glanced at Ally again. “But you have to be there. If I come in and you aren’t waiting, I’m gone. And you have to bring the arch top.”
“I will, I promise.” She felt her heart beating like a drum machine.
“OK. Done deal.”
“Awesome.” Shannon felt time flying. Her mother could show up any second, and if she saw Frederick, she was screwed.
“So, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
She ambled back toward Ally, whose mouth sagged open while she watched them.
“Omigod, you are so crazy,” Ally said. “Is he that hot up close? From over here, he’s so…I could just lick him up and swallow him like honey.”
“Probably the only guy in Detroit you haven’t done that with,” Shannon said.
“Bitch.” Ally held up her phone. “I got a picture.”
“Put that away before my mom comes.”
“All right, all right. Jesus, don’t get your panties in a bunch.”
Shannon watched Frederick amble down the alley. He seemed to grow taller as he got farther away. How could that be?
“Listen, when my mom shows up, we’ve got to study, that history project. We’ll work on it tomorrow and Sunday morning.”
“You want to stay over?”
“I’m going to hang with Frederick for awhile. I’m meeting him and I’ll call you later on.”
“I don’t know yet. Maybe late afternoon? It depends on how it goes with him. If he turns out to be a loser after all, it might only be an hour or two. Keep your phone on.”
“When are you meeting him?”
“Noon at the Starbucks. I’m telling my mom I need an app and I can only get it at the Sprint Store. She’s so dumb, she’ll buy that.”
“So any time after twelve-fifteen.”
Shannon rolled her eyes and Ally laughed.
“You really are a bitch.”