Now, if things ever went right for me, this would have been the moment where I was able to prove to April that I was who I said I was, that I could do what I said I could, but this is me we’re talking about, remember? Nothing ever goes right for me.
Well, I shouldn’t say that.
It just feels like that a lot of the time.
No, if I could have shown that to April, then the booth war would probably never have reached the point that it did. If I could have convinced her that I really did have the ability to change my age, then I could have gotten my booth and my piece of mind.
And you’re probably wondering why the booth matters so much, even with its cloaking ability that allowed me to eat out in public.
I could tell you, but that would spoil it. I should make you wait until the moment I figured it out. That’s a bit mean, considering that I was an idiot for a long time, and it took a memo for me to put the pieces together when I should have put them together years before then, but…
Misery likes company.
As long as it’s not Larabee.
Trust me on that one.
“There. Your own tray of fries. Now, what’s your name and how old are you?”
Clayton rolled his eyes. For one thing, without a mirror, he had no idea what age range he’d shifted into, and he’d already told her what age he was. Granted, he could always give her the age that went along with the age he might be right now, but he wasn’t going to. He needed to convince her once and for all that he could do this. So he reached for a fry.
“Clayton. And somewhere around twenty-one. They don’t know for sure when I was born because I was dumped in the system years ago,” he answered, chewing on the fry. “I know you don’t believe me, April, but it’s me.”
“This is getting old. Really old.”
He shrugged. “You’re the one that’s not listening. I think I have about seven more minutes, and then I can prove it. I’ll change right in front of you. So there. No denying it. And when I do, I want my booth back.”
April shook her head, taking a big bite from her burger. He would have figured her for a vegetarian, but she always ordered the chili burger here. He didn’t really understand her. What was with her, anyway? Wait—he didn’t want the answer to that. Larabee would give it in a heartbeat, and it wasn’t the answer.
“Can you please stop? I’ll pay you more than Clayton did. I already bought you fries.”
“Can I have gummy bears, too? I want to eat their heads.”
She rolled her eyes, and he continued to eat his fries. He just needed a few more minutes, and then he would prove it to her, and that would be the end of it. He was actually looking forward to seeing her face when he did.
“Well, now, who’s this little guy?” a man asked with a warm smile, leaning down to give April a kiss on the cheek. Clayton frowned. April moved over to let the newcomer sit down next to her. She’d never mentioned a boyfriend, but this was clearly a boyfriend. Maybe even the one that gave her that ring she’d used to fool Amy.
“You remember Clayton, right? I told you about him. Lab partner, kind of nuts? This is his little brother. He’s trying to say he’s Clayton, but I know better,” April answered. “I didn’t think you were coming, so I didn’t order anything for you. You want some of my fries?”
“Sure,” the man agreed, reaching for a fry. “So, you’re Clayton, huh? Can we see that any age thing?”
Clayton shoved his fries away. “No. I’m not a circus act. And this isn’t over, April. I’m going to get the booth back.”
“Yeah, yeah,” she muttered, laughing a little. “Tell your brother hi for me.”
“I am not jealous, Larabee, I am pissed. I know that some people think that I’m just a big joke. I even think that sometimes myself. But I don’t like the whole world knowing what I can do. What if that gets to the wrong type of people? Remember, even you wanted to experiment on me at first,” Clayton pointed out, reaching for the bottle and drinking it down, letting it burn his throat as it did. He choked on it a little. “How many people know about this?”
“You have a better idea than me, but I don’t think that most of them actually believe you. I do because I saw it in person. Many times.”
“April sits there and laughs about me with her boyfriend. He knows. He thinks it’s a funny joke or that I’m a performing monkey. I am—I am so getting that booth back. Let her laugh. I don’t have to prove anything to her. I’m just going to use the most evil thing on that list, and I’ll get it back,” Clayton vowed, tipping the bottle back again.
“You know, we have no way of knowing what effect alcohol will have on your physiology.”
“I should switch to a little kid. I can get drunk faster,” Clayton muttered, picking up the bottle. “Add to the list, Larabee. I’m going to need a lot more to win against April. She’s… She’s…”
“You like her.”
“This has nothing to do with her having a boyfriend. I’m not jealous. I just want the booth. I want not to be a circus freak. Or whatever I am. Every time I find a good thing, it goes away. That booth is the one thing I’ve got going for me, and I will get it back.”
“Yeah, after you sleep this off, buddy, because you are so tanked right now,” Larabee muttered, pushing him toward his bedroom.
“Are you going to help?”
“I’m working on your stealth field generator.”
“Ooh, the things I could do with that…”
“Clayton, you have to use your powers for good, not evil.”
“You don’t count, Larabee.”