Chapter Twenty Five: Powerful

“Gerard ... Gerard, you’re hurting me ...”

“Is that better?”

“No – Gerard ... GERARD!”

“Bloody hell, what are you two doing in there?”

Warning: never, ever let Gerard Way brush your hair when it’s still wet after you’ve been pushed into a lake. Ever. He’s crap at brushing hair when it’s tangled.

“Shut up, Callum,” I shout and I hear my brother laughing and wandering away. Gerard removes the brush from my hair and ducks his head round my shoulder, grinning from ear to ear at me.

“You’re embarrassed,” he informs me.

“If you weren’t pulling hair out of my head, I wouldn’t –”

“I didn’t pull any hair out of your head,” he objects.

“Um, hello?” I grab the brush off him. There is a lot of black hair caught up among the brush. “What’s that, then?”

“Well, your hair is soaking wet. You should have used conditioner.”

I glare at him. That wasn’t useful.

“You should learn how to brush people’s hair.”

“Well, you see Layla, I don’t usually brush anyone else’s hair,” Gerard informs me. I roll my eyes.

“Fine, I’ll go back in the shower,” I sigh, climbing off the bed and heading towards the door, grabbing my towel and dressing gown.

“Want some company?” Gerard smirks, lying on his stomach and letting his hands drape over the end of the bed.

“No.” I can’t help but grin back before skipping into the shower. I return a few minutes later, with less tangled but still wet hair.

“Want me to dry it?” Gerard offers, looking up from a magazine he’s dug out from under my bed.

“Sure. What’s that you’re looking at?” I say, throwing dressing gown into the washing basket. When I turn back to him, I find him looking at my school photo from my last year of high school. There was a large one of me, then smaller pictures of my whole year.

“Don’t look at that.” I snatch the book from under his nose and stuff it back under the bed. “Remind me to burn that later,” I add. “It’s awful.”

“I thought you looked cute.”

“My sixteen year old self and the word cute don’t go in the same sentence,” I say dryly, sitting on the bed and beginning to dry my hair with my towel.

“I was an insecure sixteen year old,” I say through the towel. “Hell, I still am insecure.”

A few moments pass and I feel Gerard tugging my towel out of my hands. He turns my face so I’m looking him in the eye. “Don’t tell me your ugly again,” he says, guessing what I was probably about to say. Unfortunately, he wasn’t far off the mark.

“I wasn’t.”

“You were.”

“Well, so what if I was?”

“You’re not ugly,” Gerard says firmly. “You’re far, far from it, sugar.”

I roll my eyes and look away from him. That’s not so easy. My face is cupped in his hands, and, well ... you have to look at Gerard Way, or more his eyes.

They’re very powerful.

“Layla, I’m not just trying to make you feel better,” he murmurs. “You’re beautiful.”

Now, I’ve heard that one before. My mum was always saying it, but then, she would. Giselle’s said it to me a few times. There’s been ex boyfriends that told me that. Magazines often introduce me into their crappy articles by saying I’m beautiful. Tina used to say it constantly. My aunt did. My dad does when I see him. My admirers would often tell me how beautiful I was. It wasn’t a phrase I wasn’t used to.

But from Gerard...I don’t know. I believed him. Everyone else, I was never sure whether they meant it or not, but Gerard’s voice rang with sincerity. And maybe it was because the person saying it was the only man I’ve been properly attracted to in years.

There was no one to interrupt us. My brother would never come into my room. Giselle was out. Mum was out. So I kissed him.

What would you have done?