Even for July, it's hot as hell. The air conditioner has busted in his car again. It's only, oh, 102 degrees outside. No big deal.

He parks his new (technically used, but new to him) baby in the badly manicured parking lot. His mom has been coming to this hair salon for years, but this is his first visit. Her Jetta is still in the shop, so he'd dropped her off, only to come back (after grabbing a quick burger) to pick her up again. The bell chimes on the door to alarm the employees of his entrance. It's only 5PM, but half the women are already cleaning and packing up their stations. He holds the door open for an elderly customer on her way out.

"Thank you, dear," she smiles gratefully.

He nods and smiles politely in return.

"Paul," his mom calls out to him.

His eyes find her in the left corner of the salon. From the looks of it, the hairdresser has just gone to work on her. The seating area is nearly empty and he takes a seat to wait for her. Stacks and stacks of magazines everywhere. He decides the trashy gossip magazine is the best reading material he could come across. He can't believe he's gone all summer without reading one of those...

"That's last month's issue."

This news comes from the only other person in the cozy waiting area. Paul had only seen her at a glance when he'd first walked in. Now she has his full attention. She was cute. He had trouble deciphering her age. She wasn't quite a kid anymore, but her form and innocent features gave the impression that she was a brand-new teenager. Her long hair was very dark, but not quite black. Even from this distance, her uniquely colored eyes were striking. Were they blue or green? Both? Paul couldn't tell.

He flipped the magazine over to read the cover. "I guess it is."

She didn't say anything after that. She went back to playing a game on her iPod.

Paul had trouble refocusing on the magazine. He tried to let some time pass before he anxiously leaned forward. "I'm Paul."

Her eyes stay on the screen of the iPod. He doesn't think she's heard him until she smiles, and almost smirks, still not willing to acknowledge him.

He makes a comical face of discomfort before sliding back against his booth. "Okay…" He could just drop it; let it go. He could. Hell, he should. This kid just punked him. Yet- "I'm Paul," he says once more.

She does a better job of masking her smile this time.

He chews on his bottom lip, grinning. "I'm Paul."


"I'm Paul."

Her smirk is back. She shakes her head ever so slightly, still refusing to look at him. Almost like she can't believe how persistent he is.

"I'm Paul."

Her lips are pressed firmly together now. She's trying damn hard to fight that smile.

"I'm Paul. I'm Paul. I'm Paul. I'm Paul. I'm-"

"Kimberley! Would you please just talk to the boy?"

Now he laughs. The woman who had scolded her was the same one who had been working on his mom's hair.

"Mom!" Kimberley complains childishly.

Paul leans forward like before. "Kimberley, is it?"

"Kim," she promptly corrects him.

"I'm Paul."

She places down the iPod. "I'm sorry; I didn't catch your name. Could you run it by me one more time?"

"Kim!" her mom reprimands her at the same time his mom chooses to laugh.

"My name's Paul," he says. "I could write it down if that'll make it easier for you to remember."

The girl has now folded her arms across her chest. "What makes you think I'd want to remember your name? Shouldn't you try to pick up on girls your own age? Or have they all rejected you already?"

A few women in the salon don't bother curbing their laughter.

"Not all of them yet," he grins. "And I'm just trying to talk here. How old are you, anyway?"

She keeps her mouth shut and shakes her head.

"She just turned 13," her mom answers for her.

Kim's mouth has now gone agape. She stares at her mom, wide-eyed with shock.

"I'm 16." He's beaming at the girl now. "Just in case you were wondering…"

"Well, I wasn't," she grumbles back.

He folds his hands together, still smiling. "You know, not every guy you meet is trying to hit on you. Consider the gay ones, for example."

Her smile is shark-like. "Please tell me you're one of them."

"I could be. In five years, I invite you to try and straighten me out."

A/N - My first real story! Woohoo! If you hate the Lakers, leave a message saying so. (I'll give you sneak previews before each new chapter is posted) =D As of earlier tonight: Suns 118, Lakers 103.