It only took two days for the whole student body to know his name and what he was famous for. I knew he was a bad idea from the moment he walked through that door on his first day. Adrian Jones, the bad boy, the player, the perfect way to screw up everything I worked so hard to achieve.
He opened the door and walked in, his deep brown eyes, scanning the class like we were all new toys. His amusement annoyed me. His eyes caught mine, and for moment and a smirk crossed his lips. I rolled my eyes. Ugh. I knew guys like him. Boys that were good-looking and knew it. The type of guy that used their looks to their advantage, and the type that depended solely on his looks. I rolled my eyes and finished jotting down the last of the AP psych notes.
“Hello,” Mr. Barts said in his monotone voice. He turned to face the new kid and slid his glasses off his nose. “Can I help you?”
“Actually, yes.” The new kid said back, standing in the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest. I couldn’t help but look back in his direction. As much as I hate to admit it, his voice was deep and husky and...sexy. Incredibly sexy.
He took a step through the doorway and entered the room, scanning the room again in satisfaction. I stared at him as he made his way to the front of the room and stood in front of us. He handed Mr. Barts a slip of paper and readjusted his backpack on his shoulders. I was watching him a little more than I like to admit.
Mr. Barts looked over the small, white slip and nodded to himself. “Class, we have a new student. Please introduce yourself.” He said to to him, as he scribbled something down on the paper.
“Hi,” The new kid said smiling. “I’m Adrian Jones.”
“Welcome to AP psych Mr. Jones. Pick your seat wisely because it will be permanent.” Mr. Barts said handing Adrian back the slip of paper. I stared at the empty desk in front of me and started to panic. I looked back up at him and shook my head. No, God, please no. He was making his way over to me. I looked to Miranda for a source of help but she smiled widely and leaned forward towards him as he sat down across from me.
“Hey.” He said looking at me. I raised my eyebrows at him and leaned back in my seat. I crossed my arms over my chest and looked at the paper full of notes lying on my desk pretending not to hear him. I could tell Miranda gave me the look. She stepped on my foot and leaned in.
“Hi, I’m Miranda.” She said, flipping her long black hair over her shoulder. She was pretty. Her perfectly tanned skin and her long lashes were enough to make any guy fall head over heels. “Adrian.” She said more to herself looking up for a slight second as if thinking about it, then looked back to him. “Such a sexy name. I like it.” She said bluntly. He smiled slyly and leaned against his elbows scooting closer to her.
“Anything else you like about me?” He asked and she blushed as she quickly moved her eyes away from his body. He laughed and I couldn’t help but smirk at him. This kid. Who does he think he is? He looked at me again and leaned back in his seat, crossing his arms over his chest like he was observing me. “I’m Adrian.” He said to me smiling. I stared at him with an annoyed expression.
“Duh.” I said looking back down at my notes and started doodling a rose. “I’m not deaf. I heard it the first time you introduced yourself.” His smile turned into a smirk and he leaned in towards me.
“So what’s your name?”
“Elaine.” I kept my eyes focused on the doodle and leaned my head on my hand. I could feel his eyes on me and stole a glance up. “What?” I asked. He shook his head.
“Nothing, I like your name.” He said shrugging. I wasn’t expecting that. I felt myself blush and quickly looked away from his eyes. I found a fringe in the spiral of my notebook and played with it as if it were the most interesting thing in the class.
“Uh, thanks...” I mumbled.
“Ms. Myers, do you have something to share with the class?” Mr. Barts asked pulling down his glasses again to look at me. I swear this man was out to get me. I looked at Adrian and then to Mr. Barts.
“N-no.” I stuttered. “I...”
“It was my fault. She was filling me in on the notes. Sorry Mr. B.” Adrian interrupted. The
whole class turned to look at him and Miranda smiled as I stared at him. Mr. Barts raised his eyebrows in suspicion, but turned around to face the board and continue his lecture.
“Thanks.” I breathed. He shrugged and Miranda laughed. “I swear he’s out to get me!” I whispered to Miranda laughing.
Class went by a little slower than usual, and I was on the verge of falling asleep. I let my eyelids slowly drop and doze off for a little while.
“So, there’s your project.” Mr. Bart's monotone voice boomed through the class making me jump out of my seat. “Ms. Myers, since you were so kind to fill Mr. Jones in earlier today, I’m sure you wouldn’t mind pairing up with him.” Mr. Barts said walking behind my desk. I lifted my head to say no, but I couldn’t get his words to process yet. I was still tired from mom and dad’s lecture yesterday about getting into a good college.
“For the rest of you,” Mr. Barts continued. “Your partners are right across from you. Remember this is due two weeks from today. I will not accept anything after then. You may get started.” I lifted my head to look at Adrian and slowly let the words process in my mind. I shot up and looked around. My partner was the guy sitting across from me. He wasn’t going to do s***! I knew guys like him! One right doesn’t make up for a hundred wrongs. So what if he saved my ass from the wrath of Mr. Barts. He was still a self absorbed teenage boy. Just like the rest of the male population in this school.
I watched him as he got up and walked over to the laptops. I numbly followed behind him. I breathed in preparing myself for what was to follow two weeks after today. A lot of work, and no sleep. Once again. I stared at the ground thinking over how I was going to fit in this project with my volunteer days, work and club practice. I crossed my arms started biting my thumb nail.
“Here.” Adrian said snapping my attention back. My thumb was on my lips and I looked up to face him. He looked at my lips for a moment but then quickly back up at my eyes. I raised my eyebrow at him but he acted as if it were nothing. Maybe it wasn’t anything at all, and I was over analyzing it. He held out a laptop to me, waiting for me to grab it.
“Oh, sorry.” I said dumbly grabbing the laptop from him and walking back to the desks. I logged in and waited for Adrian to sit down. I glanced around to the room to see everyone already getting started on their projects and here I was still staring at my screen trying to figure out what to do next.
"You do know what you’re doing right?” He asked me. I felt myself turn red and shook my head. “Because I hope you know, I plan on skipping this class.” He said and I couldn’t tell if he was being sarcastic or not.
“That’s hardly my problem.” I said but then quickly realized how wrong that statement was.
“The way I see it, it is. You seem like the kind of goody good girl who always gets good grades. If you don’t do anything, the project won’t get done. And if it doesn’t get done, I could care less about my grades.” He said laughing and crossed his arms over his chest in satisfaction. A look of disgust crossed my face and I didn’t care to hide it.
“Fine.” I mumbled under my breath. It seemed to catch him off guard, because his expression changed a little. I smoothed a hand over my necklace and took a deep breath. I could feel his eyes on me, but I didn’t care. There had to be some way for me to finish this by the due date. I pulled out my phone without thinking and searched my calendar for the next two weeks.
Soccer practice every day until 4, work Monday through Thursday from 6 to 10:30 P.M. The animal shelter Friday and Sunday from 5 to 8. This was never going to work. I’d just have to take my laptop with me to the shelter and work on it during my breaks. I looked through the month and finally smiled. My grandma was coming over on the 24th. I touched my necklace again and sighed. At least it wouldn’t be too bad as soon as she got here.
I felt someone watching me over my shoulder and looked up to find a very annoyed Mr. Barts. He took my phone and called me out in front of the class, and in my opinion making the whole situation bigger than it really was.
“You’ll get this after school Elaine.” He said and took it back to his desk. I looked at Miranda and she flashed me a sympathetic look but quickly got back to work. I heard Adrian chuckle and flipped him off. I was quiet the rest of class, letting my head sink into my hands. The bell rang finally letting us all out. I grabbed my things and ran out of the room before Mr. Barts could ask me to organize the laptops.
I made my way to my last class not stopping to say hi to old friends. I got to class and sat down taking a deep breath. Choir was my favorite class, right next to art. I sat by the piano in the far corner of the room and started playing knowing that Mrs. Grange wouldn’t mind. Unlike Mr. Barts, I was Mrs. Grange’s favorite student, and she was my favorite teacher.
“Hey Mrs. Grange!” I called. She was in her office setting up for this hour. She smiled and waved back shuffling through a pile of music folders. I lifted the cover off the piano and slid my fingers over the smooth white and black keys. I closed my eyes and began to play random notes, stringing them together into a song. I stopped short and got up to grab my song book from my seat. I opened it up to a recent song I wrote a few days ago. I continued to play and took it from the top adding my lyrics into the music. I closed my eyes feeling everything inside me open up and be set free. I memorized the lyrics and wrote down the keys underneath in the blank spaces.
The rest of the class filled in and Mrs. Grange asked me to play what I just did to the class. “Elaine, can you teach us that?” She asked with a hopeful expression. She knew I didn’t like sharing what I write with everyone. The lyrics were like my diary. They were personal, every song I’d ever come up with was personal. But I couldn’t say no to her. I swallowed and nodded. I closed my eyes and tried to imagine an empty room as everyone gathered around me trying to learn the new lyrics and notes. As I started playing, everything just seemed to fade away.
I started singing and soon, the altos joined in, harmonizing perfectly with me even though they were just humming the tune. I smiled and continued to play. When the song finished, Mrs. Grange cheered loudly and the class clapped. I smiled feeling my face heat up. My heart filled with a heavy joy but I couldn’t let it last too long.
“That was wonderful! Absolutely splendid Elaine! You have such a talent! It’s such a shame that your-”
“Mrs. Grange!” I shouted before she could finish. She stopped and looked at me. Suddenly, she realized that she’d almost spilled my secret. The whole class stared at us and Mrs. Grange quickly recovered.
“Oh, Elaine! It’d be perfect for our fall music festival! Would you be willing to perform it?” I stared at her silently.
“Uhm, I’ll have to think about it.” I said finally, not wanting to straight up tell her no. I didn’t want to disappoint her. She smiled and clapped her hands ordering us to get into our spots and start on the songs she picked out. I stayed at the piano playing the arrangements and sung along. Class went by quickly and I didn’t realize that it was over until the bell rang loudly over the speakers.
Everyone rushed out except me. I stayed behind and played my piece over again, trying to perfect it.
“Elaine,” Mrs. Grange called from her office. I paused and opened my eyes.
“Yeah?” I called back.
“Can I talk to you for a second dear?” She answered. I got up and walked over to her messy office and stood in the doorway until she told me to have a seat next to her. I silently did what I was told and folded my hands in my lap. “Have you thought about Juilliard yet?” She asked typing something into her computer. I sucked in a breath. I should’ve known. I paused for a moment and slowly shook my head.
“Mrs. Grange,” I said with a big sigh. “I can’t go there. You know that.”
“Elaine Myers!” She said sounding appalled like I’d just sworn in front of her. “You have a magnificent talent my dear! You cannot let something that wonderful go unnoticed.” I looked down at my hands and shrugged. “If your parents could see how amazing you are then they’d understand.” She said willing me to change my mind. I shook my head. “Surely they’d let you go if you showed them-”
“No, Mrs. Grange!” I yelled jumping out of the chair cutting her off. “You don’t understand! My parents don’t care if I’m good at this. They don’t care if this is my life or if this is what I love doing! They don’t care!” I shouted tears filling my eyes. “Juilliard is not an option for me. It never was.” I whispered through soft sobs. I ran out the room wiping the tears from my eyes. I grabbed my song book and ran my fingers over the marble keys again and slowly covered the piano. I grabbed my bag from the floor and walked out tears still streaming down my cheeks. I walked to my locker and grabbed my homework and headed toward my car.
“Hey!” I yelled bumping into someone on my way out. I looked up to see Adrian smirking. His smirk slowly faded to a frown, but I quickly wiped my eyes and pushed past him. He didn’t feel sorry for me. He didn’t know me. He didn’t know anything about anyone else but himself and his perfect little world.
I got to my car and sped home breaking almost every law in the book until I pulled into my driveway. I quickly re-did my makeup and blinked away the red from my eyes. I waited for my nose to turn back to my natural skin tone instead of beat red and finally got out of the car. Mom and dad were probably waiting inside, getting ready to find something to lecture me about. I walked up to the front door and paused for a moment before entering. I gathered myself and quickly thought of an excuse for why I had to stay after school today.
“Hey, I’m home!” I called through the house. No answer. It was so quiet you’d think the house was empty except for the smell of my mom’s cooking. It was spaghetti night. Every Thursday was spaghetti night. I walked upstairs to my room and let my bag drop to the ground with a small thud. I changed into my soccer gear and grabbed my soccer bag from the hanger in my closet.
“Elaine!” Mom called from downstairs. I sighed and made my way downstairs.
“Yeah?” I answered from the stairway.
“Are you going to practice?” She asked without looking at me. I walked into the kitchen and sat down at the counter.
“Is it affecting your grades?”
“No.” I answered. This was our normal conversation everyday. Nothing ever changed.
“Are you sure?”
“Yes.” I picked invisible pieces of dust from my soccer shorts and shook my foot impatiently.
“Good. Did you get that B up?” She asked me stirring the pot of spaghetti sauce.
“Yes.” I said still playing with the invisible dust on my shorts. She didn’t answer this time. She only nodded.
“Why were you late getting home today?” She asked me finally after a long moment of silence. My hand froze and I looked up. Thankfully, her back was still turned.
“My English teacher was talking to me about UCLA.” That got her to turn around and smile.
“See what I told you about getting good grades?” She said and I smiled back. It was rare that my parents smiled at me. I wanted to say something to keep her smiling. I savored every last bit of her smile until it faded and she turned around again. “Well, go on. Get to practice before you’re late.” She said and dismissed me. I felt my expression crumble. I nodded and left.
I was never late to practice. I was always early. If I wasn’t there before everyone else by at least an hour, then something was wrong.
I got into the car and when I was clear of my house, I blasted my CD and let my hair fly around in the wind as I drove to practice. The ride wasn’t too long. I made it in 20 minutes tops. I sat there for a minute putting on my shin guards and cleats and made my way to the field. I stretched out and decided to take a couple warm up laps before the team got here. Halfway through my second lap, Shane, the coach’s son arrived and joined me.
“Hey, Elaine.” He said when he joined me.
“Hey, Shane.” I said smiling at him. “How was your day?” I asked taking one more lap with him. He shook his head and laughed.
“You don’t want to know.” He chuckled squinting up at the sun and then to me.
“Of course I do!” I said laughing and pushing him in the arm. “That’s why I asked.” He shook his head and sighed.
“April and I got into a huge fight today.” He said looking at the ground. He had a smile on his face but I knew it was forced.
“Oh...” I paused looking straight ahead. “I’m sorry. I didn’t know. You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” I said feeling a little awkward. He looked at me with a raised eyebrow.
“I tell you everything Elaine.” He laughed. “And besides, you asked.” He said chuckling and throwing an amazingly toned arm around my lightly tanned, bony shoulders. I laughed and shrugged.
“What can I say? I’m easy to talk to.” I joked. He smiled at me and I could feel myself blush. Shane was exactly my type. Smart, athletic, good looking, kind, gentle, caring, understanding. He was everything I wanted.
We stretched out in the middle of the field as he started telling me about what happened between him and April.
“She doesn’t know...We don’t know if we still have feelings for each other. The past couple months have been rocky as hell. She’s saying she’s having second thoughts and I’m just tired of trying to keep her with me, you know?” He said pulling his arms over his head. He laid on the ground next to me as I sat stretching out my calves. I looked at him and frowned.
“You guys have been together since like freshmen year!” I said remembering her coming to our games and how in love they were. “And now just because you guys are going through some tough times you’re both turning away?” I stood up and looked down at him laying so perfectly on the grass. “That’s not the Shane McArthur I know. The Shane I know would bust his balls to be with this girl and wouldn’t go down without a fight.” I said giving him a good impression of his dad’s pep talks before big games.
He got up and laughed and it was so whole and warm. It filled me up. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud with him. It felt good, it was a real laugh for once in a long time. He looked up at me as I took a seat next to him.
“You know, you truly are amazing Elaine Myers.” He said and leaned against me. I leaned back and smiled.
“You are too Shane McArthur.” I sighed and suddenly remembered the AP psych project and along with my fall music festival that I had to finish my song for. I pulled my knees up to my chest and leaned my head against my knees.
“What’s wrong Elaine?” He asked me noticing the silence.
“Nothing, just thinking.” I said playing with the laces on my cleats.
“Come on now. I told you my story. It’s your turn to share.” He said jokingly pushing me with his shoulder. I smiled and sighed.
“It’s just I have this huge project due for AP psych in two weeks and my partner, who I officially hate, told me he wasn’t going to do anything. And if I don’t do it, then I fail too. Plus Mrs. Grange asked me to play a piece for the fall music festival and I couldn’t say no.”
“Well, for the fall music festival, that’s great!” He said. “You’d finally be playing in front of an audience who could see how much talent you have!” He smiled supportively and squeezed my shoulders and continued. “And for AP psych, is Mr. Barts still out to get you?” He asked laughing.
“Yes!” I said giggling along with him. “Remember junior year in Econ! I’d always get the essays and extra credit wrong just because the wording was a little off!” We laughed remembering the good old days.
“Who’s your partner?” Shane asked as the rest of the team finally started showing up.
“Adrian Jones.” I spat. “He’s a new kid who thinks he’s the s***.”
“Wait, does he have brown spiky hair and he’s about my height, my build?” He asked. I nodded praying that Shane the magnificent didn’t know Adrian the loser. “Dude! That’s April’s little sister’s boyfriend’s older brother!” I looked at him lost and he sighed as if it were the most easiest concept to follow.
“April’s little sister’s boyfriend’s older brother.” He repeated, pausing to let me catch up. I stared at him and shook my head.
“How do you know that?” I asked a little creeped out by it.
“Because he came to a party once. Kid’s got game. All the girls at the party were all over him. He’s cool.” I stared at Shane like he was a stranger to me.
“Uhm, hello?” I said waving to him as we coached the girls since Coach McArthur wasn’t going to make it. “Did you not just hear how he’s making me do the whole project by myself?” I yelled in disbelief. He cringed and passed the girls a ball as they took turns shooting.
“Oh yeah.” He said as if forgetting. “Well, I can talk to him if you’d like? You know, hook you up.” He asked winking at me. I almost gagged.
“Ew. Gross. He’s a dick.” I said crossing my arms over my chest. I thought about how Adrians arms flexed when he crossed his arms over his chest this morning, and how brown his eyes were. I shuddered and snapped out of it.
“Mhm, so gross.” Shane said mocking me. I laughed as I punched him in the arm. Practice ended early today since Shane and I had to go to work.
I got home after work and quietly went to the kitchen to warm myself up a plate of spaghetti. The house was dark and my parents were both asleep. I took the plate to my room and sat at my desk finishing up the last of my pre calc. homework and headed for the shower.
The hot water felt good on my sticky skin. The warm steam filled the bathroom and it felt good. I started singing knowing that my parents wouldn’t be able to hear me from downstairs. I let myself soak in the shower until the water began to run cold.
I wrapped a towel around myself and headed back to my room. I changed into my pj’s and sat on my bed pulling out my song book and started writing more to the song I was going to play at the music festival. Suddenly, my phone rang making me jump out of bed. I twisted under my sheets to reach out and grab my phone from my desk. I wasn’t expecting any calls this late at night. When I looked at the screen, I didn’t recognize the number. I answered anyway hoping it was my grandmother calling to tell me she was coming earlier. That woman changed her number more than the average person.
“Hello?” I said waiting to hear my grandmother’s musical voice. My hopes were quickly shot down as the other line answered.
“Heard you were talking about me at soccer practice today.” The voice came from the other line. I froze and I could feel my jaw clench shut.
“How did you get my number?” I asked ignoring his question.
“Shane told me you wanted to talk. And he gave me your number.” I closed my eyes and shook my head.
“I don’t want to talk to you. And unless you’re ready to help me on the psych project, don’t bother calling me back.” I hung up and turned my phone on silent. I got up and started pacing around my room. How was it possible for one person to get me so aggravated? I took a deep breath and walked into my closet pulling out my keyboard from underneath my shelves. My grandma had bought it for me for my seventh birthday, and it was the best present in the world to me. I smiled running a hand over the smooth keys. I closed my eyes and smiled, remembering the first time she taught me how to play. I let my hands go free as they moved and slightly put pressure on the black and white keys. It was like they had a mind of their own.
I let myself play until my hands cramped up. I sighed and put my head in my hands thinking about what Mrs. Grange had said to me today. Would my parents really notice if I played in front of them again? Would they finally see that this is what I love doing? No, stop it Elaine. Stop giving yourself false hope. Tears stung my eyes but I refused to start crying again. I wasn’t weak. Only the weak cried, and I was not weak. I refused to be weak. I turned off my keyboard and gently placed it back underneath my my shelves and dragged myself over to my bed.
I shuffled myself under the thick comforter and lay awake in bed watching the red, glowing numbers on my alarm clock slowly change. I watched laying restless as the minutes ticked by. Sighing, I turned around and tried to close my eyes. Why did this always happen? The hours I spent awake every night got worse, longer. I was tossed and turned in bed. Switching positions, I forced myself to lay flat on my back and stared up at my glow in the dark stars covered the dark ceiling. I counted each one remembering the time that I had put them up because of how scared I was of the dark when I was younger. Slowly, I started drifting off into sleep and tried to sleep through the night.
The sun was bright, and slowing filling up my room with light, not caring that I’d only gotten at least 4 hours of sleep last night. I threw an arm over my eyes hoping to block out some of the sunlight, and laid in bed until my alarm clock went off, beeping loudly in the silent room. I slammed a hand over the clock and groaned. It was 6:30. I waited for a while forcing my body to get up. I sighed heavily and finally rolled out of bed. I got off the floor slowly and stumbled into my bathroom. I didn’t bother to turn on the lights as I took a shower and got ready. It was 7:15 by the time I was done getting dressed. I was thankful that I only had half days on Friday. Classes in the morning and I had the choice of going home, but I always stayed after with Mrs. Grange to play for a few of her classes. And when they were done, I had the whole room to myself.
I ran straight to the choir room after my last hour and sat by the piano and played adding the new pieces of what I’d thought about last night. Mrs. Grange left for a few minutes to run a couple errands but would be back in a few minutes. I nodded knowing that it’d take her at least an hour to get her tasks done. I continued to play adding more and more trying to perfect the original. I felt so happy and free. I started singing to the tune and let everything that I’d been holding in for the past couple days come pouring out.
“Everything comes back to me. I remember this pain, as it spreads across my eyes. Everything is dark. I remember you smiling, we all were smiling. It pushes me far, too far away. I don’t understand how everything is broken. Can you hear me out there? Will you hold me now? Hold me here right now. Make my frozen heart whole again.” My fingers moved automatically creating a melody, flowing easily with my lyrics. I wrote down everything I did, and recorded it for a teaser to play for Mrs. Grange. “I’m broken now, I look at you from a distance, feeling everything... I’m broken now la la laaa-” I freeze, hearing the door squeak loudly open. I spin around and stand up knocking my book onto the floor. I bend down to pick it up as Adrian walked in.
“Play something.” He demanded. I raised my eyebrow at him and crossed my arms over my chest.
“Excuse me.” I said with annoyance.
“Play something.” He repeated with a sarcastic grin on his face.
“I’m not a dog. Don’t command me to do something.” I said pushing past him. “Besides I was just leaving.” I said grabbing my backpack. I turned my back toward him and walked out of the choir room. He followed shortly behind stepping quickly to match my stride.
“How long have you been playing?” He asked me on my way out to the car. I glanced at him and readjusted my backpack strap.
“Since I was seven.” I answered frankly. Adrian Jones was the last person I wanted to talk to about my life. “Anyway, it was just peachy talking to you. Sadly I have to go now.” I said sarcastically and started walking outside to my car. I wasn’t looking at him, but I could just tell a smile was pasted on his lips right now. I got into my car rolling the window down halfway letting the fresh air in. I drove past the main entrance and stole a glance at Adrian standing by the door.
“See you in psych tomorrow!” He called laughing. My immaturity got the best of me as I gave him the finger and sped off. God, why was he so annoying! I pulled into my driveway and took my time walking up to the front door. My parents weren’t home yet. They were probably out eating with their office colleagues.
I walked inside the silent house slamming the door behind me and dragging myself upstairs. My phone vibrated in my back pocket as I pushed open the door to my room.
“Hey Mir.” I sighed into the phone tiredly. “What’s up?”
“Get ready Beotch! We’re going to Dave and Busters. I invited Shane too by the way.” She said, her voice getting higher with excitement. I knew she was winking the way she always does when she sees Shane and me together. I smiled and shook my head.
“Six!” She squealed. “I cannot wait to see his college buddies!” She screamed. I let out a laugh and talked boys with my best friend and when she finally hung up, I got in the shower and quickly got ready. I threw on a light blue collared button up and paired it with white jeans and cute brown wedges. I applied a neutral eyeshadow and dark, heavy mascara. I stepped back observing myself in the mirror and nodded satisfied.
Miranda was at my place by 5:30, wanting me to do her makeup. I matched her eyeshadow with a gold and purple to match her shirt. She looked amazing in her purple and gold tank and black blazer. By 6, Shane was waiting outside. I sat shotgun while Miranda chatted away with her new boytoy in the back seat. I looked at Shane and he smiled.
“You look nice.” He said smiling his dazzling smile at me. I looked down and blushed.
“Thanks.” I said pushing my curls behind my ears. I stole another glance at him and our eyes locked. He smiled again and my heart jumped. I nervously reached for the radio to fill the awkward moments of silence. There was nothing on but commercials and ads. I sank back into the passengers seat and looked out the window.
“Elaine,” Shane said tapping the glove compartment. “I think I still have that CD that you made for me.” I stared at him in amazement.
“Shut up! No you don’t!” I squealed pushing him in the arm. I opened the glove compartment and sure enough, there was the mixed CD I’d made him two years ago when he drove me home. It was his birthday and I remembered how he had a thing for 80’s music. “I can’t believe you kept it!” I laughed putting it into the CD player inside his car. I skipped to track 3 and Shane and I started screaming out the lyrics to “Another one bites the dust.” We laughed when Tyler and Miranda started singing along after the first couple times. Miranda wasn’t into the classics. I glanced back at her from the rear view mirror and she smiled.
Shane parked down the street since there was no parking space available in the crowded parking lot. As we walked up to Dave and Busters, Shane put an arm around my shoulders and pulled me in closer to him. I looked up and smiled and he winked at me. “Your shirts so thin. How are you not cold?” He teased rubbing my sleeve between his fingers. I shrugged.
“It is like 75० out tonight.” I laughed. He chuckled shrugging back and I could feel his abs tighten against my side. I tried not to think about how close we were or the fact that he still kinda sorta had a girlfriend. I tried to push the thought out of my head, but it kept creeping back up.
Once we were inside Dave and Busters, we found our seats and ordered our food while the guys went straight to the arcade. I twirled the ice cubes in my lemonade and rested my head on my hand. Miranda must’ve picked up on my silence because she gave me the look.
“Okay, that’s it.” She said throwing her hands up. “What’s bothering you?” She asked in her best friend/ motherly tone. I smiled and shook my head letting out a small laugh.
“Nothing,” I said letting go of my straw. “Why do you assume that just because I’m quiet, that something is wrong. Can’t a girl just be thinking?” I asked in mock offense. My best friend looked at me and raised her eyebrow frowning.
“And now I know something’s up because one, you’re trying to divert my original question; which was, what’s wrong? And two, you’re trying to lighten up the situation.” She put a hand over mine and squeezed it gently. “I’m also your bestest friend in the whole world. So I know when you’re ‘just thinking’ and when something is bothering you.” I stared at her swallowing a deep breath. I could feel Miranda’s eyes on me. Watching me carefully.
“What aren’t you sharing with me?” I looked up through my bangs and shrugged. “Elaine Paige Myers, you cannot hide things from me. Or lie to me. I’m not your parents.” She laughed. I smiled and sighed.
“I know. You know, you scare me sometimes with how well you know me.” I said playing with my straw wrapper. She shrugged back at me and grinned.
“It’s my job. Anyway, tell me, tell me, tell me!”
“It’s nothing big, it’s just...He annoys me so much. Like just saying his name gets me so aggravated. And he’s cocky, and a smart ass and sarcastic. He just knows how to push my buttons.” I could feel myself heating up describing this kid to her.
She smiled widely and leaned forward. “You wouldn’t be talking about Adrian Jones would you?” She said saying his name slowly and closed her eyes biting her bottom lip.
“Miranda. You’re not seeing my point view here. And stop that!” I said lightly smacking her in the arm and she licked her lips and repeated his name.
“Oh, come on Elaine.” She said dramatically. “Tell me he’s not yummy in every way possible.” I shook my head but didn’t answer. That’s exactly it. He was ‘yummy.’ In every way you could think of. And the fact that he was on my mind more than I liked got me even more worried and pissed at the same time. I looked away from my Miranda who was drooling over Adrian and turned my focus on Shane. He looked at me smiling and waved us over. I grabbed Miranda and we joined the boys in their games. As we made our way over, I saw someone standing behind Shane.
“God, you have got to be kidding me!” I cursed as the guy stepped out from behind Shane. Miranda looked in my direction and smiled widely at me and then to him. I stayed silent as I took my place next to Shane.
“Hey psych buddy.” Adrian said from behind me. I spun around to look at him.
“You didn’t tell me he was coming.” I said to Shane. He looked at Adrian and smiled sheepishly.
“Would you have come if you knew?” He asked me. I stayed silent and Shane laughed. “That’s why I didn’t tell you.”
Adrian laughed and I glared at him. I grabbed a ball and shot it in the basket. I smiled feeling the need for competition.
“Nothing but net!” I laughed high-fiving Shane. Adrian stood next to me chuckling and shaking his head. He shot and made it in. I raised an eyebrow at him and crossed my arms over my chest.
“You wanna go against me?” I challenged.
“It wouldn’t be a fair game.” He said smiling.
“Oh, come on. I’ll go easy on you. Promise.” I winked. He grinned and nodded.
“Okay then. If I win, you have to do everything I say for a week.” He said. I nodded and added my own condition.
“And if I win, you have to work on the psych project with me. We’ll finish it together.” I grinned widely as he nodded and shook my hand, starting the game. “And fair warning, I always win.” I said to him. He smiled widely at me and shrugged.
“Funny, ‘cause I never lose.”
“First time for everything.” I said back and immediately made four more baskets. Adrian shot four and made them all in. We continued all the way up until our timer stopped and I made twenty five shots. We were tied until Adrian missed his last shot. A girl with a revealing top came up behind him and put her arm over his shoulders. I felt a pit in my stomach, I quickly shoved it out and made my last shot. I turned toward Adrian and stood toe to toe with him. He looked down at me, smiled and shrugged.
“Looks like you won.” He said looking straight at me. I nodded and looked at the girl then back at him.
“I did, and a deal’s a deal. Be at the library tomorrow at noon. If you’re late, your life is going to be a living hell.” He smiled but I couldn’t return it. That fire was still in my chest and I didn’t know why. The girl with short black hair crossed her arms and stood in front of me.
“Who the hell are you?” She sneered. I eyed her up and down.
“Elaine Myers.” I said proudly crossing my arms over my chest.
“No little girl. I meant who the hell are you talking to Adrian like that.” She said rolling her eyes. I laughed. And she tensed up. I could take her on. And with the mood I was in, I wasn’t planning on losing. Adrian jumped in putting an arm around the girl and whispered something in her ear. She smiled at him seductively and then looked at me rolled her eyes. I stared at them, the whole in my stomach getting bigger.
“Do you always fight Adrian’s fights for him?” I asked sarcastically. Adrian looked up at me with pure amusement and for a moment, he looked impressed.
“I’ll see you tomorrow Elaine.” He said to me winking. Right then, Shane walked up and put an arm around my shoulders, making Adrian’s expression change. He raised his eyebrows and looked at me. I smiled amusement spreading through my body. I looked up and for the heck of it smiled brightly at Shane. I looked back at Adrian and it was just for an instant but I saw his expression crinkle. I smiled as I watched them leave, but the small pain in my chest was still there. I pushed it back and looked up at Shane.
“Okay!” He yelled over the crowds of people and blasting music. “Elaine and me against you two in Ski Ball!” He grabbed my hand claimed me as his partner as we made our way to the Ski Ball area to go against Miranda and Tyler. We battled it out in a tough competition, but Shane and I were the winners by only one point. I laughed jumping up to give Shane a high-five and he picked me up. We went back to our table so that Tyler and Shane could chow down.
Dinner was fun tonight, and I was extremely tired by the time Shane had dropped us off. Miranda was sleeping over my place tonight since she was already knocked out when Shane pulled into my driveway.
“Dinner was awesome!” I whispered quietly to Shane as I peered in the back seat to see if Miranda was awake yet. “Ice cream tomorrow after I’m done at the shelter? My treat. I’ll even stop by to pick you up and everything.” I teased hopping out of his truck. He grabbed my hand and gently pulled me back.
“Wait,” He said staring at me. My heart pounded in my chest nervous about what he was about to say. “I had a lot of fun tonight.” He said smiling slightly. I felt my heart slowly crumble knowing there was going to be a ‘but’ following shortly. “Elaine, I obviously really like you. You’re amazing, but I need to break it off with April for good first. And I will, I promise.” He said pulling me down gently for a kiss on my cheek. I shivered feeling his warm breath on my lower neck. I smiled trying to keep my composure.
“Shane, don’t break up with her because of just one night out. You’re jumping in head first. I don’t want to be the reason you two split and then what if you regret it later on? I don’t want to be the reason for the ending of a happy couple.” I squeezed his hand and let go. “Make the decision with a clear head. Right now, we’re both a little on edge and it was a really, really fun night. Your adrenaline is still probably pumping.” I said chuckling. “But Sunday is still a date. I owe you for tonight.” I didn’t tell him that I owed him for helping me get my thoughts straight about Adrian. But he didn’t need to know that. He smiled nodded and Tyler carried Miranda inside as Shane walked with me to the door.
“Goodnight Elaine.” He said bending down to meet my eyes. “And for the record, I did have a clear head on. Still do. I like you Elaine. I just can’t believe it took me this long to realize it.” He said shaking his head half-heartedly chuckling. I shivered processing his words and felt a smile make it’s way from my heart to my lips. I bit my bottom lip and looked up at him. He glanced down with a quick smile and then kissed me lightly on the lips. “Sweet dreams Elaine Myers.” He whispered to me as he pulled away slowly.
“Yeah...” I sighed with my eyes still closed. “Goodnight Shane.” I whispered back. He laughed and walked back to his car with his hands in his pockets. I spun around with a smile and headed inside. I changed out of my clothes and into my pj’s and laid awake next to Miranda who was still sound asleep. I turned over thinking about Shane and our night. I couldn’t help but feel guilty because Shane was all I thought about when I was with him, alone. But as soon as he left, my thoughts were about Adrian. He annoys me so much. And I hate him. But either way you look at it, he’s still on my mind. What was wrong with me! I threw an arm over my eyes and groaned softly.
“You are officially an idiot.” I mumbled to myself. I closed my eyes and for once fell asleep.