Chapter 41: "Do You Have Any Clean Underwear?"
“Do you have any clean underwear?”
I turn around bewildered.
“Julian you can’t possibly wear my underwear.”
“Hmm.. Right” Julian nods sadly. “Your kitty’s too small and my junk is too big.”
“Yeah cause that’s the only problem” I snap sarcastically.
“Anyway, let’s go for breakfast” he says taking my hand. I close my chapstick with one hand and toss it on the bed, going with Julian. Breakfast was on the top floor. During our stay we get five complementary meals. So some days we ate here, some days we went outside.
“There, go enjoy” Julian leaves me at the door.
“Well I did my duty as a loyal friend, and accompanied you till breakfast, now go eat” he gives me a little push.
“Where are you going?”
“I, and some others, already ate” he answers.
“Then why did you come?”
“To escort you. Jeez, how about a thank you?”
“Julian” I give him a suspicious look.
“Fine, I wanted one more sandwich” he admits. I first give him a good smack then get him one.
“Good Morning Wright” I slip on the chair next to Luke. To my horror, I find Coach sitting on the same table, that too in front of us. We both simultaneously make eye-contact. “G-Good Morn-ing Sir” I give a scared smile. He nods at me and goes back to eating again. Luke was silently chewing a piece of bacon, enjoying my discomfort.
“How come, only you are here?” I shift to face him more.
“Because I can hold my hunger long enough, to take a shower.” I want to mutter, ‘Neat Freak’. He did look fresh though. His face still had that blush you get, after a hot shower and his hair looked wet. They had been combed back neatly.
“They don’t look like they took a shower” I say lowly, signaling towards the table in front of us where some more of the team members were sitting.
Luke shakes his head, “They are the ones that came late to the morning workout. Coach made them do extra laps.”
“You went to workout too?” I generously add more butter to my toast.
Luke nods sipping his juice. “But aren’t you still hurt?” I ask in concern.
Luke scowls on remembering, “Yes, I could not do half the exercises. I hate it.”
I smile sympathetically and place my over buttered toast on his plate. He gives a roguish smile and wolfs it down.
“Luke, who’s that boy coming with his plate?”
“Him? That’s Ted... Decent lad, good defender.”
“Luke! That boy, Ted, he gives me really weird looks. I don’t feel very good about it.”
He frowns, “Ted? What look? Show me.”
“I can’t” I whisper furiously. “I feel really self-conscious when he’s around” I tilt my head towards Coach, who was gobbling down his food at an alarming rate.
“Yes you can. Here, I’ll hold up this plate.”
So I give him my best imitation of Ted, bulging my eyes out and opening my mouth wide, staring at him like a sheep. Luke who was swallowing a bite of his sandwich coughed out a tiny piece of carrot.
“Sorry” he chokes out cleaning with a tissue. Even though he was coughing, it suspiciously sounded like laughter, because shoulders don’t shake that much while coughing.
“I knew what you were talking about” he says seriously, once he stopped coughing. “But see you imitate him, was totally worth it.”
“Well?” I ask impatiently. “Why does he do that?”
“Oh, that’s cause he’s in love with you” Luke waves it off.
“Cause he’s in love with me?” I ask in disbelief.
“Yep, maybe more of a creepy obsession, perhaps” he answers casually sipping more juice.
“Well, at least have the courtesy to look jealous” I mutter. Luke’s face splits in a grin.
“I got no reason to” he replies.
“Oh yeah” I say feeling annoyed. “You never know when I could fall for Ted. I mean if you look at him..” We both look towards the boy in demand. Ted was picking his nose, lost in his world. “He is quite dashing” I say forcefully, holding back a cringe.
“Well then, I certainly should not stop you” Luke says seriously, leaning back in his chair clearly enjoying this more than he should.
“Okay then.. Excuse me, while I go have a nice chat” my stubborn ass replies. I flash Luke, one last saccharine smile and saunter towards Ted’s table where he was now sitting alone with unfinished breakfast. Coach had left us a while back, so Luke had a clear view of us.
Poor Ted’s jaw drops when he sees me sliding into the chair next to him. Quickly recovering he wipes his hands under the table. Yuck!
“Hi” I grit out, forcing a catlike smile.
“H-hel.. Hello Nat-ta-talia” he stutters. I give a loud fake-laugh.
“You are so funny” I clap my hands together. “So Ted, how’s your game going?”
“You know my name?” he asks in surprise.
“Wow” he muses.
“Ted, you and I.. I feel, are quite similar” I put a hand under my chin.
“Really?” he asks hungrily. “Do you like watching porn?” he questions with a creepy smile, his left eye dangerously twitching.
This is decent?
“S-sure” I answer shakily.
“I am addicted to it. Girl-on-girl, gang-bang-”
“Oh-kay” I laugh loudly. “You are quite an open book, aren’t you?”
“My friend told me there’s a store downtown, where we can get full 2-3 hour movie tapes” he says eagerly.
“Jesus Christ” I mumble under my breath.
“Do you want to-”
“Sorry to break your lovely conversation” I feel Luke standing behind my chair. I find myself breathing more easily. “But Natalia, you are needed downstairs.”
“Can’t you see, I am having an interesting conversation?” I turn around to fix him an irritated look.
“Yes, the best I am sure. But Coach is not a patient man” he smiles sarcastically.
Ted mumbles something that sounded like, “Woah, he can smile.”
“Fine!” I turn around, “Bye Teddy” I coo, waving at him with my fingers.
“Fall for him yet?” Luke asks casually as we wait for the elevator. I look at him in amusement. Even though he looked normal on the outside, I recognized signs of deep irritation.
“Are you jealous?” my voice vibrates with laughter.
“No” he answers way too quickly. I giggle at his scowling face as we enter the elevator. There was another man in suit.
“Well Ted was quite charismatic” I say giving hand gestures like a make-up guru. “He had a healthy interest in... biology.”
“Uhmm..” Luke had clenched jaws. His lips were in a thin line. I look at the other side to cover my silent laugh. Elevator pings and the man leaves. I press ground floor and stand in front of Luke.
“You are so jealous” I grin. Luke just looked away, refusing to meet my eye. I wrap my hands around his neck.
“Honey” I coo. His face turns towards me in response.
“My only obsession, is you” I say against his lips. I brush my nose against him, making his lips curl into a shy smile.
The elevator pings ground floor, and we walk out dis-tangled.
“Look at you, all freaked out for a game” I chuckle at Julian’s uneasiness.
“Lia, what if, what happened to Luke, happens to me” he gulps.
“Then please, just please, tell me the name” I plead.
“Julian, calm down. You are not against Blue Valley’s today. And if you win today’s match, you are in the finals” I poke him teasingly.
“Yeah, you are right” he grins.
“My Lady with The Lamp” Ian bows, as me and Julian join their group. I give him a flying kiss.
“Good luck boys” I smile at them.
“Hey, you’ll be sitting with Luke, at the bleachers today” Julian exclaims suddenly. “I see, you two are getting too friendly” he smirks. My hands go cold at Julian’s remark. I feel myself panicking.
“Yeah right” I scoff. “Tough luck for me.. He doesn’t talk at all. I’ll be so bored with Luke” I give a fake-yawn.
“Well you can always sit somewhere else” a voice comes from behind me. I bite my tongue in regret.
“Really Natalia. I don’t mind” Luke says genuinely, appearing beside me. He looks at the rest of the boys, “All the best guys. Play well” he gives a clipped smile and walks out of the changing room.
“Oh Lenny, that was not cool” Julian sighs.
“Lia go apologize right now” Max says sternly. “He was already bummed, at not being allowed to play.” I could almost hear his unsaid words, “You don’t treat my friends that way.”
All the boys have lost their playfulness and were standing in weird tension. I could understand how much they disapproved my taunt. If someone insulted Julian in front of me, I would punch their faces.
I nod at Max. “I’m sorry, I should not have said that. I’ll go talk to him. I’ll handle it” I reassure them. Everyone relaxes considerably.
“You guys play well” I give them a thumbs up, and run off.
“Luke, can you please, come with me for a sec” I ask standing in front of him. He had found a seat in the bleachers. I could see he didn’t bother to save me a seat.
“The match is about to start” he replies curtly looking at the field. People were looking at us.
“Luke please..” I plead crouching down beside him. He still refused to look at me.
My jaw clenches in irritation at myself.
I made this mess, I’ll fix it..
I take Luke’s hand and pull him up.
“Natalia..” he protests but I ignore them, dragging him with me to an empty corridor.
“Look, I did not mean it” I say. Luke was looking down, moving dust with his shoes.
“Luke, Julian was teasing me, about you and I being too friendly. I panicked and did the worst damage control” I explain holding his shoulders making him look at me.
“Lia, I know I am boring” he says meekly. “But hearing you say it-”
“Wait what?! You are not boring!” I exclaim in disbelief. “That’s absurd. Just because you stay quiet doesn’t mean you are boring! Introverts are actually some of the most interesting humans.”
Luke has his eyebrows raised at my outburst. “Okay, I’ll take your word for it” he says, putting his hands up in surrender. My eyes scan his face, I could see he had taken my remark too hard.
“Luke, I’m sorry. I really am. I was stupid, and I was blurting without thinking” I say in remorse. “Trust me, you are sweet, caring, and absolutely perfect. You know, in the beginning you would make me want to die from curiosity because you were such a mystery. Boring is honestly, the last word I’ll suggest for you. No, it’s even beneath last. It’s-”
“Okay..” Luke laughs, placing a hand over my mouth.
“Am I forgiven?” my voice comes out muffled.
“Yes, it’s forgiven and forgotten” he gives a twinkling smile. I sigh in relief and kiss his cheek.
“You should smile more in public” I say as we go back to the bleachers. Luke had his blank mask on again. It went over his head, cause he was busy finding seats.
“Lia, there are two seats. Go save them, I’ll bring you snacks.”
“Yes sir” I give a smart salute. He ruffles my hair and runs off.
I settle down and place my leather jacket at Luke’s seat. I was wearing a black tank dress, that stopped above my knees. It had the picture of Ghost Rider in white and neon blue. Since I was so happy this morning, I had even worn my favorite boots.
“Hey” a guy smirks standing in front of me. I raise an eyebrow at him.
“Wanna swim between the courses? We can do an intercourse” he smiles suggestively. I look at him, like he’s mentally unstable.
“Keep moving kid. That’s my girl.” My lips curl into a pleased smile as I remove my jacket for Luke to sit. The boy wordlessly disappears without a second glance. He knew he had no chance, considering Luke towered him like a lighthouse.
Luke takes my jacket and gives me the popcorn box. He folds the jacket and neatly keeps it on his lap.
The match had started. We both silently watch the game, occasionally crunching crispy popcorn. I was somewhat relaxed, but Luke kept watching tensely.
“I can’t watch this” Luke finally says in pain. “We are gonna lose Lia. Those guys might win because of penalty kick.”
I hold his hand, offering silent comfort. The match is about to finish. I see Nathan trying to make a shot. He almost succeeded but the goal keeper stopped it the last moment. “Damn it” Luke mutters angrily.
Then like a miracle, just seconds before the match finished, Julian makes the shot. Everyone freezes for a second, because no one saw it coming.
“Did he just...” I whisper in disbelief. Luke laughs in wonder. Then it came, the huge uproar. The boys rushed to Julian and tossed him in the air. Luke and I were actually jumping like mad people, hugging and shouting.
“Where is the player?” I squeal excitedly, going and hugging Julian amidst the crowd of sweaty players. The changing room was a total chaos. Everybody was talking, laughing, smacking Julian. He barely had time to process my hug, until he was again being pushed around happily.
“Boys settle down” Coach thunders above the noisy mess. Max was standing next to him. “Firstly Julian good job” he gives the tiniest smile. Boys once again start hooting and applauding. Max smirks beside the coach.
“Enough” Coach booms once again. “We have made it to the finals, but at a cost. We faced so many stupid tricks just for semi-finals, you can imagine what they’ll try to do for finals. I mean, they’ve already taken Luke out” he fumes. “Today, they almost gave Max two yellow cards, framed Fred over here for misbehavior and told me that I was being irrational. God knows what they’ll do next.
So, I want you completely alert. And play very, very, carefully for the finals tomorrow. We shall have one more meeting in the evening. That time we’ll discuss our game plan.”
Everybody silently listens. Since we were the team that beat Blue Valley, we were sort of the unwanted ones. But since the boys were trained so well, they found it hard to eliminate them.
Max and Coach were talking among themselves. Luke got a call from his mother and went out to talk. I turn to Julian and pinch him, barely containing my excitement.
“You have become, the star” I tease grinning widely. Julian shifts uncomfortably. My playful mood drops.
“Are you okay?” I whisper in concern. Julian takes my hand and leads me away from the buzzing team.
“Julie, what happened? Are you hurt?” I turn him around, checking for any blood marks.
“No, that’s not it” Julian shakes me off. “Lia, I have to tell you this. I can’t take it anymore” his face falls in misery. I automatically become more alert, my mind racing with possibilities.
“Earlier that shot I made..” he says taking a deep breath. “That was a lucky shot. I just panicked when Leonard passed the ball to me, and I blindly kicked it away. I had no intention of taking a shot, much less, actually making it.”
I stare at him for a second then start laughing. “Oh boy..” I pant, wiping my eyes.
“Lia, it’s not funny” Julian frowns.
“Trust me, it is. But again, why are you being upset.”
“Because I feel like, I don’t deserve it” he says meekly. “The way everyone’s hyping me up.. Just because I got lucky. And the Coach keeps saying, ‘See squirmy, those stretching exercises I made you do, came in handy’. It’s such a mess.”
“Julian it was YOUR luck that made them win. You are lucky... So your stars, that designed your fate today, deserve praising. The cheer that you get, is very well deserved.” I don’t know rat’s ass about stars, but I know Julian believed in them.
Julian nods deep in thought. “You are right. I should embrace everything that universe puts in my way.”
“Sure” I hype him more, little shocked that he actually bought it.
“Thanks Lenny, for clearing my path, that was fogged, with the cloud of my self-doubt.”
“No problem” I mutter smiling nervously. We return and find Luke saying something to Coach. The other four were also standing near. Alex motions us to join them.
“...And the team made it to finals, so you all will be staying here longer” Luke says to Coach and Max. “My mother told me that, I should catch the evening bus today, and come back, since I’m not playing.”
“Nooo..” I howl before anyone could react, unable to control myself. Everybody turns to me in surprise.
“I-I mean” I gulp. “I think he should stay back. I talked to him and found out, he’s an interesting guy. Plus he’s a good company in the bleachers. So..” I shrug. Luke looks at me in amusement, while others look at me like I grew another head.
“Did you hit your head anywhere today?” Max asks in genuine concern. I scowl at him in response. He turns back to the matter at hand, “Bro, you got to stay.”
“Yes! It’s an unreasonable demand from Jane” Ian protests.
“You can’t just go alone. Sir, he can’t go alone” Alex turns to Coach. “He’s helpless, and will get robbed and beaten in the bus. He’s like a small baby who needs constant care and attention.”
Luke gives him a ‘What-the-fuck’ look.
“Luke,” Coach finally says to him. “If your mother wants, you can go. I’ll drop you at the bus stand. But personally, I think you should stay.”
“See! The Coach wants you to stay!” Dylan points out eagerly.
Coach frowns, “I said-”
“Where is your phone?” Dylan jumps around, fishing his phone from his back pocket. “I’ll talk to Jane. We are not letting you go,” he snaps and runs away, connecting the call to Jane.
“You can’t go now man” Max punches his shoulder. “I just got Coach to agree to our, Jovinier Beach plan.”
“Only if you get the first place” Coach reminds walking away, but everybody pretends not to hear it.
“What beach plan?” I ask, but like the Coach, I get ignored too.
“There you go” Dylan reappears, tossing Luke his phone back. “Jane says you can stay. You’re welcome” he finishes with a wink. The boys huddle around Luke happily, shoving and smacking him. Luke finally allows himself a boyish smile.
God bless Dylan..
“Max, come with me” a boy, I think his name is Will, says.
“What? What did you do now?” Max snaps.
“Just come with me, please” he pleads and starts walking.
“Urgh! That boy is such a constant source of..” Max grits out. “He’s even more irritating than Julian.”
“Hey! I am standing right here” Julian whines indignantly. Max ignores him and goes after Will.
Julian turns to me, “I’m not irritating, am I?”
“Noo..” I vigorously shake my head, making him smile happily. “You are just that blinding pain in my ass.”
His face falls and he pushes me to the ground. I painfully land on my bottom.
“There, now you DO have a blinding pain in the azz” he smiles sweetly. I stand up brushing my dress, while the boys are guffawing at the drama we both were doing. I flip them all the bird.
“Now, tell me what is the beach plan thingy?” Julian asks eagerly. My ears also perk up in attention.
Alex quickly explains that there was a beach nearby. They had a nice and cheap resort. There will be parties and exotic dancers (both male and female, I confirmed). The boys go there almost every vacation. So, after the games are done, everybody could go and have a good time.
“I hope there are male strippers there” Julian whispers to me excitedly.
“That would be the best!” I whisper back even more excited. From the squeals that Ian was making, I bet they were having similar discussion.
Hope you liked this chapter!
I edited few of the starting chapters..