Trouble in Paradise?

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Chapter Twenty Two

It took me a while to realise that I had soccer training on a Friday afternoon.

Which, ultimately, sucks.

Seriously, on a Friday afternoon I literally want to do nothing. At all. I just want to roll straight into the weekend while simultaneously laying on the couch eating my own weight in snacks and junk food.

I dragged my feet off the bus and walked into the school building, pouting at myself because I was just done with this week. Well, honestly, I’m done with school on Monday but you get my point. I got to my locker and sighed, probably dramatically but I didn’t care.

I had a free period first, so I headed to the library so that I could study a bit and be more prepared for mid year exams, which most likely started soon. Great. I cannot wait until we get to endure weeks of tests. Fun times, eh?

I leaned on the wall and spotted Blake and Jordan approaching me, seeming cheery and bright this morning. The literal opposite of my current mood. I pouted.

“What’s up, sunshine?”

“Don’t call me sunshine, you’d be lying,” I said, rubbing my head. “I just want it to be the weekend already!”

Blake snorted. “Me too. I just want to play video games, dude,” he cried with mock sadness.

Jordan scoffed at both of us. “You just have to endure one more day.”

“A very long day it will be,” I replied sadly, the bell ringing and halting our conversation. The boys went to their lockers, and I said goodbye to them before realising that we had the first class together, along with Xavier.

I grabbed a seat at the back of the class, where I liked to sit, and waited for the other students to file in and for the class to start. Blake and Jordan arrived a couple of minutes later along with Xavier trailing them. Jordan sat on my left, Blake sitting next to him while Xavier was on my right. Blake and Jordan, as usual, were bickering over something small while Xavier and I watched on with amused looks, never interfering.

The teacher started the lesson by pointedly looking at Blake and Jordan, making them shut up with few snickers. After most of the notes were taken, we were free to keep going with our work. Blake and Jordan had gone back to arguing, quite loudly, with many swear words. However, the teacher was too engrossed in his laptop to notice or hear the profanities that were being used.

“Will you two just shut up?” Both Xavier and I quietly screamed at them, which of course did nothing despite the volume of it. We looked at each other weirdly before turning our attention back to the two three year olds fighting next to us.

“This is useless, they never stop,” I whispered to Xavier who agreed. “What are they even arguing about?”

We both actually listened for a moment, trying to decipher the argument.

“-but how could she actually think that? You-”

“I KNOW! It’s ridiculous! I know it’s her but holy crap!” Blake exclaimed.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

Jordan pointed to Blake. “His girlfriend thinks that Jared Leto was the best joker,” he scoffed.

I gasped. ”No."

“Are you kidding?” Xavier asked with a shocked tone. “Two words: Heath Ledger.”

“Exactly!” we all said at the same time.

I raised an eyebrow. “So we all agree? Then what’s the fighting about?”

Dead silence. We were all at a loss before everyone slowly turned back to their work and continued to solve countless math problems. The key sarcastic word being ‘solve’ because I didn’t think Blake and Jordan had any idea what they were doing, so they chose to annoy me for the answers.

Fast forward to lunchtime, my favourite part of the day besides when I get home. I think I’ve expressed my love for food already, so I’ll skip that part.

Now, I faced a dilemma. I could either sit with the four boys, even if Ethan didn’t speak to me, or I could sit with Amber. I decided to sit with Amber, who shoved her food around her tray with a plastic fork.

“Hey,” I said to Amber, Blake giving me a funny look from the door before seeing Amber. I nodded at him and he sat down with his other three guy friends, girls starting to swarm their table already. When I sat with them, there were no girls. I wonder why.

“Hey,” Amber replied, giving me a small smile before pushing her food tray away. “Training after school,” she reminded me.

“Yep, got it,” I said, eating a sandwich that I brought from home. I wish I had pizza. Sigh.

We chatted, we gossiped, and we talked until the bell rang. Students swarmed the hallways and rushed to their next class. I spent the rest of my day sitting in class, trying desperately to pay attention to everything that the teachers said.

I watched the clock with a sharp eye until we were finally let free. I gathered my bag, books and P.E uniform and walked to the girls’ change rooms, where most of the soccer team had already started to change. I spotted Amber and walked over to her, along with Emily, Jessica and Ashley who had become my acquaintances/friends.

We made our way onto the soccer fields, where our coach waited for us with a soccer ball underneath her foot.

The other girls gathered and eventually we all formed a small crowd.

The coach blew her whistle to quiet us down. “Okay!” she yelled. “Our first game is next week, against a rival school.

“I will be watching you today and sorting out your positions based on your strengths and weaknesses. Some of you may be a substitute, some will be key members of the team. I will also assign a team captain, who is responsible for helping and keeping the team in proper shape,” the coach said.

She instructed us for the next couple of hours, doing training exercises and drills to build up our fitness and skills for the upcoming game. I was exhausted by the end of it, probably more than I should’ve been, and Amber looked completely calm.

“How are you not dying right now?” I asked, my face feeling red and hot while my chest heaved. We all went to grab a drink of water while the coach set up the next course.

“I don’t know,” she replied. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I said. “Just bad endurance.” We chuckled together as we both drank from our water bottles.

We jogged back to the fields, preparing ourselves for whatever hell that our coach has got planned. By the way, we found out her name. Coach Jasmine is her name.

Coach Jasmine watched with a clipboard in hand as we, well I, struggled through the courses and training sets that we were put through. She pulled me aside moments later, which she was doing with everything just to give them some tips.

“Stef, right?” she asked, to which I nodded. “You have got good attacking skills, which is crucial. You just have to work up that endurance, alright? You need to be able to run for most of the game,” she advised.

I nodded, taking in every word. “Yes, Coach. I’ll work on it,” I replied.

She smiled and nodded her head back to the course, which I then ran back to and continued.

After what seemed like forever, she finally dismissed the practice. I sighed a long sigh and walked back to the change rooms, Amber jogging up to me.

“How’d you go?”

“Dunno, she said I was a good attacker though.”

“Nice,” Amber replied. “I’m on defence.”

We all changed back into our normal clothes before heading home. I said hi to Christen, and headed up to my room. I grabbed my phone and texted my mother.

Me: Where are you guys? I haven’t seen you in forever. Staying at a hotel?

Mother: Yes, sorry honey. We’ve been swamped with work lately. We’ll be home soon.

Me: Okay, see you then.

She didn’t reply after that, which left me wondering as to what I would do with Christen. He couldn’t live here forever, and if my parents found out then his mother would find out and she would freak.

“Christen!” I called, jumping down the stairs even though my feet were killing me.

“Yeah?” he answered from the kitchen.

“Where are you gonna live when my parents come home?” I asked, joining him in the kitchen. He seemed to be making some pasta, which actually looked and smelled pretty good.

He scratched the back of his head. “Maybe at a friend’s place or something. I think I might’ve found a place to work, I’ll schedule an interview tomorrow. Then maybe I can get back on my feet.”

I patted his back. “Good on you,” I said sincerely. “It’s hard, I know.”

He nodded and smiled. “Thank you.”

I left him with his cooking to go and watch some TV until dinner. Again, I got really cold after a while. “It’s freezing in here! I’m getting a blanket!”

“Whatever you say!” he called back.

I rolled my eyes and settled on the couch with the thickest blanket that I could find. I nearly fell asleep until the aroma of the pasta hit me and I was up in an instant, setting the table while Christen filled two bowls up with pasta and sauce.

We both sat down and ate the delicious meal. “This is good pasta,” I commented.

He stood up and mockingly bowed. “Thank you, kind sir.”

We finished and cleaned the dishes, before I went upstairs and passed out nearly immediately. My legs were tired, my feet were sore and my eyes could barely stay open. I was out like a light.

Despite going to sleep at a reasonably early time, I slept in and then woke up the next day still tired.

What the heck.

After waking up, I laid in bed for a few minutes before groaning and standing up. I dragged myself downstairs and immediately walked to the food pantry.

I was disgusted to see that my favourite cereal wasn’t there. I usually didn’t eat breakfast, but on the weekends I had cereal.

And it wasn’t there.

I closed it with a small slam and decided that I needed my cereal. I walked back upstairs, threw on some track suit pants and a jumper, and I grabbed my house keys and phone.

I locked the door behind me before proceeding to walk to the nearest general store, which was only a block or two away. I was in a daze as I walked down the street and into the cool store filled with food.

I scanned the aisles until I found the cereal section. Thanking whatever god was up there, I found my absolute favourite cereal and stared at it with as much love as I could muster.

I started walking to the counter, my eyes still on the cereal box, when I crashed into a hard rock wall.

Which, of course, meant I crashed into a hot guy with a hard rock wall of abs. What else would I mean? A real wall? Nah.

I looked up and immediately recognised the face.

“Well, isn’t this a cliche coincidence?” I concluded out loud, looking up at Xavier who was also wearing track suit pants and a large black jumper. Funny.

He was also holding some cereal. While my cereal was filled with fruit, his was filled with nuts.

“You actually like that cereal?” he questioned, staring at the box in my hand as if he wanted to be as far away from it as possible.

I gasped and clutched the cereal to my chest. “How dare you,” I accused him. “This happens to be the best cereal in the whole damn world.”

He shook his head and smirked. “Nope, mines better.”

“I will fight you on this until I die,” I declared.

“Then we’ll be fighting a long time,” he said. “because I never back down.”

We narrowed our eyes at each other before darting for the counter in a small competitive race, the bored woman at the counter staring at us with a plain look.

“Are you paying together?” she asked in an unenthusiastic voice.

“Hell no,” I said.

“Forget it,” Xavier said at the same time. We glared at each other challengingly.

We paid for our cereal and walked out, holding the boxes close to our hearts for protection. “This isn’t over,” he said.

“It will never be over until I’ve won,” I replied, narrowing my eyes at him once again.

“Until next time, my worthy competitor,” he said.

“And to you, my fellow challenger,” I replied before we walked in the opposite directions with small smiles on our faces.

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