“Ugh fuck,” I muttered to myself as I collapsed on the floor. “I hate planks.”
That plank was the last of my 3rd set. My abdomen burned. Sweat dripped off my face to the floor. My muscles ached. Guess that’s natural after you’ve just finished your intense ab workout. After collecting myself for a few minutes and cooling down, I headed to the bathroom and took a bath.
I came down and ate the usual breakfast my mom prepared, oatmeal, with a glass of full cream milk on the side. It wasn’t before long when my mom appeared in the kitchen, with my half-asleep younger sister, Sophia, in tow.
I can’t help but chuckle at the sight of her walking with her eyes closed. “Wake up Soph, summer’s over,” I said as I flicked her nose.
Quickly finishing my meal, I stood up from my seat and took my bag, getting ready to leave. I headed to where my mom was to kiss her goodbye.
“Good luck on your first day.” She said as she kissed me on the cheek.
“Thanks, bye Ma,” I replied then headed out.
I parked my Black Benz in my usual spot and saw my best friend’s Red Mustang already parked.
As soon as I stepped out of my car, I was tackled by a tall blonde. “Lexiiiiii, I missed you!”
“Easy there tiger,” I chuckled. “I missed you too.” I hugged her back.
Once we broke the hug, I finally got a good look at her. We only haven’t seen each other for 2 months but it felt like 2 years. Her blue eyes, fair skin, and slender body made all guys from our school water their mouths when she walks past them.
Kris and I have been friends since freshman year. I didn’t know anyone since we just moved here. Kris totally saved my butt. She introduced me to her friends, showed me around and even convinced me to try out for the volleyball team with her. I also did the same for the basketball team. I got accepted in both but ultimately chose basketball over volleyball.
Even when we were in different sports, Kris and I always stuck together. Sometimes, I would help her team out in training. We took most of our classes together and have the same schedule. Ever since then we were inseparable.
I took in the dirty white hallways, the lockers, the bulletin board plastered with papers that nobody ever reads. I can’t believe this is my last year in this place. I feel a bit lonely, but nonetheless happy. We placed our things in our lockers and headed to class. I can’t help but notice the stares and the whispers of the students we pass by.
“So it has reached their ears already huh?” I asked Kris knowing full well that she knows what I’m talking about.
“More like their eyes. 2 o’clock.”
I snapped my head in the direction and what I saw stopped me in my tracks. It was Diane and the captain of the soccer team, kissing. It’s been months since we broke up and I’ve managed to convince myself that I’ve moved on but there’s still a lingering pain when I see her with someone else. Not the kind of pain that will make me cry, or make me beg for her love again. It’s the kind of pain you can ignore. The kind that you set aside for the moment and be forgotten.
When she saw me staring at them she quickly broke the kiss and walked away.
Kris and I continued to our class without further interruptions.
We entered the room and instantly 40 pairs of eyes were focused on us. What’s with that? We’re not even late yet. Their gazes didn’t bother me one bit. I was used to the attention.
I recognize a few faces from our year and some from our team. I waved at them and scanned the room for an empty seat. Much to my frustration, almost all seats were taken. There were 2 empty seats in the second row, center aisle, and another one in the far back.
I looked at Kris and she gave me a sheepish look in return. She’d rather take a ball in the face than sit in front. I nodded my head and she happily went to her seat in the far back giving a few high-fives on her way there. Kian, the captain of the basketball team waved at me when he saw me. It seems that he’s Kris’ seatmate.
Once I was settled on my seat in the center aisle, I rested my head on the desk. I could use some literal shut-eye for a few minutes. My eyes have been feeling sore lately.
It wasn’t even 5 minutes when someone tapped my shoulder. I slowly opened my eyes and they were immediately met by piercing gray ones staring at me. My heart almost skipped a beat.
“Gray,” I whispered, barely audible. I caught a whiff of her sweet-scented perfume.
“Alvarez,” she replied. “The teacher’s here.”
I lifted my head and saw Mr. Castor looking at me with a raised brow. He’s young, maybe in his early thirties, with clean-cut hair and a gentle smile. I’ve had him as a teacher in the past years. He’s very friendly to all the students, no doubt making him the best homeroom adviser in the school. “Sorry. Didn’t get enough sleep.” I said and gave him an apologetic smile.
I don’t believe this. Alexis Gray is my seatmate. The hot, straight-A student who has rejected every guy that ever confessed to her. Her raven-black hair and piercing gray eyes are irresistible. The first time I saw her I was starstruck.
In the years that I’ve been studying here, this is the first time that we’re in the same class. Kris told me they’ve been classmates before, but they never really talked. I’ve had a crush on her for the longest time but she won’t even talk to me. Or rather, I don’t have a reason to talk to her.
What could I possibly talk to her about? Ask about the names of the stars here in our galaxy? Or how to concoct a poison? Or if she would like me to teach her how to play basketball? That would be really weird, I don’t think she’ll ever talk to me again if I ever ask her that.
“Stop staring at me.” She called out without looking. I didn’t even realize I was staring.
I quickly shifted my gaze and turned my back on her to hide my embarrassment. I was too distracted that I didn’t realize Mr. Castor was discussing something.
“... you pair up with your partners for the rest of the school year.” He said loudly in front.
I shifted in my seat and my eyes traveled to the back of the room where Kris was seated. I pointed to myself and to her to let her know that we’d be partners. She nodded her head vigorously and gave me a wide smile. The room buzzed and people were already pairing up.
But our partnerships were short-lived when Mr. Castor announced, “I’m sorry to tell you this but you won’t get to choose your own partner.” What? He continued, “I’ll be the one to choose your partners.”
The room was filled with protests. I could hear Kris muttering curses from the back. “You kids are going to be graduating in a year. It’s not too late to make new friends.” Castor smiled at us. He started pointing out random students and partnering them up. “Julius, Cain, you’re partners.” He looked to the far back. “Kian, Kristina. You’re both athletes. I hope you’ll get along.” He proceeded on making partners out of people who don’t really talk to each other that much. Then he spotted me.
“Alex,” he looked to my side, “and Alex.” For a second I thought I saw him smirk, a dangerous glint in his eyes. “Well, this could be interesting. I never see you two together. Or rather, I never see Alexis with anyone else. Now you’ll be inseparable until the end of this year.” He smiled at us mischievously.
I looked to my right and her gray eyes mirrored my shocked expression. She recovered from it quickly and told me nonchalantly, “Pleasure working with you.” Which surprised me because I didn’t think she’d like to be partnered up with me.
Unable to hide my curiosity I replied, “Wait. You’re okay with this?”
“I’m okay with anyone as long as they don’t drag me down.” She deadpanned.
Our conversation was cut short when Mr. Castor started speaking in front again. He told us that every activity was going to be done with our partners. So Gray and I are pretty much stuck with each other until graduation. I got butterflies in my stomach just by thinking about it. I was thrilled.
After the usual orientation with the school stuff, the class was dismissed. Kris and I left the room for lunch.
“So Alex and Alex huh? I can’t wait to see how this turns out.” She chimed excitedly.
“So Ki and Kris huh? I can’t wait to see how this turns out.” I repeated her statement with a smirk.
She slapped me in the arm getting an “Ow!” out of my mouth. She blushed. “Shut up.”
She has been hiding this crush on Kian since forever. But it’s very likely that the other party feels the same way. It’s not impossible. Kris is stunning. With her blue eyes and ash blonde hair, even I find myself staring at her sometimes. But I never thought of her in that way. She’s just my best friend and that’s more than enough.
The cafeteria was packed with people as always. Her teammates from the volleyball team waved at us gesturing for us to sit with them.
“Hey.” I greeted them with a smile while Kris gave each of them a peck on the cheeks.
“So, Alex. I heard you were single again.” Casey, one of their regulars, linked her arms to mine. “Does that mean I finally have a chance with you?” She asked in a flirty tone.
I decided to play along. I inched my face forward and smirked at her. “You think so?” Her eyes widened and her ears turned pink.
She pulled back instantly. “I was fucking kidding, Alvarrez.” She said as she rolled her eyes at me, still blushing.
Her teammates laughed at her futile attempt to flirt with me. We mostly exchanged stories about what happened over our summer break. And they were talking about a party this coming Saturday to celebrate Kris’ captainship.
As we made our way back, I was surprised to see Diane waiting outside our classroom, with her back leaning casually on the wall. When she saw us approaching, she promptly straightened herself up. “Can we talk for a minute?”
The question was no doubt addressed to me. But Kris on my side was giving her a nasty look connoting that we can’t have a proper conversation with her around. I held up a finger and mouthed ‘one sec’ to Diane before dragging Kris inside the room.
“What does she want with you?” Kris asked, irritation imminent in her voice.
“It might be a basketball thing. You know she’s the new captain. I’ll be right back.” I ruffled her hair and went back outside.
“Sorry about that, you know how she is.” I sheepishly told Diane. Now that she was standing straight, our difference in height is showing. I might be 5′8" but she’s still at least 2 inches taller than me. I had to look up a little to meet the lightest brown eyes I’ve ever seen.
“It’s fine,” she said as she let out a sigh. “It’s about the tryouts. Coach won’t be here until next month so he’s leaving us in charge of the tryouts and training.”
“What?” Did I just hear her right? Did she just say that we’ll be in charge of something?
“Yeah, I know you don’t like it. But you were originally the chosen captain. And it’s just for a month.” She explained in a calm voice, the one she knows that also calms me down.
I rejected the captainship in the first place because I hate responsibilities. And it’d be too much of a hassle. I don’t know what coach Marvin was thinking when he assigned me to this. Everyone knows I’m not a leader.
“Please?” She asked me with those pleading brown eyes that I could never say no to.
I let out an exasperated sigh. I feel like I already lost before we even started the conversation. “Fine, just for a month.”
She beamed a smile at me, one that highlighted her perfect facial features. “Thank you!” She exclaimed and gave me a big hug. I just stood there, too shocked to do anything. She pulled away from the hug and quickly apologized. “I’m sorry, just... Habits.” She gave me an awkward smile.
“Yeah, habits.” I repeated and added, “And just so you know, I’m not doing this because you gave me those eyes earlier. I could’ve totally said no. I just don’t think you can handle those hard-headed idiots alone.”
I saw a mischievous glint in her eyes and a smile tugging at the edge of her lips for a moment before she said, “Of course.”