“Ugh fuck,” I mutter to myself as I collapse 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 head to the bathroom and take a bath.
I come down and eat the usual breakfast my mom prepares, oatmeal, with a glass of full cream milk on the side. It wasn’t long before my mom appears 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 stand up from my seat and take my bag, getting ready to leave. I head to where my mom is to kiss her goodbye.
“Good luck on your first day.” She says as she kisses me on the cheek.
“Thanks, bye Ma,” I reply then head out.
I park my Black Benz in my usual spot and see my best friend’s Red Mustang already parked.
As soon as I step out of my car, a tall blonde tackles me. “Lexiiiiii, I missed you!”
“Easy there tiger,” I chuckle. “I missed you too.” I hug her back.
Once we break the hug, I finally get 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 take 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 place our things in our lockers and head to class. I can’t help but notice the stares and the whispers of the students as we pass by.
“So it has reached their ears already huh?” I ask Kris, knowing full well that she knows what I’m talking about.
“More like their eyes. 2 o’clock.”
I snap my head in the direction and what I see stops me in my tracks. It’s 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 I can ignore. The kind that I can set aside for the moment and be forgotten.
When she sees me staring at them, she quickly breaks the kiss and walks away.
Kris and I continue to our class without further interruptions.
We enter the room and instantly 40 pairs of eyes focus on us. What’s with that? We’re not even late yet. Their gazes didn’t bother me one bit. I’m used to the attention.
I recognize a few faces from our year and some from our team. I wave at them and scan 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 look at Kris and she gives me a sheepish look in return. She’d rather take a ball in the face than sit in front. I nod my head and she happily goes to her seat in the far back giving a few high-fives on her way there. Kian, the captain of the basketball team waves at me when he sees me. It seems that he’s Kris’ seatmate.
Once I settle on my seat in the center aisle, I rest my head on the desk. I could use some literal shut-eye for a few minutes. My eyes have been feeling sore lately.
It hasn’t even been 5 minutes when someone taps my shoulder. I slowly open my eyes and they were immediately met by piercing gray ones staring at me. My heart almost skipped a beat.
“Gray,” I whisper, barely audible. I catch a whiff of her sweet-scented perfume.
“Alvarez,” she replies. “The teacher’s here.”
I lift my head and see 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 say and give 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 calls out without looking. I didn’t even realize I was staring.
I quickly shift my gaze and turn 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 says loudly in front.
I shift in my seat and my eyes travel to the back of the room where Kris was seated. I point to myself and to her to let her know that we’d be partners. She nods her head vigorously and gives 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 continues, “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 smiles at us. He starts pointing out random students and partnering them up. “Julius, Cain, you’re partners.” He looks to the far back. “Kian, Kristina. You’re both athletes. I hope you’ll get along.” He proceeds on making partners out of people who don’t really talk to each other that much. Then he spots me.
“Alex,” he looks 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 smiles at us mischievously.
I look to my right and her gray eyes mirror my shocked expression. She recovers from it quickly and tells me nonchalantly, “Pleasure working with you.” Which surprises me because I didn’t think she’d like to be partnered up with me.
Unable to hide my curiosity I reply, “Wait. You’re okay with this?”
“I’m okay with anyone as long as they don’t drag me down.” She deadpans.
Our conversation is cut short when Mr. Castor starts speaking in front again. He tells us that every activity is going to be done with our partners. So Gray and I are pretty much stuck with each other until graduation. I get butterflies in my stomach just by thinking about it. I was thrilled.
After the usual orientation with 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 chimes excitedly.
“So Ki and Kris huh? I can’t wait to see how this turns out.” I repeat her statement with a smirk.
She slaps me in the arm getting an “Ow!” out of my mouth. She blushes. “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 waves at us gesturing for us to sit with them.
“Hey.” I greet them with a smile while Kris gives each of them a peck on the cheeks.
“So, Alex. I heard you were single again.” Casey, one of their regulars, links her arms to mine. “Does that mean I finally have a chance with you?” She asks in a flirty tone.
I decide to play along. I inch my face forward and smirk at her. “You think so?” Her eyes widen and her ears turn pink.
She pulls back instantly. “I was fucking kidding, Alvarrez.” She says as she rolls her eyes at me, still blushing.
Her teammates laugh 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 sees us approaching, she promptly straightens 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 hold up a finger and mouth ‘one sec’ to Diane before dragging Kris inside the room.
“What does she want with you?” Kris asks, irritation imminent in her voice.
“It might be a basketball thing. You know she’s the new captain. I’ll be right back.” I ruffle her hair and go back outside.
“Sorry about that, you know how she is.” I sheepishly tell 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 says as she lets 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 explains 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 Martin was thinking when he assigned me to this. Everyone knows I’m not a leader.
“Please?” She asks 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 beams a smile at me, one that highlighted her perfect facial features. “Thank you!” She exclaims and gives me a big hug. I just stood there, too shocked to do anything. She pulls away from the hug and quickly apologizes. “I’m sorry, just... Habits.” She gives me an awkward smile.
“Yeah, habits.” I repeat and add, “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 see a mischievous glint in her eyes and a smile tugging at the edge of her lips for a moment before she says, “Of course.”