Saturday came and I arrive at the school at exactly 8:00 AM.
I head straight to the gym, fully expecting a certain person to be there already. I hear the bouncing of a ball before I even reach my destination. When I turn around the corner, Diane’s playing figure comes into view.
She’s dribbling the ball skillfully with her right hand. Her eyes are focused on the invisible opponent in front of her. In a flash, she’s running to the basket. She pulls a spin move out of nowhere, then stops abruptly and does a crossover so expertly maneuvered I had no doubt her invisible opponent just had his ankle broken. Satisfied with her moves, she drives to the basket and finishes with a lay-up.
Just what you would expect from our team’s ace. She looks in the direction where I’m standing and a smile creeps across her face. “You came.”
“Of course I did. I stay true to my words.” I walk past her and drop my gym bag next to hers. “Nice handles, by the way.” I’ve never seen anyone as good as her in handles in this district.
She sits next to me and drinks her bottled water. I catch a whiff of her all too familiar strawberry scent. A few drops escape her lips and slowly—painfully slowly for me to watch—trail their way down her neck. It didn’t help that her golden blonde hair is tied up in a ponytail. I nervously bite my lower lip. She smirks when she sees me staring.
If this happened 4 months ago, I would’ve started attacking her face right about now. We would be making out. Her hands would be on the side of my face and my hands would be pulling on her hair. She likes it rough.
But today isn’t 4 months ago. So instead I stand up and say, “I’ll start warming up.” And I do exactly that.
It’s not until after 10 minutes that I start sinking some threes. Diane offers to help. She stands on the right side of the ring, passing me the balls.
“What’s your record again?” She asks when I’m on my third ball.
I take the shot and it went in clean. “7 consecutive. That was my third. Keep track of it for me. I’m in the mood to beat some records.”
She raises her perfectly trimmed eyebrows at me. There’s a challenge in her eyes, goading me. I gladly accept her challenge.
I sink my fourth shot.
“How have you been?” She asks. Fifth.
“Fine,” I answer without looking at her. Sixth.
“Are you still mad at me?” Seventh.
I steal a glance at her, a worried look in her eyes. “Nope.” Eighth.
She hesitates. Ninth.
“I miss you.” And I miss.
I look at her in disbelief. Whether it’s because I missed, or she just said what she said, I have no idea. I search her eyes for any sign that she was messing with me, but find none. There’s only sincerity. And a hint of sadness.
“Well, you certainly weren’t missing me when you were kissing your boyfriend a few days ago.” I’m surprised by the annoyance in my voice. “I don’t wanna play your games anymore, Diane.”
She was about to say something but was interrupted when our teammates arrive. It wasn’t long before the newbies followed. My teammates were eyeing them one by one, looking for potential recruits. Diane did her job as captain, introduced us one by one, showed them the ropes, and how they can get on the team.
Our team has been the reigning champion for 3 years. If we win the next tournament, it will be a 4-peat. That’s the legacy I want to leave in this school. And to keep this legacy going we need to choose our members carefully.
I observe each of the newbies thoroughly. Some of them have pretty good moves, but one particular girl caught my eye. She has short-cropped blonde hair, and her moves were sharp. She was obviously a cut above the rest.
At one point Diane asked me if I wanted to play in the scrimmages. I decline her offer. I was content with just watching them play, and I was too lazy to play. For today, anyway. At the end of the day, 3 girls got accepted. Blondie and 2 others that Diane picked.
“You coming later?” Diane asks as we were cleaning up. She’s talking about the party Casey’s throwing for all the new captains.
“Yeah. Kris has been bugging me about it. It’s exclusively for athletes, right?” I actually thought about not going because David’s gonna be there. I don’t wanna see him and Diane shoving each other’s tongue down their throats.
“Hey, newbies!” She shouts at our new recruits as they were about to leave. “There’s a party later for athletes. You can come if you want. I’ll text you the address. Think of it as your initiation.” She says and then winks at them.
She turns back to me. “I’ll see you later, babe.” She leans in and I immediately knew what was coming. It takes almost all my willpower to avoid her lips. When she realizes what she’s doing, she quickly pulls back. “Shit, sorry.”
I know what she’s gonna say so I beat her to it. “Yeah, I know. Habits.” I look at her and caramel-colored eyes stare back at me. “I should get going.” And with that, I stand up and leave.
I still don’t know how to act around her. If she gets too close I feel like I’ll fall for her all over again. But I also don’t want to act like a stranger around her. She’s been a part of me, and nothing can ever change that.
Kris is waiting for me outside their house when I arrive at their front yard. Every time we go to a party, we only take my car. Why? Because we both know she’s gonna end up wasted and I’ll end up driving her home.
She gets into my car and the first thing out her mouth is, “How did it go?”
I wasn’t sure what she was referring to, so I went for the natural one. “Tryouts was fine, got 3 recruits.” Unsatisfied with my answer, she raises an eyebrow at me. I let out a sigh before adding, “She said she misses me.”
She scoffs. “She misses what? She misses hurting you? She misses making you cry? She misses making you miserable? Well, I’m sorry but she ain’t fooling anyone around here. The nerve of that bitch.” She spat the last word with her voice filled with contempt.
“Don’t call her that, Kris. Why do you hate her so much anyway?”
"Why?” Her eyebrows furrow. “Are you fucking kidding me, Lexi?” She’s mad now. “That girl cheated on you. Twice! How can you not hate her?”
“You know I don’t hate, Kris. I was hurt, yes. Maybe even mad for a while. But it’s over. We’re done.” I’m surprised by the calmness in my own voice.
“Well, apparently she isn’t. She’s gonna come back to you the moment she’s done playing with her new toy. And you being my stupid, gullible, best friend, you’re gonna let her in again. You’re gonna have your heart broken by the same fucking girl.” I’m about to say something but she cuts me off. “I’m sick of seeing you cry because of her Lex.” She grips my hand firmly. Her voice a mixture of anger and concern. I get where she’s coming from, and I appreciate her concern. She has always been there for me.
“Chill, I’m a big girl,” I say nonchalantly and give her a smile. “Get that frown out of your pretty face or you might not get laid tonight,” I tell her jokingly.
The rest of the drive to Casey’s house is quiet. She didn’t bring up Diane again and I was thankful for that. Casey greets us when we get into her house. As usual, Kris gave her a peck on the cheek while I settle for a simple “Hey.”
“What took you guys so long?” She asks as she leads us into the house and into the pool area. This isn’t my first time being here since this is where most of the athlete’s parties are thrown. We go in and I see that the rest of the captains were already here. I spot a few of Kris’ teammates taking a dip in the pool.
“Okay captains, get your asses here!” Casey shouts through the megaphone she held. A few seconds later and other captains emerge from the crowd. They gather at the rectangular table at the edge of the pool, their tequila shots waiting.
We have this stupid tradition that all captains must take 3 seconds of a tequila shot then jump into the pool. This is another one of the reasons why I rejected the captainship. It’s stupid and embarrassing, but nonetheless entertaining to watch. Kian gives me a slight nod when he sees me. We were good friends, but not as close as me and Kris. He’s instantly followed by Kris and Diane.
Oh God, Diane.
My jaw almost drops when I see her in blue bikinis. Everyone’s eyes were fixated on her. Those deadly curves and that pretty face will make you wonder why she’s wasting her time on basketball and not on the runway. When she sees me ogling her—like everyone else in the vicinity—she smirks. I could almost hear her voice saying, ′Hey baby, you sure you don’t want this anymore?′ I quickly avert my gaze and see David, Carl, and Adam already in their boxers.
Kian is the first to go. He takes off his shirt and all the girls scream for his 6-pack abs. He takes his shot and cannonballs into the pool. Kris has changed into a bikini as well, without me noticing. The other captains followed suit and soon they were all in the pool, laughing, congratulating each other. What I found strange is that Diane and David weren’t talking to each other. And the whole time, David has this weird expression plastered on his face, as if his mom wouldn’t let him play with his favorite soccer ball.
I go inside the house and help myself to the cocktail mix they made. If there’s one thing great about Casey’s parties, it had to be the drinks. I place myself comfortably on the couch in the living room where there were only a few people. Most of them were in the pool area. I had a few chats with the people coming in to get their drinks. Sometime later, a few of my teammates come in with the newbies in tow.
“Oh, Alex! Great timing. We were just getting the drinks for our newbies. Mind if we join you?” Leah, our small forward, asks me.
“Go ahead.” They then help themselves into the sofas. We were talking to the newbies casually, making sure that they don’t feel out of place at the party.
“What’s your position?” Blondie asked me. I later learn that her name is Mia. “I didn’t see you play in the scrimmages.”
“Point guard,” I smirk. I’m about to drink from my cup but see that it’s already empty. I excuse myself from the conversation and go to the kitchen. As I was pouring myself another cup, someone hugs me from behind. I knew who it was before I even turned. Aside from the fact that not a lot of people would hug me from behind, the smell of strawberries lingers in the air.
I inhale sharply. “Diane.”
“Let’s just stay like this for a while.” She whispers and rests her head on my shoulders. We just stand there like that for a while until I turn around. I hold her by the shoulders and take a good look at her. She’s now wearing a bathrobe over her bikini. Good, because I don’t know what I would’ve done if she came in here wearing next to nothing.
She’s swaying a little which made me ask, “Are you okay?” I lean in closer to her mouth and sniff. “You reek of alcohol. How many drinks have you had?” It’s no use, she’s already drunk. Which is weird, because she doesn’t usually get drunk at parties. I pull out a chair from the table and let her sit there. “I’ll go get David, wait here.”
She grabs my hand when I make a move to leave. When I asked her why, she shook her head and said in a slurry voice, “I broke up with him.”
I was dumbfounded. Why would she break up with the guy she left me for? It didn’t make any sense. I wanted to know, even though I know it’s none of my business. But first things first, I have to take my drunk ex-girlfriend home. Who knows what’ll happen if I leave her with drunk horny teenagers.
“I’ll drive you home. Can you stand?” I ask and she nods. “Let me help you.” I put her arm around my shoulder and hold her by the waist. As we pass through the living room, people stared at us.
“Captain!” Leah calls out to us and stands abruptly from her seat. “What happened?” She asks me.
“Just drunk. I can handle her.” I eye her company and tell her with authority in my voice, “I’m leaving you in charge of those kids. If I get one complaint about this party you’re dead.” And I flash her a big sarcastic smile. I might not be the captain but I know my teammates look up to me with the same level of respect.
“Yes, ma’am!” She gives me a mock salute and heads back to her peers.
When we arrive at my car, Diane almost instantly collapses in the backseat. After making sure she’s comfortable, I head back inside to look for Kris. It’s easy to find her, I just had to go to the place where she was last seen. She doesn’t leave the place once she’s already settled. She was lying on one of the pool benches with her eyes closed. Boy does she look wasted. Good thing she already changed out of her bikinis.
I can’t possibly carry her to my car. I look around and spot Kian. I ask him to help carry Kris into my car. He’s a really nice guy. After strapping Kris to the passenger seat, he glances at the back. “Two of them? Are you sure you can handle them both?”
“Yeah, I’m used to it,” I say then get into the driver’s seat. “Thanks for the help Ki. Have fun for the rest of the night.” I smile at him and start the engine.
He runs a hand through his dark hair. “Yeah, take care.” Then I headed in the direction of Kris’ house.
Luckily, Kris stirred when I stopped at her house. At least she was a little responsive now so I don’t have to carry her. I help her get up to her bedroom and she collapses on her bed the second we arrive. I left her in peace hoping that she wouldn’t vomit on her bed.
Now for my next passenger. I look at Diane in the backseat. She shifted a lot of times in her sleep so now her robe has come undone, revealing the perfect body it’s hiding underneath. I gulp.
I can’t get turned on. Not right now. I steady my breathing. When I was sure I had my urges under control, I reach out into the backseat and fix her bathrobe. There, better.
When I finally arrive at Diane’s house, I wasn’t sure how to proceed. I tried everything I could think of to wake her up but the most I got out of her was a groan. Defeated, I let out a sigh. I’m left with no choice but to carry her inside.
If you’re thinking I’m going to carry her bridal style, then I’m sorry to disappoint you. The girl is almost a 6 footer. No way I’m going to be able to carry her inside with that. Instead, I was able to carry her to her bedroom using the fireman’s carry. I was careful not to make too much noise so as not to wake her parents.
I lay her on the bed as gently as I can. My eyes roam around the room. Nothing has changed since the last time I was here. Sitting in the corner of the room is the basketball with my signature on it. I turn on her lamp and it illuminates the picture sitting on her bedside table. It was an old photo of us. We were wearing our jerseys. She had her arm on my shoulder and I had my arm around her waist. A silly smile plastered on our faces. I remember the time we took this picture.
It was around November last year when we won the championship. She made the winning shot and our team was ecstatic. I couldn’t be more proud of her. Then our previous captain insisted that the two of us take a picture together since we were the ones taking over the team next year. Before clicking the camera, our captain said with a chuckle. “I don’t think you’re aware of this but I really ship you guys.” Diane and I looked at each other and we started laughing. I think it was around then that the captain snapped the picture. I didn’t think she would keep it after all that happened.
I sit on the edge of the bed to look closely at her sleeping face. She looks so innocent. Her lips were slightly parted, chest slowly rising and falling in rhythm. I lightly touch her face, feeling her soft skin underneath my fingers. Then I hear the tiniest sound escape her lips. “Alex.” She breathes out. My heart rate rapidly increases. I can’t help but smile as I brush off the golden blonde locks covering her face. It flatters me to know that she calls my name in her sleep. My face is inches away from hers. I could almost feel her breath. I could almost kiss her. But I didn’t, I couldn’t take advantage of her like that.
I take one last look before leaving. “Sleep tight, Dee.”