“Hey, hot stuff,” Kris greets me while I was getting things from my locker. “How was the birthday sex?”
“Oh, it was amazing.” Julia pops out from behind me. “Right, baby?”
I don’t need a mirror to know I’m red as a tomato right now.
Kris covers her mouth with both hands. “Oh my fuck, you actually did it?!”
Julia chuckles. “Kidding. I’ll see you inside.” She smiles at me, and my day has just been made.
If you’re wondering what happened after Julia went back to my room, don’t ask me. I fell asleep. The next morning when I opened my eyes, she was gone. Although I did remember something before she left. She whispered something I wasn’t able to register, and I felt her kiss me on the forehead.
“Dude, stop it with the heart eyes it’s gross.” Kris snaps a finger in front of me. “I’m assuming you guys are together now?”
I shake my head, still looking at the retreating figure of Julia. Today, she’s wearing light-colored jeans and a red button-down shirt. I watch how there’s an unusual spring to her step and how the people in the hallway stare at her as she passes by. “I don’t wanna rush it.”
“You mean you guys are calling each other ‘baby,’ openly flirting, sleeping at each other’s house doing God knows what, making out in inappropriate places, and you’re still not together?” Kris asks in her mom-voice. “Add casual sex to the list and it sounds just like a normal hookup.”
Once Julia turns into a corner and disappears out of my sight, I finally shift my attention to Kris. “You know me better than that. I’m serious about her, man. I just don’t know if she’s ready for a relationship.”
“Okay, it’s your call,” Kris says. “If you need help in setting up something grand for your proposal, I’d gladly sign up. You guys are made for each other.”
“I’m not going for anything grand.”
“Why not? Girls love grand gestures. Are you afraid of being rejected?” Kris raises an eyebrow at me. “If you are, you don’t have to worry. She’s definitely going to say yes.”
“It’s not that.” I close my locker. We walk towards our classroom. “I don’t want to put her in a position where she’ll be forced to answer. I want something simple, just the two of us.”
“Speaking of two people, we’re you able to contact Diane?”
I shake my head. Since yesterday, I’ve been trying to contact her to ask how she is, but she’s not answering my calls. I tried calling Georgia too, but her phone is off. “I’ll go check on her at lunch.”
When we enter the room, Julia was talking to one of our classmates. She was slightly smiling. When they see me approaching, Julia holds up her index finger to her lips, making a shush gesture, and the girl chuckles before going away.
I take my seat next to Julia. “It’s nice to see you finally interacting with our classmates.”
“It’s nothing. She just asked me about our lesson in Physics,” she tells me, but I know better. I’ve been noticing how she’s slowly warming up to the people around her, and I couldn’t be happier.
Julia doesn’t show it, but deep down, I know she has a good heart.
I see her eyeing my necklace. “You wore it.”
Instinctively, I touch the silver pendant attached in the middle. “It’s your gift. Of course, I’m gonna wear it.”
“You like it?”
I nod. “Calm chaos,” I say the words engraved out loud.
“I don’t mean anything bad by chaos,” Julia clarifies quickly. “It’s just... those are the words that first came to mind when I thought about what I should put there.”
These two words are direct opposites. Usually, people find calm in the chaos. What does Julia think of me that she thinks the best words to describe me are calm chaos?
At lunch, I kept waiting for Diane to show up at our lunch table, but she never did. I’m getting really worried now.
“Are you sure that Georgia girl is trustworthy?” Alyssa asks. “What if she did something to her?”
“I’m pretty sure,” I tell her, but I begin to question myself. What if they’re right and Georgia wasn’t the person who I thought she was? I would never be able to forgive myself if something happened to Dee.
I bring out my phone and decide to dial her number one last time before I go around and ask people—still nothing. I was about to hang up, but she answers at the last second. “Hey.” Her voice sounds husky like she just woke up.
It felt like a weight was lifted off my chest. “God, Dee, finally,” I breathe out. “Where are you? Why haven’t you been answering my calls?”
I hear her groan on the other end of the line. “What time is it?” I hear her murmur, then I hear scuffling. “Ugh, fuck.”
“What’s wrong? Are you okay?” I stand up from my seat. “Where are you?”
More scuffling. “I’m fine, I’m fine,” she says hurriedly. “I slept in. Sorry for not answering your calls.”
“Are you sure you’re okay?”
I hear another muffled voice. “Shut up, someone’s trying to sleep here.”
“What the fuck?” I hear Dee’s shocked voice.
Is that Georgia?
“What the fuck are you doing here?” This time, her voice sounds far, as if she put her phone away from her face. A second later, she tells me, “I’m fine, babe, thanks for checking up on me. I’ll see you later.” Then she hangs up.
I try to ignore the fact that she spoke to me as if we were still together and focus on the important details. First, she’s okay. Second, she’s with Georgia. Third, whatever happened or did not happen between them is none of my business.
But there’s nothing wrong with asking, is there?
Diane skipped all of her classes today but showed up for training, as I predicted she would. Basketball is the most important thing in the world to her. If she’s forced to choose between basketball and me, she’d definitely pick the sport over me.
In all the years I’ve known her, not once did I hear her complain about all the drills Coach makes us do. She’s focused and disciplined. It’s thanks to her that I have my abs. When we were still together, we’d often go to the gym to work out.
“Sorry about the phone call earlier.” She sits next to me during one of our water breaks.
“Why were you with Georgia?”
Diane shoots me a skeptical look as if weighing what to answer. “It’s a long story.”
I nod. It’s not my place to force her to tell me. She’s not my girlfriend anymore. “She didn’t force herself on you, did she?”
“Hm. No,” she answers flatly.
If she didn’t force herself on you, did you do it willingly? I wanted to ask her, but I’m afraid to know the answer.
“You don’t have to worry about me,” she says. I don’t bother to hide my confusion. She smiles a knowing smile, her eyes turning tender. “It’s written all over your face, Captain.”
I turn soft at the mention of an old nickname she gave me—back when we weren’t dating yet. “Just take care of yourself, okay?”
After training, I head to the office. Julia texted me to meet her before going home.
“Hi, baby,” I greet her as I put down my bag on one of the chairs. “Miss me?”
Julia turns around on her chair. “You’re the one who’s gonna miss me.”
“What do you mean?”
“I’m leaving for a few days.” She stands up from her chair and walks over to where I’m standing. “I’m going to Japan with my dad.”
The smile on my face disappears. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?” I pout. “I could’ve spent more time with you.”
Julia chuckles. “He just called this afternoon to let me know. I texted you right after. We’re leaving tonight.”
“So you wanted to see me before leaving?” I try to hide the smile returning to my lips.
“Yeah, I’ll miss this annoying face when I’m in Tokyo.” She brings her hand up to touch my cheek, caressing it softly with her thumb.
“Come here.” My hands snake around her waist and I pull her into an embrace. Julia wraps her arms around my neck. She hugs me fiercely, almost choking me. Who’s gonna miss who now?
Her scent wafts under my nose and I can’t help but inhale deeply—a mix of green apple and her sweet-scented shampoo. We stay like that for a minute before I pull away just enough to see her face. “I’ll miss this pretty face.”
Almost every time we kissed, she’s the one who initiated. I was too afraid to make a move because she might get mad and come to hate me. But not this time.
I take her lips in mine. The moment our lips touch, electricity shoots every nerve in my body. I savor the softness of her lips and the bitter taste of coffee still lingering.
The slow innocent kissing quickly turns to passionate, heated kissing. I lick her bottom lip, earning a soft groan from Julia, and soon, our tongues danced with each other.
Julia hits the table behind her. I waste no time lifting her and positioning myself between her legs without breaking the kiss. She grabs the front of my hoodie with both her hands and pulls me, closing the gap between us.
I cup her face with one hand as my tongue invades her mouth. Julia gasps. A tingling sensation made its way into my fingertips, and I can tell that the more this kiss keeps going, the harder it will be to stop. I continue anyway.
The heat from between Julia’s thighs fuels my own arousal. When she finally gasps for air, I pull her back just as fast. The aggressiveness startles Julia, but I can feel her smiling into the kiss. God, she’s intoxicating.
I nip on her bottom lip. Then I start to suck on it. This time, Julia lets out an unrestrained moan. But unlike all the other times she expressed her pleasure, she doesn’t stop. She doesn’t push me away.
My entire body is screaming for her. I’m very tempted to touch places I know I shouldn’t. It would be so easy to reach out under her top. To undo the buttons on her blouse. To unclasp her bra in one—
A phone vibrates. I don’t care. But apparently, Julia does. She tries to shake me off. “Wait, it must be my dad.”
I groan. I plant a kiss on the side of her lips. “Later.” Her cheek. “Not enough kisses.” Her jaw.
“Al,” she chuckles. “One minute.”
Julia picks up her phone. “Dad?”
I can hear the voice of her dad, but I can’t make out what he’s saying.
“Yeah, I’m on my way home.” Julia nods. “Okay. Bye.”
When she ends the call, she gives me an apologetic smile. I don’t have to ask what that means.
We walk to the parking lot holding hands, stopping only when we reach her car. “Behave when I’m gone, will you?” She looks at me through her long, black lashes.
“I’ll try,” I grin.
I pull her in for one last hug. “You smell so good,” she mumbles through my hoodie.
An idea pops into my head. Julia must’ve seen the smile on my face because she asks, “What?” As if I’m plotting something evil.
I take off my hoodie, the shirt I’m wearing underneath tugs up as I pull it over my head. I hand it to her. “You can have it.”
Julia’s face lights up and my heart melts. She snatches the hoodie off my hand without hesitation. “Thought you’d never offer.”
“Don’t lose it. It’s my favorite.”
She raises an eyebrow. “You sure it’s okay for me to have it?”
“It’s fine,” I say, planting a swift kiss on her forehead. “You’re my favorite.”
She blushes, then finally goes inside her car. “I’ll see you soon.”
I let out a sigh as she drives away. This is gonna be a long week.