"So tell me, why is it that I'm seated with my best friend's brother and not her at our usual coffee shop?" I ask a pair of green eyes that were staring into a cup of latte.
He looked up as if realizing only then that a human was present before him.
"Oh." He wipes his mouth with the back of his hand and then gives me his fullest attention. "Ava had to accompany Mom with shopping and she begged on her knees for me to come meet you in her stead."
Is she retarded? She's definitely retarded.
"She couldn't have just called to cancel? What the hell is she doing begging you?" I was mostly speaking to myself but then since I said it out loud, brother gorgeous heard it and gave me a shrug.
Sighing I sip on my juice and then stare out the window, gazing at the boring street which had nothing fun going on to entertain me.
Travis clears his throat but I just ignore him.
I've never, I repeat NEVER sat at a table with a guy, ALONE for more than one millisecond.
Look at what Ava made me do! I'm drinking coffee with a dude.
I would have left the minute he sat down in front of me but then he's Ava's brother and I had to show respect. Plus, he seemed nice with the way he never judged me and congratulated me. And so I'm sucking it up.
Darn it. I could have been practicing.
After the game with the Blakers, we had three more with the Hawkettes gaining victory. Just like Ava had said, I'd been put to play more often on the court. Even Nora had gotten a chance and proved how worthy she was to the team.
With every match that passed, I got greedy for more. I wanted to play more. Prove myself more. I wanted the world to see just how capable Judith Drakeyer was.
"So when is the next match?" Travis asks and I break my gaze from the window and turn to look at him. We're seated but he still manages to make me look up at him.
"In two days," I say cutting it short. But the dude somehow manages to keep the conversation going.
"Richard high school basketball team, Jet Rockers."
Travis chokes almost spitting into his coffee. He doesn't even apologize as he starts laughing.
"Jet rockers? Who in the world names their team Jet rockers?" He asks between his laughs.
I grin so wide he stops laughing.
"Dude, I've been laughing ever since I heard the name. Not a fucking person thought it funny! And here you are laughing." I say with so much happiness that there's a single human who shares my knack for jokes.
And so Travis and I talk more about basketball. It's more like I keep going on and on chattering about my sport and he listens attentively with a smile nodding now and then, and asking me questions.
Is this how it feels to talk to a guy about your interests?
It had never been so fun talking to dad or the dudes at the gym. But somehow Travis made it all the more enjoyable.
"So tell me about yourself," I ask.
"What would you like to know?" He asks not minding me being personal.
"How about what it feels like to be next in line to take over your parents' profession?" I ask and just like the other day at the gym, his face darkens.
I'm not like other girls. I don't coo and apologize with hand touching and gag stuff to make the guy know I'm sorry.
No, I'm different.
I roll my eyes at him and scoff.
He's taken aback as he stares confused.
"Dude, stop being a whiny bitch every time someone asks you about college." I snap and he retaliates with a scowl like a kid.
"Stay out of it." He says with a low growl. A girl seated a few feet away turns to look at us, wondering what's the issue. I shoo her off and turn to frown and the idiot who was drawing attention.
"I never asked them to send me to med school." He was muttering under his breath.
"Then you should have said them so. Not waste their money and then whine now."
"They had all their expectations on me!" The dude yelled but then realized we were out in public and grumbled under his breath.
I grab the napkin and hit him with it for being an ass.
I understood what he was saying. Ava was smart but she was too easy-going and lived life to how she liked. And so it seems her smarty parents had put the whole burden of being a doctor on the son's shoulders.
"You don't like being a doctor?" I ask retrieving the napkin I'd thrown at him and place it on my side of the table.
Travis shook his head and sighed.
"It's not that I don't like. I just feel oppressed. My parents never gave me an ear. They always decide everything when it comes to me. And now they've decided my future career as well."
I didn't want to open my big mouth and upset him even more so I remain shut.
"Is it the same at your place? Is that why you force yourself to be good in both studies and sport?" Travis asks sitting up rather than slouching as he had a moment ago.
"Not really. My dad lets me decide my choices. Mom died when I was one and it's been dad and myself all this time." I say with a shrug. I expect to see pity in Travis's eyes like all others who do when they hear about mom but once again he proved he was not like the others. Travis looked me in the eye and there was an understanding look deep inside.
"So then why are you so deep into studying and playing?"
"Basketball is my dream. To play for the WNBA is my life's only purpose. And to make my dad stand tall and proud is what I live for. For him, I'm willing to sacrifice time and energy so people would pat him on the shoulder and tell him what a wonderful father he is to have brought up a daughter so well, single-handedly."
I didn't know why, but something made me spill my heart out to this stranger. Only Ava knew about all this.
Did I reveal all this because he is Ava's brother?
"What a wonderful man he is to have brought up such a cool, talented daughter."
I've never felt emotional. I don't cry. I don't feel sad unless it has something to do with Dad. But for the first time in my seventeen years, I felt a strong urge to cry. Simple words out of Travis's mouth made me feel like I had really accomplished my goal of being an ideal daughter to my Dad.
"Fuck!" I slurp on the juice and gulp down the entire thing to keep my mind from thinking anything absurd.
I look at Travis who from the very first day since we met had been annoying my butt.
No. No, he has not Judith. It's you who had annoyed him when all he did was help you and spoke nicely to you. You just never wanted to accept the fact that such a guy existed and so you kept dissing him.
"Just... Don't hurt Ava. She's worried about you and I hate anyone who hurts my best friend." I say quickly in a rush and hope the dude understood every word.
I hate being vulnerable and that was exactly what Travis was doing to me.
I grab the napkin before me and then stop a waiter whom I noticed possessed a pen. I ask him for it and he hands it over like I demanded his credit card. I don't give a fuck to his stare as I write down my number on the napkin and then I pass the pen back to its owner who walked away shaking his head. I roll my eyes at his passing form and Travis looks at all this with amusement.
I get to my feet and walk across to Travis and drop the napkin in front of him.
"Call me anytime you feel sorry for yourself. I'll help annoy you more and you'll forget your worries and be busy cursing." I say and turn around to walk out of the shop. I hear Travis's chuckle behind me and a smile creeps onto my lips as I shake my head and leave.
I have to thank Ava for letting me see a side of guys I hadn't known existed. And I should definitely murder her for what she made me go through today.
"Did you give your phone number to my brother?" Ava asks out of nowhere as she falls in step beside me.
I keep my lips tight and she groans like a dying whale.
"Are you still giving me the silent treatment? I already apologized!"
I turn to throw my best friend a menacing glare.
"Next time you go on one of those expensive grocery shopping with your mom, let me know. Don't dump me on a situation I can't handle."
"So did you give your number to Travis?" She asks ignoring my outburst.
I shrug, fighting myself to keep my face from flushing.
"He came home and the first thing he said to me was "Your friend seems like a good girl" before strolling up the stairs whistling."
I keep staring trying to figure out what she's trying to say.
"My brother never says that about a girl! He doesn't even call me a good girl!" She Huff's in annoyance.
This really makes me flush now and I curse myself for being such a wuss for words.
"So why did you give him your number?" The whiny brat was replaced with a winking teenage girl. She was giving me a flirty look, batting her eyelashes.
I roll my eyes at her.
"I know what your trying to do Ava. Stop. He seemed like a good guy. That's all. So stop trying to be a fucking Cupid." I warn her with an extra glare. She just continues batting her eyes and I'm this close to pulling her eyes out of their sockets.
"You still didn't tell me your reason for giving him your number." She says in a teasing tone.
"I was just drunk with juice!" I say aloud and heads turn my way. Some even snicker but I ignore them.
She stares confused. "You can get drunk with juice?" She asks stupidly. And before she could realize I was bluffing, I quickly abandon her and run inside my classroom, banging the door shut behind me.
Thank goodness the class was empty. I had it all to myself to demand myself just what the hell is been thinking to give my personal phone number to a guy!
"What were you thinking Judith? How could you have been so careless? Urgh!" I groan as I dump myself at the back of the class.
There were fifteen minutes more for the class to start. I didn't want anyone walking inside and finding a lunatic talking to herself.
I hope Ava isn't running around the school looking for me. I hid from her when we were a freshman and she had announced through the speakers that her best friend was missing.
My phone vibrates and looking at the screen it displays a message notification.
~I'm not done with you missy~
Ava that idiot.
I pocket my phone and ignore the message. At least I'm safe from public humiliation.
Your friend seems like a good girl. What Ava had said kept repeating itself making my face flush with embarrassment. My dad calls me a good girl all the time. Even the teachers.
So why is this any different?
My phone vibrates once more but I ignore it knowing it's from Ava demanding a reply. It keeps vibrating with tons of messages and then the phone rings.
"What?" I bark not even looking at the phone screen.
"Judy. Get to the gym. Right now!" It was Nora. And she never orders anyone. Her voice sounded hoarse with fear. And it got me to my feet in an instant.
"What's wrong Nora?"
I've never ditched class in my three years of high school. I had perfect attendance. But I was breaking the record when I grabbed my bag and dashed out of the classroom and down the hallway to get to the gym fast.
The bell rings but all I could hear was Nora's words through the phone.