Travis's legs are too long for my liking. With just one step he was too far away. I had to jog to keep up with him.
Should I call out to him? Maybe it's best if I just turn around and go back home.
The heartless jerk. First he humiliates me by paying for my drink and now this? I mean it's not even my fault. Whatever Jeremy said made this guy go looney.
I'm about to grab a rock from the sidewalk and throw it at him when he slows down and makes a sudden stop.
"I'm sorry Judy. I don't know why I snapped. I just didn't like that dude." He apologizes so suddenly. There is sincerity in his tone and I had to forgive him.
"It's fine. Are you okay now?" I ask just in case he's still got some pent up fury buried inside that he's planning to unleash later on.
"Yeah yeah. All good." He says and gives a smile for extra effect. "What's that behind your back?" He asks confused. I chuckle nervously as I slowly drop the rock I picked up.
"On its nothing. Let's keep going." I say chirpily so he wouldn't throttle my neck for attempt murder towards him. I link my arm with his so we could walk in equal steps. Didn't know such a simple move would make his ears go red.
Is that a normal thing? I haven't seen Ava's ears going red when we link hands. Guys can be so intricate.
The surrounding shifts from a busy street to a calm and quiet neighborhood. I realise we're going towards the Kelley park. I used to come for strolls here with Ava back when we were in middle school. It's been so long since then. I got busy with basketball and practices that I never had time for a walk in the park.
"So nostalgic." I was planning to talk to myself but Travis was eavesdropping.
"Ava said you liked this park alot when you were kids so I thought of bringing you back here." He says with a gentle smile, his eyes shinning in the afternoon sun. "Let's go." With that he loosens my grip on his forearm and wraps his big hand on mine. I look at our clasped hands and back at him. Travis didn't seem to mind holding hands but he was embarrassed to link arms?
The park was slightly crowded than usual and I hate crowds. I hate the eyes that follow me around. This time I wasn't with Ava but a guy. Travis was sure to attract attention with his looks alone and I prepared myself for the worst.
I didn't have to wait long. There comes a couple of giggling girls towards us. Why do they sway their hips so much? Is there something sticking out their butts?
"It's such a wonder to find guys these days taking their little siblings out for walks. You are such a sweet older brother." One of the strange girl cooes as she speaks to Travis. The other snickers behind her back but makes this weird eye at me as if seeing some baby in a cot. I glare at them both and try to tear my hands off of Travis's but his grip only hardens.
"Ladies. A pleasant afternoon." He says with a lopsided grin and I can imagine the girls self destructing themselves mentally at his hotness. "My sister is back home sniffling over a couple of cliche romance drama. If I'd known you wanted to see me walking her I'd have brought her along. But since I'm on a date -" his tone suddenly turns grave with fury, "I hate nuisances."
Damn. Burn. He literally called these two a nuisance.
Thank goodness the girls understood his words. They marched off in anger, after throwing me a dirty glare.
Great. I'm at fault for doing nothing.
I remove my hands from Travis's grip and he stares down at me confused. "Judith?"
"Let's just walk with our hands to ourselves Tray." I say pocketing my hands into the shorts. But Travis doesn't listen. He pries my hand out of my pocket and grips it tight once more.
"I'm holding onto you," I quirk a brow at him for a valid explanation as to why, "uh- because if I don't then you'll join those kids in playing." He finishes and I stare at him confused.
What kids? Do I look like some brat who would join-
Kids playing dribbles on a basketball. That's the kind of play Travis meant.
I stand still keeping myself in check. Like I would join them. Who was he underestimating?
Oh fuck whatever!
"Just a couple of minutes. Please?" I give him an extra puppy eye. Ava always does that so I hope it works for me too.
Chuckling Travis let's go and I jog to where the kids were playing. A couple of boys who seemed to be in their middle school years.
"Hey." I wave at them as I draw closer and they stop to stare at a stranger. One of the kid looks at me in doubt. Yeah I'm a pedophile here to kidnap you.
Drop that expression for Christ sake! What am I even supposed to do with a kidnapped child?
"What do you want?" The kid snaps and I prepare to give him a good pummeling for disrespect.
No Judith. Your the elder one here. Calm down.
Breath in. Breath out.
"Can I join you in playing?" I ask sweetness dripping from my mouth that I wanted to vomit.
"We're not playing. This is called dribbling." The obnoxious kid says with a sneer.
I punch the kid on the head and he drops his ball and stares at me wide eyed. "Yeah I know it's dribbling you brat! Stop acting like some high school wannabe."
"Jude." Now he decides to come to my rescue. Scowling I turn to Travis who was shaking his head at me.
"So tall." One of the kid drools as he sets his sight on Travis. "Do you play basketball?" He asks wonder in his eyes.
"Nope. I've never even stole a ball or done a basket?" He asks unsurely looking at me mentally asking if the phrases he was using were correct. I nod and he grins. "She's the one in the female basketball team." Travis juts his thumb at me and in sync their heads turn to me.
"You?" The brat asks scornfully. "Which team?"
I swear if he keeps sneering I'm going to rip his mouth apart.
"I go to WestView high." I say. Anyone interested in basketball, male or female should know the Hawkettes when only the name of the school is given.
The kids look at each others faces but one looks at me with sparkling eyes.
"Judith Drakeyer?" He asks in wonder.
Who's this kid?
"Do I know you kid?" I ask in doubt. The sparkle in his eyes doesn't fade away as he shakes his head vigorously.
"My name is Noah Jenkins. Nora's brother." He says with a wide grin making him look even more adorable.
"Nora had a brother?" I ask the kid in shock. His grin falls and morphs into surprise. Travis groans at my lack of thinking before talking.
"You thought the members of your team were single kids?" Noah questions me. I felt like slapping myself for being so stupid.
"Sorry please forget I ever asked such a question." I say to the kid and he stares at me in even more of a shock. "But how do you know me? I don't think Nora is the type to talk about her teamies at home."
Noah shakes his head, his dark curls bouncing. They had the same dark locks and intense grey eyes. "My sister does talk about her teamies to mom and me. She talks more about you to be precise." He pauses to take in my utter shock as I shamelessly let my mouth drop open. "Also I've been to every single match of the summer league. I would recognise you anywhere. You are my favourite player this season." The kid finishes with his grin coming back and the twinkling sparkle back on.
A nobody like me who wasn't even on the radar of anyone's vision is now favoured by someone. A kid who loves basketball.
Someone out there knows Judith Drakeyer.
If I hug this kid would I be arrested for pedophility?
"Don't even think about it." Someone whispers strongly in my ear as a set of arms grab me from behind, keeping me still from doing something regrettable.
How does he even know what I'm thinking!?
"Does she really play basketball?" One of the kid asks Noah and the latter nods strongly, I'm afraid his head is going to crack and fall out with the amount of head shakings he's been doing.
"You're sure she's not just a bench warmer?" The rude kid I snapped at earlier asks Noah as he looks at me sceptically. I scoff at the boy as I roll my eyes.
What's with this brat and his dissing?
"Can you show us a few moves please?" Noah pleads so cutely I just could not say no. Why can't all kids be so adorable? And just how in the world did Nora end up with such a ball of cuteness?
I can't be judgy though. I know a set of siblings who are polar opposites. I look behind me at Travis and his gaze drifts to me with a questioning look.
"Sure." I say grinning at Noah and he grins back extra wide. The ball is thrown to me and I twirl it on my finger getting the feel of the ball as a sigh of relief leaves me.
How I miss holding a ball.
"But she's not properly dressed to play!" The annoying brat starts.
"I'd play basketball even in bikinis! You got a problem with that you squirt?" I snap. He stares at me baffled. Travis snickers and I turn to him perking a brow in a whats-the-deal look. He stops but his smirk doesn't drop.
I totally forget the fact that I'm actually on a date as I dribble the ball back and forth from one hand to the other. I make the dribbling fast and then faster. That's when the kids apart from Noah show interest. I dribble the ball in-between by legs and then I switch from Palm dribble to two fingered dribbling.
"Try to get the ball from my hands." I say and the excited kids all come running to me at once. Even the annoying one.
I must say the brat and Noah have quite the potential. They're going to be great players in the future. The two of them are the only two who were anywhere close to touching the ball.
Travis stood to the side as he watched our little game. We drew quite a few people's attention and soon a small circle formed around us. Some cheered the little ones to succeed while some, teens to be exact cheered me on to squash them.
I wasn't belittling them. I gave my all in securing the ball in my grip. I never play according to a person's potential. I give my best and treat them all equally.
That is why these boys soon get really into the game. They throw their jackets away and come back to snatch the ball from me. While trying to keep the ball in my hold I advised them on what they were doing wrong and the steps that were mistook.
It was a game of grab the ball for these boys except for Noah and brat. They played with the rules of a basketball player. They didn't try to just bump into me and claw the ball away but they both worked together as partners to divert my attention and steal the ball from me.
Thirty minutes later the lot of them dropped to the ground panting while brat and Noah bent to hold on to their knees as they caught their breath.
The crowd dispersed after applauding the boys efforts and I join them in applauding these boys.
"You-" one of them starts as he groans and sits up, "are amazing."
I could feel my face flush with happiness. Yes they're kids but approval and recognition is the same no matter the age or gender.
"Told you she's awesome." Noah says proudly puffing his chest out and I can't stop myself from chuckling.
I throw the ball back to rude boy and he catches it smoothly. A grim frown plastered on his face. I ruffle his hair and he glares at me.
"You've got talent kid. I can definitely see you and Noah in a game of basketball in the future." I say with a smile when he's the only one paying attention to me. He looks at Noah and then back at the ground. I don't miss the tiny smile that turns his lip upwards.
"Greg." A soft voice barely audible.
"What?" I ask genuinely confused.
"My name is Greg. You better remember it!" He snaps but I don't snap back at him. I know the look he's giving me very well. I had the same one not too long ago. Recognition. Greg was hoping for recognition.
"I don't think I'll need to remember." I say and he scowls, "because you are going to earn a place in the world of basketball that your name will be appearing everywhere." I finish and he stares at me awestruck.
I ruffle the kid's hair once more and then Noah's.
"Thanks alot for the game boys. Have fun." I call out and they wave to me as I walk to where Travis was standing all to himself.
"Sorry Tray. I got too excited and it's this late already." I apologize but he just gives me an understanding smile and takes my hand in his like it's the most natural thing to do.
"The movie will be starting soon. We need to hurry." And with that we pick up our pace and get to his car parked in the cafés driveway. I guess he had been furious back then to just abandon this beauty.
Travis drives like a madman on the run while I grip onto the dashboard in front of me for dear life. Many a times I hit my face on the side that I openly cursed Travis.
Is this how a drive on a date is like? Goodness I'm about to die!
Travis parks the car in the parking lot and before I could remove the seat belt he's on my side of the car and rips the door open. Yanking off the seat belt he pulls me out and runs to the entrance of the movie theatre.
"What's the rush you Psycho!?" I yell at him but he ignores me entirely. Only once we are in line to get our ticket does he breath and look at me.
"Once this date comes to an end I'm fucking murdering you for trying to have killed me." I whisper harshly gritting my teeth tightly to keep my mouth from spouting any more cruel words to the guy in public.
By the time I'm seated in the air conditioned room in front of the big screen I'm tired, exhausted and drained out with the way this guy was pulling me through this date.
The movie starts but I don't really pay attention. I've never been one to enjoy movies or dramas. Nor music. I only agreed for a movie is cause Ava told me watching a movie on your date is the most important. I have no idea why though.
Travis hadn't let go of my hand the whole time and even now had his hand gripping mine. I didn't want him to feel embarrassed with me pulling my hand from his and so sighing I lean back on the comfy seat and decide to sleep.
The opening of the movie starts with that lady holding the torch. I could hear Travis moving beside me as I shut my eyes for some sleep.
"Jude. Jude. Judith!" A rough shake wakes me up.
"Coach!" I say aloud as I get to my feet wide eyed. Looking around I try to make out where in the hell I am.
"Judith?" An unsure voice calls out to me.
Oh. Right. I'm at the movies with Travis.
"Sorry was having a nightmare." I say sitting back down. Thank heavens the hall was empty or I'd have been a laughing stock. Travis perks a brow with laughter in his eyes. "You have nightmares of your coach?" He asks amused. I only shrug. I mean what's to hide? I do get nightmares of coach harlot turning to a devil coach. "The movie is over. Let's go." He says shaking his head at me and I follow him out feeling slightly remorseful.
"Sorry. I don't really like movies. I would have fallen asleep anyways." I say but Travis just smiles. He doesn't look upset nor mad.
"It's fine Judy. I actually had fun staring at your snoring face with drool dripping."
I stop in my track as I stare at him in utmost shock. I snored? I drooled? I might as well just kill myself before I embarrass myself any further.
Travis breaks out laughing while I'm busy making up plans on how to run home. "I was just kidding Judith. You slept like a baby. God your expression just now." And he laughs even harder.
I glare at him in anger. How dare he embarrass me! Let him stand here all by himself. I'm leaving.
I march ahead leaving Travis behind, anger seething off of me. I can't believe I fell for him.
"Sorry Judith. I was only teasing. Sorry." Travis throws an arm over my shoulder and pulls me close grinning down at me.
The anger that was once in me subdued, as my cheeks flushed red.
What's with the closeness? Travis has never sticked this close to me. He has never even walked anywhere close to me. What's with him today?
I don't say anything as he leads me out the theatre. The sun was almost setting and the sky was a beautiful orange. I stood still for a couple of minutes breathing in the evening sir. I've always loved the outdoors.
"What do you say for dinner?"
"I'm sorry what?" I ask him to repeat what ever he had said. Travis who had taken a few steps away closed them down as he came to stand in front of me.
"Dinner. Shall we?" He asks once more. I heave a deep sigh.
"Travis I can't let you keep paying for me. And wasn't it only cafe, walk and movie?" I question thinking back to when he had called me before setting up the places for the date today. I'm sure he never mentioned dinner.
"As an apology for sleeping during the movie. It hurt my feelings back then." And to make his point his face suddenly drops in a sad smile. I know that look well. He's so identical to Ava. Thing is their eyes never lie. I could very well see the merriment in those green orbs.
Before I could give him a reply my phone rings saving my ass. I quickly answer it so that Travis can't plead me to not do so.
"Hello?" I say into the phone and wait for a reply from the other side. Like always I answered the call without looking at the caller ID.
"Judith? We've got an emergency practice session in half an hour. Make sure you get here in time." Senora says, her voice slightly edgy with the rattling and screeching in her background.
Is she on the train or something?
"Got it. See you at the gym Senora." And I cut the line. I could feel my blood start rushing with the excitement of practice. I don't think anyone would love practice as much as I do. I've been practicing solo ever since I was a kid that team practices always had me feeling thrilled.
With a gentle skip in my step I turn to Travis with a big smile but then I drop the cheerfulness when I find him looking at me sadly. This was genuine sadness. Not an act. His eyes had lost the merry sparkle it had just a minute ago.
"Travis?" I ask reaching out to touch his arm.
"Are you leaving?" He probes. I want to tell him I've practice but something feels like it's stuck in my throat. I only give a nod. Travis grabs me by the shoulders, his nails digging in hurting me.
"Just one date. I just need one date without you having to run away from me. Just this once Judith. Stay with me." He pleads fervently. I'm spellbound by the way his voice sounded so desperate. I couldn't push his hands aside and run to the gym.
Travis doesn't let go and we stand in the same awkward position for sometime until a couple asks us to move aside.
Sighing I finally agree to stay with him for dinner. For the first time ever since I joined the Hawkettes I was missing practice. I call back Senora and say her that since the practice was decided so suddenly I can't find anyone to look after dad's gym since I was incharge.
I felt so bad since she kept trying to convince me but Travis's firm hold on my hand made me continue lying.
"Thank you." Travis breathes out a sigh of relief as he gives me a smile. Finally he looks normal. "I know a good place we can have dinner. Let's go Jude." And so I follow him to his car every step I take making my heart sink further and further with guilt.
At half past ten Travis pulls over at my house. The lights were on signalling Dad was already inside. I push open the car door and step outside, the night wind brushing my bare arms making chills run inside of me. Travis walks up over to me and smiles down at me.
"I had an awesome time today. Thank you so much Judith." Travis says with a warm smile. I try to return the smile hoping with all my heart I wasn't looking like a frog with my strange face. I mean how can he even say it was an awesome day when it was so catastrophic? I barely managed to stay alive today.
Even at dinner I had been very picky with the food I was ordering exhausting the poor waiters.
"I had fun too Tray. Thanks for letting me experience something new." I say straining to look at his face while rubbing my arms to keep myself warm.
We remain quiet for some time since we have nothing else to do. I play with my foot making circles on the ground. Travis clears his throat to divert my attention from the ground to him.
"So... I'll see you soon?" He asks and I give him a firm nod.
My mind suddenly clouds with thoughts of my conversations with Ava. Her teachings of what a date is and the things to be done. The final parting of the date is when the couple kiss?
Aren't I parting ways with Travis?
I whip my head to stare at him and goodness he was edging closer towards me.
What in the world!?
I take baby steps back so as to not let him know I was being conscious of him and his movements. Travis doesn't take the hint that I was moving away from him and he keeps closing the gap between us.
"Tra-" before I could finish I trip and fall on my butt.
Why God. Why do you have to be so cruel?
Chuckling Travis extends his hand to help me up. I refuse to take his hand after he made me feel so embarrassed. Face flushing, I quickly scramble to my feet.
A soft peck on my cheek. Turning to my left I find Travis grinning with his ears red, a sign that he's feeling embarrassed.
"That would do for now." He says as he ruffles my hair and retraces his steps back to his car. "Good night Judith."
As he drives his car off towards his house I sink to my feet, crouching and hugging my knees to cover my face so dad wouldn't hear the squeal that escapes my lips.