After School Club

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XVI - Games

“Esme? Esme?”

Audrey called my name, sitting on her bed and running fingers through her dark waves. I blinked repeatedly and rubbed at my eyes, sighing and sitting up. I rummaged through my bag to grab my phone, and my eyes widened when I saw the time.

“I need to be at school in an hour,” I told her, sliding out of bed and shaking my hair away from my face. “What about you, are you fine for time?”

Audrey nodded and smiled reassuringly, standing up too and going over to her backpack, pulling out her change of clothes. “I’m alright. Waking up in a hotel room is awesome. We have to do this again sometime, for longer.”

I nodded in agreement with a smile and glanced at the door. “What do you think’s up with the boys?”

She rolled her eyes and shrugged. “Who knows. They’re not making us late, though. Just leave them to it, Es. You can go in the shower first if you want.”

This Tuesday morning was different from my usual, but this kind of change was okay. I was with my friends, and the atmosphere was a clear and positive one. It was nice to have company, whereas usually, I’m the first one up back at home.

“You will text me or something later right?” Audrey asked as I stepped out of the bathroom and pulled a light grey hoodie over my head, “I wanna know what stunt Maddox’ll try to pull off for his club today. Don’t let him torture you, girl.”

I laughed and nodded. “I will, I promise. Is your school far from here?”

“No, not really. I got the car anyway. C’mon, we can grab stuff from the breakfast buffet downstairs. We should probably grab something for those lazy idiots too - damn, are they even up yet? I’ll drive you if Maddox takes too long, okay?”

Me and Audrey went downstairs, picking up wrapped pastries and drinks before going back upstairs again.

“We might as well load our bags into the car,” Audrey said, then groaned impatiently and hammered on Sebastian and Maddox’s door. “Hurry up, losers, or we’ll leave without you.”

The door swung open, revealing Sebastian with a grin on his face as he shoved his sister lightly. “Excuse me, miss, but this is a private area.”

Audrey scoffed and pulled me back inside our room, Sebastian following.

“That was cool, though. last night. We should do it again,” he told us, and I nodded, swinging my rucksack over my shoulder. Maddox appeared behind Sebastian with his usual smirk and glanced around the room.

“Alright?”

“We were,” Audrey said jokingly, and ushered them out the room, grabbing our key card and throwing snacks at them. “Come on, I have double art first and I don’t wanna miss flinging paint around for two hours.”

“Speaking of double classes-”

“Don’t,” I cut Maddox off, rolling my eyes, and he grinned.

“We’d better go,” Audrey said, and Sebastian nodded, “so I’ll see you guys around. Maddox, if you traumatise Esme today I will personally hire your brother as her lawyer.”

“Yeah yeah, go to your art class, weirdo,” Maddox said dismissively with a smirk, pulling out his car keys and heading downstairs. Audrey smiled and hugged me tightly before rushing off to her car, pulling her brother along behind her, and Maddox unlocked his own, starting up the engine.

“You know, we’ve got to hand in the project tomorrow,” I reminded him as he pulled his car away from the space. “For English.”

“Yeah, right. It’s pretty much done anyway, but you can check it over at some point later today if you want. If we have time.”

“Why wouldn’t we?” I asked warily, and he smirked and shook his head.

“Again, for me to know and you to find out. Seriously, you enjoyed yesterday, so don’t go doubting my methods now.”

It seemed like my evening yesterday wasn’t the only one with a change to it - Lavinia and Leroy announced that they were ‘casually dating’ and demanded that questions weren’t asked. Maddox and Harley ignored it, of course, and Melissa and Carmen tactfully avoided the subject.

“So, what did you do after school yesterday, Es?” she asked me as we packed up our things at the shrill ring of the end of school bell.

“I, um, I sort of rode a motorbike with Maddox and stayed at The River Front with him and a couple of other friends.”

Melissa’s eyes widened in surprise. “Wow! Did you enjoy it?”

I nodded and smiled at her, grabbing my bag and heading to the door with her and Carmen.

“You know what you’re doing today?” Carmen asked, and I shook my head.

“Not sure. He did mention something about a thing for a new hobby, but I don’t know...”

“Oh, cool! You should try out football, Esme, it’s great.”

“I’m not going to say it again. I can’t do sports."

“Neither can I,” Melissa said with a shrug, “but I don’t really like it anyway.”

“You don’t know if you don’t try,” Carmen told us, then smiled and nodded at Harley standing a small distance away. “Well, good luck, Es.”

“I’m sure it’ll be great,” Melissa said, “I’ve got art club, actually, so text me later!”

“Another artist,” Maddox said from behind us, and I rolled my eyes at his voice with a small smile, “their art is like your math, right?”

“Don’t even go there,” I responded, and he grinned as Melissa smiled slightly and went off to her club.

“My club’s better than any art one,” Maddox said, unlocking his car, “c’mon, we’re going to mine today.”

“Okay. Is your brother gonna be there?”

“Probably,” he said as he started up the engine, “but I’m locking him out of my room if he starts getting at me with you. It’s like Mean Girls, but-”

“But it’s not,” I finished with a smile, “and you’re not locking me in a room. I’ll draw SOS on your window.”

“Oh come on,” he said with a grin, “it’s not torture, it’s fun. And it will be today, trust me.”

Maddox pulled up outside his house and unlocked the front door, shoving it open and dumping his rucksack on the floor. Mason was in the living room doing an online class, but he smirked and winked at me when he noticed us. Maddox rolled his eyes and grabbed a few snacks from the fridge before going upstairs, with me following behind him.

“Okay, what are we doing?”

“Fun stuff,” he told me with a smirk, closing his bedroom door and pulling out a large box from under his bed, picking it up and placing it on his bed. “Go ahead, open it.”

I glanced at him and back at the box before carefully lifting the lid, then staring wide-eyed at its contents.

“It’s... it’s...”

A sleek black box was laying inside with a PS and Sony label, with a black controller, four buttons on each side and two circle pads and a mini touchscreen. Headphones lay on top, with an adjustable mic attached to one side.

“It’s a PS4,” Maddox said with a smirk. “And it’s yours.”

“W-wait, what?!”

He grinned and rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I know, I’m heavenly.”

“Maddox, PS4′s cost hundreds. And I’m not really a gamer.”

“Yeah, well, it’s from a tech store that was closing down. Dad’s friend. He did him a favour and we got it. I’ve already got one I share with Mason, so I figured this could work as your new hobby when you’re not revising and stuff. And it’s more fun.”

“Wow,” I breathed, looking back up at him, “thanks, you really didn’t have to, you know...”

He shrugged with a half-smile, running his fingers through dirty blonde locks. “Yeah, sure. It’s no problem.”

“You know I have no idea how to work any of this, right?”

He smirked then, and got up to a draw, pulling it open and revealing tons of games stashed away inside. “Well, I’ll teach you, duh. Might as well use my play station since we’re here because you’re taking that home. Or we can go to yours and game there. Mason’ll set it up for you.”

So that’s what we did. Mason and Maddox bought it over to mine - what with my mum out and my dad in his room, we went up to my room and Mason plugged it all in below a small LG television I have resting on a long white chest of drawers, given by Patricia a couple of years ago.

“Yep, that should work,” Mason said, as he finished plugging it in, “I’ve got spare games back at ours somewhere. I’ll try dig ’em out while Maddie shows you the ropes, okay?”

I nodded with a smile and Maddox scoffed and pushed him out, and the rest of the day was me and Maddox, setting up accounts and playing random, stressful but enjoyable games. After about t an hour or so, Mason came back with about ten games he said I could try out and keep if I wanted. Maddox got out his phone at around 7.00 and ordered a takeout, the sky’s shade gradually darkening.

“Stop screaming, Esme, or your dad’s gonna think I’m murdering you in your room!”

“I can’t help it, it’s stressful!”

“You’re in 3rd place, just stop moving your controls so quickly and you won’t fall off the road!” Maddox laughed as we played against each other on some racing game, lying on stomach down on my bed with pillows and cushions and snacks scattered all over the place. It was quite dark out now in the mid-evening and after skidding over the track and falling out of range for the hundredth time, a text came up on my phone from my mum.

“My mum’s coming home soon,” I told Maddox as he put the game on pause, “she’s gonna think I’ve had some wild party or something.”

“Nah, you’ll be fine. I told you you’d enjoy gaming. And you can play online with us on weekends and stuff too.”

I put down my controller and threw away the rubbish discarded on the floor, and Maddox sat u[, grabbing his controller and glancing outside the window.

“I should probably get back too before my step mum gets back and gives me an inquisition. Oh, and I might need to let you know now about what we’re doing on Friday.”

I nodded and brushed my hair out of my face, looking to him. “Um, okay. What are we doing?”

He smirked then, standing up.

“Beth’s party.”

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