Sorry but I’m busy washing my hair
'Everyone on for going to Hal's diner?'
A chorus of exhausted voices agreed. It was the end of a killer football practise and I think we were all in agreement today that we couldn't wait for it to be over. Instead of the usual cool afternoon, lit by hazy sunshine, today was overcast and drizzly. If I ever needed a reminder of home it was a day like today.
We were all on our way to the changing rooms when one of the guys asked about Hal's.
'Eve you in?' someone asked.
I shrugged as I tried to tame my damp soon to be triple in size curly hair.
'I don't know.' I turned to my ride home for an answer. 'Are we Harrison?'
After a while I felt bad asking Taliah to wait around for me to finish practise. She said she didn't mind as it meant she could get all of her homework done before going home but Harrison started giving me lifts back so it's become a bit of a routine.
'Evie's in.' He confirmed as he ruffled his hands through my damp curls messing up any attempt I'd tried to neaten it. The shit.
'Cool see you there.' Eric one of the youngest on the team said before pushing his way into the locker room along with the other guys.
I nodded in response and turned to a sweaty Harrison who had held back from the group.
'See you in a sec.' I said before making my way into the girl's locker room to get changed.
Once I was dried off and changed into warmer clothes, I met Harrison at his car and then we headed off to Hal's.
'Do you have any plans tomorrow after school?' Harrison glanced over at me quickly before turning back to the road.
Tomorrow was Friday and thankfully that meant the weekend was almost here. It really had been a long bloody week.
'Nope I don't think so.'
That was obviously the right answer as he nodded in approval before responding.
'Well you do now.'
I like this assertive side of him. I could be a stubborn as hell but that didn't mean I didn't like him bossing me about. It made me feel like he was my, Oh I don't know, my boyfriend?
Trying to keep my attention on reality rather than imagining us being a couple, I distracted myself with replying.
'And what exactly have I got myself into?'
'Well we've been learning about how to take cool water shots in photography so I thought I could experiment with you. As long as you don't mind that is?'
He could ask me to jump through a hoop at this point and I would say yes.
'I also thought you'd like to see some more of the photos we've taken so maybe we could do that and we could take some shots in my pool? What do you think?'
I watched as he drummed his fingers on the steering wheel to the faint music in the background and wondered for a split second, was he nervous?
'Sounds good to me.'
Although, the thought of looking through photos of me makes me want to cringe. I definitely wasn't a model and I bet I looked like a wally in most of the ones from the other day.
'Good answer.' A green eye winked at me before we pulled into the car park outside Hal's.
Most of the guys were already there when we walked through the door and they beckoned us over to their table.
Joseph got up as I approached and made the guys budge up for me.
'Make room for the little one.'
'Little? You may not want to make fun of someone's size my friend, especially before you've seen these muscles.'
To prove my point, I pushed back the sleeve of Harrison's hoody (that I was still wearing) to show my measly biceps.
Unfortunately, this just earned a laugh and a pat on the back.
'You're right, you're huge.'
I took my seat in between Joseph and another guy, Mark. Tom who was sat in front looked over at me as I got comfy. I raised my eyebrows at him expectantly as I waited for him to say whatever it was he wanted to say.
'We've ordered for you.'
'Thanks, but what have you ordered? I may have an appetite and a serious protectiveness over my food but you know I can't eat as much as you guys manage to put away.'
Sometimes I watched James at dinner out of sheer curiosity. How a kid that small could eat the amount he did was a mystery to me. It's like he has a bottomless pit of a stomach.
'I've ordered you the same as me and before you start complaining we'll eat your left overs, so don't you worry about that.'
How that boy managed to say that like he was doing me a favour is beyond me. Especially as I knew he'd only ordered for me because he wanted to eat a meal and a half. Like I said, these boys can eat.
I stuck my tongue out at him and then turned to join a conversation with Mark. The group of us were so busy joking around it felt like no time till the food arrived.
In the end Tom had ordered me a cheese burger and spicy fries. I forgot just how good the food was here. Just as I thought though, I got half way through my meal and I was full.
That's one thing I've noticed since living here in America, the portion sizes are huge. How anyone manages to eat starters here is beyond me because even they were the size of a main course.
It didn't take long for the hands to dig in once I declared I'd been beaten. I excused myself to use the bathroom but the guys were too busy stuffing their faces to notice me leaving the table.
As I was coming back from the ladies a familiar looking group of teenagers jumped out of a booth and headed towards the exit. However, one in particular turned back when they noticed me.
'Well, well, well look who it is.'
Jake stood in front of me with a cheeky grin on his face.
'You managed to stay awake long enough to make it through the whole day then.'
It was more of a statement than a question but I still replied.
'Just about, but that was only because I was promised food.' I motioned to the restaurant surrounding me which earned a smile from him.
'Ah so that's the way to your heart then? I'll remember that.' An almond shaped eye winked at me as he leaned himself against an empty booth.
'What brings you here then? Other than the delicious food of course.' The way he looked at me with an all serious face made a chuckle escape from my lips.
I pointed over to the table we're all the guys we're currently creating a mass of noise and chaos. I looked around to some of the guys throwing chips at Tom who was trying and failing to catch them in his mouth.
'I unfortunately am part of that craziness. It was a long practise today so we thought we deserved it.'
I watched as his eyes looked me up and down until they eventually met back up with mine.
'Well I must say you look good for a girl that's been running around a field for an hour.'
'Thanks, I guess I'll take that as a compliment.'
He gave me a wide grin which I supposed meant that was the meaning.
'Any plans for this weekend?' He asked changing the subject.
Crossing my arms and popping my hip, I copied his position of leaning against a booth wall.
'I do yes.'
'Someone's being secretive.' An amused look washed over his face but he didn't push me for the answer he wanted.
'Well I'm free Sunday night if you end up needing help with the math homework.'
I hadn't looked at the homework yet but if it had anything in it from today's class then I will definitely have to take him up on the offer.
'Thanks Jake. Like I said before I may have to take you up on that offer.'
'Jake.' One Of his friends called from the doorway. He waved him off and turned back to me.
'I can give you my number if you like then you can text me if you need some help.'
'You're a star.' I pulled my phone out of my back pocket and unlocked it with my thumb print. I pulled up a new contact then handed the phone over to him.
'I will remind you though, you might regret giving it to me.'
Taking the phone out of my hand he met my eyes.
'I doubt that very much.'
He quickly typed in his number then pulled out his own phone which started ringing.
'Just saving your number.' He said showing me his screen which as he said had my number on the display screen.
'Well enjoy the rest of your evening.'
He motioned over to the table behind me before reaching over to tuck a strand of hair that was getting into my eye behind my ear.
'You're welcome.' A smirk crept its way onto his face as he pushed himself off the wall he was leaning on.
I frowned as he walked out the door. Ok that was twice in one day that his exit had confused me. I don't know if it was me but him touching me felt a little...... weird. It's not like it felt inappropriate it's just his hand lingered a little long for just a friend. As usual I was probably just over thinking it. I sighed and pocketed my phone.
When I came back to the table it was hard to miss the awkward silence. I looked over at Harrison for an answer but he was too busy looking down at his clenched fists.
'Hey are you ok?' I nudged his leg with my foot under the table to get his attention.
He looked up at me and nodded whilst plastering a strained smile on his face. Wasn't really the most convincing seeing as his knuckles were white.
'How do you know Jake?' Tom asked drawing my attention away from Harrison over to his own unreadable expression.
I looked around the table to try and suss out what was going on but everyone was looking away.
'We sit next to each other in maths. Why? Do you guys not like him too?'
The silence gave it all away.
I again looked at all the guys waiting for one of them to crack but it was only when I got to Joseph that he sighed and gave in.
'I hate when you do that. You know I always crumble.'
'Exactly and so you should, now spill.' I poked his arm with my fore finger to hurry him on.
Rolling his eyes and ignoring the glare coming from the other side of the table he turned to me to answer.
'He's just a bit of a tool is all.'
Tom laughed and tried to whispered under his breath.
'Man whore more like it.'
'I was trying to be more subtle than that but thanks Tom.'
Tom shrugged his shoulders to emphasis not giving a fuck and smirked at Joseph.
Then he unfortunately turned his attention back to me.
'What did he want?'
I was starting to get a little annoyed now. Sorry dad, am I only allowed to speak to people you approve of? I was starting to feel like Snow White with a football team of nosey Dwarfs.
'Nothing. We were just talking. I suck at maths so he offered to tutor me.' I replied with a grumble.
Much to my annoyance he laughed condescendingly like I was a moron.
'Of course he did. I think you'll find that's not the reason he wants to hang out with you.'
'Good thing I told him I am busy then not that it's any of your business.' I crossed my arms and sat back in my seat. How had this gone from a fun afternoon to me looking for an escape route all in 10 minutes.
I think he knew he'd pissed me off because his expression changed from cold to regretful within a split second.
'Sorry I didn't mean to sound like an asshole Evie. So what excuse did you use?'
'That I'm busy washing my hair.' I knew I was being petty but I didn't care.
'I didn't, I just said I'm busy which I am.'
'Doing what?' Mark butted in.
'God you lot are nosey. If you'd like to know I'm seeing Harrison tomorrow.'
To this Tom gave a wide grin and nudged his best friend.
'Are you now?'
I glanced at Harrison who was trying to ignore the boy annoying him at his side.
'Yeahhhh. Why are you all acting really weird?'
'We're not.' Again, not exactly convincing when he wouldn't meet my eye.
Conversation gradually resumed like the previous one hadn't happened but there was still a painstaking awkwardness in the air.
'And guys say girls are hard to read.' I whispered. I obviously wasn't quiet enough as Joseph turned and chuckled.
'No you are.'
'Actually, we're not, you're just oblivious.' As soon as he said it his eyes went wide and I knew he for some bizarre reason he thought he'd said too much.
I turned in my chair so I could fully focus on him. My eyes narrowed in on his own even though he was trying to look anywhere but mine.
'Oblivious to what exactly?'
He shrugged in response which told me that was as much as I was going to get.
I looked over at Harrison again who was now whispering to Tom.
'Seriously why do you guys hate Jake so much?'
Joseph sighed and copied me by turned to face me in his seat.
'We don't hate him. Look, us and the football team have a jokey rivalry which is all fun and games however Jake always takes it too far. I personally am not his biggest fan because of how he plays around. It sounds douchey but I wouldn't put it past him to try and date you in some kind of attempt to get one up on us.'
Ok well that sounds like a fair enough reason not to like him but I still don't believe Jake would do something like that. Yet I couldn't say as much because I didn't really know him. All I knew was the charming guy I sat next to in maths who had been nothing but nice to me.
'I know it may seem like we're acting all weird and protective over you but it's because we don't want an asshole like Jake to hurt you. Plus, you can do way better just saying.'
Suddenly my annoyance disappeared and I felt an overwhelming love for the guys. At the end of the day they were looking out for me and that's all I wanted, even if they did have the wrong idea (and Tom was a dick about it).
I turned back in my chair which I could visibly see made Joseph's shoulders relax. I guess he could tell the interrogation was over.
'Good thing that I'm not interested in the slightest then.'
He frowned at me as he rested his elbows on the table and chin in his hands.
'Really, you don't like him?'
'No. I just see him as the guy that's friendly in my math class. He lets me copy off of him so I can't exactly act like a bitch.'
Plus, I had overwhelmingly strong feelings for one of your best friends but I thought best not to add that part in.
' I guess I should make it clear he's in the friend zone though.'
'Yes, yes you should.' I didn't realise the others were now listening into to mine and Joseph's conversation until Tom piped up. The last time I had looked around they were all occupied by their own conversations however now all eyes were on me.
'And we'll beat him with a stick if he tries to crawl out.'
I burst out laughing breaking any iciness that was remaining from the previous conversation.
After that the easy going joking resumed again for the rest of the afternoon. Eventually Harrison joined back into conversations and actually looked me in the eye again, but I wasn't going to let him go that easily.
'Have I done something to upset you?' I asked as we got into Harrison's car, ready to head home.
'What? No of course not.' He looked over at me with concerned eyes and a frown.
'Oh ok. It's just you looked at little pissed off earlier.' My voice was faint but I knew he'd heard me.
Harrison unbuckled his seat belt and twisted so he could turn to me, taking my hands in his own. Warmth spread over my hands making tingles spread across my skin.
'Evie listen to me when I tell you, you have done nothing wrong.'
I smiled a little when I could see the sincerity on his face. He was telling the truth.
'What happened then?' I didn't want to ruin the moment but I needed to ask.
My question had obviously thrown him as he broke eye contact with me and ran a hand through his already messy hair.
'Jake just isn't my favourite guy. Like Joseph said we're all just a little protective over you.'
A small part of my heart sank. If I was being honest, I had wondered and hoped that he'd been a teeny bit jealous but that was stupid of me. However, the fact that he cared enough to be protective made a smile form on my face.
I watched as he turned back in his seat and buckled his belt. His hand clasped around the key but instead of turning the car on he looked over at me.
'I don't like seeing you upset.'
'That makes two of us.' I nudged his arm playfully as we both began to smile stupidly at each other.
He turned the car on and we started the short drive home. After 10 minutes we were in the driveway and I was climbing out of the car.
'Don't forget to bring a change of clothes tomorrow.'
Ah yes, these water photos.
'I knew this shoot idea was just an excuse to get me naked.'
'The idea of seeing you in a thong bikini does appeal.'
'Perve. I'll bring my granny swimsuit then.' I shut the car door and started up the driveway.
'Bye Harrison.' I turned back giving him a cheeky grin and a wave before heading up the porch stairs and into the house.