Maia frowned as Rozene clutched her hand with much more strength than she would have thought possible to exist within the significantly smaller girl. Giving an exasperated sigh, she snapped, “Ow! Roz, what the hell?” Completely disregarding her friend’s complaint, Rozene continued to tug on Maia’s hand, dragging the MHHS sophomore towards the door of the classroom. “At least tell me where we’re going,” Maia complained.
“They posted the list of cheerleaders for this year,” Rozene replied as the pair now found themselves in the hallway, wading through the horde of students racing towards the cafeteria.
Maia shrugged, replying, “Yeah, so.”
Unconvinced by Maia’s nonchalance, Rozene prodded, “You mean to tell me that you’re not the least bit curious who made it?”
“Not Really,” Maia replied apathetically. With her impatience having reached an all-time high, Rozene had taken to pushing against the fifteen-year-old’s back, urging her forward and towards the gym. Outside of which was a long sheet of white paper pinned to the bulletin board beside the door.
Determined to have no part of the disappointment that Maia was sure Rozene was setting her up for, the obstinate teen turned her back childishly as Rozene bounced up to the list. Eagerly, Rozene’s sage orbs scanned the document. Suddenly a girlish squeal erupted from the usually mild-mannered teenager as she gripped Maia’s shoulders, forcing her to turn around.
“Mai, look! You got to see this,” Rozene exclaimed.
Rolling her light orbs, the Latina responded, “Fine, if it will shut you up.”
“Holy sh*t,” Maia breathed.
~Later that day~
Maia lifted a perfectly manicured hand to her brow to dab at the beads of sweat that had collected there. The teen was sure that she had never sweated this much in her entire life. Muscles that the fifteen-year-old didn’t even know existed were now screaming at her for leniency. Mercifully, Ashley chose that moment to utter the most beautiful words Maia had ever heard, ” Fifteen-minute break, ladies“.
With legs that were beginning to feel like gelatin, Maia trudged over to the bleachers. Flopping down on them, she reached for her water bottle. The brunette flicked the cap off of the nozzle and turned the bottle up to her lips. Maia gulped thirstily for several minutes before finally replacing the top and setting it back down beside her. Soon enough, she was joined by a few other cheerleaders who had opted to spend their break drooling over the football players who were currently engaged in a shirtless scrimmage.
Much more interested in regaining feeling in her thighs than the meat market on the opposite side of the field, Maia closed her eyes enjoying the prickling sensation of the sun’s rays playing across her slickened skin. The Latina was in such a tranquil state that she didn’t even notice that the football team had also taken a break until she felt an elbow gently nudging her in the ribs.
Cracking an eye open, Maia noted Illiana sitting next to her with a playful smile on her face as she said, “Don’t look now, but Alex is staring at you.”
A bit agitated at having been disturbed for such a frivolous reason, Maia replied, “Alex Bergetti? Doubtful. He could barely remember my name a few months ago. It’s probably just the sun in his eyes.”
Shaking her head adamantly, Illiana insisted, “No, seriously. I’ve seen him eyeing you a couple of times during practice. I think he likes you.”
The statement prompted scornful laughter from several of the cheerleaders within earshot as one of them chimed in, “Alex Bergetti likes anything in a skirt.”
Shrugging her shoulders, Maia added, “Judging by the girls that I have seen Alex talking to, it would seem that Alex likes his women loose and simple-minded. I am not his type. If he is interested in me, then I would have to say that I am insulted. It would mean that he assumes that I’m that way.”
Simultaneously, the others all turned to her with their mouths gaping open as if she just sprouted an additional head. Illiana was the first to get over her shock, inquiring, “Are you serious?”
Glancing at her watch, Maia replied, “Yeah.”
Shaking her head, Illiana continued, “Alex is a rising star on the football team. He is already on the radar of a lot of top colleges. If he keeps going the way that he is now, he is a sure bet for a draft from the NFL. Half the girls in this school are trying to hitch their trains to that money wagon.”
Maia could only stare at the girl incredulously. Illiana reminded her so much of her mother in all the wrong ways. Pulling herself into a seated position, Maia readjusted her ponytail as she answered, “ He’s cute. He’s just not my type.”
At least, not anymore, the teen thought to herself. Over the past few months, she had been watching Alex and had been quite disappointed to discover that he acted much in the same way that the boys at her old school did. She supposed that many girls found his arrogance charming and were likely impressed by his willingness to spend his money on frivolity. Maia, on the other hand, found it annoying.
Illiana quirked a brow, her thin lips falling into an ‘O’ of surprise as she responded, “Oh? What exactly is your type?”
Clearing her throat, Maia replied, “Well, there is this cute guy named Josh in my Calculus class..”
At the mention of the boy’s name, the other cheerleaders erupted into laughter. Smiling softly, Maia added, “Yeah, I know. He’s super corny and a bit of a klutz but, I think he’s adorable.”
The blond that had attested to Alex’s healthy appetite for the opposite sex merely shook her head, saying, “Such a waste. What a downgrade. I will never understand you, Maia.” Thankfully, at that moment, Ashley decided to call practice back into session, drawing attention back to the task at hand and away from her and her poor choice of suitor.
As practice finally drew to an end, Maia half walked half dragged her sore body towards the parking lot, thinking of little more than getting home so that she could soak her aching muscles in a nice hot bath. With her mother hosting some fundraiser at the country club that evening, Illiana had promised to drop the sophomore off at home. Making her way to the cute silver Mazda6 that belonged to her fellow cheerleader, Maia was a bit surprised to find a group gathered around the brunette’s vehicle.
Waving at her as she approached, Illiana exclaimed, “You’re just in time, Maia. We’re all heading out for pizza. Don’t tell Ashley, though. She’ll freak. You know how much of a health nut she is.”
The Latina was in no mood to socialize at the moment. However, with Illiana being her ride home, she didn’t have much choice. Sighing inwardly, Maia flashed a fake smile at the older girl replying, “Great, I’m starving”. Well, that much was true, the teenager reasoned. With three girls climbing into the backseat, Maia was left with shotgun as they made their way to the local pizza parlor that served as a popular hangout spot for the town’s teens.
As she pulled up to the pizza joint, the passengers climbed out of the car and huddled together to keep warm while waiting for Illiana to find a parking space. Walking in as a group, the girls noticed that a few guys from the football team had not only somehow managed to beat them there, but also secured a booth that hardly looked large enough to accommodate them all. Just as Maia was about to suggest that they opt to pull a couple of tables together, Illiana piped up, “I’m going to see if we can get another booth for the overflow. I’ll be along in a minute.”
A dark-haired cheerleader whose name escaped her took ahold of her hand and pulled her towards the booth where three football players were seated. As they approached the table, the girl released her hand and slid in beside a guy she knew from English class. Leaving the only available seat for Maia beside Alex. Somehow, Maia managed to keep a somewhat friendly expression on her face as she slid into the booth next to Alex. Successfully securing the second booth for herself and the other two girls Illiana passed by their booth, flashing a toothy grin at herself and a wink at Alex.
At that moment, Maia realized that this was a setup. Shaking her head, the fifteen-year-old had little choice but to settle in for what she suspected would be a long night.