Carla woke up on Wednesday fuzzy headed and tired. Shit, she thought. I might actually have a cold. Serves me right for lying. With a sigh she dragged herself out of the bed and shuffled into her adjacent bathroom. The great thing about having such a huge house was she never had to leave her room until she needed to eat, or leave the house. Meaning she could avoid her mom for even longer.
After brushing her teeth, washing her face and brushing out the tangles in her bush of a head so that it lay in soft waves around face she then braided it into a wrap around fishtail that settled on her left shoulder. That should hold until the game, she thought. The weather was supposed to be extra cold today as they were nearing the month of October.
Slipping into a pair of tight, black highwaisted skinny jeans she fished around in her closet until she found her cream crocheted sweater crop top. She slipped on a black north face jacket and grabbed her backpack full of her completed homework. Quietly creeping down the stairs she made it into the kitchen without making a sound or being spotted by her mother.
Expertly she silently poured herself a bowl of frosted flakes and ate it quickly, cringing at every deafening crunch of her chews in the silent house. She rinsed her bowl and put it in the dishwasher to make things easier for their biweekly maid who would be coming that day while she was at school and zipped up her coat as she walked to her door.
When she got outside she was immediately met with the crisp chill of fall air and her converse crunched over the fallen copper sun colored leaves. She slid into her car and drove the five minute journey to school. It was too cold for walking today. Tuesday had passed in a blur to her.
It’d started off full of light and joy when she saw Ridian in chemistry but it quickly fell down on the value scale as the rest of the day continued. Stephanie was apparently in a bad mood on that day and although she didn’t do any outlandish and huge bullying stunts she satisfied herself with tripping her in hallways, smacking books out of her hand, pinching her or spitting on her when teachers weren’t looking and whispering insults in her ear.
By the end of the day she’d been tired and worn down and didn’t want to see anyone, let alone Ridian. He’d be able to tell something was wrong and she didn’t feel like explaining it. So instead she went home alone. But as wednesday progressed she regretted it as she learned that the coaches of both the dance team and the lacrosse team had pulled their students out all day for practice and team building.
Carla had never felt so utterly alone before. Stephanie’s constant jeering didn’t help but thankfully since there was a game later school got out an hour early and her torture was cut short. Checking the clock in the hallway it read 3:30. She still had approximately four hours or less until the game started. She decided to go to the library again and finish all her homework.
Flashing a small smile to the grouchy little librarian Carla headed straight for the back corner with autobiographies where she had been with Peter last time. It really was the perfect private little nook. She took out her orchestra packet for intermediate violin and her homework for chemistry. Somewhere along the line of converting grams to moles Carla’s eyelids became heavy and after an hour of trying to keep them open, fatigue over took her.
She awoke the feeling of soft hands stroking her hair and turned her head which was resting on the table to come face to face with large gray eyes. Oh, she thought sleepily. It’s just Ridian. She blinked slowly and smiled before closing her eyes again. After a moment the full reality of the situation seemed to hit her and she bolted upright eyes wide.
“Ridian?” Carla gasped. He smiled sweetly at her.
“Hey cupcake. Sleep well?” His tone wasn’t teasing or obnoxious. It sounded like he was genuinely curious about her well being. She slowly relaxed her stiff posture and sank back down into her seat, stretching a little. She glanced at the clock and saw she still had roughly an hour left until the game started.
“What are you doing here?” she asked. “Shouldn’t you be practicing or something?“. Ridian let out a laugh at that.
“Believe when I say we’ve practiced more than enough. Coach gave us some time to gather family members, friends, or people we’re close to in order to boost our morale before the game. Just psychological stuff,“. Carla nodded slowly tracing patterns in the hardwood of the desk.
“So what am I?” she asked softly. Suddenly she really wanted to know where she stood in Ridian’s eyes. Had the emotion she’d been seeing all this time simply been brotherly protection? He squinted his eyebrows slightly in confusion.
“What do you mean?” he asked. Carla stopped tracing patterns in the table and locked eyes with hime; green staring down gray.
“Am I family, friend, or something more?” she hadn’t realized she’d scooted closer with every word so now they were thigh to thigh, their faces quite close to each other. Carla was concentrating too hard on Ridian’s reply to notice. He stared at her with a conflicted expression on his face.
I knew it, she thought with a sigh. I’m nobody special.
She was about to lean back and return to her homework when Ridian cleared his throat. He looked determined, like he’d come to terms with something in himself. Hope started to rise in Carla and she held her breath as Ridian began to speak.
“You are not my family, at least not yet anyways,“. Carla frowned in confusion at his statement, but he kept talking so she brushed it to the side to listen.
“I think we have surpassed, shall I call it the friend zone?” Ridian asked in a husky voice as he tucked a stray curl behind Carla’s ear. She gulped, her heart beat racing.
“So that means, to me,” Ridian leaned in more never breaking eye contact as he cupped her face. “You are a very, very, very important person,“. Carla’s eyes were wide and her breath hitched. Ridian smiled smugly at her reaction before leaning back and tapping her on the nose. “See you later cupcake,” he called out over his shoulder as he left the library.
Carla sat back in her seat completely thrown off guard. A range of emotions flowed through her from insanely happy, to utterly lovestruck, to slightly pissed off to extremely and utterly confused.
I’m important to him? Like in a romantic way? she thought. So what am I supposed to do now? Do I act on that? Do I not? Ugggh! Ridian! She mentally screamed as she gripped her hair in fists and pounded her head on the library table earning her a harsh hush from the librarian.
She apologized sheepishly before gathering up her things and heading out to the bleachers on the side of the field. As it was nearing the winter months and the days were shorter sun set at 6:00pm and it was now 6:50pm so the sky was darker than black, tinted a navy blue like a memory of the day.
She couldn’t see the stars because of the blinding bright white lights surrounding the edges of the lacrosse field and painting everything in a white light. She climbed up the bleachers to one of the only remaining free corners in the very top row all the way to the right. She had a perfect view of the entire field but she was too far to really make anyone specific out who wasn’t currently benched.
The crowd let out a thundering roar and the cheerleaders started chanting and waving their pom pom’s in the air as the school’s lacrosse team came running out to the field. Their opponents were already there on the bleachers on the west side of the field, farthest from the school building. Carla clapped politely with them still lost in thought from her encounter with Ridian when she realized a figure was coming towards her.
A tall, leanly built figure with velvety black curls, dimples and a smirk in his step: Peter. Carla watched wide eyed as he strolled over to the one empty seat on her right and plopped himself down, crossing his long legs at the knee and leaning back into the metal grate supporting the bleachers. He gave her a nod and a “What up?” before turning his eyes to the field.
“What are you doing sitting here on the bleachers?” she asked curiously, her initial shock over. “Shouldn’t you be out there whipping and catching balls with fancy sticks?” she asked teasingly. Peter snorted at her brilliant description of the game of lacrosse.
“It’s nets on sticks actually,” he corrected in some wack excuse of a British accent. Carla grinned before joining in.
“Well pardon me sir Romeo, I did not intend to cause offense with my ignorance of the proper terminology of lacrosse. Netted sticks then, if I may,” she finished with a flourish of her hand while biting back giggles that were swarming up in her throat. Her body shook slightly with the effort.
“Please don’t trouble yourself with apologies my lady Juliet. Ignorance is not a crime, more of a misdemeanor,” Peter responded with a bow and a wink. When he came back up to sitting position they both dissolved into laughter, loud enough to draw Ridian’s attention from the field. He frowned at the sight of another man making Carla laugh but they didn’t seem to notice his stares. At the couch’s shout he focused back on the play.
Carla glanced at the field where she’d just felt someone’s eyes on her but not finding the source she shrugged it off and turned back to face Peter.
“But really though. Why aren’t you playing right now?“. Peter pointed to his left ankle while shifting his pants leg up slightly so that Carla could see the ace bandages wrapped tightly around it.
“Sprained it last week during practice. Coach is making me sit this one out, just to be safe,“. Carla’s eyes widened slightly in understanding as she nodded her head.
“Does it hurt?” she asked softly as she lightly poked the bandages. Peter let out a gasp of pain and clutched his ankle.
“Oh my god! I’m so sorry! I didn’t know!” Carla cried out in horror with her hands hovering over her mouth as her eyes darted around frantically. Peter began to laugh at her slowly with light chuckles that quickly built into straight up bone cracking guffaws that shook his entire frame. Carla who realized she’d been fooled began punching, kicking, pinching and slapping him in her anger.
“You asshole!” she spat out between her teeth as she continued to hit him. It wasn’t having any affect on Peter’s massive form but it was a good stress and anger reliever. When she finally tired out and her arms fell to her side Peter smirked at her.
“Are you done?” he asked. She answered his sarcasm with a glare and crossed her arms in a huff getting ready fro some certified pouting.
“Carla,” Peter said still smirking at her immaturity.
“Caaaaaarlaaaaaaaaa,” he groaned out. The husky voice he was using scent little thrills and chills throughout Carla’s body. She wasn’t even mad anymore but she still didn’t want to face him. She tried to focus on the game. On Ridian.
“Juliiiieeeeeeet,” Peter tried again to make her turn around. At the sound of her nickname Carla couldn’t help the smile that came to her lips ad she finally turned to face him only to nearly go cross eyes at how close he was to her face. If she even breathed their lips would be touching. A smirk still played around his mouth and his dimples shown brightly in the glow from the field lights.
Carla felt her green eyes widening to deer-in-headlights mode and her heartbeat grew faster and faster. She tried to swallow but her throat was too dry. A blush rose to her face and it wasn’t because of the cold. Peter bit one of his plump lips for a second before speaking.
“Gotcha,” he whispered in a deep voice. Carla almost fainted right there at how much sexual innuendo and tension was layered into his tone but a loud buzzer sounded making the both of them snap out of their trance and spring apart. Carla let out the breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding and stared down at her hands.
Peter ran a hand through his black curls looking a little flushed himself. He coughed slightly making Carla jump nervously. She felt frazzles and extremely guilty as if she’d done something wrong. The adrenaline pumping through her didn’t help her attempts to calm herself down.
“I’m gonna...um....go.....uh......food......yeah, be right back,” Peter muttered suddenly forgetting how to speak properly. A light blush was on his cheeks and there was a dark shadow over his eyes. Carla nodded once before looking back at her hands. When she heard Peter’s footsteps fade away she visibly relaxed. Looking towards the field she froze when she found Ridian staring directly at her. He looked mad.
Shit, she thought. He totally saw. Then she thought about it again. They hadn’t actually done anything. And she and Ridian weren’t together in the first place. He doesn’t even like me, she thought. He has no right to be mad.
Boldly she returned his stare with one of his own and raised an eyebrow in a challenge while smirking. Ridian looked taken aback and he ducked his head sitting stiffly on the bench, never once turning around again. Carla felt a little sad but she brushed it off.
Peter soon returned without any food which pissed Carla off so she forced him back out there for popcorn and soda from the concession stands. He grumbled the whole time about a waste of money but Carla was too busy munching on the buttery deliciousness to care or listen.
When Sam came out for her lead dance during halftime Carla cheered extra loudly until her voice was hoarse. It was a good routine. Modern hip hop mixed with some reggaeton jookin’ and even swing with jazz towards the end. A unique mash up that gently reminded her of one of the Bring it On movies.
The only other person that rivaled the volume of Carla’s chants and cheers was Chris. Carla took a break to rest her sore throat and drink some soda. In doing so she noticed Chris having what looked like a mini turn up party of one. He was jumping, fist pumping, clapping, whooping, yelling and screaming of cheers for Sam. Completely oblivious to the annoyed looks and snickers he was getting from his teammates. Carla even made out the word “whipped” from a group of them.
“What’s up with that?” she asked Peter who was currently eating a hot dog, his qualms with spending money seemingly gone.
“What’s up with what?“. He followed the direction of her gaze and saw Chris. A smirk broke out on his face. “Oh that,” he said while snickering. Carla stared at him in confusion.
“Yes. That. Care to enlighten me?” she asked. Peter took another bite out of his hot dog and made sure to thoroughly chew and swallow before turning towards Carla with a response. Carla waited expectantly while he did.
“Not really,” he responded before taking another bite of his hot dog. Carla threw her hands up in the air nearly dropping her drink in frustration.
For the rest of the lacrosse game she barely paid any attention to the game and instead focused on pestering Peter. He was good. He reverted back to the nonchalant “Oh it’s the apocalypse? That’s nice. I’m going back to sleep” blank expression and just kept eating. It was extremely annoying.
Carla wasn’t really the pestering type and didn’t know how to go about doing to successfully. She said his name repeatedly in annoying ways. She poked him and pulled his cheeks. He didn’t budge. Not even when she stole his food. She threatened violence but they both knew she couldn’t actually make good on the threat.
Finally she took to just throwing her self on his body in strange ways, and this was how Sam and Chris found them. Her legs were on either side of his head resting on his shoulders and her butt and and thighs were pushing into his abs while her back was resting in his lap. His legs were so long her head rested comfortably on his knees. Having given up pestering him ages ago she was simply amusing herself and playing with his hands, pulling his fingers when she heard someone clear their throat.
“Are we interrupting something?” Sam asked. Carla tilted her head back to see a smirking upside down Sam standing next to a shocked looking Chris with her arms crossed.
“Actually you were-” Peter began before he was cut off by Carla’s foot smacking him in the face as she ungracefully scrambled off him and to her feet.
“Damn hun,” Chris said, smiling now. “Looks like the real show was going on back here,“. He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively. Carla glared at him but to her credit, she didn’t blush but instead boldly returned their inquisitive and judgmental stares. Peter on the other hand was rubbing his left cheek and shooting her daggers. She ignored him as well.
“Later,” Sam said sternly. “We will talk later,“. Her voice held no room for argument. Carla sighed lowering her head in a submissive nod. Sam was the alpha of their little pack and no one dared to go against her when she was serious. Unfolding her arms she tugged on Carla’s wrist.
“Come one. Ridian’s waiting,” she said.
“He is?” Carla asked surprised as she allowed herself to be lead down the bleachers to the parking lot. She’d thought he’d be rather reluctant to take her home today after what he’d seen earlier. Which was nothing, she reminded herself. Lo an behold, there he stood in all his sweaty glory, leaning against the side of her car. He stood up straight when they reached him.
He gave a nod to Chris and a cold glare to Peter who simply smirked back.
“Coach want’s to see you,” he said bitterly. Peter tucked his hands into the pockets of his black skinny’s before nodding.
“Okay cool,“. He gave Carla a smile and bumped her shoulder lightly with his.
“See you Juliet,“. She rolled her eyes before smiling back.
“Bye Romeo,” She watched as he trudged towards the southern school building and disappeared into one of the side doors. When she turned back to everyone they were all staring wide eyed at her.
“What?” Carla asked suddenly defensive.
“Juliet?” Chris asked.
“Romeo?” Sam added. Carla smiled sheepishly before shrugging.
“It’s a long story,” she mumbled. Sam shook her head in bewilderment.
“You can explain that later too,“. She pushed Carla into the car’s passenger seat where she found Ridian already sitting in the driver’s seat.
“What about you?” Carla asked as she buckled her seatbelt. Sam smiled softly and stepping back toward’s Chris.
“Chris said he’d drive me,” she replied. Chris was grinning wolfishly. Carla raised her eyebrows in suspicion before nodding slowly. It looked like she wasn’t the only one with explaining to do.
“Okay, see you tomorrow then,“.
“Bye!” Sam and Chris cried simultaneously waving while Ridian pulled out of the parking lot. The car ride home was tense and quiet. When Carla snuck a glance at Ridian she saw his knuckles were a pale white from gripping the steering wheel so tight and his jaw was locked while his eyebrows were furrowed in deep thought.
Thankfully the drive was only five minutes and then they were pulling into the front driveway next to Carla’s house. Living close to the school had its perks. Ridian pulled the keys out of the ignition and got out of the car, closing the door tightly behind him. Carla followed his lead and they walked in silence up to the front of her house.
They stopped in front of her door and faced each other, the tension between them high. Carla looked down at her shoes and fiddled with her hands, not willing to look Ridian in the eye. He cleared his throat after a moment and her head snapped up to his. There was no anger in his eyes, only gentleness and a great sadness that she didn’t understand.
“Carla,” she shuddered at the sound of her name on his lips. It felt like....home. “I’m sorry if I confused you with what I said earlier. That was not my intention,“. His words although formal carried with them a warmth and a deep sense of caring that Carla felt in her bones. Her eyes softened but her heart ached at his words. Did that mean she wasn’t special to him.
He took a step closer to her and put a finger underneath her chin, tilting it up so she once again looked him in the eye. There was a deep emotion in his eyes but they were shadowed so Carla couldn’t quite place it. He sighed once and his breath hit her face, filling her nose with the smell of mentos.
“You are more than special to me. You are extremely dear and if anything should happen to you-” he broke off the emotion taking away his voice. He shook his head with his eyes closed. “No. That will never happen. I won’t let it,“. Carla stared at him in confusion.
“I know what I’m asking is selfish but,” Ridian dropped his hand from her face and ran it through his hair leaving the spot where they were once touching cold. He squared his shoulders and looked her dead in the eye. “Wait for me,“.