Chapter 5: Reckless
“Marley, you have to tell us what’s going on!” Chaska said that afternoon as we sat on the edge of my bed, chatting with each other like a bunch of cliched teenage girls.
“I know. I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you earlier, but I just… we didn’t want to risk it, you know?”
I looked out the window and smiled a little as I saw Noah mowing his lawn, wearing only low-slung jeans. He had his back to me, with a pair of earphones plugged in. Sunlight beat down onto his bare back, and his muscles moved underneath his bronzed skin as he continued to mow. I snapped myself out of my daze.
What the hell are you doing?! You’re not supposed to check out your enemy!
“Marley? Hello, Marley! Earth to Marley.”
I cleared my throat and shook my head, turning to where Ciara was looking at me imploringly. “I’m sorry, what?”
She chuckled and tucked some of her blonde, curly hair behind her ear. “I said that we’re in private now—and dying to know what’s going on—so could you please tell us?”
I quickly told them the plan and the idea of The Jealousy Game. I was going to make Logan realize he loved me and not Daisy Hawthorne. We would pretend to be a couple until I won back over Logan. It was pretty simple and easy and effective - well, at least, that was what I was hoping for.
When I was done, Ciara and Chaska were watching me with shocked expressions, before sharing an unidentifiable look.
“What?” I asked, staring between them.
“So you chose Noah to help you?” Ciara asked finally.
“There really was no one else to help me. I mean, I don’t know anybody as well as I know Noah, and somebody else may try to ruin the plan, or tell Logan. Despite everything that’s happened between Noah and myself, he wouldn’t ruin this for me. I trust him.”
“I thought you were enemies.”
“There was a point in time where we were also best friends. I know him like the back of my hand.”
Once again, Chaska and Ciara looked at each other with matching smiles. I looked between them. “What?”
Chaska laughed lightly and shook her head. “You really are naïve, aren’t you, Marley Adams?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It’s so obvious, and yet you don’t even see it,” Ciara chimed in, adding to the confusion.
“See what?” I cried, throwing my hands up, clearly exasperated. “What is there to see?”
They both shook their heads, and Chaska said, “It’s not our place to say it. Trust me, I’m pretty sure it’ll come out one way or another.”
That night, after Ciara and Chaska had left, I sat on my bed attempting to do my biology homework, which was most definitely not easy. Science and math were my worst subjects, so this was a nightmare. Not to mention the fact that I had missed half of the lesson talking to Logan.
Somebody softly calling my name brought me out of my studying trance, and I lifted my eyes to meet familiar hazel ones.
Another interesting thing?
Noah’s and my bedroom windows were across from each other. Some people might think it was awkward, but it just meant that I had to close my curtains when changing and be careful about what I did when the window was open.
I stood up and walked closer to the window that was already half open. I leant out into the warm night air so that I could hear him better.
He sat on his window-sill nonchalantly, as if not afraid of falling down the two storeys and hitting the ground that would no doubt at the least break a couple appendages and flatten him like a pancake.
“Tomorrow’s Friday,” he pointed out, smiling at me.
“I’m aware,” I said slowly, still unsure about why he wanted to talk to me. “What about it?”
“Friday is also football night.”
I yawned, looking around the street below us, which was dimly lit by streetlights. “I knew that as well. What are you getting at?”
“Do you know what you’re going to wear?”
I froze, his words sinking in. “Are you seriously asking me about what I’m planning on wearing? What are you, a girl?”
He glared at me. “Not just any girl would date me. She has to have some semblance of style.” He looked at what I was wearing now; a camisole and yoga pants. “I’m here to help give you a makeover.”
“I don’t need a makeover. I’m perfectly content with how I am now. Deal with my sense of style.”
He rolled his eyes. “I get it. You’re innocent, and wholesome and all that crap. But that’s not gonna work here. We need to dazzle you up for the game tomorrow night.”
I knew there was no way around this. I had seen his other girlfriends—or the two he had ever had. One was this ditzy girl named Gemma who was a cheerleader with a fake tan, bleached-blonde hair and acrylic nails, matched with a nasally voice that sounded like nails on a chalkboard.
His second girlfriend’s name was Tiffany. She wore designer brands, seven inch heels and enough makeup to fill a barrel.
I wore sweaters, bootleg jeans and little to no makeup. I looked about ready for a scholastic decathlon, not a cheerleading squad.
I sighed. “What have you got in mind?”
“Remind me why I’m doing this again?” I asked Noah the next night, cringing.
“Logan. When in doubt, just think of Logan.” He sounded like he was speaking through gritted teeth.
Alright, maybe it was because I was being a little whiny, but can you blame me? Since Ciara was the fashionista of the group, Noah had somehow wrangled her in to helping him give me a makeover.
I still didn’t believe I needed one, though. But when Ciara and Noah walked in together, Ciara holding a makeup bag and an armful of clothes, I had not really been given a choice in the matter.
For about the millionth time that night, I turned around to at least catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror, but Noah’s hands came down on my shoulders and held me in place so that I couldn’t see myself.
“Wait until we’re done with you, Marley,” he scolded me. I crossed my arms over my chest like a petulant five-year-old as Ciara curled my hair and Noah dealt with my makeup.
That’s right. I was letting Noah Fordman—ex-best friend, sworn enemy and now fake-boyfriend—do my makeup. I could come out of this looking like some kind of sideshow freak. But I trusted Ciara to warn me if Noah got a little out of hand. And so far she wasn’t really objecting.
Ciara set down the curling tongs and put her hands on her hips, surveying my hair. “That looks awesome.”
Noah brushed the blush one more time onto my cheeks with a flourish and then stepped back. “Annnnnd… that’s probably the best I’m going to get out of you,” Noah said, but still looked quite pleased with himself.
“Gee, thanks,” I said sarcastically. “Can I look in the mirror now?”
Both Ciara and Noah stepped back so that I could look myself in the mirror. I stood up and spun towards my full-length mirror.
The girl in front of me was almost unrecognizable.
I wore a sparkly red halter-neck that was revealing, but still looked quite classy, coupled with tight jeans and red peep-toe six-inch stilettos. My hair, which normally fell straight to my waist, had been curled enough so that it cascaded in soft curlicues down to the middle of my back.
Noah had put on red, vibrant lipstick, but then dark eyeshadow. I had to admit, he had mastered the art of putting on make-up, strangely enough. He had given me the smoky-eye look, but with the lipstick it contrasted nicely with itself.
Ciara had also added a couple bracelets and rings to adorn my hands, and they looked bright and elegant.
For a second I was rendered speechless. “Oh, um… wow.”
“Logan won’t know what hit him,” Ciara said, looking quite pleased with herself as she dusted off her hands and unplugged the curler from the powerpoint.
“I don’t know what hit me,” Noah said in a strangely awed voice.
I gaped at him in shock, and slowly his face morphed into a look of, Did I seriously just say that out loud?
“I mean, um…” Noah tried to correct himself. Maybe it was the lighting, but I swear he was blushing. “I mean, you look kinda good. Hopefully it’s enough to convince people that there’s actually a one-in-a-million chance I’d actually go out with you.”
Ciara looked like she wanted to laugh, but disguised it quickly as a cough. I stared at Noah with raised eyebrows, hardly even registering the insult.
After an awkward minute of silence, Noah ran a hand through his already-tousled hair and cleared his throat. “Hey, if Cinderella’s shoe fit perfectly, why did it fall off in the first place?”
I bit my lip, trying not to laugh. This was something I had seriously missed with Noah. Whenever he was awkward and a tense silence fell over, he would ask one of life’s unanswerable questions as a way of dissipating the tension. It was a very cute characteristic, and it did always stump me a lot.
Ciara stared at him with wide, confused eyes, while I tried my best not to laugh. “I don’t know, Noah,” I answered finally.
Once again silence fell over the room, before Noah broke it. “Come on, we gotta go otherwise we’ll be late.”
I nodded and quickly hugged Ciara. “Thanks for coming and helping me with all of this,” I said quietly, gesturing to the makeup bags and hair products.
She nodded. “Of course. You’re my best friend, remember? Have a good night.”
“I’ll do my best.”
We made our way downstairs and I locked the door behind us. Since my mother was a doctor, she worked a lot at night, and my father was staying back late at the law firm he worked at. I wasn’t angry at their absence though. They spent as much time as they could with me when they weren’t working, and I never felt neglected or left out.
Ciara waved goodbye, before hopping into her car and driving off. Unfortunately I was hitching a ride with Noah. Nothing like a ten-minute drive with each other to really get the heart racing.
He opened the door for me—Wow, he really was a gentleman—and I hopped into the cab of his truck. He hopped in as well and started the car, before peeling out of the driveway.
“So, we should really think of a plan,” Noah said as we began driving down the road.
He tapped his fingers on the wheel in time to the beat of the song coming from his radio, and I briefly wondered why he was so at ease when my heart was beating a million miles a minute and my palms were sweating like crazy.
“Um… y-yeah,” I replied, cringing at my stuttering. What was going on with me?
He looked at me out of the corner of his eye. “You okay?”
I nodded a little over-enthusiastically and said as brightly as I could, “Of course!”
“Okaaaay,” he said slowly, dragging the word out to underline his skepticism. His hazel eyes still searched my face as he glanced in between the dark road and myself.
“So… the plan?” I promptly reminded him.
He nodded vigorously. “Right. We need to act like some love-sick couple, so I’m thinking if I get tackled, you have to stand up and act all worried, even though I know really you get some sick satisfaction out of seeing me injured.”
I opened my mouth to deny that fact, but he quickly ploughed on and didn’t give me a chance to object. I snapped my mouth closed after a second.
“Also, you need to be cheering me on if I get the ball, and, you know, act completely in love with me. At least try to seem a little proud of me.”
I looked out the window at the passing lights. “Have a little faith. I’ll do fine. I have been the girlfriend of a footballer before, remember?”
His hands tightened on the steering wheel so much that his knuckles turned to a pale white. “All too well,” he replied.
I frowned at him, but didn’t question his words. Instead I sighed and remained silent for the rest of the ride, staring out the window at the passing houses and trees.
When we arrived at the field, most of the parking lot was already filled. We filed along beside a few people until we reached the bleachers. In front of the crowd, he leant forward and pressed his lips to my cheek gently, his lips as soft and smooth as honey or velvet.
When he pulled back, he gave me a sweet smile like some adoring boyfriend, and said, “Remember what I said.”
I nodded, and made my way towards a section that had a few people I knew in it. Noah disappeared under the bleachers to get ready for the game, and the cheerleaders began pounding out a rhythm and cheering some awful tune I never wanted to hear again.
I settled in to my seat for the long two-hour game. After what seemed like three days, our football team—the Prescott Panthers—began running out. I jumped up with everyone else on my side, and started calling out for Noah, like he’d instructed me to.
Noah looked up into the bleachers and smiled sweetly at me, making some of the girls around me swoon. He gave me a quick thumbs-up, before running onto the field across from the other team towards the Coach.
“You’re so lucky,” a girl I knew from math, Kimberley, stated. I turned to her, and she was smiling at me. “He’s so in love with you. It’s so cute and totally obvious!”
I smiled politely at her and gave her a quick thanks, before turning back to the game.
The rest of the game was pretty much the exact same. I tried to focus on Noah, but my eyes kept going to Logan. Daisy was in the front row, cheering him on and calling his name. Jealousy seethed within me, but I played my role like I was meant to.
Everytime he fell, I’d scream his name in a worried tone.
Until he was actually tackled really brutally, and the twisting worry that knotted my stomach was completely genuine.
A hush fell over the crowd as Noah went down, and I gasped and stood up, leaning over the railing to see well.
Logan ran over to him and helped him up. When Noah stood, he wobbled a little bit and clutched the side of his stomach, emitting a low growl of pain.
His head turned to the side and he stared up at me, giving me a small smile to let me know he was okay.
I sighed a little in relief and sat back down. The referee came over and called a foul, before the game continued.
With one minute to go, the scores were dead-even. Everyone in the crowd was tensed, waiting to see if someone could score the winning goal, or point, or whatever it was called. The whistle blew, and time ticked down almost in slow-motion as players scattered across the field. Everyone charged at the boy with the ball, and I was convinced he was going to go down.
But then he threw the ball at the last possible second towards Noah. He caught it easily and ran to the end of the field. Immediately people from the opposite team began chasing him, but Noah was faster.
He hit the end-zone just as the klaxon went off, signaling the end of the game. I couldn’t believe it! We’d won! All because of Noah.
Everyone in our stands stood to clap, and I joined them.
Then I did something that was not scripted by Noah and I. Something that shocked all of the people in the bleachers, Noah, and even myself.
I got up, I ran down the stairs of the bleachers—well, the best I could run in flimsy stilettos—and I ran onto the green, lush, manicured grass. Noah turned and saw me coming, and a look of confusion crossed his features.
I ran towards him and jumped up into his arms. There was a collective ‘awww’ behind me as everyone took in the sight of me hugging my boyfriend.
His arms immediately looped around my waist, pulling me closer to him. I was lifted off the ground as he brought me up higher so that we were looking into each other’s eyes. He gave me a small smile and crushed his face into the crook of my neck and breathed in my scent in a romantic gesture.
“Good work, Adams,” he approved, holding me tighter. “I’m impressed.”
I leant back, and caught Logan staring at us with a seething hatred.
So I did something that I never thought I’d ever do in my whole entire life.
I leant forward, and I crushed my lips against Noah Fordman’s.