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All characters are at least 18 years old.
Apologies for the delay on this story. Real life got in the way but I’m back at it now.
Thank you for your patience and for reading.
“So where do you guys eat lunch?” Jessica asks as she and Shelly are walking towards the cafeteria.
“Out in the stadium,” Shelly answers. “The royal court table is not for you huh?”
“Ugh, no,” Jessica answers her. “All they did was throw things at people, called them names or made unwanted advances to every girl that passed by.”
“Or sat with them,” Shelly asks.
“I didn’t want to say it but yeah, it was pretty blatant. I think I tried saying ‘No’ in three different languages.”
“That why you brought your lunch today?”
“Exactly,” Jessica answers.
“Well if you go out that side door there, you can skip the cafeteria and head right to stadium.” Shelly tells her pointing towards the door where the buses let out each morning.
“Okay, cool but how will I know where you guys sit?”
“Jake and Bobby will already be out there just look for them. They usually bring their own too so they can skip the cafeteria. Jake says it’s too loud.”
“I agree with him there. See you out there.”
“I’ve got a turkey, ham and cheese sandwich, Cheetos and Little Debbie Brownie, Bobby,” I ask laying out my lunch on the metal bench.
“Dibs on that brownie,” Roxie calls out before Bobby can begin.
“Rox, you can’t call dibs until we’ve all gone.” Bobby informs her.
“Ugh fine, but I’d better get that brownie. Just sayin’,” She states as she opens her own bag.
“Room for one more,” Jessica asks as she approaches the trio seated at the top of the stadium bleachers.
“Hey Jessica,” Bobby says giving her a smile.
I make a point of looking around the nearly empty stadium then turn to her. “I dunno Jess, this place is pretty full.”
“I see that stammer of yours cleared up nicely.” She shoots back as she takes a seat.
“Nothing that a little time melting my brain in Geometry couldn’t cure,” I tell her then turn to Roxie. “Rox, this is Jessica. Jessica, this is Roxie.”
“Nice to meet you Roxie,” Jessica says.
“Don’t try and take my brownie Tall Girl.” Roxie tells her.
“Okay… what’s happening?” Jessica asks.
“Us brown baggers run a system of trade,” Bobby explains as he starts to pull out his lunch. “For example, I have a ham and cheese sandwich, a bag of regular chips and a chocolate chip cookie.”
“Any item that I want,” Roxie picks up, “Say that brownie, that I will get by the way, I have to trade for. My trade items are a chicken salad sandwich, a bag of barbecue chips and grapes.”
“Ah I gotcha,” Jessica says. “Am I allowed to join the trade group?”
“Let’s see what you got and then we’ll decide.” Roxie tells her.
“Um, sure,” She says opening her bag. “I’ve got a Pimento Cheese sandwich, a bag of Salt & Vinegar chips and a fruit cup. How’s that?”
“I’ll trade my ham, turkey and cheese for your pimento cheese sandwich.” I offer.
“Whoa, hold up.” Roxie states. “I believe you were in the process of giving me my brownie.”
“Yes sweetie,” I state handing it over.
Patrick is looking all over the cafeteria but doesn’t see Jessica anywhere. “Where the hell is she,” he wonders when he spots Shelly and Jody standing in line so he makes his way over to them.
“Hey Shelly, where’s Jessica?” He asks interrupting their conversation.
“I’m not sure. She headed towards her locker after class. That’s the last I saw her,” Shelly lies.
“Have you seen her Jody?” He asks.
“Nope,” Jody answers choosing a salad. “I’ll tell her that you were looking for her though.”
“Yeah, I bet you will,” He grumbles as he takes his leave to make another sweep of the cafeteria.
“Is she really out in the stadium?” Jody asks once Patrick is gone.
“She asked where we sat and I told her,” Shelly explains as she pays for her lunch. “She was headed that was a few minutes ago.”
“Think she’ll have more fun with our group than she did with Patrick and his?” Jody asks.
They both look over and see Jamie tossing fries at a group of kids causing Patrick and Scott to burst out laughing. Only Ray and Staci look uncomfortable out of everyone at the table.
“I’d say the odds are in our favor,” Shelly states.
“Let’s hope she doesn’t do anything to piss off Roxie,” Jody states.
“I think she’ll be all right, as long as she trades fair.”
“Grapes for a brownie is kind of a rip off,” I state as I pluck one from the stem and pop it into my mouth.
“You didn’t have to okay the trade ya know,” Roxie points out as she savors the chocolate goodness.
“And get on your bad side, no way.” I state.
“He just wants Roxie to make him some of her peanut butter cookies,” Jody points out as she polishes off my Cheetos that she snagged as soon as she and Shelly sat down. Her offer of the cucumber slices out of her salad was denied but Jody gets a pass on trading.
“I bahis firmaları really do but no pressure or anything Rox,” I tell her as Roxie covers her eyes and looks down.
“Someone tell me when he stops doing his pitiful puppy dog eyes so I can look up again.” She sighs.
“Oh god, this could take awhile,” Bobby moans as he chomps into another of Jessica’s chips.
Shelly turns to Jessica, “Last time he did puppy dog eyes, Roxie baked him ten batches of cookies.”
“It was not ten it was a metal tin which I appreciated immensely. Also I only use my powers for good.” I argue.
“Good cookies, you mean,” Jody quips.
“I’m glad that Jessica joined us on “lets pick on Jake day”.” I state pulling another grape free but before I can pop in my mouth Jessica snatches it. “Hey, that’s my grape.”
“It was,” She says popping it into her mouth then turns to Roxie. “You’re safe now Roxie, he’s making sad eyes at me now.”
Roxie looks up and laughs. “Thanks Tall Girl, I was wondering what those looked like when directed at someone else.”
“Her name’s Jessica, Roxie,” Shelly reminds her.
“It’s Tall Girl until she earns my trust,” she answers.
“I can live with that,” Jessica smiles then turns back towards me. “Aw, you look so sad.”
“Someone stole my grape,” I pout exaggeratedly.
“Ugh fine,” She sighs then spears a piece of pineapple from her fruit cup with her fork. She proceeds to dab it on my lips until I open up and take it. “Better,” She asks.
I nod as I chew. “Fair,” I answer, “but you still owe me for not being able to focus in Geometry because of you.”
“Wait, how’d Jessica cause you lose focus in Geometry? She was in Trig with me.” Shelly asks.
“Yeah and she mentioned that he was stammering too when she first got here. What happened?” Bobby chimes in.
“I’m not sure I can give you guys a firm answer to that,” Jessica states her emphasis causing me to picture her in volleyball shorts again as she gives me a wink.
“Because of the tire thing last night, it was an ear buds type of morning.” I say proud that I only stammer a little but my friends all notice and laugh. “Jessica took it upon herself to make sure that I didn’t stay wrapped up in that funk. She’s been pretty amazing at it and I’m grateful.”
“Aw, you say the sweetest things Jake. I probably won’t even tease you any more today, maybe, okay like for the next five minutes.”
“We really need to find a new place to sit during lunch,” Staci says to Ray as he walks her to her next class.
“Yeah, they’re antics are getting really old and I’m sick of the way Patrick treats you.” Ray says.
“He couldn’t find his precious Jessica so I’m supposed to go make out with him because his ego is bruised.”
“It’d be shattered if he saw that.” Ray says nodding towards a pair of students walking ahead of them.
“Is that Jake with Jessica?” Staci asks.
“I don’t think they’re a couple but they seem pretty happy.”
“Damn, go Jake.” Staci states giving Ray’s hand a squeeze.
“Maybe that’s how we can help her.” Ray adds.
“By getting her together with Jake,” Staci asks. “I’m not so sure that’s a great idea.”
“Because of the Jennifer thing,” Ray asks.
Shelly nods, “I don’t want to be a party to anything like that happening again.”
“Maybe we should do some more research together so we don’t mess this up.”
“Together. As in as a couple,” She tentatively asks.
“I’d really like that.”
“But,” She asks.
“But nothing,” He answers squeezing her hand in his.
“What about Patrick?”
“I couldn’t care less about Patrick.”
“You know what he’s done in the past.”
“Yes, and it’s time that it ends. I’ve already gone against the status quo at practice and I’m willing to pay whatever price to be with you.” He tells her.
Staci bites her bottom lip then leans up and quickly kisses him. “After practice, we need to do a lot more of that.”
“Looking forward to it,” Ray says smiling.
As we take our seats in Biology, Jessica gives me a serious look. “Jake, I honestly didn’t mean to tease you like I did. I… I’m not normally like that.”
“You’re not normally nice or funny or helpful? Which one is it?” I jokingly ask her.
“I’m trying to be serious here.” She states.
“There’s no reason to be. I’ve known you for only a couple of days but you don’t strike as the kind of person that… well that kind of person.”
“Oh, okay cool,” She says relieved that he seems to understand her. “That makes this next part a bit easier then.”
“You want a better lab partner,” I state.
“I believe that yesterday proves that I couldn’t get a better one. Well maybe one other but I’m not standing in the way of anyone’s crush.” She says looking over at Lee Ann and Dean as the pair chats quietly. “They’re too cute together.”
“So what do you want to ask?”
“This weather exhibition that’s coming up,” She begins.
“Sure, I can take you to that.” I answer before she can even ask the question.
“Wait, kaçak iddaa how’d you know that’s what I was going to ask?”
“Couple of reasons,” I tell her. “First, you’re new in town and probably have no idea where the planetarium is and second, you wanted to make sure I knew that your teasing was just that so I wouldn’t agree thinking you were offering anything more. How’d I do?”
She stares at me open mouthed for a second then gives me a radiant smile. “You used way too many words but basically, yes.”
“Then, as I stated, it would be my pleasure to take you ou… to the exhibit. Wouldn’t want anyone thinking it’s a date now would we?” I ask as the bell rings. Jessica doesn’t get a chance answer as Mrs. Harper launches into the days lesson.
“Hey you two, wait up,” Lee Ann says as we’re exiting class. “What’s up,” I ask as she and Dean fall in step with us.
“Are you guys going to the weather thing for extra credit this weekend?” She asks.
“Sure are,” Jessica answers.
“Together,” Lee Ann asks.
“I don’t know where the planetarium is so yes,” Jessica answers.
“You could use Google Maps,” Dean points out.
“I could,” Jessica says, “but then I would miss out on being shown around town by my lab partner.”
“In that Mustang of his, I can’t say as I blame you.” Dean admits.
“Mustang, really,” Jessica asks. “I didn’t figure you for a sports car.”
“Oh it’s not a sports car Jessica, that thing’s a beast from hell disguised as a car.” Lee Ann tells her.
“She’s just a car to anyone who doesn’t have a foot full of lead.” I tell her.
“You’ll see what I’m talking about Jessica. That thing rumbles like jungle cat that’s just itching to pounce. A little goose on the gas and she leaps like a jet plane taking off.” Lee Ann shares as we near the art room.
“You’ve drove it,” Dean asks her sounding in awe.
“On my street over the summer. The black marks are still there by the way.”
“Lead for a foot,” I add.
“Be nice and bat those pretty eyes of yours at him Jessica and he’ll let you take her for a spin.” Lee Ann laughs.
“The latter I can pull off but being nice to him; he makes that impossible.” Jessica laughs.
“Yeah, he’s a handful that for sure.” she jokes back.
“Thankfully this is us,” I tell Dean and Lee Ann. “We’ll see you two tomorrow so the abuse train can roll on.”
“Looking forward to it,” Lee Ann laughs.
After we say our goodbyes, Jessica and I head in.
“Now I can’t wait to see this car of yours.” Jessica states with a laugh causing Coach Pennington to look at as we enter.
“Guess there’s no way I’m getting out of taking you Saturday now, am I?” I jokingly ask.
“What is it with you two trying to get rid of one another when you come into my class?” Coach asks.
“This is their third class together Coach, plus she had lunch with us today too,” Bobby tells him. “That’s too much Jake for anyone.”
“Thank goodness Shelly has your back Jessica,” Coach Pennington jokes as Shelly enters the classroom.
“That I do Mr. Pennington,” Shelly answers giving Jessica a smile. “What are we talking about?”
“Jake…” Bobby begins but I cut him off.
“Nope, uh huh, leave my name out of this. I declare “pick on Jake day” is officially over.”
“It’s so cute that you think you can just declare that,” Jessica says patting my face lightly before turning and heading back to Shelly and her table. I can’t help but watch her butt as she walks away and Bobby catches me then laughs.
“Man, you have got it so bad.” He chuckles. I just shake my head and sigh as I take my seat.
“Agreed,” Coach Pennington says as he begins to pass out the drawings from yesterday for us to finish. He makes sure that my flower vase drawing is on top of the other. The one that is a three quarter view of Jessica’s smiling face.
Coach stops me as we’re heading out of class.
“I’d really like to enter this drawing into the art fair later this month.” He says tapping his pen on my drawing of Jessica.
“I’m not sure that’s a great idea coach. I mean Jess and I are friends, sort of, but I didn’t ask her if I could draw her. I mean this borders on stalker territory doesn’t it?”
“You can always just show it to her,” He states.
“Yeah, I can’t see that ending well for me.”
“Well think about it,” He states. “About both letting me enter this and telling her. It’s really great work.”
“I will coach,” I tell him. “See you at practice.”
“What was all that about?” Bobby asks as I join them.
“Just something about the Art Fair this year,” I answer.
“Aw, you draw pretty flowers.” Bobby teases.
“Didn’t I declare all this picking on me to be over?”
“Jessica dismissed that for us so you’re still fair game.”
“I’m glad to contribute,” Jessica says with a laugh.
“I can get this kind of punishment anywhere; I hope you all know this.”
“True but it wouldn’t be nearly as good since I’ve known you all of your life.” Shelly jumps in. “Should I tell them about the bike kaçak bahis incident or the Bigfoot thing?”
“I don’t know which bike incident you could be referring to since there’s been a few and also shut up.” I tell her.
“I want to hear about Bigfoot,” Jessica says looking down at my feet. “Is it about him being clumsy?”
“No it’s about an actual Bigfoot, well one that he thought roamed the woods behind his house. He had a journal about it and everything.” Shelly explains.
“All right,” I state trying to stop the conversation but it’s no use.
“He had a diary,” Bobby needles me.
“Dearest Bigfoot, I thought I saw you today, did you see me?” Jody chimes in and I begin wishing I was anywhere but here. The two a day practices in ninety-plus degree heat would be preferable.
“Oh my god, you are so cute when you’re blushing,” Jessica cries excitedly.
“That can’t possibly be true. I’m fairly sure that I blush anytime I ask a girl out and they still say no.” I argue.
“Stop trying to date airheads,” Jessica counters much to Shelly and Jody’s delight.
Bobby laughs, “That’s what I keep telling him.”
“Are you saying that he needs a smart girl, Bobby?” Jody asks giving Jessica a smile.
Jessica, seeing where this is heading, tries to cut it off by turning to me. “Don’t you have a practice to get to?”
“That I do, thank you,” I nod giving her a wink. “See you guys later.”
Practice begins with two laps for the team, four for me, so I pace myself though I want to be at the front of the pack just to piss Patrick off. After my final lap, I look at Coach Yates who yells, “‘Bout time! Get your ass over with defense!”
Working with the defense is a demotion from second team. You aren’t taught the offensive playbook by actually running through it when you were with the defense. The only thing you learn when quarterbacking for the defense was how fast you can dodge even though they aren’t suppose to hit you, it happens. Coach Pennington gives me a nod as he goes over which defense he wants the guys to line up in.
“Dime package, double coverage,” He tells them then tosses me the red cover that is supposed to mark me as a non-target. “Put that on, but head on a swivel. Five step drop then let fly.”
I nod, pull on the jersey and take the ball. “On your go Coach,” I tell him as I squat as if I’m behind a center.
“Set… Go,” Coach shouts starting the play. I drop the five step, spot a receiver with a step on his coverage man and let fly. The ball spirals out of my hand and hits his perfectly in stride but slips through his fingers.
“That’s one,” Jamie snickers as he goes to his outside linebacker position.
“Nice heave Jake,” Coach Pennington compliments then goes over to show his D-back what he did wrong.
The receiver comes over and gives me a sheepish look. “I should have got that one.”
“Next one,” I tell him. The kid looks like a sophomore that got kicked up from JV, most likely due to his speed. Once he gets used to catching the ball he’ll be a shoe in for all state.
“Okay D, four three formation, Cat blitz, cover two and remember we stop on red!” Coach calls out then turns to me. “Play action, three step drop and get rid of it. Watch the blitz.”
I appreciate his warning since he’s called our special Cat blitz meaning both our outside linebackers were going to be coming. The “stop on red” part is to remind them to not hit me since I’m wearing the red jersey.
“Left side,” I tell the running back as he lines up then nod at Coach.
“Set… go,” Coach calls out. I take a step back and fake the hand off to the back. I sell the hand off and as I plant I notice Jamie coming on my left and Tank on my right.
“Well this is going to hurt,” I let myself think for a second before I let the ball fly over the middle. Tank passes me with a simple tap on my padded shoulder. If he laid me out, it’d be a legal hit since the ball just left my hand. Jamie, two steps behind him slams into me at full speed throwing me back onto my ass.
“Damn it Jamie, what in the hell was that?” Coach Pennington shouts.
“Sorry coach, guess I didn’t know my place.” Jamie answers with a chuckle.
“Well in a game you just cost us fifteen yards on top of the ten Jake completed with that pass.” He tells him then turns to me. “Are you all right?”
“Fine coach,” I answer as I dust myself off.
“You sure,” he asks.
“He should hit harder if he wants me to stay down,” I state giving coach a smile. “Next play?”
“So how was your day sweetie,” Mr. Golden asks as the family sit down for dinner.
“Soooo boring,” Sarah sighs dramatically garnering laughs from the family.
“Why was it boring Sar-bear?” Jessica asks.
“I already know eeeevvvveeerrrything,” Sara groans getting more laughs.
“And just how do you eeeevvvveeerrrything young lady,” Dr. Golden mimics.
“My sissy taught me,” she answers. “I’m too smart for first grade.”
Their dad gives Jessica a look that says “See what you did” and Jessica just smiles.
“Be careful Sarah or you’ll end up in all the smart classes and be buried under a homework avalanche.” Jessica warns her.
“Oh no,” Sarah cries out then laughs when Jessica reaches over and tickles her.
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