And then, every perfect scenario I'd imagined would happen, happened. He started walking towards me, tucking the basketball he'd recently thrown through the hoop under his muscular bicep, seeming to move in slow motion with each stride. I felt my heart stop, as if it was holding its breath, too, and suddenly everyone else around me, every basketball being dribbled against the glossy gym floor, paused.
It was just me and him, in the middle of the gym floor, facing each other like we were a reuniting couple at an airport. His dark hair, shiny with sweat, was plastered to his forehead and his sharp emerald eyes were narrowed on me, as if I was his prey. I gulped, feeling my stomach tie into a tight, unbreakable knot, the kind you'd learn to assemble in Survival 101.
As he continued to get closer and closer, I thought back to when we were still distant strangers, staying as far away from each other's lives as possible. He hung around the quiet, distant people, who didn't seem to have any personalities, while I hung around the kind of people everyone wanted to be friends with. We'd occasionally pass each other in the hallways, making a point to avoid each other's gaze, but that was the closest we'd ever gotten to knowing each other, if you'd even call it that. I never had enough time to notice his features-that is-until he transferred into my 9th period gym class.
It was on a Wednesday, and I had just gotten out of the girls' locker room, pulling my hair up into a ponytail. I was taking my time, dreading walking over to the court of giggling girls I was assigned to. I was never good at Volleyball, anyway, so being partnered up with the preppiest, most perfectionistic girls in my gym class must've been a joke pulled on me by the gym teachers. I hated them for that, in fact, I made a point to glare at them whenever they looked my way, or when I'd pass them to retrieve a ball my group made me chase after.
"Hey, Kennedy!" one of the girls called out, waving me over. I rolled my eyes noticeably and sighed, thinking to myself: speaking of the devil.
I wasn't even paying attention when I started to jog over to the court, and that bit me in the ass when I bumped into someone's back. Declan's back.
At first I just stumbled backwards, looking up at the face of the body I'd ran into, like I was eyeing a skyscraper. He was tall, and not just compared to my '5''4 height. He even loomed over the tallest kid in my grade, who was '6''1. It was hard to believe we were just one grade apart. I was in eleventh grade, having just turned seventeen, and he was a senior. I felt so little compared to him, so inferior, as if I didn't belong there at all. And by the way he stood over me, crossing his muscular arms across his chest, staring down at me with those emerald daggers, gave me a reason to believe that I really didn't belong there.
But then, the unexpected happened. Or, maybe I was expecting it, but just never thought that it'd actually happen. Whatever the case, it happened, and once it did there was no way I could ever look at him the same.
"Whoa, you better be more careful," he said, tugging his lips into a smirk. "I hope you aren't hurt." And by the way his eyes glistened, and the sudden softness brought into his usually tense face, I believed him. He really did hope that I wasn't hurt, and that right there was enough to persuade me into believing that he wasn't as tough as he seemed.
That was the moment I started liking Declan Shades. The moment my entire world, and what I thought was right and wrong, totally spun out of proportion. It was the moment I thought would never happen to me, the moment I thought was only real in gooey, romantic movies. The moment I felt butterflies flutter into my stomach, felt my heart beat twice its normal speed-it was the moment I fell completely, and uncontrollably in love with Declan Shades.
◊ ◊ ◊
Three Days Before
"Kennedy!" Arianna yelled, annoyed, jingling her car keys in the air. I ripped my sweatshirt off my door hanger, literally ripped, creating a new tear in the left sleeve, and cursed beneath my breath before kneeling down to grab my Chanel purse. Arianna was my eldest sister, being twenty two, and I was the second oldest, falling five years behind her. My youngest sister had just previously turned eight, which, Arianna and I had both thought would be the 'cute' age, but were proven wrong once she started wearing skinny jeans and calling herself Jessica Simpson. Arianna concluded that it was just a stage, and that it'd be over soon. I wanted to agree with her, but it was difficult to believe it would end after having to listen to endless stories about boys who had crushes on her, who thought she was pretty, and vice versa. It made me question when I was her age, and I distinctly remember that I was not always obsessing over what clothes I wore and who liked me, that's for sure.
"Kenn-ed-y!" Arianna's voice got louder. "I'm coming," I muttered to myself, as I exited my room, slamming the door behind me. As I reached the top of the staircase, I noticed her standing by the doorway, one hand on her hip, the other jangling her keys, as she was popping her gum obnoxiously.
I probably looked like a caveman compared to her. She was always the prettier one, but of course I never admitted it out loud. I always thought it, though, and when I was younger I'd always brag about her to my friends, who'd listen to me with wide eyes and gapping mouths. She had long blonde hair, the kind of blonde you'd see glinting beneath umbrella's at the beach, and naturally tan skin, which brought out her bright blue eyes. She was the perfect height, too, being '5''7. I remember always getting jealous when people would stop her in the mall, asking if she was a model. I'd tighten my grip on her hand and pull her forward, urging her to walk away, but she'd just squeeze my hand gently and continue talking. What really got to me, though, was that the people who'd stop her wouldn't even glance down at me. As if I was invisible, like I wasn't even there at all.
"Hurry up!" she yelled, rolling her eyes. "I'm going to leave, right now!"
"Wait just a second!" I hollered back, heading down the stairs. My pumps made loud, clanking echoes against each step, causing me to wince and lighten my footing. Still, it was the loudest noise in the house.
When I got to the bottom of the steps, Arianna's face changed dramatically. She smiled and clasped her hands together, clearly satisfied with my outfit of choice.
"Look at you!" she teased, scanning me up and down. I blushed and adjusted my purse strap on my shoulder. "Shut up."
"What, it's true," she said, snapping her gum. Even if it was true, I just rolled my eyes and walked past her, making a point to bump my shoulder against hers. I don't know why, but I never really felt comfortable with people commenting on my looks. I guess I just never felt pretty enough for someone to notice, so when they did, it was huge shocker to me. Maybe I was pretty, maybe. I had long brown hair that I usually just combed through, since I never felt the need to do anything special with it, big blue eyes and apparently 'kissable lips'. My best friend, Lena, just brought it up one day during lunch. She was sitting across from me, chewing slowly on her ham sandwich, with a really concentrated look on her face. At first I just ignored it, thinking she was just dosing off. But after two minutes of having her stare at me, squinting her eyes every now and then, I got worried.
"Lena, what's wrong?" I panicked, bringing my hands up to my face, feeling for anything unusual.
"Nothing, nothing at all!" she'd said, trying not to laugh. I didn't believe her, because who actually believes their friend after they stare at your face for what seems like forever, and then tell you that nothing's wrong? I wasn't buying it.
"It's just," she said, setting down her half-eaten sandwich, "I guess I've never really noticed, but you have really gorgeous lips."
I remember raising my eyebrows, and looking at her as if she'd just said a sentence in Latin. "What?" I said, suddenly feeling more aware of my lips than I had before.
"Your lips!" she explained, pointing to her own, "They're so…I don't know-kissable! Like, if you were to kiss a guy, he'd be thinking 'wow, this girl has really kissable lips, I can't wait to get me some of that!'"
I'd laughed, denying her odd discovery. But on the inside, I was really questioning whether she was right or not. I'd never observed my lips long enough to notice before, but that day I made a mental note to check when I got home.
"You know, you don't have to be such a bitch about it," Arianna said as she followed me out to her car. I felt bad; I didn't mean to sound that rude. I wanted to apologize, but then I thought that if I did, she'd just continue on talking about it, so I decided not to say anything at all. Instead, I just ducked into the passenger side of her silver BMW, pretending I didn't hear her.
"Ugh, I hope I don't have to get gas," she complained, as she swung open her door and climbed into the driver's seat. Obviously she'd forgotten the whole subject, or was just pretending it never happened, just like I was, but either way it was a relief.
After she pulled the buckle around her, and adjusted her interior mirror to fit her '5''7 height, she looked over at me and bit her lip.
"You know, you really do look gorgeous," she said, eyeing my floral blouse. I blushed again, something I was prone to doing whenever I received a compliment, and flashed her a genuine smile.
"Thanks, Arianna," I said honestly, and she smiled back before turning to face the wheel, where she turned the keys into the ignition, bringing the car to life. She was always really hesitant about backing out of our driveway, probably because once she almost ran over our neighbor's cat, so she looked both ways several times before finally turning onto the road. I never really talked in the car, I usually just watched out the window as various mailboxes and different sized trees passed by. So I turned toward the window, ready to sit in silence until we arrived at the front of Westwood High. But this time, Arianna surprised me by speaking up.
"So…" was how she started it, sounding a bit uncomfortable, "I know you're dressed up for the homecoming game and all, but, I just want you to know…" she stopped, taking in a deep breath. "That I hope it's for a better reason, you know, for someone who might really like you. I don't know, from my own experience, whenever I was all dressed up that's when the guys would confront me."
I didn't quite know why she was bringing this up, or what she meant by it, but I nodded anyway, turning to give her a small smile.
"Thanks," I said, tucking a piece of my hair behind my ear.
"I don't know," she continued, tightening her grip around the steering wheel, "it's just, sometimes the best things happen at the most unexpected moments, you know?"
I watched as her fingers continuously loosened and tightened around the wheel, and how she kept her eyes focused on the road, and wondered if she was talking about me, or herself. It was difficult to tell. It was always difficult to tell with Arianna.
A/N: I've added pictures of Kennedy's sisters to my character pictures and summary. If you are really curious as to what they look like, go ahead and check it out! Thank you for everyone who's following my writing, it means a lot to me.