Roget Hills High School was a real sight for sore eyes early Monday morning. I had ridden to school with Cambree, as I always did, and Cambree had parked her new Jeep in the sophomore parking lot. This parking lot was the worst one, with the most amount of traffic, since it was right in the middle of the car-rider’s drop off zone. But next year, we could move up to the envied upperclassman lot, behind the building.
When she parked, Cambree opened the door, dropping her cigarette butt into the snow. I watched her with disapproval.
“What?” she asked, getting out of the car.
“Nothing,” I said simply, watching as Cambree sprayed the scent of Camels off of her with her new Ralph Lauren perfume, one of many expensive gifts she’d gotten for Christmas from her father.
I hated this new habit she’d adopted. She’d gotten it sometime since she’d started hanging out with Laurel Mackenzie and her friends. It wasn’t that long ago when Cambree thought smoking was disgusting. Getting wasted used to be disgusting, too, but as I had learned at the party Saturday night, her feelings about that had changed, too.
“Come on,” she said, rushing. “Ethan’s waiting for us in the lobby.”
“Ethan?” I had no idea who this was, or why it was so important that he was waiting for us in the lobby.
“Yeah, I met him at Taryn’s party,” Cambree said, grinning from ear to ear. “After you left. He’s really cute, and he’s on the basketball team. Laurel introduced us and we totally hit it off.”
She tugged on my arm, pulling me in the direction of the school, and apparently, Ethan.
The lobby was crowded, and since I had no idea who Ethan was, I had no idea who we were looking for. It didn’t matter, though, because Cambree was pulling me right into the bathroom.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“Touching up before I see Ethan,” Cambree said, the ‘duh’ already implied by her tone without needing to be said. She went straight for the mirror, where two freshman girls were running brushes through their hair.
I watched and waited while Cambree touched up on her lip gloss, adding more eye shadow and eyeliner. She fluffed her curls and checked her reflection one last time before I was sure we were ready to go.
“How do I look,” she asked, grinning as she faced me.
“Great,” I said. “But you looked great before.”
Cambree playfully rolled her eyes, or at least, I thought it was playful. “Come on, Soph.”
“Come on what?”
“Touch up on your make-up. You know. In case you run into Andrew.”
I wasn’t big on makeup. I was happy with my clear, smooth complexion, and usually limited my make-up use to eyeliner, a dab of eye shadow, and nude-colored gloss. I would never go overboard like Cambree.
“I’m wearing enough make up,” I said, backing away cautiously. Since when did Cambree corner me in bathrooms and try to doll me up, anyway?
Thank God, Cambree didn’t push it. Instead, there was another eye roll, followed by a “Suit yourself.” Then she walked out of the bathroom.
So Ethan was a tall guy. Thin, lanky, and tall, just what a basketball player should look like. He had thick, messy dark hair that looked like he just rolled out of bed, and a pair of sleepy green eyes to match, but somehow, he pulled it off.
It was easy to see why Cambree liked him. But watching her lean against the locker, talking to Ethan, I decided it was best not to interrupt. So, left alone in the lobby, I began looking for my other friends, who were supposed to meet both me and Cambree there, but they were nowhere in sight.
Great, I thought. How wonderful it was to be ditched by my best friend before homeroom, and now I couldn’t find anyone else.
And then I saw him.
Andrew Harper had just walked into the lobby with two other senior guys I didn’t know, Laurel Mackenzie, Taryn Hyatt, and her boyfriend, Josh. I didn’t mean to stare, but it was really hard not to. And then Andrew looked right at me.
I told myself to look away but those eyes had me, and then he smiled, and he winked—yes, winked—at me before he and the rest of his crowd joined Cambree and Ethan by the lockers.
Suddenly that jealous feeling from the party swept over me. Watching Cambree so easily fit in with these people, laughing and talking like she’d been best friends with them all along while I lingered over here like an outcast. I knew it was silly, and Cambree was still my best friend, but it was weird seeing her with them. There was still a jealous stab I couldn’t help.
And then I spotted Jenna and Tony coming her way.
“Hey!” Jenna said, wrapping her arms around me in a way that suggested it had been five years since we’d seen each other, rather than two weeks. “How was Antigua?”
“Better than here,” I said honestly. “Where’s Mandy?”
Mandy Carter was the fourth member of our group, well, with Cambree over there with the senior cheerleaders and jocks, she would be the third when she finally showed up.
Jenna pointed behind me. I could smell Mandy’s Chanel perfume enveloping me before I even saw her.
She stepped into our circle, and I became thankfulI wasn’t the third wheel with Tony and Jenna anymore.
“Hey, Mandy,” I said. “Did you have a good Christmas?”
“It was great,” Mandy declared. “The cabin was fantastic! We skied, we had all this family time, and we even went ice fishing!”
Mandy’s family spent Christmas with cousins, aunts and uncles at her grandparents cabin in Minnesota, and every year, when she came back, she had tons of new clothes, pictures, and stories to share with them.
“And oh my gosh, Sophia!” she squealed. “You look amazing.”
I smiled. So it had only been two weeks since she’d seen me, but that was Mandy. She was always sort of excited, and she smiled a lot. I thought she was the happiest girl I knew.
Jenna narrowed her eyes and looked me up and down. “Yeah, you do look different. Did you lose weight in Antigua?”
I looked down at my thin legs. “Uhm, no? I don’t think so?”
“I think your boobs got bigger,” Jenna declared certainly.
I self-consciously clutched my chest. “God, I hope not.”
Just then, Cambree stepped up, joining us, resting her elbow on my shoulder. “What you’re seeing, Jenna, is a glow.”
“Did you get pregnant in Antigua?” Jenna tried.
I rolled my eyes. “Of course not.”
“She got a ride home from Andrew Harper Saturday night,” Cambree said proudly. “By the way, Soph. He was just asking about you.”
My heart skipped a beat. “He was?” Instinctively, I began searching the lobby for him, but he, along with Ethan, Laurel, and the rest of them, were all gone.
“Yeah. He thinks you’re cute.”
I frowned. “Oh. Cute?”
Cute wasn’t the description I was going for. Cute was for little girls.
“Well, he meant it in a good way,” Cambree said. “He likes you, I think.”
It kind of annoyed me a little bit that Cambree was such an insider with those people now. It was like, before, me and Cambree would be the dorky sophomore girls together, watching guys like Andrew Harper from a distance, or wishing we were invited to the parties Taryn threw. Now, it was Cambree being invited to those parties, and I was just this little tagalong. I wasn’t sure how all this had changed so quickly, but it had.
The warning bell chimed throughout the hallway. Cambree touched my arm. “Come on Soph. Let’s get to homeroom.”
Cambree and I had homeroom together, and looking at our schedules, it seemed like this would be the only class we would have together this semester. We did have lunch together, so I was happy about that. I just hoped Laurel and her friends didn’t have lunch with us, too, because at this point, I wasn’t sure who Cambree would choose to sit with.
Actually, yeah, I was sure who she would choose. And I wasn’t so happy with the answer.
By lunch, I was fully convinced I would have no social life this semester. Two classes down—both AP—and I already had a ton of homework. I still had two more classes to go, Biology and gym, after lunch, and already I wanted to pull my hair out.
Cambree and I had sat at the same table with our friends since the first day of ninth grade, so assuming that’s where we’d sit today, I made my way over there, finding I was the first to arrive. After ten minutes, Cambree hadn’t shown.
After looking around the cafeteria, my suspicions were confirmed. Laurel and Taryn had lunch with us, and Cambree was having lunch with them.
I would admit, even at three-weeks-shy of sixteen, that I was jealous. Yes, my feelings were hurt seeing her over there, laughing and chuckling with them. I could handle Cambree having other friends, and a potential boyfriend, even, but I couldn’t help but be bothered by the fact that she didn’t even let me know she wasn’t having lunch with me.
Thank God for my other friends, though. They all sat down just in time to keep me from looking like a pathetic loser sitting all by my lonesome.
I was more than happy to see them all. Even Tony, who never said a word to any of us except for Jenna.
We all exchanged comments about how our day had gone so far, and then Mandy asked where Cambree was.
“Over there,” I told her, my tone purposely flat as I pointed toward Cambree’s new table.
Jenna made a face. “Why?”
I shrugged, turning around, looking for myself. Cambree was sitting between Laurel and Ethan, laughing loudly at something Ethan had said. He and Andrew had now joined the table, along with other juniors and seniors I didn’t know. My eyes locked on Andrew in his tight red t-shirt.
I couldn’t believe that guy had talked to me at a party just a couple of nights ago, and he’d even driven me home.
Then he looked at me.
Shit. I was caught. I tried to look away, but I couldn’t.
“Who is Andrew Harper looking at?”
I didn’t answer Jenna, because Andrew was getting up, his eyes still locked on me. Oh, shit.
He was coming my way.
“Is he coming over here?” Mandy asked.
“He is,” Jenna confirmed in disbelief.
Everyone at Cambree’s table watched as Andrew grabbed a chair at my table and sat down next to me.
He was so close, I could smell him. Just like at the party. A light sandalwood fragrance, maybe his aftershave, and mint, maybe? Yes, it was mint.He was so close, I could smell the gum he was chewing.
“What’s up, Sophia?” he asked with this smile that was cocky, but at the same time, he could pull it off.
“Uhm, hi,” I practically squeaked back.
“Look, what are you doing Friday?”
If my heart was still beating at that moment I probably would have told him that on a normal Friday night, I’d be home. Thank God I stopped myself.
“I don’t think I have any plans,” I said instead.
He nodded and flashed another one of those knee-weakening smiles. “Great. So, your friend Cambree over there is going out with my boy Ethan this weekend to the movies. Wanted to know if you wanted to double with me?”
I smiled. Like an idiot. I couldn’t help it. Andrew Harper just asked me on a date! OK, so it was a double date, but still!
So, of course, I said, “Of course. I’d love to.”
“Awesome. I’ll call you.”
He winked at me, then got up, and went back to his table.
And so I, Sophia Martin, had a date with the Andrew Harper Friday night.
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