The next morning, Tuesday, I spent a few minutes longer in front of the mirror. My mother noticed it, too, when I sat down for breakfast.
“Sophia, you look lovely!”
I smiled and took a bite of toast. “Thank you.”
Next to me, Olivia beamed. “Andrew must be cute. Sophia was up at 6:30.”
My mother looked impressed as she leaned against the counter, sipping from her coffee mug. “Wow. That’s pretty early for you, Sophia. And it paid off I see.”
I knew she was talking about my curls. Normally I didn’t mess with the curling iron. It was too much work since my hair was naturally pretty straight, but after my late-night conversation with Andrew last night, I wanted to go the extra mile today. I was even wearing my more expensive perfume I usually reserved for special occasions.
“Are you staying after school to run today, Sophia?” my mother asked.
“Probably so,” I told her. “If not I’ll get a ride from Cambree.”
Olivia sighed. “I cannot wait until you get your license, Soph. Then you can pick me up from school. That’ll be so cool.”
“Not for long,” I explained. “Softball starts soon, remember.”
Disappointment crossed my sister’s face. “Oh, yeah.” But she quickly recuperated and went to playing with her cell phone.
“Olivia, if you get caught playing with that cell phone again today, you’re losing it for a month,” my mother warned.
“I won’t, I promise,” Olivia assured, not taking her eyes off the phone. I smiled. Only my sister would get caught with her cell phone within the first hour back in school after Christmas break.
My own phone vibrated from inside my purse, so I pulled it out and read the text I had from Cambree.
“Same goes for you, Sophia,” my mother sighed.
“Don’t worry, mom,” I said, slipping my phone back into my purse. I stood up. “Cambree’s here. I gotta go. See you tonight.”
“Have a good day,” my mother called after me.
Outside, I immediately stopped. I had expected to see Cambree alone waiting for me. But she wasn’t. She wasn’t even in her own car. She was in the front seat of Laurel’s.
I didn’t exactly want to ride to school with Laurel, but what choice did I have? So I slumped to the brand new, red, convertible BMW, and Cambree got out to let me in the back. I nearly choked on the strong scent of cigarette smoke floating around the car.
“Hey, Sophia!” Cambree said, sliding into the car so Laurel could start down the driveway. “You hair looks so cute!”
I forced a smile. After all, my best friend looked like a complete stranger puffing on that cigarette up in the front seat of Laurel Mackenzie’s BMW. You’d think she rode with Laurel Mackenzie all the time.
I reached up and touched a dark curl. “Thanks, Cam.”
I saw Laurel peek at me through her rearview mirror. “Sophia, you have a nice house.”
“Uhm, thank you.”
She took a long drag from her cigarette and blew the smoke out. I coughed. Geez. Could no one crack a window?!
“Yeah, you should throw a party!”
I didn’t reply, but Cambree did. She laughed. “A party at the Martin House? Hell would freeze over first.”
They shared a laugh. Since when did Cambree talk like that? And make fun of me? I squirmed in the seat. And since when did rides to school with Cambree get so uncomfortable?
Next, Laurel offered me a cigarette.
“Sophia doesn’t smoke,” Cambree answered before I even opened my mouth.
Laurel just shrugged and smirked, then she and Cambree shared a knowing glance.
What the hell was that? If I hadn’t known better, I would’ve thought that was an inside thing between the two of them. Even worse? About me.
I was so thankful to see the school as we rounded the curve just before the Roget Hills city limits. I had to get out of this car. My intentions were to get Cambree alone and ask her what the hell all that had been about.
Laurel parked in the senior lot, in a spot near Taryn’s car. I saw Taryn leaning against her own luxury ride, Josh kissing her, and Ethan and Andrew were lingering around talking in their letterman jackets.
We got out and without a word, Cambree went straight to that group with Laurel. She was by Ethan’s side in an instant. He slid his arm around her so quickly, it was like they were a thing. But that made no sense. They just met, and they hadn’t even been on a date yet.
I looked at Andrew. His eyes were on me and he was smiling as he walked my way. I hoped he didn’t put his arm around me, too. I didn’t think I was quite ready for that, yet. We hadn’t even gone to the movies, yet.
He approached me, and his hands were in his jeans pockets.
“Hey, there,” he said.
I smiled sheepishly. Despite how long we’d texted last night, talking to him face to face was still a little nerve wracking.
He stepped really close. “You smell really great.”
“Thanks,” I said, feeling my smile grow.
“So, you looking forward to Friday?” he asked.
I shrugged. “What’s Friday?”
He raised his eyebrows, so I chuckled. He sighed and shook his head. “Yeah, you’re funny.”
“Yeah, I can’t wait,” I said. I checked my silver watch. Homeroom started in ten minutes. I glanced at Cambree, who didn’t seem to be budging from Ethan’s side. I knew I couldn’t be late.
Andrew must have known, too, because he said, “Can I walk you to class?”
I smiled and nodded. “Sure. I’d like that.”
So we broke away from the group, and I found myself much more comfortable with Andrew. It was weird. I thought if I was going to hang out with him, I’d want Cambree around, but I felt better without her. Maybe because that girl hanging back in the parking lot all over Ethan wasn’t the same Cambree I was used to, and quite frankly, I wasn’t comfortable with her period right now.
“So, do you like basketball?” he asked me as we walked into the building.
I nodded. “Yeah.”
“Well, you know, I’m on the team.”
I knew this already. “Really? That’s so cool.”
“Yeah. We have a game tonight. You should come.”
I sidled along next to him until we were at my homeroom door, then leaned against the locker near it, exactly like I’d seen Cambree do with Ethan yesterday. I thought about going to the game, and I shrugged. It would be nice to see him in action, after all. And I did like basketball.
“Maybe I will,” I told him. Then I smiled, waved, and slipped into homeroom, my heart practically pounding right out of my chest.
I’d asked Cambree to go to the game with me when she got to homeroom.
“I’m already going,” she’d replied nonchalantly. “With Taryn. You should come with us!”
I had tried to ignore the pang in stomach realizing that she really hadn’t intended to invite me at all. But I wanted to go, so I accepted.
I guess it all worked out. Cambree wasn’t into sports, so throughout the entire game, she and Taryn gossiped over who was cuter, Josh or Ethan, and every once and a while, they’d look at me and go, “Sophia, your man is doing great!”
I knew this, because, unlike them, I was actually watching the game. And Andrew was on fire. I’d heard great things about him, and truly thought he was all hype. But watching him dribble the ball down the court, I knew it wasn’t.
The score was 67-50 in favor of the Raiders when the final buzzer sounded. The crowded gymnasium erupted in cheers, mostly screaming Andrew’s name. I realized then, how big of a deal he really was on the basketball team.
I stood up and I filed out of the gym, close behind Cambree and Taryn. They both lit cigarettes in the parking lot, and Cambree held hers between her fingers like she’d been smoking for years.
I tightened my jacket, shivering against the cold night air. I asked Cambree why we were still hanging around there. She explained that we were waiting for Ethan, Laurel, and Andrew, then lead Taryn lead us down to the locker rooms.
Laurel came out first, having changed out of her cheerleading uniform. She hugged Taryn and Cambree both, like she hadn’t seen them in ages. I didn’t get that at all. We’d just seen her at lunch today.
“You looked amazing, as always, girl!” Taryn said.
Laurel batted her eyelashes and pursed her lips, and for a second, I thought her reply was going to be, “I know.” But she just smiled, and said, “Thanks, Tar!”
And as usual, she ignored me. They all did after the three of them had huddled up together to wait for the boys to come out.
I was about to pull my cell phone out to refrain from looking like a loser standing there on the outside when the door to the boys locker room swung open and Andrew lead the herd out. He, Ethan, and Josh walked straight over to us.
At first, he didn’t say anything to me, just stopped by Laurel, Taryn and Cambree’s circle, ignoring me like they did. I prayed Cambree would be ready to leave soon. Then Andrew stepped away from them and walked over to me.
“What’s up, Sophia” he said with a smile.
“Hi. Uhm, good game.”
He grinned. “Thanks. So a bunch of the guys are going to Paulette’s. You girls want to come?”
He addressed the last sentence to all of us, not just me.
“Yeah!” Cambree agreed quickly. “But I’ll have to take Sophia home, first.”
I scoffed. Was she serious? She wasn’t even going to consider I might want to come first?
Andrew looked back at me. “You sure you can’t come?”
I glared at Cambree, and she blushed. “Oh, well, you said you had a lot of homework to do.”
I guess I did say that, but she sure seemed to be in a hurry to get rid of me instead of convincing me to stay and go out with them. The old Cambree would have begged me to stay and hang out. Of course, the old Cambree would have been surrounded by Jenna and Mandy, not these girls.
Andrew looked expectantly at me. I could see he wanted me to stay. At least someone did. It was pretty exciting that he did, but at the same time, it was sad that my best friend didn’t.
But I would deal with Cambree later. Right now, Andrew Harper was asking me to hang out. I just smiled and shook my head. “No, I can stay a little while. I’d love to go to Paulette’s and hang out a little while.”
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