After school, Zara insisted Jordyn practice some simple gymnastics in the backyard, since she’d declined an offer to take up gymnastics at the local Y—Jordyn didn’t even know Cedarwood had a Y.
“You don’t have to do anything fancy,” Zara had said as she’d turned her Mercedes on Cliff Road on the way home. “But I think you need to stretch and do a little something for gymnastics, just to keep your muscles familiar with it. If you’re not going to be taking them at the Y, the least you could do is work at home. There’s plenty of backyard space and you don’t need a coach at your level to just practice. Keep your muscles going.”
This entirely long statement had come out before Jordyn had a chance to interrupt. Zara still didn’t know she wasn’t entirely heartbroken about leaving Victoria Joy and 30 hours of training a week. And until it was pressed, there was no need to bring it up. Jordyn was having fun at Cedarwood’s Dance School with Maggie three nights a week. And luckily, even Zara agreed that the Y gymnastics were going to be nothing fancy. Just some tumbling.
So at 5:00, after finishing up her homework, Jordyn was standing in her backyard, the short-cut grass tickling her bare feet as she worked on just a little tumbling and flipping around.
After a little while, she’d heard a loud rumbling engine pull up, and knew immediately Ty was home. She was a little surprised, since he had been hanging out with Natalie and his football friends all week after practice. This was the first day he’d come home right after practice. But she could tell by another loud rumbling in the driveway he wasn’t alone.
Probably some football buddies, she thought as she did a mid-air cartwheel. Then her heart skipped a beat.
What if Cole was with him? She smiled at the thought of Cole Anderson at her house. Then she backed up, took a running start, and went into seven backhand springs.
The voice was unfamiliar, and startling when it came from behind Jordyn. She whipped around and saw Ty. But as she’d expected, he was far from alone. With him stood Natalie, Lydia, Meredith, and three football players. One of them was—yes!—the gorgeous Cole Anderson.
The voice Jordyn had heard was Natalie.
“Nice gymnastics,” she said to her with a smile. “You’re really good.”
“Uhm, thanks,” Jordyn said.
“Uh, guys, this is my sister, Jordyn,” Ty said, his hands in the pockets of his Cougars Football sweatpants. “Jordyn, you know Natalie. This is Lydia, Meredith, Toby, Mike, and Cole.”
Toby and Mike were the only names Jordyn didn’t already know. But other than Cole, she’d never actually spoken to any of them.
“Hey, Jordyn, there’s an open spot on the cheer squad,” Natalie said with a smile. “We could really use some flips and tricks like yours.”
“Yeah, we only have two other girls who can flip,” Lydia said. “You should totally try out.”
“I can pretty much guarantee you a spot,” Natalie said with a smile.
Jordyn didn’t know why but she looked straight at Cole. She watched him smile at her, his hands in the pockets of his denim jeans. He was so cute. She wondered if he was into cheerleaders? He was sure surrounded by them now.
“What do you say, Jordyn?” Meredith chimed in.
No. This was too much. She just met these girls, these cheerleading, popular new friends of her brother’s. They’d seen her do a couple of simple floor tricks and were all over her. Between dance and her A.P. classes, Jordyn didn’t have a lot of breathing room. It was still more time than she ever dreamed of having back in San Diego, but she wasn’t ready to give it up to dance like a robot Barbie doll in front of a crowd of small-town football fans with some pom-poms.
“No thanks,” Jordyn said as kindly as she could, flashing a smile. “I’ve got a really busy schedule.”
“Yeah, Jordyn takes A.P. classes,” Cole said, winking at Jordyn.
Jordyn didn’t mean to smile back so hard. Surely the rest of them noticed. Ty noticed mostly, though.
“You two already know each other?” Ty asked, getting that protective big brother attitude she’d only seen in movies. Never in real life and never by her own brother. Ty didn’t get protective over her.
“Bumped into her in the hallway Monday,” Cole said still smiling at her.
“How do you like Cedarwood, Jordyn?” Natalie asked, beaming.
Jordyn just shrugged. “It’s OK, I guess.”
And it was. It got a little better every day, and she actually had people to talk to during lunch. And it didn’t hurt that she was sharing smiles with the superhot Cole Anderson across the cafeteria every day.
And right now, she was sharing a smile with him across her own backyard.
Ty noticed it. He folded his arms over his chest and looked back and forth between Jordyn and Cole. Then he cleared his throat. “Hey, Jordyn, we’re going to Mickey’s. You want to go?”
“Uhm, sure,” Jordyn said. She’d wanted to go to Mickey’s ever since Ty told her about it. It sounded pretty cool, and she wanted to see for herself. Plus, it was also a perfect way to hang out with Cole.
“Go get ready,” Ty said. “I’ll go tell mom.”
Jordyn nodded then bolted to her room to get ready.
She couldn’t believe it. Not that she was all gushy over hanging out with the popular seniors. Sure Natalie and her friends seemed cool—according to Alice they were “the coolest”—but Jordyn didn’t care about all that. She’d just as soon as, or probably sooner than, hang out with Alice. But Cole was going. So Jordyn was going.
Jordyn quickly changed into a pair of short white Abercrombie shorts, something she would never have been allowed to wear to school, and a simple, but tight, black t-shirt. She tossed her hair into a messy bun, since it was, well, too messy to leave down, even after she’d struggled with a brush, then she stepped in front of her full-length mirror.
Jordyn had never, not once, fretted over her outfit in her life. In California, she was laid back, and whatever she felt like wearing, that was fine with her. If she felt good that was all that mattered. But tonight? Tonight she had Cole to impress. She didn’t want to look like a little kid. Sure, she was only a year younger, but she knew there was a stigma attached to being someone’s ‘little’ sister.
She examined her outfit, pleased with it, but felt like something was missing. She reached up and touched her face.
Of course. She’d noticed that even after cheer practice, Natalie, Lydia, and Meredith wore flawless make-up. Even Ashley and her friends had dabbed it on before gym that afternoon.
Typically, Jordyn didn’t wear make-up, with the exception of a little lip gloss, and the tiniest amount of mascara. Her complexion was dark, and, knock on wood, had never seen a blemish in all of her sixteen years. But tonight, maybe they were just going to a little popular, small town hang out, not the prom, but Cole Anderson was going to be there, and Jordyn needed more than just her minimal.
She was careful not to overdo it, but when she was done, she wore a thin layer of foundation, hoping it didn’t change her complexion enough to make it look like she’d been trying to impress, and lined her eyes off with her usual mascara, and even some eyeliner, which she typically wasn’t accustomed to. She knew exactly how to apply make-up almost professionally due to many years in dance, and when you performed you overdosed on make-up.
Jordyn hoped she wasn’t wearing too much now. She’d gone as light as she could, and once she’d dabbed her lips with her nude lip gloss, she was ready to go.
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