Chapter 8. Love and War
I slept the weekend away. It was a relief to sleep all day once again. No practice, no games, nothing I had to remember, or any of that. My aching muscles were finally resting up. I was happy not to have practice at 3:30 p.m. that was good news.
I think I did excellent cheering at my first game. My movements were accurate, and I kept up with the squad, like I had been cheering for years.
When the weekend was over. The school days started back. It was a regular Monday. When I woke up, I knew inside that my two days for resting were over. Cheer practice was on the schedule.
The bus stopped by picking the neighborhood of kids were I live up. It was a dull start to the day. Nothing seemed to be moving...except the bus.
After making a few more stops. The bus stopped on Bram's street. I didn't know what to think when he boarded the bus. All I could remember was how I fell asleep Friday after the game wanting to talk to him. I still wasn't sure if it was only nervousness that brought him to me, and if it was enough to keep us friends.
My thoughts weren't exactly calm right now. The only thing I could do was watch as he walked down the aisle looking for an empty seat. He hadn't made eye contact with me, nor had he gave me any indication that we were still cool.
I was lost. I didn't know what to think about him. Were we friends or not?
I tried focusing more on the music playing in my ears from my ear buds. I didn't want to think any more about him.
Without giving a sign or warning, I was thrown out of my music for a speeding minute. It was a total heart stopping moment... the weight of the seat went down suddenly. When I looked to my right-
I could officially say: that Bram had started the week off by sitting beside me on the bus. I was happier than anything to have him sitting next to me. I tried not to get too excited, because he would have known something was up with me.
I kept listening to my mp3 player. Trying to act normal, trying to calm my heart rate, and keep my head from dreaming up fantasies. I was trying to act like he was acting. He was acting as if he sat by me every day, and nothing between us had changed.
Everything was fine with my act, until I looked in his auburn pools of light. His eyes were showing me the old friend I remembered inside of him. He looked at me as if he didn't know what to say, but there was something he wanted to say... he probably didn't know where to start.
"What are you listening to?" he said in a golden voice, pointing to his ears. I guess he thought I couldn't hear him over the music playing in my ears.
I shuffled around a bit in the seat. "Nothing just soft music." I barley opened my mouth. I was being so squirmy.
He held a soft palm out. "Can I listen?"
I was stunned to see him wanting to listen to my kind of music. I gave him a wide eyed look. "It's not the type of music you would probably like." My breathing was rapid. I was kind of worried if he heard the music I listened to, he probably wouldn't like it.
"It don't matter." He says with his palm still waiting for one of my ear phones. "I listen to soft music too...every now and then."
"No you don't. You like R&B and rap." I was trying to hide my reaction. I was also stalling to keep him from hearing my songs. I felt like it would be so embarrassing for him to hear. "When did you start listening to pop?"
"I listen to anything that sounds good. I always have." He corrected, licking his lips to make them a little darker pink than normal. "So let me listen."
The bus bumped and squeaked as we drove around. Bram was having this unnatural affect over me. I know he was dumb to his actions but everything he did... my ears seemed to pick up on it...everything he said, my ears seemed to like it.
"Okaay, its pop music." I mentioned trying to change his mind. "Lots of singers you don't know and don't like." He didn't change his mind, at the last minute like I thought he would.
He gave a deep laugh. "Let me hear for myself."
This was a memorable moment: The bus had moved into the brightness of the morning, and the sun had just sprayed its orange light right over his breathtaking honey wheat skin.
His eye lids squinted to keep the orange light out, but I could still see the size and shape of his magnetic auburn eyes. Only in the sunlight they glowed.
Seeing him like that, almost grabbing my chest from the sight of him. I gave in to Bram's persistence. Handing him one of the ear phones, I told him "Ok, what do you want to hear?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "I guess whatever you play."
"Ookaay." I said in an `I tried to warn you' tone.
"Just listen to the songs you normally listen to. Act like I'm not here."
That would be hard.
In my classes, I was so lost. Bram's body and face, his everything was sitting with me today on the bus! There was no way I could shake the feelings he was making me feel.
The strange thing about this was: I don't know why he was making me feel like this. When just last week, I didn't like him.
When I got in English, Mrs. Boyette wanted the class to read a story out of the book and answer the question at the end of the chapter. I was reading the story, and during certain parts of the story, I would catch myself reliving what happen on the bus.
Oh my God! I like, really need to focus on my work.
I finished reading the story. I was answering the questions the teacher asked us to, while writing the response to the last question.
Mrs. Boyette came over to Kenton's desk, she tapped him gently on his back.
"Kenton...Kenton..." she said.
"MA'AM." He jumped.
I had not paid attention to him. Otherwise I would have seen his hair wasn't braided. He had his hair straight silky, and flattened out. It was a natural look. His hair spouted from scalp and came down his back like a black water fall.
"Wake up, sweetie." The teacher told him. "Do your work, okay?" she politely tapped him to make sure he was completely awake. When she saw him stretching, straightening his back, and yawning loudly, she knew he was awake. She then returned to her desk.
Everybody stopped doing their work, to look at Kenton. I could see him trying to get the muzziness from his mind still. He saw everyone staring at him, "WHAAT!" he yelled rudely. When he said that everybody went back to writing.
"Mrs. Boyette." Kenton said lazily. "What are we supposed to be doing?" he was barely lifting his head.
"I've already explained that." she informed him. "Ask someone around you for help."
"Maan!" His dark eyes moved over the room. "Can somebody tell me what we are supposed to be doing?"
The class was silent. It was like no one in the class could hear him. No one could her what he was saying. Sometimes I forget how much everyone hates `Mr. Cocky'. Everybody just kept writing deaf to his words.
"I'm not asking no more!" Kenton said. It sounded more like pouting. "I don't need any of you! All of you suckers need me!"
Nobody responded. I don't know, but my opinion is: Kenton wanted attention (as usual) and they didn't want to give it to him. Everybody knew Kenton fed off of any response. So they did the worse thing to him...ignored him.
"My hair is still longer than anybody's in here... And all your mama's too." He started bragging to get attention, or a response out of someone. "I still look good no matter if anyone helps me or not." He continued.
No one answered.
Kenton finally gave up. He stopped talking, and open his book. He turned the pages glancing over at other people's books to see what page we were on. It was a clever idea, but the other students caught on to what he was doing, and they started covering the page numbers with their hands.
Kenton was lost. He then looked up from his book at me with a desperate look of help in his face. "Brice." He whispered at me. "What are we doing?"
I couldn't mistreat him. Even if he is cocky, it wasn't so bad. Plus he was being cool with me when Bram wasn't.
Seeing him at a moment of need, I waved him over. Telling him to come sit closer. He wasn't as bad as people made him out to be. He was a guy, who was proud of who God made him. I didn't see a problem with that.
Kenton wasted no time. He sat on the other side of my desk. I told him what page we were on, and what we were supposed to do. It was easy, and he seemed to be delighted that I was the only one who helped him.
he wrote answers down on his paper, but then he began talking.
"The game was crazy Friday." He sighed.
"I know it was. I'm glad you guys won."
"Did you see how I ran that guy from the other team over?" he excitedly added. Bouncing in his seat.
"Yes I saw! I didn't know you were that strong." I tried to brag on him a little but I should have known better.
"I'm amazing like that. They couldn't do nothing with me." he continued as he wrote more answers on his paper. "When I get on that field, the crowd just loves it, they love it."
While he talked I looked at how his waterfall like hair laid sprawled over the back of his shirt.
"Who did your hair?" I switched subjects.
"I did it, because I don't trust too many people with my hair. I don't even let anyone touch it, besides my aunt. If it isn't they have to stay back."
I was a little let down to hear him say no one could touch his hair. For some reason I have always wanted to comb my fingers through it to see if it feels good as it looks.
"Like Saleen," he brought up. "She wanted to touch my hair." he really caught my attention then.
"She is so nasty." I let out. "I would never even let her touch my toenails!"
"Ha, Ha, Ha, boy you are crazy." He laughed. "She had somebody to tell me she liked me, and how bad she wanted to go with me."
Hearing what message Saleen sent to him, started to get me upset. I don't think Saleen should date Kenton. I kept thinking, that's just wrong. I see right now, that I will have to intervene with Saleen's attempts on Kenton. She doesn't deserve to have a relationship, especially with Kenton of all people. Oh no, No! Not on my time.
I hope you don't like her. "I frowned at him. "You know between you and me, she talks crap about you behind your back." I lied.
"What?" He looked startled.
"Yes, she does. She talks about you really bad. She hates you! The whole JV squad knows that."
"What she say?"
"Well... I remember one day she was talking about how frizzy your hair is. Then she said she don't like your attitude and how you think people like you but they really don't.
His eye brows rose. "She can't talk about anybody. I have more hair than she does. Plus I heard she stank anyway!"
YES! Yes! That is what I wanted to hear. Kenton sharing the same spite I had in my heart for Saleen. This will steer her further from him.
"She does stink." I smiled, adding more resentment. "That is why we call her Saleen the skunk. Plus the Jv squad said she is always leaving her brown streaked panties all over the locker room." I added a twist to the lie and I couldn't be any happier.
"Ehhh, eww!" Kenton grunted waving his hand in front of his nose. "I bet she really does stink. Especially after hearing that."
"Oh she does. If you smelled her I promise you'll faint." I jeered.
Saleen better watch out, because I have plenty more lies to feed people about her. Don't cross over to varsity football territory, because it belongs to me.
Before class was over, the conversation went to Friday night's game again. "I forgot to tell you, that you are a good cheerleader."
"I told you I knew what I was doing." I couldn't believe he saw me out there cheering. He must have been looking from the side of his helmet.
"I should have believed you." He stated with a cute smile. "I don't know why but I could have sworn I heard someone yelling out my number."
"I don't know, maybe someone did." I did call out his number, but the scary part is, I didn't say it out loud, I screamed it inside of my head. If he heard that then his ears have to be good...or it might be a sign. Maybe he can read my mind.
Think about it. No one called out Kenton's number. They already thought he was too cocky. So I know I had to be the only one to call his number...but how did he hear it? Maybe he is so cocky that he wanted someone to yell out his number and his mind tricked him into hearing something that wasn't there.
"I don't know, but I thought I heard one of the girls yelling it...maybe they didn't." he second guessed himself. I wanted to tell him it was me but that wasn't a good idea. "But I know what I did see..."
What?" I asked him, looking at his black slick hair.
"I saw that cheer you guys did." I gave him a questioning look. Trying to remember what he was talking about. "You know that last cheer you guys did...what was it called?" He kept trying to get it right.
"What did it go like?"
"It was like a dance, or something, because I saw you dancing."
My body went into a shock.
"...it went something like: `wiggle it'...or something like that." right then I blushed red hot. I was burning up with heat from blushing.
He was still showing a nice friendly smile. I didn't see any hard feelings anywhere. I guess he really did like the cheer. I thought he was really about to say something that would embarrass me further.
I knew what cheer he was referring to. It was the first time I had ever danced by shaking my butt. I really didn't want to talk about that cheer too long, because I know it would probably lead to an awkward conversation. I hope he never has to see me do that cheer and shake my butt again.
It was time for practice again, the coach was a little late today. So everybody stretched, making light conversation. I was bending over touching my toes, thinking about how Saleen was trying to date Kenton. I couldn't believe that.
She isn't right for him, she has a body like a boulder, her ears stick out, her hair is always a mess. Her face is zit city, her knees are solid black, and her toes are crooked and crusty. She is the total opposite of what he is looking for.
"Dude did you hear that!" Levi paraded over in his practice clothes trying to get my attention. "Dude, Melissa just said she likes-" he paused, stopping his sentence looking behind him. "You would never guess."
"Who is it?" I yelled excitedly. I was waiting for him to spit it out.
Melissa ran over trying to hit Levi before he could tell me. Shelby and Laura were giggling at her chasing Levi, around the gym. The way Melissa chased him reminded me of what you would see on a first grade playground.
"I knew Levi couldn't keep a secret." Laura said sounding bored.
Shelby smiled at me, like I won first prize in a cheerleading competition. I was starting to get a bad creepy feeling about Melissa's secret. It was like for some reason I didn't think I wanted to know it.
"He told you didn't he?" Shelby asked.
"Told me what?"
By this time Melissa's reddish brown head of hair was standing between Laura and Shelby. I hope she doesn't like me, because as close friends as we are, couldn't do it. I would help her do anything except that. "Told you who I liked." She said taking the floor, smiling away.
"He didn't get the chance to tell me. You chased him away in time." I replied, stretching my leg.
Laura whispered in her ear. Then Melissa whispered in Shelby's ear. It was stupid to watch. I was really getting tired of waiting, they need to hurry it up.
Shelby leaned in front of me. While Laura and Melissa ran off. "Listen Brice." Shelby started, it was like she was on a secret mission. "Melissa likes... Bram." Shelby giggled shortly after, turning a bright red. "She knows you are friends with him, so she wants your help to date him." she finished.
My eyesight flashed red! Everything in the gym turned a blood red color. I went partially deaf. My senses couldn't handle what I just heard. How could Melissa? She knew I liked... well she didn't know anything about my private feelings, but she was still wrong for liking him.
My stomached coiled itself. Steam came from the pits of my body, firing me up. I had the desire to ruin, to hunt, to maim Melissa. She declared war against me and didn't know it. We were friends until now!
I can't help her with this! She must be crazy!
"Are you?..." Shelby was still in front of me asking me to help Melissa.
"Of course! Melissa is my friend." I lied sincerely. Soon, and very soon I will betray my words. I Don't care how they feel when I'm finished with this. As long as she isn't dating Bram.
Shelby sprinted to where Melissa sat talking to Laura. Telling her what I said.
How I see it is: If I can't have him, nobody should be able to either. It's not fair, that's not hers!
Melissa I accept your proposal for war. Trust me, I won't fight fair. You can smile now, but when I back stab you, began to lie on you, backstab you again, and do cut throat things to insure Bram denies you on all accounts, just know: `All's fair in love and war!'
The coach came in shortly after that. She made us run laps around the track, and practice on our jumps. While doing jumps I tried to kick Melissa during a herkie. I was aiming for her head, but I kicked hard enough to make her grab her stomach.
Practice ended after a long while later. I was on my way to Levi's car when heard someone calling my name. It was coming from where the football player's locker room was.
"Brice!" they called
I turned around to catch Bram running towards me, as he came closer I could see all his muscles flexing, and working hard trying to get to me.
"Brice." He huffed, trying to talk, and catch his breath. "You walk too fast." He huffed again. I know he was still tired from his practice football drills. Now he was running to catch up with me, "I tried to call you over the weekend, but I couldn't reach you." He said wondering.
"Oh, that's because my number has changed like twice, since the last time we talked." I should have been telling him what Melissa said about now, but I won't. I can't risk losing him to her. Plus I'm not that good of a person, so who cares.
"Yeah." I nodded. I didn't care what we talked about. I was glad to have been talking to him after a long, hot, sweaty practice.
While he talked I smelled a soap sent hanging in the air. The longer he stood there talking I thought about how he must have taken a shower in the locker room before coming out here.
Oh my stars! The thought of Bram in the locker room shower was like, HOT!
"Sorry about that whole, not talking to you thing." He replied sweetly.
I tried to wave it off. "Like, it's okay. Things happen, you know?"
"Yeah I guess." He sighed.
Quickly his head snapped around. He felt around his front packets patting them from back to front, searching for something. Then he pulled a black pen from one of his back pockets.
"What's the new number?" he asked taking charge, uncapping the pen with his teeth.
I almost melted before him when he asked. I don't know if it was the sun or just his will to act on his own. He didn't ask me: `Can I have your number?' he demanded it, as if he already knew he was getting it.
"You need a piece of paper too, Bram." I shyly offered, trying to make him wait, just to see if he would take charge again.
He rolled his short sleeve above his shoulder, and held the point of the pen to his bicep. "No I don't have paper, and I don't need any either. I'm not new to this... I know what I'm doing." He said waiting for me to give the number.
As I gave him each number, I was enticed with lust. It was by the way he scrolled my number over his flexed muscle that made me shiver on the inside. It was being reunited as friends, it was him being a varsity eagle, it was his auburn eyes, it was the way he was taking charge, and it was the fact that I had never seen a guy write a number on his bicep. It was everything that included him being lusty.
He finished writing my number. He put the cap back on his pen from his mouth, then his sleeve fell over the ink, hiding my number from view. "Catch you later Brice." He grinned eagerly.
Oh, you can catch me like you do those football passes, but I want you to call me too.
"Bye." Was all I could say.
I walked to Levi's car getting inside. I felt like I was soaring above everything.
"What did he want? What was that all about?" Levi interrupted my thoughts.
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