I sat in my physics class trying to figure out how to craft the most buoyant ship from tin foil when I felt my phone buzz in my pocket.
I checked my phone as stealthily as I could manage.
Hey a couple of us were going to a trampoline park later today. Would you care to join?
Depends, I have Track practice today. What time?
I saw three dots appear on my screen and I stared at them intently.
My head snapped up to see Mr. Baltik at the end of the table staring directly at me.
“I understand that senior year is the greatest drag, but while you’re in my class, I expect you to continue to participate. Put it away or you won’t see it again until graduation.”
“Sorry,” I muttered, shoving my phone back in my pocket.
I felt it buzz but decided against checking it for the rest of this period.
During Mr. Roberts class I finally checked my phone.
We were thinking 7. I can pick you up early and grab dinner first.
I should be home around 3:30
After I finished Track practice and started walking toward my car, I found a text from Nick.
On my way.
Oh, no. I rushed home to find Nick already parked outside my home again. I pulled over to let him into my car before continuing up the driveway.
“I didn’t expect you’d be here so soon.”
“You said 3:30, I like to be on time.”
“I just finished practice, I need a shower.”
“No worries, I can wait.”
Nick carried my backpack and my gym bag for me as we walked into the house.
“Nice place you’ve got.”
“Thanks, I cleaned it myself.”
I began moving up the staircase to my room with Nick in tow.
“That explains all the cobwebs up top.”
I turned around shocked, “did you just call me short?”
Nick smirked, “that can’t be the first time you’ve heard that.”
“I’m taller than you right now.”
“You’re two steps up.”
I squinted my eyes at him before turning on my heels to keep moving up the stairs to lead
him down the hall toward my room. I opened my room and went straight for the closet.
What should I wear today?
I decided on my white chucks, a pair of distressed shorts and a slightly transparent, loose fitting, white tank top. I grabbed a matching set of black lace bra and panty before walking back into my bedroom toward my bathroom.
“You have so many trophies.”
“I try not to disappoint,” I answered a little too honestly.
An hour later I walked back in my room to find Nick flipping through my scrapbook.
“You travel an awful lot.”
“Just a few times a year, really.”
“Nice penmanship. Is this that cursive thingy?”
“What made you decide to scrapbook?”
Don’t tell him that. He doesn’t need to know.
I shrugged, “too much free time?”
Nick looked up and stared at me for a moment until his eyes trailed down to my outfit.
“Might get a little cold,” he reminded me with his eyes focused on my legs.
I went back into my closet to grab my loosely fitting track cardigan. I tucked the front part of my shirt and cardigan into my shorts to make sure people knew I did in fact have bottoms.
“So where are we all meeting for food?”
Nick watched me as I emerged. He looked me up and down again focused on the barely healing scratch on my left leg before speaking up.
“Just us actually.”
I tilted my head to the right quizzically. “I thought you said-”
‘When you assume, you make an ass of u and me.’ My brother scolded me in some dark corner of my mind.
Nick pressed his eyebrows together but didn’t say anything. Did I do something wrong?
“Shall we go?”
I nodded softly as I grabbed my purse and followed Nick out the door.
We were stopped at the front door by my brother coming home from work.
“What did I tell you about having guys over unsupervised?” He yelled at me.
“Shut up!” He teased.
“Hello, nice to meet you, my name is Nick.”
Nick extended a hand out to my brother who stared intently at him before taking his hand.
“Aren’t you that Jonas Brother from the party last week?”
Nick cleared his throat… does he not like to be called a Jonas Brother?
“Yes, that’s me.”
“Eric,” my brother introduced himself, finally shaking his hand. “I’m military trained, just so you know.”
I rolled my eyes and tried not to blush.
“We’re just friends.”
My brother shifted his eyes between Nick and I trying to figure out if I was telling the truth or not.
“Why are you hanging out with this Doofus, anyway?”
“She helped beat my team at Softball last week, her team wants to keep her around.”
My brother looked over at me with a dumb smile.
“Can we go?” I asked shyly.
My brother finally stepped aside to let Nick and I through. I followed behind him down the driveway toward his car.
“Later, loser!” My brother called out from behind me.
Nick looked over at me with a smirk. “Your brother is funny.”
“Agree to disagree.”
Nick had a turkey club placed before him while I waited for my caesar salad.
“Can I ask you something?”
I looked up from the paper cover of the straw I’d been playing with.
“Why do you scrapbook?”
Did he not hear me the first time?
He shook his head. “You said that,”
So he was listening.
“But on Friday you didn’t mention it and I’m wondering if there’s a reason behind it.”
Oh no, he listens too much. Don’t tell him he doesn’t need to know. Don’t do it.
“Um, my therapist…” you’re doing it. “He recommended I give it a try to help manage…”
I cleared my throat and focused my attention back on my little straw cover. “Symptoms.”
My face flooded with all of the red that my body owned.
“I noticed you don’t respond well to touch.”
He’s far more observant than I anticipated. I shrugged as the waitress came back with my salad.
“Thank you,” I whispered.
“So you’re a jumper?” He asked, changing the subject.
“I’d like to see what you’re made of.”
“Legs mostly… like a frog.” I answered quietly.
Nick smiled, “A frog is your best estimate?”
I shrugged, “don’t sleep on the frog, he could be a prince.”
“Oh, so you’re a prince now?”
“I didn’t think that through.”
“So you’re waiting for someone to come along and turn you back into a prince?”
I shook my head, “I’m not looking for anyone right now.”
Nick chuckled and I looked up, “you’re 18! I really don’t think that qualifies for prime quitting years.”
“Maybe I’m just ahead of the curve.”
“Maybe you’ve just been doing it wrong.”
I looked up at him with a mouthful of lettuce.
“If you’re looking for a life partner, they’re often the same person you spend all of your time with; your best friend.”
“I spend all of my time alone.”
Nick chuckled, “I mean, you’re here with me so obviously not.”
“What makes you so sure best friends are the way to go? My last one got engaged to the head cheerleader.”
Nick shrugged. “My parents were best friends, they’ve been happily married for longer than I’ve been alive.”
“I heard it's almost hereditary… An example of a good or bad marriage gives you the blueprint for how you should behave in your good or bad marriage.”
“Well how are your parents doing?”
“Divorced, actually,” I admitted.
Nick’s smile fell slightly, “marry your best friend and you can’t go wrong. That’s my motto.”
“Well you can do that, I’ll just be alone.”
We arrived at the trampoline park at 6:50 to find the same group from last Friday waiting for us.
I took off my seatbelt and opened the door just as Nick rushed over to open it the rest of the way. “Sorry, I’m still getting used to that.”
I stepped out to see Rochelle coming toward me. “Hey, Nessa, it’s great to see you again.”
Her bright smile was beaming and appeared genuine. Did she actually like me?
“Hi, Rochelle,” I smiled back, not knowing what more to say. Why are you so awkward?
She took my hand and pulled me into the group of people, “Guys, you remember Nessa from Friday’s game.”
I got more greetings than I could remember and believe me… I tried.
“Great game, Nessa.”
“Never thought we’d find someone more competitive than Nick.”
“Ouch, that’s quite the battle scar,” one girl mentioned looking down at my scraped leg.
“I’m hoping it’s just temporary.”
“Try mixing almond oil and aloe vera, it’s great for scar reduction.”
“Thanks, I’ll keep that in mind.”
“Yo, Nick, is she up for grabs?”
I turned toward the voice to find a displeased Nick talking to one of his team members.
Rochelle placed her arm around my neck, and led me toward the building entrance. “I forgot to ask you, what do you do?”
“I go to school and I coach a little league team.”
Rochelle laughed, “no, girl, I meant for the band.”
“For the band?”
“Are you a new backup vocalist?”
“I don’t have a band.”
“Oh, you’re not going on tour with us?”
Wait... this is their band. I guess they do fun band stuff before going on tour?
“Don’t tell me that! I was hoping you’d be my tour friend!”
“I didn’t know this was a band thing.” I apologized.
“How did you get on the team if you’re not travelling with the band?”
“Joe and Kevin asked if I’d help them beat Nick?”
Rochelle laughed, “well you certainly did that.”
“Rochelle!” A guy called out behind us.
Rochelle turned back at him and smiled before sliding her arm off of me.
“I’ll catch up with you in a few,” Rochelle smacked my ass before falling behind to speak to whoever had called her attention.
“Nessa!” Joe came over and wrapped me up in a hug, “How’s your leg doing?”
I tried not to push him away.
“It still works, mostly.”
Joe kept his arm around me as he walked us up to the counter to get our socks, “hopefully, you can avoid injury this time.”
I tried to make myself small hoping to fall out of his grasp. “Two pairs, large and small.”
The guy at the front desk handed us the socks while Joe led me toward the benches.
“Joe, let her go.” I heard a familiar voice behind us.
Joe turned around to smirk at his brother, “oh, I’m sorry, am I intruding?”
Nick returned a serious look as Joe finally slipped his arm off of me.
I took that as my opportunity to sit down and start putting on the grip socks.
Nick sat on the bench across from mine, “sorry, he’s less mindful of personal space.”
“I’d imagine most girls don’t mind it.”
Nick smiled at me, “that’s been his experience so far.”
I leaned over to put on my socks and came up to find Nick’s eyes focused on the gap between my tank top and my chest.
He quickly looked away and straightened out his own socks before rising to his feet.
“Shall we?” He reached a hand out to me and quickly stuck it in his pocket.
He’s really making an effort to make me feel comfortable.
Just as Nick and I reached the entrance to the larger trampoline square an old school rap song came on.
“I came to get down, I came to get down, so get out your seat and jump around!”
Nick looked over at me with a small smile.
“Fitting,” I laughed.
I watched Joe hop across the runway trampoline like a flopping fish and failed to hold back a laugh.
“You can always count on Joe to be the entertainment.”
I looked around, “where’s Kevin?”
Nick's smile slipped right off his face, he’s home with Danielle today. Won’t be joining us.”
I stepped onto the trampoline just as Joe came around.
“Runway train! Line it up, we’re doing this!” He pulled on my hand and dragged me behind him toward the end of the runway where four people had already been lined up and cheering for those going down the runway.
Nick followed behind me, walking through the matted areas rather than jumping. I don’t think this place was his idea.
I saw Rochelle jump her way down the runway with a new pose at every leap. She is so cute!
When Joe’s turn came around Missy Elliot had come on the speakers.
“Ooh, watch me throw it back for Missy!”
Joe turned to face me and began jumping in reverse, using his butt to scoot him back after every leap.
My turn finally came around and I unbuttoned my cardigan.
“I’ll hold it for you,” Nick grabbed my cardigan before it hit the floor.
“Go Nessa! Show us what you got!” I heard Rochelle calling out over everyone’s cheers.
I started running down the runway before rotating into a cartwheel and two back-to-back front flips. I felt my shirt flying around me and prayed that no one could see too much before smashing into the trampoline wall on the other side and falling onto my back. I bounced back up to stand, completely embarrassed and terrified to turn around.
“Shake it off!” I got off the runway and saw the next person coming down while Nick walked toward me with a smile and a cardigan.
“That was great!”
I tried to hide my red face, “Aside from crashing into the wall.”
“I think that was a great recovery,” Nick offered.
“Thank you,” I mumbled.
The guy finished his turn on the runway and bounced toward us, “yo, Nessa! You’re real bendy!”
I stared after him with wide eyes as Nick scowled.
“When is it your turn?”
Nick smirked, “It won't be, I’m not really one for twerking.”
I giggled, “Are you opposed to fun?”
“I’m having fun,” he promised.
“I’ll go put this away, so you don’t have to keep babysitting it.”
I turned to bounce away from him and noticed someone bouncing behind me.
I turned to find the guy from earlier jumping toward me. I don’t know his name.
“Jacob,” he introduced.
“Are you leaving already?”
“No, just going to put my cardigan away.” I reached the end of the trampoline set up and stepped onto solid ground.
“I’ll walk you!” He placed his hand low on my back and walked me toward the benches where everyone had left their items.
I tried to step further left and out of his grasp but he simply followed me.
“So what is your position?”
“Oh, I’m not in the band. I’m just a tagalong.”
“A groupie?” he teased.
I shook my head, “a regular fan, I think.”
“That’s cool, I’m the lighting guy. The show cannot go on without me.”
I tried again to slip out of his grasp as I bent down to slip my cardigan under my purse. His hand slid down… over my ass and lingered there for a minute before sliding off completely. I don’t like this.
I squat down completely out of his grasp to check my phone in my purse. Two missed calls from dad and a text from my brother.
“Lighting you up, would be so easy, you’re so beautiful you probably don’t even have any bad angles, huh?”
From : Eric
Dad’s looking for you. I told him you were out with friends but he wants you to call him back.
I sighed to myself. “I’m sorry I have to make a call.” I rose to my feet and slipped on my chucks before heading outside.
My dad spent a few minutes lecturing me on how ungrateful I was for not answering his calls. He insisted that he was still my parent despite the fact that I hadn’t seen him in months. He ended the call with the reminder that my mother would be nothing and that we’d have nothing if it weren’t for everything he sacrificed for her.
I ended the call and took a few minutes to practice deep breathing before heading back in.
“Hey girl! Dodgeball is next and I’m sticking with you!” Rochelle snuck up behind me wrapping her arms over my shoulders.
“Let’s get in there shall we?”
Joe and Nick stood on opposite sides of the dodgeball court as they picked team members.
“I’ve got Jacob this time,” Joe called out as Rochelle and I joined the herd of unpicked players.
Nick smirked when he saw me, “Nessa’s on my team!”
I walked over to his side where we high fived and waited for Joe to pick next. “Jazmin, you can dodge, right?”
“Can I dodge,” she laughed as she walked over to him.
The unpicked players began to dwindle before Nick picked Rochelle.
“Yes! I told you we’d be on the same team!” Rochelle yelled as she ran towards me for an embrace.
I returned her hug and she kissed my cheek, “we’re going to kick ass, baby girl!”
Nick looked over at the two of us confused.
Once the game began, “Jump around” came back on the speakers.
“Nick!” Joe called out to his brother. “I came to get down!” he sang along with the song before launching a ball directly at him.
Nick tried to run out of the way but the ball hit him square in the back.
The game came down to me versus Jacob.
I reached for a ball when I turned back to see Jacob smirking, “bet you can't dodge my balls!”
He threw two in my direction aiming for my feet. I jumped up into a split dodging both before aiming for his crotch in mid air.
He dipped down to try to avoid my throw only to put his face in the direct path of my ball… I won… and he deserved it.
“Ooh!” A few people called out watching Jacob’s face starting to turn red.
“You had that coming, though.” Jazmin excused.
Rochelle charged at me full speed and knocked us both over, “You’re my hero for sure.”
Nick drove me home at the end of the night, “I didn’t know you and Rochelle were so close.”
“Neither did I,” I giggled.
“It doesn’t bother you when she hugs you?”
I shrugged, “not really, most of my female teammates are like that too.”
I watched Nick press his eyebrows together in confusion. “Did your…”
He trailed off and I was too afraid of what the question might be to allow him to continue.
“Why don’t I ask you questions instead?”
Nick offered the faintest smile before I proceeded. “... I don’t actually know what I’m allowed to ask you.”
“Allowed?” Nick looked over at me momentarily.
“I don’t want to be intrusive.”
“I’ll let you know if you cross a line.” He offered kindly.
I scraped through my brain for the most innocuous question I could think to ask.
“What’s your favorite food?”
“Unacceptable! That’s too personal, the line has been crossed.”
Shock. Absolute shock. “I’m sorry.”
Nick chuckled, “I’m just messing with you, I’m a slob for pasta.”
I blushed feeling overly gullible, “what kind?”
“All kinds, if it has carbs, I will devour it. That reminds me...”
I looked over at the beauty marks that trailed down Nick’s cheek past his neck and disappeared into his shirt.
“Thursday we have a soccer game and then Kevin invited us over for dinner.”
“That sounds like fun.”
“Can I pick you up at the same time?”
Oh he meant me, too. “No, sorry, I have a Meet on Thursday.”
“What time is it over?”
“We usually make it back to campus around 6:30-7:00.”
“I can be at your house at seven.”
“Please don’t, I don’t want to go to Kevin’s house in my Track uniform.”
“Don’t worry, we’ll all be in sports attire.”
“That’s not necessary.”
“It’ll be great, Danielle makes great pasta.”
I didn’t respond since it seemed like nothing I could say would change his mind.