Chapter Fourteen:

(Capellini's, 6:40 pm)

Aaron's foot was tapping on the Tuscan tiles of Capellini's.

Gaaah!!! Where are they?! Dad doesn't like people who are late…

Aaron looked at his father, who was talking to his mother.

Everyone's already here… Vlad, Darren, Eric, Alison, Alisa and even Craig!!

Aaron's eyes kept darting back and forth from his father and the doorway.

(Seating arrangement: Mr. Stanton is at the head, and his wife's on his right. She's facing Aaron. Beside Aaron is Alisa, who's facing Vlad. And on Alisa's left is Darren. On Vlad's right is Alison and to her right is Craig. And Craig is facing Eric, who's on Darren's left. Bear with me, just imagine it. .)

Alisa noticed how worried Aaron was and she nudged him.

"Hey, don't worry about it. They'll be here soon enough," and she smiled encouragingly.

"Thanks."

Then at last, Aaron saw Chris and Brandy appear in the doorway.

"They're here!!"

"Finally, man!! I thought I was gonna die of hunger!" Vlad commented.

There was a soft chuckle.

"Vladimir, you never change, do you?" commented Mrs. Stanton.

"Never, Auntie S" he replied as he gave her his most charming smile.

And she laughed (in that ladylike kind of way only women of uptown can do).

"Sorry we're late, everyone. It was kind of hard to get a cab in the campus," apologized Brandy.

Chris was quiet, smiling sheepishly.

"It's alright, boys. No harm done," smiled the pleasant Mr. Stanton.

"Thanks, sir," said Chris as she sat down. (She's sitting beside Craig while Brandy's beside Eric)

"I guess you found tuxes in time," observed Alison.

"Yep!" said Chris and Brandy and they just looked at each other and laughed.

And that was the end of that episode.

(Later)

"Man!! That was really good! Almost as good as Chris' cooking!" exclaimed Vlad after he finished his 3rd serving for the night.

Chris looked straight at Vlad, her face was a mixture of pride and shock.

"Oh, you cook, Christian?" asked a curious Mrs. Stanton.

"Yes, ma'am…" she said quietly as she gazed at her plate.

"Don't be shy, Chris! You're a great chef!!" said Aaron, who was obviously proud of his friend. "You know mom, his room's become our hangout just because Chris cooks in there."

"Well, I must say thanks to you, Christian. You've established a healthy appetite in my son here," and she smiled invitingly. "And maybe you should teach him how to cook, too. Help him court girls."

"Mooooom, don't say THAT…" said an embarrassed Aaron.

And the friends just laughed.

"So, kids, how have you been doing in school lately?" asked Mr. Stanton, who finally decided to join the conversation.

The reaction was mixed and Mr. Stanton just chuckled.

"Tell me, what's so hard about Hopkins?"

Alisa was the first to answer.

"There're too many boys!!" she said exasperatedly.

"I thought you liked it that way??" laughed her sister.

"I do… But it's hard when you have a boyfriend. The temptation…" cried Alisa as she scrunched her face to look more pitiful.

The people in the table just laughed.

"Well, since you're saying there are too many boys, I'm saying there are not enough girls," said Darren as he smiled broadly at Alisa.

"And what do you need more girls for? Huh?" asked Alisa.

"Nothing, nothing."

And everyone just laughed.

Chris was looking at the lover's banter and she realized that she wasn't getting jealous anymore. She was immune to Darren's charms already and this generated a silent smile from her.

"About that…" cut Mr. Stanton in, "Now, don't tell anyone yet but Hopkins is going to become a real co-ed school next year," and he smiled.

"Really?!" cried Chris and Brandy out.

"That's so cool!!" exclaimed Eric.

"But how are they going to do it? Are they going to add to the upper batches or just accept the examinees?" asked Craig.

"That's a very good question, Craig. For the first years, well, it's going to be the normal procedure. Just as long as you're in the top 240, you're in. But for the upper batches, it's different. Right now, each batch has 244 students: 240 boys, 4 girls; supposing that none get expelled, right? So what the administration's going to do is to add 4 more girls each year per batch."

Everyone was listening intently.

"So wait, by the time we're in 2nd year, there'll be about 144 girls in school!! Woah!!" hollered Vlad.

"There'll be more girls in the dorm! Yes!" cried out a happy Alison.

Chris was smiling as she was thinking.

Actually, there'll be 146 girls in school, there's still Brandy and me.

"I knew you kids would like that," chuckled Mr. Stanton.

"Hey, know what, maybe we can get Brandy and Chris girlfriends now that more girls are coming in," said Darren, out of the blue.

"Uh, no," replied Chris crisply.

Mrs. Stanton noticed the tension that was building up in Chris and she decided to change the topic.

"So about the ball tomorrow, are you ready for it?" she asked no one in particular.

The teenagers just looked at each other and shrugged their shoulders. Nobody was REALLY ready for these kinds of things. And the topic was just dropped.