Friday, 14 October
"Present." Answered a perky voice in the second row.
She was checked off the list. "Marilyn Becker.."
Another check. "Andrew Benner.."
Check. "Sara Colemann.."
Check. "Linda Garces.."
A tanned arm waved through the air to signify her presence.
Check. "Jonah Ellis.."
Check. "Luca Ellis.."
Check. "Amy Kang.."
Check. "Catherine Lancaster.."
A moment passes.
Gabriella nudges the girl next to her. "Cait." She hisses.
The girl sits up, startled. Her thoughts are broken. Hazel eyes dart to her mentor in realization. "Oh, Present. Sorry."
Her reply is pursed lips and a check. "Curtis Montgomery.."
A silent, casual hand.
Check. Back to the routine. "Michael Muniz.."
Check. "Mary Nissley.."
Friday, 14 October
"...There will be no homework this weekend."
There were excited murmurs and relieved sighs throughout the bland classroom.
The teacher continued, raising his voice over the students "However.." the class groaned collectively, their faces falling immediately. "However," He repeated, "there will be a short quiz on Monday. 30 points. So -" The shrill ring of a bell cut him off. Students immediately began to pack up their things, rushing out the door. "...study." He finished off quietly. "Mr. Ellis! I need to speak to you please."
Two boys looked up, their faces nearly identical. Curious brown eyes, questioning the teacher. 'Which one of us?' they seemed to ask. The teacher pursed his lips, an expression of his irritation. "Luca." This short grunt confirmed their unanswered question.
One of the boys, Luca, groaned, though he knew it was coming. The other one smirked at his twin before rushing out of there as quickly as he could manage without seeming ridiculous.
"Mr. Ellis…" The teacher began, but cut himself off as he noticed a girl lingering a few feet away from his desk. "Is there something you need, Ms. Lancaster?" He addressed her kindly.
Her eyes flitted hesitantly between Luca and her professor before speaking up quietly. "Actually, I was just wondering if you would be able to write a recommendation for me?"
"Of course. Why don't you wait 5 minutes while I speak with Luca, and I'll work out the details with you." The ponytail on the back of her head bobbed, her dark blonde hair swinging from side to side as she nodded her head.
"Thank you, Mr. Sullivan. I'll wait outside."
The door closed quietly behind her. Mr. Sullivan sighed. "Luca, I really don't know what's going on with you this year. You're not behind in any of your other classes." He looked him in the eye. "It's not that I think you're slacking off. I don't - I can tell that you're really trying here. That's the frustrating part." Sighing again, he flitted through a stack of papers on his desk. "Lately, you've been falling behind in this class. Unfortunately, I don't have much spare time to tutor you, and at this point in the semester, it's too late to transfer to another class. Perhaps you could tell me what exactly you're having trouble with.."
Luca nodded, his expression serious. "I just don't get it. I swear, I'm trying so hard. And I pay attention, take really good notes! I don't understand what I'm doing wrong. I've never had to try this much before."
"Perhaps you should ask your brother to explain it to you. Jonah is doing very well this year, top ten in the class, I'd say."
Luca seemed frustrated. "I've asked him, time and time again. Jonah is really smart, sure, but he hasn't got the patience to tutor me. Now I don't even bother asking for help, because he just ignores me. He gets more frustrated than I do when I don't understand something."
The teacher pursed his lips again. Habit. "Luca, I want you to pass this class. But unfortunately I can't do anything for you at this point. Maybe you can ask some of the other students for help. Or even consider hiring a college student to tutor you. I'm sorry." The situation was helpless, and the teacher didn't really seem that sorry. "I would hate to have to send your parents a failing progress report. However, at this rate… things are looking bleak."
Luca ran his hands through his hair, sighing again. He glanced at the clock. "Thank you Mr. Sullivan. I'll figure something out."
He nodded in reply. The door closed sharply behind Luca. Upon his exit, he noticed Catherine sitting against the blue lockers.
She smiled at him in greeting, standing up. "Hey Cait." He muttered, throwing her a half-smile.
"Hey." She repeated quietly as they brushed past each other.
The click of the door shutting echoed down the deserted hallway.
Friday, 14 October
"Dude, I really need your help! Are you being serious right now?" An incredulous look was etched onto Luca's features as he stood in the doorway of his brother's room.
Jonah glared at him. "Luca, I tried to help you. If you didn't understand it when I explained it the first time, what makes you think you'll get it the second time?"
"Come on! Please. I can't fail this class, Jonah. Mom and Dad will flip, I won't get into college, I won't graduate, I'll have to go to summer school, and I'll end up working full time at Burger King for the rest of my life!"
Jonah scoffed at his antics. "Luca, stop being over-dramatic. You're not gonna fail, okay?"
Luca shot him a look. "That's not what Mr. Sullivan told me today after school. He said if I didn't improve, I'd fail midterm."
Jonah raised his eyebrows. "You're doing that badly? I mean, at least you're handing in all of the assignments. There's no way you're failing."
"Well, somehow I managed it." Luca spat, feeling sour toward the situation.
"Okay.." Jonah started slowly, "Well, how about you just stay after school and work with Mr. Sullivan?"
Silky, dark locks fell into his eyes as he shook his head, leaning on the door frame. "He said he can't tutor me, doesn't have time."
"Oh. Well, look. You'll figure something out. Don't get worked up over it. Tonight we're gonna go to Curt's and have a good time. Right?" Jonah got up, patting his brother on the shoulder comfortingly.
Luca sighed. "Yeah. You're right. But will you at least help me study this weekend? For the test on Monday."
Jonah twisted his mouth. "Fine. After that - you're on your own." Luca rolled his eyes as Jonah descended the stairs, turning into the kitchen. He stood there with his arms crossed, leaning against the wall for a few minutes, staring hard at the floor. Thinking. There was a buzzing in his pocket. Sliding his phone out, he shuffled into his room, closing the door behind him.
The mattress sank slightly as Luca collapsed onto his bed. "Hello?"
Friday, 14 October
Jonah jingled the keys in his hand. "I gotta pick up Talia and Sara first." He explained to Luca, jumping the last step off their porch.
Luca shrugged in reply, running a hand across his jaw as he reached the car.
Both doors shut in unison. Jonah hesitated at the ignition, looking at Luca. "Weird." He decided. Luca agreed.
Talia and Sara were waiting on the porch for them, dressed much differently than the usual modest pleated skirt and navy polo which were required for school. The boys smiled at them as they slid in the back seat together. Talia reached around Jonah's seat, pecking him on the cheek before buckling herself in. "Hey, Luca." She greeted cheerfully.
"Hey." He replied. "Hey Sara." She smiled sweetly at him, then turned her attention to Jonah. "Thanks for driving us, Jonah."
Friday, 14 October
Luca nodded his head absently as Sara motored on about God-knows-what.
"Luca, Are you even listening to me?" She waved her hand in front of his face. Snapping out of his reverie, he quickly took on an incredulous look.
"What? Of course I'm listening to you. I was just.." His eyes darted around as he tried to conjure an excuse. An empty, red, plastic cup with pink lipstick marks around it caught his eye. "..distracted by your empty drink. You should never have an empty drink at a party." His face turned solemn as he tried to convince her. Flashing her a dazzling smile, it was obvious he wasn't fooling her, though he was certainly charming her.
With some reluctance, she forced her indignant feelings down. "Well…" She said slowly, straining to hide her annoyance, "Why don't you go fill it for me, then?"
Curtis caught up with him in the kitchen. He whistled lowly. "Sara looks pretty pissed off, what'd you do, man?"
Luca relayed the story sheepishly, chuckling.
Curtis' dark eyebrows raised in surprise. "Damn. Girl's got a short temper."
Luca scoffed. "That's an understatement." He rolled his eyes. "She gets mad at me for stupid shit like this all the time. I don't know why she still deals with me if I piss her off that much."
Curtis barked out a laugh. "Dude, are you kidding me? It's so obvious she wants you. She's always staring at you in class and stuff."
"Really?" Luca's nose scrunched up. "No thanks."
"Are you kidding me? You don't think she's hot?"
In reply, he shrugged. "She's hot, but nothing interesting. She's kind of annoying, actually."
"So what, you wouldn't even hook up with her?" He was looking at Luca like he was insane.
Luca shook his head. "No way. She's the type of girl that wouldn't leave you alone about it. You try to casually hook up with her, and she's expecting something from you."
"True, man. You should come play some pong with us, then."
"Me and Andy vs. Gabi and Cait." He chuckled slightly, "I hate to admit it, but they're kicking our asses."
"Hah. Yeah, I'll check it out. Gotta show 'em a pro game, right? I'll get Jonah, and we'll play winner."
Friday, 14 October
"Oh Shit!" Curtis screamed. "Woah Cait, I knew you were a math whiz, but beer pong? I'm impressed!" He turned to Luca and Jonah, patting both boys on the back, "Dude, they are annihilating you."
Jonah's brows furrowed as he shrugged Curt's dark hand off, steadying himself for the throw. "Shut up. We know." Luca merely chuckled and took a swig of his beer.
Jonah aimed and missed, cursing loudly. "What's the matter, Jonah, can't stand to lose to a couple of girls?" Gabi called out teasingly, tossing her long black hair over her shoulder. Luca grinned and pointed to her, ping pong ball in hand.
"This one's for you, girls." The ball arched up into the air as he tossed, dropping perfectly into the center cup. Luca's arms shot into the air with victory, and Jonah clapped his hands, whooping loudly. "Finally." He called out.
But they were still far behind the girls, who had one cup left compared to their 3.
By the next turn, though, the brothers were defeated, Gabi dragged Curtis to the 'dance floor' (AKA the middle of the living room), Cait trailing behind them. Luca shot Jonah a disappointed look, shaking his head slowly. Still upset with the outcome, he scowled back at him, and left the room, muttering something about finding Talia.
Grabbing his beer, Luca meandered into the living room where mostly everyone was located. He scanned the room. Cait was standing by the wall, sipping from a red plastic cup, watching Gabi and Curt dancing. She giggled slightly at the sight of them and their antics. One corner of Luca's mouth lifted up as he walked over to her.
"Hey Cait." She flicked her attention to him, her hazel eyes wide and glassy. "Hey." She smiled widely at him. He narrowed his eyes suspiciously, leaning over to peer at the contents of her cup. "He-ey." She reprimanded, pulling the cup away from his vision. "It's just water." She explained.
He patted her head, "Good girl." She swatted his hand away, giggling. His lips twitched. "After three rounds of beer pong, I think I've had plenty enough to drink."
That surprised him slightly. "Oh? Are you drunk, Cait?" he teased. She just giggled, nodding.
"A little." She admitted shyly. He laughed.
"I didn't even know you drank."
She shrugged sheepishly, "First time, actually."
"Ah. So, how does it feel?"
She contemplated it for a few seconds. "It feels… tingly. Kind of." She nodded once, before announcing that she was a very happy drunk, then burst into giggles. Luca's stomach squirmed pleasantly, and he found himself smiling along with her. Her eyes drifted back to Gabi and Curtis, who were entertaining the crowd with various silly dance moves, and Gabi was singing along obnoxiously to the music.
Luca finished off his beer, setting the empty can on an end table nearby. "Wanna dance?" He asked Cait, jerking his head toward the middle of the room and the throng of pulsating teens.
"With you?" Cait asked, surprised.
He chuckled slightly, nodding. "Yeah."
Heat rushed to her face as she blushed, embarrassed, and she hesitated. "I'm not a good dancer." Was her warning. She shook her head slightly. Giving her his best 'begging puppy' face, though, she finally conceded. He dragged her by the hand, grinning triumphantly, and her with a shy smile on her face, cheeks flushed and eyes bright.
They danced for a few songs, nothing racy or inappropriate, and Cait excused herself to the restroom. Barely 2 seconds after Cait left Luca, Sara popped up in front of him, taking her place. Luca mentally shrugged and continued dancing with her.
"Where'd you disappear to earlier?" She asked, slurring subtly as she linked her arms around his neck.
"Oh, I got sucked into beer pong, sorry." He put on an apologetic face.
She shrugged noncommittally "'S'okay, I got my own drink." She informed him, grinning seductively.
He chuckled, amused. "I can tell. And a few more after that, I'm guessing."
High pitched giggles fluttered from her mouth in agreement before her eyes turned wide. "Oh, my God. Weren't you just dancing with Cait Lancaster?"
"Yeah.." He answered slowly, wary of where this was going.
"Okay, so wait. Is she drunk?" Sara was giggling slightly, her eyes gleaming with mirth. Luca rolled his eyes.
"Be nice. Besides, like you're one to talk."
Her pink lips puffed slightly in a pout. "C'mon! It's just funny. I mean, Cait does not drink. She's just such a goody-goody." She was making exaggerated hand gestures, nearly smacking the people surrounding them in the face.
He scowled at her. "No she's not. How would you know anything about her anyway? You're not even friends with her."
She looked confused. "What's up with you?"
He shook his head. "Forget it. I'm just cranky because I found out today that I'm failing math." He explained.
Hearing this, she perked up, slipping her arms back around him. "I can tutor you."
He looked at her doubtfully. "Actually, I-" At that point, he noticed Cait slip back into the room, and settle down on the couch, just watching people. "Hold that thought." He told Sara, unlinking her arms, and squeezing in between dancers to plop down on the couch beside Cait.
When he approached, Cait shot him an amused glance. "Are you stalking me?" She joked.
"Actually, I wanted to ask you a favour."
Slightly hesitant, she answered carefully. "I guess…"
"Well, I'm sure you heard Mr. Sullivan talking to me after school today-" She nodded. "And I found out that I'm failing - or at least, dangerously close to it." He sighed. "Jonah won't help me out, and Mr. Sullivan doesn't have time to work with me after school, so I was wondering-"
"You want me to tutor you." She guessed.
He flashed her his most charming smile. "Pretty please?"
She laughed. "I knew you were buttering me up for something."
He tried to correct her, shaking his head, "Oh, I wasn't-"
She held a hand up to silence him. "It's okay, Luca. I guess I could help you out." She shrugged.
He sank in relief. "Thank you so much, Cait, seriously. I love you."
She giggled, "Don't get ahead of yourself."
He pulled his cell phone out. "What's your number?" He asked, flipping open his phone.
She seemed caught off guard. "Oh, right." She counted off the digits to him as he punched them into his phone, saving the number under 'Cait'.
He smiled at her. "I'll call you tomorrow."
She nodded. "O-okay."
Sara broke through the crowd, coming to a halt in front of Luca. "Come dance." She pouted, grabbing his hands. He allowed himself to be dragged back into the crowd.
Thursday, 10 November
"I'm really sorry. This is so frustrating." Luca apologized to Cait during one of their study sessions. They were sitting in his dining room, books and notes strewn about the table. For the past couple weeks, their study sessions only lasted about a half hour. Luca told Cait that his parents didn't get home until around four, so she hadn't run into them yet. Today, however, Cait was helping him study for a major test coming up, and had ended up staying a bit longer than usual.
"It's fine." She told him patiently, explaining it in a different way.
Blankly, he looked at her, sighing. "Maybe I should just focus on memorizing the formulas."
She nodded in reply, pulling out a blank sheet of paper, and copied them all down for him in list form. Luca's ears perked up as he heard the front door open and shut, keys jingling and heels clicking across the wooden floor.
The woman hung her coat up in the hall closet, and walked toward the kitchen, halting as she passed the dining room. There was a warm, friendly smile on her face as she walked in. "Oh, Lu-Lu, I didn't know you were having a friend over." She said, seeming pleasantly surprised.
Cait's eyes slid toward Luca, shooting him an amused glance. He simply shrugged and smiled, as if to say 'what am I gonna do?'
Looking back at his mother - she immediately recognized the resemblance - she introduced herself. "Hi, I'm Cait."
"It's very nice to have you here, Cait. I'm Fran, Luca's mother."
"Cait's helping me study for math, Ma."
"Oh, that's great, honey. Will you be staying for dinner, Cait?" She asked warmly.
"Oh, uhm.." She looked to Luca.
Nodding encouragingly, he asked her to stay.
She shrugged, turning back to Fran. "I guess. That would be.. great." She smiled shyly.
His mother was excited. "Wonderful! Well, I'll leave you two to study. Don't work him too hard, Cait." She winked.
"Oh, I won't." Fran's heels clicked as she exited the room, echoing up the stairs.
Immediately Cait burst into giggles. "Lu-Lu?" She gasped out.
Luca just smiled amusedly. "Yeah. She calls Jonah 'Jo-Jo', too."
Still laughing, she squealed. "That's so cute!"
Luca mentally agreed with her, though while she was referring to his nickname, he was referring to her giggles.
They went back to studying, then.
"That's it." Luca stated 20 minutes later, closing his book. "My brain can't take anymore. Let's call it a night."
"Good." Cait agreed, relieved. "I'm so sick of math."
"Tell me about it." He muttered. "Come on. Let's watch TV before dinner." He pulled her into the living room, holding her wrist lightly. They settled on the couch and flicked on the TV.
A burst of chilly air filled the room when the front door opened, revealing a tall guy with dark hair, and the same brown eyes as Luca and Jonah. Luca sat up straight.
"Hey, Zay. What're you doing home?"
The door closed behind him, and he hung his coat up in the closet. He looked over his shoulder at Luca. "I'm just staying for the weekend. MA?" He called out.
Fran peeked her head out of the kitchen, eyes scanning the living room before resting on him. She stalked out immediately. "Isaiah Ellis. Where have you been?" She reached up, pulling him into a tight hug. "I haven't heard from you in weeks!"
Isaiah smirked. "Missed you too, Ma. What's for dinner?"
Fran rolled her chocolate eyes, her blonde hair frazzled slightly. "We're having spaghetti. And we have a guest. Lu-Lu, have you introduced your friend?"
"Ah - no, I haven't really had a chance yet. Zay, this is Cait. Cait, this is my brother Isaiah."
She smiled sweetly at him. "Nice to meet you."
He smiled at her briefly. "You too." He hoisted his backpack up and trudged the stairs, calling out for Jonah.
"I didn't know you had another brother." Cait said to Luca.
"He graduated two years before us." Luca explained
Smirking, Luca went on, "If you're curious, my mom calls him Zay-Zay." Cait giggled, giving Luca the reaction he was hoping for.
Saturday, 3 December
Luca was sitting on the worn couch in Talia's basement, a half-empty beer in his hand. He'd lost count of the number of beers he'd had so far tonight, and if he was feeling it this strongly while still sitting down, he knew if he stood the room would be spinning. Luca, Sara, Talia, Jonah, Curt, Andy, and Rachel were sitting in front of the television, watching some movie Luca couldn't recall the name of. He wasn't paying attention to the movie, really. He wasn't paying attention to anything. Sara was sitting close to him, clutching his arm - he let her.
About a half hour into the movie, Luca excused himself to the bathroom, stumbling up the stairs. Leaning on the bathroom counter, he stared himself down in the mirror. All he wanted was to go home and sleep. He'd have a hell of a hangover tomorrow, and the night wasn't worth it. In fact, he wasn't having any fun at all. But, Jonah wouldn't want to leave yet, and Luca could understand that - he wanted to spend time with his girlfriend.
Luca sighed, and sat on the edge of the tub, feeling slightly dizzy. The dim yellow light of the bathroom wasn't helping his headache, either. Briefly, he thought of calling Cait to pick him up. After nearly 2 months of hanging out studying almost everyday, they had become pretty good friends. And, Luca admitted to himself, he had a bit of a crush on her. Smiling as he though about her, he pulled out his phone. Just as he was about to press the call button, there was a soft knock at the door.
"Luca?" Called Sara's voice from the other side.
"Yeah." His voice was raspy, and he flipped his phone shut, sliding it back in his pocket.
"Can I come in?"
He shrugged, though she couldn't see him. "Sure."
The door creaked as she opened it, and she sat next to him on the edge of the tub. "Are you feeling okay?" She asked him, concern etching her features.
He threw her a half-smile. "Yeah, I'm fine. Just a little too drunk to stand up right now."
"I'll stay here with you until you're ready." She insisted.
He simply shrugged. "Sure."
They sat in silence for a few moments, Sara watching his face, and he was trying to get the floor to stop moving. He clutched his head, wincing. Sara's cool hand shot up to try and relieve him, caressing the side of his face.
Her blue eyes were wide, her dark eyelashes nearly brushing his nose. She was too close. Her sweet scent was overwhelming; it was drawing him in closer. He was focusing now, on her lips. Full, and soft. Just one more inch…
Monday, 5 December
He spotted her sitting at a table in the Library, writing diligently.
Luca groaned, holding his head in his hands as he slid into the seat next to Cait. She looked up from her writing and chuckled at the sight of him. "What'd you do, Luca?" She asked, setting her pen down.
He peeked through his fingers at her. "I did something really bad on Saturday." He explained. At her look, he elaborated. "I hooked up with Sara. And now she won't leave me alone." His scowl was aimed at the table in front of him.
Cait was silent for a minute before bursting out laughing. Both Luca and the librarian glared at her, effectively shutting her up. "Sorry. It's just. Wow, that was dumb of you."
He crossed his arms and leaned back, pouting. The sight was comical. "It's not my fault! She took advantage of me in my punch-drunk state!" He insisted.
Cait rolled her eyes. "Well, why don't you just go out with her? She's gorgeous! And she wants you. I mean, sure, she's a little clingy, but I'm sure you can look around that."
He shook his head. "No way, Cait. I'd rather burn in hell."
"I think you're just being dramatic. You're such a Queen."
He nudged her side with his elbow. "I am not a Queen." He told her indignantly. "And, yeah, Sara is pretty, and I can stand her as a friend, but as a girlfriend? Hell no. Besides, I like someone else."
She gasped. "What?! Are you trying to tell me you actually have…" looking around the room suspiciously, she leaned in. "...feelings?" She whispered.
"And you think I'm a drama queen." He muttered. "And, yes, I do have feelings. I don't just mess around with girls. That's mean."
Cait shrugged and leaned back in her seat. "Okay, well if you like this other girl, why don't you just ask her out. Instead of leading poor Sara on like that."
His dark brown eyes bulged incredulously. "I'm not leading her on! She took advantage of me-"
"In your punch-drunk state, yes, I know." She finished for him. "Just ask her out. That will get Sara off your back, and your dream girl into your arms."
He shook his head. "No, no, no. I can't just ask her out."
"Why not? Do you even talk to this girl?"
"Yes. Of course."
"You're friends with her.."
She shook her head. "I don't get it, then."
Exasperated, he sighed. "I can't do it. I'll get nervous."
A giggle burst from her lips and she shot him a funny look. "You'll get nervous? That's cute."
He perked up. "You think?"
She tapped her chin with her pen. "Though not very manly…"
A grin spread across her face. "You're the one who admitted it."
"Exactly. So you're not allowed to laugh at me."
"It's one of those unwritten rules." He explained.
"I'm sure." Deciding she was finished with this conversation, she turned away from him and went back to her writing.
A small yelp escaped her lips as his finger dove gently into her side, causing her body to twitch away from him. "Stop it." It was a lazy command, she didn't spare him a glance, and continued working away. Once again, he poked her side. Her only reaction was a slight stiffening of her body.
"Ca-ait." He prodded.
"What?" Her voice was breathy with exasperated sighs. "I have homework, you know."
"Can't you do it later?" He asked. "We're talking."
She blinked at him, then shook her head. "You're so needy."
He grinned at her, making her sigh. Setting down her pen, Cait swiveled in her chair to face him fully. "You want advice, I'm assuming?" His head bobbed. "Okay… well, just to warn you, I don't claim to be any sort of-"
"I know, Cait. I'm just asking you as a friend."
She smiled slightly. "Okay."
"Good. Now, about Sara…"
"Right. I guess the best thing to do would be, just tell her that it was a mistake, and you don't want anything more than friendship for her. Tell her you're sorry for leading her on. Tell her that you don't want to lose your friendship. That's important."
Once again, he nodded. "Should I take notes?" He joked.
She pursed her lips at him. "Luca, you don't need my help. You're a good guy, you'll do the right thing."
"Thanks." Though he wasn't much convinced.
Cait grinned. "Soo… Who is it?" Her eyes gleamed with anticipation as she leaned slightly closer.
He shook his head. "No way."
"Please?" She begged. Immediately, his eyes darted to her lower lip, which was jutted out in a pout.
He swallowed. Then, he thought of something. "Well…" He whispered, leaning closer, until their faces were inches apart. "It's you, Cait."
Red flooded her cheeks and her stomach flipped. Looking up, she noticed his lips stretched into a playful grin. Angrily, she looked away. "Fine. I guess I'll just find out when you ask her."
He smiled numbly, leaning back into his seat. "Yeah. You will."
Cait wasn't looking at him, she'd gone back to her writing.
Luca sighed and stared at the wall for the rest of the period. Obviously, she didn't appreciate his joke. Although… he hadn't really been lying. 'Maybe…' He thought, looking at her face, which was blocked off as she stared hard at her paper. He shook his head, eyes downcast.
Friday, 9 December
Luca stared at the paper in front of him. "Good work, Luca. You're really improving." Mr. Sullivan told him before moving on to the person behind him.
A-. A big red mark on the front of his test claimed. After 2 months of hard work and constant studying, he had managed to bring his grade up to a solid B. It was funny, though - he felt like jumping up and screaming for joy, but at the same time, he was frozen in shock.
The bell rang then, breaking him out of his thoughts and gathered his things up quickly, catching up with Cait in the hallway. "Cait!" He called, pulling her back slightly by her arm.
She turned around. "How'd you do?" Anxiously, she fiddled with the strap of her bag, awaiting his answer. This was the major test which they'd studied overtime for.
Luca grinned widely. "A minus." he told her proudly.
Immediately her expression morphed into one of excitement. "Really? That's great!" Her arms flew out as she leapt forward and hugged him, but she pulled away before he could return it. "Sorry." She blushed.
"Are you kidding me, Cait?" Swiftly he pulled her back to him, breathing her in. "It's all thanks to you."
Averting her eyes, she shook her head. "I didn't really do anything…"
"Nonsense." He scoffed. "So, about tonight - I think we should take a break from studying. Tonight, I just wanna have fun."
"Okay, that's fine. I have to go to the mall today, anyway."
"Oh." He deflated slightly. "Well, don't you wanna celebrate with me?"
"Oh. Well, yeah - I guess. I just thought you meant-"
"No! I want to hang out with you tonight. I just meant we should do something fun, instead of studying. That is, if you want to." He elaborated.
Butterflies burst into her stomach, fluttering around like mad and tickling her insides. "Okay. Yeah. That would be great."
"Good." He agreed. "Ma will want you there for dinner, you know."
She chuckled. "Sure. I'll be there."
"Cool. And thanks - for helping me out. You should be a teacher."
"Hah. Maybe. Oh, also - you should probably get everything sorted out with Sara before the weekend." She reminded.
His face fell. "Do I have to?" He whined.
"But I don't wanna face her." He hid behind Cait's back. "I'm scared." He whispered in her ear.
Tingles shot down her right side and she swatted him away. "Don't be such a baby."
"Can't you come with me?" He begged, "For moral support?"
She rolled her eyes. "You can handle yourself, Luca. You're a big boy now."
Knowing she was right - because she was always right - he sighed, dreading the confrontation. "Fine." He conceded, turning. "I'll see you in a couple hours."
"Bye. Good luck!" She called, heading the opposite direction, towards her locker.
Friday, 9 December
The ring of the doorbell echoed throughout the house. Luca's ears perked up as he paused his activity, spinning out of his desk chair and bounding down the stairs. Jonah had his hand on the doorknob, before Luca pushed him aside. "It's for me."
Swinging the door open, Luca grinned widely as he was met with the face of - Talia? Shoulders slumping, his grin slowly receded. Hesitantly, he allowed his eyes to drift to the other figure, fearing what he would find. Upon recognition, he gulped. Sara. Throat suddenly dry, he turned and fled to the kitchen, leaving the door hanging wide open.
Jonah stared curiously at the spot Luca was just standing in. "What was that about?"
Talia and Sara shared a secret glance. Sara's face was crumpled slightly, while Talia looked at her reassuringly. She nudged the other girl. "Go talk to him." Her head jerked toward the kitchen as they stepped into the room, Jonah closing the door behind them.
Hesitating for a moment, Sara nodded and followed Luca into the kitchen.
Jonah watched the exchange curiously. Once Sara was out of the room, he turned to Talia, who just gave him a bright smile. "What's going on?" If there was one thing he hated, it was being left out. And right now, he felt very left out of whatever was going on.
Talia shrugged. "Luca didn't tell you?" Surprise was clear on her features as she stepped closer to Jonah.
Arms braced on the countertop, Luca panicked. Of course this would happen. He really should have seen it coming. It was pretty normal for Jonah to have Talia over on the weekends. And of course Sara would tag along; wherever Talia was, you'd find Sara there as well. That's probably why Sara's into me in the first place. Luca thought. They probably think it would be cute if they were both dating twins. Ugh.
His thoughts were interrupted when he felt someone's hands on his back, comforting him. "What's wrong, baby?" Came the soothing voice of his mother.
Forcing himself to relax, he turned away from the counter. "Nothing. I've just got a lot on my mind." With a quick glance at the clock, he noticed it was already ten after. "She's late."
A knowing smile spread over her face as she ruffled his hair reassuringly. "Hardly. She'll be here soon, honey."
At that moment, Sara walked into the room nervously, her big blue eyes avoiding contact. "Luca, could I talk to you?" Finally peering up at him, she bit her lip innocently.
Taking a deep breath to brace himself, he nodded and led her to his room. Closing the door behind them, he gestured for Sara to sit. Obediently, she lowered herself onto his bed, fidgeting nervously. Luca paced in front of her, thinking of ways to let her down easy.
Sara was the first to speak up. "Luca, you've been avoiding me all week. I, - is it because of what happened last weekend?" Her voice was wary, and barely above a whisper.
He winced and scratched the back of his head, halting his pacing for a moment to look her in the eye. "Actually, yeah… that kind of is why. Look, Sara, it's just. Last weekend was… Well, the reason that I've been avoiding you…" He paused again, not liking the way any of this was coming out. He grunted in frustration, picking up his pacing once again. "I don't know how to say this."
"Just say it." Sara urged, impatient.
Luca turned to her imploringly. "Sara, look, I don't want to hurt you,"
Her expression turned soft upon hearing those words, and she stood up, cutting off the end of his sentence. She took a step toward him, shaking her head and smiling adoringly, "No, Luca, you won't. I know you won't. I trust you." She rested a manicured hand on his tense shoulder.
The echoing clang of the doorbell interrupted their conversation, both heads turning towards Luca's closed door. "That's Cait." Luca stated quietly.
Sara's head snapped to Luca immediately. "Cait's coming?" Her hand slid off his shoulder. "Why? I thought your math grade was good now, why do you still need her? Jonah said you wanted to celebrate tonight, take a break."
"Cait's my friend, I invited her to hang out with me tonight."
Sara scowled jealously. "Why would you want to hang out with her? She's an uptight-"
"She's my friend!" Luca cut her off angrily.
Slowly, a smirk spread across Sara's face. "Oh, I see. You're just pretending to be friends with her so she won't make you pay her to tutor you, right? Look, it's okay, I totally understand. Don't worry about it, Luca, I'm not threatened by her."
A curve formed on Luca's top lip in slight disgust. "You should be." He ground out lowly.
Sara's thin eyebrows shot up in surprise. "What is that supposed to mean?" She asked acidly.
"It means that I don't like you, Sara. I'm just… not interested in you like that, okay?" Sara's face fell, and she plopped backwards onto the bed. "I'm sorry, really. I tried to let you down easy, but… I mean, I still want to be friends, if you want..." He trailed off warily.
Sara simply glared at him. She shook her head, "Forget it, Luca. I can't believe you would lead me on for that long!"
They were both startled by a soft knocking on the door. "Luca?" A feminine voice carried through. Luca shot Sara a look before answering. "Come in!" He called.
The door opened to reveal Cait standing there curiously. At her presence, Sara couldn't take it anymore. She shot up, storming past Luca on the way to the door, and shoved Cait out of her way before stomping down the stairs.
At her dramatic exit, Cait raised an eyebrow. "Didn't go so well?" She asked sarcastically, rubbing her arm where she was shoved into the door jamb.
"Yeah." Luca breathed in reply, still in a slight shock. His eyes flicked to her arm. "You okay?" He asked, concerned.
She nodded, stepping further into the room. "Yeah, it's fine. Uhh, sorry I'm late, I-"
He cut her off with a wave of his hand, settling down onto his bed. "It's fine. I needed to get that conversation over with, anyway."
Cait nodded sympathetically, daintily perching on the edge of his bed. "Sorry it had to go down that way." She consoled.
Luca shrugged from his laying position. "Oh well." Suddenly, he shot up, startling Cait so that she almost fell of the bed. Swiftly, his arms were around her waist, keeping her from sliding off. Both of their hearts were racing from the contact. A rosy blush tinted Cait's cheeks. To hide her blush, she tilted her head down, which caused her hair to slip in front of her face.
In a tender gesture, Luca gingerly raised a hand to slide the loose tendrils behind her ears. The contact of his fingertips on her cheeks encouraged her blush to stain the edges of her ears, and trail down her neck. Inside her, her organs were rebelling, trying to break free of their bodily cage. Her heart ramming against her chest plate, her stomach doing acrobatics, and from the heat of her face, she was sure her brain must be melting. What else could cause these symptoms?
She was excruciatingly aware. Of their thighs touching, and his arm still wrapped firmly around her, forcing them to face each other. Of his hand still resting at the base of her neck, fingertips brushing the soft hairs at the edge of her hairline. Of the intensity in his dark eyes, burning into hers, and how she couldn't look away. Of the closeness of his face, inching closer still. And most of all, of how she wanted this.
At the feeling of his warm breath caressing her lips, her eyes slipped closed in sync with his.
It seemed to take hours for their lips to meet. Impulsively, she leaned forward, pushing her anxious lips against his hesitant ones. The heat of his mouth on hers sent a jet of heat throughout his body, down to the tips of his toes. He drew back, not wanting it to end, but needing to clarify things. Still dumbfounded from the kiss, he stared into her eyes disbelievingly. "You kissed me."
There was a sparkle in her bright eyes as she smiled at him, just as amazed. "You were taking too long." She teased.
He could only smile at her, taking everything in.
"So I guess this means you weren't kidding the other day, huh?" Her eyes drifted to the ceiling in memory.
He nodded in reply. "I tried to tell you so many times, but I just didn't know how." He admitted. Bringing a hand to his mouth, he cleared his throat, then took her hands in his. "So I guess, uh, Cait, will you.. Or, I mean, do you want.. If you.."
Light giggles interrupted him, and as usual, butterflies erupted in his stomach at the sound. He would always want to make her laugh, even at his own expense. "Oh, Luca." Her giggles finally ceased, though her laughter was still swimming in the green sea of her eyes.
"I'm a disgrace." He announced exaggeratedly, hiding his face in his hands.
"No you're not. Stop being dramatic." Sighing, he sat up straight to try again.
When he reached for her hands again, she began to giggle, causing him to smile widely. "Cait." He paused. "Will you be my personal giggle machine?" Quivering lips fought to hold back her laughter as she raised her eyebrow at him in question. "Also known as my girlfriend?" He clarified for her.
"Absolutely." Was her smiling reply. "Now let's go downstairs, I'm starving."
"Just one thing, though." His hand on her thigh kept her from getting up. Her look urged him to continue. "Cait… could you do that thing where you kissed me again?"
She rolled her eyes at him, smiling, but complied nonetheless.