A/N: I don't own Nora Roberts (but of course)
Have you ever read all those clichéd stories where you feel like smashing your head into the computer screen and simply wished to strangle that oblivious girl or knock some sense into her head? Yeah. Join the club.
With my vast experience gathered from reading all those clichés, I can proudly proclaim that I have an inbuilt romance detector and can sense budding romance a mile away. Now, being an expert in the romantic clichés field is no easy job and I have to admit that there is one, just one, field that I am a tad unfamiliar with. Ladies and Gentlemen….
The Jock-Nerd cliché.
They are one unfathomable species…Jocks, I mean.
I hurtled through the corridors, blasted past the door, skidded a few meters and backtracked. Carefully sidestepping the tangled mess of arms and legs right beside the door, I avoided the pool of what I hoped was water. Finally finding an empty and clean seat, if you know what I mean, I threw my bag onto the table and sank into the seat. I rummaged through my bag to retrieve my organizer, and the sunlight that previously happily graced my table disappeared under a hulking shadow.
Sounds like the start of bad horror movie…
I withdrew my head from the safe haven of my bag and slowly turned towards the 'shadow'. A huge bulky chunk of muscles stared down at me in the form of the school linebacker. He crossed his arm and regarded me with a smirk on his face. And, if you think that this sounds like the promising start to a beautiful I-look-like-I-hate-you-but-I'm-actually-in-love-with-you relationship, it's not.
"You're in my seat."
"Oh! You mean your name's here somewhere?"
I pretended to look over the table and under the chair. Turning towards him, I flashed him my brightest, innocent grin.
"But I can't find it! I didn't even know that you knew how to write your name! Oops!"
His smirk dropped and his eyes flashed albeit dangerously. After all, with the number of mountains on his arms, it can be rather intimidating.
"Get out," he spat.
Okay, as much as I would have preferred to say that I stood up and socked him in the face, I did not. If it were you, you would have been scared too right? I like my nose where it is pointing now, thank you very much.
"Alright, chill buddy, don't get your knickers….er…boxers in a twist. I'm leaving!"
I was slowly shoving my stuff back into my bag when a huge coughing fit erupted behind the class where all the jocks were. It was seemingly synchronized and sounded something along the lines of…
"I…cough…saac cough likes her...cough."
The linebacker-with-big-muscles paled visibly and turned around to face his fellow jocks while shooting pleading looks.
"Crap, I didn't know she's the one!"
When I swung my backpack across my shoulders and turned to leave the seat, linebacker- with-big-muscles was gone. I swiveled around to look for him and as my very well-coordinated feet will have, I tripped. Closing my eyes, I prayed that flowers and grass will suddenly pop out on the classroom floor to cushion the fall. The last thought I had was that I was lucky today was a jeans day. You know how perverted and childish high school kids are right; I will probably be called flying knickers or something for the next half of the year.
Instead of hitting the hard ground, a pair of hands caught me and steadied me by drawing me towards a warm and hard wall.
"Are you okay?"
I mumbled a sort of reply into his shirt and grabbing my bag from the floor, I sidestepped him and got into the farthest seat.
What I did not see was the threatening glare he shot linebacker-with-big-muscles and the silly grin on his face as he rubbed the spot on his shirt I my face had landed on.
I ran my fingers along the spine of the books and briefly looked over the titles, looking for the book I wanted. Ah hah!
Flipping frantically right to the end of the book, I scanned the pages and jumped up in happiness, twirling around in the small space between book shelves. A huge smile broke out over my face and I hugged the book to myself.
Hey! I am not insane, he proposed to her alright! Finally!
Looking up to find the other books, I caught him staring at me in a sort of trance and a small grin on his face. With his spiked up dark brown hair, azure blue eyes, golden tanned skin and muscled, but not too much, body, he was…the school football team captain, Isaac!
What did you think I was going to say?
I inclined my head at him enquiringly and he seemed to break out of his stare while that grin turned into an embarrassed smile. He quickly turned to the bookshelves and hastily took out a book. Oh! I read that!
Wait, what is he doing in the romance section?!
I continued staring at him for a while and though he flipped to a page, he had not moved from it for a minute and was frequently looking at me looking at him out of the corner of his eyes. I walked up to him, and he tensed.
"Hey! You're in my English class. That's a really good book, I think one of Nora Robert's best."
He frowned confusedly. "Nora Roberts?"
"Er…you know, the author of the book you are holding now?"
Realization dawned on him, and he quickly flipped the book to the cover and his eyes bulged out as he regarded the cover.
"It's really rare to see guys so interested in romance novels. Do you need any advice on good romance novels? I love all those romantic stuff and I'm an expert!"
His dark eyebrows rose significantly.
"It's alright, I won't tell other people what you're interested in!"
His face turned a light shade of red and he mumbled a hurried good-bye before high-tailing out of the library.
Boy, if only I knew how close I hit home. Only that it was a "who" rather than a "what".
What I did not know was that after I had left the library, he came back and sneaked back into the romance section. Hurriedly, he retrieved practically half of the section and dashed to the check-out counter. Then, he took out the library card of all the football team players, of course without telling them the purpose, and checked out all the books.
"For our sisters," he stuttered.
No wonder I could not find half the books I wanted the next day.
I shivered slightly. It was a cold day, and I had left my jacket at home. Rubbing the parts of my arms not covered by my T-shirt, I blew into my hands. How do the cheerleaders survive? Seriously. They do not even have fats to provide the slightest warmth!
Then, warmth and a very nice, manly smell enveloped me. I looked at my shoulders to see a jacket in the school colours around me. Looking up, I saw Isaac smiling down at me. He stuck his hands into his pockets and looking everywhere else but at me, he rubbed his neck nervously and said.
"I…er…noticed that you were cold so…maybe you want to wear my jacket?"
I drew the jacket closer and smiled back at him.
His smile widened. "You're welcome. So, I'll see you around," and he sauntered back to his seat.
A new teacher strut in and I turned around to ask the girl behind for a pencil.
"Miss Wyatt, could you please face the front."
Who's Miss Wyatt? I never knew there was someone called that in our class. It was always Mr. Wa…
Laughter erupted around the class, and a barely breathing, red-faced from laughing jock spluttered out.
"Sorry, Miss, I think you meant Mrs. Wyatt." He got a resounding smack on the head.
Okay, someone seriously needs to let me in on the joke now.
Seeing the confused look on my face, Ava, my best friend, threw a paper ball at me to catch my attention and leaning across the table separating us, loudly whispered to me.
"She means you, you Do-do bird! Isaac's practically marked you. You're his property now! So cute!"
"Mark? As in…like…vampires?!"
Well…maybe I read a tad too many fantasy stories. Sue me.
"NO! You're wearing his letterman jacket! And what's printed behind? His name? And since when did Jocks let other people even come close to their precious letterman jackets?"
"I give up. And you call yourself a romantic clichés expert?"
"Hey! That was low!"
Ava rolled her eyes and patted my head in a sympathetic and motherly manner.
"Someday, you will realise, my darling."
The whole school was strangely, very strangely, silent. Then, the lights were switched off. Okay, you win, I am scared now. I quickly shut my lockers and fumbling with my bag strap, I turned to run out of the school when strains of violin sounded behind me.
The whole school started pouring in from both sides of the corridor. At the head, were the footballers, holding giant heart-shaped candles and balloons and, was that linebacker-with-huge-muscles playing the violin? This is a really weird dream.
Then, the crowd parted, and Isaac walked through, looking breathtakingly handsome. In his hands, he held a giant bouquet of red roses. He stopped in front of me, and on his face, was the tenderest expression that I have ever seen. He stared into my eyes, just inches from my face, so close that I could see the tiny freckles on his nose and so close that I could feel his warmth.
"Hey," he breathed.
He held the roses out to me and holding onto my trembling hands, he whispered.
"Right now, I am going to ask the most beautiful and amazing girl I have every met to be my girlfriend in the witness of everyone present."
"Oh! That's so romantic! Who is she? Do you need any help?"
His lips quirked up in a smile and he lifted my hands to his lips and kissed it.
"Will you be my girlfriend?"
My eyebrows shot up and I froze. When he tried to draw me into his arms, I broke away and hauled serious ass out of the school, pushing past the huge crowd that had gathered.
Hey! Stop giving me that reproaching look! You would also have been freaked out with the whole football team and their captain giving you that puppy-dog hopeful look.
He walked around the school the whole week with a lost and sad look on his face. And every time he tried to catch my eyes, I would look away hurriedly and he would sigh and look down at his table forlornly.
Today was the day of the state football championships, and the whole school was hyped up and excited. Isaac tried even harder to get me to look at him the whole morning, but I could tell that by afternoon, he had given up. I did not know why, but the defeated slump of his shoulders and hanging head made me…somewhat sad too.
"Oh my gosh!"
Ava grabbed on tightly onto my arm and squeezed the life out of my muscles.
"Ah! No! No! Crap! Dang it!" Words started pouring out of my mouth as she and I stared at the match. Isaac was poised to pass the ball to the wide receiver but he fumbled for a second and this distraction was enough for an opposing defensive lineman to bring him down.
Half the stadium groaned in unison as Isaac lost the ball again for the third time in just the first half of the game. We were starting to lose, and it kind of looked like it was going to be a really bad trashing. Our linebacker tried to tackle the other team's running back, but crashed into their left tackle covering the running back instead, and could only watch helplessly as the other team scored.
The referees called for half-time, and I followed Isaac with my eyes, as he trudged off the field, receive what was definitely a biting scolding from his coach. He took off his helmet and walked slowly off to the locker rooms. I did not know what overcame me, but I just had to be beside him right then.
I tried to convince the security guard to let me in. I tried giving him the innocent look, went on my knees and desperately begged and I was so close to bribing him with popcorn. But then, he saw the back of the jacket I was wearing and he resignedly let me in.
Oh. I was wearing Isaac's letterman jacket.
Walking hurriedly along the corridor, I saw Isaac slumped in a corner, just out of sight of the spectators with his head buried in his hands. I stopped in my tracks and he looked up at me. For a moment, happiness shone in his eyes, before they died out into a pain and sadness. He stood up and turned to leave.
"I know you're avoiding me. I'll leave."
That was when I knew.
Before he could take another step, I ran up to him and hugged him from behind, and hugged him as best as I could with his bulky football gear. He froze and he slowly turned around. I placed my arms around his neck and standing on tiptoes, reached up to kiss him.
His lips crashed against mine gently, and he was still for a split second. I was just starting to pull away when he bent down to recapture my lips and placed his left hand behind my head and wrapped his right around my waist
"I like you, actually" I whispered back as he rested his forehead against mine.
"What! Not love?"
"Don't push it!"
The whistle for half-time was blown, and both he and I looked back out at the field. He frowned slightly and I rested my head on his chest or rather, padding before smiling back at him.
"Win it for me?"
A grin spread across his face and he kissed me thoroughly once more before running back out, throwing a backward glance at me.
The whole stadium was on their feet, with both sides screaming their hearts out. Our team had fought right back to be tied with the other team. Under the leadership of Isaac Wyatt, who the commentators had quite aptly put it seemed like "a totally different person, revived by the kiss of life and motivation."
Isaac looked to the crowd, his eyes searching as the team readied for their final play towards the championship title. I jumped up and down to get his attention and when his eyes rested on me, I could see the huge smile that broke out beneath the white wire across his helmet.
The team broke out of their huddle and got into position. The stadium was suddenly quiet and everyone's eyes were fixated on the ball.
Isaac caught the ball, and was for a brief moment, entirely free as the Guards and Tackles brought down the defensive linemen closing in on him. Swinging his hand back, he saw an opening with our fullback nearing the five-yard line. In a perfect arc, the ball curved towards the fullback and just sliding out of the grasp of the defensive lineman, he dashed to the goal line.
Our half of the stadium went up in roar and Ava and I hugged each other while jumping up and down excitedly. Then, there was a little commotion as Isaac broke out of his team hug and started running up the stands. He barely noticed the people staring at him in awe as he stopped beside me, took off his helmet and kissed me, very thoroughly, I must say.
Maybe Jocks are not so hard to understand after all