"Look! He's looking at you again!" Jenna nudged her friend, "Jack Bartlett is looking at you."
Oh lord, Nora glanced over at the lunch table on the other side of the lunchroom. Lo and behold, Jack was staring at her. The same Jack Bartlett who was the football team captain, class president, and Valedictorian. Nora still didn't understand what his fascination was with her. He was blond and blue-eyed, which was so incredibly cliched that Nora sometimes felt the need to chuckle when she looked at him. Guys who looked like Jack usually when after the Ashelys and the Jessicas of the school, the tall blonds with tan skin that looked like cheerleaders.
Nora was short, with dark hair that was gathered in a long waist-length braid away from her face, and she wore glasses. Her hobby was reading and drawing, and she would rather shove her spoon in her eye than be seen at a pep rally. People generally thought her skin was too pale, probably from being inside too much, but she allowed herself enough vanity to know that she had good skin.
"He's not looking at me. There's probably someone else that he knows sitting close by," Nora picked up her things, the bell would be ringing soon, and they would have to go back to class.
Although, the truth was, he was staring at her. She had noticed it a while ago. He would watch her in the hallways, glance at her in class. It was slightly disturbing that he always seemed to gape at her like some sort of zoo attraction.
"Why not?" Jenna frowned, she admitted that she was a romantic, and this was not the first time she spotted Jack staring at her best friend, "You're cute. Why can't he be staring at you?"
"He's just not."
Jenna sighed as the bell rang, and they parted ways in the hall. Nora headed towards her locker, she needed to pick up her books before physics. There was an experiment they were doing today with waves that she had been excited for all week.
The voice caught her off guard, and Nora turned to see him leaning against the lockers. Jack smirked at her, his arms folded, his stance giving everyone the impression that he owned the world and everything in it. It probably wasn't far from the truth.
"Hey," Nora looked away, trying to concentrate on shoving things in her if she kept putting things in her bag he was get the clue that she was busy and didn't want to talk to him. She was starting to run out of stuff in her locker, and wondered how long he was going to stand there staring.
"Not much, just getting ready for class."
"That's cool," Jack pushed himself away from the lockers, "Well, I gotta go. See ya later."
"Yeah, see ya."
He shoved his hands in the pockets of his jeans and walked off down the hallway. Nora cursed when she realized that she had shoved too many books into her bag while she was distracted.
What was that all about?
For the two weeks Jack would stop at her locker from time-to-time, ask her one question, and then leave right before the bell would ring. Nora hated to admit that she started looking forward to seeing him stop at her locker, and smile at her like she was the only person in the hallway. They talked about their activities, classes they liked, classes they hated, what they wanted to do when the graduated...any small talk that could fill the time.
"Hey," he stopped beside her.
"How are you?"
"Pretty good," Nora replied. She almost wished that he would come earlier so they could talk longer, then scowled at the idea because it made her feel foolish, "What's up with you?"
He shrugged, "Not a whole lot. I actually..." he faded off for a moment, rubbing the back of his head. He was nervous about something, and now she was curious what it was about, "I actually had a question for you."
"Okay," Nora smiled. This was new. She figured if he needed help with something, maybe they had been talking long enough where they could consider each other friends. For a moment she panicked, thinking that he was going to ask her out. If he did, Nora didn't know what she was going to do.
"Are you going to the game tonight?"
Nora blinked a moment, she had never gone to a single football game in her entire time in high school. Even in her senior year, she had promised herself that she wouldn't go to one just to conform to the general idea of what high school students were supposed to do.
"I don't know, Jack. It's not really my thing."
"Oh, come on," he reached forward and touched her arm, "It might be fun. At the very least you might be able to see me make an ass out of myself."
She wanted to tell him that he couldn't look like an ass even if he tried.
"Um, I don't know. Maybe. I'll try to make it."
"But I probably won't be," She hastily added.
"Don't feel like you have to wait up or look for me or something."
He grinned, taking her off guard. She hadn't expected him to look so happy. Jack leaned over and kissed her cheek as the bell rang.
He chuckled, "Thanks, Nora. See you later."
She watched him run down the hallway, frozen in the spot that she stood. Jack Bartlett had just kissed her on the cheek.
Maybe she would try to at least work up the courage to go.
"I can't believe I'm doing this."
"Come on, Nors!" Jenna nudged her shoulder, "It might not be as bad as you think it is."
They sat in the benches, Nora pulled the shawl around her. It was a little chilly outside, and she was glad to have the blanket with her. The weather was dismal, and it was supposed to rain, so Nora had put her contacts on. Normally she hated contacts because they made her eyes itch, but at least she would be able to see if it rained outside. She just felt naked without her glasses, and kept rubbing the bridge of her nose.
Jenna decided to get up and get a cup of coffee, and Nora looked out towards the field. There were already a few players out there, and she scanned the names on the back of the jerseys to try and see who was who. It wasn't long before she spotted Bartlett.
He was surrounded by a group of girls. Go figure.
Nora figured it was a mistake to come. She had only been fooling herself in thinking that maybe Jack had wanted her to be there. As she was contemplating leaving the moment Jenna got back, she watched him pull his helmet off and look towards the stands. He seemed to be scanning the crowd as if he was looking for something. The girl who was currently talking to him was being ignored.
His blue eyes stopped on hers. There was a thin line of sweat on his face, causing his blond hair to look darker and stick to the sides of his face. He smiled and waved in her direction.
She smiled slightly, and waved back. Jamming his helmet back on his head, he raced back to the field.
They ended up winning. Nora never thought she would be so engrossed in a football game in her entire life. After a while, she started to pick up the rules, although it helped that Jenna knew what was going on. Her brother was a football freak, and Jenna had been forced to watch a lot of games growing up. Nora couldn't stop a smile as she watched Jack hop across the field with their team mates, looking completely ridiculous.
"Should we head out?" Jenna asked, deciding not to tease Nora about the grin on her face, "Before the traffic gets too bad, anyway."
Nora shrugged and headed down the bleachers. There was cheering at one end of the wooden fence that lined that field, and she stopped to see Jack coming towards her. She smiled and stepped towards the open end of the fence.
He scooped her up into his arms, spinning them both around. Nora laughed, she couldn't help herself, he was so happy that it was infectious.
"Thanks for coming," he said, setting her down, but still sticking close to her, his arms banded around her, "Hey, you're eyes are green. I never realized it before."
"I'm wearing contacts."
"You have pretty eyes," Jack smiled, "You want to go get something to eat? I'm starving."
"What, no post-game parties?" Nora smirked at him.
He chuckled, "None that I feel like going to tonight. So, what do you say?"
"Um, I-" she turned to see Jenna wave as if shooing her off, and disappear off to her car. Nora chuckled, "Sure, where do you want to go?"
It started raining before they reached his car, and Nora was soaking wet by the time she managed to climb inside. She had known his family was wealthy, but she hadn't expected to end up sitting in a nice gray Spyder Mitsubishi. The top was pulled over it, and Jack turned up the heat, scrubbing his hands over his face to get the water out of his eyes.
"Gezz, I just took a shower," he grumbled.
"Maybe mother nature thought you didn't wash behind your ears."
Jack smirked at her, and then shook his head, "Well, we're too drenched for a restaurant. How about we pick up something and go eat it at my place?"
She knew she was blushing, and looked away to try and hide it. She'd never even sat in a car alone with a guy that she was unrelated to before, let alone go to his place. It was really stupid to think that Jack meant anything beyond 'getting take-out and just eating it at his place'. They were only friends after all, and Nora would like to think she didn't have to lump herself in the Jack-fangirl-club category.
"Are you sure? I don't want to be a bother."
"You're not a bother," Jack turned the car out of the parking lot.
"What about your parents?"
"They're out of town for the weekend."
Oh great. Now she was going to be alone with him.
"Just relax, Nora. You're so tense," he said, pulling the car out of the parking spot, "Just leave everything to me."
That was what she was worried about.
"So," Jack smirked at her, "How do you feel about Super Smash Brothers?"
"Son of a bitch!"
Jack stared in disbelief as his Mario was pummeled by Zelda. Again. It turned out that Nora was a whiz at video games, which she claimed the only reason was because she had a ten year old little brother. She needed to be up to date on all the latest video games. So they sat in his room, ate burgers, and played games for hours.
When Nora had first walked into the house, she was stunned. He lived in a mansion, and her room could fit inside his bathroom with space to spare. It was a beautiful room, with a plush rug on hardwood floors, a large queen bed, and the matching dresser and desk. He had told her he spent most of his time in his room, and liked to it suit him. Because of that, the walls were dotted with the occasional sports team poster or heavy metal band logos.
"Game point," she smiled, setting the Wii controller in her lap to grab a mint out of the fast food bag. The restaurant always added little mints to all take-out orders, "That's okay, Jack, you can't be amazing all the time."
They had changed clothes since they were both soaked when they walked in the house. Nora was wearing one of his old jerseys and a pair of drawstring sweatpants, and Jack was dressed in a hooded sweatshirt and jeans. There was still a towel wrapped around her head considering her hair was wet and it was the only way she could dry in an any respectable amount of time. Nora figured she looked stupid, but didn't care enough at the moment to do anything about it.
"You think I'm amazing?"
Damn it, she walked into that one, "Oh, come on, Jack."
He glanced at her, a hopeful look in his eyes that she couldn't tear her eyes from him. She blushed and looked away from him, playing with the mint wrapper that was in her hands. There was piece of her hair that was coming out of the towel, and he reached forward to touch it.
"Do you really think that, Nora?" he asked.
Nora glanced back at him, seeing his soft eyes and ruffled blond hair, and couldn't bring herself to lie to him.
"Yeah. I think you're pretty amazing."
Oh well, she thought, no guts no glory.
His fingers gripped the towel on her head and pulled it off her head. As the towel sunk to the floor, her long dark hair fell around her shoulders and down to her waist like a waterfall. She watched as Jack's eyes grew large as he took in her long brown hair. It was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, and he couldn't stop himself from touching it. Nora reached up to try and brush her hair out of her face, and Jack caught her wrists.
"Let it be."
She blushed, thinking he was suddenly too close to her, "It'll get all over the place."
Jack was quiet a moment, and then smiled, "Good."
He pulled her forward into his chest, and her eyes flew open as he kissed her.
It was tentative at first, giving her enough room to pull back. His brushed his lips over hers, slightly nipping her bottom lip, moving along to kiss the corner of her mouth. She gasped, not expected the sensations that filled her head. The moment her lips parted, he closed his mouth over hers, and tasted her. She had never been kissed before, but somehow Nora knew he was a great kisser. Just in the way that he touched her, his hand slipping through her hair and behind her head, and the way that he seemed to create feelings that she never knew existed.
His tongue touched hers, and she melted in his arms. With one motion, he scooped her up off the rug, and pressed her back into the bed. She felt his hands move over her, sneaking under the hem of the sweater and lightly brushing her skin. For some reason, the feel of his weight on her was better than anything she had ever felt. Jack leaned down, brushing the sweater off her stomach, and she gasped as he touched his lips to the exposed skin.
He suddenly stopped, and Nora watched him leaned forward, burying his face in the sweater she wore.
"I'm sorry, I..." Jack's arms banded around her, "I'm sorry, Nora, I hope I didn't scare you."
Nora stared at him. Maybe there was more to Jack Bartlett than just a popular jock who had a lot of girls mooning over him. His hands had been shaking when he had touched her. When she finally sat up, she smiled, tugging on his arms.
"Come here, Jack."
She crawled over the bed and settled on the pillows, Jack laying beside her. She rolled over and set her head on his shoulder, allowing him to wrap his arms around him. He stared at her hair as it flowed over the pillows. It didn't take long before Jack had drifted to sleep beside her, and she allowed herself to fall asleep beside him. The last thought on the edge of her mind was that she maybe, quite possibly, she was in love with Jack Bartlett.
Nora opened her eyes and stared at the person sleeping next to her.
They had moved in the night, and some point, Jack had pulled the blankets over the both of them. His arms were still around her, and she couldn't help but stare at him while he slept. He looked almost childish, and Nora grinned, making a note to tease him about it later. In the meantime, she moved his arms off her, pulling the covers around him. Jack turned on his chest as she slid to the floor, letting her feet sink into the soft rug. She still couldn't believe that Jack lived in such an amazing place.
Walking to the bathroom, she pulled out the extra toothbrush he had set out for her, and brushed her teeth. The phone rang, and she began to wonder if he would wake up and answer it. Nora growled as she tried to right her hair, it was sticking out in every direction, and she began to braid it in hopes of taming it later.
The phone continued to ring, and Jack didn't wake up. She was walking out of the bathroom as the answering machine picked it up.
"Hey babe!" the voice came on the other line. Nora recognized it as Amanda Jenkins, who would chase after Jack from time to time, "I was just wondering what happened at the party! Give me a call! Bye bye!"
Nora smiled, as far as she was concerned, the moment Jack woke up she was going to make it clear to him that he belonged to her. He seemed to feel more for her than just a friendship, maybe she could take a risk and they could try and relationship. Somehow, she just had a feeling that Jack would say yes.
"Yo, Jack! Pick up the phone, man."
She smiled, it was one of Jacks friends. Sam, was it? Sam Jorgenson...or was is Johnston-
"How was your night? I'll bet it was a blast! Nora Austin? I didn't think you'd be able to do it."
Nora stopped, and stared at the answering machine.
"Well, I guess you were right, you can get any girl you want. Fifty bucks. I'll have it for you on Monday. You'll have to give me all the details. Later, dude!"
The machine stopped, recorded the call, and she stood and watched the blinking light.