"Jessa Bradford, if you don't come out right now, I will kick down this door!" Nikki yelled outside angrily. Sheesh, I forgot how cranky she was in the mornings...

"Alright, alright, I'm coming," I hollered, back—spitting out the toothpaste in my mouth.

Since it was the first day of school we were all a bit frazzled due to our internal summer clocks. I was so used to waking up at noon every day until school started.

If that wasn't bad enough I have to share the bathroom with my two roommates, which slows down everything.

But hey, I wouldn't trade it for anything since I love Nikki and Angie.


Well...Angie isn't this bad in the mornings.

I unlocked the door for Nikki who sprinted in and kicked me out. I heard her mumbling something about morning bladders and me taking my sweet time to brush my teeth.

In my defense I believe in good dental hygiene.

"Morning Angie," I greeted to my other roommate who was examining her face in her mirror. I trekked across our small dorm room to my dresser—trying to search for my school uniform. I finally unearthed my plaid blue skirt and white button down shirt. That's when I noticed that Angie was...whimpering.

"Hey what's wrong?" I asked, turning around, and buttoning up my shirt.

"My hair!" Angie wailed, trying to flatten down her blond curls. They did look extra springy today.

"What's wrong with your hair?" I asked, trying not to laugh as I came up beside her.

"Look at it!" Angie practically screeched. Now, normally I would say that Angie was the normal roommate who was pretty calm in most situations. But this was a hair emergency...

"It's sticking up all funny! I mean, for god's sake, I look like Annie!"

"Hun...Annie has red hair, and you have blond hair," I noted. Angie looked positively murderous at my comment, and I tried to back track before she blinded me with her hairspray. "Look it's not that bad. It'll be fine! And whom are you dressing up for anyways? We go to an all girl's school!"

For a second my mind traveled back to last night when I was talking to Laundromat Boy. He was cute, but I wouldn't be seeing him again. There was just no way if he was a public school boy; they lived too far away and rarely came into town.

Plus public school kids always thought we were stuck up; Laundromat Boy wouldn't want to have anything to do with me.

Angie seemed to lighten up a bit after that. "I guess, you're right. But it's still bothering me."

"Why don't you just clip it up like...this," I suggested while bobby pinning sections of her hair down so it would stay a bit flatter.

It seemed to work, and I let Angie take over as I did my own hair.

My hair was low maintenance: with a quick brush through my brown wavy locks it was good to go. I hurriedly swiped some mascara and lip-gloss on while still trying to find a pair of tights that didn't have holes in them.

"Screw this," I finally muttered as I pulled on a pair of nude tights that had a small hole on the inside of my thigh. The end of my skirt would cover it up pretty well either way, and at least I wouldn't get a detention for not following dress code.

When I glanced at the clock in our dorm I let out a small yelp. Oh god, it was 7:30, and class started at 7:50.

We were never going to make it!

And what about breakfast? I needed my sustenance this early in the morning!

"Nikki!" I warned just as my ginger roommate came out of the bathroom fully dressed, perfumed, and made up.

"We gotta go!" I urged, to Angie who was still moaning about her hair crisis.

All three of us rushed through the halls of our dorm building, pushing past dawdling freshmen and gossiping girls.

I took the stairs two at a time, and finally we got out of our crowded dorm building.

The three of us rushed past the fountain in the middle of quad and towards the wings of classes.

Because our campus was mostly outdoors it was easy to navigate through the different cliques of girls. The campus was decorated with shrubs and various colorful flowers.

Finally Nikki and I split away from Angie when we found our art classroom—she had to go to journalism.

"Thank god we aren't late," Nikki sighed as she plopped down onto a dried out paint-smeared stool. Around us, other juniors talked animatedly and I heard snatches of conversations.

"Did you hear...?"



That got my attention but when I turned to find the source, Mr. Fisher (more commonly known as Mr. Fish) clapped his hands together and started class. He started droning on about his classroom rules and we went over the syllabus.

It was like this for my next three classes, and I tuned out for most of it. But throughout the day I heard whispers and murmurs of the Bennett boys. They had not even arrived, and all ready the girls were flustered.

By lunchtime my indifference turned into annoyance. .

"This is getting ridiculous, don't they have anything better to talk about?" I stated, as I bit into my turkey sandwich. Nikki, Angie, and I were all sitting on a picnic table that was placed strategically in the quad. The weather was still very hot, and I could feel it slowly roasting my back and my neck.

"What happened?"

"Everyone keeps on talking about those stinkin' Bennett boys. I don't understand what the big deal is," I explained.

"Once the shock wears off, things will go back to normal," Nikki reassured, although Angie looked doubtful.

"I sure hope so...Not to mention, three girls from the track team already asked me about my plans for when the boys arrive. I don't have any plan. Is that bad? I haven't even met the new coach...and I'm the captain!" I responded worriedly.

"Don't worry too much. We'll all meet the new coach today," Nikki soothed.

"You're right...I'm being stupid. I mean there can't be anything to worry about when nothing has happened yet..."

"But something is bound to happen," Angie interrupted, "Today in journalism we only talked about articles related to those coyotes. It's definitely going to give the newspaper some attention..."

It was a known fact that no one read the school newspaper: The Grace Worthington Gazette—probably because there was nothing worth reporting. Until now, that is...

"Do you think that there's a chance that we'll even win the charity competition?" Nikki asked, while sipping her water.

"Sure, but it depends what kind of fundraising activities we do..." Angie trailed off while looking deep in though.

"I don't even care that much about whether we win or not. Mostly I just care about beating them," Nikki muttered.

Angie looked appalled that Nikki would even suggest something like that and went on to explain the importance of raising money for charity.

On some level I agreed with Nikki, because, frankly, I didn't really care about new computers in the school library.

The bell signaled that it was time for 5th period—effectively ending Angie's spiel.

The rest of the school day went by rather quickly, and finally I was in my last class of the day: Spanish.

I quickly figured out that this was the worst class of my entire day. My teacher, Mrs. Sanchez, was an old lady only capable of speaking in a monotone voice. Fifteen minutes before the bell rang I saw her snoozing by her desk on the pretense of checking her emails.

I rolled my eyes before getting up to leave as the bell rang. I was just thankful that I didn't have another class; instead I could go straight to cross-country.

But of course, there was a new coach and the promise of irritating Bennett boys waiting for me, so it wasn't much of a plus.

On my way to the locker room I greeted other girls who were changing for their various sports: water polo, volleyball, soccer, and cross-country.

I quickly changed into my regular outfit of athletic shorts and last year's cross-country team shirt. Grace Worthington's mascot, an eagle stood proudly on my shirt. I then traded my converse for an old pair of tennis shoes and headed out towards the track with several bottles of water.

There was barely a breeze in the air, and the heavy summer air was still present. It was dry air that enveloped my exposed body making me sweat even though I wasn't exerting myself. There were no clouds in the sky, nor any indication that it would get cooler in the evening.

Being the captain I was expected to be there a bit earlier than everyone else and so for a while I walked leisurely around our wide grassy field that the soccer team was using and wandered along our dirt path (otherwise known as our track). Eventually more girls made their way onto the grassy field and settled into a loose circle. The main topic of discussion was (of course): Bennett Prepatory.

A light wind tussled my open hair, and I bent over so I could sweep my hair into a high ponytail. I was tying my brown locks up when I heard a slow whistle behind me.

"Nice view!"

I immediately straightened and turned around, only to see Laundromat Boy staring right back at me. His eyebrows shot straight up into his dark brown hair and his mouth dropped open—mirroring my same expression. I was so surprised that I didn't even bother surveying the crowd of boys behind him.

When I finally found my voice I practically yelled, "What are you doing here?"

There was no possible way that someone as sweet as him could be a Bennett Boy. Heck, I even flirted with him.

Oh dear god, I flirted with a Bennett boy. I'm pretty sure my actions were punishable by death, here at Grace Worthington. It was social suicide.

Mentally smacking my forehead, I continued to glower at him.

His shocked expression turned into a deep scowl, "Same thing you are. I'm the captain of Bennett Prep's cross-country team."

Oh. My. God.

I'm also pretty sure that I just broke the world record for not breathing.

Luckily Nikki came over and nudged my side, and I fought to keep my composure. I could not have those coyotes thinking that I was weak or something.

"Hey," some other boy with cropped black hair approached Laundromat Boy, "You know this chick?"

I was about to reprimand him for his use of the word chick when I heard Laundromat Boy reply.

"No. Of course not."

Before he could say anything else, a loud whistle near the back of the crowd interrupted him.

The Bennett boys immediately parted, while the girls and I stared in apprehension. A gruff elderly man appeared with his silver whistle still in his mouth. He wore a permanent scowl and his shoulders were broad and slightly hunched over. His almond brown eyes were narrowed in distaste as he examined us all.

"I'm your new cross-country coach, Mr. Johnson. You may call me Coach. Can the captains of both cross-country teams step forward," he barked. His voice was slightly scratchy, making him sound like a pack-a-day smoker. Perhaps he was.

I cautiously stepped forward, part of me was really intimidated by the new coach, but another part of me was humming in anticipation. He seemed like a no-nonsense kind of man—he was exactly what we needed to make it to Championships.

Meanwhile, Laundromat Boy looked at me in shock when we both stepped forward, but his gaping mouth soon turned into a deep frown.

For a minute the coach just stared at both of us, his stare seemed to pierce right through my body, and I fought the urge to squirm.

"You two need to set an example," he paused and turned to examine the others, "you all need to set an example."

He turned back to us and motioned for everyone to sit down, and we did (keeping well away from the other school).

"I have heard many stories about your rivalry," the coach continued, while looking at us as if we were criminals, "but from what I've heard, no one seems to know why you two are fighting exactly. There seems to be no cause of the rivalry. Your schools are fighting for the sake of fighting. There's no reason for it; which to me, seems pretty stupid."

I blinked, I guess, for so long, I had just accepted the rivalry as it was. I had never even questioned it. There was an old legend pertaining to the founders of both schools (and their hatred towards each other), but even that legend had gotten twisted and convoluted. But the coach was right; there was really no reason to fight. My eyes wandered around to the other track members, until my Laundromat Boy caught my gaze.

He raised his eyebrows as if to say, "What are you staring at?"

I rolled my eyes before looking away. Maybe that's why the rivalry lasted so long: because, eventually the lines blurred and we became hostile for no apparent reason and we never bothered to stop.

"I don't want my cross-country team to be fighting. We are a team. If we can't end this so called 'rivalry', then there's no hope for the rest of the school."

The coach paused to glare at us all individually, as if daring one of us to object, but we stayed silent.

"Well, that's that. Practice is over for today. Tomorrow all of you will arrive sharply at 3:30. That's when the real work will begin. And I expect for you to be civil towards one another."

He hesitated before saying deliberately, "Oh, and all of you will have to try out if you want a spot on the team."

He glared at all of us before turning around and walking away from us.
For a moment we just sat there in shock; did he actually dismiss us for the day, without doing anything?

Not to mention we have to try out for cross-country now. In the past whoever wanted to join would just have to show up.

But just before walking away completely he turned back around and pointed at Laundromat Boy and I, "Hey! You two! I need to talk to you both privately."

He motioned for us to follow him, and we quickly got up and followed him. My stomach was in knots, and it felt like I was going to be punished. Somehow I felt that if Coach Johnson ever punished me it would be more a lot more than a simple detention.

I glanced back to see Nikki shooting me a quick thumbs-up. When we got to the edge of the wide mossy field Coach turned back around to face us. Once again, it seemed like he was sizing us up.

"You two need to step it up. I can't have either of you arguing with one another, or any other member of the cross-country team. You two have got to be like the glue that holds this team together. So, I'm putting you two in charge of team bonding. I want you to sit together and plan some things that will help the team form a connection. I expect results soon."

Coach paused, his brow furrowed. His eyes were deep set, and I could see wrinkles formed from his constant scowls.

"I'm counting on you two. Don't let me down."

It was an order, and a very tall one at that. Did he really just expect us to become buddy-buddy after a day? We weren't miracle workers. We were two opponents. I didn't understand how he could expect this to work.

He left us standing there without so much of a "good-bye", and we turned towards each other automatically.

For a moment, we just stared at each other before Laundromat Boy cleared his throat and stuck out his hand.

"I didn't get to introduce myself before. I'm Aaron Rush."

I shook his hand still a bit cautious at his sudden friendly gesture, "I'm Jessa Bradfo—Bradley."

I quickly released his hand, and looked away from him hoping that he didn't catch my slip up. But he seemed unaware.

"Right, so...er...what do you think we should do?" Aaron asked as we made our way back towards the team. His tone held less aggression, and I felt immediately grateful. We wouldn't get anything done with so much animosity between us.

"I don't know. For now, we can decide after tryouts," I responded

"Okay," Aaron agreed, before turning to me with an amused smile. He had suddenly become Laundromat Boy again, "So what were you doing at the Laundromat at two a.m?"

I scowled at him before stating defensively, "It's really none of you're business. And anyways, shouldn't I be asking you that?"

"I was doing my laundry."

"At two a.m?"

"I sleep at odd times."

I scoffed at that, and decided to ask him something that was nagging me, "So why did you lie to your friend? You said that you 'didn't know me'."

He quirked his eyebrows up, "Well I wouldn't want to associate myself with some Grace Girl, now would I?"

My jaw dropped open at that. Oh what a rookie mistake I had made. For a minute I actually thought that Aaron had a decent bone in his body. He had become the nice Laundromat Boy I knew, so easily that I forgot that he was a Bennett boy momentarily.

And of course, Bennett Boys have absolutely no decency whatsoever.

I didn't even bother to glare at his comment. I just sped up towards my team, but Aaron easily kept with my strides.

"I didn't upset you now did I?" Aaron asked, his tone condescending and mocking. If it weren't for the fact that he was my co-captain I would have punched him. But no I had to remember what Coach told us. I didn't want to ever have him punish me if I could help it.

I would control my temper.

"Never," I said calmly. I wasn't even angry with him. Mostly I was disappointed in myself for believing that he was different—for believing in Laundromat Boy.

"Good, because for a second I thought you took my flirting seriously. Especially since you flirted back that night..." Aaron trailed off, and I could practically hear the smirk in his voice.

"I did not flirt with you," I responded hotly, my eyes narrowing. Sure it was a lie, but I would rather die than admit that to a Bennett Boy. Maybe keeping my temper under control would be harder than I expected.

"Sure, sure," Aaron said grinning triumphantly, like I was reacting exactly the way he expected.

"I was not," I repeated, my hands balling into fists unconsciously.

By now we had returned to the track team, and they crowded around us. We both stepped away from each other and I could see that Aaron didn't want any of the others to overhear our conversation.

But something in his heavy gaze told me that we weren't finished yet. I forced myself to look away.

"What did Coach say?" asked a lanky boy who came up beside Aaron. His eyes flickered to mine before he scowled.

"Nothing much. We'll have to wait and see after tryouts tomorrow."

The girls looked to me for confirmation and I nodded my head—keeping my gaze away from the Bennett Boys.

"How many members does he need from each school?" piped up another boy.

"He's not allowed to only pick Bennett Boys if that what you're asking," bit back Kylie, a girl who had joined track a year ago. I didn't know whether to shush her or not for fear of looking like I was siding with Bennett Prep.

"You do know he's an alumni of Bennett Prep, right?" replied another boy with a low husky voice.

Immediately all the girls shouted something along the lines of "what the heck?!" Arguments broke out and tense voices filled the air. None of them registered and I could only stare in horror, my eyes going wide.

The Coach was a Bennett Boy too? Then he of all people would know that this peace wouldn't last. He couldn't possibly believe that the rivalry would be broken.

Suddenly I felt exhausted with the day. I just wanted to go to my dorm and curl up in my bed. I didn't want to deal with Bennett Prepatory, or the new coach. Not today.

Squaring my shoulders, I whistled loudly, drawing the attention of the arguing teenagers.

"Girls let's just go back to the locker room, it's been a long day," I said in a firm voice that left no room for arguments.

"Don't tell me that you're getting scared now, Jessa," Aaron called out just as I was turning my back. Oh god he was asking for it.
I could feel my patience wearing thin and I knew that if I didn't get out of here now I would do something that I would seriously regret.

"I'm not scared, but I'd rather not stand here listening to you idiots argue for the rest of the night," I replied not missing a beat, while matching his challenging gaze defiantly. If I was going to be taken seriously as a captain, I knew I had to stand my ground. There would be no backing down.

"Is it because you know we're right? How is the coach going to give you a fair chance if you're from Grace Worthington? Will the tryouts even be fair? Face it Jessa, your team has no shot," Aaron taunted, his brown eyes that I once found alluring now glittering maliciously. I knew he was purposefully trying to get a rise out of me, but I couldn't stop myself from getting angry.

"Shut up, of course it will be fair," I replied through gritted teeth. He was playing on my exact fears. Would Grace Worthington get a fair deal when the coach was an alumnus of Bennett Prepatory?

"How do you know?" He shot back, his lips curling into a smirk.

"Well how do you know either?" I snapped. Everything about his tone rubbed me the wrong way. I hated how he acted like he knew everything. He was arrogant, and cocky.

Aaron's smirk widened and he spread his hands while looking at his cross-country team. "Once a Bennett Boy, always a Bennett Boy."

Funny, that was the same thing Nikki said yesterday. However they said it in two completely different ways...

I don't really know what possessed me do it. Maybe it was the way he stared down at me—making me feel inferior and small. I hated his overconfident tone. Most of all I hated the way he spoke to me in such a mocking manner. I wanted to take him down a notch or two. Most of all I wanted to get rid of that infuriating smirk on his face.

And so I stepped right up to him and swiftly bought my knee up.

He keeled over while clutching his precious family jewels—a string of curses quickly escaping his mouth—as he fell to the ground.

Around him, the other members of the cross-country team stared at me with a mixture of surprise, fear, and shock. Maybe that's all it took to gain their respect as co-captain.

Before any of the Bennett track members could say anything I was grabbing my duffel bag and high-tailing it out of there.

"C'mon girls, time to go," I announced, not bothering to look back. I could feel guilt seeping through me and winding around my stomach from the inside. But not because I actually kneed Aaron in his privates.

No, it was because I knew word would eventually get back to the new Coach. He would not be pleased to hear that I had deliberately disobeyed his orders.

Oh I was so screwed.

"You kneed him in the balls?!" Dakota asked shocked, her light blue eyes widening as she poured me another comforting glass of sprite.

"Er...yeah," I said sheepishly as I avoided her gaze. Silently, I waited for her judgment. I hated disappointing her.

"Well I'm not surprised, that's what I did when I first met Keith," Dakota smirked as she winked at me.

"It's true!" Keith called out from inside the kitchen. He came out carrying a beer in hand. His face had grown older with time since I saw him last, but his wide smile was still the same as ever. His black hair was spiked in the front, and his dark green shirt stretched across his broad chest.

He was attractive, and many single ladies flirted with him, but he only had eyes for Dakota. They got married after they both finished college and moved back to Hutcherson Oaks so Keith could open up a diner.

Dakota had always been a constant in my life ever since she came into my life looking for some spare cash that she could use to keep her rusty pick up truck running. She started babysitting me when I was eight years old, and she, sixteen years old. Even when I grew too old to need a babysitter we talked and met often. She was like the older sister that I never had. There was nothing that I didn't tell Dakota. We just got closer once she moved back to Hutcherson Oaks with Keith.

"I can't believe she would even think about marrying you," I teased Keith while sticking my tongue out at him like the petulant child I was.

"I'm one of a kind, munchkin," Keith said boastfully as he ruffled my hair. I pushed his hand away and combed it back into place.

"I'm not short," I told Keith, even though we both knew that he would continue to call me munchkin.

"You are to me," Keith called back as he once again disappeared behind the kitchen.

"That's 'cause you're freakishly tall!" I called back, annoyed. Keith was probably 6'6.

Dakota rolled her eyes at our antics, and turned back to me, while propping her head on her chin.

"So then what happened, after you kneed him?"

"Nothing," I replied, "I just left with the other girls."

Dakota was one of the few people that understood the rivalry even though she wasn't a part of Grace Worthington. She, however, managed to marry a Bennett Boy.

(Strange, I know, but I always had a feeling she wasn't quite right in the head.) Keith was the only Bennett boy that I actually liked and talked to often. We constantly argued over the superiority of either school, but it was done jokingly.

She nodded before asking me, "So, what did this boy look like. What's his name?"

"Aaron," I replied, my voice bitter, "He has brown hair, brown eyes...nose, mouth, body."

"You're not giving me much Jessa. Was he cute?"

I almost gagged on my sprite before raising my eyes to look at her with a shocked expression.

"Of course not!" I spluttered, before miming vomiting. "That's disgusting. He's a Bennett Boy."

Sure I thought he was attractive when I first saw him, but that completely changed after today.

Dakota gave me one of those adult-patronizing looks as if to say "You've got a lot to learn, Jessa."

Gosh, I hated those looks. Especially when she was the one giving them.

"So why did you really call me here?" I asked curiously, trying to change the subject while I looked around the empty diner. "It's a school night."

Dakota's face lit up, and I knew that I successfully distracted her.

"I have some important news for you," Dakota announced just as Keith came back out. They exchanged meaningful gazes and I stopped sipping my sprite.

"What? What is it?"

Dakota smiled, and she unexpectedly started tearing up, "I'm—I'm pregnant."

My jaw dropped but instead of squealing I slammed my hand down on the bar.

"When did you find out? Don't tell me that you've been keeping this from me for the entire summer."

Dakota giggled but waved her hand away—as if that would stop me from getting annoyed—and replied, "I wanted to tell you in person! And I'm only a month into the pregnancy."

I softened. After all, I couldn't very well stay mad at her when she was pregnant.

"I'm so happy for you!"

My lips broke out into a wide smile and hopped over the bar to squeeze her into a tight hug. Almost immediately after I wrapped my arms around her I jumped back.

"Oh no! I didn't squeeze you too hard did I? I don't want to hurt the baby. Oh my gosh, why did you let me hug you?!" I yelled worriedly and patted her stomach gently as if that would comfort the baby.

Dakota just laughed at me and said, "Funny. That's the same exact reaction that Keith had when he found out."

I turned to Keith with raised eyebrows and he harrumphed.

"I can't believe you're going to be a father!" I said aghast. I also bounded towards him and wrapped him up in a tight hug.

I heard Keith's deep rumbling laugh vibrate my body as he gave me a bear hug.

"I know right. Can you imagine? Me? A father?"

I pulled away from him, while looking directly into his soft brown eyes and poking his chest, "You better spoil that child mister."

He just gave me a boyish grin.

"Speaking of which," I continued, whirling around to face a beaming Dakota, "when do you get to figure out the baby's gender?"

"Not until November unfortunately," Dakota replied, still wiping away tears as she smiled at me. (She can be such a sap.)

It was then that I started rambling excitedly. An electrifying zeal seemed to fill me as I spoke, "Oh my gosh this is so exciting. I'm going to practically be an aunt. Oh my gosh, what are you going to name it? Well I guess you don't know since you don't know the baby's gender yet, huh? But do you think I could come with you when you go to your next check up? I want to see the baby too! But I guess that would mean most likely skipping school. Which is no problem really since I could ditch—"

My cell phone rang loudly, effectively interrupting my word vomit, and I quickly answered it, barely looking at the caller. There was only ever one person that called my cell phone (besides auto insurance and credit-card companies).

"Daddy! Guess what? Oh my gosh you're never going to believe this, but I'll tell you anyways: Dakota is having a baby!" I practically yelled into the phone.

"Yes, honey, I know that—"

"Wait! You know?" I gasped, before turning to look at Dakota. "He knows?"

Dakota just gave me an amused nod before I turned back to my phone.

"Yes Jessa, I do know. And you aren't planning to stay out after curfew, are you? It's eight o'clock, you're cutting it kind of close Jess—"

"Ah, but I'm a junior now daddy, and curfew isn't until nine o'clock," I refuted, smiling to myself. My dad was as overprotective as they came, and I could hear him huff distinctly.

"Fine," He replied shortly. Then in a much lighter tone he asked, "So anything you want to tell me concerning your day?"

For one scary moment my heart stopped and I clutched the phone, "Why do you ask?"

He couldn't possibly know that I had kneed a certain Bennett Boy in his reproductive parts...right?

Instead I heard my father's deep rumbling baritone laugh. "I can't ask my only daughter a simple question?"

I exhaled, very much relieved and instead replied, "No, of course you can. It was nothing exciting. I met my new cross-country coach."

"Ah, yes, he graduated from Bennett Prepatory."

"You knew?" I asked in surprise, but then mentally slapped my forehead. Of course he knew.

"Yes, but I wasn't allowed to tell you. Anyways, how do you like him?" My dad asked.

I avoided directly answering the question and instead said, "I think he can get us to Championships."

"Hmm," my dad said in understanding. But I got the feeling like I didn't have his undivided attention. Then again, I never really did when I talked about cross-country...

"Yeah, and that's pretty much it," I trailed off pathetically.

"I see...well I called to ask if you could have dinner with me sometime soon. Maybe Thursday?"

I frowned, "But dad, we always have dinner together on Sunday..."

"I know it's just that...well I was hoping I could see you sooner. You know, maybe we could grab a bite at Keith's Diner tomorrow."

"Tryouts are tomorrow for track. I have to be there, and I thought we had a deal," I replied a little harsher than I meant.

My dad, sighed relenting, "All right. I'll see you on Sunday then. Give me a call later."

"Okay," I replied back softly, my finger all ready dawdling over the button that would end the call.

"I love you."

"Love you too..."

I hung up promptly only to see Dakota shaking her head at me. Immediately I felt guilty, and my insides squirmed in discomfort.

"What? Don't look at me like that," I said defensively.

"You don't have to—"

"Yes I do," I cut off Dakota—my tone firm and unyielding. My dad and I had a deal ever since my freshman year of high school. And I had no intention of ever breaking that deal...

I sighed, and walked over to her once more—winding my arms carefully around her waist this time, "I better get going; don't want to stay past curfew, right? I'll see you around. Call me later, and maybe I'll get a chance to swing by later in the week."

Dakota's lips tipped into a warm smile, "Okay. Seeya Jess."

I smiled and stuck my tongue out at Keith who was fixing a dartboard on the far side of the diner. I clearly heard him yell, "Bye munchkin!"

Distantly I heard Dakota holler a, "Be careful!"

I just replied cheekily, "I always am!"

And then I stepped outside—welcoming the warm summer air that surrounded me as I walked back home to Grace Worthington and away from the looming presence of Bennett Prepatory.

A/N: Another on time update! Yay! :D I'm going to try my very very best to update each Wednesday, so if you're a guest try to look for it around then ;)

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