The table that Gabriel had told me about was occupied by two girls and one boy when I walked into the cafeteria later that day. Both girls were blond, wearing tight-fitting tops and denim shorts. Currently, they appeared to be involved in a conversation that involved a lot of giggling and covering of their mouth to contain more laughter. The food in front of them went untouched for the time being. The boy had dark hair that fell into his eyes and wore a black shirt and jeans. He was on his phone, furiously glaring at something on it. Every once in a while he would eat a bite of his sandwich. I was not one to be intimidated easily by meeting new people, so I walked up and smiled in what I hoped to be a cute -not goofy-smile.
"Hey," I said. "Gabriel told me I could sit here today..." I motioned out to the halls, where I knew he must be. One of the girls' face lit up and she too smiled at me in a friendly way. I relaxed and felt a kind of stress I didn't know I held leave.
"Yeah, you're the new one right? We have English together, remember?" I didn't, but I said nothing. "I'm Kourtnay. Nice to meet you..."
"I'm Emma," I replied, sitting down next to the boy, who made a sort of wave with two fingers at me, and dropped my backpack to my feet. "I just got here yesterday from New Hampshire." She nodded and her twin reached across to touch my arm.
"I'm Abby," she introduced herself. "So, what is New Hampshire like?" The leaned forward on her elbows and waited for me to answer. I thought, trying not to remember Mom's house, which, although I wouldn't admit it, I missed and my friends, which I would admit, also missed. A lot.
"It's fine," I concluded. "Like here I guess." She nodded and the looked at the boy I was sitting next to. He didn't look up when she playfully hit his arm.
"Alex..." she said. "Aren't you gonna introduce yourself?" He made one final tap on his phone and then looked up at her. "You are going to not be so...socially deprived this year." She firmly told him. He glanced over at me and nodded, then moodily stuffed his phone in his back pocket.
"Hey," he said. I smiled.
"I'm Emma," I said. "From New Hampshire." He smirked at this.
"So I heard," he replied drily, not really smiling but coming close.
"Hey!" I heard somebody say from behind me. "Emma! Guys, what's up?" I turned around, smiling, to see Gabriel coming toward our table. He carried a folder and a math book, and had his backpack slung over only one shoulder.
I couldn't help from beaming. "Hi, Gabriel!" I said, hoping he would sit next to me. "Where were you?"
He did sit next to me and dropped his stuff on the floor. "Math, you know, Ferguson..." he sighed. "I don't think you have him this year?"
He snatched my schedule from the pile of papers before me and examined it. "Nope! You're lucky, Em." I grinned and took it back.
"Oh good," I pretended to be relieved, but I really had no idea who this Ferguson was. He took Kourtnay's bag of corn chips and ignored her protests by popping two in his mouth. The girl pouted and tried to steal them back.
"Emma, Alex, help me?" she squealed. Gabriel held them high in the air and, good-naturedly, I reached up to retrieve them. However, his arms were too long for me to easily reach them, so I raised myself up a little bit and as I did so, my body brushed against him. I felt a rush of energy fill me and a blush heated my face.
"Sorry," I whispered. He shook his head, putting his arm around my waist and resting his head on top of mine.
"I'm not complaining," he said. I giggled at this and tousled his hair. He smiled at me.
"You two over there!" a voice suddenly barked. I jumped and Gabriel turned around. The was an older man wearing a brown suit and wire glasses striding toward us. "It is a direct violation of the school's Code of Conduct to interact in such a way," he said.
"I'm sorry," I said, and he walked away when he deemed us far enough away. Gabriel snorted.
"Em, after school, I don't know where you live, but I could walk you home." Gabriel said to the girls' laughing once again resuming due to their previous conversation. "There's no Walter there!" He looked over his shoulder then snaked his arm back around me.
I was filled with excitement. "Thanks," I said and scooted a little closer. I didn't care one jot what any teacher said right now. I leaned up and gave him a little kiss on the cheek. And I didn't regret it because he returned it, but on my lips.