A damn good actress.
The locker room is abuzz with gossip about a hot guy that was seen walking into the gym with our soccer coach.
Peyton says to me, “Did you see him?”
“Uh, no. I don’t think so. ”
“Trust me. You’d know if you had. He’s got on a tight red Under Armour shirt and has a smoking hot body. I’m hoping he’s a new graduate assistant or something. ”
“Are we supposed to be getting a new graduate assistant? Especially in the middle of the year?”
“I don’t know. All I know is he’s young and really, really hot. We’re all drooling. ”
I finish tying my shoes and say, “Cool. ”
She gives me a funny look then drags me out to the gym. “See?” she says.
I take a quick glance at Cooper. “Yeah, he’s pretty hot,” I say blandly.
She shakes her head at me. “I want to explore all those tattoos. With my mouth. ”
She grins. “What? I can’t help it. How old do you think he is?”
I shrug my shoulder. “I don’t know. Twenty-two. Twenty-three, maybe. ”
Coach clears her voice and asks us all to have a seat.
I plop down on the floor and cross my legs. Cooper Steele looks at me, but I give him a disinterested glance.
I am a damn good actress.
Because my eyes would really, really like to linger on the shirt that is molded tightly to his torso.
“So, girls, I’ve had an interesting couple of days. Most of you know that a few summers ago, I volunteered on a trip delivering soccer balls to children in third-world countries. It was a life-changing experience and I hoped to someday go back. Two days ago, I got invited to do just that, only this time in a paid supervisory role. So I’m taking a leave of absence and embarking on a little adventure. Opportuni
ties like this don’t come every day, so when something like this falls into your lap, you have to embrace it. I’ll be leaving you in extremely capable hands. Meet your new coach, Mr. Cooper Steele. For those of you that have followed the U. S. National team or the Brown soccer team, you might recognize him. Over the next two days, we’re going to acquaint him with your skill levels. So let’s get lined up. ”
“I’d like to acquaint him with a few of my bedroom skills,” a girl sitting next to me whispers to her friend, who erupts in giggles.
When we’re in line, Peyton starts gushing to me again. “Did you see those dimples?”
“Yeah, I saw them. He is pretty cute, but, I mean, I would think you would be the last person who’d want to get involved with a teacher. ”
She rolls her eyes and waves her hand at me. “I’m legal now. ”
Boys are confusing.
After dance practice, Peyton yells, “Hey, Keatyn, come here. ” I walk over to her. She lowers her voice slightly and says, “You seemed a little off today with your timing and your kicks. That’s not like you. ”
“I’ve just got a lot on my mind,” I say with a sigh. I mean, how much more could I possibly have piled on me in one day? Let’s see: Crazy stalker is doing a nationwide search for me. I have a hot—no, a ridiculously hot—man here to guard my body. Maggie thinks I’m letting Dawson off too easy. And Aiden, who I thought had friend-zoned me, asked me on a date. Well, possibly a date.
“I saw Dawson changed his relationship status. Are you getting back together?”
I sigh again. “Last night, we, um, sorta maybe did some stuff that made him think things were on the right track. ”
“You had sex?”
“I’m not sure I should talk to you about this. Whitney is your best friend. ”
She rolls her eyes. “Whitney says she told you that she was sorry. Did she?”
“Yes, surprisingly, she did. ”
“I think Dawson needed closure. He told her that he loves you. Which was so awesome. ”
I ignore her Whitney slam. “Can I ask you a question about them?”
“This is dumb, really. But your stupid brother said something to me earlier. ” I fidget with my locket then say, “Did Dawson woo Whitney?”
“Yeah, like cute little gifts or notes or candy? Did he score points for her or make her dance with him? Did he hang lights on his ceiling? Give her four-leaf clovers? Write on a football for her?”
She looks very confused by all this. “Uh, no. She invited him to the movies with a group of us, sat next to him, made out with him, and they were together ever since. But Dawson was a good boyfriend, always thoughtful and sweet. Although . . . ” She hesitates for a second. “You already know she wanted his brother and not him. She started hanging out with him hoping to make Cam jealous, but then it didn’t work. It’s a very unromantic story. ” She laughs out loud. “But all that stuff you just said. Dawson didn’t do that. My brother did, right?”
“Yeah. He did. And I don’t know how I feel about him because sometimes he acts like he likes me and other times he acts like he doesn’t. ”
“And how is Dawson wooing you?”
“That’s just it. He’s not. He’s sweet. We have amazing sex. Like, it’s amazing. And that’s why it’s now complicated. I can’t resist him, even though I’m still mad at him. I’m complicating it. I swore I wouldn’t do it with him until I got things straight in my mind, but then he started kissing me. And now I’m supposed to go on a sort of date with Aiden. I’m babbling. I’m sorry. ”
“It’s okay. Boys are confusing. Tell me all the stuff my brother did. ”
So I tell her. Spill my guts, going all the way back to the start of the school year. About the lunch, the four-leaf clover, the dances, the toast, Keats, B, how he was mad at me, tutoring, all of it. ”
“So why aren’t you with him?”
“Because it’s even more complicated. When I kicked the soccer ball at his head, it felt like we had this connection. And when he told me he was going to ask me to marry him at the top of the Eiffel Tower at sunset someday, it was too amazing to believe. Especially since I knew his player reputation. ”
“Top of the Eiffel Tower, sunset?” She visibly melts and clasps her hands together. “Oh, Keatyn. That’s so romantic! I want that. ”
“Well, obviously, it hasn’t worked out so well, so watch what you wish for. Aiden gets mad at me a lot. Gets mad and walks away. Dawson never gets mad at me. Plus I’m pretty sure I’m love-cursed. ”
“I think I am too. But we have to keep trying until we get it right. ” She hugs me and says, “So where is he taking you for dinner?”
“He said some French place. He said it’s not really a date. That it’s tutoring with food. Then he said it was a date and that we’d celebrate the fact that he got an A on a quiz. But then he said it wasn’t a date because it’s complicated with Dawson. But then he told me to un-complicate it. Which is part of the problem. Clearly, the boy has no idea what he wants. So, I don’t know what it is. Just a dinner, I guess. ”
She grins at me. The same stupid grin that her brother gets when he thinks he knows something that I don’t. “The French restaurant is very nice. It’s definitely a date. ”
I roll my eyes at her. “Great. Is that where he takes all his girls to woo them?”
She grabs my shoulders and looks me straight in the eyes. “Keatyn, my brother has never had to woo anyone. You saw him at the Cave the other night. They flock to him. Practically line up. I happen to know that he’s only been to that restaurant twice. Both times with our parents. ” She looks me over. “You’re all sweaty. You need to go get ready. What are you going to wear?”