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She’s the only one who knows besides my cousin Isabel, and both swore they wouldn’t tell anyone.

Ashtyn takes a gulp of water, then looks at me with pity written all over her face. “Ask someone to homecoming. Don’t you like anyone else even a little?”

Besides the one girl I can’t have?

“Nope.”

“All right, everyone,” Coach Dieter calls out in a booming voice. “Meet me on the field in full gear in exactly fifteen minutes. Whoever’s late is getting the pleasure of running extra laps. It’s almost ninety degrees out there, guys, so unless you want an abundance of sweat in your jock straps, you better be out there on time.”

Nobody wants extra laps in this heat, so we all rush to the locker room to put on our gear. Ash disappears into the girls locker room.

Trey’s locker is next to mine. He sighs as he stands in front of it.

“How should I ask Monika to homecoming?” he asks us. “I want to do something that’ll shock her in a good way.”

Oh, man. More homecoming talk? I’d rather talk about sweaty jockstraps at this point. Or poking needles in my eyes.

“Write HC on a cookie in frosting and call it a day,” Jet says.

“That’s been done, like, a bazillion times before,” Derek chimes in. “I’m gonna ask Ashtyn by writing it on one of the footballs tomorrow night. When she practices during the game, she’ll find it.”

“What if she doesn’t find it?” Jet says with a cocky grin. “What if our backup kicker, Jose Herrejon, finds it instead? You gonna go to homecoming with Jose?”

“Don’t worry. Leave the romantic shit to me. My plans never fail.” Derek gestures to Jet. “So what poor girl are you askin’, Jet?”

Jet wags his brows. “I was thinking about asking Bree. At least I know she’ll put out.”

I toss my cleat at him.

Jet tosses my cleat back, then looks in the mirror at the only thing he cares about besides his car: his hair. “Who are you gonna ask, Salazar?” he asks as he studies himself in the mirror and makes sure his hair is perfectly spiked. I don’t remind him that in two minutes he’ll have a helmet on that’ll squash all that hair.

“Nobody,” I say. “I’m not goin’.”

“We all have to go,” Trey says. “It’s tradition.”

“You can’t break tradition,” Jet agrees.

Trey holds a hand up. “Don’t worry, guys. I’ll figure out how to get our resident bachelor to go to homecoming, but give me some ideas on how to ask Monika. I swear I have so much shit going on, I can’t think straight.”

“Maybe you should stop taking all those AP classes and join the normal people in the regular classes, Trey,” Jet tells him. “Didn’t you get the memo that senior year is supposed to be a blowoff year?”

“Not when you’re trying to be valedictorian, dumbass,” Trey says.

“Jocks can’t be valedictorians,” Jet says. “You’ll throw the balance of the universe way off if that happens. I’m a jock. I’m supposed to be a dumbass.” He points to me. “And look at Salazar here… his brain doesn’t even function at full capacity.”

I push him away. “Fuck you. I got brains. I just dumb it down when I’m with you so you’ll understand what I’m sayin’.”

Jet laughs. “For sure, bro.”

“Jet, it’s a scientific fact that nobody’s brain functions at full capacity,” Trey chimes in. “Just tell me what to do for Monika.”

Shit, if I were to ask a girl like Monika to homecoming I’d want to make sure she’d remember it forever. I nudge Trey’s shoulder to get his attention. “What about doin’ somethin’ on the football field? Get the band to do some romantic song across the field and have a picnic dinner for her waitin’ on the fifty-yard line.”

Jet fake gags. “That’s a dorky idea, Vic. Dude, just take her to Wild Adventures amusement park and ask her when you’re going down one of the roller coasters. She’ll remember that!”

“Roller coaster! I like it,” Trey says, his face lighting up at the thought. “Thanks, Jet. That’s brilliant.”

Roller coaster? “Doesn’t Monika hate roller coasters?” I ask him, preferring my picnic on the field idea way better. It’s more… Monika. She’s beautiful and delicate and always talks about romantic movies.

“I’ll hold her hand and make it romantic.” He winks. “I got this.”

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