“Because I didn’t want to bring the entire bottle to school. It’s not a big deal.”
I say in a hushed tone, “I don’t want anyone thinking you’re taking illegal drugs, Trey. Baggies are what drug dealers use. Have your parents fill out one of those prescription forms at the nurse’s office and—”
“That’s a waste of time, Monika,” he says, cutting me off. “Besides, I don’t need the nurse or random people knowing my business.” He almost looks pissed that I’ve given him the suggestion.
My stomach does these little flips. “Okay.”
“The late bell is about to ring. I’ll see you later,” he says hurriedly.
I get a sinking feeling that something’s not right with Trey. I tell myself it’s first-day-of-school nerves because he wants to succeed and be the best in school and football.
But what if it’s something else?
Football practices with Coach Dieter are brutal, especially in the summer when it’s hot as hell outside. The official start of football season is on Friday, so Dieter is working us hard.
After school, we’re required to be in the workout room for an hour. I’m about to join my teammates when I see Heather Graves standing next to the entrance. She’s wearing sunglasses and looks nervous.
“Hi Vic,” she says. “Can I talk to you?”
“Sure,” I say. “What’s up?”
She takes off her sunglasses, revealing a nasty bruise under her eye. Not surprising considering the way her boyfriend clocked her. “I, um, just wanted to talk to you about last night. Joe gets riled up easily¸ but I swear that was the first time he was rough with me. Anyways, I came here to thank you.”
She says it like I’m some superhero, but I don’t go around looking for people to rescue. I did what anyone would do if they saw a girl get hit. “No guy should hit a girl,” I tell her. “Ever.”
She looks at the ground. “I know. I just… he just gets like that when he drinks. He’s got a dad who treats him like crap.”
“My old man treats me like crap, and I never hit a girl,” I tell her.
She sighs. Then nods.
“We broke up.” She swipes a tear away, then straightens. “I gotta go. Sorry I bothered you.”
She lunges forward to envelop me in a hug, then runs off.
When I turn around, Jet is leaning against the opposite wall. He’s obviously been watching the entire interaction.
“It was cool what you did for her,” he says. “Did you know her boyfriend was a badass in martial arts before you tried to kick his ass, or after?”
“During,” I tell him, earning a laugh.
“Yo, Vic,” Trey calls out when I enter the workout room and jump on a treadmill. “You’ll have to ramp up your speed if you aspire to be half as fast as me.”
Trey and I always have competitions. I watch as he sets his speed faster than mine.
“I’ve been runnin’ all summer, bro,” I say, keeping up my pace. “You’re not gonna be the fastest on the team for long.” I set my speed to match his.
His answer is a hearty laugh as he ups his speed once again.
“Showoffs,” Ashtyn calls out from across the room as she bench-presses with her boyfriend and our quarterback, Derek, spotting her. She’s the kicker so she doesn’t need to have crazy developed arm strength, but she likes to push herself to the limit like me. That’s probably why we’re friends. We get each other… well, except for her relationship with Derek Fitzpatrick, aka “The Fitz.” I don’t get them at all. They argue all the time, and listening to them bicker like an old married couple drives me nuts.
“Rumor has it Cassidy wants you to ask her to homecoming,” Ashtyn tells me after she finishes her set and wipes her sweaty brow with a girly pink towel.
“You have to ask someone. You can’t just not go to homecoming our senior year, Vic.”
“Umm… yeah I can.”
She sighs. “Listen, Salazar, you’re going to homecoming whether you want to or not.”
“You weigh a buck twenty, tops,” I tell her. “You think you can force me to do anythin’?”
“Yes.” She pats me on the back. “And I want you to be happy.”
Happy? That’s a joke. I step off the treadmill and go to the water station.
In a moment of weakness last year, I told Ashtyn I was in love with Monika. At first she laughed and thought I was kidding. But then she looked at the deadly serious expression on my face and knew it was true.