“I, uh, forgot school started today and Sue had to wake me up. But I made it in time for Biology with you.” I said, nodding to Dale who smiled and chuckled.
“Yeah you did, but you looked like a mess.” he said and they laughed when I shoved him.
“It wasn’t that bad.” I said, remembering that I had been so sleepy I’d forgotten to brush my hair and still had bed wrinkles all over my face.
“Nah, the wrinkles went away eventually.” Dale said, wrapping an arm around my shoulders and squeezing me.
Chase turned around and picked up a pizza bagel, one of only a few left. “So, how’d you do over the summer?” he asked. He and his family had gone to visit relatives in Texas and have their annual family reunion.
“Same as always.” I said, drinking my Dr. Pepper again as Dale released me and took back his arm.
“Yep, stuck at home like the rest of us.” Dale added.
“I saw you dancing with some other guys.” Chase looked up at me, Dale glancing between us.
“Yep, tons of them. Any catch your eye?” I asked, looking around. Dale chuckled lightly.
“Very funny.” Chase said sarcastically. “I meant are you with any of them.”
“Nope, still single.” I said, glancing around.
“Yeah, but you had lots of fun with Luke didn’t you?” said Dale, nudging me and smiling.
“Yep, we had lots of fun.” I smiled and Dale laughed, starting to fill Chase in on it. Luke was a pretty good looking guy on the soccer team I’d gone out with casually. We both dated other people between our dates and that was fine, neither of us wanting something serious.
In fact I glanced around for him now, remembering I had danced with him earlier. I spotted him in the crowd of dancing bodies, sandwiched between two cheerleaders as usual. He was leanly built, had brown hair with blonde highlights, and blue eyes. “Speak of the devil, look who’s over there.” I said, interrupting Dale and they both followed my gaze.
“Well, looky there. Hey Luke!” Dale called and waved.
“What the— Dale!” I said, turning away and hiding my face with my hand.
“What?” Dale asked, confused.
“I don’t want him to see me!” I said in exasperation.
“Why not?” asked Chase.
“Because I just turned him down on a date a minute ago!” I said in exasperation. Meeting the dancer had made me not feel so comfortable with Luke, and I wanted to be completely single in case anything happened. I had started to walk away when I heard my name being called, and I knew the voice.
I straightened from my hunched-over position and turned to see Luke. “Hey Kota, would you be willing to make that date into a triple? They would be happy to get with you two.” he said the last sentence to Dale and Chase, and I realized that he was talking about them getting with the cheerleaders.
I looked back at Dale, who gulped, and Chase whose eyes were as big as saucers. “Now do you see why I didn’t want him to see me?” I asked, a smile on my face.
“Why? It doesn’t seem so bad.” said Chase, his eyes not leaving the girls.
“I-I don’t want to force you into anything.” said Dale, glancing at me.
“Okay.” I said, and turned back to Luke. “Maybe some other time Luke, I’ll let you know!” I called.
“Oh. Well, okay!” Luke called back, disappointment on his face, and suddenly he didn’t look like he was enjoying being in between those two girls as much as he had.
“What? Kota!” Chase and Dale said, looking upset.
“You said you didn’t want to force me into anything.” I said, turning around and going to the table, leaning on it and drinking my Dr. Pepper.
“Yeah, but you were supposed to say it was nothing, your pleasure, or something. You weren’t supposed to turn him down!” Dale said.
“Oh you’ll be fine.” I said dismissively. “It’d probably be better if you didn’t get with them anyway. It looks like they’ve been around the block a few times, if you know what I mean, no telling where they’ve been.”
They stared at me incredulously and I popped a pizza bagel in my mouth. “Fine, fine, I’ll call him later and fix it. How’s next weekend for you guys?” I asked.
“Good.” said Dale, him and Chase coming to lean on the table on either side of me again.
We were silent for a little while, eating the rest of the bagels and looking around. I was scanning the crowd for a hot guy to dance with when something caught my eye. Now I was looking pretty quickly around so things could have gotten distorted, but what, or who I saw sent chills up my spine. His face had appeared in the crowd without the hat, showing his eyes, which were bright red, but when I did a double take he was gone.
I shook my head and blinked a few times, looking around again for him. There were a lot of people dancing and holding our plastic red cups, so that could explain the color, but why had I seen his face? Was he really here? Why was he looking at me? He was nowhere in the crowd when I scanned over it again and I had the urge to go in there to search more, but restrained myself. He couldn’t be here. He didn’t know where I lived, and couldn’t possibly know about this party. He’d only been here one day and no one had even talked to him except me.
“Kota? What’s wrong?” asked Dale, putting a hand on my shoulder and looking at me in concern.
“Nothing.” I said, shaking my head and blinking my eyes again. I didn’t want to think about him, or at least I thought it had been him, but desperately hoped not. “I’m fine, um, did you two see our new dancing thing in gym?”
“Yeah, I thought it was pretty cool.” said Dale.
“Me too, but those dancers were pretty weird.” added Chase.
“Yeah, they were.” I agreed.
“You know they’re students here too?” Chase said, looking over at me.
“What? Really?” I asked in disbelief. Now I was going to have to endure not only gym with him, but class too?
“Yeah, if you’d been in history you would have known this.” Chase said, sitting back up and looking out at the party.
“There’s one in Biology.” said Dale, nodding when I looked at him.
“Wow, I can’t believe I didn’t notice.” I said, shaking my head slightly.
“Well, you were pretty out of it. I’m not surprised.” Dale said and laughed when I shoved him.
“Okay then, if you two know so much about them, fess up. Tell me about them.” I said, looking between them.
“Hey, we don’t know that much about them. I mean, it’s the first day of school.” Dale said, shrugging his shoulders.
“Yeah, but their sister is so hot.” Chase went all googolly-eyed and got a stupid look on his face.
I shook my head and rolled my eyes. “Anything else?” I asked and I could tell he was concentrating, trying to think of anything other than how she looked.