Sorry about how long of a read this one is...but a lot of good and bad things happen in this chapter. Hope you're enjoying so far!615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡTyaH7OymH1
615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡi0fOcvYYHQ
“Here, let me see it again,” Delcan said. I slowly handed my phone to him, feeling my hand begin to shake from the pressure.
Though Evvie and I had talked it out and probably did come up with an actual solution, I couldn’t sleep at all last night. The game was today, and right now I couldn’t even move without thinking of what Angelica knows about me. Questions were still running through my head, bad enough to where a headache was starting to form.
And being with Delcan didn’t make the situation any better. Unlike I am, Delcan’s cool with basically anything that happens. He once told me I should just “go with the flow.” And then I laughed and called him a hippie, to which he responded with pushing my shoulder. Hard.
I brought Evvie over to Delcan’s house, and all of us were sitting in his backyard (which, by the way, looks so much better than mine does. And every time I walk out here, I think of that kiss). Delcan was sitting next to me on one of these couches that was in a shaded area, while Evvie relaxed in a lounge chair.
“It could mean something else, when you really think about it,” Evvie assured, trying to ease the tension. But I heard those words from her the entire night, and they were beginning to lose an effect.
Delcan looked up from my phone. “She had a point,” he said. Then he looked at me. “Have you ever gotten drunk before?”
I could already feel my eyes widen in shock. “What? No!” Okay, now hearing it out loud, I know how sad that is. But it was still a pretty random question. “Why?” I asked, hearing the curiosity in my voice.
“Because,” Delcan said. “If you were to have gotten drunk, you might have started ‘dancing’ with someone. God knows who” -Evvie snickered then, and I glared at her - “And this Angelica chick could’ve heard about it. Not all the photos from a party get posted.” He was right, but I’ve never even been to that level at a party. Sure, I’ve been to tons. I’m the quarterback, it’s expected. But I’ve just never gotten dru-wasted before.
I shrugged. “Never been drunk before.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡNnYf4HedhR
“Yeah, good point,” Evvie said, sitting up. “But it’d seem impossible for Angelica to know about that. I mean, she’s in college, anyways. Have you texted her back?”
All eyes went to me, but I shook my head. “What do you think?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ1YWjt8ioZr
Delcan still had my phone, and he relaxed himself on the arm of the couch. “What do I say? Meet after the game, or something?”
“How about never?” I asked. I meant for my voice to come out sweet, and pleading, but instead, it sounded kind of rude, and direct. Delcan raised one of his eyebrows, but said nothing in exchange.
“Wow, Ezra. You’re just throwing shade at everyone today,” I heard Callie say. She’d just walked outside, I’m guessing. And she was wearing ripped jeans and a T-shirt with words I couldn’t exactly read.
Delcan turned himself around completely. “Shouldn’t you still be asleep?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡqgsdHiR6YK
“Shouldn’t your bedroom door be locked?” Callie clapped back. Evvie was about to laugh out loud, but I saw her catch he breath quickly. Delcan rolled his eyes, which were an amber color again, and turned himself back around. Callie smirked, clearly happy with her words, then hit my shoulder.
“Can I talk to you?” she asked.
I was about to ask what about, but then I remembered the conversation on Friday. Because of how my curiosity was, I nodded, then stood up to follow her. I felt bed in a weird way, because Callie was much shorter than I was (seriously, she was 5’3) but I did my best not to point it out or anything.
“What do you two need to talk about?” Delcan asked. His eyes were brown now, as he looked back and forth between Callie and I.
I shook my head. “Nothing,” I said, though my voice wasn’t loud. I took Callie’s hand, because lying to Delcan was almost as hard as lying to Dad. Rushing inside, I heard Evvie’s words behind me.
“What’s that about?” she asked.
And right before the door closed; I heard Delcan mutter. “Like I know.”
Once the both of us were inside, I waited to see what she was going to say to me. She seemed pretty alarmed about whatever it was, and my eyes followed her as she continued to pace. Suddenly, she stopped, turned himself fully to me, and then she put her hands on her hips.
“Can you sit down or something?” she asked.
The question caught me off guard - just a little bit. “What?”
“Sit down,” Callie said, gesturing to where one of the empty dining table seats were. “You’re tall, and you make me feel like a munchkin.”
Without intention, I chuckled at her words, then sat down. It’s become a habit for me to have good posture, so even with me sitting, I was pretty close to her actual height. “What’s going on?” I asked her.
“This is probably the only time you will ever see me useless,” Callie reminded me. “Remember that.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡdIGHhDyhTD
I nodded, guessing that this really was about whatever happened on Friday. But I’ve learned to understand what to do with people like Callie, so I hoped that I had this under control. “Tell me.”
“Is Evvie’s mom still a cop?” Callie asked me, crossing her arms over her chest.
Ever since I was born, I’ve been taught to be honest. And I guess the lying part of my life only started happening after 6th grade. But other than that secret, my lying habits formed because of Delcan. He’s a good liar (unless you know his eye color, like Callie does. Then, you’ll never know if he’s being honest), and I guess I caught on from it.
But...at the same time, Callie had a relation with him. And I couldn’t ruin that. “No,” I said.
“⟴,” Callie cursed under her breath. She was holding herself as if she was cold, though the room was mid-temperature. “Of course she isn’t.” Her eyes were beginning to water, and she turned herself herself halfly.
“What’s going on?”
She sighed, wrapping her arms around herself tightly. I’m guessing it was a sign of nervousness, maybe even fear. “I got a call last night.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡJr84jAH20G
I blinked, not fully understanding what she meant. But then it clicked - kind of. “Who called you?”
“He did,” Callie said, but her voice cracked on the last word. “I’m really scared, Ezra. I need a cop, something like that to protect me from all of this.”
Okay, I’d have to say this probably became my natural instinct, but anytime someone who’s close (or in Callie’s case, close with someone who’s close with someone I’m close to), I feel like I have this job to protect them. So, I’m blaming Eric for when I quickly stood up, then bent down to wrap my arms around Callie.
“Hey, don’t worry,” I whispered, trying to make my voice sound like what I did when Emmanuel woke up from a nightmare. “I’ll always be here to protect you.” She probably only went up right around to my lower chest, but I felt her nod, then she began crying.
I’ve never seen Callie cry before. I mean, she always seemed to be a lot like he brother when it came to being strong. And though I knew she could defend for herself no matter what, it was just that she seemed so helpless. Again, I’m pretty curious about most things in life, so I wanted to know more about what was going on, though I knew better to ask. And then I had to reveal the rest of my thoughts to her. “But I really think you should tell someone about this,” I said. “Maybe getting a cop into this would be smart. I could help you get a restraining order, possibly.” Callie looked up at me and nodded, pulling herself together.
Deciding that I was now the bigger brother (though I couldn’t imagine what Delcan would say about all of this), I slightly pulled myself away from her and wiped some of the tears off her face. I didn’t know why, but Callie kind of was like another younger sister that I had, and I wanted to protect her. But, like good advice that an older brother would give, she needed someone to help her through this.
A smile was twitching from Callie’s mouth, and she moved away from me to grab some tissues. I helped her out a little bit, holding the tissue box down a little so she could actually reach it. Sometimes, it bothered me how tall I was. Though, I never realized it until I left the house. Evelyn was almost the same height as Delcan was (though I’ll never tell him that), and Eric was about an inch and a half taller than I was. Emmanuel hasn’t grown yet, but I’m sure it’ll happen soon.
But Callie, she was pretty short. 5’3, I’m pretty sure. Not that I’m blaming her. Evvie’s only 5’7, and Haven is 5’8 (with heels, which she’s always wearing). As I did my best to help Callie out, she sniffed then relaxed a bit.
“I’ve never liked any of the guys Delcan’s been around before,” Callie said, crossing her arms over her chest again. “But you’re different. You actually care.” The words made me smile, though also a bit confused. It for sure wasn’t my business, though Delcan seemed pretty secretive over events from the past - especially guys. He would always say if I wanted to find out more, Google could be a nice source.
“Thanks,” I said, meaning it.
Callie’s brown eyes smiled back, though her face stayed normal. “How about this deal,” she began. “If you try helping me out with this whole...restraining order deal, maybe I could help you with my brother. He isn’t the easiest person to understand.” I nodded in agreement, knowing I will surely keep up her promise, though I wasn’t too sure about mine. I didn’t blame Delcan for being hard to read, because sometimes I was too. Maybe I just thought of it better that way or something, but fixing the walls the two of us have already built seems like an impractical task.
“I should probably get back outside,” I said. Sooner or later, Evvie or Delcan would be wondering what’s going on, anyways. Callie nodded, and started to make her way into the basement (which was super cool, I might add. Their parents built it about a year after they moved there. And it’s like a gym/dance area. Really relaxing) before she stopped and turned around.
“Remember our agreement,” Callie reminded me. “And act like you still hate me.” I smiled to her, and she waved in return before leaving into the basement.
I walked back outside, where Delcan had sprawled out on the couch, and had his attention on his phone other than Evvie, who was resting her chin on her hand, and probably scrolling through Instagram. I guess that Delcan looked up quickly, because he sat up, and then moved away so that there was a spot for allowing me to sit.
“What was all of that about?” Evvie asked, looking up from her phone. I shrugged, and sat down next to Delcan. It became a habit for me to slightly move away from him, but I guess he was used to it by now.
“It was nothing,” I said, looking at Evvie. Another habit, I couldn’t look at Delcan in the eyes and lie to him, so looking at Evvie was my solution. “Just….something about EastLand.”
That was seriously a horrible lie.
“Oh yeah?” Delcan asked. “I’d agree with you, but then we’d both be wrong.” I would’ve been mad, but I knew that he was joking (I could see it in his eyes), and I smiled before he smirked, then looked back at Evvie, who rolled her eyes. But as happy as I wanted to be right now, guilt overpowered all of that. I feel like Delcan had a right to know, it was his sister after all. He should have every right to know the real reason over his sister’s “arrest,” because if it was the same thing with Evelyn and I, I’d probably stop talking to Delcan in general.
But I played it off, and kept my promise with Callie.
And that’s when I remembered: Angelica knows.
Frantically, I grabbed my phone from Delcan (who glared at me), then started to text Angelica back.
We can meet when, and where you want, but I want to know exactly whatever you do. I’m not cheating on Haven, if that’s what this is about.
For a split second, she read the message, and then began responding. Now realizing what I’d just sent, that probably now gave her the idea that I was cheating. Way to go, Ezra Gatley. But as I waited for Angelica to respond, Delcan softly put his hand on my shoulder, while Evvie moved next to me, trying to see my phone.
I’m waiting until after the game.
Don’t wanna psych you out.
Just tell me, Angelica.
I’m not telling u unless we’re doing this in person, Ezra. You just better be lucky I’m not telling Haven about any of this.
She knows. I’m dead. She’s going to tell me basically everything about who I’m seeing, probably even fill me in (as if I didn’t know) on every single social media account he has. Then, she’ll reveal all of that to Haven, even my secret. Whatever way any of this plays out, I’m definitely screwed.
“Oh my gosh,” I muttered under my breath. I put my phone down, mainly because it was way too much to deal with right now. Delcan still had his right hand on my shoulder, though Evvie had swiftly moved back to her spot across from us. For some reason, I’d thought of those words Evvie had mentioned when we drove over to Delcan’s, how I was putting Haven and her in a horrible place by making them believe they ever had a chance with me. What did she even mean by that?
“What’re you gonna do?” Delcan asked, snapping me out of my thoughts.
Putting my head down, I shrugged. “I have no clue,” I said, most of my words being everything going on in my head. “If Angelica knows, and she wants to talk about this in person, then that must mean she wants to make some type of deal, right?” I looked to Delcan for any assurance, but other than his beautiful eyes, his face stayed neutral. And without any idea what he was thinking, I didn’t even know if my words sounded logical or not.
Evvie shook her head, trying to guide attention back to herself. “That might not be it at all,” she suggested. “She wanted to tell you after the game, which kind of make sense. If I had a grudge towards you, I would’ve waited until after the game to tell you. Cleary, she doesn’t want to entire school to hate you, but she seemed pretty confident about it.” Evvie paused before she added: “Then again, we aren’t the same people.”
True, but it didn’t help at all. What else could she even know about me? “You’ve never even met Angi-whatever her name is.” Delcan said, rolling his eyes.
“And neither have you,” Evvie snapped at him. I didn’t want to intrude, because I’d clearly make the situation worse than it already is. But, unlike I thought he would, Delcan sat back, glaring at Evvie. He moved his eyes away from her and locked eye contact with me.
“Isn’t Haven a cheerleader?”
I nodded, feeling the slight guilt inside of me. “Yup,” I said.
Delcan analized something for a second then pulled out his phone. “The cheerleaders are supposed to be performing at the game today,” he said, scrolling through something. “That’s probably why she’s waiting.” I nodded, understanding what he meant. Angelica wouldn’t even try to ruin her sister’s performance. That’s why she’s waiting to tell me until after the game.
“Yeah, it all makes sense now,” I said, already hearing the sarcasm cutting into my voice. “She’ll tear my spirit after the game.”
Delcan’s eyes turned a green-blue color, but he didn’t say anything at all. Evvie cleared her throat, bringing the attention back on her again.
“Don’t you have something to tell Ezra?” Evvie pondered, glaring at Delcan.
Almost instantly, Delcan sat up and looked at Evvie, his eyes turning ice blue. I had no clue what she was even talking about, though I didn’t even know how to speak. “And what would that be?” Delcan asked, his voice sounding cold.
“That you’re one of the students from Oakwood that are transferring to the rivalry school,” Evvie said, raising her eyebrows. I was about to begin talking, probably out of shock, but Evvie had more to say. “I’m surprised you haven’t said anything, since you found out a month ago.”
“A month ago?!” I cried out. Delcan crossed his arms, not even looking at me. I tried to compose myself the best I could, and looked at him. “Is that true?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡwVgHGbsDYc
Delcan still didn’t turn to look at me. Instead, Evvie and him were basically in a staring competition. “Don’t you ever get tired of putting on two faces of makeup in the morning?” he asked her. Evvie opened her mouth to respond, but nothing came out. I bit the inside of my cheek to hold back laughter, though Delcan almost started to chuckle, too.
“You’re super mean,” Evvie said, crossing her arms. “I hope you know that.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡgQfgJUzgbG
Delcan smiled, looking like what my mom would always call a “sly fox.” Honestly, it was kind of just like an oddly attractive smirk. “You say that like it’s a bad thing,” he said. Evvie blinked, clearly not knowing what to say and looked at me, probably for help. But, just because I felt like it, I smirked, then shrugged. Evvie rolled her eyes towards me, and Delcan continued talking. “Plus,” he mentioned, looking at me now. “I don’t even know what she’s talking about. I knew about the transfering schools ⟴, but I don’t know where you got the idea that I cared.”
Another thing I quickly learned about Delcan; somehow, he was my type (seriously, I have a weird one. No one needs to remind me) and I guess you learn things about your type quickly. Delcan wasn’t really too much of a nice person, depending on who you are, and he always had something sarcastic up his sleeves. Though, if I’m being perfectly honest...it’s one of my favorite things about him.
“Liar,” Evvie said, crossing her arms. Her Latina accent was beginning to come out at the end of her words; a sign she was starting to get angry. “Haven told me about it on the way back over to my house. And, actually, I do know who Angelica is. Though she seems to neither care or know anything about you.”
“Oh, how dreadful,” Delcan muttered, the sarcasm fully clear in his voice.
Evvie ignored him. “And, on top of that, Angelica read out the list of who would be transfering from Oakwood to Eastland,” she added. “Your name was on the list.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡw0BpqdnHrF
I was more than confused on what was happening, and it was even worse, since my mouth was basically glued shut somehow. It was even harder now, though, because siding with Delcan would result in Evvie’s lecture (Latina accent added) on the way home, while siding with Evvie could possibly end up with a huge fight between Delcan and I. Either way, both of the choices were pretty sucky.
“You’re a real ⟴,” Delcan said.
Evvie sat back, smiling in satisfaction. “I try.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡVjmlEcRqgJ
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. “Alright,” I said. “Stop arguing, okay? Delcan, is Evvie telling the truth, or lying?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡROd3lHqIJY
“I just met her, you know,” Delcan responded, crossing his arms.
Seeing he would be no help, I looked at Evvie. “Well?”
“You know I’d never lie to you, Ez,” Evvie said, using that voice that women always use when they want to get a point across. I’ve heard it from Evelyn all the time...though it usually only works on Dad.
And though Evvie was kind of right, her answer seemed debatable. When the two of us were younger, and I told her about my sexuality, she didn’t really lie about her emotions. Evvie told me exactly how she felt, and told me she might be able to find some solution for people not knowing about it. She was the first person to come up with us pretending to date, and her idea was perfect at the time. But, if what she was saying is true, than that meant she would have to explain to a lot of people about our dating situation.
“If you never lie…” I began. “Then why did you tell everyone we were dating in 7th to 9th grade. You and I both knew we weren't.” Evvie glared at me, her dark brown eyes squinting.
“Sour,” Delcan said to me, smiling. His smile was a lot more beautiful than a smile should be for any human being. He was one of those people who had a smile that just made you want to smile back, no matter what it was about. And no matter how much I tried ignoring him, I always had to bite my lip from smiling back.
Turning away from his beautiful face, I looked at Evvie as she began talking. “I didn’t really lie about that, since we were ‘dating,’” Evvie said, using her counterargument. “It was just fake, and I knew that.
“Now, can we actually focus on the topic before I just text Angelica and ask her to tell Haven whatever she knows.”
I glared at her, feeling what I guessed was anger. Though I’d learned quickly how to keep all my anger in, and letting it out on Evvie wouldn’t have any good results with it. Other than Delcan laughing….no. Still not okay.
“Then stay on topic,” Delcan said. Though I’m guessing he’d tried playing it cool, his voice came off more like a threat than anything else. Evvie ignored him, and all us us began talking about some type of plan again (with Delcan, of course, cutting in some sarcastic comments towards Evvie), but then, my phone kept on going off.
I’d totally forgotten that I put it on silent, and pulled it out quickly while Delcan did his best ignoring anything Evvie told him about his “attitude”. Sure enough, both of my parents had texted me, and not in the group chat.
I really hope you’re practicing wherever you are, baby. It’s going to be a great game, sweetie. I know you’ll do amazing.
That was basically my mom in a summary. She loved her children, a lot, though it was almost like she depended on her children more than anything (yes, even more than my dad. He always seemed to be the last thing on her mind). I loved her, a lot, but it was just hard to understand her completely. And, I was never exactly her favorite, that was Emmanuel. But I never dared to ask my mom questions I’d been dying to ask, questions that Eric got answers to about a year ago.
I texted her back quickly, saying the normal stuff. Thanks, Mom. Love you. Something like that. Then, with caution, I went into my dad’s contact, on edge of what he could’ve possibly texted me.
Ezra, hope you’re ready for this game. Definitely, beating Oakwood should be a breeze.
Where are you?615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡAzlkBsRLmX
Two bad things. One, I was supposed to be home an hour ago. And two, the that was only half of the messages he sent me. I could already feel the disappointment hiding in his eyes when I came home, and it was already seeming like way too much to even bare. My dad was kind of like anyone you’d ever meet that just made you feel goosebumps all over your skin. His death stare is almost worse than my sister’s is, and he knows just how to make his children feel guilty over the smallest reasons.
I stood up quickly, startling Delcan slightly. “We need to go,” I said to Evvie, shoving my phone back into my pocket. But though I scared him, I couldn’t exactly give a heartfelt apology at the moment.
“For…?” Evvie asked.
“You seriously want to spend time with Delcan?” I asked her. Delcan looked up at me when I said that, though his mouth stayed closed. Evvie looked at him for a quick second, then stood up much faster than I thought she would.
“Let’s go,” she said, already leaving through the back gate that Delcan’s dad installed when they first moved in.615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡEFL2Wd4rqh
Rolling his eyes, Delcan laid himself on the couch, pulling his phone up to his face. “See you later?” I asked, actually feeling pretty bad for leaving.
He nodded, keeping his eyes on the screen. “Always,” he said. “And I’ll let you know what winning feels like.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡAOmqyWDl4v
Because I knew it annoyed him more than anything, I messed with his hair quickly (and if he would’ve reacted quicker, he probably would’ve actually been able to slap me), then jogged out the gate. “Nice try!” I called, closing the door behind me.
Not explaining anything I said, I dragged Evvie into Eric’s car, closing the door behind me fast and starting the engine. Once we began driving, Evvie’s curiosity began asking questions.
“What’s going on?” she asked, sitting back in Eric’s leather seat. I don’t know how many girls have sat in that seat as well, though I knew asking would probably get me in a lot of trouble. Or not. Though, I wasn’t risking it.
“My dad told me to be home an hour ago,” I said, making a sharp right. “And, most likely, you-know-who will be there.”
Evvie fell back into her seat more, not saying anything for a few minutes. “Crap,” she finally managed to say. Cleary, I thought to myself. “That’s not good. Want me to tag along?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡY128uSl9Gy
It wasn’t like I’d even have time to drop Evvie off, plus having her there might be a really good result. “You can drive with us there,” I suggested. “But you need to distract Angelica. Don’t say anything unless it’s small talk. Stay with my sister or something. And do not talk to Delcan.”
Evvie shrugged. “I wasn’t planning on it,” she said, looking out the window. “No offense, but I kind of hate your boyfriend.”
He isn’t my boyfriend, I wanted to argue. But I knew it wouldn’t do any good. “You should’ve came back in town when we started dating.” I responded. She glared at me, though didn’t say anything back to it. Throughout the rest of the ride home, the two of sat in silence. While I tried to figure out why people thought Delcan was actually my...boyfriend.
Once I opened up the house door, I heard my father’s laughter fill the living room. And of course, all laughing with him was Mom, Haven, Evelyn (who wasn’t actually laughing, she was just pretending to), and, worst of all...Angelica.
You’re dead, the small voice in my head told me. And I wasn’t disagreeing with it.
After everyone stopped laughing, Haven seemed to have been the first person to know me. She was wearing her cheerleading uniform, along with the skirt that probably wasn’t allowed for all dress codes. The dress code was mainly there for girls, though I did read it once after Evelyn got suspended for wearing her gym shorts outside of class. My mom wasn’t happy with it at all, so I quickly read through the dress code so she wouldn’t have to go through something like that again. But, cheerleaders somehow can always pass dress code, even though their skirts would never cut it.
“Baby!” Haven exclaimed, getting up to hug me. I had to bend down for that to be able to happen, and while I was closer to her height, she kissed me on the cheek. Ugh. “I thought you weren’t going to make it.”
Quickly, I pulled away from her and gave her a kind smile. “I got stuck in traffic,” I lied, taking my seat next to Mom. Sitting next to Haven would be too weird, because I know she’d expect me to put my hand on he thigh or something (skirts), and...the only thing going through my head when I see her in that skirt is “nice color.”
My mom’s dirty blonde hair was pulled back into a ponytail, and the second I sat down, she hugged me, then whispered in my ear: “Your dad needs to talk to you after the game,” she whispered, making sure he wouldn’t hear her. “I wish you luck, sweetie.”
Already thinking of the several thinks my dad could be yelling at me for, I nodded slowly and pulled away from my mom. Sometimes, I really wished that I could just get it out of me and tell her, because she always seemed to love me a lot more than Dad showed. But, my mom seemed incapable of keeping things to herself, and Dad would’ve found out quickly.
Then again, anything new that happened in this family just has to be talked about.
When Evelyn started going through puberty, Mom strongly advised Eric and I not to tease her about it. Of course, I kept my promise, but Eric really didn’t. So, one night, he joked about her going...shopping, and then we had to have an entire conversation at the dinner table, all about the fact that we were beginning to be teenagers, and that our bodies were beginning to grow. It was really embarrassing, but even more to Evelyn than the rest of us.
I guess that Eric, Evelyn, and I formed this type of trust with Mom when we were younger. Nobody wanted him to know anything about our lives, since Dad was the main person I’ve ever feared.
“So, are you ready for the game?” Angelica asked, snapping me out of my thoughts. I looked at her calmly, and nodded.
“Yup,” I said. Angelica graduated two years ago, and she was almost as popular as Haven is momentarily, so I’m sure winning against our #1 rivalry school would excite her as well. All I had to do was keep two things off my mind, and I’d be good. “Be expecting to win.” She nodded, sitting back on the couch.
This is something I will never understand about women. They always have these looks that they give you, and words are never even used to get the point across. I mean, I guess guys can be like that to, but to women, it’s like their second nature. But Angelica’s face was really hard to even read. Did she know? One side of my brain thought. Angelica probably did have some suspicion, but if she knows that I’m gay, it’s clear Haven is oblivious to it.
“Where were you, Ezra?” Dad asked, his voice sounding a lot more of some type of threat than a normal question.
I made sure to make eye contact, so he wouldn’t suspect my lying. “Like I said the first time,” I lied, making sure my voice stayed strong. “I was stuck in traffic while driving with Evvie here.”
“Why were you at Evvie’s?” Haven asked, raising her eyebrows. I could sense the jealousy in her voice, but I’m used to ignoring all of it. Instead of just letting the question go, it seemed like everyone wanted an answer from me. All of the eyes in the room rested on me, including Angelica, who had one eyebrow raised. Worried, I looked to Evvie for help, hoping my look said help me, because I could seriously need it right now.
Evvie seemed to get the hint, and looked at everyone else. “We were just going over some things,” she said. “You know, catching up.” Nice one, Evvie, I thought inside my head. Now you made it sound like I actually did cheat. Good going, Aryn-Grace.
Stop it. Stop pushing people away. At least Evvie had tried to help me.
Angelica crossed her arms over her chest. “You were catching up?” she asked, her head lifted up a bit. It was obvious that she didn’t believe a word Evvie had said. This is bad, this is really bad.
“No! Not like that,” Evvie said, laughing. “Ezra and I broke up in 9th grade, but before we dated we were best friends. And that’s all we are now, best friends. Well, more like friends, since we haven’t seen each other in a long time. But I promise, I’m not that type of girl.”
“I don’t even know who you are,” Haven muttered, crossing her arms. She looked just like her sister right now, but even angrier.
Evvie shook her head. “Well, then explain how we went to the same elementary school, the same junior high, I was your best friend in 5th and 6th grade until you kicked me out, and we had all the same classes in 8th and 9th grade.” That was a score, though I’d totally forgotten that the two of them were close when we were younger. From what I remember hearing from my guy-friends, Haven basically dumped Evvie out of her life, saying that she was ‘too pretty,’ some girl drama like that.
Haven sat back in her chair, giving Evvie her evil eye. Though as mad as she probably was, I seriously wanted to high five Evvie right now.
“Can we get to the game?” Dad asked, already standing up. Clearly, he wasn’t staying for the girl drama. “Ezra-” Dad instructed me, pointing his finger right at me. “You’ll take Eric’s car, bringing Evelyn, Evvie, and Haven with you.”
I didn’t argue with it, nodding as I stood up and quickly took Eric’s key in my hands. The room was starting to have a bad tension to it, so I went outside quickly, though Haven caught up to me right in time. She didn’t say anything, though I could already feel the growing pain from her pulling on my arm like that. I wanted to pull her away from me, though what could I do about it? It is what it is.
Once all of us had walked outside to the car, I got in the driver’s seat as Evelyn followed behind, holding Emmanuel’s hand. As uncomfortable as he’d probably be in that small seat, it was his choice to come to the game. Once Haven was about to get into the front seat, Evelyn stopped her before she could even fully open the door.
It was clear that Evvie had no effort trying to debate with my sister, because she went into the back, joining my younger brother.
“Back off,” Evelyn said, pushing herself past Haven (Evelyn was taller than Haven, and it was even more hilarious to me now because Haven didn’t have her heels on). “You can sit in the backseat.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡp2qL2jLhMc
Haven crossed her arms, glaring at Evelyn. “Last time I checked, Ezra is my boyfriend.” she said, both of their eyes turning to me for a split second before they began staring at each other again. I never understood why I’d always somehow become addressed in some type of argument. It was either me, or possibly on of my other friends from the football team. Honestly, girls-well, I should say young women, need to stop bringing others into their pointless arguments.
Plus, I already knew my sister would win over Haven, anyways.
Evelyn laughed without any humor in her voice. “Last time I checked, Ezra’s my brother. And since him and I are related to my dad, who pays for this car, I have every right to be in the front seat,” Evelyn said, crossing her arms just like Haven had. “Sometimes you have to ride second class, princess.”
She won that argument. Without anything else to say in response, Haven huffed in anger and stopped to the backseat, slamming the door behind her as she did. Evelyn nodded to herself, then sat in the front seat of the car. Because I knew my sister was doing some type of small victory dance in her head right now, I turned behind me for a split second to see Haven sitting as far away as she could from Emmanuel, looking out the window.
Her loss, I thought to myself, turning back around.
As we drove to school, my memory suddenly went back to Delcan - and the idea if I was actually mad at him or not. I guess that I should be mad at him, because he didn’t tell me about the transfer happening at Oakwood, though at the same time, it was always hard to stay mad at Delcan. One look at his Instagram pictures, and I forget what I was even mad at him about.
But, all at the same time, he was going to be there. Maybe this wasn’t a good idea, after all, I thought to myself as I turned a right. With Angelica being here as well, I don’t think I was even ready for any of this.
Once I’d parked the car (with perfection, I might add) I got out of the car as Emmanuel quickly jumped out on his own, and ran to Mom. He had attachment issues, though I never really tried to feel sympathy for him. Eric said feeling sympathy for him would be like feeling sympathy for Evelyn, just because she’s a girl.
Mom pulled away from Emmanuel and kissed him on the cheek before allowing him to hug her again. Angelica walked past me, almost hitting me on the back, before she went over to her sister, probably giving her some type of pep talk. Evelyn stood next to me, on her phone, like always, while Evvie went over to meet some girls she knew from 9th grade.
“Are you okay?” Evelyn asked, having to slightly tilt her head up.
I nodded, clutching my phone in my pocket. “Yup,” I lied, feeling my face already heat up once I had the thought of seeing Delcan in the crowd. “Trying to get my game face on.”
“Well, try harder,” Evelyn said, lightly punching my arm. She went off to go talk to some girls, probably from volleyball, which left me by myself. I don’t know why, but my anxiety got the best of me, and I turned my phone on to text Delcan.
Are you here?
Almost. I’m waiting for Calliannah to get out of her room, and for my mom to finish doing her hair. Women, am I right?
Oh, he didn’t even understand that. Haven could take up to three hours in the bathroom, and just doing her makeup. Evelyn told me once that just because women spend an eternity in the bathroom doesn’t mean they’re actually staying on task, but I find that incorrect because she’s determined on finishing whatever she starts.
But now, I didn’t really know how I felt about him coming to the game anymore. I mean, I know I shouldn’t blame him for wanting to support his school, but I was terrified that Angelica could possibly “run into” Delcan. And the even worse part? Whatever words would fall out of his mouth….it wouldn’t be good. But then, I thought of what Evvie said.
I need to stop pushing people away because it’s started to become a habit. I need to stop. Let him come to the game. It doesn’t matter if Angelica finds out my secret, I want Delcan to be at the game. And maybe it was just my time to come out, I mean coming out to Eric wasn’t as bad as I expected-
No, now I’m just lying to myself. None of that is anything I want to happen. I could pretend all I wanted, though the thought of Delcan talking to anyone I had close relationships scared me. And I hated myself for it.
But all at the same time, there was the other side of my brain. I really-no needed Delcan to be here. And he didn’t deserve to listen to what I need him to do in public, and on top of that, he shouldn’t be stopping everything just so we can maintain whatever it is that we have. Though he hardly ever listens in the first place, I always feel guilt swelling up in my stomach when he lies about things. He should be here for his team anyways, and I had no reason to stop him from having fun.
Meet me in the locker room a few minutes after the game or something. We really need to talk about the transfer.
Delcan:615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡRYZ8XB8UcD
Oh, seriously? It’s in a few weeks, so I still have time to drop out if I WANT TO. Plus, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Depends on which thing we’re talking about.
A little bit, yeah.
But I’ll get all my anger out on the field.
Cool. Are you still coming over after the game?
Sure. I’ll tell my mom I’m going to some after-party with the football guys, that would probably work, and then I could convince Evvie to drive the car home, distracting Angelica. It’s a plan.
Okay...and I’m just saying this in advance: the transferring wasn’t my idea.
I gotta get suited up, see you later.
Good luck out there.
May the best team win.
Oh, we will.
If that’s what helps you sleep at night, Delcan, then of course.
I put away my phone fast, looking up to see that I was still standing next to the car and that Dad was walking over to me. ⟴, I thought to myself, trying not to show any emotion. I hadn’t prepared myself with a one-on-one conversation with him, yet.
“You smiled that entire conversation, Ezra,” Dad called, still making his way over to me. I could feel the blood already beginning to run to my face.
“Yeah, it was nothing,” I responded, trying to find the quickest way I could get out of this conversation.
Dad squinted as if he was trying to see from the sunlight or something. “Who were you texting?”
“No one,” I said. Lie.
He seemed to know I wasn’t telling the truth but seemed to have let it slide because I was able to walk past him and into the locker room. Taking deep breaths, I had to find some other way that I could possibly lie better than I already do. I wasn’t good at it anyway, even though Eric seemed more of a pro than Delcan did when it came to keeping secrets.
Once I walked in, I bumped right into Thomas Wood, one of my friends since the age of early kindergarten. I wouldn’t say that Thomas was one of my closest friends or anything like that, though we’ve always hung around the same crowd, and he’s pretty easy to talk to about things. Though it was only three summers ago that we actually became good friends, and the rest is just history.
“Dude,” Thomas said, backing away from me a bit. His ginger hair clearly hadn’t been brushed yet, since the longer parts of it were almost in his face. Thomas is around 5’10, though I’m not sure if he’ll grow past that. “I seriously thought you weren’t coming to the game, bro. Coach was about to choose who had to fill in for you, and you know how badly I suck at being the quarterback.”
I doubt that Coach ever would’ve let Thomas take my place of all people, though I put on a fake smile, and pushed him a bit. “No need to worry, man,” I said. “I’m here.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡCt0q3tWdTM
“Good. Thomas is only good at one thing, and that’s kicking,” one of my other friends, Adam Hunter said. He was throwing the football uniform on over his darker-toned skin. “Pretty hard to find out how he even made the team in the first place.”
I’d only met Adam in 7th grade when he transferred out of Oakwood district and moved into EastLand parts of town. His parents are pretty rich-much richer than mine are-though he never brags about it like half the other kids in our school does. Out of the 600 kids in EastLand, there are only about 10 black students, and Adam happens to be one of them. Though everyone just assumes he’s mixed because of how light his skin color is, though Thomas and I both know that isn’t true.
And his little comment was pretty accurate, since Thomas’s mom was PTA’s vice president, and basically was able to let her children be in whatever they wanted. Thomas his Adam’s left bicep, laughing because he knew it was true, as well.
Though I wouldn’t say Thomas is snuck-up, because that place either goes to his sister or my girlfriend.
“Where is Coach anyways?” I asked, beginning to take my clothes off. You never really wanted to be the only guy not changing while everyone else is. Because I can’t risk watching others, especially with my secret.
Adam shrugged, working on his knee pads. “Like I know,” he said, fixing them to the best of his abilities. Just when I’d gotten to my locker, and was about to change into my jersey, Coach Lomanta walked in, along with his son.
“Team huddle!” Coach called, raising his arms up. In a rush, I had to just throw my jersey off, knowing I would probably have time to change before we went on. At everything considering the lower half of my body was on.
Everyone in the locker room made their way to the center, and I stayed in the back, mainly because I was still looking for my shoulder pads. Coach’s son, whose name I can never remember, sat in the back of the room, looking at all of us. I hardly knew much about his son, though it didn’t seem to matter too much, because when he’d be in high school, I would be a senior. Most of the time, he always seemed tired, and like he was forced to be dragged to the games.
It was one day at practice that I realized when Coach talks to his son, he never smiles. Much like my dad, he only seems happy with what his son is doing when he finds out it’s about sports, or girls, or grades. But when Coach Lomata talked to us, he seemed excited, and pumped about whatever we were doing in football, even if it was only a two-hour practice.
I wonder what will happen when people find out about me.
Would I be treated the same? Would I still even be a part of this team? Would people treat me the same, or would I just start to get bullied like every person does when they come out at this school? Only because people like Haven, I could just see how pissed they would’ve been to find out that I was cheating and with a guy. And once they found out who that guy was - what would they do to him? No, they wouldn’t do anything. Delcan is someone that no one messes with.
“Ezra?” Coach called. I snapped out of my thoughts and noticed that all eyes were on me. Even Landrey, who’s been trying to take my role as a quarterback since the beginning of the year, seemed to have his eyes on me, too. “Are you listening?”
I nodded, keeping my mouth closed.
“Alright then,” he said, still eyeing me for a split second before going back to whatever his pep talk had been about. Coach’s son still stayed in the back corner, texting someone (or at least that’s what it looked like). And the worst part is, I still didn’t know his name. I realized that Coach was still talking, and kept my focus on him, again.
“Quarterback,” he called, looking at me. “Call it up.”
Everyone put their hands in the middle as I sighed, and put mine in next to Sam’s, a kid who recently moved here, though is a monster on the field. Taking a deep breath, I began chanting.
“ONE, TWO THREE-”
And then on the last words, everyone joined in saying the mascot. I’m sure people have seen movies, you should know how this works by now.
“EAGLES.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡqGUmVbswsB
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Now seeming pumped, everyone ran out of the locker room, filled with energy. I tried to copy all of the energy around me, though my insides were still pretty nervous about looking out into the audience. So, as we walked out to the field, I kept my head away from where he’d most likely be, and looked on the other team.
Of course, their quarterback at Oakwood, Grayson Williams, was there. Not a nice dude, if you’ve ever met him. I only knew it was him from the larger build he had, and the more fat on his body that the other guys. Not that I could judge. I was a gay quarterback.
I didn’t look up to see where Dad and the rest of my family were, because it would trigger my nerves more than seeing Delcan would. I simply kept my eyes on the coaches as they talked, giving Adam a fist bump for good luck.
Almost instantly, the referee blew the whistle, and the game was at a full start.
The game was almost over, and I decided it’d be a good time to look in the crowd. Though I could feel the sweat dripping into my undershirt, and was in desperate need of water, it was only one more quarter. I would survive. I scanned the crowd quickly before I spotted him.
Delcan, as usual, was looking good without trying. He was with his sister, and mom, who was laughing at something he’d said while eating a small bag of popcorn. Delcan’s mom was pretty nice, and I know she gave up a lot so that Delcan would be able to live a fair life, though every time I ask about what he means, Delcan switches up the topic quickly. They all seemed like a happy family, and I was beginning to wonder where his dad was. I knew his dad liked football, though he might’ve put off coming because they weren’t just cheering on Oakwood, it was me, too.
I knew that Delcan’s dad didn’t completely like me, though it wasn’t for whatever you assume it’s about. He doesn’t hate me because his son is gay or anything like that, he doesn’t like me because he believes that I’m just using him. I knew he was cool with whatever Delcan wanted to do or be around, though, near me, he seemed more cautious, and a lot more parental.
Looking away from Delcan and over to the clock, I noticed that there were only 30 seconds left. We could win this. I mean, we already were in the first place (which I should feel bad for, but at the same time, can’t wait to rub it in Delcan’s face). EastLand was seven points ahead, which was only because Grayson purposely tackled Adam, gaining us a point. But I never try picking any fights with Grayson Williams, because I’m sure he’d do something horrible back to me.
Haven and the cheerleading squad had just finished their halftime performance, and though I was watching, I can’t even remember the song that it was. But I did know that they were amazing because they always are. Haven had waved at me, and I gave her a kind smile before waving back.
“She loves you, bro,” Thomas said, wiping his mouth after gulping down water. “But the real question is, do you love her back?”
I resisted my strong urge to tackle him myself, and just nodded, willingly. “Of course I do.”
The words hurt, but like every time I say those words, one day I pray that the pain will ease, or that she’ll find interest in some other guy.
As the game started up again, I tried to stay back, knowing that I usually take way to much pride when I score touchdowns. Plus, I’d already scored more than half the team had in this one. The ball was given to me like usual, but I then passed it to Adam, who threw it across the football field to Sam, who sped up like a cheetah and made a touchdown right when time went out.
Everyone cheering for EastLand stood up and cheered, and Sam threw the football down as he laughed. It wasn’t his first touchdown, though it was more impressive than any of his others have been.
Like I always do after a game, Adam and I chest-bumped, and then I high fived some of the other guys on the team. The energy was more hyped than it had been before, but this time, I let myself go as I chanted with the rest of the guys. The cheering continued, though I’m sure that the Oakwood players were already back in their locker, getting the talk of shame. Though, I didn’t feel sorry, because I seriously hate Grayson.
A few minutes after the game, I had to give Haven a quick wave before running into the locker room, not knowing if she even saw it or not. Because of how hot it was outside, lots of the guys changed quickly and then made it out of there, probably going to celebrate with their family before school started up again. I slowly took off my clothes and slowly put them up, then slowly put on the clothes I originally had on. Finally, Sam had finished his shower and was grabbing his gym bag before he turned to me.
“Good job man,” he said, nodding to me.
I nodded back to him. “You too.”
Once he left, I pulled out my phone and texted Delcan. He responded about three minutes later, simply saying: On my way. Which was fine, because the shoes I’m wearing take more than ten minutes to be correctly tied. I got them for Christmas last December, and am actually surprised that they still fit.
A moment after I’d finally gotten on the left shoe, Delcan came in his hands behind his back. “Hey,” he said.
I looked up and actually didn’t mean to smile. But before I could stop it, I had a grin on my face, probably making me look more than stupid. “Told you we’d win,” I said.
He rolled his eyes, but he didn’t seem annoyed at all. “Never doubted you for a second,” he said.
“What’s behind your back?” I asked.
Delcan’s hands came out from behind his back, and he handed out a bar of chocolate to me. “My mom wanted you to have it,” he said, setting it down next to me. His blue sweatshirt seemed to have fit him perfectly, along with the Nike sweatpants just made him seem even more beautiful in person. I remember when his mom had told me she never understood how he turned out to be so handsome, and then Callie agreed. I’d started to blush, and I remembered seeing Delcan’s dad glare at me while Delcan laughed too, then made fun of his sister. His mom had always been so kind to me, so it was no surprise she’d given me chocolate.
“That's kind,” I said, looking at it. Hershey’s. I’ll give it to Emmanuel when I get home tonight.
Delcan raised his eyebrows. “If you think a chocolate bar is sweet than you clearly don’t know what my mom is capable of,” he said, sitting down next to me. I smiled to him, and then looked back down on the Hershey’s bar.
“Did you get your kindness from your mom?”
I looked up, and it was kind of had to tell what reaction Delcan had to my question. He seemed shocked by it, but also a little mad about the question at the same time. “Where do you see the kindness?” he asked, his voice sounding more than confused.
I shrugged, because now if I say the wrong thing, it probably won’t end well. Okay, not that he would hurt-change of words. He wouldn’t physically hit me, though his comebacks can be a lot if you aren’t prepared.
Something about the way he was looking at me scared me in some way, and I didn’t exactly know what the look meant. His eyes seemed to be green, though I was more than confused what it even meant because it honestly scared me more than my own dad did. It was something about being with someone that always scared me, no matter what the gender is.
“Stop it,” I said, moving myself a bit away from him.
Delcan furrowed his eyebrows. “What am I doing?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡpEmSiOOJp6
“You-” I was about to explain myself, but then I tried thinking about how that would end up. No matter what, I was still more than nervous because I had no idea what it even meant. If he was even thinking about kissing me, I’d feel even more guilt for pulling away faster than I possibly could. “Someone could walk in.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡjoF4IqX6p9
“Walk in on what?” Delcan asked, raising one of his eyebrows.
“You’re trying to kiss me,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest. I felt more than awkward at the moment, probably feeling how Evelyn did when I started her ex-boyfriend down. It was like this awkwardness that came with dating, though I never understood why. “And it’s not gonna happen.”
Delcan rolled his eyes and smiled. “Whoever said anything about me kissing you?” he asked. “You just won against my school.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡpko85eZKcU
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“But you were-”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡl7AwWgCpgc
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“I was what?” Delcan asked, raising his eyebrows. He seemed more confused than he did interested in me, though I still felt weird. Like I always do when I’m beginning to feel awkward, I put my hands in my lap and start twisting them around, making sure I didn’t look up.
Delcan laughed. “You thought I was kissing you, right?” he asked. I nodded slowly, though still kept my head down. Already, the blood was rushing to my cheeks, which I’m sure made Delcan feel even better about himself. Though I’ve been a pro at staying professional when it came to being around others, Delcan was a lot harder than anyone else. I felt like some type of fool around him most of the time, though he seems to always have himself under control.
God. I hate myself.
“I’m being an idiot, alright?” I said, rolling my eyes. “Oakwood wasn’t that bad, either, though.” Changing the subject might help.
Delcan rolled his eyes, which were an amber color now. “Sure,” he said sarcastically, “Grayson punching down that wimpy dude was totally worth the tickets.” I sort of wanted to mention that that wimpy kid was Thomas, though keeping my mouth shut just seemed like a better option at the moment.
“Alright, maybe something else,” I muttered, crossing my arms over my chest. More than ever, I felt completely awkward.
“Great touchdowns,” Delcan said, shrugging. “Though it seems like the more and more I talk...the more you’re seeming to get awkward.”
I was about to respond, and I mean it, though something inside of me took over, and I pulled Delcan close to me and kissed him. Possibly, it could’ve been hormones or something, but whatever took over my body, I found myself making out with him. It seemed as if Delcan wasn’t even shocked by the kiss as much, because he leaned into me and brushed his hand on my arm, making me want to kiss him even more. Though Delcan sort of had this tough outer-side to him, his lips were soft. He ran his fingers through my hair as we continued to kiss, and I put my hand on his cheek. The kiss started getting deeper and deeper, though it seemed even better, the voice that I thought was inside my head-it was actually there.
“You two are so lucky I’m so not Dad,” Evelyn said, her voice sounding annoyed. Quickly, I pulled myself away from Delcan and scooted to the other end of the bench, while he seemed like he was trying to process something. Looking at her, my cheeks were already beginning to blush. She sighed when neither one of us answered and walked over. “Come on,” she said to me. “Mom and Dad told me to come to find you.”
“Did Haven’s parents come to the game?” I asked, trying to make it seem like I hadn’t just kissed Delcan. I tried playing cool, though the nervousness in my voice told me how much I was failing. Evelyn seemed to think about it fo a second before she nodded.
“Haven said she loves you, the usual,” Evelyn said, rolling her eyes. Delcan made some type of angry noise next to me, though I’m not sure if Evelyn heard him.
I nodded. “Then tell Mom and Dad that I went home with her or something,” I said, trying to play out the solution in my head. “They won’t actually know the truth.”
Evelyn seemed to have looked at me as if I was stupid, and that’s when Emmanuel walked out from behind her, his eyebrows in a confused position. Delcan didn’t look at me, though I had a feeling he was trying to hold back laughter.
I wanted to die in a hole.
“Hey there...buddy,” I said, slapping a smile on my face.
Emmanuel didn’t even seem to have heard what I said. All he responded with was: “What secret are you hiding from Mom and Dad?”
I tried to act like I was shocked, and Delcan began to hide the lower part of his face under his arm. “What are you talking about?”
“And who is he?” Emmanuel asked, pointing to Delcan. I was about to answer with possibly the worst lie ever, but then Delcan stood up, walked over to Emmanuel, and leaned down to his height. What is he doing?
“I’m transferring here,” Delcan said, his voice sounding steady and calm. Just like everyone did, Emmanuel’s eyes were looking him up and down, his eyes looking larger. “Ezra was just showing me around. What’s your name?” It was a good cover, and I actually would’ve believed it if I was his age (don’t ask. I was a pretty stupid child).
Emmanuel seemed to understand. “Oh,” he said. “That makes sense. Where are you from?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡFEnbsKwFTK
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“I’m from Oakwood,” Delcan said, seeming to catch onto the fact that Emmanuel was looking at his arm. He moved it quickly, and Emmanuel’s eyes went back to his. “But I’ve noticed that this place is a much better school.”
Like Dad had taught him to do, Emmanuel scrunched up his face once Delcan mentioned Oakwood. I rolled my eyes, but only because no one else really seemed to be paying attention to me at all. “I hate Oakwood,” Emmanuel said, sounding furious. But then he smiled. “My name is Emmanuel. Emmanuel Gatley. What is yours?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡcRz1xuNhzX
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“I’m...West Young,” Delcan said, biting his lip as he seemed to keep from thinking about the name. I did everything inside of me to hold back my laughter. Who has the name West Young?
“Cool name, West,” Emmanuel said, smiling to him. Emmanuel got basically all of Mom’s traits, which included his dimples. Sometimes, I wonder if I could’ve possibly had dimples, or how much having dimples would improve my appeal. But at the moment, I was more than happy that he was a ten-year-old who believed everything.
“And same to you, Emmanuel,” Delcan said, smiling to him. “Now, could Ezra show me the rest of the school?”
My brother nodded, looking up at me this time. “Sure.” He grabbed Evelyn’s hand and started to walk off before stopping, dropping his grip on Evelyn, and running over to me. Because I’d forgotten to lean down, he wrapped what he could of me in his arms.
When he pulled away, he put his hands on his hips and made his kind face look like dads. “You better be home by ten, young man,” he said. I laughed at his little remark and nodded like I was actually scared. Only Emmanuel could be cute when it came to trying to pretend he was Dad. He thought it made him tougher.
“I’ll be home by 9:00, E,” I said, messing up his hair. He didn’t pout like he’d thought I did. Instead, he just nodded and began walking away. But before Emmanuel left, he turned around and looked at Evelyn, who was staring down Delcan.
“Sissy, are you coming?” Emmanuel asked. Evelyn turned back to look at him, and I found my eyes going to Delcan. He seemed kind of amused by my younger brother, maybe because he was a lot like I am sometimes, but he just had his arms crossed, and his beautiful face neutral. But besides his beauty, I was still pretty upset with Evelyn. It seemed dumb on all levels for her to bring a ten-year-old in a teenage boy’s locker room. It was also even more stupid because Emmanuel was a large blabbermouth.
“I’ll be there in a second, E,” she said, waving him off. “Wait outside.” Emmanuel was about to reject her, but he then shrugged and walked out of the room. I waited until Emmanuel was fully gone, and then went over to Evelyn and slapped her on the arm.
She screamed from the pain, and Delcan's eyebrows went up. But as surprised as he was by what I did, it shocked me even more. “What the ⟴ was that for?!” she cried, holding the part of her arm that I’d slapped.
“You brought Emmanuel into the locker room,” I said, crossing my arms. “What on Earth were you thinking?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡuC7CUcEpNh
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Evelyn rolled her eyes, putting her hands on her hips. She seemed to have been trying her best to ignore her pain. “I didn’t know you and Delcan would be in here. Plus, I didn’t even think he’d be coming to the game in the first place,” she said, still eyeing Delcan. He rolled his blue eyes and looked at me.
“I would apologize, but that’s just not my thing,” Delcan said, looking at my sister.
I looked at him and held back the smile I felt. “And by the way, West Young? What kind of name is that?” I asked him. Delcan glared at me, and Evelyn cracked up laughing.
“It’s better than just saying ‘I’m Delcan, Ezra’s secret boyfriend that no one knows about.’ And then I’d have to explain that someone isn’t straight.” I ignored the boyfriend thing again because I had no idea when that happened-though felt a bit of guilt on the inside.
“People know who you are,” I said.
He made eye contact with me then, and this is when analyzation went into my head. I could tell that he wasn’t mad since his eyes weren’t ice blue, though it didn’t seem like he was playing either. Delcan’s eyes were green, which I’m pretty sure meant that he was calm. Possibly, he was just speaking out of mind, maybe not even meaning to say anything like that.
“I should probably go back to Mom and Dad,” Evelyn said, some type of sympathy look in Delcan. It was a good thing Delcan wasn’t looking at her because I knew from experience that he hated getting sympathy looks from him. “But first, I have two things to say.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡVUYzVkdQiJ
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“Hurry up, woman,” Delcan muttered under his breath. I glared at him, though didn’t say anything, because either Evelyn didn’t hear it, or she could care less.
“I don’t exactly know why,” Evelyn started, keeping her eyes on me. “But Angelica was looking for you. She seemed pretty anxious about is as well. What did you do?”
It’s only been half a day, and I was already tired of hearing the name Angelica. But I was also more than thankful that I’d missed her. I wasn’t exactly prepared to be questioned about who I wanted to be with - it just seemed like way too much. But I did my best to play it off, made it look like I didn’t care. Because the more I pretend, the easier this is. “No clue,” I said, crossing my arms over my chest.
“You know what? We’re getting this over with,” Delcan said, rolling his eyes. “We think Angelica knows that Ezra’s gay, and something about me, too.”
Distressed, I looked at him. “Nice going.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ1wb0idrDkG
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“My bad for letting your sister know about your personal life,” he snapped, leaning against the wall. He’d put up his walls again - something he always does when he’s feeling uncomfortable, or just odd. When it’s just the two of us, he’s not exactly like that. Delcan truly is a sweet guy, though, his walls cause all of that to go away.
Though, he wasn’t wrong. I trusted Evelyn more than I trusted my own parents, sometimes even more than I trusted Eric. But Evelyn always came first, because the two of us actually knew the real versions of each other. I know her that hardly anyone else knows, and she knows the actual me. Not the me that everyone else wants me to be - the person I secretly am.
“Oh, that’s horrible,” Evelyn said, actually seeming to care. “Do you want me to try questioning her about it?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡtEb5La5yrQ
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I shook my head, knowing how much damage that could cost. “You’re not going to do anything about it,” I demanded, pointing my finger to her. “Understand that? And do not say a word.”
She nodded, putting her head down. “I’ll just distract Mom and Dad for you, like always,” she said, her voice sounding angrier than it did upset. I felt bad, though didn’t think there was anything I could do to fix that.
“You had two things to say, right?” Delcan asked, still leaning against the wall and watching our conversation.
Evelyn sighed, turned around, and looked at him. “Delcan Heslop,” she started. Delcan raised his eyebrows but didn’t say anything. “If you even think about cheating on my brother, I will publicly shame you on any social media you have, climb into your bedroom window, and take your manhood,” - Delcan’s entire face changed then, and he looked down before his eyes moved back up to my sister, who was honestly scaring me - “And then, I will murder you while you cry for forgiveness. Is that understood?”
Delcan nodded slowly, actually seeming a bit scared. I watched my sister in astonishment, waiting to see what Delcan would respond with. “Yes ma’am,” Delcan said, lowering his hands right to where the lower half of his body began. Though him saying ma’am almost made me laugh.
“And, Ezra,” she said, turning around to look at me. Oh ⟴. “Don’t do anything you’ll regret in the future.” I nodded, then sighed as she did one of those I’m watching you looks to Delcan and then left the locker room.
The second my sister was gone, Delcan cracked up laughing. I looked at him, almost in confusion, but he pulled himself together while shaking his head. “You sure she ain’t a physco?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ4EoFBFBS21
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“That’s my sister,” I said to him, my voice sounding cold and full of anger. I’d never admitted it out loud, though I’ve done my best never to get mad, especially in my voice. It always scared me, because I felt as if I sounded just like Dad.
And it didn’t help that Delcan’s sly smile faded when I said that. “ Okay…” he said, his eyes watching me in some type of careful manner. “You mad at me now?”
I wish I could be, but getting mad at somebody like Delcan seemed impossible. Sure, he gets on my nerves sometimes, but so does everyone else in life. I’d never been to the point in our...whatever it’s called - where I literally wanted to strangle him. And even though he told Evelyn what was going on, I was beginning not to mind it as much. My sister would’ve found out one way or another, this way was just a lot quicker.
“No,” I admitted. “Come on. Your mom still has to be in the parking lot, right?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡgrbuRawgbr
Delcan’s eyes moved away from the chocolate bar I’d left on the bench, and went to me. He’d tilted his head slightly, and his left hand was in the pocket of his sweatpants.
I seriously think he’s the only person who can make sweatpants look that good.
“You’re serious?” he asked me.
I smiled at him and nodded. “Evelyn will distract my parents for as long as possible,” I said, hoping that she was still good at doing that. “So, why not?” Delcan smiled softly, then lead me out of the locker room. Sure enough, his mom was standing by the car, on the phone with somebody. She saw Delcan, smiled to him, and then ended the call before opening up her side of the car door.
Callie took one look at me and rolled her eyes before she quickly took shotgun before Delcan could get there.
“Seriously?” Delcan asked, opening the door up again.
Callie looked at her brother, an annoyed expression on her face. “You can sit in the back with Ezra,” she said, glaring at me. “Everything will be fine.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡD5uGS5REiI
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“Who died and made you queen?” Delcan responded back. But instead of trying to fight more, he simply sighed and then went to the back of their pretty expensive car, slamming the door behind him.
I didn’t like getting involved in other people’s lives too much, so I just followed Delcan to the back and closed the door behind me, relaxing on the warm leather seats.
“Nice to see you, Ezra,” Mrs. Heslop said, looking at the rear-view mirror. I smiled to her, though didn’t exactly respond. Though Delcan had waited to see his mom’s reaction from her talking to me, it was only about two seconds before the conversation went back to him.
“Question,” he said, looking at his sister. “Why does Callie get to sit in the front, and not me? I mean, I’m first born, should be the front seat, too.” I laughed at him, and so did Mrs. Heslop.
“Sweetheart,” Mrs. Heslop began saying. Her voice always seemed so calm, and at a level, like she knew just how to deal with her son. “You know the rules in the car. If you have a guest, and Calliannah is with us, you sit in the back. Since Ezra’s your guest, rules apply.”
Delcan sat back, crossing his arms over his chest. “That’s not even a fair rule!” he argued. “It wasn’t the same rule when Callie had her friends from dance class over.” There wasn’t much I knew about Callie since she hates talking to me. But I do know that she’s a dancer, and it’s her main passion. I’ve seen some of her videos on YouTube, though usually don’t mention it, because she trusts me less than Delcan’s dad does.
“If you have a problem with the seating rules in the car,” Callie said, turning around to look at her brother. “Then you can put it up with Dad.”
Delcan sighed, and she laid his head back on the chair. Unlike what happens when I fight with any of my siblings, issues between Delcan and Callie get resolved quickly. Usually, it stops once Delcan says something rude enough to make Calie shut up, or sometimes, the two just stop yelling at each other, laugh, then hug.
I know, weird.
But it was clear now that Delcan wasn’t done.
“Whatever, California,” he muttered, still looking at his sister.
Callie turned around in her seat quickly. “Don’t call me that.”
“What’s happening?” I asked. But even though my voice was loud enough for both to hear, Delcan and Callie ignored what I’d said.
“You always used to call me Del-”
“Still do,” Callie interrupted.
“It’s weird,” Delcan said, looking at her.”And it never made sense why you were only born with half a brain.”
Callie’s mouth opened. “You always used to call me California,” she said, squinting her eyes. I simply sat back, because at this point, it was just like some type of show now. “Why didn’t you just call me Calliannah instead of that stupid nickname?”
Alright, them talking about this is kind of cute, though all at the same time, It’s kind of like that sibling love that you would see at any mall. Where parents who only have one child will smile at and think of how adorable they are together (though in their head, they’re thinking of how “better” they raised their child. Trust me, I know. Evvie’s an only child.)
“You two, please stop fighting,” Mrs. Heslop said, turning down the street. “Calliannah, turn around. And Delcan, pay attention to your guest.”
Delcan looked at her. “Who ever said I wasn’t?” he asked. I could feel myself blush, which was the full reason why I turned my body to the window. I hated being so light-skinned sometimes, because when I blushed, everyone knew I was. And it didn’t help that I’d been “blessed” with Mom’s rosy cheeks when she blushes. Emmanuel and I are the only ones who have it, and when we blush, our faces basically become pretty red - to the point where everyone knows. It’s really embarrassing, though I’ve gotten better at hiding it over the years.
But like always, Delcan noticed my sudden movement, and a smirk began to form on his face. I was thankful that he didn’t say anything about it, though the rest of the drive was pretty awkward - at least for me. As much as I like Mrs. Heslop, she really likes being involved in her children’s lives, which isn’t something I’m used to. When she asks about things other than school going on in her children’s lives, I always listen more than I’d expect myself to. Though, I never complained when she mentioned Delcan when he was younger, or when she talked about life before Delcan came along.
Unlike my parents, Delcan and Callie’s parents seemed to have this real love story. You could tell the two had strong emotions for each other, and that their children were their pride and joy. My parents - they weren’t like that. Mom only cared about what happens in Evelyn’s life (since she’s a young woman, and I guess they have interesting lives), and all Dad cared about is all of his children getting good grades. But Mr. and Mrs. Heslop had this adorable love story, something I never got tired of listening to.
I’d messed with Delcan’s ring for half of the story, though he didn’t even seem the least bit bothered by it. All I really knew about the two rings that Delcan wore is that one belonged to his grandfather, and the other his dad. He was never in the mood to explain anything about them, so I just decided it’d be best if I didn’t ask.
When we arrived at the Heslop house, I got out of the car, though didn’t walk inside. I waited for Delcan, something I’m beginning to think is becoming a habit. But it was clear neither one of us minded it. When Delcan finally got out of the car, Callie waited until her brother was near me before she even started moving out of the car.
“Didn’t mean to ignore you,” Delcan said, watching his sister as she walked inside behind Mrs. Heslop. That was probably the only apology I would get from him, so I took it.
“It’s fine,” I said. “I was just listening, anyways.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡo1WreT3RBK
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Delcan didn’t respond. Instead, he just looked at me before he walked off, not even waiting to see if I’d follow him. Just as I’d assumed - his dad was in the living room, watching something about the news. Before he was about to grab my hand without warning, Delcan looked over to his father. “Hey, Dad,” he said. He took my hand again, and then left the room.
But even went were upstairs, I could feel Mr. Heslop staring me down, just like Callie does.
“What’s up with siblings annoying the crap out of you?” Delcan asked me, falling onto his bed. I laughed.
“That’s kind of their job, Delcan,” I said to him. I remember when Evelyn was too young to go outside and play with Eric and I, and I would always tease Eric because I could get better shots than he could in the basketball goal at the park. “One time, I pushed my older brother to the limit, and he broke my arm on Thanksgiving.”
No joke. Eric broke my arm, then he was grounded for the six weeks my arm healed.
“But that’s how I became tough,” I said, shrugging. I wasn’t really tough, though. It just seemed a lot easier to lie about being strong than it was to actually be strong. I hadn’t even noticed that I’d moved, but I was sitting next to Delcan, watching him as he nodded, and then put rested his face on his hand.
“How old were you?” he asked, watching me.
The exact date wasn’t clear anymore, though lying never hurt. “Seven or eight,” I assumed, thinking I was right. “When was the first time you broke something?”
“I never have.”
How was I shocked by that? He was simply perfect. Nothing bad ever happened to the guy. “Oh.”
“I mean,” he cut in. “Unless a pinkie counts. But I was three at the time, and I hardly even remember it.”
I guess it made since, because not everyone wanted to play tough. Though, Delcan was a boxer. It seemed impossible for him not to have broken something while in the ring. Then again, he was perfect, and it seemed like whatever he did, it always worked out perfectly for him. Even though I’ve been pretty close to breaking my leg in football, I was still a bit confused how his beautiful body seemed to avoid injuries.
“Guess I was just more cautious than others,” Delan said, watching my facial expressions change. He seemed to do this weird thing towards me where he understood exactly what I was doing, even when I didn’t.
I guess it makes sense.
“So why didn’t your dad come to the game?” I asked, trying to relax a bit better.
Delcan sighed, his green eyes gone - and now amber. “It really isn’t that important,” he said. Though, on the inside, I knew he was lying, and I knew it was my fault. Delcan seemed to have notice this, and he put his hand on mine, giving some type of reassuring look. “It had nothing to do with you, at all. He just-didn’t know who we were cheering for, and he wasn’t risking going to the game and running into yo-” he seemed to have paused, and then nodded. “Yeah, okay, it was about you.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡK71wWbzv7K
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I hate when people don’t like me. It makes me feel like I’ve done something wrong. And every time I feel like I’ve done something wrong, I turn into the whiny child. “What does he even have against me?” I whined, seeming just like my younger brother.
“I don’t know,” Delcan said, rolling his eyes again. “Are you actually upset about it?”
Nodding, I felt wrong continuing to talk about it. “Hey, your dad is a lot better than mine is, even if he hates me.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡ7FBSjlIE2y
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Delcan seemed like he wasn’t going to laugh, but then he did, smiling even when his laughter faded. “That’s straight up bull,” he said.
“Tell me about it,” I responded, not stopping myself from saying it. Delcan smiled and sat up as he looked at me.
“Some people don’t like change,” he said to me. “But even though my Callie and my dad hate you, I don’t think I could. Just seems like way too much effort.” I smiled, and could already feel myself beginning to blush a bit. Though before I could do my best to hide it, Delcan chuckled as he moved closer to me.
I rubbed my arm, already knowing we were about to kiss again. “Really helpful, Delcan,” I said, my voice coming off as if it was some kind of kind compliment, other than sarcasm - which is what I’d wanted it to be. “But we should-” Though before I could even continue, he leaned in and kissed me. I didn’t stop him like my brain said to do but instead smiled as I kissed him back. The kiss was about to get deeper, and then I heard a sudden voice.
“I feel like you’d know where my son is,” the voice said, low, and full of some type of anger. “My younger said he saw some kid hanging out with him, and EastLand doesn’t give tours to people.” The voice got closer, and Delcan moved down to kissing my neck, ignoring it. Tough, I couldn’t. “I just needed to look around.”
“Oh my God…” I whispered, feeling my palms sweat and the inside of me wish I could run and hide. Finally, Delcan stopped kissing my neck.
“What is it?”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡSzufTW8GDe
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“My dad is here.”615Please respect copyright.ＰＥＮＡＮＡbF0aqSqInW