Home > Falling For Her

Falling For Her
Author: Monica Murphy

One

 

 

Jake

 

 

“How about that one?”

We all snicker when we see who Diego’s discreetly pointing at as we walk past her in the hallway. Some freshman who looks about ten, with big blue eyes and a mouth full of metal. She’s cute enough, but way too young.

“I don’t think so,” I tell my friends as we stride toward the quad.

It’s lunchtime. Our senior year. We’re able to drive off campus now, but not today. Coach wants us to watch game film of the team we’re playing tomorrow night. So we have about fifteen minutes to grab food before we all meet in the team room to study our opponents. Learn their weak spots, their strengths. See if they’re better defensively or offensively.

When I say Coach, I’m talking about my dad. I just try to keep that shit separate. It’s easier that way.

“Check her out,” says Diego—one of my best friends—nudging me in the shoulder and now not-so-discreetly pointing at a group of girls sitting at a nearby picnic table.

“Which one?” Again, they’re young. Maybe sophomores? I don’t really recognize any of them. If they’re a couple of years younger than me and not friends with my sister Ava, who’s a junior, or on the football team, I don’t bother getting to know them.

That makes me sound like an asshole, but I don’t have the time. I have my circle of friends. I even have my circle of acquaintances. This year, my last year in high school, I don’t need to add to either group. I’m perfectly content with what I have.

“Any of them.” Diego slaps me on the back, a giant grin on his face. “You need to find someone, bro. This single, I-don’t-bother-with-any-girl business is getting old.”

I don’t bother with any girls anymore because when I do, they tend to take my heart and rip it to shreds. It’s ridiculous, but when I fall, I tend to fall hard.

Sophomore year I got my heart broken twice, once by Cami Lockhart. We got back together the beginning of junior year only for her to cheat on me—and I found out via Snapchat.

That sucked.

I’ve never bothered with a girl again. Fuck ’em. I’d rather focus on football and my friends and school, exactly in that order.

“Too young,” I tell Diego, and Caleb, my other best friend, bursts out laughing.

“Oh come on. She’s cute. I’d bet she’s down,” he says with a smirk.

Caleb is an actual asshole. He hooks up with an endless stream of girls, yet most of them don’t complain. It’s like they’re proud to be a Caleb fan girl.

“Find him a senior then,” Diego says, stopping in the direct center of the crowded quad. He settles his hands on his hips and turns in a slow circle, scanning the area with a narrowed gaze. Diego has a girl and they’re supposedly madly in love. I mean, good for him. They seem totally into each other—for the most part. They’ve been together for over a year, and Jocelyn treats him like a god, while she’s his princess, as he calls her. I’m pretty sure they’ve talked about getting married, which is just…insane if you ask me.

“Her.”

We all swivel our heads to see Tony—our quietest friend—inclining his head toward a table to the left of where we’re standing.

There’s a girl sitting there, her back to us. Alone. She’s wearing a black T-shirt, her reddish-blonde hair spilling down her back in loose waves. Her elbow’s propped on the table and she’s resting her cheek on her fist, an open book in front of her. Like she’s reading. For fun.

What the hell?

“No way,” Diego says with a dismissive wave of his hand. “Jake’s not into smart girls.”

I’m immediately offended. “Who says?”

“You, with the choices you’ve made in the past,” Diego points out.

He’s got me there. Cami wasn’t that smart. None of the girls I’ve dated were. Not really.

“I like her hair,” Tony says, his tone, his entire demeanor impassive, like we’re talking about the weather. “She’s cute.”

“You should go for her then,” Caleb suggests to Tony.

“Nah. Not my type.” Tony’s gaze meets mine and he tilts his head, like he’s giving me permission to talk to her.

Huh.

“How do you know she’s a smart girl?” I study her, taking in her narrow shoulders, the elegant slope of her back. She brushes her hair back from her face, tucking the strands behind her ear and offering me a glimpse of her profile. She’s pretty in an understated way, I guess. Upturned nose. Pale skin. Freckles.

I don’t recognize her at all.

“Because she’s reading a book, dumbass.” Caleb sounds enormously pissed off, though I know he’s not. That’s just how he always sounds. “If you don’t ask her to wear your jersey, I think I’ll ask her instead.”

Yes, this is what we’re doing on a Thursday afternoon during lunch. Trying to find a girl for me to ask to wear my jersey on game day. It’s a big deal at our high school, and so far during my reign as the varsity team’s quarterback, I’ve only had one girl ever wear my jersey, and for only one time. It was Cami Lockhart, right at the beginning of our junior year, when I thought there was a possible chance we could work shit out and be a couple again.

But then someone sent me her private story off Snapchat—a video of her making out with motherfucking Eli Bennett, the quarterback for our rival school’s team, and I was done. Finished.

For some reason, this year my boys want to see me make a claim. Find a girl. They tell me I’m too grumpy. That maybe if I’m getting some on the regular, that’ll mellow me out. Some of them even complain I’m too focused, which I don’t get. Why wouldn’t they want me focused?

Focused wins games. I’ve had that drilled into my head over the years by my dad.

“No way,” I tell Caleb when he acts like he’s going to approach the mystery girl sitting at the table. “I’ll do it.”

I don’t know why I’m bothering with this. I don’t know her, but I’m guessing she knows me. Most girls would probably be flattered if I asked, but I’m not that sure if she’s into football, or if she even goes to the games. But it would be cool to see her wear my number around school all day.

Maybe I could make it a thing. Give it to a different girl every week. They’d start fighting for their chance. It could turn into a contest. Maybe it would go viral…

“Go ask her.” Diego gives me a shove in the girl’s direction, his hand right in the center of my back. “Before you chicken out.”

Okay, that shit’s annoying. And it’s just the incentive I need to make it happen. Glancing over my shoulder, I glare at my three best friends, but all they do is make clucking noises at me in return like they’re a bunch of chickens.

Assholes.

Slowly I approach the table, wondering what I should say first. I don’t have a problem talking to girls. I never really have. I almost wonder if this is because I grew up in a household full of women. Don’t get me wrong, Dad is a strong personality and is a big influence on me, but he wasn’t around much when I was little. He was busy working all the time.

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