Learning to Let Go

Annalise is a volleyball all-star. One who will have the ability to go to the Olympics. It's just a natural talent. At 15, two years ago, she got involved with Seth. A sweet guy, really. But she stopped focusing on volleyball. After breaking up, she swore she wouldn't date until making the Olympics. So much for that, now she's got a new crush, one that she's trying to keep hidden. It's bad enough she has one problem, but she's moving down the block to a bigger house. Why? Because three years after her father's death, her mom is ready to marry again, to Ryan Kennedy.The worst part? Annalise has trouble getting along with Dylan, Ryan's 14 year old son.

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2. The Electric Shockers

Two years later...
7:20, am, my alarm goes off playing Party in the USA. I slapped the alarm, and it stopped. I slowly rose, pulling my aqua-marine spandex, underwear, sports bra, socks, and a t-shirt out of my dresser.
I hopped in the shower and washed myself off quickly. After drying myself off, I pulled my mid-back length curly brown hair into a messy bun. I got dressed in the clothes I'd pulled out and headed out to hop in my car and drive off to the Olympic Volleyball Training Gym in South Carolina.
"Are you forgetting something, Annalise Roselyn?" My mom said as I reached halfway from the stairs to the back door. I cringed, reminded of Seth, how he normally had called me by my middle name.
"Uh, no?" I said, more like a question.
"Uh, yes?" Mom said, mimicking me. "Breakfast???"
"But I gotta go, Mom, I'll get breakfast when I get back."
"At 10:30 in the morning? No. Sit down and eat!"
I rolled my eyes, and when she wasn't looking, fed the rest of my pancakes to my husky puppy, Frolic. Her blue eyes sparkling, she gobbled up the last bit before Mom turned around again.
"Where did all your food go?"
"Eaten," I said, which wasn't lying.
She leaned down to look on the floor. "Are you sure? You ate all that?"
"Yeah," I said, my expression innocent, resting my elbows on the counter. "Every last bite."
"How did you eat all of it?"
I shrugged.
"Well, ok, you can go," she said, leaning down to check the floor again.
I laughed once I got outside and headed out to my aqua-blue convertible. I sighed looking in the direction of the beach coming down the stairs outside. There's a line of trees that separates my backyard from the beach. I can't wait for summer. 
I hopped into my car and drove off, arriving fifteen minutes before practice began at 8:00.
Already there were five other girls, there were twelve total on the team, including me. Six girls hadn't arrived yet.
I grabbed a ball and started to serve, over-hand jump serve, of course. I tossed the ball, took four steps, jumped, and served it, hard, to Ellie on the other side of the court.
Ellie has long, blonde, wavy hair down to her hips. It's dip-dyed blue and pink. She's kind of a dreamer, a hipster. She's a opposite, a left-side hitter. Everyone on the team has a nickname, and hers is Dreamer. She has bright blue eyes that sparkle when she thinks something. Her favorite color is lime green, and that's the color of her spandex. Our uniforms are white, and we can order different color spandex for the team uniforms. Jenna came up with the idea of everyone ordering their favorite neon color, so Ellie has lime green with "Shockers" printed on it in dark blue.
Jenna caught the ball right as Ellie was about to grab it, and they laughed. We have this thing where we steal the ball from other people, but we of course give it back, and Jenna did. Jenna has long, straight hair with bangs that come down to her cheek. Her hair's pretty much always up in a pony tail. Her spandex are a bright, sunny yellow with "Shockers" printed in black. Her nickname is Hard-Hitter, because when she spikes that ball, she spikes it HARD. So, she plays right-side hitter. She's our team captain, because, well, her mom's the coach and she just has the level of authority. You walk in the room and go, "Oh, she's captain." It's really an unspoken word she's our captain.
Emily shook her head and laughed at Jenna. Her spandex are a pretty shade of red with the words printed in yellow. She's really nice, and always gives great advice, on the court, or off. Her nickname is Wise-Owl for two reasons. She gives awesome advice, and it's her favorite animal. She's a setter.
Allison smiled at Jenna. She has really dark brown, almost black, hair dip-dyed a bright red at the bottom. She's almost a little goth, and is always the quiet one, hence smiling and not laughing. She's also a setter. Her spandex are a deep orange, almost like the sunset with the words written in black. Her nickname is Non-Chatty-Kathy.
Dani laughed along with Emily, a cute, adorable laugh. She has light brown hair, lighter then mine, that's only shoulder length and has tons of layers at the bottom. Her shortest layer she always clips up with barrettes and head bands, other wise they fall out of the pony tail. That's why she always wears her hair down at school. Dani's pretty short, and for that reason isn't a hitter. She's the front middle blocker. She's always very bubbly and is very sweet. Her spandex are green, not lime green, but green, with turquoise lettering. Her nickname is Bubbly. 
Just then, Madison and Lila walked in. They're twins, and both are outside hitters. That's the only thing they have in common besides their looks. They both have wavy brown hair, green eyes and tan skin, but personalities are totally different.
Madison is a total tomboy. She never wears dresses. Her hair at volleyball practice is always in a pony tail. At school, it's in a ponytail or messy bun. Her spandex are royal blue, with the lettering in aqua marine. Madison's nickname is Tom Hitter.
Lila, on the other hand, is the girliest girl I've met. For practice, her hair's in a ballerina bun. For school, it's a variety of things. Braided, down, curled, up, it's always styled somehow. Her spandex are bright pink, letter in black. Her nickname is Rosa Hitter, she's like a little dainty pretty flower that blooms to the fullest.
Following the twins were Vanessa and Carrie. 
Vanessa came right in and grabbed a ball. She's fearless. It says so on her Origami Owl Tag necklace. Ever heard of that company? I'm going to a party tonight where someone who works for the company comes and orders necklaces for the guests and getting mine, but more on that later. Vanessa's head strong, and doesn't always think before she does. She's very impulsive and wears very simple clothing. Her jet black hair makes her sky blue eyes stand out immensely. Her spandex are a deep red-orange and her nickname is, well, Hitting Fearless because she is a right-side hitter.
Carrie is a bit timid, she carpools with Vanessa because she is deathly afraid of driving. I suppose she has a good reason to, her father died in a car crash when she was 12. Her spandex are neon purple. She has dirty blonde hair down to her shoulder, and green eyes. Her nickname is Timid Tammy, and she's a front middle blocker. 
Five minutes before practice was supposed to start, Vicky and Julianna walked in.
Vicky is another opposite and has brown hair with red highlights. She's kind of a rebel, she wears short shorts, spaghetti strap tank-tops, and is always getting detention. See, she's an opposite! Well, opposite of what the school wants her to be, anyway. Her spandex are a blue-green, like the sea in Greece. Her nickname is Oppo-Opposite. 
All the girls I'm really tight with, but I'm the closest with Julianna. She has dark brown hair with side bangs that cone down to half way through her cheek. She's really nice and has the best attitude towards volleyball. I'm kind of jealous. She makes a mistake, she's like "Oh well..." Me? I get really mad at myself and want to disappear. She's the libero, as am I. Her spandex are a yellow orange. She's always open to new ideas and ways to do things, so her nickname is Liberal Libero. Mine is Poppy, because I'm always so bubbly and happy and popping all over the place to get the ball as the libero.
"Poppy!" Ellie called.
"Yeah, Dreamer?"
"Toss me a ball from the cart, would you?!"
"Sure," I said, started to pick up a ball, but before I could roll it to her, Cora came in and had us start stretching.
While stretching I noticed a good-looking boy looking about my age in the office putting some papers away. 
I wasn't the only one, before I could ask who it was, Carrie asked, "Who's that guy over there?"
"Oh," Cora said. "That's Derek, he's helping around here now for an after school job."
He came out of the office and I got a good look at his face. He had tousled brown hair styled in a way that looked almost like Niall Horan's from One Direction. He had startling blue eyes, bluer then the sky. He was muscular, and tan too.
Suddenly he winked at me, and everyone turned to look at me.
"What was that about?" Julianna asked, nudging me.
"I don't know! I've never met him before in my life!" I said, hoping they wouldn't tease me. I didn't need another guy to dump because he took me away from volleyball.
"He's kinda cute," Vicky said, "I think you should talk to him at school tomorrow."
"He goes to our school?" Vanessa asked.
"Yeah, he's in my LA class," Ellie said dreamily. "Asked me out once."
"Really now," Jenna said, "I don't recall you sharing this information."
"Because nothing happened. I said no," Ellie explained.
"Why?" Lila said, incredulous. "He's cute!"
"Girls!" Cora said. "Quadricep stretch!"
We stood up and pulled our heels behind us, stretching our quads.
"I said no because he just wasn't my type."
"So, an absolutely gorgeous boy isn't your type?" Lila said.
"I like someone else," Ellie said sheepishly.
"Aww," Dani said. "Well, looks like he likes Annalise, so..."
"Guys! I don't even know him, besides, I haven't dated in two years," I protested. "Let's just get on with practice."
Just then, Derek came back with another stack of papers and smiled at everyone.
"Maybe he's just friendly," Emily said. 
"Yeah, that's it," Cora said. "Now five laps around!"
Five laps around later, we started our drills.
The first one we did is called Ring of Fire. There are two teams, each on one side of the court. On the other team's side, there's one person from your side making a circle with their hands, and you have to serve the ball inside of their arms. When you get it in you join the circle. You keep going until you have all your people on the other side of the court, then you win or lose if the other team gets a full ring.
On my team was me, Julianna, Vanessa, Ellie, Madison, and Jenna. Vicky, Lila, Emily, Dani, Carrie, and Allison were on the other. Vicky was their ring, Vanessa was ours. 
I served first on my team, and on my first try got it in. I joined hands with Vanessa. Carrie hit it just onto Vicky's arm. We kept going until my team won. We played once more and the other team won.
Practice seemed to drag on, but every once in a while it would speed up when Derek walked in the room and looked at me. My heart would flutter and I'd get butterflies. Then I'd shake my head.
No, I told myself. Stop it! You can't like him. You can't... Volleyball...
Then he'd walk in again and my heart would flutter from all the butterflies in my stomach. 
After practice ended and everyone left, Cora called me over as I was about to leave. "So, ah, you seemed a little lost today, what was that about?" She asked.
"I don't know, my head just wasn't in the game today," I lied.
"You know, the last time you lied to me in this gym it was about a boy, could it be the same reason this time?" 
"Maybe... I just can't, I want to try out for the Summer Olympics this year. I have to concentrate on volleyball. I can't get side tracked."
"You know, Derek's a good kid," she said. "Seth was not. Not all boys are like that. Keep that in mind."
"Are you saying...I should date him?"
"I'm saying..." She sighed. "I'm saying follow your heart."

I sighed as she left. As I walked outside into the warm, sunny day, I bumped into someone. 
"Oh, I'm so sorry," I started to say as I looked up, but stopped mid-sentence. 

It was Derek.

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