Hurdles

Our relationship. It wasn't sonnet inspiring, the story of it won't make thousands want to listen. But it was complicated and it was special to us. It was certainly more than I bargained for from just seeing a boy with a football helmet across the room.

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9. Nine

A couple of nights later the whole group is going out to dinner and I'm already meant to be at Harry's because he's giving me a ride but I can't find my jacket so I'm running around the house looking for it. I finally find it and quickly run the iron over it because it's creased from being packed. My dad is making a cup of tea and he's just looking at me. I sigh, looking at him eventually. 

"What?" I ask. 

"You going out to dinner then?" he says. 

"Yes."

"You're actually pretty close with these boys then, right?" he asks. 

"Yeah, they're my friends."

"Is Harry just your friend or no? What about Dan, you talk on the phone to him quite a lot."

"They're all just my friends dad." I kiss his cheek. "I have to go, I'm late."

I can't even run over to Harry's because I look like an idiot when I run so I end up being ten minutes late. He's leaning against his car just like he was the other night, on his phone, looking as casual as ever. 

"Sorry!" I say, out of breath from walking so fast. "Sorry sorry sorry."

He looks up. "Oh no, it's cool." he says, opening my door for me before going to his side and getting in.

"I'm the worst." I complain, getting into the car. "You should have just gone."

He laughs. "Don't be stupid, it's fine, Dan's late all the time."

"Okay." I relax a little. "Where is it we're going?"

"It's a little place called Wink." he tells me. "We love it there, we try and go as often as we can but it's always booked up."

"It sounds cute." 

It is cute when we get there. Kind of a little place but at the same time fancier than I'd expect them all to go for. Then again I feel like anything more than a diner or McDonalds is fancier than I'd expect for them. We go inside and they're all already sat down and I feel bad for being late now.

"You said Dan's always late!" I say to Harry, my cheeks glowing red. 

"He is sometimes!" he protests. "It's no big deal that we're late, don't worry about it."

"I feel bad." 

"Alice, nobody cares if we're not on time." he smiles at me. "Calm down."

I feel even more embarrassed that he probably thinks I'm stressy and uptight but then I realise boys don't notice that kind of stuff or hold a grudge against it so I relax and go sit next to Dan while Harry goes to the other end of the table where there's a spare seat. I decide straight away that I love this restaurant. The atmosphere is so nice and the food is way better than anything I've ever had before, even though I can only get half way through because the portion is so big. 

"How are you done?" Dan asks, staring at my plate in wonder.

"How are you not?" I ask back, staring at his portion which was bigger than mine and he's still going. 

"You've barely eaten anything!" he says and I stare at him shocked. 

"I literally don't think I could ever eat anything again!" I protest. "I'm not some football player, I don't require this much food."

He laughs and then looks surprised out of nowhere. "You haven't been to one of our games."

"You haven't had one while I've been here." I remind him.

"We've got one on Tuesday. Come watch!" 

"Okay." I grin, excited. I feel like that's the most American thing I will have done yet and it's something I've always kind of wanted to do. I've been to a couple of English football games but I hated them all but American football looks so much more exciting anyway. 

I tell Harry on our way home and he grins at me. 

"Are you really coming to watch our game?" 

"Yeah." I grin back. "Why are you so surprised?" 

"I just didn't think you'd like football." he says sounding, looking back out at the road. 

"I mean, I liked Friday Night Lights as a show." I offer. 

"Yeah but did you like the football parts or the soppy parts with the teenage romance?" he asks, looking amused.

"Both!" I lie. I mean the football parts were okay but I mainly watched it for all the cute parts to be honest.

"I think you like football as much as you like telling the truth." he grins. "But it seriously is nice of you to come out and watch us. We all always say you're like Wendy and we're like the lost boys from Peter Pan."

I laugh. "I know, Dan told me. I like that."

My phone rings then, a call from Nicole. I get so excited whenever I see it's anybody from home calling, plus it's two am there which means they must all be having a sleepover, so I pick up straight away. "Nicole, hey!"

"Hello!" she says. "We're all here, you're on speaker."

"Hello!" the others chorus. 

"Is that your friends?" Harry asks and grins when I nod. "Put them on speaker, I want to talk to them."

"Oh no, that's okay." I shake my head, not wanting them to say something embarrassing. 

"Who are you talking to?" Kylie asks down the phone. "Are you in a car? With a boy?" 

"Shut up." I say to her and then Harry starts reaching over for my phone. "Focus on driving, you're going to kill us!"

"Put us on speaker!" Jaclyn shouts down the phone. 

"Put them on speaker!" Harry says too, still reaching out for my phone. 

"Okay!" I exclaim, putting them on speaker and he finally puts both hands back on the wheel. "There you go, speak to each other to your heart's content."

"Hi, are you Alice's boyfriend?" Kylie asks and I groan. 

"Kylie, shut up." I say. I knew they'd be embarrassing like this but Harry just laughs. 

"No, but I'm her new best friend so sorry, you guys have been replaced." he says. 

"Actually Dan's my new best friend, sorry." I shrug, giving him an apologetic look but he knows I'm joking. 

"Alice, I just want to say that if you get a new squad, us English ones are going to be very disappointed and upset and you won't be allowed back in this one." Nicole says.

"Don't worry, I secretly hate these guys, I just didn't want to look like a loner." I say back to her and Harry hits my arm. I look at him, mock offended. "Now one of them's abusing me."

"She's lying." he says to them, dead serious but he's grinning. "Your friend is a liar."

"Hey, maybe we should all be friends, apart from Alice!" Nicole says to him. 

"Yes!" he agrees and then shrugs at me, the same apologetic look on his face that I gave him earlier. "Sorry, you're out."

"Bitch." I hit him back but he blocks it straight away, grinning as I keep trying to hit him. 

"Oh my god, stop, I'm driving!" he says but he's still smiling. "Stop being irresponsible or get your own license."

"Oh don't say that." Jaclyn says. "If she drives, nobody on the roads will be safe."

"Well we're home now, so say your goodbyes because I'm never letting either of you talk to each other again." I say as we pull into his drive.

"Bye!" Harry says cheerily. "Facebook me! Let's plot against Alice."

"Sounds good." Jaclyn laughs. "Bye!"

They hang up then and I raise an eyebrow at him. He still looks all cocky as he smiles back. 

"They're gone now, you can stop trying to be all impressive and annoying." I tease him, getting out the car. He gets out too, laughing. 

"You can be part of the squad really." he says as I start walking towards my house.

"Too late!" I shout over my shoulder and I hear him laugh again before I hear his front door shut and before I get to my own door. My parents have already gone to bed so I just go straight up to bed too because it's one of those happy moods where you don't want to give anything the chance to ruin it. Maybe I'm being stupid, but there was some kind of atmosphere between Harry and I tonight. Even if I'm making something of nothing, it's kind of nice to hold onto just for now.

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