She climbed out of Calum’s car, tossed her long hair over her shoulder. The morning sun blinded her, and she squinted, which made the corners of her mouth move up into something similar to her gorgeous smile. And as always when my gaze got stuck on Abigail Grace.
She didn’t look my way. Never had. And why would she? Her world was rotating around my soccer buddy, Calum Hood. He and Abigail were what some people at school called M&M. I hated that term. I hated how she stood on her tiptoes now and slung her arms round his neck. I hated how—
Dammit! Was she going to kiss him? My stomach hardened in a way. But damn, I was a man. I wouldn’t give away how tense I was. Or so I thought as I stood stiff as an ironing board and failed to tear my gaze away from the two of them.
They had never kissed. She was in love with him, and I would bet that he loved her back in a very odd, secret way. But they Had. Never. Kissed. And that was good, because if they had, I might have gone over there now and rearranged my soccer buddy’s face so that not even his family would recognize him afterward.
“Relax, bro. It’s just a peck on the cheek.”
I turned to Ashton, who’d sneaked up on me and slapped my shoulder, and I let out the familiar breath that I held every time Abbigail got too close to Cal
“Yeah, it better be. I’d hate to go murder on a good friend today.” I grinned at Ashton and did the ghetto handshake we’d been doing since we were out of primary school and became the cool kids who roamed the halls of school
Ashton Irwin wasn’t a member of the school’s soccer team, which I happened to be the coach of this year. He’d never cared for soccer but was actually a pro on his Tama Imperialstar Drum Set and his black PRS S2 Standard 24 Electric Guitar. The dude doesn't even like Fifa! WTF but what he could do on his guitar was amazing he freakin shreds the thing but he is awesome at his drums. Every weekend he would have something broken or bruised from practicing hard. Today he’d come to see his little brother off, who was only years younger than us and actually played soccer on my team.
Ashton jerked his chin to my left. “Are you going over there to say goodbye to the girl?”
“Why would I do that? We didn’t even make a Hello yet.”
“Mate, if they haven’t become a couple in ten years, they probably never will be. It’s about time to let her know about the other fish in the sea that’s trying to get a bite of her.” He scratched his chin. “If you won’t do it, maybe I will. After all, you and that Hood guy are gone at soccer camp for five weeks.”
I slung an arm around his neck, pressing a little harder than necessary. “You can try, Ash. But you know that not even the FBI would find your body then.”
He punched me in the ribs so I let him go. But we were laughing so hard that some of the guys and their parents turned their heads our way. We didn’t give a damn about them until I heard a familiar voice shout my name.
My brother came over and caught me in a hug that was impossible to escape. “I have to go. Be careful, baby brother.”
“Yeah, sure.” I fend him off when he tried kissed my cheek laughing
“Go away, Jack. And take care of Mom and Dad while I’m gone.”
“I’m pretty sure they’re old enough to take care of themselves, but I’ll drop by for dinner sometimes if they feel alone or miss their pretty baby.” He laughed and ruffled my blonde hair.
“Hey!” I fixed my flat hair
Then he headed back to the parking lot near the train station.
Some of the kids had already boarded the train and were waving goodbye from the open windows. As I picked up my duffle bag and walked toward my coach, I caught a glimpse of the last thing I wanted to see this morning. Abbi smiling. Calum leaned down a few inches and whispered something into her ear that made her blush an adorable pink.
“Man, you’re pitiful.” Ashton shoved me forward, and only then did I realize that I had actually stopped walking.
Gnashing my teeth and keeping my eyes glued to the much safer ground in front of me, I moved past Hood and the girl I’d been dreaming off since grade three.
I knew I should just keep walking. But the weaker part of me looked up just as Calum let go of my girl. “Hi, Calum,” I said back as my gaze went out of control and swept over Abigail, taking in every inch of the suntanned skin that her short pants exposed. I acknowledged her and smiled. “And Calums groupie.”
She didn’t say good morning, or how are you doing, or even get lost, though the message might have been written in her light brown eyes that seemed to always turn that demonic shade darker whenever she looked at me. Not because she personally hated me, but because she blamed me for taking away her precious time with Calum. Hood had let that bit of information slip one day after she had all but growled at me for doubling the training time.
“See you, Calum,” I said and walked away.
“Save me a seat in your compartment,” Cal shouted after me.
I waved at him over my shoulder but didn’t look back. “Sure thing.” My team and I were really close. Like closer than family close. And yet, none of them knew of my obsession with a girl that only had eyes for my best player. Yeah, sometimes you just had to accept the crap life threw at you and put a shit-eating grin on your face.
I climbed the two steps into the coach before turning around to bump fists with Ashton “Enjoy the sun in Cali,” he said. “I hear the girls down there are hot!”
“I’ll check them out and let you know.” Maybe. If I could get Abigail off my mind long enough to relax with another girl, something I hadn’t done in quite a few months.
Ashton pointed a finger at my face. “And you take care of Harry. If he comes back with one scratch on his skin, I’ll hold you personally responsible.”
“Yeah, right.” I flipped him off, because we both knew that his little brother was…well, a little prone. Whatever happens in camp that kid would definitely come back with a limb in a cast, no matter what. Some of the guys on the team had a bet running. I had twenty on any finger of his left hand, but Ashton didn’t have to know that.
I found Horan, Styles and Clifford five-seat compartment in the middle of the train. We waited until Calum joined us, then closed the opaque sliding doors, and settled in for the next couple hours train ride. We had chips, we had Root beer, and it was just us guys. I decided that the next six weeks were going to be one hell of a good time for all of us. But then I sneaked a glance out the window and caught Abigail standing at the platform, her arms folded in front of her chest, her face sad.
If that look had been because of me and not my buddy, I would have felt a damn lot better.
The first three days at camp were hell. We played a serious schedule every day, and by the time we were let off, our legs were on fire. But we got used to the drill fast, and on day four, Hood, Clifford, Styles, Horan, and I thought it was okay to stretch the camp rules a little and sneak out after dark for some fun.
Santa cruz had a few very cool places for students to hang out. No alcohol in the place called The Teen Spirit, which was fine with all of us, but they had awesome music. It didn’t take long for a bunch of girls to close in on our table. Two of them each wore something black that could barely be called a dress, and the other three were plastered into skintight jeans and tops that left the navel exposed to our view.
“Hi, guys,” one of them said, batting her lashes at me. I guessed that she was barely seventeen, still a year younger than me. “We usually know all the good looking boys who come here. You must be here for a visit?”
Okay, she was a brave one, and not only because she dared to come here in heels that were longer than my middle finger and clearly gave her trouble walking.
“We’re playing soccer just outside the city,” I told her. “In the next few weeks, you might have time to get used to us coming here.”
She smiled a wide welcome and hooked her brunette hair behind her ears, revealing pirate hoops for earrings. “Mind if we sit down?”
“Sure.” I grabbed a seat from the vacated table behind me and pulled it around so that she’d sit right next to me. I don’t know why. Maybe because Styles had made the most hopeful face when the girls came over. Whichever it was, I regretted doing it the moment the other girls got chairs too.
Gentlemen that we were, we paid for a round of sodas and made some casual conversation, but other than Styles, none of us guys seemed really impressed with the catch we’d made. The girl next to me, who had introduced herself as Stephany, ordered a mineral water and leaned in a little too close to say thank you. When I looked at her face, all I could think was that I’d prefer a girl who came clean and natural, without all the colorful cement on her face.
I leaned back a few inches then widened the space between us to a solid foot. Not only was she painted like Picasso’s first guinea pig, but she also seemed to have fallen into a pot of her mother’s perfume, which stung my nose.
I had stood next to Abigail a million times, and the floral scent of her shampoo had never curled my toes.
Calum had troubles warding off a strawberry blond, who flashed braces in a flirtatious smile at him. It would have been interesting to know if he was avoiding her because of the same girl that was on my mind right now. We made it one hour, but finally Calum and I shared a look that said Run, and run as fast as you can.
To escape, we produced a lame ass excuse. That we weren’t allowed to stay out so long or we’d get thrown out of soccer camp, which half a lie.
“Will you come back in on the weekend?” Stephany asked and curled a strand of her hair around her forefinger. God, who had taught this girl to flirt? It was like she had watched the worst chick-flicks ever and taken notes.
Okay, maybe she wasn’t that bad, and a few months ago, I might even have encouraged her flirting, but today I wasn’t in the mood. “Guess we will. But we’ll probably bring our girlfriends, too, so this round won’t happen again.”
That made her back off. I tapped Harry's on the shoulder and interrupted his making out with a girl.“We’re off, mate. Are you coming?”
He bit his lip, seriously deliberating. Then he detached himself from the girl he called Kelly and walked out the door with us.
“I’ve never been that happy to get away from a bunch of girls,” Hood said as we climbed over the threaded wire fence back at camp.
“Why?” Harry mumbled. “The chicks were willing. What’s your problem? Don’t want to get laid?”
Calum and I simultaneously smacked him upside the head. “I don’t like it when a girl doesn’t take no for an answer,” I told him then held the door open for the rest to slip inside. And Stephany’s hand on my thigh definitely hadn’t heard the word no before.
We crawled into the bunk beds and turned off the light.