First Comes Love(3)By: Emily Goodwin
Mrs. Jefferson emerges from her office. “Oh, Lauren, you’re early.”
Right now, that’s the best name in the entire world. Lauren. I repeat it in my head a few more times.
“It seems my prior meeting isn’t going to happen, so come on in,” Mrs. Jefferson says. “You’re not off the hook yet, mister,” she tells me. “Stay put, Noah.”
I roll my eyes and lean back again, watching Lauren get up. She’s wearing a pink and white dress, nothing out of the ordinary but nothing tight and revealing like so many of the other chicks in this school do. I admire her full ass as she walks into Mrs. Jefferson’s office, wondering how I’ve never seen her before. She has to be a freshman. I’ve never seen this girl before in my sophomore class. Maybe? She didn’t look that much younger than me.
It shouldn’t matter, and she probably has a boyfriend anyway. For now. Someday, she’ll be mine.
Someday Lauren will love me.
“Dude, what the hell is wrong with you today?” Colin tosses the football into the air and catches it.
“Nothing,” I retort and drain my bottle of water. The sun is beating down on us during football practice today. It’s late in the fall and we got hit with a week of unusually warm weather.
“You’re a fucking liar, but I don’t care as long as you get it together by the game tomorrow.”
I roll my eyes and make up an excuse of fucking some college girl at a party last night for being distracted today. Colin doesn’t press even though he knows it’s another lie.
I’m not one to give a damn about labels, but I consider Colin my best friend. We got a lot in common and just get along great. I can’t bullshit him, and he knows I wasn’t at a party last night. Yet he doesn’t push the issue. He knows when to stop and give me space. I respect the hell out of him for that.
The real reason for my distraction is Lauren, the girl from the principal’s office protesting about dead cats. I haven’t seen her since—and I looked.
But she’s here today.
Sitting in the bleachers, at the top and by herself, away from the small crowd of girls who always watch us practice. Lauren hasn’t looked away from the book she’s reading. Not once.
I try to catch her eye the rest of practice but she’s buried in that fucking book.
“You guys want to go to Pete’s?” Josh asks Colin and me as practice concludes. Pete’s Diner has cheap food and doesn’t always card when you order beer. It’s the popular hangout.
“I’m in,” I say.
Colin grumbles, “I have to take my sister to the library.”
“Bring her with,” Josh suggests. “She’s hot.”
Colin shoots daggers at him. “Shut the fuck up.”
“I’m just saying it like it is. Why are you driving Katie?” Josh asks. “She has a car.”
I look over my shoulder at Lauren. She closed her book and is coming toward us. My heart and my dick jump. Fuck, she’s beautiful.
“Not Katie,” Colin says. “Lauren.” Lauren. Funny he said her name the same time she makes eye contact with me. Colin turns around and sighs. “Speak of the devil.”
Wait, what? I look from him to Lauren, the girl I’m going to make mine someday.
No, no, no. Lauren is his sister. His baby sister.
She will never be mine.
I CHECK THE time on my phone and bite my lip, contemplating what to do. I take a deep breath and look around the restaurant, trying my hardest not to feel self-conscious about sitting alone—and about already finishing one glass of wine.
I shouldn’t be alone, though. But for the last fifteen minutes, I’ve sat here solo, stomach grumbling from the wonderful smell of Italian food being served around me, waiting for my date to show up. It’s not technically a blind date, since I’ve seen Gavin’s pictures before, but we’ve yet to meet in person. I met him on one of those dating apps, and I think I can recognize him from his photos. Well, if he ever gets here.
To be fair, I got here early. I get everywhere early. If I don’t, I panic. And yeah, I know the world won’t end if I show up late to dinner, but being late opens the door to a lot of other bad stuff, like people thinking I’m rude, losing my table … making others wait on me. Serious shit like that. I know, I need to lighten up a bit. I try. Really, I do.
But life is easier when things go as planned, when I can stick to a schedule. Life is hard enough as is. Why make it even more chaotic?
My stomach grumbles again and I’m tempted to pull the fancy white-cloth napkin off the basket of bread that’s been set on the center of the table. I inhale and lean back in my chair, feeling a bit woozy from the wine. I don’t drink very often because I don’t like the taste of alcohol, but a sweet bubbly wine like the one in front of me is too good to resist, and I agree to another glass when the waiter comes around.