She checked her cell phone. Miss you, she texted Johnny.
A few months ago, she might've gone inside right about now to have a cup of coffee with Maritza and chat about their day. Or she might've been in bed, snuggled against Johnny after a morning quickie.
But now, here she was, moping like a teen girl with nothing to do and upset because she hadn't heard from her boyfriend. She shook her head. She was not going to be that girl.
Busy hands are happy hands.
August shook his head. "Let's take a break, man," he said, jogging off to the side to talk to another teammate.
"You did good, baby!" Vita cooed. "You're sure to be the stand-out player this year!"
"Yeah? You think?!" he asked enthusiastically, pleased that Vita recognized his skill and talent. "August was the stand-out player last year. It'd be awesome if I got it this year!"
"Baby, you're totally going to get it!" Vita said, throwing herself into his arms.
He'd only been able to manage to see Nadine a handful of times since they were caught making love for the first time on school grounds. The last time he'd been with her was on the Recurve Strand near her home. They'd made love under the stars on the secluded beach. Only 6 months until they graduated and could be together forever.
Nadine wasn't at school the next day. Or the day after.
Vita finally told him that her uncle had pulled Nadine out of school and was going to have her finish the year at Smugglesworth Prep School, far away from Rio's influence.
He stared at the screen, trying to put his feelings into words. "Bittersweet memories of doubt and remorse..." he typed, pausing only a moment to consider the next line. "...assail me in waves of immeasurable force..."
He hung his head, feeling a sharp pain in his chest.
Rio jumped when he heard Tia Haley from behind him unexpectedly. Quickly, he tabbed over and hid the poetry he'd been working on. "Yeah?" he asked, pretending to be surfing the web.
"The party starts at 7. Are you ready to go?" she reminded him.
Rio rolled his eyes. He didn't need Tia to give him a pep talk like he was some over-emotional kid.
"Hey guys! We're glad you could make it!" Shaye said, inviting them inside.
"Thanks for inviting us," Haley said as she stepped inside the livingroom. She saw Rio looking around the room, appearing incredibly nervous and uncomfortable.
She opened her mouth to suggest her go find his sister, when Shaye pointed towards the stairs, telling him, "She's probably upstairs on the deck. Why don't you go get the birthday girl and tell her the cake is ready!"
Rio gladly loped off to find Shayla.
"Kelli," Shaye admonished quietly.
Kelli glanced back at her husband. "What? I'm just clearing the air!"
They were saved from having to make any more small talk when Shayla and Rio rushed back into the room.
Shaye laughed. "We'll see!" he said, attempting to placate her. No way was she getting a pony, though!
"But, Dad! I blew all the candles out! My wish has to come true!" she said, opening her eyes wide and blinking innocently.
"Shayla..." Shaye cautioned, well used to his daughter using her big, grey eyes to try to get her way.
The adults sighed a breath of relief.
"I want to learn to ride a horse!" she announced, grabbing a slice of cake.
Kelli waved her hand dismissively. "Oh gosh no! I don't have time to bake! I just grabbed it from the grocery store!" A soft crying sound came from down the hall. "Oh! Shayla, can you go check on Emily for me? I'm almost done!"
Shaye rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "It was never about you," he told her, attempting to explain.
Haley rested her hand on his arm and squeezed. "I know," she told him. "It was a bad situation all around."
"Yeah, well, for what it's worth, I'm real sorry."
Haley nodded, blinking quickly when the tears threatened to fall. "Thanks," she said.
Shaye leaned back against the counter. "So have you heard from her at all?" he asked.
Shayla turned around and smiled. "Yeah, Mom is really excited about the blonde hair!" Rio blinked with surprise that Shayla called her stepmom 'Mom'. She was lucky she got a mom and a dad that actually fought for her. All he'd gotten was a screwed up mom.
"Rio! You shouldn't have!" she told him, eagerly grabbing the present and ripping into it. "Aw, it's beautiful!" she said as she held up the small horse statue. "I love it!"
Rio shrugged. "It's nothing," he said, feeling uncomfortable with the praise. "It's just some toy horse I thought you'd like."