Chapter 2 - The Table Crashers

1880 Words
“So, why did you move here?” Harper asked as she poked at her potatoes. True to her word, she had shown up right before lunch and they walked to the cafeteria together. Gabriela wasn’t sure if Harper invited her out of pity since she didn’t know anyone else, but she appreciated the company nonetheless. She only hoped there wasn’t any secret agenda behind that simple act of kindness. People were rarely kind to her out of the goodness of their hearts. It was her first day; she didn’t want to deal with such people from the start. “Change of scenery,” Gabriela mumbled, looking down at her plate. She was never a fan of cafeteria food, but the mesh in front of her really took the cake. She could barely eat any food with her stomach in a knot, but since Harper had invited her for lunch, she didn’t want to sit with an empty plate. “My grandparents have a cafe on Connor street and my mom’s taking over.” “Oh, I know it!” Harper exclaimed, pointing with her fork. “I thought they closed it, though?” “They did.” Gabriela nodded. “It’s now renovated and reopened. You should come — first coffee is on me.” “Really?” Harper grinned, her face brightening. “How can I say no to coffee? I’ll definitely come. I’ll also tell all the clubs I’m in to go there!” “How many clubs are you in?” Gabriela raised an eyebrow. “Oh, a few.” Harper shrugged. “I’m in the debate club, literature club, history club, and writing club. It’s a lot of fun.” “Are you aiming to become a writer?” Gabriela asked, remembering the badge she saw on the girl earlier. The badge was now gone, along with Harper’s jacket. Even her tie was hanging loose around her neck, making Gabriela feel awkwardly neat in her full uniform. “Well, I guess,” Harper said, blushing. “I hope one day I’ll write books people love and fan over! Or work at a magazine. As long as there is writing involved, haha.” She looked down awkwardly, taking another bite that turned too big for her to swallow, and she choked. After she stopped coughing, she looked back at Gabriela with teary eyes. “Sorry. I get excited when talking about books and writing, and it’s bothersome for people.” “There is nothing wrong with being passionate about something you love,” Gabriela said, taking a sip out of her water and staring thoughtfully at Harper. “But I didn’t picture you as a writer. Aren’t all writers introverts that hate attention and people?” “Haha, some are,” Harper chuckled. “But I love being among people. People are interesting and inspiring. You can get a lot of ideas from them. Although, I am not very good at being the center of attention. I get anxious and awkward.” She looked around, then leaned forward, lowering her voice. “When I was a sophomore, I auditioned for the cheerleading squad.” Gabriela raised an eyebrow in surprise. She could see her fit there with her bubbly personality, but considering her reaction time and awkward stance, it was more likely that she’d hurt herself on the first rehearsal. “It was a disaster. I couldn’t even get to the dancing part. I was so nervous that the moment I stepped in front of them, I threw up my lunch.” Gabriela stared at her for a moment, then covered her mouth with her fist, trying not to laugh. She expected Harper to blush and feel bad about her reaction, but instead, Harper grinned. “Woah, you can smile too!” she exclaimed, clapping with her hands. “Sharing my humiliating story was totally worth it!” Gabriela composed herself, looking down at her untouched plate. “What about you? What are you passionate about?” “I…” “Hey, shortie!” a voice shouted almost in Gabriela’s ear and a moment later a body landed on the bench next to her, rocking it violently. She turned her head slowly, only slightly surprised to see the red-haired guy from earlier. “You’re a transfer student, right?” he asked, grinning. Gabriela noticed from the corner of her eye that a second guy took a seat next to Harper, who had turned red as a tomato. Even seated, he was towering over her. “Yes,” Gabriela answered, returning her eyes back to the red-haired guy. “Do you need something?” “I just thought I should say hi.” He shrugged, turning towards Harper and pressing his palms together as if he was about to pray. “I sincerely apologize for what happened earlier. Our motto is ‘Never mess a pretty lady’s face with the ball!’” "How many pretty ladies' faces did you mess up to get this motto?” Harper asked with her eyebrows raised. The guy next to her muffled his laughter. “That’s a really stupid motto.” Gabriela pointed out and the red-haired guy grinned even wider. “I know, right? I keep telling them we should change it!” He threw his hands in the air, grimacing. “So, how about some introductions? I’m Theodore, and that is Dylan,” he said, pointing to the one sitting next to Harper. “How about you?” Gabriela picked up her water bottle and took an unnecessarily long gulp, keeping her eyes on a group of cheerleaders in their black and red cheerleading uniforms. “I’m Harper. I’m a senior,” Harper said, her voice shaking slightly. “And that’s Gabriela. She just transferred here from Northridge Academy.” “Really?” Both Theodore and Dylan asked at the same time and Gabriela glanced at them curiously. Theodore continued. “Do you know a guy called Sebastian Bright? Tall, blonde, and super annoying?” Gabriela shuddered involuntarily, but tried to keep a straight face. “He is from their volleyball team. I heard he is the captain now.” “Doesn’t ring a bell,” Gabriela muttered, her hands tightening on the edge of her seat. She shifted uncomfortably, cursing her own body for still being so annoyingly weak. “You’re both from the volleyball team, right?” Harper asked, looking between the two table crashers. Gabriela welcomed the change of topic, relaxing slowly. Harper had regained some of her confidence and, with that, returned her smile and tendency to lead the conversation. “I think you’re both regulars, right? I’ve seen you in a few matches.” “We are,” the red-haired guy replied with a pleased expression. “I’m always glad to meet a fan. Make sure you cheer for us this year too, so we have the motivation to go to Nationals!” “Right, right!” Harper nodded obediently, blushing even harder. “How about the girls’ team? Gabriela here is thinking about joining them.” Gabriela fought the urge to kick Harper under the table as everybody’s eyes moved to her. Since that would have been too obvious, she just stabbed her food while looking at the other girl. “Really?” Theodore laughed, leaning his head on his hand while grinning. “Nope,” Gabriela muttered, refusing to look at him. “But you just said… ouch!” Harper whimpered, bending over the table. “I must have heard wrong then.” “Well, there is nothing wrong with joining a sports team,” Theodore said, straightening up in his seat as if he was about to give a speech. “It’s just with your height… they’ll probably bench you for all the matches. The other teams in the region are really great. Our girls never went past sectionals and most of the core team is graduating this year, so I’m sure they’ll want to play it safe.” “Thanks for the tip,” Gabriela replied nonchalantly. “You’re a hard nut to crack, aren’t you?” Theodore grinned. “If you…” A shadow fell over him and a moment later, a hand grabbed him by the neck, pressing his head to the table. There was no force or brutality in the action, but the strength with which they held him was obvious even from where Gabriela stood. “Stop bothering people at lunch, Theodore.” She looked up at the guy that had spoken, blinking against the sun coming from the big wall-high windows behind him. He shifted slightly, and the sun hid behind his back. He was tall, probably taller than the red-haired guy, with short dark hair. She couldn’t see his face properly, but he had the perfect proportions of a volleyball player — broad shoulders and lean waist, legs and arms thick with muscle. “Sorry about that,” he said with a pleasant voice, looking away from her and towards the Dylan guy. “You too, Dylan. Class is about to start. Let’s go.” “How about you let go now, huh?” Theodore protested, his cheek still pressed against the metal table. Despite his position, he was grinning like he was amused by what was going on. “We were just talking! We didn’t bother them!” The dark-haired guy let him go, waiting for the two to get up. Theodore and Dylan rose with a sigh, throttling in front of him with their shoulders slouched. He gave the girls one last glance, then hurried after his teammates without looking back. Gabriela’s eyes followed him until they left the cafeteria. Harper let out a heavy sigh, turning towards her with a goofy smile. “Did you see him?” she asked. “Not really. The sun was in my face.” Gabriela shrugged. “Another volleyball player?” “That’s their captain, Kyle Grant. Man, looking at him, you can’t say he is a senior at high school! He is like a model with that perfect body and handsome face.” She pressed her flushed cheeks, chuckling. “God, in a single day I got to talk to three handsome guys from the volleyball team, thanks to you! Do you think they have girlfriends?” “Beats me.” Gabriela shrugged. “And I had nothing to do with you meeting them.” “Of course you did. If you hadn’t stopped that ball, they wouldn’t have talked to us!” “So I should have let it hit you in the face? It would have hurt, you know.” “Oh, God, no. What I meant is that your luck gave us the opportunity! I’ve watched them from the bleachers for three years now, but never got the chance to really talk to them. I even have a few classes with Kyle, but we’ve never really talked! And today it was they who started the conversation.” “I have pretty shitty luck, just so you know.” Gabriela pointed out, getting to her feet. “So if you believe in such things and you think talking to them is a good thing, then expect divine retribution by dinner.”
Free reading for new users
Scan code to download app
  • author-avatar
  • chap_listContents
  • likeADD