Ugh. Today’s the last day of summer.
I know, I know. Everybody dreads the first day of school.
But when I wake up on the last Sunday before my senior year, I’m not dreading classes or alarms or cheer squad practice. I’m dreading seeing one specific person.
AJ-fucking-McGabe. The star quarterback of our football team.
All the plastic barbies at my school are obsessed with him.
And I guess they have a point about his looks. I can’t deny that he’s hot.
He’s got muscles for days, and I guess that perfectly-styled black hair looks good with his brown eyes and upturned nose.
But it doesn’t matter what he looks like. Because AJ McGabe is an asshole.
Ever since I started at this school, he’s been making my life a living hell.
It was so nice to get away from him this summer, to be able to just chill with my dad and relax.
But tomorrow, it’s back to reality and the world’s biggest douchebag.
My phone starts buzzing on my bedside table, and I look over at it.
When I see the name “Jake” pop up on the screen, a huge smile overtakes my face.
At least that’s one good thing about the start of school.
Jake Nelson, my best friend from childhood, is moving to San Francisco and starting at my school.
Better still, he’s staying with me until he and his dad can find a new place.
Grabbing my phone off the bedside table, I jump up and run downstairs.
“Jakey! Over here,” I shout as I step out of my house thirty seconds later.
A wide grin breaks out on my face as I spot him running across the street with a backpack slung over his shoulder. He’s got his phone tucked under his ear and seems to be finishing a call.
“Yeah, dude, for sure. I’m just getting to George’s now,” he says as he stops in front of me. “I’m gonna miss the first week of school cause of logistical stuff, but I promise I’ll be there ASAP!”
A matching grin spreads across the Jake’s face as he stops in front of me and hangs up his call. I launch myself toward him, elbowing a small elderly woman who happens to be passing out of my way in the process.
“Jakey!” I squeal, flinging my arms around his neck.
He chokes slightly with the force of the contact before laughing and picking me up to swing me around in a circle, hitting the little old lady again with my flailing legs in doing so.
“How was the flight?” I ask Jake when he finally puts me down. The old lady tuts and waddles away down the street.
“Not bad. My dad wanted me to take the truck up with him next weekend, but I knew I had to see you before school started,” he chuckles.
“Was that him?” I ask, gesturing to his phone.
“Nah, that was Andy,” he says, pocketing his phone.
Ah, Andy, Jake’s best friend from football camp. Apparently, he goes to our school, but I don’t know anybody in our school who goes by Andy.
“Can’t wait to meet him,” I smile at Jake. “Well, let’s not stand on the street all day! Come on inside!”
I pull open the door to our house and lead the way up to my room, shouting a greeting at Dad on the way up.
My family and the Nelsons have always been like extensions of the same family, vacationing together every summer since Jake and I were toddlers.
Before my mom died, she was really good friends with Jake’s mom. Unfortunately, Jake’s dad and mom are getting a divorce now, which is why Jake and his dad are coming to SF.
I feel terrible for Jakey losing his parents like this. Even though I have to go to school tomorrow, I’m going to do my best to take his mind off things today.
“You know what time it is,” I say, holding up my phone, which is open to a food delivery app.
A wide smile crosses his face. “IHOP?”
I grin back and whoop, “Hell yeah, IHOP!”
After an afternoon filled with food, food, and more food, Jake and I are curled up under a blanket on the back porch.
Jake has his head resting on my shoulder, and I am playing with his hair. He let it grow out the last year, and his brown hair now hangs down in line with his jaw.
He shaved an undercut into it, and I rub my hand on the short Velcro-like hair there.
“I can’t believe how long your hair’s got since I last saw you.”
“You see it on Skype all the time.” He shrugs.
“That’s not the same. You can’t really see it properly on a computer screen. Plus, you tie it back a lot.” I tug a little on it, and he sighs, snuggling into my neck a little more, snaking his arms around my waist.
I drop my voice to a whisper so my dad can’t hear. He wouldn’t like me snooping. “How are things with your parents and the divorce?”
He sighs again and sits up, inadvertently pulling the blanket off me as he sits forward, running a hand over his face.
“They’re… really bad.” His voice is a whisper too. When he sniffs, I quickly move to wrap my arms tightly around his shoulders, burying my face in his neck.
“Oh, Jakey. I’m so sorry.”
I feel him shrug under my arms.
“S’ok. They’ve done nothing but bitch and moan at each other for months. I think I’d rather them split than keep that up.” He sniffs again, and I feel damp on the sleeve of my hoodie.
I squeeze him tightly and press my lips gently against his temple.
“Love you, Jakey.”
“Love you too, Georgie.”
“You know what might cheer you up?” I ask. Jake turns his damp eyes up to me.
“What?” he asks.
“Halo!” I hold up a pair of Xbox controllers I’ve been hiding behind my back. I know, I know, I’m a total tomboy.
Being only children, Jake and I see each other as siblings, and when we were little, it was much more fun joining in with Jake’s games and toys than trying to persuade him to play with my dolls.
It is one of the things I miss most, having moved away: being able to be completely myself.
“I can’t believe you can’t start school till next week. I have to deal with asshole AJ McGabe all by myself tomorrow,” I mumble into Jake’s chest, four games of Halo later.
He chuckles, and the vibration feels nice against my cheek.
Over the last two years, Jake developed the lean muscular physique of a football player, and his hugs now feel like he could easily crush me if he squeezes a little too hard.
“You know, you talk about this ‘manwhore AJ’ so much, I’m starting to think you’re actually crushing on him,” Jake smirks down at me.
“As if,” I say, hitting him with a pillow.
“Yeah,” Jake chuckles. “I mean, you said he’s on the football team, right? Andy’s sent me pics of the team. Everybody on it is totally your type.”
I feel myself going red and wriggle away from Jake to pout on the other side of the bed.
“I would never, ever date that dickhead.”
I want to beat the shit out of Jake for the smug look he’s giving me.
The next morning, I wake up in a crappy mood.
Jake is still passed out on the floor of my bedroom when I creep out of bed and get dressed for school.
I’m very quiet on the ride in. My dad smirks over at me.
“You don’t have to be so excited, you know. It’s only school.”
I give my dad a ‘drop-dead’ look. We’ve been really close since my mom died, but sometimes his ‘dad humor’ still gets on my nerves.
When he drops me off in front of the school, I take a deep breath before getting out of the car.
Great. Time to deal with AJ McGabe and his band of idiots on the football team.
Just then, something that Jake said to me last night comes back into my head.
He told me his friend Andy had pictures of the football team like he was on the team himself.
But there was nobody named Andy on the football team. I’m sure of it…
“Well, well, well, if it isn’t Ms Gina,” comes a familiar, drawling voice from behind me.
Oh shit. AJ McGabe.
My summer is officially over.
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