What About Your Friends
4:25 P.M —MCHS Gym
Tatum tsked pausing the music on her iPhone, “You did it again!”
“Did what?” Taylor slapped her orange tennis skirt covered hips. “What did I do?” She sighed. Taylor was tired. She’d been there for an hour. She drug her hot and sweaty body off the tennis courts to the cold, vacant gym.
“I don’t know.” Sophomore Ivory Hernandez shrugged. “You seemed fine to me. I mean you didn’t trip me like last time.” She combed her silky auburn hair up into a ponytail.
“Yes. Good job.” Tatum’s clap echoed through the empty basketball court. “You didn’t trip her and you got all the steps right but—” She dragged out the last word, sitting her hands on her hips. “You’re off tempo. You Remind Me of Something is slow; Body is fast but you’re going fast and fast. Do you see the problem?”
“You just said the problem.” Taylor dryly said as she rubbed the goose bumps springing up on her bare stomach.
“I think its time for a break.” Linden uttered through the attitude swelling in the atmosphere. She grunted as she stood up from the wooden bench, her butt half asleep.
“One more time.” Tatum stated. “Then we can call it a day.” She rewinded the track back.
“I don’t have one more time, Tate.” Ivory informed looking at the time on her Samsung Galaxy. “Some of us don’t live in Cedar Harbor.” She dug in her MCHS duffle bag for her Fire Rock Pizza uniform. “I have to get to work.”
“And I have to pee,” Linden said waddling pass them.
“Okay, since they’re gone,” Tatum said as the heavy gym door slammed behind Linden and Ivory. “I’ll count while you focus on staying on beat.”
“No! No! No! I’m tired.” Taylor surrendered. “I’m done for today. Why are you stressing. The first football game of the season isn’t until Friday.”
“This is my first year as captain. Audrey left big shoes to fill.” Tatum climbed up the bleachers, taking a seat in the middle of the third row. “She won state remember!”
“Yeah, Audrey was boss but you’re ten times better.” Taylor zipped up her Nike Jacket. She tried to hold off putting it on knowing she had to rip it off once she walked out the building but she was cold, now. “Plus, you got Ms. Portsweil to approve R. Kelly. Can we say feat.”
Tatum’s mouth twisted to the side of her face.
“You did get Ms. Portsweil’s approval, right?”
“By approval do you mean like I played her the song and she said yes?”
“Yes.” Taylor nodded.
“Tatum!” Taylor stomped her foot. “You’re going to get us in trouble.”
“How much trouble can we get into for dancing to a song that’s like thirty years old?” Tatum guessed. “Come on, live a little.”
“I do live.”
“Is that why you keep dodging Donovan?”
“I’m not dodging him.” Taylor looked at the text on her iPhone. “I just don’t want to talk to him or about him.”
“Okay, lets not talk about him.” Tatum crossed her legs. “Let’s talk about me and Josh.”
Taylor’s head was down reading the messages from her parents, her cousin Harmony, her sister Iris, and Tyler. “What about you and Josh?”
“I think its time.”
“Time for what?” Taylor muttered still reading.
Tatum groaned. She wanted Taylor’s undivided attention, well she knew what she had to say next would do the trick, “Its time that Josh and I had sex.”
Taylor’s eyes darted up from the phone landing on a calm Tatum. She was serious, Taylor thought to herself. “Are you crazy!” Taylor asked.
Tatum shook her head.
“You are.” Taylor tossed her green Nike duffle bag strap on her shoulder. “Its time for me to go.”
“Tay!” Tatum yelled grabbing her things. “Wait!” She jogged to catch up with her.
4:25 P.M —MCHS Hallway
Tyler leaned against the midnight blue lockers typing on his Texas Ranger covered iPhone. Hurry up! I’m waiting, he sent to Taylor, then strolled through his photo stream searching for the best pic to upload on Instagram. It was probably the picture of him surfing in Turks and Caicos.
“My uncle’s cousin’s nephew’s friend said he can do the job.” Jase proclaimed blocking Tyler’s view of the gym doors.
Jase Miranda, there are no words for but let’s try. He’s the 6’1” best friend of Tyler since third grade. Which was the same time his family moved to Cedar Harbor from Tulsa, Oklahoma. He dons the name Chef Boyardee because of his successful YouTube channel showing him cooking various dishes from braised Tandoori Chicken to quinoa stuffed bell peppers. Which is why he’s the bane of Taylor’s existence. Jase uses the Given’s kitchen as his studio but here’s the catch: He doesn’t clean a dish after the red light goes off. He always runs home afterward claiming he has to watch his little brother, Josue.
“You’re Uncle’s what?” Tyler asked with a contoured look scribbled onto his face. He got lost on the relationship rollercoaster.
“You know the guy I told you about.” Jase readjusted his backpack strap on his sturdy shoulder. For a boy that loved to cook, he sure kept the pounds off his sculptured body. “The one that can fix Mr. Given’s car for cheap.”
Taylor perked up, remembering he texted the photo of his dad’s car to Jase that morning. “How much did he say?” He nodded a hello to Linden as she walked out the gym behind Ivory.
“Sixteen hundred twenty-one.” Jase spit out. “He said he can do it tomorrow and have it done my Thursday just before Mrs. Given’s gets back.”
“I don’t know.” Tyler shifted his weight to his other foot. “Taylor said she was going to take care of it.”
“You don’t need your sister to help you. Be your own man.” Jase tapped Tyler’s shoulder.
“I am my own man.” Tyler stuck out his chest a little further. “But one thousand, six hundred and twenty-one dollars is a lot of money to get in two days.”
“Okay, check this out.” Jase fanned his hand out. “I got a plan.”
“You got a plan.” Taylor was a little apprehensive since Jase’s last plan was the reason he needed the cash to begin with.
“A party…and we charge for it.” A smile burned on Jase’s square face.
“Where’s this party gonna be?”
“9362 Pebble Creek Road.”
“Let me show you.” Jase pulled his keys out his pocket. “And don’t worry, I’ll spot you the twenty-one dollars.”
4:25—MCHS Weight Room
Heath waited for the glass door to close behind Corey before opening his mouth. “How long do I have to wait?” His hands hovered over the barbell as Donovan slowly pushed it up.
“Six more,” Donovan grunted out under the girth of the two hundred pounds of weight.
“I’m not talking about your reps.” Heath cleared his throat. “I’m talking about Taylor.”
Donovan’s left arm buckled, the barbell tilted. Heath grabbed it before it crushed his friend’s windpipe. Donovan rose up, keeping his back to Heath, “Are you trying to get with my girl?”
“Your girl!” Heath exclaimed. The barbell chided as he dropped it back on the metal arms of the bench press.
“Yes!” Donovan shot to his feet sweat pouring down his face. “My girl!” He stretched out the words.
“She’s not your girl.” Heath flung Donovan the towel draped over the Leg Press. “Not anymore.”
Donovan caught the black towel, “I’m trying to fix that.”
“You cheated on her.” Heath’s grip tightened around the barbell.
“I know what I did. You don’t have to remind me.” Donovan wiped the towel across his cocoa butter smooth face. “You just want my turn to be over so you can get your shot at bat.”
Heath shook his head, “You should’ve never had a turn.”
“You gave me permission.”
“I gave you permission to dance with her at homecoming because I was with Jade and she just broke up with Isaac.” Heath pulled a twenty-pound weight off the barbell. “I didn’t say you could date her.”
“Well, my bad.” Donovan smugly shrugged.
“Your bad.” Heath huffed. “Hell yeah! Your bad.” He loaded a fifty-pound weight onto the barbell. “I broke up with Jade…that night and there you were making out with my girl in the back of your Charger.”
“It’s not my fault you have bad timing,” Donovan stated hanging the damp towel around his neck.
“You’re a son of a bitch, you know that.” Heath rolled his eyes wondering why they were best friends. Was it because they went to the same school and lived in the same neighborhood? Or because their parents were old college friends and raised them together or did they really have things in common.
“Thank you!” Donovan accepted with a smile. “Just stay out of my relationship and my girl.”
4:30 — MCHS Library
“You should’ve told me,” Josh whispered hiding in the Non-Fiction section; no one came back there.
“Told you what?” Linden stepped back. “That I was pregnant with your baby.”
“Don’t say that that loud.” Josh peeked around the bookshelf to see it anyone was lurking. He exhaled a sigh of relief; no one was there. “Lower your voice.” He whispered. “I don’t need this to spread.”
“We don’t need this to spread.” Linden fumed. “If this got out Tatum would never speak to me. She likes you for some reason.”
Josh jutted up his eyebrow like some actor in an audition, “The same reason that got us here.” He looked down at her protruding belly.
“You had sex with her,” Linden muttered with fire in her cobalt eyes.
“No.” Josh rubbed his freshly tamed curls. “Not yet.”
“And you won’t,” Linden ordered. “You can’t”
Josh tsked gripping Nathanial Hawthorn’s Scarlet Letter to his chest, “You can’t tell me what to do with my girlfriend.”
“It will destroy her if she found out the same loser that took her virginity is the same one that knocked up her friend.” Linden jabbed her finger in his steel-like chest.
Josh smacked her finger away, “Then keep your mouth closed and don’t tell her.”
“What am I suppose to say when she asks me who’s the father.” Linden leaned closer to him speaking so low Josh had to strain his neck to hear. “Taylor’s already pushing.”
“Make up a name.” He suggested. “I don’t care but no one can know this.” He didn’t want Tatum to know and he for sure as hell didn’t want his parents to find out.
“Okay.” Linden nibbled on her lip thinking. “Milo Grey. It’s outlandish enough not to be a real person.”
“And I’ll make a Facebook page so you can show him off.” His voice brimmed with sarcasm.
“Don’t go overboard.” Linden swiped at book off the shelf without reading the title. She didn’t need anyone getting suspicious. “I know your creative skills.”
“I’ll keep it simple. Believable.” Josh grinned. “You know. Someone you can trap.”