Maggie hadn’t returned my texts all day, nor answered her phone when I called. She wasn’t scheduled to work that evening since it had been the first day of school and Braden wanted her to focus on that.
She was obviously mad at me, but I wasn’t sure what made her more angry, my deception about being homeless, or my fighting.
I couldn’t believe I lost my temper like that. Who cares what an idiot like Rocky Carlisle thinks or says?
The next morning, I waited near Maggie’s locker to catch her before going to her first class. She walked down the hall flanked by two girls I recognized from our junior year but couldn’t remember their names. I was glad she’d made friends, especially since I hadn’t been there for her on her first day of school.
Her hair was pulled back in a curly ponytail and she wore a miniskirt that showcased her tanned and toned legs. Years of surfing had created a body worth sculpting out of the finest clay or painting using a limited-edition Benicci brush.
I approached her cautiously as she turned the dial and opened the lock. She shoved two textbooks in her locker and held a third book in her hand to take with her to first hour. She purposely ignored me as I stood behind her.
“Are you mad at me because I got in a fight? or because I’m homeless?” I didn’t mean to say that loud enough for the people who were around Maggie to hear me, but unfortunately they did. She turned to me with vitriol in her eyes.
“Do you seriously think I’m shallow enough to be mad at you for being homeless?”
Bad choice of words on my part. “Well, mad at me for being deceptive about being homeless.”
“Yeah that ticked me off a little bit.” Maggie shifted her gaze then glared at me again. “But no, I was mad at you for getting in fight.”
“I’m sorry about that.” I lowered my gaze in shame and noted my scruffy Birkenstocks in contrast with her brand new Keds. “I won’t get in a fight again. I just lost my temper.”
“That’s the thing, Chad, my father always told me not to get in a relationship with a guy who fights because eventually he will turn the fight on you.” Her dad had a good point.
Panic in my heart took over. This wasn’t going well. “What do you want me to do? Take some anger management classes? I’ll do anything to keep you in my life.”
Some of her new friends were listening intently and I really wanted this conversation between the two of us.
“Can we go and talk someplace more private?”
Maggie looked around at her friends and agreed. She didn’t allow me to take her hand, but she did walk with me down towards the gym where we could at least have quiet even if people could still see us.
I leaned against the wall and folded my arms across my chest, and she looked over my shoulder purposely not meeting my gaze. She clutched her book to her chest. Closed off and not willing to hear what I had to say.
“Look, Maggie, you know me better than anyone in this whole world. You know me better than my father, obviously better than my mother because she died when I was five.” I chuckled ironically. “You know me better than my grandparents. You know me better than any friend I’ve ever had. Have I ever been violent?”
“Chad, I have known you for less than a month. I have no idea whether you have ever been violent.” Her words cut to my heart. She was right in so many ways. “No. You have never been violent around me. But we haven’t known each other long enough for me to know if this is the real you. If you’re willing to hide something as big as you being homeless what else are you hiding?”
“I can’t think of anything else I’m hiding from you.” I leaned in closer, but I didn’t reach out for her. I didn’t want her to think that I was infringing on her personal space. I wanted her to be a part of my life, but only if she chose to be a part of my life. “Maggie, I have fallen in love with you so hard I can’t possibly think of my life without you. You are the one.”
“What does that even mean Chad?” Sarcasm entered her voice and I felt her mentally pushing me away. “Do you think that I am the love of your life? Do you think that as seventeen-year-olds we’re going to make decisions that will affect the rest of our lives?”
“We are already making decisions that will affect the rest of our lives,” I argued. “We have made some really good decisions since we met. Believe me, I have been tempted by you more times than I’m willing to admit.”
My mind shifted to the pocket of my cargo shorts, reminding me how true that statement was.
“So far I have been able to resist doing things with you that I only dream about. If that’s not making good decisions that will affect the rest of our lives, I can’t think of anything else that is.”
Her stance softened a bit, but she still kept her arms tightly wrapped around her book.
“I’m working to get into college and working to make enough money that I’ll be able to support you if we choose to get married someday.” My voice lowered with vulnerability and longing. “I don’t ever want you to think that you can’t have the lifestyle you’re used to just because you marry a goofy, surfing artist who only wants to surf half the day, and draw pictures every waking hour after that.”
I lowered my voice. Not that I thought anyone else would hear us, but she needed to know that surfing and drawing weren’t the only things on my mind.
“And a large part of my consciousness wants to make love to you for the rest of the day. But I don’t think we’re ready for that yet.”
“Well that’s something we agree on.” Maggie finally met my gaze. “But I hope you don’t think I’m so shallow that I wouldn’t marry you just because you’re poor. I don’t care what lifestyle I am used to living. When I make the decision to get married it is going to be for love not for money. But again, we’re not old enough to make that kind of decision when we’re seventeen years old and in high school.”
“I agree.” I nodded. “But I’m going to live my life in a way that I am worthy of you, if you are the person who chooses to become my wife. And in the process, if you are not the love of my life, I will be making myself worthy for whoever does become my wife. I really kinda hope that’s you.” My voice softened to a pleading whisper.
“I know you do,” she said. “I’m just not ready to make those kinds of long-term commitments.”
“How about this,” I suggested. “Can you make a commitment to go to dinner with me tonight?
“Tonight is a school night and I have homework. But I will be willing to go out to dinner with you on Friday after work if you promise not to get in any fights between now and then.”
“I promise not to get in any fights between now and Friday.” I held up my hand to claim scout’s honor.
“Okay, do you wanna walk me to my first class?” she asked. “I don’t want to be late. And you shouldn’t be late for your first class, which should have been yesterday.”
“Yeah, I need to go apologize to my teachers, don’t I?”
“I would say so, yes.”
“Can I hold your hand on the way to class?”
“That I can do.”
And that she did.
A stand alone novella in the All's Fair in Love and Sports Series by Julie L. Spencer.