I didn’t want to let go of Sammy’s hand. That was stupid. She was just a little high school girl. What was it about her that was so dang distracting? Sure, she was cute, but she was too young for me.
“So, Brandon,” Kat draped her arm through mine. “What brings you all this way?”
Was she batting her eyelashes at me? Awkward.
“Did you see my first-place win?” Krystal asked, taking my other arm.
“Sorry, I wasn’t really paying attention to your race.” Did I seriously just emphasize your? What exactly was I implying? Stupid question. I knew exactly what I was implying and that was not an acceptable mindset.
Okay, so I was watching Sammy. Whatever. She’s cute. I decided to pay closer attention to the two girls on my arms.
“Did either of you PR?”
“Yeah, by two seconds,” they said in unison. They looked across at each other. “You did?”
“Okay, you guys are creeping me out.” I extricated myself from in between them and stepped back to where Sammy walked a few steps behind. I nudged my shoulder against her. “What about you? Did you PR?”
“No, I almost face-planted on the track because I was distracted by this guy in the stands calling my name.”
I opened my mouth and eyes wide, feigning shock. “Oh my gosh, who would do something like that?”
“Someone who wants me to fail, apparently,” she said.
“I’m sure that’s not it.” I creased my eyebrows. “He probably just wanted to cheer you on. I’m sure if you ask him, you’d find that he was trying to motivate you.”
“You surprised me. I didn’t know you were coming.”
“Your mom needed a ride.” Easy explanation. It had nothing to do with me.
“I didn’t know she was coming either. It’s a long drive. I didn’t expect anyone to come all the way down here.”
“It’s not everyday you make it to state finals,” I said, stopping at the edge of a large, open canopy. “Speaking of which, here is a plethora of choices in the finest cotton and poly-blend t-shirts and sweatshirts to help you memorialize the event. Take your pick.”
The twins were already manhandling the piles, holding them up and wrinkling their noses. There was every color imaginable.
“How about this one?” I picked up a tie-dyed pink hoodie with the state finals logo across the front. I guessed Sammy’s size and tossed it to her. She held it up and snuggled it to her chest. Lucky sweatshirt.
“I love it!” She smiled over at me. “How did you know my favorite color is pink?”
“I didn’t. I just thought it looked like something you’d like.”
“I’m totally buying this.” Sammy skipped over to the guy taking money and counted out enough cash.
The twins were holding up shirts to one another, deciding on colors and styles. They ended up choosing the exact same shirt, but Krystal’s was pink, and Kat’s was blue. Go figure. They’d match their headbands.
“Will you keep these while we run our last race, so we don’t have to leave them in the tent with all the rest of our stuff?” Kat held out her shirt and batted her eyelashes. I got the impression she wanted an excuse to come find me after the race.
“Mine too,” Krystal said, handing me the pink shirt.
I turned to Sammy with my hand out. “Would you like me to carry yours as well?”
“Yes, but I’d like to hang onto it for a few minutes until we show it to my mom. If that’s okay.”
“One fewer thing for me to carry over there,” I said. I liked the idea of her carrying it and then me getting to hold it afterward. I wasn’t sure why. I draped the twins’ shirts over my shoulder and fought the urge to grab Sammy’s hand and hold it all the way back to her mom.
“Mom, look what Brandon picked out. Isn’t it the coolest sweatshirt ever?”
“It’s totally you,” mom said. “You’d think he’d known you for years instead of just a few weeks.”
“Well, she is like a little sister to me,” Brandon said, wrapping his arm around my shoulders.
I shrugged out from under his arm. I was so tired of him thinking of me like a little sister. Here I’ve got this incredibly hot guy working in my yard every day and sleeping in the apartment behind my house, and all I am to him is a little sister.
“Here, hold this for me, will ya?” I shoved my new hoodie into his arms and trotted down the stairs to where the twins were waiting.
“Let’s go find Lisa and start warming up,” Kat said. It didn’t take us long. Lisa was propped up in our school’s tent with her shoes off and a hard-cover book in her hands.
“You ready to go win first place in the four-by-four?” Krystal nudged Lisa’s book with the toe of her shoe, startling Lisa back to the present day and time.
“Absolutely,” Lisa said, setting her book aside and picking up her shoes. Lisa was fast enough, but her heat would be the slowest time of our foursome. We’d still win.
The four of us started a light jog around the perimeter of the stadium, chatting and laughing and goofing off.
Almost as if some unspoken command had been given, we transitioned into game mode. We stood side by side with stoic faces and watched the slow heat, then made our way to the starting positions. We were lined up by overall season PR, and we were seeded to win.
When the gun went off Kat burst off the line like a bullet. She rounded the corners at speeds that provided us a comfortable lead over the second-place team. Lisa was next, and she maintained our lead, but not by much. I was able to pick ups some of the slack and had a decent lead before passing the baton to Krystal. She took off even faster than her sister and the other teams didn’t stand a chance.
We’d done it. We’d won first place in the state in the 400 relays. And we were only juniors. There was really no competition.
Running To You
Read the next chapter in my work-in-progress!