So clearly I lied about posting two chapters of Sparked that last time, but that’s okay because I SWEAR TO GOD, I’m posting one chapter today and another tomorrow. I’ve been working my butt off to edit Ace of Swords these last few weeks, but now it’s been sent off and I have a bit more time! Hooray! Anyway, please enjoy the chapter!
P.S. I apologize again for the weird paragraph indents. I’ll be honest…I may never figure that out…..
Chapter 3: Coach
Miss North was in the middle of passing out a worksheet when Vincent Jonathans rushed through the door, looking ill.
Eileen blushed, hyper-focusing on where her hands were resting on the table as Vincent slumped down in his seat next to her.
“Sorry I’m late,” Vincent said.
Miss North reluctantly handed over a worksheet. “I’ll write up your tardy slip after class.”
Vincent nodded, looking resigned. He shrugged out of his backpack and threw it down like it was plaguing him. Eileen watched as he dragged his hands through his dark hair, hands shaking.
He glanced toward her, and she looked away, feeling embarrassed.
Don’t be a creep, Eileen.
As the class began on their worksheets, Vincent wouldn’t stop moving. His knee bumped up and down, making the table rattle, their classmates on the opposite side of the table narrowing their eyes at him in annoyance. He didn’t seem to notice their glaring, or when Miss North raised an eyebrow at him when she sat down at her desk.
His lean shoulders were hunched up around his ears as he tapped his fingers against his knee, flipping his pen over and over until it flew out of his hands. Eileen bent to retrieve it.
“Sorry,” he said as she handed it back.
Eileen did another math problem on her sheet before looking back up at him. He was staring at the classroom door with big eyes.
She took a deep breath, nervous. “A-are you okay?” she whispered. This shouldn’t be so hard. After all, they did know each other—they were both on the track team. Eileen spent a lot of time with the jumpers, though, so they didn’t see each other much.
Not that it had stopped her from having a crush on him for three years.
“Fine,” Vincent snapped at her.
She huffed a breath out of her nose, tilting her head. She had to resist the urge to roll her eyes and burst into tears at the same time.
It was a short block, so class ended about fifteen minutes later. The bell rung; students were filing out of the classroom when Vincent locked eyes with Eileen. “Hey, could tell Coach that I have to miss practice today?”
He was staying behind to get his tardy slip, but she was in the throng of students—she didn’t have time to ask him anything. Eileen just nodded as she followed the crowd into the hallway. “Okay.”
Vincent nodded back in thanks, and Eileen felt an urge to wait up for him.
But what would that do? They weren’t friends. And he’d already made it clear that he wasn’t going to share anything with her. And why should he feel like he had to?
It was his life.
Eileen wasn’t good at track, but she liked it.
She often felt directionless in life—she was quite mediocre at all things. She played the violin, but not well; had good grades, but only in honors classes; and seemed to cycle through other hobbies weekly.
Once she tried to get into taking pictures with her aunt’s old camera, but she had abandoned that when most of them came out too light, too dark, or blurry. In middle school, she’d tried out for the dance club only to realize that she wasn’t a good dancer. She kept up with violin, but felt like she’d hit a wall when she was thirteen and had stopped improving since then.
She hadn’t improved much at track either, but running and jumping and hanging out with her teammates often made her forget she was bad at it.
Practice, though, was often much improved by getting to look at the track and see Vincent circling around it. There was nothing quite like watching boys without shirts run or lift weights, especially one she liked. She felt the afternoon yawning endlessly ahead of her without her favorite distraction.
“He’s missing practice?” Coach said to her after she’d told him. He crossed his arms over his chest and glared at her, like it was her fault. In fact, Coach often pointed blame where it didn’t belong—once a hurricane had completely demolished one of their warm-up trails and he had made Bradley Marcus do a hundred push-ups for not being able to “stop the weather with his big forehead.” “He better have a good reason why,” he said now.
Eileen shrugged. “I’m sorry, that’s all he told me.”
Coach pointed in the direction of the track. “Start warm-up early, Carmastay.”
She knew better than to argue when Coach was in a bad mood, but she fumed as she jogged over to the track.
In fact, who did Vincent Johnathans think he was? Forget the thing with Coach and skipping practice, but honestly, she’d had it with liking him for the entirely of high school, only for him to never pay attention to her. Snapping at her when all she’d done was ask him if he was okay? No way he was that attractive, with his light brown skin, toned muscles, and hauntingly deep hazel eyes?
Maybe she’d confront him. Tell him how she felt about him. Eileen already knew how it would end—Far too shy, far too boring, he’d say.
But she was tired of hoping for something she knew would never happen. Lately, her crush had become twisted, stained with the disappointment she knew she was going to face. She had been pretending like maybe her and Vincent could go somewhere for a long time. Clearly, with today’s example, that was impossible.
She didn’t want to think about it anymore.
She ran a little faster.