Coach blew his whistle. “Let’s go ladies. Time to work on finishing.”
Hayden jogged toward the box, the others falling in behind him, like always. Frowning, he mumbled under his breath. “Quack, Quack.” Even Tim deferred to him when it came to soccer.
“Alright. Cross and finish. Hayden, Tim, you’re up.” The coach took his spot on the edge of the box to watch the drill.
Hayden led off, passing the ball to Tim on the outside corner.
He crossed the ball back but instead of hitting Hayden’s feet, Tim blasted the ball up high. Hayden avoided taking a blow to the face and headed it into the goal.
He glared at Tim. Asshole. Yep, dating Tim’s sister was the worst idea ever. She wasn’t the one he wanted to be with.
Coach called to them. “Great finish, Hayden. But, Tim, you’re supposed to play his feet.”
Tim grinned. “Oops, sorry. Kicked it too hard.” His red hair and matching freckles blazed in the afternoon sunshine, just like his temper.
Hayden laughed on his way back to the line. Sometimes Tim could be funny.
When practice ended, Hayden sat on the bench to change out of his cleats. He rubbed his chest where Tim’s last pass had hit.
“Damn.” He winced and shook his head.
His friend Mike, the goalie, fell into the seat beside him.
“Tim’s pissed at you. I told you his sister wasn’t worth it.” Mike stripped off his cleats.
Hayden snorted. “Yeah, I should’ve listened to you.” He threw his shoes into his soccer bag. “She’s a bitch. Not worth having Tim mad at me. Especially if he’s going to take it out on me with a soccer ball.” He leaned back and sighed, another face entering his mind.
“Besides, I know who you’re looking at.” Mike slid on his tennis shoes. “And I’m here to tell you that’s a bad idea, too.”
Hayden wrinkled his eyebrows. “What are you talking about?”
“You know exactly what I’m talking about. She’s off-limits to you.”
Hayden clenched his jaw. “I’m not looking at anybody.”
He’d been keeping his feelings for her secret long enough the lie glided off his tongue.
“So, if Molly walked up right now and jumped in your lap you wouldn’t get a boner and try to kiss her?” Mike pulled on his sweatshirt, flattening his blond spikes. He ran a hand over his head to fix them.
Hayden twitched his fists. “You’re crazy. She’s my best friend’s girlfriend.” Shit, am I that obvious?
Mike frowned. “And that’s why she’s off-limits. You have to honor the bro code man.” He stood and grabbed his bag. “I’m looking out for you, Hayden. Trust me. You don’t want to lose a friend over a girl, no matter how smokin’ she is.”
Hayden nodded to get Mike off his back. “Whatever, dude.
Molly’s not my type.” He dug in his bag, avoiding Mike’s knowing eyes.
Mike slapped him on the shoulder. “Sure. I’ve got to go. See ya later.”
Hayden stayed on the sun-warmed bench watching the cars leave the parking lot. He leaned forward. Resting his elbows on his knees, he held his head in his hands. Mike was right. Molly was off-limits.
But she wasn’t just a girl, she was the girl.
He rubbed his face and stood from the bench thinking back to when he’d first met Molly during track last year. He loved her shy smile, and her gorgeous body definitely excited him, but her skill on the track impressed him even more. She was the fastest on the girl’s team. Faster even than some of the guys on Hayden’s.
He sighed. “I should have asked her out then.”
At the time, introducing her to Trevor had seemed like a good idea. She was new and didn’t know many people. He’d wanted to make her feel comfortable.
Hayden grabbed his bag and headed toward his car, remembering the worst day of his life.
He and Trevor had been at the arcade after track practice, back when they still used to hang out. The beeps and whistles of the
games had competed with the voices and laughter and the occasional squeals of the patrons. Pet Shop Boys blared on the speakers, echoing through the pizza and popcorn scented room.
Molly had been there, too, with Cindy. He’d introduced her to Trevor, and they’d talked until Cindy pulled her away to play games. Hayden had waited for a chance to talk to her again, sneaking glances, waiting for Cindy to leave her alone.
Trevor stood next to Hayden leaning against the Pac Man machine while Hayden played. He glanced at Molly, too. “She’s hot.
Think she’d go out with me?”
“I don’t know.” Hayden jammed the joystick side to side. He watched her playing Donkey Kong, laughing at something Cindy said. Hayden smiled, too.
Trevor noticed. “You want to ask her out, don’t you?”
Yes. He didn’t want to be obvious, so he shrugged. “I don’t know.”
“Well, I do. I’m going for it.” Trevor pushed off the machine and strode toward Molly just as Cindy walked away.
And Hayden had watched Trevor take the one girl he wanted, turning Hayden’s life into a stupid Rick Springfield song.
Hayden reached his car and threw his bag in the trunk, slamming the lid. He sat in the driver’s seat, leaning his head back on the headrest.
“I’m such a dumbass. Why didn’t I tell Trevor the truth?” He started his car and put in his Cure cassette. Boys Don’t Cry came on and Hayden smirked.
He hit fast forward. Jumping on Someone Else’s Train sounded like less drama.
On the drive home, he tried to convince himself Molly was off-limits. But then he remembered hugging her today, remembered her hand pushing on his chest. Every time she slapped his arm or shoved his shoulder, his heart raced, and a smile slipped out.
That was, until Trevor entered the vision and slid his hands onto her. Hayden gripped the steering wheel. “Damn it. Forget it.
Mike’s right. You can’t break the bro code.”
He turned the corner and pulled into his driveway, nodding to himself. Right. Off-limits. Find someone else.
Hayden grimaced. It was impossible to lie to himself.
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