Sometimes the best outfit isn’t the one you planned.
My favorite worn pair of black Sketchers and dark green knee socks. A little throwback to my Catholic school days. Nothing wrong there.
Green and gold plaid skirt. I held my hands at my sides, fingertips grazing the edge of the hem. Short, but still within the rules.
White oxford with sleeves rolled below the elbow. The rolling was perfect, but the collar was a different story. I couldn’t get it to stand the way I wanted—high in the back, edges flipped up and out just right. I’d tried buttoning and unbuttoning buttons, but it was useless. It didn’t look the way I wanted.
“Should have had a back-up plan,” I muttered as I undid the buttons and tossed the top onto the growing mountain of clothes piled on my bed.
Three weeks ago I’d picked out the perfect outfit to wear to for the first day at my new school: a cute sundress and strappy sandals. Then yesterday we got the notice from school concerning “appropriate clothing”. No spaghetti straps. No foul language or inappropriate comments on shirts. Skirts must touch your fingertips. No displaying of undergarments.
Goodbye sundress. It failed two of the requirements: spaghetti straps and too short by a fingernail.
If mom and I hadn’t gone back to our old home for a final goodbye, I would have known in enough time to plan something else out, but no such luck. Even though we’d left early in the morning, traffic was a nightmare, and we pulled into the driveway an hour after the stores closed. Mom had convinced me I’d find something in my closet, but so far nothing worked. They either failed the new rules, didn’t fit, or would make me look like a total dork. Not a good way to start a new year in a new school.
I opened my dresser and rooted through my T-shirts, halting on the forest green practice jersey I’d worn last year for soccer. A large, goldenrod-yellow number five filled the back and three matching stripes ran down each sleeve. I pulled it on and looked in the mirror.
A glance at the clock revealed I had five minutes to get down to the bus stop, or I’d be walking to school. This outfit would have to do as I had no time to change again.
I ran a brush through my golden blond hair and pulled it up into a high ponytail. A swipe of gloss, a spritz of body spray, and I was ready. I scooped up my messenger bag and ran out to the bus stop.
Twenty long minutes later I pushed through the doors of my new school, schedule gripped in my hand like a lifeline. Unlike my former school, Pine Valley was small enough that there was only one bus run for everyone in kindergarten through twelfth grade. And, based on what I saw this morning, high schoolers didn’t ride the bus. I’d definitely need to talk to my mom about driving. Or make friends with someone who could pick me up.
Students congregated in clumps in the lobby, and I sidestepped my way through, looking for the hallway with the lockers. I’d had a tour of all my classrooms two weeks ago, but the lockers hadn’t been assigned yet, so I had no idea where mine was.
A handful of students were already at their lockers, most still socializing in the lobby. I stopped in front of the first locker and checked the number. 102.
“Guess this is the even side.” I shifted my bag on my shoulder and peered down the hallway, calculating that my locker would be about halfway down.
When I reached the middle of the hall, I stopped and checked the numbers. 604. Shrugging, I backed up a few steps. 502.
“What the…” I looked at my schedule and then back at the lockers. 496, 498, 500, 502, 604, 606, 608. “Where’s 548?”
A group of guys in green and gold soccer jerseys walked by, nudging each other and chuckling as they passed. A red haired guy glanced at me, turned away, then did a double take.
“Geez, Eggleston,” Red smacked the guy beside him in the arm, “the season hasn’t even started and you already have a fan in the new girl.”
Eggleston turned, revealing a yellow five, inside a large ‘C’ on the left side of his shirt. Great. My outfit would have the entire school thinking I had a thing for the captain of the soccer team.
The captain stepped forward, brown shaggy bangs dipping into his eyes, and held out a hand. “Hi, I’m Ben Eggleston. Welcome to Pine Valley High.”
I hesitated, trying to read his body language to see if he was sincere in his greeting or getting ready to prank me. He didn’t give off any odd vibes, so I set my hand in his, surprised at the tingle that raced up my arm with the contact.
“Hi, I’m Rachel Brown, and I’m totally lost.” Heat burnt in my cheeks as I realized what I’d just said.
“Well, Rachel, it’s your lucky day. Seeing you seem to be my biggest fan,” he smiled, revealing a deep dimple in his cheek, “it would be rude of me not to help you. So, senior?”
“What? Oh, no. I’m a junior. You?”
“I should have guessed, given your captain status.”
He shrugged. “Coach decides who wears the ‘C’. Last year it was a sophomore. This year it’s me. Who knows, next year it could be a freshman, although that’s unlikely. But…it could happen.” He pointed at my schedule. “You mentioned you’re lost. Not sure where your first classroom is?”
I grinned, charmed by his modesty and kindness. “No, I can’t seem to find my locker. Number 548. The numbers jump from 502 to 604.”
“Ah, yeah.” His cheeks pinkened and his lips twitched. I raised a brow, waiting to see what he was so amused and embarrassed about. “Over the summer a few of the seniors removed the number plates from some of the lockers and swapped them around hoping to confuse a few freshmen.”
“I see.” I bit back a chuckle. “And were you one of the pranksters?”
“No,” he shoved a hand through his hair, “but I was here when it happened.”
“And you just let it go?” Granted, I didn’t know Ben at all, but he didn’t seem like the kind of guy to stand back and let kids get in trouble.
He shrugged. “It was a harmless prank. If it was dangerous or mean, I’d have stepped in. Besides, the guys who did it will get the numbers swapped back around by the end of the day.”
“Great. So, how do I find my locker now?”
Ben grinned again, his dimple sending flutters to my heart. “That’s easy.” He led me over to locker 648. “It’s only fitting that my biggest fan be right beside me.” He pointed at his locker, 546.
I turned away, not sure how to respond to the knowledge I’d be locker mates with the hottest guy I’d ever seen. Hands steady, despite the edginess racing through me, I spun the dial and opened my locker. After dumping all my supplies inside, I grabbed what I’d need for first period. When I backed out, Ben was still there, leaning against his locker, waiting for me.
I closed my locker with a quiet click and faced Ben. “Guess this means I’ll need to come to your game, tonight. You know, to say thanks and all.”
“I’d like that. Just promise me one thing.”
He brushed a finger over the stripes on my shoulder, following them down my sleeve. “Don’t change your outfit. It’s about time I had a fan in my jersey up in the stands.”
I arched a brow, ignoring the butterflies swarming in my stomach, and pretended I wasn’t the least bit affected by his touch. “I find it hard to believe no one has ever worn your number. And this isn’t your jersey. It’s mine.”
I nodded. “Since I was five.”
“Me too. What position?”
I grinned. “All of them, but I’m best at goalie. You?”
“Forward.” He wiggled his brows. “It must be fate. Maybe we can play sometime, see just how good you are.”
“I’d like that. Name the day and time and I’ll be there.”
“You got it.” A bell rang and the noise level in the hall doubled. “May I walk you to your first class?”
I arched a brow. “Did they change the room numbers, too?”
He laughed. “No, I was just hoping to spend a little more time with you.”
“Sure.” I did a little happy dance inside, thrilled that the hottest guy in the school wanted to spend more time with me.
As we fell in step, I breathed silent thanks to whoever updated the clothing policy and forced me to wear a different outfit. Sure, my sundress would have been cute and flirty, but it was my old jersey that caught the eye of the guy who made my first day in a new school one to remember.
This story is set in the same world as The Boyfriend Project.
Twisting tales one story at a time.
YA author Mary Waibel’s love for fairytales and happy-ever fill the pages of her works. Whether penning stories in a medieval setting or a modern day school, magic and romance weave their way inside every tale. Strong female characters use both brain and brawn to save the day and win the heart of their men. Mary enjoys connecting with her readers through her website: marywaibel.blogspot.com