When Monday came I was apprehensive. What was he going to do this week? I paused before walking into History. When I did enter I saw him leaning over his desk. He continued to show me no attention as I slid into my seat and got my things out. Maybe he just wants to ignore me now. I thought, and maybe that wouldn’t be such a bad thing. I scoffed at the idea. Maybe we could just ignore each other through all three competitions and win. That would be something.
“Hello.” The smooth voice caught me off guard and I looked over to see Connelly actually looking pleasantly back.
“Hi,” I said, admittedly slightly wary.
“Did you have a good weekend?”
“Yes I did.” I was unsure how much I should tell him, but then couldn’t help myself. I wanted to see what was really going on with him. “I went to the lake and then helped my sister move into college.”
He smiled, which brightened his face considerably, and nodded. “That sounds nice. You’re sister is Kati, right?”
“Yeah, how did you know?” Immediately I thought, Stalker! Then scolded myself for it because there were tons of ways he could have found out.
“Heard about the going away party when we first got here.” He continued to smile, and instead of mostly looking at his desk, his eyes finally lifted to mine. They were a deep green, the kind of green you see in the deep forests where everything was wild and alive. That’s what his eyes reminded me of, something wild.
Too late I realized I’d been staring at him too long and quickly averted my eyes. “So,” I started, trying to cover up the awkwardness I was feeling. “How was your weekend? What did you do?”
“Hunting.” He glanced back at his desk. “Me and my brother.”
“Ivan?” I asked and he nodded. “That’s cool. Did you catch anything?”
“A buck and a doe.”
“That’s nice. I haven’t been hunting in so long… did they taste good?”
At the last question, he gave me a slightly odd look, like he hadn’t expected it. Before I had time to really think about it though, the look was just as suddenly gone and he smiled again. “Yes, they were… delicious. You hunt?”
“You sound surprised.” I couldn’t help but let a small smile of my own slip out. “Is it because I’m a girl?”
I glanced at him out of the corner of my eye and he let out a soft chuckle. “No, my sisters also hunt. It’s just…”
“I don’t look the type?” I asked, turning to face him now. “Too girly?”
“No,” he smiled and shook his head, “you don’t really look the type, to me.”
“I know my way around a gun.” I smiled and he shook his head.
“I don’t use a gun.”
He nodded, thinking. After he didn’t say anything for a few seconds, I assumed he was done talking to me and I turned back to my desk to write down the assignments. Well, this seemed like a nice turn of events. He was actually being pleasant and didn’t seem tense at all anymore. Whatever had happened before was clearly behind him now. And it was about time too, because if he hadn’t fixed it by today, I was going to ask Coach Bailey if he could put me with someone else.
“This place is so different,” he suddenly said, but very softly. When I looked over at him, he seemed deep in thought. “So different than where we’re from, and not just everything around us, but the people too.” At the last part, I knew he was talking about me.
“Just because it’s different, doesn’t mean it has to be bad.” He looked over at me, and I smiled softly. “I know a lot of people have been mean to you and your family, but we’re not all like that.”
He smiled back and said, “I’m sorry… for everything.”
I shook my head and said, “It was definitely weird, but it’s over now.”
“Yes, it is.”
I couldn’t believe it. We had actually had a nice conversation and nothing freaky happened. Maybe things were finally going to start changing for us, going back to how they were in the beginning. There was a thought in the back of my head that said Louis had started flirting with me first, and he even turned down the most popular girls in school for me too. That was hard to forget, but there was something about Connelly, something different about him that I still couldn’t let go of. And maybe now that he was being himself again, or at least as far as I could tell, maybe I could figure out what it was. It was that, and the fact that Louis was now such a great fit with the boys and all, I was afraid if something went wrong in our relationship, I could possibly lose a really good friend.
And speak of the devil. I thought, suddenly remembering I had Home Ec. next period. Louis was standing at the ready behind our table and sent me a brilliant smile. “What are you so happy about?” I asked, setting my things on the table.
“Uh-uh-uuuh,” He sing-songed and wagged his finger at me. “Nothing on the desks today.”
I cocked my brow at him and almost laughed. He is such a weirdo. “Ooh, we’re cooking today? Already?”
“Shh!” he hissed hurriedly. “Don’t let her hear that or she’ll make us do sheet work for another week!”
“Oh no!” I showed mock horror. I couldn’t help but laugh now and he gave me a look, which only made me laugh more.
“Okay class – Excuse me miss? (I covered my mouth to stifle my laughter) – Okay, now, we’re going to be making something simple. I know most of you have probably already made chocolate chip cookies before, but I always do this as a kind of treat for beginning the actual cooking.” She went on to write down the recipe on the board and tell us what things we could use as substitutes if we didn’t have something required in the recipe.
After we were done using each ingredient, we put it away and cleaned our area with every spare minute we had while baking. Then it came time to put them in the oven. My pan looked like perfect little mounds spaced evenly apart, and Louis’ was misshapen as they were too close together and some of his mounds looked like mountains. He had insisted on doing it by himself because he said it would be cheating if I helped, even when I said we were on the same team. He could do it himself, and just because I was a girl didn’t mean I knew how to cook any better than he did.
We’ll see about that.
While the cookies baked at a pre-heated 425°, we did none other than… paperwork. Louis sighed when we were handed a packet to complete and when I stifled my laughter, he reached over and hit me in the arm without looking up, though a smile played on his face.
When our timer rang, it turned out that Louis really should have let me help him. My cookies looked just like they were supposed to, but his ended up being huge and all cooked in together, so the whole pan looked like one big cookie. Mrs. Stettler had only passed him because they tasted right and they hadn’t burned. “Don’t say a word.” He glanced at me warningly.
“I wasn’t,” I said, wearing a smile. “I was just going to say they look great and you were right. You didn’t need my help at all.”