Twenty Three

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April
I wake up in a in a happy mood. The sun is up, the birds are chirping, and Aden and I are friends again. I look at myself in the mirror. I look pretty decent but today I feel like doing something special.

I open up my make up bag. There's tones of barely used makeup inside. Makeup shopping is one of my guilty pleasures. I've collected up a tone of it but I rarely have the confidence to wear any of it.

The last time I wore anything Jamal had told me it made me look weird. After hearing that I lost all confidence and ran up to my room to take it off.

I reach a hesitant hand into the bag and pull one mascara and a pink gloss. I carefully apply the two. It doesn't look that noticeable. I turn away from the mirror before I lose confidence.

I step out of my room and almost run into Keith.

"Whoa there speedy." Keith says holding me back.

"Sorry." I say looking up at him.

He smiles down at me. "You look pretty today."

"Really? You don't think I look weird or anything?"

"Nope. You trying to impress anyone in particular."Keith says with a knowing smile.

"No." I say but it doesn't sound convincing even to my own ears.

Keith laughs and I role my eyes and step past him. Sometimes I hate having brothers. Life would have been so easy if mom decided to marry a guy with daughters instead of sons. I probably would have been a girly girl just like her.

"You don't have to be shy. It's cute. "Keith says

I turn around to face him. My eyes narrow. "What's up with you? Normally you act all weird the moment I do something that's even remotely girl, now your suddenly encouraging me to wear makeup?"

Keith shrugs. "What can I say I'm finally accepting the fact that you are in fact a girl."

I smile. Keith really has come a long way. He's slowly starting to become my favorite.

"Took you long enough." I say jokingly.

"Not my fault. From the moment we meet you've always acted just like the rest of us. Hell I thought you were a boy."

"Shut up. I was a late bloomer." I say hitting his arm. I think back to the first time mom introduced me to my two new brothers. They were so cool and I wanted to be just like them. I emulated everything they did, which is probably why I'm like this now.

"True but then one day you were suddenly a girl and I didn't really know what to do with you, so I just tried to ignore it. I kept treating you like you were one of the boys." Keith said sounding apologetic.

"It wasn't so bad. I like hanging out with you and the team. I just also like makeup and watching gossip girl."

"Yeah, I get that now."

I smile. "Come on we're going to be late." I say turning back to the stairs. Mom said Jamal was sick today. I knew he was probably going to hang out with his friends. He did that every now and then. Mom would probably kill him if she found out but it wasn't my place to tell.

I didn't care. Keith asked one of his team mattes to pick us up and that meant I didn't have to deal with Jamal. It was turning out to be a pretty nice morning.

The horn blares outside and both Keith and I rush out of the door. Terry, the left tackle lineman, sat behind the drivers seat. We piled into his car.

Once we got to school I walked over to my locker. I'm putting my stuff away when I see Regina and Dashawn walking down the hallway. I smile and wave. Dashawn waves back but Regina just roles her eye. Guess she still doesn't like me.

I close my locker and move up to my first class. I'm excited to see Aden.

I open the door and my eyes instantly go to Aden spot. He's there but he's wearing a hood and looking out of a window.

I walk over to Aden with a smile on my face. That smile immediately falls when Aden turns to face me. The sight of him is so shocking it stops me right in my tracks. His lip is busted and there are cuts all over his face. The skin under his eye is bruised.

"April." Aden says but I don't respond. I'm looking at his face trying to memorize the location every scratch so that I know where to aim my punches.

"April." Aden called again.

"I'm going to kill him."

This is Jamal's handy work, I know it. I feel rage burn inside of my chest. I told him not to touch Aden and this is what he did. My hands ball into fist. I feel like I could punch a hole through a wall.

"April can you please sit down." Aden said.

"Is this why you weren't here Friday? Is that why I couldn't come over? You didn't want me to see this." I say gesturing toward his body.

"April"

Aden's eyes flick around the room. It's still early but there are a few students in the room. All their eyes are on us.

I sigh and walk back over to the desk. I sit down and lean over towards Aden.

"Why didn't you tell me?" I say in a lower voice.

"Because you didn't need to get involved."

"The hell I don't. Look at you Aden." I say raising my hand to touch his face. His soft skin becoming rougher around the cuts. It brakes my heart and I don't know which one I feel more, anger or sadness.

Aden reaches up to hold my hand. He holds my gaze and it is as if we are the only to people in the room.

"This is my battle to fight April." Aden said still holding my hand.

"You can't expect me to just let him do this to you."

My thumb stroked his cheek carful not to hurt him. My heat pounds in my chest. I don't ever want to see him hurt or upset. I think...I think I just might have feel-

"Good morning class." The teacher called

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