By Friday night it was clear, my dad did not have the balls to face me and Santiago was in JV. Essentially a bench warmer, by our team's standard. Winter Park Metropolitan High School didn't count on big sponsors or rich parents. However well it did in any sport or extracurricular activity solely depended on its students' level of involvement. We sometimes played well in tournaments, though we've never been seeded. There was one time we won the district championship in the '80s, and we came very close last year when we still had Seb. So our teams were not big; they didn't normally attract the big local prospects of beyond. We were not the boarding school next door.
We have nine varsity players and 15 bench warmers. Santiago ranked 11. Even with a shitty performance, he's at the top of the worst.
I frowned at the shrine his parents had in the living room for their eldest. Sebastian's smiling face was surrounded by flowers, statues of virgin Mary and his namesake saint and a small plate with a square of plantain sweet. It had been his favorite typical Venezuelan sweet growing up. The sad thing about it was that the picture's resolution was so good it almost felt like I was staring at the real deal, like his laughter would start ringing for real, he would step out of the frame and say he was back, that it had all been a really bad joke.
I wished it so hard that when the frame rattled I jumped back, only to find out that it was Domingo coming in through the front door. He gave me a quick hug before running to the kitchen where his wife and my parents were drinking wine. Mom's team sold a big project and they were in the mood for adult party. That was: booze, food and off to bed early. I smiled at Sebastian. He'd have given them so much shit for being so weak.
I folded my arms. I hadn't lied to Santiago. Seb did tell me on more than one occasion that he thought the real contender here was his little brother. I could confess in the quiet of my mind that each time I'd reacted with incredulity. Of course I'd always known what Santi's made of, but he just didn't have the ethics. Or the commitment. Or both. Each time I'd asked Seb if a fly ball had hit his head.
"I'm dead serious," he'd said this one time, tossing a ball up in the air and catching it in his glove. We were in his backyard, waiting for our dads to fire up the grill. "I'm good, we all know that." He shrugged. "But I have to put in a lot of effort in order to outshine him. If he ran half of the miles I run every morning, if he bothered to train half as hard as I do, he'd smoke me."
I had laughed. "No way."
Sebastian had smiled the exact same way as I now saw in his portrait. God damn it, he'd known all along that his brother had what it took.
And I'd discovered it too. Late, but hey, better than never.
I cracked my knuckles and marched upstairs to his room. The door was open and I barged in. He was on his bed playing video games, so entranced that he hadn't seemed to notice my entrance. Even though I was loud. On purpose. You just couldn't trust that a boy had his hands out of his pants when alone in his room.
"Ahem." He still didn't look up, so I had to get in the line of sight.
His brow darkened but he put the game on pause and tossed the control aside. "What now?"
My index finger did the air eights at him. "Lift up your shirt."
That made him a double take. "Excuse me?"
"Don't make me ask you twice. Just do it."
Reluctantly, as if he were expecting me to suddenly produce a sword from behind me and drive it through his body, he lifted his shirt. I could tell that he had developed some modesty all of a sudden. Maybe he'd discovered my ploy.
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Hall of FameTeen Fiction
FREE BOOK WITH PAID BONUS CHAPTERS! / Peyton loves baseball. Losing his ace pitcher brother turned Santiago away from the game. Can she make him fall for it again without risking her heart or future? *** Peyton O'Hare loves baseball more than anyone...