Chapter 27: My Motivation

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The reception takes place in a tent behind the mansion. I'm not entirely sure how the football team can afford such an extravagant place for their celebration but I don't ask any questions. Everyone knows our school's football budget is insanely out of proportion with its other sports and also a big part of the reason behind the rivalry between football and baseball.

We enter the tent and I instantly feel overwhelmed. The place is swarming with parents, players, and cheerleaders, all dressed up nicely for the event. My eyes scan the room and I heave sigh. There's no sign of Chelsea. She's with Justin right now, dang it. From across the room, I catch someone's eyes and my heart sinks.


Of course. I knew he was going to be here, but I wasn't mentally prepared to see him alone surrounded by five or six cheerleaders, each of them batting their fake eyelashes and twirling strands of their perfectly curled hair flirtatiously. Gross. They're all vying for his attention.

Hanley takes my hand in his and gives me a reassuring squeeze. I smile sheepishly in return.

Tonight, my task is to make Cody jealous of Hanley, which is much easier said than done. Cody's over me. He doesn't even want to talk to me very much. But then why do his eyes hold such anger? They scan the length of my body, only stopping at my waist and clenching his fists up at the sight of my hand holding Hanley's.

Hanley notices Cody's fixed attention and turns to face me, gripping both of my hands and bending down so our faces are only inches apart. When he opens his mouth to speak, a wave of minty breath fills my nostrils.

"I want you to smile really big," he whispers so no one else can hear, "And pretend like you're having a good time with me." He tucks a loose strand of my hair behind my ear. I take a deep breath and oblige. I place my hand on his chest, flirtatiously giggling as if he had just whispered a flirty joke.

When I glance back up to where Cody is, our eyes meet briefly before his gaze quickly snaps away, resuming conversation with the girls around him.

We mingle for a while before the head coach, Coach Barton, gets up on the mic in front of the room. Hanley leads me to a table, guiding me with his hand on the small of my back.

The reception drags on for hours with the coach's address, two keynote speakers, the presentation of the trophy and plaque, team pictures, and finally it is tim  for the captain's speech. Unfortunately for me, that means listening to Cody's voice for minutes on end.

After the coach introduces him, Cody makes his way to the podium with suave. Once he arrives, he begins by thanking everyone for coming tonight and supporting the team throughout the season.

It's been a while since I've seen Cody acting so... well, normal. He's a natural at public speaking; he always has been. He flashes his million dollar smile at the crowd before moving into team awards. Just listening to his perfect voice sends shivers down my spine and I would be lying if I said I wasn't a little turned on by his confidence. And a little wet too...

"As you very well know, every year it's the captain's duty to present team awards. Firstly, I would like to present this years Most Improved Award to an athlete who showed incredulous grit and unwavering perseverance throughout the season. This year's recipient is Landon Sharp."

I watch with pride as Landon rises from his seat. Jen sits next to him beaming as he heads up to the stage. It's only then when I notice the bitch trio sitting across the room with scowls on their faces. Bentley and Larson sit on either sides of the queen herself: Tanya Cummings.

Today, Tanya is adorned in a green ensemble. She wears a dress with short v-neck top and a body-con fabric. Her shoes match her dress in color and style. As always, she looks good.

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