Author's Notes: I'm trying to get the hang of these author notes! Thanks for stopping by... Now Ella's gotta figure out what to wear and how to calm her nerves...
SEPTEMBER – PART EIGHT
At home, Ella climbed the stairs to her room and tossed her book bag on the floor. She checked her phone. There were texts from Alex and Karen confirming they were good to come over. Ella sighed. She didn’t want to talk to them yet.
She texted both: SRY GRLS NO GO 2NTE. STHING CAME UP. Within a minute her cell rang. She rolled her eyes at the caller ID. I should’ve known.
“Hey, so what came up? It better be good. I told Jake I couldn’t go to a party with him because I promised I’d hang out with you.”
“Not much. Um, I’m just going out to a movie instead, that’s all.” She closed her eyes and hoped.
No such luck. “I thought you wanted to stay in? What movie? We’ll just come with — wait a minute…” Ella sighed as she waited for Karen to add up the facts. “Who are you going with, Ella?”
“Sam.” She held the phone away to avoid the squeal on the other end.
“I knew it! I knew it! I told you he's been watching you! Give it up, girl, I want deets. When did he ask? How?”
“He asked me after practice, there’s nothing else to tell. Look, I gotta go. I’ve got stuff to do here before I can go out and I’m a sweaty mess from practice. I’m running out of time.” It wasn’t a complete lie and Karen seemed to appreciate half-truths.
“Alright. But I want to hear all about it later!”
Ella showered quickly and was looking through her closet trying to talk herself into wearing the one flirty skirt she owned when the phone rang again. Alex’s face was on the call display. That didn’t take long.
“So, Sam Cleveland, huh?” Alex laughed.
“Yeah, sorry for bailing.” Ella held the phone between her ear and shoulder and looked back and forth between a bright blue T-shirt and a red V-neck sweater, then tossed them both on her bed.
“Well, you obviously owe me one. You can start by telling me everything tomorrow. I’m going to spend my boring evening at home alone, so I guess I’ll have to live vicariously through you.”
“What about Karen? You guys can still watch a movie.” Ella slipped a dark plum shirt over her head and found her favorite faded jeans in the pile on the floor.
“Ah, you know Karen. She told Jake and said she’d go to the party after all. She asked me to go with, but I don’t know. It’s at Daniel Fraser’s — does Ben know him?”
Ella felt a twinge of guilt but smiled at Alex’s veiled effort and answered her real question. “Yeah, but he and Dad are going to the hockey game tonight so he’s not going to the party.”
“Oh well. I probably won’t go anyway. Have fun, ’kay?”
After hanging up, Ella frowned at herself in the mirror. She put a brush through her hair and started to pull it back into its regular knot. Pausing, she let it fall down around her shoulders. She pulled the front and sides up in a barrette on top and was startled by the difference it made. Her thick, dark hair framed her face. Perhaps this might work after all. She applied the green shadow around her eyes that she thought made them look more green than boring brown and tucked her pink lip gloss in her pocket as she smacked her lips together to smear the gooey shine. She added a necklace with her purple sparkly “E” pendant and stepped back to critique. “Good enough,” she muttered and checked her watch; it was 6:45. Almost game time. She slipped into her teal Under Armour zip-up hoodie and instantly felt better.
“Hey, sweetheart. What do you want for supper? It’s just you and me since Dad and Ben are gone already.” Her mother looked up from the sink as Ella entered the kitchen. “You look nice! Why are you so done up?”
“It’s just jeans, Mom.”
“Well, jeans and makeup, and your hair’s down. It looks pretty. What’s the deal?”
“Um, not much, just a movie. I’ll get something to eat before the show.” She hoped her mother wouldn’t ask any more questions.
“Who are you going with? Karen and Alex?” Ella opened the fridge door looking for a bottle of water, hiding her tell-all face from her mother.
“No. A guy from school.” She hesitated. “His name’s Sam.” She took out the water, closed the fridge door and turned to face her mother, bracing herself.
“Sam, huh? The boy you were talking to the other day?” When she nodded, her mother continued. “Your father and I haven’t met him. You should have asked before making plans.”
Ella tried to keep her tone light. “It’s no big deal, Momma, just a movie.”
“Just the two of you.” Ella didn’t like the way her mother’s question was really a statement.
“Yeah, the two of us and a whole theater of people.” Ella locked her eyes on her water bottle to keep from rolling them.
“Mom, really, it’s just a movie. It starts at 8:30 so I should be home by 11.” She dared to meet her mother’s studying eyes. Is she going to make me beg? “Please?”
“It’s a date, Ella, with a boy I haven’t met.”
Ella gritted her teeth to bite back her reflexive response, then said instead, “I’m not a kid, Mom, it’s not a big deal.”
“It’s not?” Her mother gave a small smile and Ella felt her cheeks warm. “Do you have your phone?” Ella nodded.
A knock fell on the door behind her. She froze on the spot until her mother raised an eyebrow and tipped her head towards the sound.
“Oh yeah.” Ella laughed and went to open it, hoping he didn’t hear her mother call after her, “I need to meet him first!” Sam was standing on the step with his back to the door. He wore dark, loose jeans and a heavy gray hoodie. His hair was mostly contained by a blue ball cap but the longer curls poked out underneath. At the sound of the door opening, he turned and grinned at Ella.
“Mom? I’m off!” Her mother appeared around the corner and Ella hoped she had pulled herself together. “Mom, this is Sam.”
“Hi.” Sam dipped his head and shook the hand her mother offered.
“Hi, I’m Jane. I hear you play ball with Ben?”
“Yeah, um, at school.” Ella couldn’t remember ever seeing Sam nervous before. He looked at her and smiled and she smiled back, happy not to be the only one feeling awkward for once. He raised his eyebrows as if asking for help.
“We’re gonna be late,” Ella pleaded.
“Alright guys, have fun. Eleven, Ella. Give me a call if you’re going to be late.” Ella smiled at her mother and followed Sam out the door. At the car he laughed as he made a big deal of opening the passenger side door and gestured for her to sit with a gallant sweep of his arm. She dipped in an exaggerated curtsey and settled into her seat. In the moment between shutting her door and opening his own, Ella took a deep breath and willed herself to relax. It’s just a date. He’s just a boy.
AN: This is just an excerpt, it will be the first chapter of the novel, Game Plan. The book is available at Amazon and Chapters, online in print and ebook formats. I'll be posting new parts on Mondays and Fridays until this chapter is complete! Let me know what you think, either here or follow me on Twitter (@NSampson17) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NatalieCorbettSampson). Happy Reading!
YOU ARE READING
Game Plan (an excerpt)Teen Fiction
"Poignant, well-paced and compassionate, Game Plan is an achingly real look at how two families cope when life doesn't go as planned."—Tish Cohen, bestselling author of The Truth About Delilah Blue and Inside Out Girl Just because the play goes wron...