Prologue) The Twins

Sitting at her desk at home staring out the window Esmée was lost in her thoughts.

School was … school. A necessary evil. Esmée stared at her homework. So many letter and numbers dancing before her eyes, when her mind was elsewhere, making it so hard to focus.
Cheerleading was fun, a lot of work and seriously exhausting, but fun.
Especially since HE would often be there. For baseball practice.
Hmm.
Ezzy’s lips formed a smile while daydreaming of his tall, athletic build and those eyes. Were they light brown? Green? Hazel? She could not say for sure, as she had not dared to look at him close enough so nobody would notice how much she liked him.
He was Aaron Campbell.

A 16 year old former football starting quarterback before his family moved to one of the surrounding towns, and he transferred to the small Brindleton Bay High School which had no football team.
Only baseball. So that was what he played now. And looking dang good while doing it.
He was the object of this 15 year old girl’s every single thought of late. Alas, that obsession was not reciprocated. Maybe one day. Hope dies last, right? If only he would see her, notice her, certainly he would realize she was THE one.

Aaron was a natural athlete, talented and picked baseball up quickly, as she knew from Ethan, her twin brother and also the Brindleton Bay Pirates baseball team captain.
One more reason for her to be careful about not being too obvious about her crush, as he would definitely tease her to death about it AND tell their parents AND cousin AND aunt and uncle AND grandparents.
No thanks!
Even though she had the suspicion that Ethan wasn’t a stranger to crushes, she was pretty sure he liked her friend Brylee a LOT more than just as his sister’s friend.
In the beginning they had been civil, but the last half a dozen times or so Bry had come over, both she and Ethan acted really odd. She caught Brylee watching Ethan a few times doing his laps in their pool. Well, she could admit that Ethan was very easy on the eye and a lot of her cheerleader friends drooled over him. It was just weird to think that way about her own twin brother.

Sadly for her, while Ethan was very much aware of Brylee and she of him, Aaron didn’t seem to know Esmée even existed. There was really noone she could recruit as wingman – or woman – to help her out, and that dire fact had gotten even worse since another guy recently joined the team.
Forrest Gray, of all people.

While their robust encounter had been almost 2 years ago now, she never got over her aversion for him, and the feeling seemed mutual. Whenever they ran into each other, he’d have something stupid to say, his sole purpose in life seemingly consisting of setting her off.
Every.
Single.
Time.
Luckily at baseball everybody was usually too busy to socialize and engage in private warfare.
It did not help much that Benny still tried to be her friend. He’d even show up at practice just ogling her. Argh. Such a creep.

It had not gotten any easier to avoid him, you couldn’t really avoid anyone in such a small town as Brindleton Bay. He was also her cousin Cole’s best friend, who happened to be her neighbor, so they would run into one another a LOT.
As annoying as she found Benny, she never managed to be mean to him or tell him off, as he was just too nice. So she usually endured his weirdness and the following teasing by her friends, brother or if worst came to be: Forrest.
Speaking of worst, Forrest seemed to be tight friends with Ethan now. As if there were no other boys for him to be friends with on the team. Why could Ethan not have become BFFs with Aaron – ahhhh Aaron? Nope, instead he dragged that insufferable smirking, arrogant idiot Forrest even further into her life.
Ack.
Life really was not fair.
Now she would come home from practice or meeting her friends and that fool would sit there in her home like a spider in the web, grinning his arrogant grin. Ethan did nothing but tell her to ‘get over it’.

Ugh.

And then there was that day when Brylee came over to do homework together. Ethan had not been home yet, probably at practice after school. But as soon as he walked in that day, it started.

“Oh … hi Brylee.” Ethan stopped and smiled, with an instant dreamy idiotic expression on his face. Ezzy had the hardest time not bursting into loud laughter.
“Hi Ethan.” she heard Bry coo, and the very same expression now appeared on her friend’s face.
Oh dear goodness.
Eyeroll.
“So, what are you girls doing?” Ethan smiled.
“Uh – Ethan… schoolbooks, notebooks, pens … what could we be doing?” Ezzy rolled her eyes.
“I got homework to do. Mine if I…?” he wasn’t even looking at his sister when he asked and pointed next to Brylee.
“Not at all! Here I’ll make room…” quickly she shoveled her stuff aside as she sat down next to her, smiling.

“Yeah, because this six person dining table is not big enough for three people plus homework … ouch!” Brylee had jabbed her elbow into Esmée side, while still smiling at Ethan.
Ethan had been on dates before.
Nothing serious though.
But he had NEVER acted like he did around Brylee.
Likewise for Brylee.
She was a fairly recent transfer, her parents were dead, died a long time ago, she had lived with an older relative who also passed, so about half a year ago she moved to Forgotten Hollow to live with her uncle and cousin and transferred to Brindleton Bay High.
She and Ezzy hit it off right away.

As for Esmée, she only had eyes for Aaron, but he usually drowned in a sea of girls begging for his attention and never even really acknowledged her mere existence.

Instead of that football slash baseball dream hunk she had Benny who would keep appearing whenever she almost forgot about him like a bad case of herpes.
Ugh.
Her brother pulled her from her train of thoughts when she realized he was looking at her and said “Right?”

“Yeah, totally!” she confirmed, without knowing what it was all about.
Still better than having to explain what she had been thinking about.

She would curse herself for that very moment in time the next evening, Friday night, when Ethan suddenly burst into her room.

“You’re not ready?! You are not thinking about wearing THAT, right?” he frowned.

“Huh? Since when did you join the fashion police. And ever heard of knocking?” Ezzy looked up from her book, startled and confused.

“You never knock on my door. And you have to get changed to go out. I know you can do better than ‘I-Give-Up-And-Will-Own-20-Cats-Soon’ clothes!”

“What? I am not going out.” Ezzy didn’t understand anything at all.
“You said you would. I am not letting you stand me up now. You can’t do that to me!” he was appalled.

“Why am I going out with my brother?!” Ezzy could not understand what had gotten into him. Going out took some effort and planning in this sleepy town. Neither of them was old enough to drive yet.

“Not we. Us and the others.” He explained like you would to an annoying toddler.
“What others?” he may well be speaking Chinese.
“Did you hit your head? Get DRESSED – NOW! Or I will dress you, and neither one of us will get out of that one without mental scars for the rest of our lives!”

“Ethan …”
“GET FUCKING DRESSED! They are here!” he roared, then left, shutting the door hard behind himself like an audible exclamation mark after the doorbell rang.

“Who … what …. ? Okay …” Esmée just had enough and went the path of least resistance before Ethan would have a heart attack.

Plus, she was kinda curious about what was going on and also remembered the day before and the feeling crept up that she DID say yes to whatever this was. That’ll teach her to zone out and agree to random things.

Ezzy got dressed for a night out to the best of her abilities with what her closet had to offer, hurried down the stairs in a pretty good mood, but when she turned the corner to the entrance area she felt as if she had run into a wall.
Ethan was already fangirling Brylee, while none other than Forrest – of all people – stood there looking at her.
WTF?!

“You clean up nice. Almost look like a real girl, Xena.” he told her, every word was fingernails on a chalkboard to her.

“Fuck you!” she said.
“Well, fuck you too.” he replied.
“For heaven’s sake! Ezzy, can you come with me for a sec? Got a … question. Urgent.”
Ethan dragged her with him out of sight, then hissed at her
“Look, I don’t know what your problem is, but this is happening and you will be of your best behavior. Tonight is the night. I am going to tell Brylee I really like her, as soon as the moment is right. I cannot do it alone I would have never had the heart to ask her out on a date just yet, so all of us just going out as friends was easiest. Plus, one on one with her I would never get those words out, so you will hang with Forrest and be nice until I got this buttoned up. If it goes South, at least he is there to keep me from jumping off a cliff, while you can keep her from making me into the joke of the town, ok. OKAY?! Do you have my back?!”
“Okay okay … chill. Can’t wait to kumbaya with that idiot over there. I swear, everybody will mistake us for BFFs.” sarcasm was nearly literally dripping off her words.
“Thank you!” Ethan told her, a reminder in his tone to keep her word.

They got to the club, after a while of dancing she saw Ethan and Brylee exchange glances and smiles.

Eventually she whispered into Ethan’s ear and they left together.

While watching them leave, she smiled, thinking how cute they were together. Her smile faded like a car crashing into a wall when Forrest bend down and told her
“Looks like they’re gonna go screw.”
Her eyes narrowed.
Ethan said to be nice to him, but said nothing about not killing him.
“Is that all you can think of?” she told him disgusted for knocking her romantic notion into the dirt with his words.

“Pretty much.” he admitted grinning.
“Neanderthal!”

“Nope, just honest, healthy – and male.”
“No wonder you are single.”
“Straight back at ya.”

“I am not single.”
“Right. Benny. Sorry.”
“Very funny. I am seeing someone else.” she lied.
“Who? Yourself in the mirror? That is a big love story, I can see that, as full as you are of yourself.”
“Immature!” Ezzy left him and went upstairs, where it was quieter.

Her ears were ringing, but the cool airflow from the air conditioning was noticeable and felt good.

“You know how I know you are single?” she heard his voice again.
“How? Asked the other trees, Forrest?” Why could he not just leave her be!?

“Is that you trying to be funny? I can see why you usually don’t do humor.” he said as he sat down next to her.
“Why are you here? Just leave me alone.” she pressed out between her lips. Really, could he not go anywhere else?!

“I wanted air too.”
“The club has more benches and chairs. Go elsewhere.”

“Don’t feel like it. You leave.”
“I was here first.”

“What are you, five?”

“Oh my God!” Ezzy walked around the corner. He followed.

“Why won’t you leave me be?!” she complained as once again, he sat down next to her.

“Cos it’s funny to watch you lose your shit. Like an angry Daffy Duck.”

“How can ONE guy be THIS aggravating?”
“Nobody else has that problem, just you. Should make you think. So how come no boyfriend?”

“None of your business!” Esmée hissed angrily.

“I bet I can guess: It’s because we’s gots the hots for Aaron, but he doesn’t even see you for girls swarming him? Ouch. That must burn.” he mocked her.

“You are awful!”
How the heck did he know about her crush?! And if that idiot knew, did others?!

“Aww – look – I hit bingo. Lucky me. I was just fishing here, looks like I struck gold on the first try. So predictable. Thanks for confirming it. So much fodder for jokes!” he teased.

Out of the blue now Ezzy fought the tears. For some reason his mocking hurt, she jumped up and just left.

She ran into the girls’ bathroom where she hid until she was confident she was in full control again. At least he didn’t follow her in here.

The ride home was quiet.

While Ethan and Brylee where exchanging looks and giggling silly in the backseat, in an attempt to keep it together Esmée kept her eyes fixed out of the passenger side window, even though she could feel Forrest looking at her from the driver seat from time to time.

Luckily he didn’t say anything, not even when he dropped them off at home.

 

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