Ramona and Diego’s older brother is home from college, for a visit. Carlos and Diego have a talk about Janet.
“Get your school first,” Carlos said firmly. “I’ve got friends trying to go to school, who are married, maybe have a baby on the way. It’s hard to keep up with marriage, school, and kids.”
Diego nodded, blinking back tears. “She’s got nothin’,” he whispered. “Her mom’s a bitch. Her little sister’s obnoxious. She’s got us. We’re her family. Is it wrong for me to want to take her away from that?”
“No, brother. It’s cool. But marriage wouldn’t be the best thing for you two right now. Think how much harder it would be for her to be married in high school? You’ve got some married friends, don’t you?”
“Yeah. Shotgun weddings.”
Carlos nodded. “I know you love her. I can see it all over you. But don’t make that mistake, man. You will seriously limit your life.”
He was right and Diego knew it. He nodded, accepting Carlos’ opinion. Diego couldn’t think of a time his older brother had been wrong.
“So, how’s school been?”
“Good. Hard to believe I’m starting my third year. Then I start looking at medical schools. If I can get the money….”
“There’s scholarships,” Diego said. “I been looking. I applied for a bunch already. I go in the counselor’s office and apply for anything I can find. They got things for college, and medical schools too. I’ll find you some addresses. Or you could go talk to Mrs. Chambers. I know she’d help.”
“If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t be in college,” Carlos agreed. “I’ll do that.”
“It’s good to have you home, blood.”
“I’ve missed you, squirt.”
Diego laughed loudly. Carlos was three inches shorter and wasn’t nearly as broad in the shoulders as his younger, more athletic brother.
“I’ve missed you, too.”
Diego met the girls at the bus loop again, giving them a hand as they stepped off.
“I’m rethinking my carpool buddies,” he said as Janet lost her balance and fell into his arms. “Yup. You girls are a lot prettier than the bozo twins.” He jerked his head at Raul and their friend Tony.
“You’d throw me over for a chick?” Raul asked.
“In a heartbeat,” Diego replied.
Raul laughed, tapping his friend’s knuckles. “I feel ya, my brother. If you decide to throw us out, let me know. I’ll find another ride, no biggie.”
“What about me?” Tony asked.
“I’ll find you a ride too,” Raul said. “Whiner.”
Diego walked Janet to her first class. His own was just down the hall. Again, he felt the urge to kiss her, but public displays were against the rules, and he could get himself thrown off the swim team if he broke that serious a rule. He talked himself into moving slowly.
“See you at lunch?”
“See you.” Her dark eyes glittered with happiness.
Janet watched him walk down the hall, admiring the way he moved. His snug jeans clung to every muscle in his legs, making the view a very tasty one. She was almost late getting to her seat, scooting in as the bell rang.
Mr. Whitmore looked up expectantly as she clattered into her seat. “Did I miss something? Fire drill or something?”
“You okay, Janet?”
“Yes, sir. Sorry. I was talking to someone….”
He nodded. “I won’t dock you this time. Next time, cut it short.”
She blushed, mumbling compliance. He flashed a grin at her. “As long as you’re in the room before the bell, I’m not gonna fuss. Just be more careful, please. I don’t want you to break your neck trying to sit down.”
The time until lunch seemed interminable. Janet couldn’t believe how much she looked forward to seeing Diego. When she walked to the table, he scooted aside, inviting her to sit next to him. Janet wasn’t sure what he was doing, but she sat next to him—not too close. He scooted closer, his thigh and shoulder brushing hers. A little thrill ran through her when he smiled down at her.
“You ever have one of their cinnamon rolls?”
Janet shook her head. She always brought her lunch.
“Man, you need to try one.”
He hopped up and bought her a hot, gooey treat, cutting line to do it. No one complained. Diego was captain of every team he was on, plus he had the well earned reputation of being able to kick the ass of anyone who crossed him. He paid for the cinnamon roll and carried it back to the table. Breaking off a piece, he put it to her lips.
“Try it.” He teased her lips apart with the sweet bread.
Janet took the proffered bite, closing her eyes as the caramel topping melted in her mouth and the burst of cinnamon tickled her tongue.
“Oh, that’s so good! Thank you.”
©2020 Dellani Oakes
To Buy Dellani’s Books https://www.amazon.com/Dellani-Oakes/e/B007ZQCW3A/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1