“Where’s Nick? I haven’t seen him in class at all today.”
“I haven’t seen him either…maybe he is out sick? The guidance counselor was looking for him….did you know he is valedictorian this year?” Brian said. Amanda was impressed but worried about Nick….they hadn’t really talked properly since prom. She made a note to herself to go to his house after school.
“What are you doing home, playing hooky?” AJ asked when he saw Nick at the kitchen table slumped over next to his bowl of ice cream. The ice cream had become soup long ago and Nick just moved the spoon, sighing without eating it.
“Is losing your virginity important?” he asked suddenly. AJ took a seat and sipped at his coffee mug.
“Deep thoughts for noon. It’s more important for girls, but….yeah, I suppose it is.”
“I think maybe I made a mistake giving mine to Amanda.” Nick sighed dully, pushing the bowl away.
“Why would you say that? I thought she was your girlfriend?”
Nick shook his head, feeling worse. He felt sick to his stomach knowing Lance had intercepted his big chance to tell Amanda how he felt. Lance wasn’t as nice as he had been letting on.
“No….she is dating this guy at school. He’s a football player, plays soccer too. Athletic, but he’s smart. He’s good looking too. I think I’m in love with her, but she loves him.” Nick replied. The more he thought about it, the more he realized he could never compete with Lance. Amanda would never be his.
“So why did you go to prom with her if she’s got this boyfriend?” AJ asked. He wanted to help Nick if he could.
“Lance broke his leg and couldn’t go so she asked me to go instead. I dunno, Jay. I just feel like I won’t ever match up to him. All I have is my brains. There’s nothing special about me.”
“There is nothing wrong with being a smart guy. You have plenty of things going for you, what about that music thing?” AJ said, but Nick shook his head again.
“It’s just a hobby. Amanda liked it but that alone won’t help. Thanks anyways, AJ. I’m gonna head to work.” he replied glumly before leaving the house. AJ didn’t like to see Nick upset or putting himself down, so when Amanda came by that afternoon…he smiled. This was his chance to set things right.
“Hi, AJ. Is Nick home? I didn’t see his car.” she said brightly.
“No, he went to work earlier.”
Amanda raised an eyebrow, Nick hadn’t told her he had a job. She nodded and went to go home before AJ moved in front of her.
“Why don’t you come in? We haven’t really gotten to know each other yet.” he said casually. Amanda wasn’t comfortable with him now that Nick wasn’t home, but figured it couldn’t hurt to talk for a while. They went in the house and AJ got them both drinks, a can of Coke each.
“Since when does Nick have a job?” Amanda asked, finding it hard to picture him working. Nick was not a lazy person, she just thought he’d be concentrating on school.
“He’s been working at the video game store for a while now. Speaking of Nick, how long have you known each other?”
“About eight years. How about you?” she replied. AJ was not going to.dominate this conversation, she had some questions of her own.
“Not long, maybe two years. So let me ask you something….do you love Nick?”
Amanda stood up, feeling appalled.
“Excuse me? I just met you, who do you think you are asking me something like that?” she hissed. AJ smiled, he knew he had hit a nerve.
“Why are you so defensive? Just answer the question. Do you?”
Amanda paused, she hadn’t thought about it since prom….what her feelings towards Nick were. Why had she chosen him over Lance? Her brown eyes wandered, her heart searching.
“I…..I don’t know.” she said, looking at the table.
“Why did you take him to prom? I thought you guys were dating.” AJ asked, setting down his empty soda can.
“My boyfriend broke his leg and couldn’t go.”
“Look, I am not trying to butt in your personal life….we just met. I am just looking out for Nick, he’s like a little brother to me. You and him really need to talk and figure out what your feelings are, because if you don’t….you’ll always regret not doing it. You’re both good people.” AJ said wisely. Amanda looked at him in surprise. He looked so rough but she saw that he had a good heart and was just being a friend. She had no reason to fear him.
“You know what, you’re right. I actually have been meaning to talk to Nick. I just don’t know where to begin.” she said.
“Just be honest. By the way…..I know about the condoms and I put two and two together. If you chose him over this guy you’re seeing…..that right there says a lot.” AJ told her. Amanda left the house, thinking about everything. She had feelings for Lance that were certain and Nick was just a big mystery. She liked to feel comfortable…..liked to be sure about what was going on.
Amanda decided to come back the next day and have a heart to heart with Nick.
Maybe things would become clear then.