Alex single-handedly takes down a bully. A safer school has its perks, but what else did the years of martial arts training get her? Not a prom date, that's for sure. With only a few weeks left before the big day, can she stop the tough act long enough for the boy of her dreams to see she's still just a girl?
Every day at lunch, weather permitting, Laynie, Brittany and I claimed the same table against the outside wall of the school building. The three of us shared the bench since it had the best view to watch everyone else. Today, my two best friends insisted on matchmaking for me. I’d given up on getting asked to prom, but they still had hope for me.
“You’re so lucky, Alex.” Laynie’s gaze landed on a head of short, dark blond hair. She planted her elbows on the lunch table, rested her chin in her palms and sighed. “Tommy’s dreamy.”
“Lucky? He doesn’t like me that way. Trust me,” I said, taking a sip of my soda. “You guys are wasting your time.”
“Yeah, he does.” Laynie craned her neck to see past Brittany who sat between us, then turned to refocus on Tommy. “He can’t resist your Latina hotness.”
I choked on a gulp of my drink and coughed. “You’re delusional.”
“He’s got this scholarly kind of deliciousness about him.” Laynie said, still staring at Tommy. “Don’t you think?”
Brittany flipped her blond hair over her shoulder and snuck another peek at Tommy. “Doesn’t matter how cute he is, you can still kick his ass, Alex.”
Yep, I probably could. That was exactly why he’d never ask me to prom. Since last year, guys saw me coming and detoured. It was as if Caution! was stamped on a big orange sign on my forehead. I mean, geez, I saved a boy from being ganged up on by Wes Hampton and his posse. Sure, Wes had ended up face down on the concrete with his arms behind him and my knee in his back, but I hadn’t hurt him. No bruises or anything.
Incidents didn’t happen often, but it only needed to happen once and it spread though school faster than Mr. Fargo could write an ‘F’ on my calculus quiz.
My single-handed defense of weaker kids had brought our school violence down to almost nothing. The upside was how well the other kids treated me — none who I felt were prospects for prom though.
When a hundred-pound girl just over five feet neutralizes a guy nearly twice her weight, potential boyfriends tend to write the girl off. And who could blame them? Tommy was the exception, but he’d never flirted with me or hinted that he liked me as more than a friend.
Laynie and Brittany were crazy if they thought Tommy or anyone else would ask me to prom. Lots of girls went dateless. So could I. Not a big deal.
But I wouldn’t be opposed to having an escort.
My gaze darted across asphalt, past the picnic benches filled with my classmates, to Tommy. “Yeah, I’m sure I could take him. He doesn’t exactly look dangerous,” I said. Not with the button down shirt and glasses. Tommy might have had height on his side, but he was a little too lean. “Which means he’ll bring the same emotional baggage as any other guy. Haven’t met one yet who’s cool with a girl being tougher than him.”
“Maybe you should bulk up, so they don’t feel as bad.” Brittany giggled. “At least they could say it was a big, brawny girl, not a willowy short thing.”
“I’m not that short.”