Serena was early, too early, but if she were to have the advantage, it wouldn’t do to wait. She certainly didn’t want an audience and in ten minutes they’d be coming. The entry doors were already unlocked so it wasn’t like she shouldn’t be here. Up the steps she scurried, the note clutched in her hand. At the top of the staircase, she paused. Was she really going to do this? Nodding emphatically to reassure herself, Serena rounded the corner into the long hallway.
She knew exactly where his locker was. How many times had she stood hidden by her own locker door, peering around the edge to feast her eyes on that dreamboat? His dark hair swooping low over his forehead as he bent to retrieve a book and that maddening dimple in his cheek playing peek-a-boo. Once or twice as he’d glanced in her direction she was sure he’d noticed her. An adrenalin rush made her knees shake now remembering. She steadied herself with her hand on the sacred locker door.
“Oh, Bradley,” she whispered standing on tiptoe. “You are my true love.” She slipped the paper through the vents at the top of the locker door. Not a moment too soon as voices echoed up the stairs. Safely at her own locker she busied herself with her backpack as the corridor filled with students.
A clot of boys shoved their way past, laughing and punching each other, Bradley in their midst. A couple of them veered off to their own lockers while most of Bradley’s entourage clustered around him.
Serena’s gaze caressed the object of her desire and then something distracted her. Something white peeking out of a vent in Bradley’s locker.
Oh, no! The note didn’t go all the way through! They’re all going to see! Serena’s hands flew to her cheeks. Staring at the floor tiles, she desperately wished they’d separate and a hole would invite her in, agitation and all.
“Hey, what’s this?” Darryl pointed at the protruding missive. He pulled at it but a fold in the paper prevented him from extracting it. “Hey, man! Somebody’s left you a love note. C’mon, open your locker. Let’s see who it’s from!”
Bradley obeyed but faster hands than his grabbed the note. Turning in a circle, Darryl kept it just out of Bradley’s reach and handed it off to Simon. Topher and Chuck caught hold of Bradley’s arms while Simon, with a smirk, slowly unfolded the note.
“Oooooh, Bradley. You are the cutest boy in the whole school and I just want you to know I think you’re wonderful,” Simon read in falsetto, flipping one hand out to the side.
“Knock it off, guys!” Bradley struggled against his captors, managing to free one of his arms. “Give it to me, Si!” he commanded. Simon, laughing, surrendered the note.
“Who’s it from? One of those fat little freshmen?” Simon jibed.
“Yeah, man!” the guys jeered.
Bradley ignored his companions as they continued in rude rowdiness. Scanning the neatly penned communiqué, a small smile hovered over his lips, bringing his dimple into play. Head still bent over the note, he raised his eyes and let them rove. The note was unsigned but the evidence on the plump face of the girl ten lockers away told him she was the author.
Serena couldn’t tear her eyes away as Bradley carelessly folded up the note and stuffed it into his back jeans pocket.
“You wanna know who wrote it?” Bradley shrugged. He slugged Darryl in the arm. “Nobody, man. Not even signed. You guys’re making a big commotion over something of no consequence. Get over it. C’mon or we’ll be late to class.”
“Big commotion, huh? No consequence. Whoa, man! Been studying your vocab list again, huh?” The group, boisterously teasing Bradley about his secret admirer and his use of big words, dispersed to their individual lockers. Bradley, lips pursed and brow furrowed under the swoop of hair, closed his locker door and started down the hall for his first period class.
Serena, still frozen at her locker with a deer-in-the-headlights look, gulped as he paused and held up his hand. “Forgot something. I’ll catch up with you guys,” he said, waving his posse on. Throwing a glance over his shoulder at her, he patted his back pocket. Then her heart melted as Bradley, accompanied by that maddening dimple, gave her his best dreamboat wink.
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