He approached her from behind as she was making her way to her next class. “Hey.”
Her heart stopped right along with her feet when she heard that voice. It couldn’t be that boy who shared history class with her, could it? The one who sat two rows behind her? The one who she could occasionally overhear goofing off with his friends? What would he want with her?
Surely he hadn’t noticed the couple of times she had glanced back at him this morning, during the showing of a documentary about the Civil War. She had made sure to appear as casual as possible. First by pretending to drop her pencil –a classic. Then she had pretended to check the time by looking at the classroom’s clock, conveniently mounted on the wall just above Chaz’s head.
Chaz. That was the guy’s name. Or at least nickname. It was short for Charles, a fact she had learned by seeing his full name written on an assignment the other day.
Braelynn turned around, half hoping, half dreading to see him standing there. Sure enough, he was. Even worse, he had an easygoing smile on his face that had surely won the hearts of several girls before her.
Chaz was cute, in a good-ol-boy kind of way. Part of his charm as far as she was concerned was that there weren’t many like him in this town. Wearing cowboy boots, blue jeans, and a white T-shirt that hugged his biceps, he stood a few inches taller than her. Surf shade sunglasses sat atop a head covered with plain brown hair that was showing signs of needing a trim job. But his light brown eyes seemed to pierce straight through the armor she had spent years building around herself to hoard off this kind of trouble. He was clean-shaven — or maybe he didn’t have facial hair to begin with? — and a smattering of freckles across his cheeks, which Braelynn only noticed now that she was up close.
He is way out of your league! She managed a smile. “Hi.”
“Do you get this project we’re doing?” Chaz was referring to the five-page report and oral synopsis on the Civil War, due at the end of the semester.
“Oh — Yeah. I think so.”
Chaz made a face. “Kind of a lot of work, though.”
“I like writing.” Way to go, nerd!
If that comment had turned Chaz off, he didn’t show it. In fact, his expression brightened. “Oh, yeah?”
“Uh-huh.” Braelynn tried not to fidget, or shift her weight, or make it look like she was at all nervous.
The dreamy country boy smirked, like he was Matthew-Fucking-McConaughey, and actually spoke out of the side of his mouth. “Right on. I like American History a lot. Mostly, I like to read about it.”
“Me too. I’m fascinated by it. That’s why I took the class.”
“Well, if you don’t mind me asking,” Chaz placed a hand on the back of his neck. “Do you wanna join our group? We probably could use some help.” He rolled his eyes playfully and added, “Some of us aren’t exactly geniuses, if you haven’t noticed.”
Braelynn laughed. She knew he was probably talking about his friend, Arnold, who they called Arnie. He was standing nearby on his phone, a big and tall gentleman with a baby face and a ball cap on backwards. He also wore cowboy boots and a T-shirt. “Okay. Sounds good.”
Chaz seemed relieved by her answer, a fact that made her bashful. They shared in a moment of silence, staring directly at each other until the atmosphere between them started to feel tight. She was the first to speak up again, after clearing her throat.
“Well, I gotta go — But I can, you know, give you my number if you want.”
“Sure.” Chaz retrieved his phone from his back right pocket. She rattled off seven digits and he saved them into his phone. Glancing back at her, he put his phone back in his pants pocket and told her to have a nice day. Again, he flashed his lovely smile.
By the time she made it to class and was taking a seat, her cheeks were flushed and her heart was soaring. This could be the start of something new, something good.