“Hello Mrs. Gray,” Katherine Grantham smiled. She looked over to Lorie, “You’re Apollo’s aunt right? He told me you were coming over today.”
“Yes, that would be me, the cool aunt,” Lorie commented.
“How was your vacation Katherine?” Leia asked.
“It was fun, but I still wish I could have been at Apollo’s party.”
“We missed you, but don’t worry, Apollo will have other birthdays. Besides, how often do family vacations come along?” Leia smiled.
“That’s true. Is Apollo upstairs?”
Leia nodded, “He’s playing games as always, just go on up. He’s expecting you.”
“Thank you Mrs. Gray.”
When she was out of earshot, Lorie turned to Leia. “She’s quite the little bundle of joy isn’t she?”
“I absolutely adore her. I couldn’t be happier for Apollo to have a friend like her. She is so respectful and cares about what happens to Apollo.”
“I’m hearing wedding bells,” Lorie joked.
“Don’t say that to Apollo, he gets mad every time Caleb and I joke about that.” Leia smiled. “But, if Apollo married a good person like that, I’d say my parenting was a success.”
“Hey Apollo. happy late birthday,” Katherine grinned.
“Thanks K. How was your trip?”
“Kind of boring. I mean, I used to love going with my parents, but I’m getting too old to be following them around across the world. I wanted to spend my saturday at your party.”
“It was just one day without me,” Apollo joked. “Besides, you’ll miss your parents one day.”
“You miss your dad, huh?” She asked suddenly.
Apollo’s hand tensed around the controller. “Is it that obvious? Of course I do, but it’s weird. I keep asking myself how I can miss someone I barely remember. I see pictures of me and him all around the house, but I haven’t seen him since I was a toddler. I know what he looks like, but how does he talk? Did he used to call me anything special? What did we do together?”
“Did you tell this to your mom? She probably has the answer to the last few questions.”
“She tells me stories about him all the time, but I won’t really believe it until I experience it first hand. What if he isn’t this wonderful person she tells me about?”
Katherine paused the game and looked at Apollo. “Why wouldn’t he be? You’re pretty awesome, and you’re a product of both of your parents.”
Apollo let out a long sigh. “He’s in jail. My mother makes it look so much less severe than it is, but I keep thinking, if he wasn’t a bad guy, how could he get so many years in prison? Ten years K. You don’t get that kind of time if you’re a good person.”
“Well maybe it was a misunderstanding,” She suggested.
“I dunno,” He looked away sheepishly. He was happy to have someone like Katherine he could talk to. It sometimes felt nauseating hearing the biased opinions of his uncles, aunts, grandparents and mother. “Let’s get back to the game.”
“K?” Apollo asked a little bit later. “What’s up? You never suck this bad at Alien Invasion.”
“Oh, uhm I don’t know, I haven’t been practicing recently.”
“You do realize that sounds ridiculous right? You have good gamer skills, you don’t have to practice.” Apollo shook his head.
She dropped the controller and looked at Apollo. “I want to ask you something. But, just promise to let me finish before you interrupt okay?”
“You know about the dance coming up right?” Apollo didn’t answer. “Apollo!”
“What? You said not to interrupt,” he smirked.
“You know what I meant.”
“Ok, ok. The dance for incoming freshmen to meet each other. The mock prom. I know about it.”
“Well, the incoming freshmen are mostly kids we went to middle school with, so it’s not really going to be about meeting each other. It’ll probably be an emphasis on the mock prom thing.” She began to blush. “Do you want to go with me?”
“Ugggh!” Apollo complained. Mock prom? He would have to rent a suit and Katherine would have to get a dress and wear makeup. His mother would freak out and take tons of pictures even though the real prom would come up again. They’d have fake prom kings and queens, because how can you vote for other freshmen you don’t know yet? He’d much rather be home playing some games and not dealing with the high school drama before it even started. “You know how I feel about those things.”
“It’ll be fun, everyone is going to be there. Even Tommy and John are going. Who are you going to play online with if they’re going to the dance?”
Apollo pondered it for a minute. “Theres a such thing as single player games. You’re going to have to do better than that.”
“Well, why don’t you want to go?”
“Are you serious? It’s going to be all formal and awkward.” Apollo fake shivered. “Disgusting.”
“But, I’ll be there so it will be less awkward!”
He let out a breath. “I’ll go on one condition.”
“I don’t know yet, but you’ll owe me one. We’ll go as friends.” Katherine nodded but still seemed a bit off. “Can we play again? Hello! Earth to K!” He waved his hand in front of her face.
“I don’t want to go as only friends.” She was sick and tired of Apollo only seeing her as one of the guys. She was a girl, but she felt like he blatantly ignored that. She didn’t wear makeup or wear dresses, but she wanted to be more girly during high school. She didn’t want to blend in the background anymore. Why couldn’t he see that?
“What do you mean? You want to go as, like a couple?”
She looked away nervously. This was harder than she thought. She had practiced this in the car the entire ride home, her parents thought she was nuts!
“Yes. I don’t want to be one of guys anymore. You don’t even call me by my name ever. All you want to do is play video games with me. It’s fun, but I like you a lot Apollo. I want to go to movies with you, without having Tommy or John tagging along. I don’t know how to do any of this, but I want to try it.”
Before Apollo could defend himself, Katherine leaned in towards his face hesitantly and pressed her lips against his. She was young, but everyone else around her had boyfriends. She wanted to go into high school with someone by her side. She felt nervous around him often, and she didn’t understand it until she heard some girls talking about how they had crushes on boys. Could she have a crush on Apollo? She heard the way to figure it out was to see if there were “sparks” when she kissed him. She tried it, and though it was a bit weird, she kind of enjoyed it.
“What the heck Katherine?” He had finally used her first name, but this wasn’t how she wanted to hear it.
“Apollo, I like you!”
“I don’t like you like that! I don’t want to be one of those guys paraded around the school. You just want some guy to brag to all of the girls about!”
“No I don’t, I like you! Showing you off is a bonus!” She failed at trying to flirt.
“You’re supposed to be my best friend, don’t take advantage of me like that!”
She didn’t understand why he was getting so mad because she really did like him. “Apollo, please…I’m sorry. I didn’t know this would happen. I’ve never kissed anyone before, I didn’t know what would happen. Please don’t be mad at me, you’re my best friend.”
“You didn’t know what you were doing, but you decided to kiss me anyway? That’s so dumb, I don’t want to be your test dummy. Just get out. I don’t want to talk to you right now. I just wanted to play some video games today and you’re already starting all of this drama.”
“Apollo….” Katherine cried out again.
“Not now, just go home. I don’t feel like dealing with this right now. I don’t want a girlfriend, that’s not important to me.”
Katherine got up sadly and walked towards the door. She was so upset she didn’t even say goodbye to Leia or Lorie.
“Damnit!” Apollo hit the couch angrily. Everything was going so well, until she ruined it. He wasn’t supposed to be thinking about Katherine like that. She was supposed to be his rock, not the one causing the confusing feelings.
“Does your brother seem a bit upset?” Caleb asked at dinner. Apollo had decided to sit by himself in the kitchen rather than with Caleb, Apollo and Leia.
“Yeah…” Ambrose said in between bites of food. “He was mad after Katherine left.”
“Does he like Katherine?”
“Of course he does, that’s his best friend,” Leia pointed out.
“You know what I mean, Lei.”
“Mom, he means like a girlfriend. Apollo and Katherine sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” Ambrose sang loudly.
“Shut up!” Apollo shouted back.
“Leave him alone Ambrose, he isn’t feeling well,” Leia scolded.
“Can’t I eat in peace without somebody assuming I want to go out with Katherine!?” Apollo grumbled before storming out. “I’ll be in my room where I don’t have to hear you guys accusing me!”
“Teenagers,” Ambrose said before digging into his grape pancakes once again.
“What do you know about teenagers?” Caleb grinned.
“That they get mad all the time. My friend Kylie said her cousin is a teenager and all she does is get mad at her parents.”
“Don’t ever be mean to mommy, okay?” Leia told him.
“I’m not a jerk like Apollo, so you don’t have to worry about that.”
“Hey now! Apollo is your brother. Do not be mean. Your family comes first mister.” Leia wagged her finger at him.
“She’s right, you know,” Caleb told him.
“I know, I’m just joking.”
Apollo wasn’t any better the next day. “I hate being picked up first. I’m stuck with you for twenty minutes.”
“Stop being a jerk because Katherine dumped you!” Ambrose told his older brother.
“You don’t even know what happened.” He lowered his eyes.
“I don’t care, just stop being so mean.”
“Whatever.” He turned his head. He was so relieved there was only a week left until school finished and that his summer vacation was almost here. The dance was around mid-summer but he’d deal with that later. he didn’t even want to think about Katherine. He wished there was a way to get her upset face out of his mind. Why did she have to ruin their perfect relationship? Why was she trying to mess up the one thing he held constant in his life?