Nothing Else

The moment I saw him, I knew I'd fall in love with him if I wasn't careful. Guess I wasn't careful enough.

The only times I get to see him is during gymnastics. The first time I laid eyes on him, he was doing back layouts on the trampoline. Like a god that shone with the brightness of a star, no, a sun, with a face of that in pure ecstasy. He flung himself backwards like a person done with life, causing his golden hair to fly back from his eyes. Baby blue eyes, closed tightly as he flipped around. When his feet touched the ground, landing like a feather, he raised his arms like a champion and opened his eyes slowly, looking around as if soaking in the moment when all are in awe of his feat. The he breathed out a sigh, dropped his arms, and smiled softly. Then proceeded to the end of the line of other kids that were waiting to have their moment in the limelight.

Who could blame me for falling for such a beautiful, skilled god? No one could. If you saw him like I saw him, through my eyes, you'd fall in love too.

One day for warm-up, we did front handsprings across the floor.

First, let me say something in my defense. I'm good at gymnastics. But there are those who are exceptional. This was a make-up class for me. From my usual class of good to the class of exceptional. So when they all did front handsprings across the floor, I was a little behind. I could still do it. Just not on their level.

Cole was one of those especially exceptional gymnasts. Best in the class. And he made me feel like a moron.

He was so good, like a diamond. Next to him I felt like slate. Plain old slate. But boy did he shine.

When we did round off back handspring across the floor, he was with the group that did back flips.

When I saw him, I almost stopped breathing. I'm pretty sure he noticed the astonished look on my face because he flashed a cocky grin at me then turned away chuckling. He was laughing at me!

"Kristen, Cole's laughing at me." I whispered to my sister who was standing next to me.

"He does that." She knew his skill level as well as I did and did not question his cockiness.

"That…" I couldn't think of a word to describe him. Sure lots of words flew through my head, beautiful, godly, handsome, wonderful, and glorious. But none were the type I wanted to use.

My sister went. Then it was my turn.

Stop caring, I told myself. I ran and successfully finished my back handspring. I went to the end of the line.

Then it was Cole's turn. That ridiculously good-looking guy had the gull to smirk at me before going into a back handspring back flip.

"He smirked at me!" I gasped. I was flabbergasted. That…that…

He filed to the end of the line, right next to me.

"Show off." I coughed, turning away.

"You're just jealous." He countered.

"Am not." I pouted. The line was moving. I took a step away from Cole.

He took a step closer. "Are too."

I glared at him and made the mistake of looking into his eyes. Those eyes! The purest baby blue in all the world. So deep, I could fall in. My hard expression softened. He noticed and started giggling. No! I wanted to stay in those eyes! I forced myself to look away.

"Maybe a little." I said softly.

"I can help you if you want."

"What?" My head snapped around.

"Stephanie!" Kristen called. "You're next! Pay attention!"

"Oh!" I moved up and took my turn, rather horribly I might add since my mind was concentrating on what Cole had just said, not on straightening my arms so my face wouldn't smash into the floor.

Cole took his turn. Not fazed a bit, unlike me, who fretted over it until he followed behind me in line.

"What do you mean?" I asked, staring at his gorgeous face.

He said something.

"Sorry. What did you say?" I shook my head.

"I said I am willing to help you. You know tutor, teach. Also," he leaned in closer, "you should stop staring at my face. It's rather distracting for me and others. And it's clearly distracting you."

"I'm not staring at your face." I crossed my arms.

"Oh, really?" He raised an eyebrow, crossing his arms too.

"Yeah. Really." I retorted.

"That's not what everyone else thinks."

"They don't count." I flicked a hand at everyone else. "They're not involved."

"They're not?"

"Nope." I said, shaking my head. Then more unsure, "Did you mean it about the teaching me thing?"

"Every word." He smiled gently. "Now pay attention. It's almost your turn."

I took my turn. Then we split into groups, and I couldn't talk to him again until the class was over. We scheduled to meet here, the place where we take gymnastics, Wednesday night.

Needless to say, I fretted about our meeting all three of those days. Finally, Wednesday was here. Mom dropped me off and told me to call when I was done. I saw Cole leaning against the door.

"Hey Cole!" I waved, walking up to him.

"Hey." He raised a hand in acknowledgement of me. "Come on in."

"But-" I was shocked into silence when he opened the door wide for me.

He smiled, sensing my questions. "I use this gym every Wednesday night. Practicing. They gave me special permission. And," he jingled a key in front of me. "I get a copy of the key to this place."

"So there aren't…"

He shook his head. "No teachers. Just us."

I shrugged. Oh, the things you can do. I walked inside, with him following.

However I imagined this would go, didn't happen. We started on floor, working on front handsprings.

"Come on. Use your hands to push yourself up. Stand. Arch your back. It's not that hard." He ordered me around like a slave driver.

"Cole," I dropped to the floor, "you think you could give a little more description besides 'use your hands to push'?"

"Get up. What are you doing?"

"Explaining the difference between you and me. There are some people that can tell their bodies 'do this.' Their body says 'okay' and does it. Me? I go 'do this.' My body asks 'how?' I'm guessing you're the first type, as I have seen you do wonderful things with that body of yours. I don't work the same. I need to know the how and the why things happen. The core of what you are doing to make the trick work." I stared up at him helplessly. "Get it?"


"Pfft!" Cole burst out laughing. He collapsed to the ground in front of me.

"What?" I was getting a little annoyed now. First, he laughs at me. Then, he bosses me around. Then, he laughs at me again.

"You just…just…that speech," he said between gasps of breathe between laughter. "You…you…"

"Calm down." I put my hand on his back. He was doubled over in a laughing fit that didn't look anywhere near stopping. "Take some deep breaths. Deeper. Breathe, Cole, breathe." After he could breathe normally, I asked, "Now, what were you going to say?"

"Your…your speech was beautiful!" He burst out quickly before laughing again. "It was so inspiring!"

I sat there a few seconds while he laughed at me.

"I'm leaving." I monotoned, getting up and taking a few steps before Cole caught my ankle.

"No. Sorry." He breathed deeply. "See, look, I'm done. I've stopped." He meant it. He was regaining his composure. "You were just so blunt about it."

"Well, it's true." I blushed, pouting.

"Alright, alright." He stood. "Let's try this again. Try another front handspring."

"Fine." I sulked over to one end of the room. "Front handspringing." I groaned. I ran and skipped and put my hands to the floor, kicking my legs over, all the while thinking about pushing with my hands so I could stand up. I landed. I didn't fall but stayed on two feet, standing.

"What?" I blinked, confused.

"Hooray!" Cole clapped. "Do you know what you did differently that time?"

"No." I shook my head. "Except I was thinking about pushing with my hands in order to stand."

"See!" Cole pointed.

"No! I was wondering how you push with your hands without bending your elbows and smashing your face to the floor."

"Like that." He crossed the floor to me. "Good job." He patted me on the back.

"Thanks." I blushed.

He laughed. "We'll come back to these. Now we'll work on back handsprings." He kneeled down on the floor. "Do a back bend."

"Say again?" I stared at him.

"Trust me." He smiled.

"Alright. But if I fall, you're to blame."


I turned around, so my back was to him. Lifting my hands above my head, I started arching my back. I felt his hand on the small of my back. I froze.

"Relax. I'm just spotting."

I shrugged. "It just startled me." I continued to arch until my hands thumped to the floor. I waited a while in this bridge position. Cole pressed his hand into my back, forcing me to arch more. It started to ache. "Ah!" I rolled over, off and away from his hand. I curled up on the floor. "Ow."

"You okay?" Cole kneeled by my side.

"Why'd you have to stretch my back so much?" I growled at him.

"To show you how much you have to arch. Now stand up and do a back handspring. I'll spot." He kneeled again.

I stood, stretching my back a few more times before standing in front of him like I did before.

"Now think fast." He held his hands ready to spot.

I took a deep breathe, arms raised. Quickly, I brought them down and back up, arching over and falling backward with my hands. Hands connected to the floor. Feet connected.

"Good." Cole said, standing. "But can you do it with a round off in front?"

"Of course." I crossed my arms.

"Continuously?" He raised an eyebrow.

I looked at the ground. "I'm working on it."

He looked at me in silence for a minute. "Let's do it once with you stopping." He said finally.

"Okay." I said softly. I felt like I had failed him. I thought of this while I walked to the corner of the room. "Ready?" I asked once I reached the corner and was ready to go.

"Ready." He confirmed.

"Okay." I ran, skipped, and did a round off. He was right there when I landed.

"Back handspring now!" He shouted, placing his hands on my back.

I reacted on instinct and swung backwards. It didn't go so well. Sure I made it over, but I collapsed to the floor after.

"You said with stopping." I whined, unable to keep from giggling.

"But you were on a role." He said, collapsing beside me. "And it wasn't all fun on my side either. I had to push you over."

"I'm not that heavy." I pouted, but I couldn't keep a straight face and ended up laughing again. "Plus, that's all the more reason not to do that to me."

He shrugged. "You're not hurt, are you?"

"I think my pride is. A little." I rolled over to face him. "Do I have to do anymore?"


"But I don't wanna." I whined, thumping my feet in a fake temper tantrum. I really didn't mind, but I didn't feel like doing more than he forced me to do.

He sighed. "Then I guess you'll just have to watch me."

"You just want another chance to show off."

"Maybe." He hot up and started walking to the corner. "Please move out of the runway."

I scrambled out of the way. "All clear." I saluted him.

He saluted back. Taking in a deep breath, he ran and did a round off. I expected him to follow it up with a back flip like he does in class, but instead did a back handspring, landing with no problem.

"Why'd you do that?" I asked.

"Do what?" he walked over to the mat I was sitting on.

"Show off. Show me how much I suck at life." I sighed and curled into a ball.

"You don't suck at life." He sat down next to me.

"Yes I do. Why else did you do a back handspring instead of a back flip then to show me what it's suppose to look like?" I put my head on my knees.

"Or it could be because I didn't feel like doing a back flip." He leaned in, whispering in my ear. "You're getting there. Relax. It will come. Just takes practice." I lifted my head. He went on. "And having an hour long class once a week isn't that much practice. It's no wonder you've only come this far. Plus you're stuck in a class that isn't challenging you. So for the amount of practice you're getting, you're doing really well. And you'll improve." He patted me on the back. "Let's try it again." He smiled. "This time it'll really be continuous." He held out his hand, standing up.

I took his hand. "Thanks." I smiled.

"No problem." He winked at me.

The next couple of months were Wednesday nights spent in the gym with Cole. I got better at skills I was already good at and learned some new ones. Cole showed off occasionally. I didn't mind. I used the time he took for his on thing too study him. To just look at him really with no other accusing eyes around. He got more beautiful the more I looked at him. I truly owed him a lot; I was getting better.

One day, in class, I did my front handspring across the floor, and one of the teachers said something.

"Your handsprings are looking great. Are you practicing more?" She asked.

I glanced at Cole, who had heard the comment. He quickly shook his head.

"Guess I finally understand how it works." I smiled and went back in line.

Obviously, Cole had never told the teachers that he was helping me. I had never asked him about it, but I guess there were reasons.

When we did back handsprings or back flips across the floor that day, Cole messed up. He didn't make it around for his back flip. I watched in horror as the teachers dived to catch him and stop him from landing on his neck.

"What's wrong Cole? This isn't like you." One of the teachers said, helping him up from the floor.

Cole very obviously, at least to me, had seen my horrified expression. He shrugged. "Just having an off day." He didn't do anymore back flips that day.

When Wednesday came around, Cole was waiting for me at the door like always. We walked into the gym, like always. But when he mentioned that he was going to teach me ariels, I said no.

"You don't like ariels?" He looked confused.

"You practice." I looked to the floor. I couldn't look him in the eyes. I felt like everything was my fault.

"No. Come on, ariels are fun." He took my arm and tugged on it.

"No!" Tears welled in my eyes. "You need to practice. You couldn't do that back flip on Thursday because you haven't been practicing." I put my face in my hands. "And it's all because you're helping me!"

"No. No. No." He coaxed, prying my hands from my face. Even though tears streamed down my cheeks, he still looked me in the eye. The concern look in his eyes as I was drawn into them was more than I could stand.

"No! Listen!" I turned away. "You're beautiful, godly, and gorgeous, and not to mention incredibly talented. Why waste your time on someone like me?" I stared at him. "Why waste yourself on me?"

"For all the adjectives you just listed."

"Beautiful, godly, gorgeous, and incredibly talented?"

He cupped my face with his hands. His strong, smooth, warm hands. "Plus unique, hilarious, and persistent. Oh! And stubborn." He smiled.

"What are those describing?" I asked, completely lost on where he was going with this. I had described him. He was describing…

"You." He answered.

"What?" I stood with my mouth hanging open.

"Well, except 'godly.' But you are in a way rather…" He trailed off.

"But how could you call me beautiful or gorgeous? Or even hilarious for that matter?"

"This is why." He started chuckling, covering his mouth with one hand. "The ideas that come into your head. I don't know how you think of them!" He put his arm around his stomach, still covering his mouth with his hand.

"Stop laughing." I choked, though I couldn't help cracking a smile. "Seriously, what are you going to do about your practicing?"

He shrugged. "I'll show off more."

This is why I loved him. He was so calm about everything. Took it as it was and made adjustments accordingly.

"I love you." I sighed. It wasn't a confession, I tell the same thing to all my friends (I had even told him a few times before), but it felt like one. As soon as those three words escaped my lips, I realized something. I did love him. Truly and from the bottom of my heart, I did.

He must have sensed this because he stared at me for a few seconds before shaking his head and turning away. "Then I'll practice today. You just watch." He walked toward the trampoline.

As I watched his back, a peaceful calm set over me. I could do this forever. Just me and Cole. Here together. I walked over and sat on the side of the trampoline as he started jumping. He never looked at me. Through the entire time that he practiced that night, he never even glanced at me. But I watched him, trying to record as much of him as possible.

Soon it was late.

"I should probably call Mom now." I sighed, reaching in my pocket for my cell phone. Cole looked over from where he was jumping on the trampoline, an urgent look shone in his eyes.

"Wait!" He shouted, jumping from the trampoline and running over to the door where I had stopped.

"Cole?" This wasn't like him. I faced the door, readying to walk out.

As soon as he reached me, he embraced me from behind, holding me close with his leanly muscled arms.

"Don't go." He whispered.

I couldn't speak. I couldn't move. I couldn't even think very well. My entire being was focused on the fact that Cole had told me that he didn't want me to leave. That he had hugged me. That he had run over to hug me. I swallowed once. Twice. Three times. Taking a deep breath, I asked, "Cole, are you planning to let go of me anytime soon?"

"No." He answered bluntly.

I waited a couple of minutes before I tried again, "Cole, will you please let me go?"

"Not now."


"Eventually." He paused. "No. Never."

"How about just for a little bit? So I can call my mom."

He squeezed me tighter. "You can call her while I hug you."

I sighed. "Fine." I dialed and waited while it rang.

"Hello?" The voice of my mother channeled out through my phone.

"Hey, Mom. Can you pick me – ah!" I stiffened, feeling Cole's smooth, slightly cold lips brush against my neck.

"What?" She questioned.

"Hold on." I said quickly. Taking the phone from my face, I whispered, "Cole! What are you doing?"

"Kissing you." He said nonchalantly.

"I got that part!" I whispered harshly. "Could you stop for a minute, so I can talk to my mom?"

"No." He ran his lips up my neck.

"For a second then!"

He stopped.

"Hello? Stephanie?" My mother's voice echoed from the phone.

I swiftly put the phone to my ear. "Actually, Mom," I tried to keep my voice even. "I'm going to stay here a little longer. I'll call when I'm ready to go, okay? Love you! Bye!" I closed the phone. "Now Cole – ah! – could you stop please?" I pushed him away. I turned to face him. "Now tell me what is going on."

"I was kissing your neck and hugging you, but I guess I'm not doing that anymore." He took a step forward and hugged me again, gently this time. "Do you know how long I've wanted to hold you like this?"

"No." I breathed softly.

"Since the day I noticed you starring at me." He drew back a little, so I could see his face.

"You mean that day that you offered to help me?" I stared, shocked.

"Yeah. Your expressions were so cute. Not just your expression, but your reactions, motions, the things you said. Everything."

"That's why you offered to help me." It was a fact, not a question. "I should have known you weren't jus being nice." I leaned toward him, slowly closing the space between our lips. I had to look up slightly because he was a couple inches taller than me. He leaned down. Our lips touched. My eyelids drooped. If only I could describe that feeling to you!

It was like everything you secretly wanted was given to you in one hot, passionate package. He pressed into me. I pressed back, harder, pulling him closer with my arms that I had draped over his shoulders. Eventually, I needed to breathe. The kiss broke, and I leaned back, gasping for breath. Cole just smiled at me.

"What?" I questioned when his knowing smile got annoying.

"You're just too adorable." He brushed the back of his fingers against my cheek.

"Stop saying that." I blushed, looking away. "It's not true."

"I mean it." He kissed my forehead. "Wanna watch me some more?"

I nodded eagerly.

He kissed me quickly, a snippet of the heat felt before. It lingered on my lips as he ran to the floor. I slowly followed, trying to relive the feeling I had in our first kiss. My hands flew to my mouth. My first kiss! I breathed in deeply, lowering my hands. Just my luck that it happened to be taken by a cocky brat. I watched Cole do an ariel than a branny. No, not taken, drawn out by. And a talented cocky brat, I thought with a smile.

I sat down on a mat at the floor's boundary edge. He really was magnificent, doing difficult skills as if they were as easy as breathing. I knew he enjoyed every minute of it.

Suddenly, he was on the ground.

"Cole!" I had been so lost in thought that I hadn't noticed what was happening. I got up and ran over to him. He rolled over onto his back as I crouched down beside him. "Cole, what happened?"

"My foot slipped. I think I," he tried to get up but his arm collapsed. "I think I sprained my wrist trying to catch myself." He cradled one arm with the other.

"Oh my gosh! Don't move! I'll…I'll," I fretted, not thinking logically. I stood. "I'll call for help! That's what I'll do." He sat up, grinning to himself. I noticed too late. He stuck out his 'sprained' arm and caught me behind the knees, forcing them to bend. I fell to the floor, my back thumping down pretty hard. Cole rolled on top, straddling my hips and planting his hands on either side of my head.

"Cole? Aren't you…" I glanced at his 'sprained' arm.

He laughed. "The truth is that I wanted you to pay more attention to me. You looked very spacey."

"Really? Well, maybe my thoughts were more entertaining than you are." I smirked.

He dropped to his forearms, colliding our lips together. The same intensity shimmered through me, making me want more of what he was giving. I reached up, entwining my fingers through his long dirty blonde waves, pulling him closer. When I opened my lips and licked gently at his, he was anxious to respond with his own intensity.

Tongues touched tongues. I breathed in, trying to cool down, but I was on fire! Heat, burning coursed through my veins. I could never have enough. It seemed like it'd never end, and I didn't want it to. Bat all good things must come to an end. Especially when Cole rolled off, dropping his back to the floor loudly.

We both were panting, trying to think clear enough to form words.

"Cole?" I said at last, rolling to my side to face him.

"Yeah?" he turned too, propping himself up on an elbow.

"That was…was…" I couldn't think of the word. Our kiss had been so many wonderful things that I couldn't describe it. But he understood.

"Yeah." He sighed. "It was."

Suddenly, I started laughing. It started as a giggle, way back in my throat, but it grew and got louder until I threw my head back in a laughter that filled the room.

"What's so funny?" Cole confused expression just made me laugh harder. I fell back on my back. I had to take a lot of deep breaths before I was able to answer.

"It was too much like an old movie or something." I turned my head and smiled at him. "But geez. It was…incredible."

"Of course." He said, standing up.

I looked at him puzzled.

He grinned. "It was with me." His grin widened.

I had to stifle a giggle with my hand. "Yeah. Okay." I sat up. "Oh, Cole." I rocked backwards, throwing my feet over my head and planting them solidly on the floor behind me. As I straightened up, arching my back, I reached my arms to the ceiling. "So," I clicked my tongue a few times, looking all around the room and letting my arms drop to my sides. "I'm not going home for awhile."

Cole puckered his lips. I skipped over and gave him a quick peck on them. I gasped and had to take a few steps back.

"You okay?" Cole asked, concerned.

I put my hand to my forehead. "I'm fine. I just got a little dizzy there. That's all."

Cole took a step forward, gliding slowly. "Are you getting dizzy?"

"Cole," I sighed.

"Are you more dizzy now?" He teased, taking another step forward.

"So dizzy." I put one hand to my head, pretending to faint. "In fact, I think I might need to sit -" I broke off, falling into his arms. He caught me like I weighed nothing.

"You should be an actress." He chuckled.

"That's what everyone keeps telling me." I looked at him. "I love you. I just realized that now."

"Just realized that now?"

"Well not now now. But today, yes." Again I looked into his eyes. Again I didn't want to look away. I hugged him, pressing my face into his chest. "I love you."

I felt his body shift, felt his hand run down the back of my leg. "Ah!" And all of a sudden, I was lifted off the ground into Cole's arms. "Cole, what are you doing?"

"I'm carrying you," he winked at me. "Can't you see?"

"But I'm so heavy. Put me down," I pounded lightly on his chest.

"You're not heavy," he held me closer with those taut muscles on those finely honed arms.

"Yes, I am," I said softly, but I rested my head against his chest anyway. He was warm. His chest grew and deflated with his breathing. I felt very safe, very at ease in his arms. His strong arms that were coated with muscle but still lean.

"I could live here." I said quietly, burying my face into his hard chest.

"The gym?" He asked, walking over to one of the mats on the edge of the floor.

"No. In your arms, " I breathed in, taking in his scent. Even after doing all that hard gymnastics he smelled good. He had that natural male aroma, you know. "I never want to leave this place."

"I understand." He sat down on the floor next to the pole that stood in the center of the room. He put me down and propped his legs out with his knees bent up. I crawled into the little cove between his legs, and he wrapped his arms around me.

I sighed. "I really don't want to move from this spot, but it's getting late." I strained up to peck him on the lips again. "I should call Mom to come pick me up." I started to move. He seemed reluctant to let go, but he did.

"Fine." He opened his arms and let me stand up. He stood up, too. "But I don't want you to go."

"I don't want to go either, but I don't want my mom to worry, especially after the way I hung up on her earlier." I backed toward the door, wagging my fingers at him. "I'll be right back." I turned, opened the door, and stepped outside. It was a bit chilly, and I pulled my jacket collar up around my neck. I took out my phone and flipped it open. The light from the LCD screen cast a blue hazy glow on my hand as I dialed my mom's number. While it rang, I rubbed my arm with the hand that didn't have the phone. A warm hand clasped it and held it tight.

"Cole!" I turned my head.

"You look cold," he hugged me, encasing me with his warmth.

"I am, but aren't you? And it's not good to get really cold after you just warmed up your muscles by exercising."

"What exercising?" He scoffed at my stare. "You mean all the tricks I did in there? Child's play."

I scowled. "You don't have to boast." Finally, Mom picked up.

"You have some explaining to do, young lady," she said sternly.

"Mom, I'm ready to get picked up now. This time for real. And I'm sorry for being so rude and hanging up so fast on you, but Cole had fallen, and I was afraid he had hurt himself," I winked at Cole, who frowned at having people told that he had fallen. "Anyway, Mom, I'm sorry. Will you pick me up please? Or is it a bad time?" I could hear noise in the background.

"It's fine. I'm just over at the Stevenson's, talking to Sherry. I'll be by in about half an hour."

"Alright. See you then. Bye," I hung up, closing the phone slowly. I turned to Cole. "Let's go inside. Mom says she won't be here for another thirty minutes."

Cole led the way, never releasing me from his grasp, which of course made it very difficult to walk. Once we got inside, we sat down on one of the benches up on the wall that parents sit on when they watch their children do gymnastics class.

"What happens when your mom comes, and I don't let you go?" Cole asked.

"You let me go, and we'll see each other next class."

"What if I can't wait that long?"

I thought. "Then memorize this number: 410 – 668 – 1665. Got it? It's not being repeated."

"410 – 668 – 1665? Got it. It's got a lot of 6's in it, so it's easy to remember."

"That's what I said, but Mom doesn't believe me." I snuggled against him. "I love you."

"I love you."

"That's a lie."

"No. It's the truth. I love you more than anything else in the world."

I froze, grinning. "More than anything?"


"More than your family?"

He nodded.

"More than any material thing?"

He nodded.

"More than your life?"


"More than … gymnastics?"

He stiffened. "No."

"And why is that?"

He was silent a minute. "I owe gymnastics a lot."


"It brought me to you."

I was speechless. All I could do was stare. I fumbled to make a sound for a couple seconds before choking out, " Do I really mean that much to you?"

"Yeah." He leaned in as if he were going to kiss me but stopped short. "You're real important."

Headlights shone against the windows to our left.

"That's my mom," I sighed, getting up. He grabbed my hand and pulled me back. "What –" I was drawn into his arms again. He hugged me tightly for a while before releasing me slowly. He brushed his thumb across my cheek.

"You're so beautiful." He looked sad.

"Stop lying to me," I said softly.

"It's true." He leaned in slowly, as if savoring this moment of bliss. Everything seemed to go in slow motion. I closed my eyes moments before I felt his breath on my lips. I sucked in a staggered breath. What was this burning need in me? I was going to loose it. I stuttered more air through my lungs.

"I … should go." I backed away, opening my eyes in time to see him slowly open his. "Shouldn't keep Mom waiting." I took one last look at Cole before turning my back and walking out the door to the car where Mom was waiting. I waved at her as I approached.

"Sorry for being so confusing," I said, opening the door and getting inside.

"You're a teenager. What should I expect? But next time try not to be so fickle." She pulled the car out of park.

"I'm not fickle," I crossed my arms. "I told you, Cole fell."

"Oh yeah. Hoe is that young man?" She pressed lightly on the gas pedal and steered the car out of the parking lot.

"I thought I told you, he's fine." I tapped my finger to my chin. "Hmm. I must've forgot. Oh well."

"Well," she sighed, "it's good that he's alright." The rest of the car ride was in silence. When we got home, I went straight to my room.

"Stephanie?" Mom yelled up after me.

"I'm doing homework. Call me when dinner's ready." I walked into my room and closed the door. Of course I didn't have any homework. I already finished it all. I flopped on my bed and turned on my laptop. I was signing onto Facebook when my phone rang. I groaned and reached over to my desk to grab it. My phone didn't recognize the number that was calling. I rolled my eyes.

It's probably another person calling for Frank, I thought to myself.

Let me explain. Since the first day that I got my cell phone number, there have been a whole bunch of people calling for "Frank". I don't know anything about this guy except that he apparently used to have the number that now belongs to me. I was always getting calls from his friends and such.

I flipped open the phone and put it to my ear.

"Hello?" I said blandly, expecting someone to ask 'Frank?'

"Stephanie?" A voice of uncertainty whispered across the line. I knew that voice!


"If you're Stephanie."

"I am."

"Then I'm Cole."

I gasped. "When did you –"

"You told me your number," he interrupted, "remember?"

"I did?" My brain whirled, searching for the memory that would help me out. "Oh! I did, didn't I? But I didn't think you'd memorize it! I mean, I said it so casually, and you didn't write it down."

"But I cared enough to remember."

I could practically taste his cocky attitude through the phone. "Thanks. Hey, can you do something for me?"


"I'm gonna hang up. Then you're gonna call me back in two minutes."


"Just do it, okay?"

There was a pause before a reluctant, "Alright."

"I love you."

"Love you, too."

Then I hung up. I went to recent calls and saved the number as Cole's. Then I changed the ring tone for that number to "What is Love?" just to make me laugh whenever he called. Then I put my phone on my desk to wait. I didn't have to wait long before "What is love? (love) Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more" rang out. I snatched up the phone and flipped it open.

"Hello, Love," I oozed.

"You gonna tell me what that was about?" I could almost see him raising an eyebrow at me.

"I wanted to save your number before I forgot. Plus a nifty ring tone."

"Nifty?" He said blandly.


"And what ring tone?"

"'What is Love?'"

Silence echoed from over the line.

"Hello?" I inquired a couple seconds later. I looked at the screen of my phone. It said 'Call Ended'. He hung up on me! I snapped the phone shut. Fine. As soon as I made up my mind to put down the phone and not pick it up, even if he called again, the phone rang. I answered it on reflex.

"Damn it," I groaned.

"That's a nice thing to say."

"I just resolved to not answer the phone when you called, and I answered it by reflex." I sighed.

"Yup. That sounds like you."

"How do you know? You've only known me for, what? A couple months? And only in gymnastics. So how do you know what I'm like?"

"I pay attention."

"To what?"

"To you. Your little habits tell a lot about you. The way you speak. The way your spirit glows at the mention of things that you haven't hurt yourself doing and how it diminishes when I tell you to do something that you've injured yourself doing. Like front flips. You've had bad experiences with those, right?"

"Them and that teacher."

"Which one?" He asked, concerned.

"What does it matter? Anyway, she's a douche bag, so I forgive her."

He chuckled.

"What?" I was getting pretty sick of him just laughing at me.

"It's just so you. I love the way you don't change depending on who you're talking to. Or what you're talking about. You're always you." He sighed, "That's what I love about you so much."

"You know what I love about you?"

"That I'm a God?"

"Close." I smiled. "But I think it's your attitude."

"The same attitude that you're always complaining about?"

"Yeah. That cocky – I – can – do – everything attitude. Though it can get annoying sometimes." I heard a bell ringing from downstairs. "Love? I have to go eat now. Talk to you later."

"I love you."

"Love you, too. Good night." Then I hung up the phone and placed it back on my desk, smiling to myself. I guess even I can have a happy ending. A love I mean. Then I went downstairs to eat dinner.