“You drive this morning, babe.” Connor ushered Daisy to the driver side of the car. “I want to look over my notes before class. I have a big test, first period.”
“Kay.” She adjusted the seat and mirrors. “Where’s my pillow?”
“Here ya go, shorty!” He pulled her pillow from the back seat and tossed it into her lap.
Once she got her pillow in the right place, she pulled out into the morning traffic and drove from one traffic light to the next while Connor scrutinized his notes. “There are so many names and dates,” he sighed. “I hope I don’t get ’em mixed up.”
Daisy smiled. “You have an excellent memory. You never forget anything.” She pulled into the school parking lot and honked at the kids blocking her way. “Why don’t they talk on the sidewalk,” she complained. “Move you guys!” The kids meandered off to the side. Daisy drove forward, found a spot and parked. “There we go.” She turned to look at Connor. “Need help?”
He passed her a paper with a long list of names, places and dates. “Here, ask me something.” He flicked the paper with his finger. “Anything you see there, just ask me.”
They sat in the car a little while longer as she drilled him from the paper. When she got to the end of the paper she smiled. “Perfect, you did it perfect,” she praised. “But if you feel nervous, we can pray.”
“Yea, okay. This test counts for like half my grade. It’ll blow my whole GPA if I mess up,” he moaned.
Daisy laid her hand on Connor’s shoulder and asked God to help him remember all the things he had read and learned in class.
Connor let out a big breath of air. “Okay, let’s get it over with.”
“Can I walk you to your class?” she giggled. “You’re still look ‘in a little green.”
“Sure… let’s go.”
At Connor’s home room door, Daisy asked, “Will I see you at lunch?”
“Yea, I’ll meet you in the cafeteria.” He leaned down and gave her a kiss.
“Hey man, you’re disturbing the delicate minds of the Maxwell student body!” Jeremiah teased as he passed through the home room doorway. “I do believe, kiss ’in is strictly forbidden in these hallways!”
“Shut up, Jeremiah.” Connor punched him in the back for his rude comment. “You’re just mad cause nobody ‘ll kiss you.”
Jeremiah spread his arms out wide to encompass the whole classroom. “I’ll entertain any offer that comes my way… any takers?” He looked around the room to see if any of the girls were brave enough to respond. “I’m a great kisser,” he encouraged. Girls around the room quickly buried their heads in book bags and notebooks, hoping he wouldn’t single them out.
“Oh well… you ladies don’t know what you’re miss ‘in!” He brushed it off and took his seat next to Rachel. He gave her a friendly wink.
“Don’t look at me,” she huffed and returned to her book.
Daisy got a puzzled look on her face. “Didn’t he just say, we should not be kiss ‘in?”
“Don’t waste your brain try ‘in to figure him out, babe. I’ll see ya at lunch.”
“Kay.” She took off down the hall as quickly as she could to get to her class before the bell rang.
Connor thumped Jeremiah in the head on the way to his seat. “You ready for the history test?”
“Nope. I’m expecting my outstanding deductive skills to kick in. You?”
“What deductive skills?” Connor laughed. “I studied all night.”
“I deduce that Daisy is gonna break up with you because you’re boring and study too much. She’ll be kissing me tomorrow in the hallway cause I’m more interesting.”
“In your dreams, man!” Connor hollered a bit too loud. “You are soooooo gonna fail!”
When lunch time finally rolled around, Daisy went to the cafeteria. While she walked through the food line with Willie and Grace, Connor quietly snuck up behind her. “Hey, babe.”
“Oh jeez.” She jumped. “You scared me. How’d your test go?”
“I think I did okay. Thanks for praying, that helped.” He added more food items to her tray for himself. When they got to the register, the lady suspiciously glanced at the mountain of food on Daisy’s tray. Daisy just pointed to Connor standing behind her.
Connor displayed a hungry grin for the register ladies benefit. “We’re sharing.”
“Oh,” the register lady nodded. “I see.”
Connor paid and followed Daisy to Willie and Grace’s table. “Hey man, how’s it going?” he greeted them as he sat down.
“It’s a good day for me, but I don’t know about Jason, man.” Willie chuckled over his hamburger.
“What happened to Jason?”
“Bertha Blake has been following him around all morning. I understand from the grapevine that she wants to invite him to the movies. Jason is hiding in the bathroom now.”
“You’re kid ’in me, man, really? Jason is scared to death of her. Jeremiah must have set him up.” Connor grinned then chomped down on a big red apple.
“He did, man! He did! Jeremiah gave Bertha some hour long sob story about how lonely Jason was and she bought it, hook, line and sinker! Jason is probably gonna miss lunch altogether. Do you think we should take him a sandwich or something?” Willie wagged his head trying to be sympathetic but he was laughing too hard to be believable.
“Nope, I say let him face his fears like a man and get it over with.” Connor laughed unsympathetically right along with him.
“That’s cold, man.” Willie laughed. “So cold.”
“Serves him right after that stupid locker room prank he pulled on me a while back.” A delightful sense of vindication rose up within Connor. He laughed wholeheartedly at Jason’s situation. “Stuck in the bathroom… that’s great man, just great!”
“Can you finish my salad? It’s too big.” Daisy rubbed her stomach like she could not eat another bite.
“Sure babe, pass it over.”
Grace jumped in and began talking about the hair salon. “I really need to get my braids redone,” she said. “You should let them braid your hair too. Not your bangs but just a small portion right here.” Grace pointed to the spot on Daisy’s head that she meant. “They can weave tiny ribbons into your hair too. It would be so pretty for Coach Peggy’s wedding.” Grace combed Daisy’s long hair out with her fingers.
Daisy smiled. “Maybe it would be cool to have my hair done like that.” Daisy looked at Connor for his opinion.
“You make anything look good, babe. But I’m not getting dreads.” He eyed Willie cautiously and everybody laughed.
“Don’t look so terrified, bro. You’d look terrible in dreads. Only real men can pull off dreads.” Willie tipped his drink in Connor’s direction then finished it off.
The bell rang and they all stood to go to their next class.
“See ya at practice.” Connor knocked knuckles with Willie on their way out.
“Yea practice, later man.” Willie and Grace turned to the left.
Connor and Daisy turned to the right and they were gone.
After school, Daisy and Susan ran outside to the football field for practice. Daisy looked at the sky with a concerned expression. “It looks like we might get rained on.”
Susan looked up at the brooding sky. “Yea, it does. Do you think Coach Peggy will send us home early?”
“She only cancels when parents complain.” Daisy giggled. “Have your parents ever complained?”
“Nope.” Susan took another worried glance at the sky. “Mmmm, Mark and I are on his motorcycle. I hope we can get to my house before it pours.”
Mark jogged up alongside Susan. “How’s my angel doing?” He casually tossed his arm across her shoulder.
“Hey.” Susan gave him a squeeze which he seemed to enjoy.
When they reached the bleachers Coach Peggy hollered, “Warm up and take eight laps! Alternate them, one fast, one slow, one fast, one slow until they are all done! It looks like rain so you better move it!” She pounded her hand against her clip board to get them hopping. “Let’s go, go, go!”
Daisy started running with Mark and Susan. Soon Willie and Grace came in step behind them. After they did a fast lap, a slow lap and another fast lap around the field, Maria, Andy, and Connor arrived. They quickly came in step with the others, changing the formation order of the group. Andy and Maria were in front, Connor and Daisy came second, Mark and Susan third, Willie and Grace fourth. Grandpa’s military photos again flashed through Daisy’s mind as they ran in perfect sync around the track with one another.
“What took you so long to get out here?” Daisy asked curiously.
“The Year Book staff wanted pictures of us. They stopped us on the way out,” Connor explained.
“Next month is the championship. The photographers don’t know who will win! So they took pictures of both Connor and Andy!” Mark made sure he yelled loud enough for Andy hear.
“Ha! Fat chance! Everybody knows who will win. I always win, right Connor?” Andy proudly yelled back down the row of runners.
“I’m gonna win this year! You’re too dang confident! That’s your weakness!” Connor shouted back up the row into Andy’s ears.
“Okay! Let’s see what you got! Get up here!” Andy challenged Connor.
Connor shot a glance down at Daisy.
“Please beat that smug, over confident, guy up there.” Daisy pushed him forward. “Go on!”
A blue flame ignited in Connor’s eyes. He moved out of formation and took Maria’s spot next to Andy. Maria moved back next to Daisy.
“No one has ever beat Andy,” Maria reminded Daisy.
“Connor beat him once. He can do it again,” Daisy returned confidently.
Maria’s eyes enlarged. Daisy wasn’t usually so bold.
“Let’s face it, we don’t know who is gonna be at the championship so we might as well practice beating each other!” Daisy’s words hung an indirect offer in the air.
And Maria took it. “You are sooooooo on!”
Andy and Connor got a kick out of the challenging tone from the gals.
“We’ve run four times around the track already. We have four laps to go. Once we hit the bleachers, we race the last four to the end!” Andy hollered for all to hear.
Andy, Connor, Maria, and Daisy focused on the bleachers. When they passed them, each one stepped out of formation to run independently. One pounding step at a time the laps dissolved. When lap eight came, everyone pushed to be the first one to make the full circle back to the bleachers. As expected Andy was in the lead. Connor waited until the bleachers were closer, then he gave it his all! He pulled out next to Andy, then one stride, then two strides ahead of him, he went. When the race was finished, everyone was shocked that Connor beat Andy a second time.
As much as Connor wanted to revel in his victory, there was no time. Rain burst from the sky the very moment they were done. Everyone screamed as the rain streamed down, drenching them to the bone. All the runners ran from the field. Some were screaming, some were laughing as they aimed for the gym dressing rooms!
When Daisy got to the gym overhang, she was dripping wet and laughing her head off.
“Daisy girl.” Connor touched her arm.
She swung around to see him standing there dripping wet just like she was. Everyone else had run into the dressing rooms. Connor and Daisy stood alone under the overhang in front of the gym double doors.
“Remember our amendment?” he asked playfully.
She smiled, trying to calm down to match his now calm state. “You ….”
Coach Peggy whooshed through the gym doors hollering, “Andy did you bring in my clip board? I can’t find it!”
“You won.” Daisy spoke and moved quickly to avoid getting run over by Coach Peggy.
Connor grabbed her arm and pulled her back to his side. “Yep, and I heard you right behind me. Do you want to try to beat me too? You can try if you like,” he teased with a gentle kiss on the side of her head.
“Maybe.” She giggled at the thought.
Connor wrapped his arms around his Daisy-girl and leaned back against the gym door. They watched the rain pour. It was catching light from somewhere, but you could not tell from where because the sun was hidden. Even under the dark clouds the rain still shined and glistened brightly as it fell. The shiny drops left a fresh clean scent as they passed through the air by the bucket loads.
“We’re going to Willie’s house and then straight to the bowling alley for Dad’s party. So let’s take showers here,” Connor whispered as they stared into the glistening down pour.
Absentmindedly, he put his hand on her head and petted her hair. It was already a complete mess from running in the rain but he still petted her head gently like she was his baby. Daisy laid her head there on his chest absorbing his affection, letting him pet her.
“I love it when you pet my head,” Daisy shyly admitted.
“Yea?” he looked down at her peaceful face.
“It’s embarrassing to admit, but I love it when you baby me. I’m not very mature, I guess.” Her cheeks turned red and she buried her face against him.
Connor smiled and pulled her up tighter to his chest. He continued his petting. “Maturity is over rated if ya ask me. I will always do for you the things that you like. It’ll stay just between us.” He smiled out into the rain. It was coming down in amazing torrents. The sight and sound of it was mesmerizing. They stood together under the overhang listening to its hypnotizing speech.
After a while, Connor noticed the bulk of the runners leave the gym. “Come on.” He took Daisy’s hand and led her to the locker rooms. Grace and Willie were sitting against the wall in some fold up chairs, waiting for them.
“We’ll give you a ride in a minute,” Connor spoke in Willie’s direction.
“We’re ready, when you are, man,” Willie returned.