Ava slid out of the passenger seat of her mom’s car while her twin got out of the backseat. She smoothed down the red polo she had on that day and looked down to make sure her red and black Nike sneakers were clean. She hardly ever wore red but today was a special day.
‘Did you grab the gift?’ Bri asked after Kita pulled off. Ava rolled her eyes in annoyance.
‘Yeah, I got it.’
‘I’m just saying,’ Bri replied. ‘You been bugging about that dang thing since you bought it. Just making sure you got it.
Ava laughed before wrapping her right arm around Bri’s left arm and laughed. She would usually say something smart to Bri, but today all she wanted to do was celebrate her boyfriend’s birthday.
Hamilton High School was one of the smallest in Tennessee. There were only about five hundred kids in their freshmen class. Bri and Ava were well known. Although their father had been incarcerated for the last three years, his name still held clout around town. Not to mention their mother, Kita, was one of the most sought after women now that she was considered single. Her reputation, however, wasn’t as beautiful as she was.
The twins were still adjusting to high school life and although they were close, they had begun to take an interest in other things. Bri was becoming a socialite. She’d tried out for cheerleading and ever since she got her uniform, she’d become even more popular. Ava was content with getting by in school and spending time with her boyfriend, Amaru.
Today was his 15th birthday.
Unlike other days, Ava followed Bri over to where her cheerleading friends were. They usually were near the basketball team so Ava knew she would find Amaru there.
Something in the air was different. Ava could feel it, but all she wanted to do was kiss her boyfriend and give him his gift. She smiled and removed her paranoia when she saw him.
Bri always joked that Ava was the only one who found Amaru attractive, but Ava knew that was a lie. He had dark, smooth skin, a medium build, and long silky hair that he attributed to his Creole roots. He usually kept it braided, but Ava loved when he wore it in a ponytail. Today, his braids were fresh.
“What’s up, shawty?” he said, when Ava finally got to him.
“Happy birthday, babe! I got you something.”
“Oh yeah?” he asked in a condescending tone. “Is it just for me? I don’t like sharing.”
“What you talking about?” Ava asked, confused. A few of Amaru’s friends snickered around them. She glanced at them and they turned away.
“You know what I want for my birthday,” Amaru said. Ava bit her lip as she gently shook her left leg. She stepped closer to him to try and keep their conversation private.
“I told you that I wasn’t ready,” Ava mumbled.
“Ain’t what I been hearing, shawty. Maybe you just telling me that,” Amaru spat. Ava wanted to cry. She had heard the rumors that she was sleeping with other guys behind Amaru’s back, but she was a virgin. She didn’t think he was paying any more attention to those rumors than she was.
“Can we talk about this later?”
“You down for what I want to do later?” Ava looked at him for a second before nodding. Amaru smiled before hugging and kissing her. “That’s what’s up!” he said. “Now what else you get me?”
Ava smiled as she handed Amaru the custom Chicago Bulls’ hat she got him. His boys began to tell him how tight it was while he wrapped one arm around Ava’s waist while sliding the hat on his head.
“Yeah, this fly baby,” he said, kissing Ava’s cheek. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome,” Ava said, a little more enthusiastic.
Ava stuck to Amaru’s side while he continued his conversation with his boys. He held her close to him by her waist at his side. She interlocked her fingers and dangled her arms on his right shoulder. She placed her chin on top of her hands, looking around carelessly as she listened to their conversation. Most of them were talking about something to do with sports or asking Amaru what he was doing for his birthday.
“Chillin’ with my baby today,” he said, grinning at Ava. She gave him an uneasy grin, hoping he didn’t sense her nervousness. One of his boys teased him about them being stuck together and Ava glared at him. “Calm down shorty,” Amaru said, laughing. “I’ll catch up with y’all later.”
Ava mugged the friend a little more before Amaru pulled her along down the hallway. Once she saw the direction they were going, Ava knew that he was walking her to class. “You look good for me today, shorty?”
“It’s your birthday,” Ava said matter-of-factly. It was obvious that she’d taken a little more care in her appearance that morning. Amaru was her first boyfriend and she wanted him to be proud to have her on his arm, especially on his birthday. Ava didn’t read much into popularity and neither did Amaru, but she knew that he held a certain rank at school. She wasn’t up for embarrassing him, which was another reason why the rumors about her were beginning to make her a little paranoid about their relationship.
“It is, isn’t it?” he said, rubbing his chin. Ava rolled her eyes before hitting his shoulder. Amaru laughed and pulled her back to him, kissing her cheek. Ava could feel her skin turn a little red from blushing. “You so fine when you blush.”
“Stop it, you know I don’t like that,” she groaned. Amaru stopped near a set of lockers and wrapped his other arm around her.
“I don’t care,” he said, kissing her quickly before looking around the hallway for any teachers. He relaxed a little when he saw none.
“You better care,” Ava said, equipped with attitude. Amaru licked his lip, and then smiled.
“I like my gift,” he said, ignoring her glare. “I’m going to love my other gift though.”
That tingling feeling of nervousness crept through her veins and her heart banged against her chest. Ava bit her lip and nodded. Amaru began to stare at her, but she turned her head. He sucked his teeth before taking his index finger and pulling on her chin, making her look at him. “What’s up?”
“I’m a little scared,” Ava admitted. She didn’t want to seem like she was chickening out, but her only idea of sex was hearing her parents. Before Rico went to jail, he and Kita weren’t very discreet with their sex life in the house, but it hadn’t bothered her as much as hearing Kita on the phone years ago with a guy that wasn’t Rico. She had no idea how it would feel, how she should act before or afterwards; the only thing Ava knew was the technical aspect of it from health class. Amaru had been so sure, but she wasn’t.
“You scared of me?” he asked, surprised. Ava shook her head quickly.
“I’m just…scared,” she said, looking down in between them. Amaru looked down as well before sighing.
“I’m not trying to hurt you,” he said. “You love me right?” Ava nodded. “And you know I love you.”
“Don’t play,” he said. Ava couldn’t help but giggle. “Baby, you fine as hell.” Ava sucked her teeth.
“What does that got to do with the price of tea in China?” Amaru looked at her and laughed, just as the five minute warning bell sounded.
“You hella rude.”
“I’m just saying, I’m telling you I’m scared and you talking mess. I know I’m cute.”
Amaru laughed harder before pulling Ava towards her classroom. She grinned, one of her favorite things to do was make Amaru laugh. She loved his smile and she’d do anything to see it.
“You don’t have to be scared baby,” Amaru whispered in her ear behind her. “I got you.”
Ava smiled as he tapped her backside, pushing her along into her classroom. She heard a few girls snicker but she ignored them, turned around and blew Amaru a kiss. Gripping her book and notebook, Ava travelled to her desk next to Bri’s friend, Jaiva. Jaiva was the only one of Bri’s new friends that Ava would even attempt to associate with. She was a cheerleader as well, but she was different from the rest. Jaiva reminded her of the girl from the movies, the cheerleader that was kind and sweet, and although she didn’t associate with everyone and was held in high regard, she wasn’t mean or rude like the others. Unlike most of their classmates, Jaiva didn’t go to middle school with Ava and Bri, but it hadn’t taken her long to fit in at school.
“Hey Ava,” Jaiva said, giving her a short wave before going back to her notebook. Ava waved back but didn’t speak. From having first hour with Jaiva, she found out that she was a writer and often times than not, instead of taking notes in class, Jaiva was writing in her notebook. The teachers knew it as well and she often got in trouble for it, especially since she was on honor roll without even trying.
“Jaiva, do your homework.”
“I did that ma’am,” Jaiva said, with a smile smirk. Ava groaned.
“Can I pay you to do mine?”
Jaiva laughed and shook her head. “Today your boo’s birthday.”
“How you know?”
“I work in the office boo, I know all the business,” Jaiva said. Ava laughed. “What you get him?”
“A Bulls hat.”
“Oh Lord,” Jaiva said. Ava laughed. “Really?”
“He’s spoiled, I know.”
“Well, as long as you control that monster you’re creating,” Jaiva said with a smirk.
“I can handle it.”
By lunch time, Ava was a little more at ease about the day. Throughout her classes, she noticed that everyone around her was pretty much having sex. The cheerleaders and players were definitely already involved, most of them bragging about being with upperclassman. Even the nerds were pairing up and sharing experiences. At this point, the only known virgins to Ava were herself and Bri. She wasn’t even totally sold on Bri being a virgin at this point.
She was walking down the hall with Bri and Trese, a mutual friend of theirs. Trese was a cheerleader, but she had been in school with the twins since elementary, so she came over often.
“You need to calm this hot head down,” Trese said. Ava looked at Bri and noticed her face was red.
“What’s wrong with you?”
“Nothing,” Bri said, waving it off. Trese sucked her teeth.
“One of the football players was talking about you in Health,” Trese said.
“You mad about that?”
“Man, I’m tired of them dogging you!” Bri snapped. “If I find out who running around here lying on you, it’s been one.” Ava laughed, knowing that Bri was quick to run her mouth, but wouldn’t fight.
“Quit tripping about a rumor girl,” Ava said, shrugging her shoulders. “I ain’t.”
“I don’t see how you do it,” Trese said.
“I ain’t never been worried about what nobody thinks of me.”
“Except Amaru.” Ava blushed.
As if being thought up, Amaru turned the corner, still wearing his Bulls hat. Ava laughed, knowing he’d probably get a detention for it.
“Just me and you,” he sang, smiling at Ava. She laughed but Trese and Bri groaned.
“Please, cut it out,” Bri said. Amaru winked at them but continued to sing to his girlfriend. He grabbed her hand and twirled her around before pulling her close to him.
“You’re having a good birthday,” Ava said, linking arms with him as they continued to the lunch room.
“Yeah, my girlfriend making it real special for me,” he said. “You may know her, bad little light skin girl with thick hips.”
“Don’t forget her nice booty,” Ava joked. Amaru stopped and looked behind her for a second before nodding. Ava laughed and hit him in his arm. Bri and Trese took off, leaving Ava and Amaru behind them on their journey to the cafeteria. Amaru wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
“I got my cousin’s house key,” he whispered in her ear. Ava sighed before nodding. “You can meet me there?”
“Where is it?”
“A block from Northgate Apartments,” he said.
“How I’m supposed to get there Amaru?” Ava asked. Amaru bit his lip in contemplation.
“I’ll have my cousin pick you up,” he said. Ava sucked her teeth.
“Babe, you think Kita about to let me get in the car with your 20-year-old cousin? Not happening.” Amaru sucked his teeth in frustration.
“You backing out?”
“No!” Ava said. “You just need a better plan.” she smirked. Amaru laughed.
“You supposed to be coming up with this. It’s my birthday.” he said. Ava gave him a look and he smiled. “I’ll have him meet you around the block, just tell her you going to the mall or something.”
Ava nodded as they continued their walk. Ava was glad that Bri was staying after school for cheerleading practice. She didn’t want her to find out about what she had going on and Ava knew that with one look Bri would know she was lying to Kita.
“Where you going?” Kita asked.
“To the mall,” Ava said.
“By yourself?” she asked, spreading out on the couch. “How you getting there?”
“Okay…well stay for a couple of hours,” Kita said. “I got company coming over.”
Ava rolled her eyes in disgust before hurrying out the door. She used the cell phone that she and Bri shared to call Amaru.
“I’m heading to the park.”
“Okay, we here already.”
Ava hung up and took her time getting to the park. She didn’t want Amaru or his cousin to think she was pressed about the situation. Amaru’s cousin was originally from out of town, but moved to Hamilton when he graduated high school. He had his own apartment and car. Ava saw him a few times at school, flirting with the seniors even though he was twenty.
She walked up to his black Nissan and knocked on the window. Amaru licked his lips as he unlocked the back door. Ava slid in and closed it behind her.
“Hey,” she whispered. Amaru’s cousin didn’t acknowledge her, he turned the key in the ignition and drove off. It only took them a few minutes to get to his apartment.
“I’ll be back later,” he said to Amaru, who only nodded before jumping out the car. He opened Ava’s door and pulled her out.
Ava sighed as she followed behind Amaru towards the stairs. He turned around on the stairs and walked backwards.
“You still scared baby?” he whispered.
“A little,” Ava admitted. Amaru licked his lips.
“Remember a few weeks ago when we were making out?” he asked. Ava nodded. “It’ll feel like that, but better.”
“I heard it hurts.”
Amaru stopped in front of his cousin’s door and pulled the key out. After opening the door he turned back to Ava and kissed her quickly.
“Only for a little while.”