Released, Jesse fell to one knee, coughing and gasping for air. Again, Angel turned to face Sarah. He took a few steps her way. She still held her hand to her chest, and her eyes remained on Jesse who, now on his feet, continued to cough. She finally looked at Angel, with those eyes that were beginning to haunt him.
He was determined not to clam up again. “Are you sure you’re okay?” He fought back the urge to pull a strand of hair away from her face. She smiled at him for the first time.
“Yeah, thanks.” she replied. “You didn’t have to do that. He was just being a little pushy. I could’ve handled it.” She stood up straight putting her hand to her waist.
“Yeah, maybe you could’ve. I just don’t have patience for idiots.”
A few people noticed the scuffle and slowed as they walked by, but not enough to call the attention of any teachers.
Again she turned to watch Jesse huff away embarrassed, still coughing and rubbing his throat.
“He’ll be fine.”
Sarah shrugged and they started back slowly toward the gym.
Walking so close, side by side, Angel was distracted when their hands touched for just a second. He refocused on his reaction to seeing Jesse push himself on her. It was typical of him to want to help but he had gone a little overboard. He could’ve just pushed him off. Instead, he really wanted to see Jesse hurt.
He stared at her now, eyes narrowing. “Is he a friend of yours?”
Sarah glanced his way but turned away quickly. “That’s not what I would call it.”
Angel tightened his jaw and stared straight ahead. “What does that mean?”
She focused on the cheerleaders, who were now staring at them, especially Dana. Angel was oblivious to them, his eyes fixed on Sarah now.
She finally looked back at him. “We hung out once, a long time ago.”
Hung out? “You dated him?”
She never completely looked him in the eye, and the frustration was getting heavier. Jesse was one of the biggest assholes he knew. He couldn’t imagine her being involved with him in any way.
They reached the gym before he could push further, and she gazed at him. She put her hand on his arm and every hair on his body stood at attention.
“Thanks again for what you did back there.”
Angel couldn’t help stare at her eyes.
“I’ll see you around.” She took her hand off his arm and began to walk away.
What? That’s it? No way was he letting her get away so fast. He grabbed her hand as she turned from him. It was soft and small in his big brawny hand. His heart raced.
She turned to look at him he tried focusing on something other than her eyes, but it was impossible.
“Are you going to the game on Friday?”
She studied him for a moment and then cleared her throat. “I can’t. I’m working.”
A few guys turned the corner and strolled toward them. She tugged her hand but he held it tight. He glanced at the guys and back at her.
“Work, huh? 'Til what time?”
“Not sure yet, I’m babysitting, so it depends on what time their parents get home.”
She tugged her hand again, this time just hard enough that Angel let go, and she started to walk away again.
Angel frowned. “Well, there’s a party after, maybe you can go to that, if they get home early?”
She was at the locker room entrance, when she turned back to look at him.
“Maybe.” She waved and disappeared behind the door.
Angel stood there staring at the locker room door. This was ridiculous. Why was he so bad at this all of a sudden? Then it dawned on him. He’d never actually asked a girl out. The irony made him chuckle. He’d always just hook up with someone at a party, or dance, and then ended up parking with her somewhere. Even with all the girls he’d been with, he’d never been inclined to actually ask any of them out, and now that he was trying to, he sucked at it.