Tree Hill Fitness

I drove straight to the fitness center in Tree Hill. After what I had just experienced, I urgently needed physical exercise and a way to work off. I knew I had behaved like a jerk when I had left her. But I hadn't been able to stay. The sight of her fresh blood on the bed sheet and her tears had just been too much. Feelings of guilt gnawed at me. Hadn't I sworn myself never to sleep with a virgin? The responsibility was just too big. Not only did I hurt her, no, she probably would never forget who she had had her first time with. Girls were sensitive when it came to things like that. Unlike boys, who didn't really care who they had sex with for the first time. I could barely remember my own, because it happened more than two years ago and was with a girl who was several years older than me. I went to my locker, took out my sports clothes and changed. I knew that I couldn't ignore her forever. Sooner or later I would have to talk to Lydia. But for now I just wanted to forget the last few hours. I entered the room where the exercise equipment was and then stood riveted to the spot when I saw who had had the same idea to go to the fitness center: My twin brother Jude, the last person I wanted to see now. But just to turn around and leave, it was too late now because he had already spotted me and made a gesture that I should come to him. For a moment, panic came over me. Did he know what Lydia and I had done? But immediately I tried to calm myself. What did he care? The two had broken up. Although my heart was throbbing, I walked towards him. "Hey Bro! What's up?" I greeted him.

"Did you also get this weird text message?" He asked.

I frowned in confusion. "What text message?" Of course, I hadn't been able to check my mobile phone for messages the same time I'd been with Lydia. But I could hardly say that to my brother.

"From Mom," he explained. "There's a gathering in the dining room today." He rolled his eyes. "She and Dad have an announcement to make. You know what that means, right?"

I sighed softly. These 'Baker Family Meetings' were founded by my parents several years ago to make sure that the whole family was present for important announcements. Because, admittedly, it was difficult sometimes to get us all together in one room. "What do you think it is this time?"

"No idea." Jude shrugged. "All I know is that last time we learned that Justin is going to L.A. So my guess is that it's not really good news."

I nodded. "Did you ask Izzy?"

He shook his head. "I haven't seen her yet. I went home right after school. And as far as I know, she has intensification class in math and physics and cheerleader training after that."

I rolled my eyes. Sometimes the genes were just unfairly distributed. Izzy had inherited the good looks from Mom, the intelligence from Dad, and the confidence from our grandmother. I, on the other hand, was good-looking, so most girls claimed, but I was an average student and would probably never go to college. Jude had more luck. He was best in class in almost all subjects, and an even bigger nerd than Izzy.

"I think that's enough for today. Still need to practice at home for a test we write the day after tomorrow."

I looked up in confusion because I had completely forgotten his presence. "Yeah, okay," I mumbled. "See you later at home." As he turned away and wanted to leave, I remembered something else. "Oh, by the way, Jude, I'm sorry for you and Lydia." The look he gave me then, a mix of confusion and incomprehension, made the blood freeze in my veins, and I realized she had lied to me. The question was just, why? Just to win me over to have sex with her?

"What are you talking about?"

I started sweating, though I hadn't even done anything physically strenuous. "I... I've heard the rumor that... the two of you broke up..." I stuttered and quickly lowered my head. I couldn't meet his eyes now.

"No idea where that came from," he said, frowning. "But it's not true. Lydia and I didn't break up."

"Yeah, I thought so," I said with a forced smile.

"On the contrary." He grinned suddenly. "Her birthday is in three weeks, and I wanted to give her something special. I thought of a necklace or earrings. What do you think?"

When he gazed at me with that expectant look, I felt my stomach clench. "Yes," I said in a choked voice. "Sounds nice."

"Would you like to help me to pick out something?" He asked.

I tried to stay calm, even though my heart raced. "Okay, yes, why not? Just let me know when you want to go to the jeweler."

"Thanks Bro! You're the best!"

When he ran out of the hall, I dropped powerless on a bench and clasped my hands before my face. It was worse than the worst nightmare I ever had! Lydia had lied to me about her and Jude, and he still loved her that he even wanted to give her a birthday gift. I struggled with my guilty conscience that I had slept with my brother's girlfriend and couldn't grasp the fact that I had also fallen in love with her. What a mess! And then there was Mom's secret message to all of us. Simply too much for just one day. Sighing, I got up, went to the weight bench and began with my workout.