Troy woke up to a slight weight in his left arm. He yawned and lifted the small girl as he stood from the rocking chair. Smiling slightly, he lay the young beauty down in her bed. He tucked her in and kissed her forehead.
"She's really lucky, you know," Mrs. Bolton said quietly, not wanting to wake the child.
"Nah, I'm the lucky one," he smiled, closing the door behind him as he left the room. "I can't believe how big she's getting," he added as the two walked towards his bedroom.
"I know. She's going to be two soon."
"I know when she was born, Ma. I was there, you know," he added somberly.
"Troy," the voice on the other end of the phone cried.
"Kaitlin? What's wrong?"
"The baby's coming."
"I'm on my way."
"No. Stay where you are and finish the game."
"Just come by after, okay? And win the game for me."
"I'm coming now."
"I love you, Troy. I'm really sorry," she said, crying harder than she was before.
"I love you, too. I'll be there soon."
"Troy, Kaitlin would have been so proud of you."
"I know, Ma. Goodnight," he said, kissing her cheek.
"Dude, did you hear?"
"Hey Chad," Troy yawned, grinning at his best friend since preschool.
"Dude. Did? You? Hear?" Chad repeated.
"No. I haven't. I was up all night with Katie again."
"She's still coughing?"
"Yeah, I think she's getting a fever, too."
"Bummer. Is she home with your mom?"
"Well it wasn't like I was going to send her to daycare like that. I shouldn't even be here but my mom said I couldn't miss school again. What's going on?" Troy sighed as the two walked to their homeroom and sat in their seats.
"Hey guys. Did you hear?" Taylor, Chad's girlfriend and Troy's very good friend, asked.
"I did. He didn't," Chad said, giving his girlfriend a quick kiss on the lips.
"Okay. I'm officially curious."
"There's a new girl," Taylor informed the clueless boy.
"So what? There's new kids all the time."
"Not as fine as this one," Chad exclaimed, earning him a look from his girlfriend.
"So that's the big news? You really made that up to be much more…" Troy didn't finish what he was saying, however he was suddenly distracted by a beautiful girl with long, curly, brown hair walking through the door.
"Wow," Troy exhaled almost involuntarily.
"Told you," Chad said, punching his buddy lightly on the arm.
"And she's super smart. Number one in her class at her old school… won a whole bunch of academic awards, too," Taylor added.
"How do you know all that?" Troy inquired, not taking his eyes off the new student.
"The principal told me before he introduced us," Taylor explained. "Gabriella! Over here!"
"What?" Troy said, his eyes screaming at Taylor.
"Hi, Taylor," Gabriella smiled, looking at the two boys curiously.
"This is my boyfriend
Chad," Taylor introduced.
"Nice to meet you," Chad smiled, offering his hand to Gabriella. She shook it and smiled back at him.
"And this is Troy," Taylor continued. Gabriella looked up and locked eyes with Troy. It felt as though time had stopped. Troy held his breath as he shook her hand. Realizing that he was holding it a little to long, Troy dropped it and excused himself, claiming he left a book in his locker. Chad looked at Taylor worriedly before following his best friend out into the hall.
"Sorry," Chad said politely.
"What was that about?" Gabriella asked, watching the boys leave.
"Who knows? Guys are weird. Have you thought any more about joining the scholastic decathlon team?"
"Troy? Dude! What was that about?" Chad asked, catching up to his friend.
"What do you mean?"
"Well for starters your locker is in the other direction. Dude," Chad said, blocking Troy's path. Looking into Troy's eyes he sighed and put his hand on his friend's shoulder. "What do you say we ditch homeroom and go shoot some hoops?"
"Yeah. That sounds good," Troy nodded, leading the way to the gym. It took the boys almost no time to be in the gym, a place they considered their second home. It took all of two minutes for Troy to start talking.
"Damn it, Chad. This is not supposed to happen!" Troy snapped, missing the basket he was shooting.
"What wasn't supposed to happen?" Chad asked, catching the ball and plopping down on the wooden floor of the gym. Troy took a seat next to him and ran his fingers through his hair.
"I wasn't supposed to feel this way."
"Troy. You haven't even had a conversation with this girl."
"No, I know that. But God… Chad I looked in her eyes and it was like…"
"I don't see what the problem is," Chad urged.
"You know exactly what the problem is. What about Katie?"
"What about Katie?"
"I just what… meet another girl and forget all about her?"
"Of course not. But I have to wonder… which Katie are you worried about?"
"Dad!" Fifteen-year-old Troy called out, running towards his father.
"Troy, what are you doing? You're supposed to be…"
"Dad. Kaitlin's having the baby."
"Let's go." The two quickly drove to the hospital and Troy hurried up to the room that Kaitlin was supposed to be in. He saw his mother along outside the room with tears in her eyes.
"Mom?" Troy said, slowing down.
"Troy…" Mrs. Bolton said, quickly wiping her tears. "I thought you were going to finish the game."
"It's a freshman basketball game, Mom. Where's Kaitlin?"
"Honey…" Mrs. Bolton began as Kaitlin's teary parents exited the hospital room.
"Troy," Kaitlin's mom cried before rushing off, her husband following close behind.
"Mom. What's going on?" Troy asked, tears beginning to form in his eyes.
"Troy… I'm so sorry."
"For what? What's going on? Where's Katie? Where's the baby?"
"There were some… complications…"
"Kaitlin's gone, Honey. I'm so sorry," she said again, tears falling as she watched her son's heart break.