The Cece & Juan Vignettes - Ch 5: A Crush
Hey, loves! We're back for another episode of The Cece & Juan Vignettes. For anyone new to this, it's nor a formal novella - it is snapshots of this couples' life together with small interview portions at the end of each chapter with me and the character.
Do you need to catch up?
Chapter Five - A Crush
12 years old ...
"Yeah. I got it, Catty."
Cece peeked up from the book in her hands with a raised eyebrow. Miguel was already looking her way as well, and she could tell just by the way his lips pursed and he lifted his broad shoulders that plans changed. She was used to that now, though. Whenever she came to Cali with her mom, things were ever-changing. One day she might be expecting to do something, and in the next minute, they'd get a call that something else had happened.
She didn't mind.
Besides, it meant more time with Miggy.
And also Juan.
She liked that.
Given it was summer, it didn't matter if plans had to change. It wasn't like she had to be to school on Monday--thank God--so whatever. During the school year, it felt like the months dragged by. She'd much rather be traveling to Cali with her ma, but instead, she was reminded by both her parents that education was important.
And that her family was in New York.
So, why did Cali feel like home, too?
Nobody ever had a good answer for that.
"Well?" she asked Miguel.
"Guess you're staying here for the night. Your ma's meeting is going to run a little late, and she figured you would probably rather stay here than have me drive you back to the hotel after midnight. That gonna be a problem, or ...?"
"It's cool, Miggy."
Miguel smiled. "Cool, princess."
He was the only person allowed to call her that other than her family. Because they--and Miguel--didn't turn it into a joke. Cece wasn't anyone's joke. And she didn't mind reminding people of that fact, either.
"Once Stephanie gets home with the kids, we'll figure out something for dinner," he added, "or shit, maybe we'll go out."
"Either is good."
"All right." Miguel nodded over her shoulder. "How about you go tell Juan to chill out and take a drink of water? He's been out back kicking that damn ball for two hours and I'm sure he's forgotten to hydrate."
"He's practicing, that's all."
Miguel smiled. "Not sure why ... he doesn't really need to. He's going to make the team when school starts back up, and he knows it."
"Doesn't mean he can't be the best player, though."
"You sound like him."
Cece only shrugged in response to that. What else could she say? She tended to listen to Juan when he talked--they were best friends. That's what friends were supposed to do for one another. Even when she wasn't spending time in Cali, the two of them still talked about literally everything. On FaceTime, Skype, texts, or whatever else. They were always in contact. It wasn't like she cared about or liked soccer in the same way Juan did, but it mattered to him.
So, it mattered to her.
"Well, whatever," Miguel said, "go tell him what I said, yeah?"
She pushed off the stool at the kitchen island, still reading her book all the while. In fact, she kept reading all the way to the back of the house, even when she pushed the rear patio doors open and stepped out onto the porch. She only looked away from the words on the page at the sound of a rhythmic smack smack smacking.
Cece didn't even see Juan at first, she already had her mouth opened to shout for him to take a break and get a drink. But then her eyes fell on him at the far end of the back lawn where he moved from foot to foot, back and forth, chest bare and glinting with perspiration that dotted his brown skin while he kept a soccer ball up in the air. First bouncing it off his knee, then the top of his right foot, then the left, before it came down to roll off his chest, and then he kicked it high again. Concentration hardened his features, making all those strong lines on his face all the more severe.
Never once did the ball hit the ground.
He moved like water after it.
It wasn't the first time Cece saw him practice. It sure as hell wasn't even the tenth time she saw him without a shirt on. She was also well aware that Juan was a handsome boy. He certainly had more than enough girls who seemed to watch him wherever he went. Even his father teased him on and off, calling him pretty boy just because he could. Before that moment, though, Cece had never really thought about it.
Not like she was right then.
She'd never noticed that his chest had become more defined.
Or that his brown skin had a golden sheen.
How his hips narrowed down from a strong back.
Or the way his eyes seemed all the more intense with a few strands of damp hair hanging down over his brown gaze.
No, she'd never noticed any of those things before.
But goddamn ...
She noticed now.
Cece dragged in a quick breath, pulling her book against her chest as the soccer ball flew high before dropping down into Juan's waiting hands. He had already turned toward her, flashing his white teeth in a wide grin.
And just like that ...
Butterflies beat in her stomach.
She didn't have anything to say.
And her heart raced.
A crush started in that moment.
Nothing was ever going to be the same.
"Hey," she replied softly.
"Do you think he knew?" I ask her.
Cece glances over at me from her book--she can read a book a day, if she's in the mood for it. Or so she says. "Knew what--that's when it changed for me with him?"
I shrug. "Yeah, I guess."
She laughs, the sound soft and musical, but also a little embarrassed. "God, I was only twelve. Probably still looked like a twelve-year-old girl to him. And I think even after he did start to notice me, you know, he had people telling him to toe the line. Be careful, and all that." "So you don't think he knew you had a crush on him?"
Cece grins. "Oh, no, I think he knew. He was just ... cool enough not to say a thing. It would have killed me had he called me out on it back then."
"When did he say something?"
"Not for a while. It took quite a while."