The Virgin Promise

By: Penny Wylder

That’s not the first time I’ve thought that I’ve seen him today, and I don’t think my heart can take much more of that. I can’t be distracted by him. Especially today. I have Cheerleading tryouts this afternoon, and if I let myself screw this up because I’m thinking about a guy, I’ll be pissed. I shut down all thoughts of him as I walk into my dorm suite.

According to some of the other team members I’ve spoken to, a lot of what we covered in the cheer camp will be used at the tryouts. That’s good for me—I’ve been practicing. I felt like I was a freshman in high school again using my family’s backyard to shout my cheers into the trees, but it got the job done. I rehearse one of the more difficult routines in my head as I change into the uniform from the camp. It’s not required, but it can’t hurt for the coach to see me in a cheer uniform already. My own little subliminal advertisement.

The outside door to the suite shuts, and Kara comes into our room. “Hey,” she says, tossing her backpack on the bed. “You ready for this?”

“I guess I have to be.”

“Don’t worry. We’ve got this.” She changes into her own uniform while I apply a little make-up. Nerves start up in my stomach again, just like this morning. Being on this team is a huge part of my plan. I’m not sure what I’ll do if I don’t make it. Or worse, if either Kara or I make it while the other doesn’t.

The whole reason we’re friends is cheerleading, and it’s how we spent most of our time together in high school. I’m not sure what our relationship would be without it, and I don’t really want to find out what that change would be like. I’ve never liked the way most cheerleaders act, but Kara is different. The fact that she treated me differently from the rest of the squad was one of the reasons we bonded. So when she asked me to join the team sophomore year, I couldn’t say no. Besides, tumbling is awesome, and I like to think I’m pretty good at it.

“How were your classes?” I ask.

“Pretty good. Just a couple Gen Eds today. English and Earth Science.”

“Ouch,” I say. “Sorry.”

Kara waves a hand. “It was fine. But I can already tell that the Earth Science prof has a stick up his butt about something.”

I giggle, tossing some extra hair ties and a sweater into my bag. “Wouldn’t ‘a rock up the butt’ be more accurate?”

She smirks. “Probably. Ready to go?”

I make sure to grab the number I’ve been assigned for the tryouts before we leave the room.

The gym is across campus from our dorm. If we do make it onto the team, we’re going to spend a lot of time walking back and forth. At least it will be good for my legs. As we get closer, I see other girls heading in the same direction. Enough to know that making the team won’t be a piece of cake—definitely a competition.

Kara and I follow the posted signs and join the other candidates—guys and girls both—warming up on mats in the gym. I see a couple of other girls from the cheer camp, though they’re not wearing the uniform. We wave and smile and do that head nod thing you do when you kind of know someone but not really. On the bleachers, a bunch of girls are sitting—already on the team. I don’t know if they have any say in who gets in. I kind of hope not. Convincing one person to let you on a team is one thing. Convincing nine is entirely different.

“Are you nervous?” Kara asks, leaning to the side and grabbing one of her feet in a stretch.

“Yes.” I flex my fingers out and bring them into fists before I start warming up my split.

She rolls her eyes. “You shouldn’t be. You’re the best tumbler I know.”

“Yeah, but this is college. Everyone trying out was probably the best tumbler.”

“I doubt it.” Her eyes are fierce. “You’re going to be great, April. Say it.”

It’s my turn to roll my eyes as I mutter it under my breath. “I’m going to be great.”

A door opens loudly at the other end of the gym, and everyone turns to look. Marian, the bitchy girl from camp and the party is walking towards us with a stack of papers and a clipboard. And then my heart stops. Because right behind her, holding his own clipboard, is Carter.

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