The Perks Of Loving You
by Camilo Mott


Chapter 6

I pulled into a gravel parking lot right next to the road that overlooked the marina at the foot of a steep hill. Sigh. I have to park my baby in gravel. Now he’s gonna get all dirty.

I parked right next to Luca’s brand new Jeep Wrangler. Figures it’s already covered with dust and mud. Wow, he even has his camping stuff on the back seat. Right, he’s outdoorsy and likes nature and stuff.

As I made my way down the steep hill, I got to see the river and the surrounding areas. Well, the river seems okay, for a river, and there’s a golf course on the other side.

When I reached the boathouse, no one was around. The main door was closed but the small side door was opened and I could make out voices from inside the boathouse.

“I’m here!” I yelled.

“Come inside,” I heard a deep and musky voice say.

I entered the boathouse being careful not to break something; that would be bad.  Making my way towards the voices, I saw Luca and Rosko – I think that’s him.

“Hello Casey,” he said extending his arm. “I’m John Rosko.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said shaking his hand. Oh shit! This guy’s ripped! He almost broke my hand. Those aren’t fingers, those are sausages. He’s like fifty-something with gray hair, a cowboy hat, a cigar, and completely and utterly ripped! Oh boy.

“I was just showing Lucas the shell that you’ll both be rowing,” he said.

I looked towards Luca and slightly waved. He did the same and then we both turned our attention to the boat.

“So we’ll be rowing that?” I asked.

“Yes men, you’ll be rowing this shell,” he said as he tapped the side of it. “It’s a few years old, but it’s a great shell for learning.”

“So when do we go on the water?” Luca asked.

“Patience.  Before you men can be on the water, I need to explain some things to you and figure out the seating,” he said.

“Seating?” I asked.

“I need to figure out who’ll stroke and who will be the bow,” he responded. Huh…bow…stroke?

“But that will wait until next week. First, I have to inform you on the basics of rowing, along with some safety rules and tips,” he added.

He went on to talk about some of the things to do if your boat flips, if you crash and stuff like that. My favorite part was when he put on a safety video. Hahaha, the people on the video seemed so stupid. There was one girl who crashed into the dock and then about 30 seconds after the collision, she had this surprised look. Hehehe, it’s like an old chemistry safety video.

Anyway, after that he talked about actual rowing and how to scull. I learned the difference between the stroke and bow – the stroke sets the pace. I don’t know how this guy does it, but I’m forced to listen carefully to what he says. Maybe it’s the way he exudes respect or maybe the fact that he can squeeze the life out of me with his huge sausage fingers.

“Men, this is an erg,” he said as he pointed to a group of machines in a corner of the boathouse. Hehehe, what’s with this guy and calling us “men”? I know I’m a prime piece of man meat, but he doesn’t have to acknowledge it all the time.  Okay, pay attention Casey; you have to do this better than Luca.

Coach continued to explain the mechanics of rowing from the slide, to the pull and to your arm movements. He even demonstrated it on one of the ergs.

“It’s your turn now,” he said pointing to two ergs in front of him.

I sat down and began to run through the motions. He kept on telling us how to move and how to apply power through your legs. This isn’t that hard.

“Men, now let’s see what you have,” he said. Sigh, a hardass. What does he mean by “let’s see what you have”?

“Lucas, turn your erg so you face Casey, and Casey turn yours around so you face Lucas,” he directed us. I did as he said and I was right in front of Luca.

“Start rowing now,” he said.

I began rowing and quickly got up to a high pace. I looked forwards to see how Luca was doing. He reached my pace without breaking a sweat. Argh! Now I have to row even harder. I continued to maintain my pace and put lots of power into every stroke. Every time I came up the slide, I got to see Luca right in front of me.

Okay, now it’s getting tiring. Why won’t he just slow down already? He didn’t; in fact, he increased his pace. Fucker! Now I have to work even harder. I was grunting as I pushed away. I could hear from his grunts that Luca was also getting tired. I can beat him, I know I can.

I just stared into his eyes and drew my strength from there. It’s weird, but every time I saw him grunt, it made me also want to grunt and push harder. But what was even weirder was that he stared back. He never broke eye contact with me and just kept on stroking. Ahh! I don’t know if I have it in me to continue.

“That’s enough, men,” Coach said. Phew, I immediately stopped to catch my breath.

“Continue rowing, Casey, you need to cool down,” Coach added.

I did as he said and looked straight ahead. Luca was just as tired as me. Although he tried to hide it, he was exhausted. If I had had more time, I would have beaten him.

After a few minutes, Coach spoke up. “I’m very impressed with the two of you. Your very first day, you’ve managed to achieve an acceptable racing pace. What impresses me the most is that you were both able to maintain the same pace. This makes you ideal partners.” Oh great! Another person who thinks we’re perfect together.

After that, we worked on basic drills and Coach kept on correcting us over and over again. He was relentless, every mistake I made, he caught. Hehehe, at least Luca got the same treatment.

The following week was basically the same. We weren’t allowed to go on the water and we worked on the ergs. Dammit, I still haven’t talked to Luca about the whole Cold Stone incident. We had been so busy at practice that we hadn’t had the time to talk. Plus, I avoided him at school as much as I could this week.

So today I drove to the marina right after school, arriving there before Luca and receiving Coach’s death grip handshake.

“What are we doing today, Coach?” I asked as I entered the boathouse.

“Well, today I’m assigning you your positions on the boat,” he said.

Awesome! I know I’m going to get to be stroke.  I mean, I’m a natural leader, plus I’m so much better at this than Luca.

“Okay Coach,” I said and sat down on one of the benches inside the boathouse. Meanwhile, he was getting out a scale, a measuring tape and a clipboard from his gym bag. Luca arrived about ten minutes later.

I greeted him with a generic wave and he just gave me a politely fake smile. We sat around until Coach had everything set up.

“Men, strip to your underwear and step on the scale,” Coach said.

“What for?” Luca asked. Hahaha, way to be so polite, Luca.

“So that I can examine your physique and make my decision about your seating arrangement,” he explained.

Hey, if he wants so see my yumminess, I’m not going to stop him. So I quickly stripped without thinking about it twice and got on the scale.

“Let’s see…Casey, 160 lbs,” he said as he jotted some things down.

He then got the measuring tape and measured my height, “Casey….6′ and a half inch,” he continued, measuring my whole body from my biceps to arms to feet. Hehehe, it’s like he’s going to make a life-size statue of me and needs every single detail.

“You’re all set, Casey,” he told me and then pointed to Luca, who was sitting on the bench. “Lucas, your turn.”

Luca stood up and went towards the scale. I sat back down on the bench and waited for Luca. Unlike me, who stripped in one second, he took his time. He started by grabbing the hem of his shirt and slowly raising it to expose his lower back and stomach. I couldn’t keep my eyes off him. I tried to look away, but it didn’t work. The sight of his golden skin that smoothly and closely covered his defined muscles was too much for me to ignore. As he raised his shirt even more, exposing his taut abs and sculpted pecs, I suddenly got a hard on. I quickly turned away to hide it from them.

“What the fuck!!!” I thought to myself.. “Why am I getting an erection over…”

I was interrupted by Coach who said, “Lucas, hurry up! This isn’t a photo shoot.”

“Sorry Coach,” Luca responded and began to strip at normal speed.

“I’ll wait outside,” I said and quickly left, hiding my erection.

I walked around until it went away. When it did, I sat down on a tree trunk near the boathouse and stared at the river as I sighed in content. This is nice and peaceful.

“All done,” Luca said as he came out of the boathouse fully dressed.

“‘K,” I said and continued looking at the river.

“Aren’t you going to put your clothes back on?” Luca asked slightly chuckling. Oh yeah, I’m in my undies. Might as well get changed, besides it’s really cold out here now that I think about it.

I went inside and found Coach scribbling away while I took my clothes, put them back on and left without disturbing him; wouldn’t want to get him mad at me. I’ll lose some brownie points that way, hehehe..

“Yep, I’m definitely stroke,” I said out loud so that Luca could hear me.

“In your dreams, Casey; he’s going to choose me,” Luca responded as he approached me, “I’m the better candidate..”

“No you’re not.”

“Yes I am. I’m stronger than you,” he smirked. What!!!

“Yeah right, just look at this,” I said as I grabbed his hand and placed it against my abs..

“Feel it, pure muscle, baby!” I told him as I rubbed his hand against my abs.

Then we heard someone clear their throat, causing us to look in that direction. It was Coach, who was standing just a few feet from us. Luca immediately yanked his hand away and I laughed.

“I’ve made up my mind about the seat arrangements. It was really hard to decide who would be stroke and who would be bow. Both of you have extremely similar physiques, but I made the best arrangement for the boat. I decided that Lucas will be stroke and Casey will be bow.”

What!!! Me follow him? That’s…that’s….that’s…me follow him? I can’t…me follow him?

“The decision was made purely on weight and height. Casey, you are ten pounds lighter and half an inch shorter. The bow is always smaller than the stroke,” he added with what I think he intended to be a reassuring tone.

Like choosing Luca over me wasn’t enough, now you have to drive a stake through me and my pride.  Rosko, if you weren’t so fucking huge and ripped and scary, I would throw you in the river right now.. Sigh, half an inch shorter.

“Casey, don’t feel discouraged. The bow plays the same or even greater role than the stroke. Bow has to be both a rower and the coxswain when rowing a double,” he added. Okay, maybe bow isn’t as bad as I thought.

“Another thing that I want to bring to your attention, men, is your weight. As I said before, there’s a ten pound difference between the two of you. I need you Lucas to lose five pounds and I need you Casey to gain five pounds. The weight cut-off for lightweight is 170 lbs. So I need the both of you to maintain your weight at 165,” he added. Hahaha, at least I’m not the one who has to lose weight. Gaining five pounds is going to be easy.

Then at last we got ready to row in an actual boat for the first time. Coach showed us what oars to use, how to dock, and how to push off the dock. Everything went well and we were able to place the boat in the water without dropping it or crashing into something.

When the boat was set, Coach gave us last minute instructions and we pushed off. It was awesome!!! It felt completely different to be actually pulling water with your oars. I realized that everything that coach had said made sense.

“Casey, pay attention!” Coach yelled from his launch alongside us. What? I am paying attention.

“Follow Lucas, Casey” he added. Sigh, I looked forwards and focused on Luca’s back. I have to copy every single movement he makes.

“Lucas, slow your slide,” Coach yelled, followed by, “Row together.”

30 minutes of Coach scrutinizing our every move passed by, and we were actually rowing in unison. Hehehe, I don’t know what happened, but it became easier to predict and duplicate Luca’s movement. I could tell what he was doing from just looking at the back of his head. Freaky!!!

“Men, turn around at the next buoy and head back to the dock. I’ll wait for you there,” he said and then steered his launch back toward the marina.

We did as he said and turned around, rowing in silence for about ten minutes until I finally spoke up.

“I didn’t mean it, you know,” I softly said.

“Mean what?” he asked.

“Coming up to you and covering your eyes. I thought you were Eric.”

“Don’t worry about it, Casey.”

We continued to row in silence until we docked and put the boat away. Coach seemed pleased with out first row and Luca seemed content. I was thrilled!!! It was so nice to be on the water and just to cruise by. I even got used to this whole bow thing. Although the turning around in my seat every ten strokes, looking to see if there were any other boats, got a little annoying.

“See you tomorrow morning, men,” Coach said as we left the boathouse and headed toward the parking lot. Right, morning practice tomorrow. Sure, wake up at 5 am and come spend the whole morning with my favorite person.

I finally made it up that stupid hill.. After a hard day of rowing, the perfect way to relax is climbing up a steep hill. Hehehe, I’m only making this worse by thinking about it.

Yay! I finally made it up to my car. I climbed in and relaxed in the seat. I know, let me turn on the seat warmer. Sigh, it feels nice. I drove home following Luca all the way there. He lives two streets away from my house so we take the same way to arrive there. Sigh, I even have to follow him on the road.

I got home and took a shower to wash away all the sweat. I bet Luca is doing the same thing right now. After the shower, I did some homework and waited for my mom to get back from work. She brought dinner and we ate together at the kitchen table. I told her about my day and rowing and she told me about hers.

I went up to my room and turned my laptop on to read an article about rowing and regattas. Well, I might as well learn. So after a while of doing nothing at all, I turned it off and went to sleep.

The next morning I was awakened by my alarm clock. Its continuous buzzing forced me to stand up and look at the time.

“Shit!  I’m late!” I screamed as I scrambled to get out of bed. It’s 6:30!!! I was supposed to be at the marina at 5.”

I put on my work out clothes and flew down the stairs toward the door. I got into my car and drove off. Thankfully the roads were empty so I was able to speed down the highway. I got there, hopped out of my car, and raced down the hill.

“Sorry I’m late,” I panted as I entered the boathouse. Luca and Coach were seeing yet another rowing video.

“You’re late, Casey,” Coach said in a stern tone.

“I overslept and then…” I tried to explain.

“Save it, Casey. Get ready. You and Lucas are running laps today,” he said.

“But I wasn’t late,” Luca exclaimed.

“Doesn’t matter. You’re a team and you are responsible for each other’s actions,” Coach responded. Crap! Now Luca’s going to be pissed at me.

The rest of the morning was spent on “land practice”. It was basically running laps, doing pushups and squats, over and over again. By the end of it, I was completely exhausted and so was Luca. I was a little pissed for having to do all of this. But Luca, he wanted to kill me for making him do it. Hehe, oops!

That day’s afterschool practice wasn’t much different, more land practice. Thankfully Coach decided to end it earlier this time. Phew, he’s finally done punishing us.

“I’ll see you tomorrow at 5 a.m. sharp. There are only two morning practices a week. I expect you to be on time for both of them,” he told us while looking at me.. “And remember, you are a team.”

When I got home, I just lay in my bed for two or three hours. I was so tired! I’m never going to be late again! If this is how he treats us when one of us is late, imagine the punishment for skipping practice. After talking with my mom about my day and watching TV for a while, I went to bed. Sleep came easily that night.

“Casey, wake up,” I heard someone say as they softly shoved my shoulder.

“Ten more minutes,” I yawned, not really caring who was trying to wake me up.

“Casey, we have to get ready for morning practice,” I heard them say. Hahh, morning practice!

I slowly opened my eyes to see who this person was. Hehehe, I really didn’t care at the moment, I just wanted to tell them to go away. It was Luca, standing at the side of my bed, fully dressed and ready to go.

“What are you doing here?” I asked as I bolted upright, moving so fast that I almost fell out of my bed. What is he doing here? Waking me up? Yeah, like the first thing I want to see when I wake up is his beautiful face!!!

“Sorry if I scared you,” he laughed. “Your mom called me last night and asked me to come wake you up. She said that I could let myself in.

“She what???” I asked bewildered. MOM!!! You enjoy seeing me squirm right? Why would you ask him, of all people? Couldn’t you just wake me up yourself? And hey, I’m not that unreliable!!!

“Believe me, I would rather have a few more minutes of sleep than to be here and watch you wake up,” he said.

“Well why didn’t you?” I responded.

“Because I didn’t want to have another land practice. Now get up!” he said as he yanked the comforter away. I didn’t have time to react and cover myself, so I was completely exposed. Shit! I forgot I was naked!!! Damn it! The night I choose to sleep au naturel, he had to come!

“You’re naked!” he shouted. Sigh. He already saw me naked, what’s the point of trying to hide it.

“Yes I’m naked. You should have asked before yanking it away,” I said as I began to get out of bed. Phew, thankfully no morning wood!

“Sorry,” he murmured.

When I stood up, I started to walk around my room getting my stuff ready. Hehehe, I don’t know exactly what Luca was doing. He was blushing a little, trying to look away but at the same time trying to look at me when I asked him something.

“Would you stop it already? It’s just me!” I laughed.

“Well, would you put something on already,” he responded, finally looking at me.

“Nope, not till you tell me what a nice ass I have,” I told him as I turned around and groped my ass. Hehehe, he’s so gonna cave!

“Casey, just go and shower! We have to leave soon,” he shouted.

“Wanna come with?” I playfully asked.

“JUST GO!” he screamed.

“Fine. And here I thought sleeping beauty was supposed to be treated nicely by the prince,” I said, laughing as I went over to the bathroom.

I took a quick shower and got dressed; I didn’t want to make prince charming wait. Hahaha, this is way too much fun! Okay, teasing Mel and Eric is one thing, but Luca is a completely different thing.

“Do you want something to eat?”  I asked him.

“I guess so,” he responded.

“Okay, follow me to the kitchen,” I told him.

When we got there, I toasted a few bagels and served us orange juice.

“Things in this house always change,” he remarked with a smile.

“Yep, they always do.”

I couldn’t help but smile as I saw him eat his bagel. After all this time, he still eats it the same goody way. He cuts it into bite-size pieces and then puts cream cheese on the pieces. Hehehe, I’ve never met anyone else who eats them this way.

“What?” he asked, noticing that I was looking at him and smiling.

“Nothing,” I said and continued to eat. I guess some things never change.

We finished breakfast and headed towards my drive way.

“Hey, you can ride with me if you want. No point in wasting more gas. That is if you want to,” he said as we reached the cars. Well, I do save gas and I don’t have to worry about my baby getting dirty.

“Yeah,” I said.

We got into his car and he drove off. I don’t know, but it felt different being in his car. By now he had washed his car and the traces of nature were gone, hehehe. The inside of his car was clean and organized, except for the back seats, where there were sports bags, camping stuff, school books, and even a hockey stick. It was a completely different environment than my BMW and not in a bad way. His car felt rugged and warm; in a way, you kind of felt protected in it. Hehehe, I even felt higher off the road.

We got to the marina just as Coach was arriving in his big truck. He seemed pleased that we were both on time and ready to go.

“I see you are starting to embrace the concept of being a team,” he commented as we got out of the car.

Practice was actually nice today. Coach wasn’t working us to exhaustion and we were on the water. I’m starting to like rowing and Luca isn’t that bad of a stroke.

Afterwards we walked back up to the parking lot and got into Luca’s car. As soon as we were on the road, I spoke up.

“Thanks Luca,” I said, “For giving me a ride and waking me up and not being angry at me for being late yesterday.”

“Well, we are a team,” he smiled.

“Yep, we are,” I said.

We drove home and he dropped me off. I told him good-bye and went inside through the kitchen door. I saw my mom sitting at the kitchen table sipping coffee and reading a magazine.

“How was practice, Love?” she asked.

“Oh, I don’t know. Which part are you referring to? The actual practice or you having Luca wake me up and drive me to practice?” I asked with a smirk.

“So he drove you there?” she asked with this insinuative tone.

“Yeah, he did. He offered to give me a ride and I took it. Besides, this way I can save gas.”

“Mhmm, are you sure there isn’t another reason?” she grinned.

“No, Helen. It was just a buddy giving another a ride.”

“I see, so you’re buddies now. A few weeks ago you couldn’t stand each other,” she said suggestively.

“Well we row together!” I said. “Now I have to get ready for school.”

“Okay, Love,” she said as I went up to my room and washed away the sweat. I left for school once I was ready.

The day passed by really quickly; and when it was lunch time already, I made my way down to the caf. I’m not really that hungry, but I have to eat something before practice. So I bought a burger with fries and a soda. Where to sit? I could go over there and sit with those guys or over there with those other guys. I’ll just sit with Eric.

I scanned the room and finally found him. He was sitting with Luca and some guys I knew. I walked over and sat next to Luca and in front of Eric. As I sat down I placed my food on the table and then loosened my tie. Hehehe, it’s starting to get hot! When I looked up, I saw that everyone at the table was looking at me, even Luca.

“Did I sit on a some food?” I asked as I looked myself over to see that I didn’t have food stains all over my pants. Phew, no I didn’t.

“No…it’s just. What are you doing sitting here?” Eric asked. Huh? Am I not supposed to sit here?

“Why? Should I move?” I asked, confused at what Eric was saying.

“NO! I didn’t mean it that way,” Eric said. “You never sit here, that’s all, especially right next to Luca.”

“Well he doesn’t mind, right?” I asked as I placed my arm over Luca’s shoulder.

“Nope, I don’t,” Luca smiled.

Hehehe, Eric almost fell out of his seat. He was so shocked and surprised that he had nothing more to say. Everyone else sitting there was just as shocked. It’s not like I’m doing something shocking. Luca’s not that bad he’s…okay. Besides, it’s all for the sake of rowing!

I had a great time with the guys at the table. Most of them were Luca’s friends, but I really got along with them. I even started making friends with them, then again who doesn’t want to be around me?  What really struck me the most was the way Luca interacted with his friends. He seemed to be in control yet calm and relaxed. He was outgoing and seemed happy, and everyone around him wanted his attention. He smiled and laughed, jested, and even teased his friends. Sigh, I don’t know why he doesn’t act this way with me. Doesn’t he feel comfortable around me? Or does my presence annoy him?

“Are you okay, Case?” Luca asked.

“Super duper,” I told him.

“Super duper?” he laughed..

“Yep, super duper,” I smiled back.

Everything was going so well until I saw a couple of guys hassling Chobey. They seemed to be taking his fries and chicken nuggets without his permission. I could see that he was trying to stop them, but when he pushed someone away another guy would snatch a fry away. Really? Are they really that stupid? Well, they asked for it.

I sighed and then said, “I’ll be right back. I have to go take care of something.”

“What?” Eric asked.

“Just put some freshmen in line,” I smirked as I stood up. I walked over to Chobey’s table and Eric and Luca, along with some of the guys, followed me.

I made sure that there weren’t any teachers around and then shouted, “Hey fuckers!!!”

Everyone at the table including Chobey looked at me in surprise. I looked directly at the five guys who were giving Chobey a hard time.

“You fucktards think it’s funny to hassle Chobey?” I demanded, but they remained quiet..

“Each one of you give Chobey ten bucks right now!”

“And why the fuck would we do that?” one of the guys asked standing up.

“Because I fucking say so!!!”

“What if we don’t?”

“I don’t know. Here at Woolsey we take theft very seriously,” I said grinning.

“Theft? We weren’t stealing!”

“It looked that way to me. I doubt the dean is going to go easy on you, especially after you guys were caught harassing another student with the intent of stealing his personal property.”

“That’s bullshit! He’s not going to believe you. Right guys?” he said, directing his question to the other guys at the table.

“Yeah,” they responded.

“Don’t be so sure about that. I think the dean will find a declaration from one of Woolsey’s best students more credible than those from a group of snotty freshmen.”

Some of them were starting to look worried, but the guy in front of me was still defying me.

“B.S., it’s your word against all of ours,” he said. Wow, he doesn’t know when to stop, does he?

“Fine, fifteen dollars then,” I said while smiling. “If you want to test it out then go right ahead. Casey Lock – honor roll student, All-American athlete, favorite student of about half the faculty here, against five asswipes. Tough battle?” I said and the guys behind me laughed.

The stupid freshman finally seemed to get the point, but just in case. “And of course, you don’t want to be known as thieves, do you?”

That seemed to put the freshmen in a panic. Getting in trouble with the dean was one thing, but having your classmates dislike you is another. Hehehe, they gave in and took out their wallets.

“Remember boys, thanks to your friend here, it’s twenty bucks,” I smiled. Sure enough, they all forfeited the money.

“Is everything okay, Casey?” Connie asked as she came over.

“Yes, Madame. Everything is peachy. These fine young men have decided to donate to the Jesuit ideals.”

“Well that’s just lovely, dear,” she smiled.

“And they were generous too. They donated one hundred dollars,” I said as I showed her the money.

“Sugarplum, did you have anything to do with this?” she grinned.

“I just enlightened them about being a man for others and donating to a better cause. The willingness to give was all theirs.”

“That’s why you’re one of my favorite students,” she said while lightly pinching my cheek.

“Thanks Connie,” I smiled. “Can you take this donation to campus ministry?”

“I’ll be happy to,” she responded, accepting the money. She left the cafeteria, leaving us alone once again.

“Now douchebags, don’t let me catch you hassling my Chobey ever again!” I told them and they just nodded their heads.

“Chobey, come sit with us,” I told him.

We all headed back towards our table, with Chobey right by my side. We sat down on the same places, but this time Chobey sat between me and Luca.

“Casey, thank you so much!!!” he told me as he hugged me.

“No problem, Chobes. I told you that you could count on me,” I said as I tousled his hair.

“So, who’s your new friend?” Eric asked. Oh stupid me, I forgot to introduce him.

“Hey, guys. This is Chobey. His real name is Connor, but I just call him Chobey.”

“Hey Chobey,” they said, greeting him.

“Nice to meet you, Chobey. I’m Eric, one of Casey’s friends. You must be very important to Casey, he doesn’t go all bad-ass for just anyone,” Eric said.

“Umm, I guess so,” he chuckled. Hehehe, you could see the excitement in his eyes. He wanted to jump for joy.

“Whatever! So guys, are you coming over to Linda’s party?” Luca interrupted.

“Yeah, dude! There’ll be lots of hot girls there,” one of the guys said.

The rest of lunch was spent talking about girls and Linda’s party and girls! I didn’t pay much attention to the guys; rather, I talked to Chobey. He told me about Kate and about his crazy plan to spend the summer in Japan learning about ramen.

School ended on a good note, no homework! Afterwards I drove towards the marina for another day of practice. I arrived just as Luca was getting out of his car.

“Hey, wait for me,” I told him as I parked my car, but he didn’t listen. He completely ignored me and walked down to the boathouse. What’s his problem! A few hours ago, he was happy and friendly. Now he’s acting like a jerk. I can’t believe that I wanted to be friends with him!

Rowing that day was strained. Luca wouldn’t talk to me nor even respond. What was even worse was that his rowing technique was sluggish and that made it harder for me to follow. Trying to be the good boy that I am, I asked him if he was okay. He only grunted a “yeah”. Even when I told him steering directions, he ignored me. Usually, I just tell him “pressure on port” and he asks, “Half or full” and stuff like that. But today, he just did it. Sigh, and it was going so well too.

After practice, Luca quickly got his stuff ready and started to walk away. I was about to go after him, but I was stopped by Coach.

“Casey, is everything okay between the two of you?” he asked.

“Um, why would you ask that?” I tried to smile and play it down.

“I ask because of the way you rowed today. Usually, both of you row in sync and communicate very well. Today, it was like you were fighting each other’s oars. Even your turns seemed sloppy.”

“Well, we were just having an off day, that’s all.”

“We’re a month away from summer training, I need you men to be good rowers by then,” he warned.

“Don’t worry, Coach. It’ll be fine. I’ll talk to Luca,” I said, trying to fake a smile.

“Ok, Casey. I’ll see you Monday,” he said and went into the boathouse.

I walked up to my car, hoping that Luca was still there. Fuck! He’s not there. Now I’m going to have to go to Linda’s party and talk to him there. So right after practice, I went home and got ready. Well, let’s see how this turns out. Hehe, it’s not going to be as good as my party, but people are saying it’s going to be great. Oh well! I can’t stand Linda, but maybe she’ll be different this time. And it’s a party after all!


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