Sheryl came across a picture of her graduation as she unpacked the boxes into her new apartment. It was a picture of her and Gary back in high school. She reminisced on their youthful years. It wasn’t long ago when she hated young Gary. She sat on the floor as she stared at the picture, daydreaming.

Gary, sitting with his friends at the cafeteria table was pressured by his friends to talk to Sheryl, who he couldn’t stop staring at. To them, the dare was to take the elitist President of the school council out on a date. Gary was well known in high school. He was captain of the wrestling team and star athlete of the basketball team. Sheryl, on the other hand, was a goody two shoe most of her colleagues hated; but loved by teachers.

Sitting in the cafeteria alone, eating her lunch and studying for her exams, Sheryl watched Gary staring at her from across the room. In her hands were flowers, valentine’s cards, and love letters. She’s heard rumors that Gary wanted to take her out to the Valentine’s Day dance. She wasn’t too excited about the invite. Hell! She didn’t even want to go.

Walking home from school, Gary stopped Sheryl in her tracks. “Whoa, whoa, whoa…can we talk for a while? I have something important to ask you.”

Not impressed by his gesture, she quickly replied, “No!”

“I didn’t even ask the question,” he said confused.

“Let me save us the trouble of wasting each other’s time. The last thing I want is to be taken as a joke among our peers.” She began to walk off.

“Man, you’re really stuck up, aren’t you?” he said rudely.

“Yup!” she mocked him. “I guess I am.”

In class, Sheryl and Gary were assigned a project that would take them two weeks to complete. Sheryl wasn’t fazed by the idea of working with him, but she set aside her frustration and began the assignment.

In the library, she checked out a few books. Gary waited with a paper and pen, waiting for directions. After sitting for five minutes, Gary looked at Sheryl, who appeared to have a page long written.

“Um, what do you need me to do?” he asked. He wanted to partake in the homework.

A confused Sheryl looked around. “I got this! You can go hang out with your friends and dribble a ball or something.”

Nodding his head in disagreement, “I am not that type of guy. I may be a jackass towards a lot of people, but I do complete my own work. We are both getting a grade, which means we are both contributing.”

Annoyed, “Why are you doing this to me? I can bet you, you set this up, for us both to be together and fulfill some stupid bet among your friends.”

Taken aback by her comment, he argued, “You know you’re very rude and judgmental. Hasn’t your mother taught you better than to judge a person based on assumptions?”

Sheryl eyed him like a hawk, taking offense to his comment. “My assumptions are based on your past transgression. I have a great sense of judgment. You’re nothing special.”

“My mother begs to differ,” he joked. He laughed, sucking his teeth. “You like me? Admit it!”

“I rather date a fish.”

“That’s nasty,” he nodded. “Do you want to smell like one?”

“Keep swimming. They’re plenty of fishes who wants to be hook by you. I refuse to be a victim of your black book?

“Black book? Again, with the assumptions. Tell me how you really feel?”

Sheryl packed her books into her bag, quickly wanting to escape his presence. As she walked out of the library into the parking lot, Gary followed, provoking her. Sheryl pushed him away, not buying into his pranks. “You’re really annoying, you know? Your games are played out.”

“I am not playing games. I wanted to ask you out. Yes! I admit that I sent you the flowers. And the secret letters. Yes, I begged the teacher to assign us together, so I can get to know you, but I promise you, my plans are not to hurt you.”

Sheryl turned around. She took a deep breath. “You’re not cute. All the girls can find you attractive, but I don’t. I think your actions are juvenile and outdated. You want to impress me? Be honest. Be true. Be real,” she explained. “The way you treated Cassandra, Elena, and Sophia, I refuse to be your next victim.”

“I didn’t hurt them—,” he attempted to explain.

Sheryl interrupted, “But you took advantage of them. I am not those girls. I hold myself at a higher standard than them. I respect myself enough to never get with a guy like you. I won’t stroke your ego, so you can boast with the guys, which head game was right. I won’t sleep with you, so you can compare whose vagina was tight. I won’t spend any time with you because you won’t appreciate a person like me because you clearly don’t appreciate yourself; especially when you date the same girl with the same end result. Honestly, why me?”

Sincerely, looking at her. “Because I actually like you. Maybe you’re right. Maybe I keep dealing with the same girl because it’s the only love I know. Why can’t you show me something different, so you can open my eyes to something more than what I went through?”

She looked around. She couldn’t believe the words that he uttered. She smiled. “You’re good. Oh, you’re good. You speak the truth, huh? You speak a good game. Smooth. Real smooth.” She began to laugh, trying not to be fool by the master of bullshit.

He looked at her, hoping that she’ll take him seriously. He didn’t want her to buy into the bad boy image she’s described. He wanted her to see the side of him he’s never exposed. He’s never poured himself to anyone before. For the first time, he looked beyond the physique and see the beauty in the brains. “Will you give me a chance?” he begged, hoping for a satisfying answer.

“Why?” she questioned.

He began to ease his way towards her. “Because I am not the guy you think I am. I am not the guy that takes advantage of anyone’s feelings. I am Gary Ford. A seventeen-year-old boy who respects Sheryl London for the young woman she is. I think you’re smart. Amazingly talented. Voted most likely to succeed. I believe you’re the only person that can change me to be better because you’ve already called me out for my actions. I am willing to change for you if you’re willing to take me.”

She nodded her head. “I can’t make you change. Only you can. You’re doing all of this to get my attention, but are you willing to go the extra mile once you have me?”

“Are you worth the chase?” he responded.

Back to reality, she looked around her apartment. That was the beginning to her love story, which somehow took a wrong turn. How she got here, she had no clue. She sat back. Looking up at the ceiling remembering those words, “Yeah. I was.”