"Your painting looks stunning as always Adrien. You are very talented!" Ms. Sawyer complimented. She stood beside me with a fond smile, focusing on the painting I was working on for our assignment. It wasn't quite done yet, but I was proud of what I painted so far.
"Thanks. I think this might be one of my favourite projects," I replied. Ms. Sawyer hummed, sitting down onto the stool.
"I can tell. You've put a lot of passion into this particular painting," She commented, "I knew this project would challenge you and quite frankly, you have done a beautiful job. I cannot wait to see it finished. Are you going to be applying to art school in the winter?"
"Ah...I'm not really sure," I sighed. Ms. Sawyer raised a brow, crossing her arms.
"Why not? You have talent. I have no doubt that the top art schools in the province will be begging to have you join them. What's making you second guess your decision?" She asked.
I shrugged, putting my paintbrush and pallet down onto the table beside me, "I don't know. I just...I want to be an artist. I want to show off and sell my works. But...is that a steady career? I don't think I would be able to live comfortably just doing that."
What Marci told me the other day in art class was still at the front of my mind. I don't know why it was bothering me so much, but now that I was really thinking about it, what was painting going to do for me in the long run? When I looked at Preston working his ass off to get good grades so he could eventually go to medical school, a part of me envied that. He was striving for something amazing and as an added bonus, he was passionate about his career choice. In the long run, he would be able to live comfortably with the money he brought in.
Then here I am, trying to make a career out of something that isn't as likely to achieve. Painting should be nothing more than a hobby for me, but...what else did I want to do? I didn't have an interest in any other career choices. But I guess I had to start searching. College applications are coming up soon so I have to figure something out.
"Adrien..." Ms. Sawyer started. She looked serious that time, adjusting her seating on the stool, before she spoke up, "you should never base a career on the salary. In the long run, you will make yourself miserable. The important thing is to strive for something you are passionate about. If you love painting and want to make a living off of it, you should do that. It may be hard to start off, but if you are really determined, you will reach your goals."
A heavy sigh left my lips. I looked back to my painting, a heavyweight settling against my chest. Art school was my dream. Thinking about doing anything else other than art didn't sit well with me. Maybe she was right, but I was still hesitant.
"I...I guess so," I murmured. Ms. Sawyer smiled softly, placing a hand on my shoulder before she stood up from the stool.
"Whatever you choose to do, let me know and I can write a reference letter for any scholarships you apply for," She smiled. I nodded my head, returning the gesture.
"Thank you, Ms. Sawyer."
"You're very welcome sweetheart," She nodded kindly and walked off. She called out to the rest of the class that it was time to clean up, before sitting back down at her desk in front of her laptop. I checked the time on my phone, seeing there were ten minutes left before the lunch bell. Releasing a heavy sigh, I stood up from my stool, grabbing the paintbrushes and paint palette, taking it over to the sink where I washed the paint off them.
I cleaned up my station, taking off my apron before hanging it up, and scrubbed the paint off my hands and arms. By the time the bell rang, a swarm of students exited the classroom, and I walked back over to my station to grab my bag off the ground.
"Hey, Adrien!" A voice called out behind me. I stood up, shrugging my bag over my shoulder and turned around, smiling at Marci as she hurried over to me with a wide grin on her face.
"Hey, Marci, what's up?" I tilted my head at her.
"It's Wednesday. Preston is in the fitness room working out yea?" She asked, a toothy smile on her face. I raised a curious brow, nodding my head.
"Yea, he is...why?"
"Oh nothing~I was thinking...maybe we could pay him a visit?" Marci wiggled her brows.
"Ah, I dunno...we probably shouldn't disturb him if he's working out," I shook my head, biting my lip.
"Oh come onnn Adrien! He won't mind if we saw him! Besides...there's gonna be other kings there working out, showing off their muscles..." Marci winked, "perhaps one of them will catch your eye~?"
A blush rose to the tips of my ears, splattering across my face. I hated to admit it, but I was more embarrassed by the thought of seeing Preston in the fitness room, lifting weights, where his muscles were visible. It was bad enough that he sent me snapchats of his abs and arms, adding onto the fact that I was now living with him...because he liked to sleep shirtless. Every time he smiled, laughed, or took his damn shirt off, it was hard to contain my racing heart.
But no matter how hesitant I was, watching Marci look at me with a pleading look on her face, it was hard for me to say no to her.
"Okay...fine," I sighed heavily. Marci squealed loudly, grabbing onto my hand, tugging me towards the door.
"Well let's go!"
I let Marci drag me out of the classroom and to the fitness room, pushing past the younger grades crowding up the hallways. The loud crowd of students rung in my ears, echoing around the tall walls of the school. When we reached the fitness room, I sucked in a sharp breath, bracing myself before Marci pushed open the door, and tugged me inside.
The first thing that hit me was the smell of sweat. It was heavy despite the windows being open to air out the room. There was the sound of weights being picked up and dropped down onto the floor, grunts and loud chatter clouding the entire room. When Marci and I stepped in, it didn't take long for me to notice Preston, standing in the corner of the room as he spotted Daniel on the bench press, Asher sitting on the floor watching them with a bag of chips in his hands. They were also chatting with a few of Preston's buds on the football team. They were all attractive I wasn't going to lie, but the only person I couldn't stop staring at was Preston.
"Hey, guys!" Marci called out, quickly heading over to the group, and I followed behind her. Preston instantly glanced over our way, lifting the bar with weights back onto the rack, while Daniel pushed himself up into a sitting position, his locs pulled out of his face in a ponytail and his dark skin slicked with sweat.
"Hey, Marci! Adrien!" Asher called out to us, a cheeky smile on his face. He stuffed a handful of chips into his mouth, and I couldn't help but notice the small bag of cookies beside him as well. Asher was an attractive queen, people often called him pretty. He had vanilla blonde hair and bright blue eyes, freckles across his nose where a nose ring sat. He and Daniel were known as the high-school sweethearts, mostly because they had been together since freshman year. They were always caught holding hands, sneaking loving smiles and gazes and soft kisses and honestly, it was beautiful. I couldn't help but smile every time I saw the two of them together.
"Is this all you do when you're here in the gym? Just sitting and eating?" I laughed, smiling crookedly. Asher scoffed at that, shaking his head.
"No, but for some reason, I've been really fucking hungry lately. I've been craving a lot of sugar," Asher shrugged. I chuckled lightly at that.
"What are you guys doing here, huh, Adrien?" Preston raised a brow, making me turn my attention to him, "wanted to see all those Snapchat videos come to life hmmm?"
I blushed heavily, my face red to the tips of my ears. Preston's friends started to whistle and whoop, clearly amused and decided to tease, which only made my embarrassment worse. No, what was worse was that Preston was smirking, seemingly enjoying his buddies whistling and hollering, and the fact that my face was as red as a cherry.
"Ohh geeez, you've been sending Adrien videos of you working out? Damn, someone's trying to impress," Caden, quarterback on the football team, grinned and smacked Preston on the back. My best friend grunted but smirked nonetheless.
"What can I say? These guns aren't for nothing," Preston replied, flexing his bicep, and he looked to me with a look on his face that I couldn't quite read, but it still had my heart hammering in my chest. His flexed bicep wasn't helping my heart either, because he was...big.
I bit my lip, placing a hand on my cheek as I turned my gaze away, willing for my cheeks to cool down.
"You got Adrien all bashful, Preston!" Asher laughed from where he sat on the floor, now chomping down on his chocolate chip cookies. Daniel laughed at his boyfriend, more so entertained by the fact that Asher was stuffing his face full.
"Why don't you send me any videos, huh Preston?" Marci pouted, squeezing between Preston and Caden to stand beside him, and placed her hand over Preston's bicep, feeling the hard muscle, "wow, your biceps are hard as a rock."
Caden snorted. It wasn't really a secret that Marci had a crush on Preston, and she didn't bother to flirt subtly. While she blatantly tried to get as close to him as possible, for some reason, it annoyed me. Watching Marci touch Preston like that made my chest feel heavy and uncomfortable. I didn't like Preston to be touched by anyone else.
But I couldn't really say anything. He had a crush on someone and he would find a significant other eventually, and no matter how uncomfortable it made me, he was my best friend. Just my best friend.
Preston gently nudged Marci's hand away and lowered his arm, flashing her a smile. He and his friends eventually went back to working out. It was apparently leg day so they were lifting weights and doing exercises that would build their leg muscles. Marci and I sat down next to Asher, making conversation with him for the rest of lunch. Though I couldn't help but glance over to Preston every now and then, and when I did, he would flex his muscles a little harder, as if noticing that I was staring.
When lunch was over, Preston and his friends wandering off to go change back into their everyday clothes, Marci grabbed my hand and stopped me before I could leave the fitness room and now, it was just the two of us.
"Hey, do you think you could do me a favour?" Marci asked. I turned around to face her curiously.
"Uh, yeah, sure. What is it?" I raised a brow. She smiled.
"Well we all know Preston has a secret crush...and I think he has a crush on me," Marci bit her lip, obviously containing an overly ecstatic smile, "and since you are his best friend, I thought maybe, you could convince him to ask me out?"
I frowned slightly at that, "what...be your wingman? I don't know...Marci."
"What? Come on! Please?" Marci whined, grabbing onto both of my hands, staring at me with pleading eyes, "please please pleaseeee?"
I sighed heavily. I didn't really want to help her...was that rude of me? Okay, it was kind of rude. But if I had to watch Preston and Marci get together...I'd rather not be the one to start it.
But yet, no matter how much I didn't like the image of Marci and Preston getting together, I still couldn't say no.
"Okay...fine! I'll talk to him for you," I sighed, caving in. Marci squealed loudly out of joy, jumping up and down in her spot, before tackling me in a tight hug.
"Oh thank you thank you! I can't wait!" Marci exclaimed excitedly. I forced a smile, watching her leave the fitness room in a hurry, while I just stood there, staring at the door, feeling my heartbreak just a crack.