Cassandra glanced at the clock and felt her pulse jump to a faster pace. Sophomore English was almost over. Soon the hallway would be filled with students headed to their next class, and if she was lucky, Cassandra would see him. Dusty Jenkins. Everyday, for the past two weeks, they had passed each other in the hall after first period, and everyday Dusty had smiled at her. She liked the way his dirty-blonde hair fell across his forehead, drawing attention to his blue eyes. Cassandra was certain she had never seen a more handsome boy in her life. The bell rang, and Cassandra quickly grabbed her books and shoved them into her backpack. Maybe today he'll talk to me.
Out in the sea of people, Cassandra looked hopefully around. Her heart dropped into her stomach when she spotted Dusty. He was smiling--and walking straight towards her.
"Hi," he said when he reached her.
"Hi." Cassandra barley managed to squeeze the word past her constricted throat.
"Are you going to the game tonight?"
"We play the Wolverines tonight; who isn't going?"
"Then maybe I'll see you there." Dusty smiled again and then disappeared into the crowd.
Cassandra thought her heart was going to pound its way out of her chest.
That night she dressed in her favorite jeans and her Rascal Flatts t-shirt. She curled her hair and put on a touch of lipstick. When her dad dropped her off at the school, her hands were shaking with nervousness. She didn't have to search long for Dusty. He was sitting with a large group of students up near the top of the bleachers. He stood up when he spotted her, waving for her to climb up and join him. Cassandra swallowed her nerves and headed up the stairs.
Dusty pushed one of his friends aside to make room for her. She sat beside him, and he draped his arm around her shoulders.
"You look great!" he whispered in her ear. Cassandra felt like she had just won a million dollars. She casually glanced around to see if any of her friends had arrived. Lori was sitting a few rows up and over. Cassandra caught her eye and gave her a little wave. Lori sent her a thumbs-up in return. Dusty turned away from her for a moment to talk to someone.
"Hey," he said when the other student left, "Do you want a cigarette?"
Cassandra's stomach began to knot up. She didn't smoke, and she never planned to. He's so cute, and maybe just once really wouldn't be too bad... But she had made this decision a long time before, and despite Dusty's good looks, she knew she couldn't change her mind. Okay, here's hoping being a good example makes me even more attractive. "No, thanks. I don't smoke."
"Well, you could start." Dusty smiled that gorgeous smile.
She shook her head. "No, I'd rather not."
Dusty's smile faded a little. "Do you drink?"
Feeling like a popped balloon, Cassandra replied, "No, I don't do that either."
"Oh." Dusty said, pulling his arm from around her shoulders.
Cassandra wiped her sweaty hands on her jeans and sighed. "I guess I'll go sit somewhere else."
She got up and walked down the steps and then behind the bleachers. She could hear Dusty's group above her, laughing and talking, and she could smell the potent smell of cigarette smoke. Are you crazy? Dusty liked you! All you had to do was smoke one lousy cigarette and you could have had the cutest boy in school for a boyfriend. You could always go back and tell him you've changed your mind, that for him, maybe you could try it.
She only managed a few steps before she stopped and shook her head. "No, I can't," She said softly to herself. "I made a promise to Sister Landers and Sister Polanski, but more importantly, I made a promise to the Lord." As she said the words, she found warm strength pouring into her body. Cassandra took a deep breath, walked back around to the front of the bleachers, waved at Dusty, and joined Lori to watch the game.