Will An Imaginary Boyfriend Doom Them All? MAKING UP BLAKE (Excerpt)
Updated: Jan 27
To my displeasure, we each had to say a few words when our name was called to fetch our diploma. It could’ve been a speech, a thank you, words of wisdom ... pretty much anything.
The auditorium buzzed until just after six, when the lights dimmed. Our collective parents—hundreds of them—snapped pictures from the bleachers. Cameras were recording. Our every move would be watched, over and over again, for generations.
Yeah, it made me sick.
Even I snoozed through Anna’s valedictorian speech. I felt bad, because I knew how hard she prepared for it. I knew how hard she worked just to be able to give it—but at the same time, I needed toothpicks for my eyelids.
Since Pawlak comes after Morrison, Luke sat rows behind me. But I could feel his eyes on me, and I couldn’t wait for nine o’clock the next morning, so I could feel more than just those on me.
Mr. Bias handed out diplomas. I wasn’t sure how I felt about this clueless man being my last encounter with high school staff, ever. But, even though he’s an idiot, I still kind of liked him.
I liked him, because he actually got me out of math class. I liked him, because—on very rare occasions—his advice was helpful. I liked him, because, with him, I could talk about anything.
I liked him, because—if I ever dared to miss him—I could easily just watch a Cuba Gooding, Jr. movie, and feel like I’m seeing him again.
“You know, I was your age once,” he said with his permanent grin. He stood on stage in black pants, a white dress shirt and red tie. “I remember all too well how you’re feeling this very moment—how much I couldn’t wait to get out of school and just get on with my life!
“And here I am, twenty years later—still in school, and not going anywhere.” His smile faded. “In a way, it’s like life in prison, without the possibility of parole.”
The crowd laughed. Cameras flashed at him in the dim room.
“The thing is,” he continued, his voice echoing, “it’s not all bad. I mean, most of it is. But on occasion, I get satisfaction from my job. When someone comes to me for advice, I help them out, and I feel accomplished—whether I’d helped them prepare for the SATs, helped them decide on a school, or comforted them when their best friend landed herself in the newspaper,” he said, looking at me with that grin.
I shrunk a bit when others joined him. The place grew hot when people didn’t look away fast enough.
It’s okay, though, I saw Lilly shrink, too.
“I want everyone here to know that they can always come to me. Any time. If you ever have a problem,” Mr. Bias exclaimed, “or if you have news you'd like to share—college graduation, marriage, a new baby, or especially if you win the lottery—feel free to call and share!” His gaze fell, and he sniffled into the microphone. “I’m not going anywhere.”
He stopped to compose himself for a moment, then picked up a list off the lectern. “Jake Andrews,” he read, preparing the first diploma.
People actually cheered—he must have a large family. He dashed up on stage in his black cap and gown, claiming his diploma and holding it victoriously for all to see.
Cameras flashed at him. “I did it! Now it’s time to party!”
And, believe it or not, the crowd went wild.
“Alex Anniston,” Mr. Bias continued, just as I felt my phone vibrate.
I reached into my gown and pulled it out of my pocket. There was a message notification, and I knew it was surely from Nikki.
I looked at the bleachers, where Andre sat by my parents, Troy, and the Jacobsons, in a red tee shirt and black jeans. The guy looks great in red, which, I’m sure, is why he wore it so much—it made him fiery hot.
Gino rushed on stage, grabbed his diploma and flashed a thumbs up for the camera. “I’d like to thank my ma for her support, my dad for his guidance, and my ex-girlfriend for making the Barones filthy freakin’ rich! You already paid for my college, baby!”
People laughed and glanced at Lilly.
Gino jetted off stage.
Mr. Bias continued calling the rest of the B’s, so I figured I had time to answer a little question. I clicked on the message icon. To my surprise, the message was not from Nikki, but from her boyfriend, Blake:
Hiya, hot stuff.
I stared at it. Surely this is intended for the supermodel he’s dating?
You messaged the wrong account,
I typed in response, and put the phone back in my pocket.
A minute later, it vibrated again.
No I didn’t.
A friend request popped up. I stared at the screen.
“Jenna...” I vaguely heard Mr. Bias say, and she hurried up on stage.
“Like, oh my God!” she squealed. “It’s time to shop!”
I quickly accepted the friend request, still kind of confused. This incredibly handsome guy—with dirty blond hair, dreamy chocolate eyes, and an amazing build—wanted to be friends with me.
Not the first time that’s happened, I thought as I felt my ring.
I grew suddenly nervous. Nikki would surely see this friendship—wouldn’t she expect an explanation?
And why is he sending me a winky face?
“Lilly Jacobson!” Mr. Bias held up her diploma.
Lilly hurried on stage, her veil of blond hair practically trailing behind her. She really was turning into Rapunzel.
She grabbed her diploma and squealed. “I want to thank my mom for being awesome; I want to thank my brother for his super-hot friends; I want to thank Troy De La Fontaine for being born,” she gushed, waving to him in the bleachers. “And since my dad didn’t show up, I want to thank Burke Jacobson for raising me!”
The crowd cheered. A sea of cameras flashed, and she actually curtsied.
And, although I should’ve been cheering for Lilly—and about to be called on any minute myself—something possessed me to go through that Blake guy’s photos. Because, you know, that’s what friends do.
And we were friends now, Blake and I.
For some odd reason.
I’m not sure why looking at the guy’s pics was a priority. I’m not sure why I even friended him. I’m not sure why he would bother noticing me, let alone be messaging me.
I’m not sure why I was salivating!
The first of many was a picture of him under the shower head. His expression was hot, his muscles were tense, his abs were wet. He looked absolutely luscious under that steaming hot shower.
And I was thinking,
Who the hell took this picture?
The next one showed him outside, shirtless on a bright summer day. He sported denim shorts, and he leaned against a large tree trunk. His body glistened, like someone rubbed oil all over him. It was quite refreshing.
Was it sweat? Sweat from what? Outside. By a tree.
In the next photo, he was in a swimming pool. His hair was wet and sleek. His biceps were monstrous, his lower lip curled seductively, and his eyes were deep. It’s like he was making love to the camera or something.
I scrolled to the next picture, of Blake on the beach, in a red speedo, dusted in sand. His eyes were soulful, his every curve was delightful, his bulge—
“I wasn’t looking at his johnson!” I blurted.
And after an instant of deathly silence,
The crowd. Went. Wild.
They roared with laughter.
Cameras blinded me.
They shone a freakin’ spotlight on me.
I stumbled out of my chair, disoriented as an idiot.
Beside myself, I made my way past a maze of legs, afraid someone would trip me.
Because, you know ... I wasn’t embarrassed enough.
I staggered breathlessly onto the stage.
People still snapped away—hundreds of photos per second. I could feel the red in my face, and I wasn’t breathing.
I don’t even recall looking at Mr. Bias. It was all a blur. Humiliated, I couldn’t think.
I was ... I was ... forgetting something.
My speech. I’d forgotten my speech.
And I didn’t want “I wasn’t looking at his johnson!” to be my senior speech—the last thing I uttered to anyone in that school.
So, in a breathless panic, all I could think of were the ironic words of a Chinese proverb,
“Wisdom is attained by learning to hold one’s tongue.”
Excerpt from Making Up Blake. © Chrissy Favreau 2016. All rights reserved.