Chapter 12: The Chess Tournament
"So you broke up?" I asked, feeling my calves begin to burn from the jog.
"Yeah." Veronica said matching my pace.
"When? Why?" I asked.
"While you were gone. And we were never really right together. We fought a lot." Veronica said.
"Yeah but you fight with everyone." I said looking over and grinning at her to show her I was teasing.
Veronica laughed. "True enough. I don't know - I mean he's a great kisser and all but me and Tim? Really?"
"Oh ick! I don't want to know about Tim's kissing." I said. He'd been a good friend for a long time and had always been so into Veronica that the thought of kissing him was like kissing a brother or cousin. "Are you two still friends...or whatever you two are when you aren't kissing?"
"I guess, I mean it was a mutual thing so we should be. I haven't really seen him since then though." Veronica said.
When school went back from the winter break, it was clear that Timothy, at least had already moved on. Gossip spreads fast in our school and town so the fact that he was free from Veronica we all over the school before we even arrived. Bella Crosby was flirting with him before second period and Timothy wasn't turning her away.
Todd and I saw them first and exchanged a knowing look with each other. Veronica was known for her jealousy and broken up or not, there was a chance Bella would meet a social end if Veronica noticed. I tried to signal Timothy but he was clearly absorbed with Bella. His new look and dating Veronica seemed to have elevated him from nerd to respectable geek or some such thing and suddenly he was a worthy prospect. I didn't understand the laws of high school any better than the laws of physics but it was what it was.
Veronica and I were about to go to gym class when she first noticed the two of them flirting. "Oh. My. Gosh..." she said dumbstruck.
I didn't have to follow her line of sight to see what she was looking at. I looked to Todd for help but he appeared to be focused elsewhere. 'Gah' I thought to myself.
"I cannot believe that..." Veronica was glowering.
"You broke up." I said simply.
She turned to look at me finally. "True, we did...."
"And you said you two were a bad match." I added.
"Right, you're so right." Veronica said nodding. "I mean...if he wants to flirt with or date her, I'm happy for him."
"More power to him right?" I said
"Exactly! Although he could have picked someone better...." she said.
I laughed. "Bella is nice enough...besides, they're just flirting..."
Veronica nodded. "Let's go to class, I need a good work out or something." her eyes lingered on Timothy and Bella until we were around the corner.
The rest of the first week back to school, Veronica was still a little irritated about Timothy new girl status but she truly seemed to be trying not to show it. "Are you coming this weekend?" I asked in science class Friday morning.
"To?" Veronica asked.
"The chess tournament." I said rolling my eyes.
"Why would I want to go to a chess tournament? And WHAT chess tournament?" Veronica asked looking irritated.
"Timothy's tournament! Ya know sometimes you have horrible listening skills." I said shaking my head.
"Oh...right. I don't know Gin." she said.
"You should come, as a friend. Be all supportive and such." I said as the bell rang to start class. I leaned over and whispered. "Why do I feel like we've done this awkwardness between you two before?" I asked with a small smile. I hoped they wouldn't perpetually be in this on again off again routine.
Erik and I arrived at the park early and found Timothy playing chess by himself. I wasn't sure exactly how one played chess against themselves but Timothy was concentrating hard. "Who are we against today anyway?" Erik asked quietly.
"Franklin High." I said still watching Timothy. "How does he do that?" I asked Erik, pointing to Timothy.
"It's easier when people aren't talking." Timothy said without looking up. Erik and I exchange a glance with each other and chuckled. A few other students from Carson and Franklin Highs started arriving so I got up from where I'd been sitting. I had no idea who Timothy would be playing but I knew it wasn't me. I looked around and noticed sadly that Veronica was a no show.
The small crowd parted as the Franklin High players arrived, one took his seat across from Timothy and the other competitors took up places at other tables. I noticed the kooky Ms. Futzworth was there to oversee the competition.
I felt someone press in close to me and assumed the gathering group was getting thicker. "Good day m'lady." a charming voice said into my ear, soft enough that I knew it was meant for me and only me to hear. I knew that voice before turning my head to look.
"Sir James." I said turning to look at him with a bashful smile.
"At your service." he said with a wink. I felt myself flush a bit and turned back to chess match. "That's a charming color on you Queen Genevieve." I could hear the barely constrained chuckle in his voice. "You'd fit in well at Franklin High, our colors are red and white."
I started giggling then and I was sure my cheeks were even more red now. "Personally I prefer blue." I said finally.
"Well I suspect any color would look good on such a beautiful queen as yourself." he replied.
Flirting, oh how fun it could be. I completely tuned out the chess matches and the crowd as I turned my focus on James. "You're very mysterious Sir James, keep showing up."
"Like a bad penny." he said grinning at me - or perhaps the fact that he had my complete attention.
"Are you a bad knight then?" I asked. "Of course when I met you, you were a mobster so I suppose that shouldn't surprise me."
"I'm not bad..." he paused as he considered.
"You're just drawn that way?" I asked with a grin.
James laughed. "You're a funny queen, how did I get so lucky to serve a fine, beautiful, funny queen?"
"You were saying...you're not bad...? Then what are you Sir James?" I prompted.
"Mischievous." he said with a wink.
I was still considering how to respond when Veronica ran up breathless. "What I miss? Is it over?" she asked looking at the chess board. Then she turned to me and I saw her gaze travel over to James. "Who's the hottie?"
I giggled and could hear James laughing as well. Through laughs I made a quick introduction. "Sir James, this is Veronica. Veronica this is Sir James - gallant knight of the chess table."
"I shall accept the title of Sir and perhaps the gallant but I'm afraid I do not play chess, I am merely here to show my support for Franklin High." James said offering his hand. Veronica shook it and then looked at me with wide eyes. I knew she wanted more details - but then so did I.
Veronica's arrival pretty much ended my flirting but the time spent watching the chess matches, was the longest time I spent in James's company since I'd met him and I still had very few more details about him. Timothy did very well in his matches and at the end of the day, Veronica gave him a friendly hug.
I was chatting Crystal and James when I caught Erik's eyes. He looked conflicted as he watched us chat and I wondered briefly what he had noticed, and if he was as jealous of James as I had been of Val...