Fumbling With The Crown
In front of the entire class, he stood on a small stage, nervously fumbling with the crown. Every move he made was followed by wide eyes. His next move was eagerly awaited.
Considering what his friends would think if he did this, he glanced at them. As he stepped off the stage, he inhaled deeply and approached the girl.
He Was Cheered On
Upon hearing his name announced as homecoming king, Justin felt calm, cool, and collected. It was no surprise that he won the title since he was the most popular boy in school.
His footsteps were met by clapping, cheering, and even pats on the back from the crowd. There was no way he could resist smirking. It all went according to plan.
Looking For Her
His gaze was drawn to the sea of students before him as he stepped onto the small stage. Each of them dressed up in suits and gowns. He was looking for a specific face in the crowd, however.
As his eyes finally landed on Mikaela, he smiled ear to ear. As he observed her expression, his smile faded.
Unaware And Unprepared
She wept as she grasped her date's arm. Despite knowing what was coming, she was unprepared. For just a moment, her eyes were filled with sadness before she fell to the ground.
There was an uneasy feeling burning in his stomach that he couldn't ignore. It was too late for him to do anything, but he knew he had to take action.
A Round Of Applause For Our Queen
Her hands covered her face, watching from a distance as they announced the homecoming queen's name. "A round of applause for your homecoming queen!" His friends must think he made a huge mistake.
While thinking about the situation, he raised his hands and adjusted the crown on his head. To make things right, he could only do one thing.
Bad Reputation, Unlike His
Taking hold of the crown, he tightened his fingers. Was it possible for him to give up his crown for just one girl? There was no doubt in his mind that her reputation was much worse than his.
Is he going to be judged for doing this? As it turned out, that guy invited her to this event after all. Would that deter him?
As sweaty fingers gripped the crown, he lifted it off his head. It was nerve-racking, but he had to get this done before it was too late.
When he hopped off of the stage and called her name, Mikaela turned on her heels, ready to leave. After halting and turning to face him, she was mortified. Then it happened.
Justin Murphy ranked first in his school for popularity. Everyone loved him, especially as the football team captain. Parkland, Florida, was the perfect place for him to grow up.
It was easy for him to succeed in school, he had a lot of friends, and his family was very supportive. A new girl entered the young man's high school, and everything changed in his life.
He had never seen a more beautiful girl than Mikaela Jones. It was impossible for him to believe that a woman so beautiful existed, with her long, dark hair and freckled face.
Mikaela, however, did not receive the same response from her classmates. There was a new girl at school who was getting all of the attention, and Megan, the school's top cheerleader, didn't like it. It was then that the drama began.
Justin knew better than to believe the horrible rumors Megan spread about Mikaela when he first heard them. It was Megan, who was his ex-girlfriend, who made him realize he shouldn't believe anything she said.
Nevertheless, she was believed by everyone else. Mikaela's reputation spread quickly as a mean girl who spoke ill of her classmates. As a result, the new girl wasn't well received.
When Justin first noticed her sitting by herself in the cafeteria, he couldn’t help but walk up to her. His friends all laughed, patting him on the back as he left. There was no denying that she was absolutely stunning.
Sitting across from her, he noticed the shy smile on her face as she stared down at her tray of food. “Hey, I’m Justin,” His smile was contagious.
Down To Earth
That day, he spent the entire lunch period talking to Mikaela. He learned that she had moved there from New York, and she loved to paint and write her own songs on the piano.
She was down to earth and intelligent, and he knew for a fact that she was not the mean girl Megan made her out to be. If only the rest of the school could see what he saw in her. At the time, he was only interested in being her friend, but what he didn’t know was that another boy had his eyes on her.
Getting To Know Her
In the weeks that followed, Justin got to know her quite well. He would often ditch his friends to spend lunchtime with her. After everything they’d heard about the girl, they couldn’t understand why he was so interested in spending time with her.
One day, the two of them bumped into each other in the halls, and he decided to bring up an important matter: Homecoming.
Homecoming month was just a few weeks away, and Justin couldn’t wait. He knew that the crown would be his. But that day, he learned that Mikaela wasn’t as interested. With all the gossip floating around the halls, she didn’t know if she wanted to go to homecoming.
But Justin had been waiting for this moment for as long as he could remember. With his popularity, snagging the crown would be easy. After his breakup with Megan, he needed a date. Mikaela had crossed his mind.
What Could He Do?
Justin didn’t know what to do. He wanted Mikaela to accompany him to the dance, but she wanted nothing to do with it. He spent the next few days desperately trying to convince her to attend.
Mikaela appreciated her friendship with Justin, and wanting to see him happy, she finally agreed to go. But she made it clear that they would only be attending as friends. She had no idea what was in store for her.
King And Queen
After she agreed to go to homecoming, Justin assumed that she wouldn’t be opposed to running for homecoming queen alongside him as king.
That’s why he decided to go to the organizing committee and submit his and Mikaela’s names for homecoming king and queen. He had no idea what would come from this decision.
But everything changed one casual, Friday afternoon. He had walked into the cafeteria confidently, expecting to see Mikaela in her usual spot. He did, but he didn’t expect to see the boy sitting beside her.
He frowned, noticing the way he was looking at her. The boy, Ben, didn’t even try to hide the fact that he had a crush on Mikaela.
Justin was surprised when he felt a tinge of pain while watching Mikaela. She was laughing at Ben’s jokes, occasionally placing a hand on his shoulder. She was never that comfortable around Justin.
She was even leaning closer to him, too close for comfort. Her eyes seemed dazed. She wouldn’t stop twirling her hair in her fingers. Justin didn’t know what to make of this.
He took a deep breath as fire erupted up his throat. It gored him, making him croak and cough. His eyes watered, and his hands became hot and sweaty.
He let out another breath. His heart was pounding in his chest and dribbling in his ears. He’d never felt these sensations before. Was he sick?
A healthy boy through and through, Justin had rarely been sick. But today, something was off with him. A sense of uneasiness had washed over him, making him seek a wall he could lean against before he keeled over.
He didn’t know that whatever was happening to him was because of a potent and equally burning jealousy. A golden boy and the most popular kid in school, he’d never known such a feeling. He’d never experienced wanting something or someone that could never be his. But this was only the start of his nightmare.
“Get it together, man,” Justin whispered. Students all over the cafeteria had started noticing he was panting and curling and releasing his fingers. They could see the thin line of sweat on his forehead. Something was wrong.
It took Justin a second to figure out what was happening. He faced Mikaela, sighing as, for the first time, his sight registered things about her he’d seemingly missed before.
A True Sight To Behold
Justin had always thought Mikaela was beautiful, intelligent, and witty. But today, all these attributes seemed to grow exponentially, breaking any scale one might have measured them on.
He saw how flawless her skin was and how luscious and thick her curls were. He noted her eyes, the darkest of green well complimented by the slight eye shadow she wore. He noted how she fidgeted with her food with her delicate fingers, barely eating it as she talked to Ben. Justin let out a curse.
That was the first time he ever realized he had feelings for the girl who had become a close friend. Things were about to get a lot more complicated.
He hated that it took the presence of another boy to make him realize he felt something for Mikaela. He considered a world where she and Ben ended up together and almost pulled out his hair and screamed in frustration. He needed to let her know how he felt.
It Was Always Easy
Justin had always had it easy when it came to girls. His smile alone usually did the work, his voice and eye contact only coming to conclude the successful encounter.
But for the first time, he felt backed up into a corner. Mikaela had never looked at him the way other girls did. She’d never looked at him the way she was looking at Ben. Would this boy, a nobody, beat him to his prize?
The King Always Wins
“No,” Justin sounded and marched over to the table. He didn’t know why, but the thought of Ben ending up with his heart’s desire was overwhelming. Ben was no one, while Justin was the king of the school.
Justin quietly sat opposite them. He knew who Ben was, but they never really hung out in the same scenes. After introducing himself, he asked how they knew each other.
"Ben and I used to attend the same middle school back in New York," Mikaela answered gleefully, her eyes glued to Ben. "We were best friends, if you can believe it! We haven't seen each other in years."
Her smile widened as she recounted her childhood memories with Ben, from their pizza trips in the Bronx to festivals in Manhattan. But as she spoke, one thing was going on through Justin's mind.
They Have A History
"I can't lose," Justin said out loud before blocking his lips with a hand. "Sorry," he said sheepishly. Those very words, 'I can't lose,' had been replaying in his mind since Mikaela started talking.
He saw how she was lost in her and Ben's past, and his heart cracked—sending wave after wave of searing pain through him. It was clear Mikaela and Ben had a history. But they had no idea Justin was formulating a plan to come out on top.
"You must excuse me," he said. "Ben, nice meeting you, bro. Mikaela, we’ll talk.” "Wait, are you okay?" Mikaela asked after him as he stood and wended between students. "I am," he said with a fake smile. He was on the verge of losing his mind.
His body was drowning in jealousy, an unfamiliar feeling altogether. He needed to get away. More than anything, he needed to show Mikaela he was better than Ben. There was only one way to do that.
That evening, Justin called Mikaela, explaining that he needed to see her. Thankfully, it was a Friday evening, and school had ended early. "Are you okay?" Mikaela asked, concern lacing her words.
"I am. I wasn’t feeling good earlier," Justin said. "Stomach issues. I think I ate something bad," he lied – a first. "I'm at the mall, wondering if I can see you, maybe talk for a bit." He hoped Mikaela would say "yes."
"Of course," Mikaela answered. She lived a few blocks away and had a big sister who worked at the mall. She'd ride home with her after meeting Justin.
Seemingly thinking she was meeting him for a simple 5-minute conversation, she came hurriedly. But she soon found out that this was something else. By the time Justin left her side, she'd only have eyes for him.
At The Mall
Justin met her at the mall's entrance. He'd worn his best clothes and even had an emergency haircut. He smelled nice, with his best weapon – his infectious smile – awaiting his deployment.
"Mikaela!" he greeted her, hugging her tight. He could see the surprise on her face. He'd never acted this way with her before. "Are you okay?" she asked with knitted brows. But her reason for asking this question would leave him speechless.
"Yeah, why?" Justin asked. “I don’t know,” Mikaela answered. "You're acting kinda weird." Justin couldn't talk. Maybe he was coming out too strong. He decided to dial it back in.
Taking Mikaela's hand, he ushered her to the nearest food court, where they had a quick snack before heading off to the movies. But Justin had no idea that someone was about to foil his plan.
A Simple Plan
Movie time with Mikaela was heavenly. She showed her pop-culture prowess as she analyzed scenes with Justin – a testament to how cool she was. At the movie's end, Justin pulled her to the arcade, where he'd meant to show her some of his favorite childhood games.
The plan had been simple. Justin was to spend this night, possibly the weekend, showing Mikaela how awesome he could be. He wanted her to experience him out of school, wanted to treat her like the queen she was. But out of nowhere, he spied someone that had him grinding his teeth.
Mikaela had seen him, too, because she shouted his name the moment they walked into the arcade. Ben turned around and, seeing her, came sprinting. His hug was tighter than Justin's, more affectionate. "What are you guys doing here?" he asked, and before Justin could talk, he invited him and Mikaela to a game of Space Invaders.
"Space Invaders!" Mikaela's mouth fell open, and she turned to Justin. "We used to play that in New York all the time! I always won, of course." But Justin wasn't amused.
He spent the next hour listening to Mikaela and Ben relieve more of their childhood memories. Listening to them reminisce on their good times made his body heat up. He felt sick to his stomach when Ben mentioned how they almost dated, telling Mikaela that he always thought he would end up with her.
Justin got up a second later, desperate to get out of the conversation. When Mikaela asked him what was wrong, he told her that he wasn't feeling well.
Mikaela could tell that something was wrong. That night, when Justin got home from the mall, he dropped his jacket on the floor and sat on his bed, sighing heavily. He’d really wished tonight would have ended differently.
It was going well until Ben showed up, talking about Space Invaders and high scores. “It’s official,” said Justin. “I hate Space Invaders.” His phone buzzed from within his pocket, and when he pulled it out, her name appeared on his screen. Hitting the green button, he lifted his phone to his ear, “Hello?”
“Hey,” She greeted gently, “I just wanted to see if you were feeling okay.” He smiled sadly. She was such a wonderful individual, and Ben was the only other person at their school who saw how awesome she really was.
“Yeah, I’m okay. I’m feeling a little better than before,” he breathed into his phone. Once she was sure that he was feeling fine, she revealed that there was another reason why she had called him.
The Other Reason
“So, Ben asked me to homecoming tonight. He wants it to be like a date,” She said nervously, and Justin’s stomach dropped. “Oh,” he responded. He’d planned to remind her at the end of their date that he was happy she was going with him. “And what did you tell him?” He tried not to make his disappointment too obvious.
“I haven’t given him an answer yet, I wanted to make sure that you were okay with it first. I agreed to go with you, but I do really like him,” She revealed, which broke Justin’s heart.
It was then that a realization hit Justin. He’d started treating Mikaela as some prize to be won and not an actual person. He pinched the bridge of his nose, hating himself for how badly he must have behaved with her and Ben.
But the damage was already done, and he was sure Ben was privy to his designs. Would he tell Mikaela what Justin was doing with her at the mall?
Justin cared about Mikaela, and he didn’t want to stand in her way. She deserved to go to homecoming with the boy she truly liked. Swallowing the bile that had crept up his throat, he responded.
“Of course, it’s cool if you go with him. I’ll just be glad to see you there,” He did his best to suppress his sadness. He’d seen just how much Ben meant to her. The boy had won without even lifting a finger. Justin could hear the smile in Mikaela’s voice as she thanked him repeatedly. As long as she was happy, he would learn to deal with it.
The Big Day
Before they knew it, the day had come. Justin looked extremely handsome in his navy blue suit as he stood with his football friends. They were all standing around, drinking some fruit punch as they waited for the big moment.
From where he was standing, he could see Mikaela. She looked gorgeous, which pained him even more. Her fingers were laced with Ben’s, and they looked really happy together. Before too long, the moment they had all been waiting for finally arrived. As soon as they announced Justin as homecoming king, he grinned widely, making his way over to the small stage.
His entire grade stood before him, cheering and chanting his name. But he knew that if he won prom king, it meant that Mikaela won prom queen. He looked down at his peers before him. They were all dressed up in their suits and gowns, but his eyes were searching for a specific face.
When they finally landed on Mikaela, his smile faltered. She also knew what this meant, and now, she was filled with regret. She liked Ben, and she didn’t want this situation to compromise their blossoming relationship. Besides that, she was horrified at the idea of standing before a sea of students who disliked her.
An Uncomfortable Situation
Tears streamed down her face as she clung to her date’s arm. Suddenly, she was feeling extremely anxious. Mikaela glanced up at Justin for just a second, her eyes filled with sadness before they fell to the floor.
He couldn’t help the uneasy feeling that was slowly burning in the pit of his stomach. He knew that he had to do something about this, but it was too late.
One Thing To Do
“A round of applause for your homecoming queen,” the announcer said excitedly before calling her name. She covered his face with her hands as he watched from afar. He knew that he’d made a massive mistake, but what would his friends think?
He raised his hands, adjusting the crown on his head as he thought about the situation. There was only one thing he could do to make this right.
As she was about to walk away, he hopped off the stage and approached Mikaela and Ben. The entire room fell silent. No one knew what was going on. What had gotten into him? He removed the crown from his head and walked up to Ben.
“You should take this. I think the two of you would make a much better king and queen,” he smiled sadly before turning to Mikaela. “Now go on, go get your crown, we’re all dying to see the king and queen up there.” A smile spread across her face. She couldn’t believe how sweet he was. After homecoming, Mikaela and Justin remained friends while she began dating Ben. Everyone at school learned to love her just as much as Justin did. Eventually, he moved on, but he was still grateful to have such an amazing friend in his life.