49 – Dress Rehearsal

An Excerpt from The Captain & the Queen

Our last night of rehearsals flew by. Before starting, Aaron gave us all a speech. He called everyone together—the stagehands, Corrine, Kevin in the booth—to take a seat.

“Okay, guys, this is it. Our last rehearsal. So, if you’re going to mess up, fall, or break something, do it tonight.”

Everyone laughed, grateful for the lightening of the mood.

“I want to thank all of you for your hard work. Listen, Shakespeare isn’t easy. And I know this is going to be the first time for some of you on stage. I want to assure all of you . . . you’re ready for this. You put in the work. Tomorrow evening, Saturday afternoon, and Saturday night will be a stroll in Central Park.”

A stroll in Central Park, huh? I just hope I don’t get mugged.

“For our three performances, I want you to leave it all on the stage. Do you know what I mean by that?” he asked. “I see by the look on your faces, that some of you have no idea what I’m talking about. Puck, you play football. Can you please explain it to everyone?”

Nothing like putting me on the spot, Aaron.

“Well, if you’re talking about leaving it all on the field, then you want us to ‘bring it.’ Take everything we’ve learned in practice and deliver it during our performance.”

“Exactly. I want you to bring it! I want everyone involved in this production to bring it, so that when we finish our final performance, we have nothing left to give. Because we’d left it all on stage.”

Nods all around.

“Okay, now, let’s get to work. I want to run through this twice tonight. No stopping. Even if you’re bleeding or dying on stage, we’re not going to stop. Understood?”

So much for lightening the mood.

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Chapter 35 – Who Are You?

Excerpt from The Captain & the Queen by Phillip Vega

As we settled in, I broached the elephant in the room. I had to know the
“So, um, Callie?”
“Yes?” she replied, flirtatiously raising her shapely eyebrow.
“Okay, now stop that.” I wagged my index finger at her, which she reached out for and . . . honked.
Honk! Stop what?” she asked.
She then ran her foot up my leg, causing me to jump in my seat, and her
to laugh.
“Okay, okay. You got me.”
She giggled wickedly, causing some stares from the nearby patrons.
Nothing to see over here . . . nothing to see.
“Anyway, so . . . uh, about last night at the diner. And before that, at school with your dad. What was that all about?” I asked. “Who are you?”
“Your girlfriend.”
She smiled and then looked outside the windows for a moment, as if she were collecting her thoughts. She wasn’t quite squirming in her seat but was clearly a bit uncomfortable.
“Hey, hey, it’s me. You can tell me anything. You know that, right?” I
“Yeah, yeah, I know. It’s just—”
“It’s just what? You said you’d explained everything today.”
“It’s a long story.”
“Are you, like, a princess or something?”
She’d just taken a sip of her drink and, when I’d asked the question, she
did a spit-take, showering my face with her Seabreeze.

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Let’s Go Mets

The gods must have heard Dad’s comment—and all of our prayers, as Vin
Scully gave us the play by play:
“So, the winning run is at second base, with two outs, three and two to
Mookie Wilson. A little roller up along first . . . behind the bag! It gets through Buckner! Here comes Knight, and the Mets win it!”
The stadium exploded with cheers, and you could feel any hope Boston
had of removing “the curse of the great Bambino” wither away on a vine.
Our family room exploded with cheers as well. Spencer sprayed everyone
in his immediate area with beer, as Callie and I jumped up and down into each other’s arms, shouting and yelling.
In his excitement, Dad grabbed my mom and planted one right on her lips! I shrugged my shoulders and did the same with Callie.
Matt turned and smooched Gill.
However, when Spencer tried to plant one on hot Kate, she stretched out
her arms and held him at bay.
Poor Spence. I guess we can add another victim to the pile. Kate’s hotness strikes again. Well, she did say he was just a friend.

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Chapter 26 – Raking Leaves

“Yeah, it’s not like it’ll take us that long to fix it,” Callie said. “Besides,
it looked like fun.”
Callie then dropped her rake, turned around, and fell backward into what
was left of the pile.
Another explosion of oranges, yellows, reds, and browns hit the air. Callie
lay amongst the scattered leaves, giggling like one of the frac-brats.
“Oh, Perfect! That’s just perfect!” Matt scoffed as he threw his hands in
the air.
Not to be outdone, Gill followed Callie’s lead, finding her own pile of
leaves not too far away.
While the girls laughed and started making leaf angels, Matt and I stood
over them—me smiling, shaking my head, and laughing to myself, and
grumpy Matt mumbling to himself.
Lighten up, dude. They’re just having fun!
As Callie looked up at me with her beautiful smile, the world around us seemed to melt away. Suddenly, I was very turned on. All the colors mixed
with her beauty and playfulness . . .
What are you waiting for, idiot?
I dropped my rake and leapt in next to her.

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My Favorite Flavor

The Captain and The Queen

“Hey, Captain?” she whispered.
“You know you can call me by my first name, right?”
“I know, but I like calling you Captain. Don’t you like it?”
Sweetheart, you would call me Shithead, and I wouldn’ t complain.
“No, not at all. I mean, no . . . it’s fine. I like it.”
Hopefully, one day soon, I won’t be so tongue-tied around her.
“Okay, good.” She sighed and snuggled closer. “Thanks for showing me around.”


“And for not, you know . . . pushing me,” she said. “You’re very sweet.” She leaned in and kissed me softly on my cheek.

Feeling her lips against my cheek, ignited every nerve-ending in my body. “It’s okay,” I whispered. “I’m not that type of guy. You know, the kind who pushes.”

She pulled back and stared up at me with her dazzling blues. “Oh, really? What type of guy are you?” Her tone was flirtatious.

“I, uh . . .”

The way she looked up at me with her electric-blue eyes, shapely arched brows, and flirtatious smile damn near blew me off the bench.

“You, uh . . .”

And just like that, she leaned in closer, smiled, tilted her head slightly, and planted those pillowy lips onto mine.

Kissing her felt like I was caressing a velvet mitten or something. Her lips were full, rich, silky soft, and smooth, with a hint of Raspberry Snapple Iced Tea.

I knew it was my favorite flavor for a reason.

She was…magnetic

The headmaster’s words continued to haunt me. I couldn’t help but feel like he’d been talking directly to me. I couldn’t let go of the idea that there was something more for me to do than what was already on my roadmap.

After practice, instead of grabbing a ride home with Matt, I took the bus. I needed time to think. I greeted the bus driver, who gave me her usual kind smile, and hopped up the steps, found a seat, and settled in. My head pressed against the cushiony back of the bus seat, while my eyes gazed at the parking lot.

That’s when I spotted Callie. She was alone, coming out of the auditorium with a book in her hands. Man, she was beautiful. She was . . . magnetic and didn’t even know it.

A Vulnerable Elegance

The Captain and The Queen

As we walked toward the gym, I couldn’t stop looking back at this beautiful girl.

Designer suitcase in hand, she wore a navy-blue overcoat over a pleated blue-plaid skirt, crisp white shirt, white headband, white socks, and shiny black patent-leather shoes. She looked like a prep-school poster child.

There was a vulnerable elegance about her. She must have felt me staring, because she turned and looked right at me. She arched a shapely eyebrow and smiled. It was subtle. One of those beneath-the-lashes smiles, with a slight upturn of the sides of her mouth.

At that moment, my heart melted. I literally gasped for breath.

Then, a man, who I assumed to be her father, pulled up beside her. He followed her gaze and was not happy to see me standing at the end of it.

“Calista! This way. Come!” he barked.

She frowned immediately, faced the building, and followed the man inside.

“Calista,” I whispered with a smile.

I had her first name. And a smile. That’ s a helluva start.