Ariana Flores and Benjamin Suzuki have been rivals since childhood. Determined to one up the other in whatever means, they butt heads frequently, at the mirth and delight of their family and friends.
However, they're forced to put aside their differences as Ari's sister and Ben's best friend finally decide to tie the knot. Will they be able to play nice or will their conflict finally set them off?
"Its Always Been You" is a slowburn NA romance. I had a lot of fun writing this and I hope you enjoy. Feel free to leave comments and reviews, especially if you see my Spanish needs correcting (my grammar is horrendous). Thanks a bunch!
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
Ariana held her phone to her ear. “I just got to school,” she told her sister, Cristina, who she could hear shuffling around on the line. “I have to go to the office first and get some details sorted out.”
“Have renovations started?” Cristina asked.
“Yes.” Ariana strained to hear the bustle of construction. “They started tearing the building down when school let out in May. It was totally condemned. The district decided to just rebuild it.”
She neared the administration building. “I have to use a different room this year. I’m going to miss my classroom.”
Cristina laughed. “It’s better than getting rained on, right? Maybe your new room will have windows?”
“Windows? What are those?”
They both laughed.
Ariana muttered a quick, “hold on”, and entered the main office. She was immediately greeted by Mrs. Rodriguez, the primary secretary.
“Good morning, Ariana.” Mrs. Rodriguez stood from her desk and walked over to the counter. “I have your room assignment here.”
Ariana stepped up to the counter.
Mrs. Rodriguez pushed a slip of paper toward her. “Oh! And I have the faculty meetings for August & September all scheduled and I’ve printed off calendars.” She scampered to the end of the counter and brought back a sheet. “If there are any changes, I’ll send an email.”
“Thanks, Mrs. Rodriguez.”
Mrs. Rodriguez studied her room assignment. “Looks like you won’t be moving far.”
Ariana peeked at her new room number and tried not to groan out loud. “Nope. That’s a relief.”
Mrs. Rodriguez smiled, oblivious to Ariana’s dismay. “The door should be open. You’ll get your room key in a few days, hopefully.”
“Thanks.” Ariana took her papers and left the office, walking in the direction of her new classroom.
She brought her phone back to her hear. “Surprise, surprise. No windows.”
“Awe, boo!” Cristina whined.
“It gets worse.”
“What is it?”
“My room is in the English building.” Ariana walked toward the facade of her new home for the next year.
“What’s so bad about that?”
“My enemy might be lurking in those halls.”
Cristina let out a loud laugh. “Oh, Ari. Honestly.”
Ariana met the hard brick exterior with a scowl and entered through the west doors. Her feet tapped lightly against the linoleum floors and she let out a sigh of relief when the cool air hit her. She let the door close behind her and remember her sister was still on the phone.
“Marco took Santi to the Children’s Museum,” Cristina spoke. “Mom has Daniela for the morning, while I get the food and cupcakes ready.”
Straight ahead of the doors, across the lobby, was the double doors to the Media Center. Ariana cast a glance to her left. The north wing was lit. She turned to her right and entered the southern wing, where her classroom was. She passed, one, two, three, and then stopped at the fourth door. She tested the handle and the door opened with ease. She pushed it all the way open.
“It’s a nice room,” she said into her phone, although, she wasn’t too sure if her sister was paying attention anymore. She turned on the lights and marveled at the space. “Wow, it’s big.”
“Really? Are you gonna start decorating today? Lemme go on Pinterest.”
Ariana laughed. “Don’t get ahead of yourself.”
She gazed around the room, starting to picture how she wanted to place the students’ desks and her own desk and-
“Flores? You’re my new hallmate?”
She stiffened and turned her body slowly.
There, standing right in front of her was Benjamin Suzuki, her sworn enemy and long-time competitor.
Ariana plopped down on the floor in front of her sister's couch, her laptop was open on the couch before her. She opened her internet browser and went on Pinterest.
Cristina was still working in the kitchen, making her son's favorite food for his birthday. "What did you do?"
"I yelled and slammed the door in his face." Ariana stared at the laptop screen and began skimming over the pins.
"You yelled? Was there anyone around?"
"I don't know." Ariana scrolled through before typing in the search bar, 'high school history classroom decorating'.
Cristina laughed. "When are you going to get over that silly grudge you have with him?"
"Why should I?" Ariana grumbled at her laptop screen.
"You're 24. You're both adults," Cristina reasoned, sliding a tray of unbaked cupcakes into the oven.
"Nah. Besides, it keeps me motivated."
Cristina sighed. "Well, I guess this might be a bad time to mention that he's coming over tonight."
"What? Why are you trying to ruin my life?"
# # #
Ariana stood in the kitchen, icing the cooled cupcakes.
Marco and her nephew, Santiago, had returned from their boys day out at the children's museum. Santiago was currently taking a nap in his room. Marco walked into the kitchen, a towel was wrapped around his neck.
"Hey, sis." He peeked around her shoulder. "You've gotten better at that. You can't beat the pro, though." He pointed his thumb to his chest.
"I will one of these days."
Marco opened the refrigerator and grabbed a soda, opening it with a loud pop. "Ben is coming over tonight."
Ariana rolled her eyes. "I know."
She scoffed. "Why is everyone telling me to be nice?"
Marco grinned. "Because you forget. Besides, I don't want you scaring him off. There's some stuff I want to talk to him about."
"Ooh, boy stuff?"
He grinned. "Not exactly."
# # #
The front door opened with commotion.
"Daniela, camina por favor." Cristina followed behind her four-year old, who had run ahead of her.
"Tia, look, I made all these pictures con tu abuelita."
Ariana stood from her comfy spot on the sofa and met up with her sister and niece in the kitchen. Her mother walked in behind her.
"Oh, Ma, you scared me." She placed a kiss on her mom's cheek and helped her carry the food into the kitchen.
Unlike Ariana, Cristina had inherited their mom's dark curly hair, that fell in waves over her shoulders. Their mom, Alicia, took to wearing her hair in a short hairdo. More manageable, she had said.
"Where's Marco?" Cristina asked, eyeing the frosted cupcakes.
"He fell asleep on the couch. I think Santi wore him out."
Cristina laughed. She walked into the living room to wake him up.
Alicia looked around, her eyes landing back on Ariana. "Where's Liam?"
Ariana shifted on her feet at the sound of her boyfriend's name. "He's had a long day. He said he'll try to come by."
Alicia frowned. "I haven't seen him in so long, I think I've forgotten what he looks like." She shrugged and walked further into the kitchen.
Daniela patted up to her tia. "I drew this one for you."
Ariana took hold of her niece's latest creation. It was a crayon version of herself, riding a chestnut colored horse. "Thank you so much, Daniela."
The little girl smiled. "Will you play with me?"
Ariana hesitated. She really didn't feel like playing. She just wanted to go back to the movie, but she relented. "Sure."
Daniela led Ariana into the living room and sat down on the floor near her toys, her hair falling before her face. Daniela and Santiago both had their dad's straight dark brown hair.
And so, Ariana was soon the princess-leader who was in charge of two ponies, a fighter pilot, and astronaut Barbie - leading them in their mission to protect the world.
After receiving birthday kisses from grandma, Santiago joined Ariana and Daniela with his red Voltron lion, ready to assist in saving the world.
"Ariana, get the door please."
Ariana stumbled over her makeshift base and skipped over to the door. She opened it wide, expecting her dad, but grimaced at the sight before her.
"Hey, Flores," Ben grinned.
"Ariana, don't be rude," her sister's voice traveled from the kitchen.
She held the door open and let him through.
"Ben!" Santiago shot up from his place in the the living room and jumped onto Ben's frame, almost knocking him over.
"Happy Birthday, Santiago."
"Ben!" Daniela followed her brother and hugged them both.
Ariana closed the door and tried not to groan out loud.
"Ariana!" Her mother called.
She escaped the living room and joined her mom and sister in the kitchen. "Your dad will be here soon and then we'll have dinner."
"Okay. Did you need something?" Ariana looked over her shoulder.
Cristina shook her head. "No, we wanted you to get out of there before you bit his head off."
"I won't," Ariana whined.
Cristina smirked at her and left the room to greet her old friend.
Ariana could hear them talking and laughing from the kitchen. She leaned on the counter and watched her mom put the finishing touches on dinner. "Will I ever be able to cook as well as you?"
Her mom sighed. "With lots of practice and patience. Don't forget I have more than twenty years on you. I've had a lot of time to practice."
Ariana smiled to herself.
A booming voice erupted in the house, followed by squeals from two small children.
"Your dad is here."
They piled into the dining room. "Hey, dad." Ariana greeted her father with an easy peck on the cheek.
"Hola, m'ija." He squeezed her shoulder and walked past her to greet her mom.
Marco and Ben walked into the dining room, carrying some extra chairs.
"Ben, it's so good to see you. It's been awhile," her mom patted him on the shoulder.
"It's good to see you too, Mrs. Flores."
"How's your mom and grandma?"
"They're doing well, thank you."
"Alright, everyone sit down so we can eat," Alicia called.
"Ben, will you sit next to me please," Santiago dragged Ben to a chair.
The rest of her family began filling in the chairs. Her father sat down at one end.
"Ariana, come help us with the dishes."
Ariana helped her mother and sister bring the food and dishes to the table. Her mom began serving her father and was soon going to work serving Daniela, when her eyes caught Ariana's.
"Hacer un plato para Ben, por favor."
Ariana grimaced. "Ma-"
Her mom looked at her. "Ariana."
She sighed and began filling a plate with rice, two enchiladas, and fried beans.
She trudged over to where Ben was sitting and placed the plate down before him.
"The food looks delicious," he said, glancing briefly at Ariana. "Did you make this, Flores?"
"No," she grumbled.
He snorted. "Didn't think so. Ow!"
She walked away, leaving him to rub a pinched spot on his arm.
Finally, everyone was served and ready to eat. Cristina sat down beside Daniela and her mom sat down in the chair closest to her dad, leaving Ariana to sit down across from Ben.
She narrowed her eyes at him and he grinned back.