So, back to this once upon a time crap. Remember how I told you those stories didn’t exist? Well, if they did, then my fairy tale just found it’s villain.
My villain is a strikingly handsome male with eyes that could probably shoot lasers right about now. His motive is clear as he backs me into the lockers and pins me there. He’s even got a good reason: I was the one to attack first.
“I can’t believe you have the nerve to show your face after what you did this morning!” His voice is low and raspy, sending unwanted goosebumps across my arms.
If I wanted, I know about five maneuvers that could get me out of my current situation, but see as it may, I’m trying to become invisible. I’m doing a terrible job at it so far.
“Cat got your tongue?” He breathes in my face.
Adam is still standing beside me, unblinking and unmoving. Actually, everyone around us is doing the same. I feel like an animal on exhibit at the zoo.
The angry boys’ eyes rake down my form and he instantly seems disgusted by what he sees, “you’re new here, right?”
I barely get myself to nod.
“Let me tell you how the food chain works, dork.” He pokes a finger in my face once again. “You are lowly of the low. You don’t even register. Which means you don’t even get to look at me, got it?” He wipes imaginary dust off the sleeve of my jacket. “Stay out of my way and you won’t get hurt.”
He backs up from me then, and I can finally breathe correctly.
“You smell like smoke.” Are the words that fall from my mouth. I instantly regret them.
“Excuse me?” He snaps. A laugh bubbles from his throat. “You’re dumb aren’t you, dork?”
Yeah, probably. “Sorry, your stench killed a few of my brain cells.”
I expect him to go off on me again, but a small smile cracks across his lips. He looks me over once again. “Hmm.” He hums. “You’ve got some nerve, dork.” We stand there staring at each other for a few more seconds. “See you around.” He turns his back on me and disappears down the hall. Everyone starts moving again, but my name is on everyone’s lips.
“Holy shit, Greer!” Adam snaps back into reality. “Do you have a death wish?”
“Who even was that?” I question.
“That, my new friend, was Kaleb Nixon.” Adam sighs. “He’s the meanest kid in school. Everyone knows not to mess with him. And you just topped his shit list.”
“It was an accident.” I defend myself.
“What did you do to him?” He asks.
I cover my face with a hand and bang my forehead into the metal lockers, “I kind of attacked him at the coffee shop this morning.”
“What do you mean ‘you kind of attacked him’?” Adam is full on yelling now.
“Like, I could’ve broken his wrist.”
“I’m going to start planning your funeral now, do you like lilies or roses better?” He deadpans.
“Shut up, okay? It was an accident! He sneaked up on me!” I defend myself, although it doesn’t sound any better.
“So, you karate chop him!” Adam is freaking out and I’m a little worried that the throbbing vein in his forehead might just pop out of his skin.
“I did not karate chop him, Adam!” I snapped. “I just simply made sure he wasn’t touching me by applying slight pressure to his wrist. Who was I to know he’d want to kill me?”
“Honestly if it was anyone else in the school it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. But Kale gets in trouble for fighting all the time. Just yesterday he punched a freshman for stealing the last pudding cup in the cafeteria!” Adam’s arms were flailing about as he paced in front of me.
Well, I’d be mad about that too.
“Look, you’d be better off dropping out now, changing your name, and moving cross country.” He told me.
I laughed out loud at the irony of his words. I’m pretty sure I can’t change my name from an already fake name to a new fake name.
“I’m not dropping out, alright? I’ll just stay out of the bull’s way and try not to wear any red.” I told him, gathering my books for the first period as the warning bell rang overhead.
“He can smell fear too,” Adam tells me as we walk the halls quickly.
“Then I’ll take an extra shower in the morning.” I tease.
“How can you joke about this, Greer?” Adam sighs. “You just made a mortal enemy.”
“He’s an angsty high school thug, Adam. I can handle Kaleb Nixon.” I reassured him as we crossed the threshold into our English class.
Adam split off from me and took a seat near the front. I stopped to talk to the balding teacher at the board. He smiled at me and pointed to a seat not far from Adam’s. Once the final bell rang, the teacher’s eyes scanned the room for everyone.
“Class, please welcome our new student, Greer Evans.” He pointed me out to the class and I think my cheeks reddened. “Greer, where are you from?”
“Vermont.” I supplied with a tiny smile.
Murmurs filled the class.
“Ah, how nice. I love it up there. Have you been to Cleburne?” The teacher asked.
Considering I’ve never actually been to Vermont, that’s a no. “Can’t say I have, sir.”
The teacher hums, “oh, well, welcome to Arden Prep, Ms. Evans.”
“Thanks.” I nod to him and listen as he lectures on a subject I’m already familiar with.
For the rest of the morning, Adam leads me to all my classes. There’s only two that I don’t have with him, but it’s a small school so he takes me to them easily. It’s lunchtime now and Adam says that he’s thinking of going off campus for lunch. Only juniors and seniors can.
“There’s this great pizza place that a lot of the upper-classmen go to, you up for it?” Adam offers as we walk to our lockers.
“Actually, pizza sounds awesome.” I beam.
“Great, want me to drive?” He watches me grab my wallet from my bag as he dangles his keys in hand.
“I don’t know where I’m going, so sure.” I nod.
We walk out the front doors with a group of people and make our way to the parking lot. Adam leads me to a red pickup truck and even holds open the passenger door for me.
“Thanks,” I say as in step up into the cab.
He shuts the door behind me and goes over to his side. Once he’s behind the wheel and his seat belt is done up, he reeves the engine and powers out of the school. Country music plays softly over the speakers as we go.
“So, don’t you have a girlfriend you’d rather take to lunch?” I question.
“No, none of those.” He supplies.
“Are you a loner, Adam?” I tease.
He shrugs, “I have a few friends, I suppose. But yeah, I guess you could call me a loner.”
“Well, I’m a loner too, so it’s okay.”
“We can be loners together.” He smiles over at me.
I nod and focus on the road before us.
It’s not long before we pull into a crowded parking lot to a pizzeria. I see a few students from Arden Prep strolling inside. Adam parks and we both walk into the restaurant.
“It looks crowded now, but this place is fast,” Adam tells me as we stand in a long line waiting to be seated.
Once the line thins, the hostess leads us to a back two-seater table. She sets our menus before us and then scatters quickly.
“I usually get a personal pizza when I come, the steak hoagie kind,” Adam explains as his eyes rake over the menu. I instantly know what I’m getting and set the menu aside.
I’m playing with my straw wrapper a few minutes later when the hostess sits four people down at the table beside ours. Out of the corner of my eye, I see Arden Prep blazers. I don’t bother to look further since I don’t know anyone at school yet.
“Well, well, well.” Drawls a lazy voice. “Look what the cat dragged in.”
I would know that voice anywhere. I close my eyes for a split second. When I open them, Adam is staring wide-eyed at the table next to ours.
I plaster a smile on my face and turn to look at Kaleb Nixon. He’s seated with three other boys that look just as mean as him. They’re all wearing the appropriate Arden Prep uniform though. One gives me a big smile as he looks me over.
“I’m sorry, do I know you?” I remarked.
“Cute,” Kale said sarcastically. “But no one could forget a face like mine.”
“Sorry, you must not be that important, because I don’t know you.” I turn back to look down at my cold drink I know have clasped in my fingers.
“Then you must have memory issues, sweetie, because I’m hard to forget.” He snaps back.
I tap my chin, “oh, wait, it’s coming back to me. Sorry, some idiot fogged my brain with smoke this morning.”
His jaw clenched, “I don’t smoke.”
“Whatever, hotshot.” I shook my head. I was a hundred percent sure I’d smelt cigarette smoke on his jacket this morning.
There was a moment of silence as all four boys stared at me, the only one I cared about was Kale. His eyes peeled away from mine to look at Adam across from me, “I would have thought you’d warn your new friend, Cornell.”
Adam gulped, “uh- yeah, I did actually.”
Kale’s group of friends laughed.
“Is that so?” Kale mused. “And you chose to ignore him? Despite what happened this morning?”
“I didn’t ignore him, I just don’t care.” I shrug. “Besides, you’re the one that talked to me first this time.”
Actually, all the times I’ve met him he’s been the one to approach me first.
The waitress interrupts us a moment later, setting two personal pan pizzas on the table. No one touches the food just yet. Kaleb is still staring at me along with his group of delinquents.
Kale stands to his feet them and hovers over me. In one fluid motion, he takes a slice of my BBQ chicken pizza and takes a bite of it. I literally have to bite my tongue to keep from yelling at him.
“There’s too many nerds in here.” He smirks as him and his friends walk right out the door. I watch as he finishes off my slice of pizza.
“He stole my food,” I say as I turn back to Adam.
“Seriously, Greer? He basically just threatened you and all you care about is your stupid slice of pizza?” Adam snaps.
“It was BBQ chicken.” I shrug.
No one could ever tell me I didn’t have my priorities straight.