Making a Play, Page 2Abbi Glines
Hunter stopped at the front desk in the office, and the lady behind it looked from him to me and smiled before looking back at Hunter.
“Yes. I have her schedule here. Her locker is three-thirty-three. I made sure it was close to yours. If you need anything or Aurora needs anything, do not hesitate to come see me. We are here to help.” I read her lips easily, and I got the feeling she was talking loudly by the wide expressions she was making with her eyes. Hunter’s back had straightened some when she started speaking too, as if he was surprised. That normally meant someone was yelling for my benefit. Not that it helped me at all. It was human nature.
Hunter said something, then turned to me and rolled his eyes as he held up the paper in his hand. I had guessed correctly She’d been talking very loud. I glanced around the office to see the other three students in there staring in our direction. However, they weren’t studying me. All three were female, and all three were looking at Hunter with obvious longing. I bit back a smile and shot an amused glance his way. He was reading my schedule, completely oblivious to the hearts he was breaking in his uninterested response.
We had just stepped out of the office when a very angry female stopped in front of us. Her eyes were blazing, her hands on her hips. Skin showing where her shirt didn’t quite meet the top of her very short skirt. Could girls come to school dressed like this? Her glare was directed at me as her red lips lifted in a snarl. There was an evil in her eyes. A cold bitterness was there too. She wasn’t a nice person, but she had some pain hidden underneath.
“Who the FUCK is she?” the girl demanded. Her words easy to read.
If this was the girl Hunter was dating, then he had his hands full. She was one hot minute away from crazy.
Not Today, Momma, Not, Today
Another fucking Monday. Everyone rushing inside before the last bell, white girls with their Starbucks coffee cups in hand taking selfies with each other outside, and Blakely yelling at someone just inside the entrance.
I didn’t even give that a second look, because my guess was that Hunter was getting his balls handed to him for his escape Friday night. Blakely had come back, gotten drunk, and passed out, and Asa had hauled her ass home, carrying her over his shoulder. She puked on his feet. I missed it all, but that was the recap I’d got from Nash. Asa was a nice guy, but he loved his Chevy truck. He’d had to pay for half of it. His dad was tough. So after she puked on his feet and her clothing, she was put in the bed of his truck for the ride home. That shit made me laugh.
Nova had been more than happy to take things to the old barn at the back of our property. But I didn’t let it go as far as she was willing. Something didn’t seem right. She was too desperate. Too willing to get naked with a guy she barely knew. It had been hard, but after some playing around, I’d told her to get dressed and then offered to take her home. She’d been a little pissed and told me she had her own car and didn’t need a man to drive her.
I sat there on the old tractor tire long after she’d walked out. She had a body, and I was attracted to her, but I was attracted to most girls with hot bodies. Sleeping with them because it was easy didn’t seem to bother me before. With Nova, something was odd. I didn’t feel comfortable with her level of neediness. Or willingness. I doubted I’d grown morals suddenly, but I had stopped things.
My eyes scanned the area for Nova. I wanted to see her again and make sure it hadn’t been the beer that messed with my head. There was still time to save the situation. My momma swore she was gonna raise a gentleman, but I had a few more parties and panties to get into before that happened. Not today, Momma. Not. Today.
The late bell sounded, and those not yet moving toward the hallways broke into runs while Principal Haswell’s voice called out loudly, “No running!”
Everyone’s pace turned into a fast walk, and I sighed, not worrying about being late for class. I’d rather find Nova and see if my moment of chivalry, or whatever the hell it had been, was the end to a chance with her.
“Blakely, get to class. Now.” Haswell’s voice carried, and I had to turn to see what had happened with that clusterfuck. Hunter was going to figure out she was poison sooner or later. From his sprinting off Friday night, I was assuming it was sooner.
The amused grin that had started to spread on my face froze, and I stopped walking. My eyes were locked on someone else’s. I’d never seen green like that before. I wasn’t sure there was an adequate description for that color green. But Jesus they were piercing. Like they could read your soul. Then she blinked, and it broke the spell. Startled by my odd reaction, I took in the rest of the person that came with those eyes. Pink lips that looked almost heart shaped from here, a small nose, high cheekbones, creamy pale skin with freckles—and for some reason that made me smile. I liked the freckles. A long strand of hair . . . it wasn’t just red but more copper in color . . . curled against her bare arms.
She was like a perfect pixie standing there . . . beside Hunter fucking Maclay? I tore my eyes off her and took in the rest of the scene. Blakely was calmed down now, and Hunter was talking to her with a disgusted scowl on his face. I wasn’t concerned with them, but the redhead had my interest. I looked back at her and saw she was no longer looking at me but watching Hunter speak, as if every word out of his mouth was golden.
If that was why he’d bailed on Blakely, I was either going to high-five him or toss him in a closet to get him away from her. She was new, and it wasn’t fair he had laid a claim on her before anyone else had even got a look at her. I was more than positive that if I got her alone in a barn, I wouldn’t be sending her home.
Hunter took her arm and walked around Blakely. “I need to get her to class. We’ll talk later,” he said loud enough that I heard him. He was leading the new girl around Blakely, who now seemed to be panicking a bit and flashing a fake smile at the girl. What the fuck was going on with all that?
The girl was studying Blakely as if she felt sorry for her. Genuinely sorry. Not a pity glance. My stomach tightened. My chest felt weird. But something about that girl was affecting me. I didn’t care that Hunter’s hand was on her in a rather protective way. He needed to be ready for some competition. She was having to hurry to keep up with Hunter, and I didn’t like the way he was pulling her along like a child. That annoyed me.
I began moving in their direction, without thinking about what I was going to do or say, when she turned those eyes toward me again. Jesus Christ, it was like a boulder slammed into me. I was frozen again. Staring at her. Just when I was about to question my sanity, she smiled. Straight white teeth. As perfect as the rest of her. The purity of that smile was in her eyes. Nothing was there clouding it. Making you wonder what she was thinking or up to. It was the most real thing I’d ever experienced in my life.
Hunter’s gaze swung to me. He still looked annoyed and very focused. But he nodded his head. “Hey, Ryker” was all he said, not stopping. Her gaze was back on him now. She was staring up at him. She only came to his shoulders.
“You have Literature first. But it’s okay that you’re late. I will explain. It’s a substitute anyway. They fired the Lit teacher a couple weeks ago,” he said to her.
She frowned, looking confused, and then fell into a quicker pace beside him. Just before they turned the corner, she glanced back over her shoulder at me and gave me one more smile.
Holy fuck. How did she do that? It was like a bolt of lightning in my chest, and I wanted more of it.
A locker door slammed, snapping me out of my sudden haze. Blakely stalked passed me without a word, thank God. The hallway was empty now, and I was going to be late to class. I wasn’t in the mood for people yet anyway. I turned and headed back to the office. Mrs. Murphy would give me a late pass, fuss at me a moment; it would kill some time.
When I reached the office door, the ancient metal box fan was blowing, Mrs. Murphy was making announcements, and it smelled like coffee and fall candles. Halloween decorations h
ad been replaced with Give Thanks and Harvest instead. It was like someone had robbed the Dollar Store holiday section.
I waited as she finished her spiel with a “GO LIONS!” then turned to me and sighed. “Ryker, why can’t you get yourself to class on Mondays?”
I smirked at her. “Because it just wouldn’t start my week right without seeing your beautiful smile, Mrs. Murphy.”
She beamed at me, and her weathered cheeks blushed. She’d been here when my parents had gone to high school. I wondered if she loved it here as much as she acted like it. I figure at her age you can’t fake that kind of joy.
“Charismatic, like your daddy, for sure,” she said, shaking her head and writing out a late slip for me. “Get on to class. You’re missing good learning time.”
I wasn’t missing anything. It took a good twenty minutes before any first-period teacher even woke up enough to get going. They’d let us sit there on our phones while they drank coffee and pretended to be working on something. When we all knew they were on Facebook.
I stopped just before I left the office and turned back to Mrs. Murphy. “Who is the new girl?” I asked her. I needed a name. Something.
She smiled so softly and gently, as if the reminder of the girl made her happy. Interesting. Maybe she was a witch with powers to entrance. “Aurora Maclay. Hunter’s twin sister. Sweet, sweet girl.”
My cheeks should have cracked from the grin that spread over my face. It was his sister. Halle-fuckin’-lujah.
He’s Not Always . . . Nice
“Ryker Lee. He’s on the team, wide receiver, best one we have, but don’t even think about it,” Hunter said firmly as we reached the door to the class I was about to enter. He said I had his schedule, which I think relieved and concerned him.
“I didn’t ask you,” I said, using my voice since we were alone in the hallway now.
“I saw you looking back at him. He’s with a new girl all the time. You are not his type. He likes easy girls. Besides, you’re still with Denver, right?”
I nodded. For now.
“He was looking at me,” I said in my defense.
“All guys look at you. That’s part of my stress,” he said, then reached for the door.
“They won’t once they know.” I said the words before thinking about it.
Hunter tensed. He hated it when I said things like that. “If it matters, they aren’t worthy.” He didn’t say any more. I knew the rest. He’d said it all a million times.
He walked into the room, then held the door open for me to follow. I went in and didn’t make eye contact with anyone else. I tended to stare too long. Eyes intrigued me. Understanding people always drew me in.
I watched as Hunter spoke to the substitute teacher. I wondered why the Literature teacher had been fired. The substitute smiled at me and said something to the class. Hunter nodded his head for me to follow him. He took us to the far right of the room, and I sat down in front of him when he pointed at it.
I pulled out my laptop and placed it on the desk like the other students in the room. Hunter tapped my shoulder, then held up his phone. I took mine from my pocket, and his text popped up with a website for me to log in to. A piece of paper slipped over my shoulder, and on it was the login info for me with my student ID and a password.
I followed the instructions, not looking up to see what the rest of the class was doing. My phone vibrated, and I looked down at it to see another text from Hunter.
She’s talking. I told her you could read lips if she kept her face visible to you and didn’t talk too fast.
I jerked my gaze up to see the teacher in the front, looking directly at me as she spoke. I caught most words and wrote notes if I needed to remember to ask Hunter about something later when I was unsure. The class was currently covering Society and Solitude by Ralph Waldo Emerson. I’d already read this and studied it at my former school. I let out a little sigh of relief. I wasn’t going to be behind in here.
She asked questions, and none of them were challenging. At least not in my opinion. But then she was a substitute. I doubted she had read the book. Others were raising their hands and answering, although I wasn’t going to stare at them to see what their answers were. I would just watch the teacher’s response. This was my favorite subject, and I loved Emerson. Not being able to say anything and discuss it in class was going to be tough, but if this was the hardest thing I faced, it would be fine. Until they got a new Literature teacher, the class discussions wouldn’t be helpful anyway.
Is this going to work? Can you follow along okay?
The text from Hunter caught my attention. But the teacher was talking about the perspective, and I didn’t want to miss this. She had an iPad in front of her she was reading off, and she kept forgetting to look up for my sake. I had to focus hard on her mouth or what I could see of it. I didn’t respond to Hunter’s text, I just nodded my head for him and kept studying the teacher’s mouth the best that I could. When she got too distracted, I couldn’t follow along, because she talked fast. But she’d see me and remember and slow down. They were letting me try it this way for now. It was going to take that long to get the computer program the county supplied into their system for hearing-impaired students. That was the information Dad had texted me this morning after he had come here and talked to the office.
I was the first one this school had since the new laptop system had been put in place. Dad had looked for a hearing-impaired school within driving distance, but so far he’d had no luck. The closest was two hours away. He had spent most of his weekend on the internet and the phone, trying to figure out how to handle my being here.
Dad had said in his text that they had told him the computer program hadn’t been successful with all students who had used it. I was going to prove to them all I could and would do this. I had a little over a year and a half left. It would take extra work, but I could manage. Besides, the real world wasn’t going to be as accommodating.
The next seventy minutes went quickly as I struggled to make out what the substitute was saying. When everyone stood up, I closed my laptop and stood up too. Hunter was tucking his laptop in his backpack, watching me closely. “You good?” he asked.
I nodded and smiled.
He seemed tense still. Like he didn’t believe me. “Let’s go,” he said, then took my laptop and stuck it in my bag, and we headed for the door.
The moment he stepped out the door, the girl Hunter was dating was there. I stepped back, a little frightened of her. She was in his face again, and he was trying to get around her. I backed up to give him room and noticed others were watching and listening. Hunter hated this kind of thing. I was going to find out how he had gotten hooked up with her this evening. Had he not smelled the crazy on her?
Hunter’s angry expression swung to someone behind me. “She’s my sister, Rifle. Back off.” I spun around to see a very broad-shouldered guy with curly dark blond hair and brown eyes looking at Hunter then back at me. I hadn’t realized anyone was behind me.
He seemed friendly. “Didn’t know you had a sister,” the guy said.
Hunter responded, because the guy’s gaze shifted to him. He held up both hands and said, “Chill, man.”
This wasn’t helping me fit in. I gave Rifle—whose name I would have questioned, but I could read my brother’s lips too well; I knew without a doubt he’d called the guy Rifle—a small apologetic smile, then turned to Hunter and scowled at him. If we were alone, I’d let him have it.
He returned my scowl and said something to Blakely, who was still there; then he took my arm and pulled me through the crowd. I was getting a little tired of the leading-me-around thing. I wasn’t a child. He knew I didn’t like being treated differently, yet he was doing it. I was trying to understand that he was having a hard time with this too. But I was going to have to lay some ground rules. I waited until we rounded the corner before jerking my arm from his grip. He stopped and turned to me.
“What?” he asked, confused.
I held up my arm he’d been hauling me around by and shot him a pointed look.
His shoulders dropped, and he pinched his temple the way he did when he was frustrated. When his hand fell away, he said, “I’m sorry.”
I nodded. He should be. I wanted to tell him to go. Let me do this alone. I wasn’t here to be a burden on him. I hated the idea of that.
Tallulah appeared to his left and smiled at me.
“Can I have her schedule?” she asked Hunter, keeping her face turned toward me so I could read her lips.
He frowned. “Why?”
“Because you two look stressed. I think she needs a little space, and you need to relax.”
I couldn’t agree more, and I was so thankful for this angelic-looking person.
“We have almost every class together. I can take her,” he argued.
I started to say something, without thinking about using my voice, when Tallulah spoke up. “She doesn’t need her brother taking her around all day. Give me the schedule. And let us get to know each other.”
Naz then appeared beside her and kissed her cheek. His head was turned, and I couldn’t see his lips, but whatever he said, Hunter handed over the schedule with a sigh in response. Tallulah took it, shot Hunter a beaming grin, then kissed Naz quickly on the lips.
“Let’s go,” she said to me. Although I couldn’t hear her, I knew her voice must be chipper and happy. It sure made Naz smile.
She walked beside me down the hallway. I found myself searching for the guy from earlier. I wanted to ask her about Ryker. Maybe I would get a chance later.
Her hand touched my wrist, and she pointed to my right. I looked in the direction she was pointing to see Rifle there, smiling at me again. I turned back to her, and she raised her eyebrows. “Rifle seems happy to see you. Have you met him?” she asked.