Going Under, Page 4Georgia Cates
With the enemy or not, these girls weren’t like the ones I was used to at my old school. Chicks like these were untouchable for someone like me and I could picture the Barbie incarnate giving me the two finger salute over her forehead in the shape of an L to remind me of my loser status.
When I saw Henderson’s girl in my rearview mirror walking toward my driver’s door, I tossed my cigarette butt out the window and felt an overwhelming need to jack with her. Okay. Maybe I just wanted to talk to her and see her up close to convince myself she wasn’t all that. With perfect timing, I swung my door open to prevent her from passing. This was going to be fun.
We pulled into the parking lot of the school and Payton parked behind the sexy badass’ junked out truck. He was still sitting in his old clunker and I thought I saw a cigarette in his hand, then he confirmed my suspicion when I saw him raise it to his lips for a drag and the tip glowed fiery orange. Gross.
“Why did you have to park behind him?” I huffed as I felt heat rise to my neck and face.
“What’s your deal with him, Claire?” she asked, then looked at me and said, “You’re face is beet red. What is wrong with you? Are you blushing?”
Getting out of the car at the same time meant walking into school next to him and that wouldn’t make Forbes happy. Payton didn’t understand the ruckus this would cause because she didn’t have a boyfriend and it didn’t help matters that she couldn’t stand Forbes. She thought I was weak and trying to please him, but the truth was that I just didn’t feel like hearing Forbes whine anymore.
“I want to avoid the need to explain to Forbes why I’m walking into school with the guy he hates. It will just start an unnecessary argument I don’t want to have first thing this morning. ”
“With the risk of repeating myself, screw Forbes. I’m not parking in the back of the parking lot and walking an extra mile to spare his insecure feelings and if you have to explain that, then you should dump his ass. ”
I knew she was right. I was a poodle jumping through hoops to keep the peace and it was ridiculous in addition to exhausting.
“I’m not arguing how ridiculous it is, but can we at least get ahead of him so I don’t have to explain why we’re walking in together?” I pleaded.
She huffed and said, “This is friggin’ ridiculous, you know that, right? Your life might revolve around what Forbes Henderson wants, but mine doesn’t. ”
When Payton didn’t move fast enough to suit me, I scrambled out of her car, leaving her behind. I watched a cigarette butt fly out of the new guy’s driver’s side window, then his door swung open in front of me, preventing my escape. He stepped out of his truck, looked down at me and grinned as he said, “Pardon me, Princess. I didn’t mean to block your way. ”
His voice was velvety smooth, but I didn’t mistake it’s coolness as his tone conveyed his contempt for me. His unmistakable disdain for me immediately raised my hellcat flag because he had nothing to base his aversion on since he didn’t know me.
This was our first time face to face and up close. The other times I saw him was when I stole a few glances during cheerleading practice over the last two weeks when I was certain Forbes wasn’t watching me.
I realized he was so much more handsome than I originally thought now that his face mask wasn’t obstructing my view. His hair was as black as I expected, and spikey, and his pale blue eyes were piercing. The contrast of their paleness against his dark hair was almost shocking and I had to force myself to avoid becoming lost in them.
I was angry with him for making assumptions about me, but I was more furious with myself for finding him so captivating. I tasted my bitter reaction as it formed on my tongue, but couldn’t stop myself from blurting out, “Asshole. ”
He placed his hand over the left side of his chest where his heart would be and said, “I felt that straight to my heart. ”
I watched him shut his door while he waited for my counterattack and I pushed past him as I said, “Screw you and my name is not Princess. It’s Claire, so if you’re going to insult me, at least have the decency to get my name right. ”
“Hmm, I think I’ll stick with Princess. It seems to suit you better,” he said to my back as I walked away.
I couldn’t be certain flames weren’t coming off the heels of my boots as I practically ran away, but Payton managed to catch up with me and said, “I’m totally disgusted by you, Claire. ”
“And why would that be?” I almost yelled.
“That was one of the best displays of underthinking I’ve ever seen. He bested you and I know I taught you better than that. You basically rolled over. How can I call you my best friend when you caved so easily? And by the way, you’ve got something on your ass. ”
I spun around to look at the back of my dress as I pulled the skirt part around to look and said, “What is it?”
“Hot New Guy’s eyes. ” She died out laughing and said, “Sorry, Claire, but you walked right into that one. ”
I narrowed my eyes and pursed my lips as I said, “Maybe you’re the bigger asshole of the two of you. You should definitely be a couple. ”
“That lacked creativity and it’s insulting to me as your slander master. We have to work on your comebacks because you are seriously letting me down,” she said, then added, “I wish you could see your face right now. Whatever he just did to you has you clueless. You can’t decide if you should be pissed off at him or hot for him. ”
I turned to look at this crazy person I called a bestie standing next to me. “I’m jealous of whatever you are smoking because it has you completely reality challenged. ”
“He got it all wrong when he called you Princess. He should have called you Queen of Denial because you’ll never admit what’s going on here,” she accused.
It was just like Payton to draw a conclusion with no real evidence to support her theory. “I have no idea what kind of nonsense you’re talking about. ”
“I hope he got plenty of rest last night because his legs are gonna be real tired after he runs through your mind all day,” she laughed, making me livid.
I noticed myself stomping as I walked toward the school entrance. “You must have taken your sleeping pill this morning instead of last night because you are definitely dreaming. ”
“When you look back on this moment months from now, don’t forget the one word I’m about to say to you, Claire Deveraux. Foreplay. ”
5 East Franklin’s Sweetheart
I watched Claire walk away, along with the angry sway of her hips in her short floral dress, and I laughed at how well fury suited her. I reluctantly admitted to myself that my hope about her was all wrong. She was all that, plus a whole lot of spunk I didn’t expect.
After looking at her closely, I noticed her hair was more red than brown and it was longer than it looked when it was pulled up into a ponytail at cheerleading practice. I originally thought her eyes were brown, and they were in the center, but the outer edge was green and unlike any I’d seen before. For a second I almost thought they might glow like the Incredible Hulk because she was so angry with me.
She became mad as hell when I called her Princess, so that must mean she has a strong aversion to it. Luckily for me, that meant I had just found the button I’d be pushing every chance I got.
I looked down to see if I had time for another stogy before class. Nope, only six minutes left until I had to be in homeroom. I could have been getting my nicotine fix instead of jacking with the Princess, but it was so worth missing a few drags to yank her chain. Maybe she would run and tell her boyfriend about our verbal showdown so he would start a fight and I’d have an excuse to stomp him in the ground.
Screw it. I lit up so I could get a few drags on the way to class. I’d lie and say I didn’t know East Franklin had a no smoking policy if I got caught by a teacher.
I gave my smoke a flick when I got closer to the school entrance and wondered if I would have any classes with the Princess. I popped a breath mint and saw a dude looking lost while he studied a copy of his class schedule, so I guess I wasn’t the only new student at East Franklin.
I walked toward homeroom thinking about how I was glad I came earlier in the week to set up my schedule with the counselor and locate my classes, even if it was a pain. If nothing else, I avoided looking dumb like this guy as he stumbled around looking for his classes.
I entered Mrs. Garrett’s homeroom and made my way toward the back row where trouble makers and those wanting to be invisible chose to sit. I slumped down in my desk, pretending no one would see me if I continued to slide lower. I scanned the room for the Princess and I cursed when I didn’t see her because she was the only thing that could have been of interest in this room.
While I was busy staring off into space and thinking about the Princess, I heard someone sit in the desk next to me and say, “Hey, Jessie. ”
I looked up at the sound of my name and saw Dane Wickham, my only friend at my new school. He had unexpectedly turned out to be pretty cool, even if he was one of the rich kids, and we’d hung out together at his house after practice a couple of times.
I gave him a curt nod and asked, “What’s up?”
He shook his head and said, “Nothing that amounts to anything. ”
I sat up in my seat and said, “I hear ya. ”
I decided Dane could be my only access to the inside information on Claire, so I asked, “Hey, do you know Claire?”
He wrinkled his forehead and asked, “Claire Deveraux?”
I gave him a shrug. “Maybe. I don’t know her last name. ”
“Long brown hair?” he asked, then held his hands up to his chest with cupped hands and added, “with a gorgeous pair of breasts?”
I wanted to correct his assessment of her hair color because it was all wrong, but he had her breasts right on. “Yeah, what’s her deal?”