I let out a puff of smoke, watching as it disperses in the air before me. I told that new girl I didn’t smoke. I don’t know why. It was stupid. I saw the look of disgust on her smug features when she smelt the cigarettes on me. I instantly wanted to please her and I have no freakin’ clue why.
I crush the half-smoked cigarette under my boot with satisfaction. I’ve been smoking since I was fourteen, and it was only now that I thought about quitting. Freakin’ snotty, new girls got in my head and I need her out.
I stare down at the slip of paper in my hand. Sonnet 65 was written in Mr. Hammons’ handwriting. It couldn’t have been planned it any better. It didn’t take much convincing on my part to convince Hammons to partner me up with Greer Evans, even less to give us Sonnet 65 as our poem.
I pushed up from where I was perched against a brick wall and trekked to my car. Slipping behind the wheel, I dug around in the cup holder for the slip of paper. I stared at the address for a moment before pulling out of the parking lot and heading towards Greer Evans’ house.
I had to know what it was about her that caused her to run through my head twenty-four seven. She’s frustrating, snotty, and I can’t stand her. And it scared me. From that moment where she attacked me at The Bean, I knew I was screwed. Something pulled me to her.
I had to get her off my mind. The only way to do that is to figure her out. Once I do, I’ll realize she’s just another snobby, rich girl that has her life handed to her. It won’t take long for me to find out that she’s just another Olivia Connors. Then I’ll get bored and she’ll be another notch to add to my belt.
As easy as that.
I stand on her front porch, surprised to find that she lives in a comfy looking one-story house. Most of the kids that go to Arden Prep live in small mansions. I hear movement inside and then the door swings open to reveal a very pissed off looking Greer Evans. I instantly know she’s about to yell at me.
I don’t even care. All I can focus on is the lack of clothing that she’s wearing. Her t-shirt might be shapeless and way too big for her, but it’s the shorts that cause my mind to enter dark places. They’re skimpy and non-existent, giving me a pretty great view of her long tanned legs. It’s the kind of tan that tells me she’s spent a lot of the time in the sun, which makes me want to question where she’s been.
“Kaleb?” Her saying my name drags my thoughts away from her legs. “How in the world do you know where I live?”
Some secrets are best meant kept a secret. “I have my ways.”
“What are you even doing here?” She keeps her body planted in the doorway. I try to pretend that I don’t know that she doesn’t want me here. I couldn’t care less if she wants to see me or not.
“We have to work on our project, dork.” I tease her, loving the reaction I get when I call her the name. She hates it.
“So, you show up at my house?”
“Mr. Hammons said we weren’t going to have time in class. Which means we have to work outside of class, right?”
“Couldn’t we have just worked in a library or something?” Her voice is raising an octave or two in annoyance. I smile.
“I’m beginning to think you don’t want me here, Greer.”
“Oh, I’m sorry I made you feel that way. What was your first clue?” She puts one hand on her hip.
My attention reverts right back to her legs. It’s hard to concentrate on the sass she’s giving me when she keeps moving. Every time she moves, all I can focus on is her tanned limbs. She notices my gaze and her frown deepens.
“Eyes up here, hotshot.” She snaps.
My eyes look to hers once more, “Sorry, if you would actually have some pants on I’d be able to focus on your pretty eyes.”
“I am wearing pants.” She counters.
I point to her legs, “Those are not considered pants.”
“I wasn’t expecting company.”
“Clearly.” I laugh.
It’s only five minutes into the movie that Greer falls asleep. Her head is resting on the arm of the couch. Her hair spills all around her and I have to fight the urge to smooth the brown locks away from her face. My original plan to realize that she’s just a snobby, rich girl wasn’t exactly working. We’d spent the last half-hour working on our project, and I can regretfully say that I enjoyed myself.
I cursed and threw my head back. I was getting too deep in this. If I dug myself further, I might not be able to get out. But there was still something about her and I needed to know what it was. I can’t remember the last time I felt so.... alive. It was like she woke me up, made me see the world in color instead of the dull black and white I was used to. Her sass, her smart mouth, and the way she put me in my place sent me spinning.
I hated her.
I was sure of it.
Except, this didn’t quite feel like hatred.
I’ve hated a lot of people in my life, but not anything like the hatred I feel for Greer Evans.
It was sharper, more intense.
My thoughts are interrupted by the beeping of the oven timer. I look over at the still sleeping girl beside me and get to my feet. I should just wake her up, but I can’t bring myself to disturb her. I pull the tray of food out of the oven and turn off the stove. I’m making my way back into the living room when I hear her scream.
My heart drops right out of my chest. I’m instantly panicking and I can’t stop it. The sight of her screaming in her sleep scares me more than anything in my life. The protective instinct in me kicks into high gear. I’m running the rest of the way to her. I drop by her side and shake her, yelling her name.
When she bolts upright, she looks at me with a fear that I’ve never seen in anyone else but myself.
Something dark happened to her, and I instantly knew it wasn’t the kind of darkness that you could run from.
I should know, I was still running from mine.