Back To Square One

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Chapter 2

As I parked my old VW Bug, I kept thinking that this was not how my life was supposed to go. But with my aunt accepting the position in Iceland I didn’t have much choice but to return to South Africa. After a total breakdown on my part, I finally got over it with the help of my old therapist and started picking up my life again.

I made a promise to myself that as soon as I set foot in South Africa I would do things differently. I would be braver and more outspoken, and I was determined to be happy.

My mom didn’t know I was back and nor did I have any desire for her to know, or to see her. Last I heard from my aunt she was out on parole and working as a tea lady, or something, at her lawyer’s office. Not that I cared in the least. She ruined my life, and it took me a really long time to get myself back on track, so I would not be going back to all that ever again.

But here I was back at my old school, a senior this time and a totally new person. It’s amazing what a few years and puberty can do for you.

Not much had changed in the three years since I left. Even the people looked the same with the exception of a few. Kimberly, of course, still ruled the school, which meant she was still a royal bitch, but in what seemed to be a new development, Brandon Gillen was no longer her lap dog. Not that Kimberly would give up until she got him back, I’m sure.

I wonder what went wrong for those two to end up in splitsville? He was still Mr. Totally Popular, a total jock, drop dead gorgeous and totally clueless at maths – and still totally out of my league. But I am happy to say I was over my silly little crush.

I didn’t trust men and I didn’t do love! The teachers hadn’t changed either in the three years that I was away. It was like I had never left.

The school was really surprised when I enrolled there again, with me leaving so soon after my mom’s trial. No one expected to ever see me again. But what was an even bigger surprise for me was I liked being back. I had actually missed my home and the people here, even though we never really got along.

So there I was, sitting once more in my maths class and waiting for the kids to recognise me. I made it through two classes before none other than Kimberly approached me. She was wearing her signature mini skirt and her super-tight, super-low-cut white T-shirt with black underwear. She looked her perfect self as always, except for the fact that she seemed a teeny bit heaver than I remembered.

“Hi, I’m Kimberly. I see you are new here and was thinking I should offer my services as a good scholar and show you around the school.”

My jaw nearly dropped. Was she kidding me right now or did she really not recognise me? Keeping the surprise off my face as best I could I decided to play along with the little game.

“Hi, I’m Sam. Nice to meet you! Thank you, I really appreciate the offer but I’m fine.” With that I picked up my bag and turned towards the door.

Now, knowing Kimberly, one of two things was about to happen. She was either going to make a scene in front of the entire class or make certain I made a fool of myself.

If I had to take a wild guess judging by the look on her face at that moment, it was going to be the latter. Her mouth fell open and her eyes took on a dark and dangerous look. I was waiting for the storm to hit.

I was about to exit the class when someone bumped into me. Losing my balance I started to fall over, but before I could crash onto the floor two strong arms folded around me and steadied me back on my feet.

“Careful, don’t want you to get hurt on your first day of school,” said a deep, all too familiar voice. Looking up into those amazing, blue eyes I saw whom I had bumped into. Swallowing my surprise, I mumbled a thank you and turned to head out of the class again.

“I’m Brandon, by the way. Mind if I tag along to your next class? You know, just to make sure you get there safely.”

Seeing the darkness in Kimberly’s eyes soften again when she caught sight of Brandon, I knew she wasn’t ever going to like me especially after I played my next move. Looking back at Brandon, I smiled the sweetest smile I could muster and made sure my voice dripped with a flirtatious tone. I couldn’t resist toying with both of them a bit. It was fun to know who they were while they had no clue who I was.

Trailing my finger down his arm, I asked sweetly, “But aren’t you going to be late for class if you walk with me?”

Before Brandon could reply, Kimberly pushed herself between the two of us, draping herself over him.

“Hey handsome,” she said, placing a light kiss on his cheek before continuing.“You don’t want to be late forclass. It might get you in trouble with the coach.”

Pushing Kimberly away from him, Brandon all but glared at her.“Kimberly, my rugby career is none of your business anymore, remember? We broke up. So, back off!” He turned to look at me, the sweet smile returning to his face.

Not wanting to play anymore games, I faced both of them.“Thank you for the offer again Kimberly, and you, Brandon. But seeing as how a huge argument is about to break out between the two of you, I’ll leave you in peace and just head on to my class. Thanks anyway.”

And with that, I turned on my heel and made my getaway, knowing that whatever Kimberly had planned for me wasn’t over yet, and I certainly didn’t want to end up in the middle of theargument I could hear starting up behind me. I prepared myself for seeing Kimberly again as the day went on.

What I didn’t expect was having Brandon track me down and ask me to tutor him in maths. Apparently our teacher thought it a good idea to pair us up again. He didn’t quite understand the ‘again’ part of the situation, but he was willing to do anything to stay on the rugby team. So, after some begging on his part and reluctance from mine, I agreed to tutor him two afternoons a week at his house, like we did before, starting the next week. You know, just to give me time to find my feet at the new school.

An entire week went by where no one but the teachers really knew who I was. I found it very entertaining and interesting to note how kids don’t really look at a person. I hadn’t changed that much. My acne was gone, thanks to puberty.I grew out my hair and colored it bright red, and I upgraded my wardrobe a bit but I was still exactly the same person. I just dressed and looked a bit better.

It was only when I arrived at Brandon’s house the next Tuesday afternoon that he realised who I was, and again only because his mom recognised me first.

I was standing on the front porch waiting for Brandon to answer the door when Mrs. Gillen arrived home. It took her a moment, but just as she recognised me Brandon opened the door.

“Samantha Preston, is that you? Look how beautiful you have become. I didn’t know you were back in the country! Weren’t you staying with your aunt in England?”

Surprised that she knew me I didn’t know what to say at first, but I think Brandon was even more surprised. Finding my voice again, I finally answered.

“Hi Mrs.Gillen. It’s nice to see you again. I was staying in Ireland not England; I moved back at the end of last year. My aunt got a job offer in Iceland that she decided to take, so I couldn’t stay in Ireland alone.”

I swear, if they could, Brandon’s eyes would have popped out of his head at that moment.

“Samantha!” he said, the scepticismin his voice startling his mom and me. “No way! It can’t possibly be you! You are HOT, you weren’t HOT before!” He placed the emphasis on the word ‘hot’ like it was totally impossible to use my name and hot in the same sentence.

Realising what he’d said out loud, he tried to back pedal. Keeping my laughter at bay and seeing his mom was about to kill him, I interjected.“Um, yeah, I guess you are right. I wasn’t hot before and now I am.We should get started with that maths of yours. I need to be somewhere in a few hours and we are going to need all the time we have, if I remember correctly!”

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