That very evening, after spending some time with Talia, I return to my dorm, tiredly. Trinity isn’t there, thankfully, so I can do whatever I want without her eyes judging me.
My initial thoughts of Trinity have completely disappeared. She plays the friendly, popular girl well but I know what’s underneath that thick layer of make-up.
These past two days have felt like a nightmare. Sure, I made another new friend but I couldn’t get the brown-eyed handsome devil out of my head. It feels like the attraction between us is growing. Even though I have barely had any contact with him, I still feel my whole world shifting to his.
Five minutes before tea time, a sharp knock sounds through my deadly silent room.
Wondering who on earth is knocking on my door and expecting it to be one of Trinity’s friends, I swing the door open. However, the person standing on the other side of the door isn’t a friend of Trinity’s, nor is it Kacey. It’s actually Talia.
A grin is plastered on her angelic face, her eyes warm and calming. God, she is so beautiful. It should be a crime to be that beautiful.
“Hey,” I greet, cautiously. She’s wearing a casual outfit—jeans and a t-shirt. She manages to make the outfit look amazing though. I feel so plain compared to her, in my black leggings and an oversized t-shirt that says ‘keep calm and ignore the haters’.
“Hello,” She chirps. “Are you ready?”
My eyebrows furrow together. “Ready for what?”
Talia rolls her eyes as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “For tea, of course.”
“Tea?” I echo, sounding bewildered. Which I am, I don’t remember her asking me what my plans were for tea.
“Yeah,” She replies. “I’m inviting—well, ordering I guess—you to dinner. You’re eating on my table.”
That’s all I can really say about the situation I’m currently in.
Talia is sat next to me, devouring her food whilst Arden has a quiet conversation with a man I have come to know as Cabe. Sat opposite me is the gorgeous man—Arlo.
Ever since I arrived at this table, he’s been avoiding any sort of communication with me. When Talia introduced me to everyone, they were all polite and welcoming. They circulated the table, introducing themselves. When it came to Arlo, he begrudgingly grumbled his name, never once making eye contact with me. I can tell Arlo doesn’t want me here. He’s more than displeased about it.
The atmosphere would be nice if Arlo didn’t ignore me.
The problem is that everyone else doesn’t notice the tension. In fact, Talia didn’t even notice Arlo’s behaviour towards me. Either she’s used to his behaviour or she’s simply oblivious to things like this.
“So Lily,” Cabe interrupts my train of thought, turning all attention to me. “Where did you move from?”
Cabe’s eyes widen in surprise. He must have thought I lived somewhere rural, somewhere similar to this town. “So you’re a city girl?”
I smile awkwardly, feeling shy. I have never sat at the popular table before, especially not with unearthly gorgeous popular people. I have never felt so insecure in my life.
“That’s cool,” Cabe comments and continues to ask me questions about my life. I don’t tell him anything about my sister but I do say a bit about my life in London. I miss out on what happened with my ex-boyfriend and I dodge any questions about my parents. I don’t feel comfortable talking about them so soon in the grieving process.
When the bell rings, signalling the end of tea, we all get up, taking our trays with us. Talia invites me to the common room with them which I gladly accept. As I’m walking with them, further behind, I accidentally stumble into Arlo.
Gulping, I flash him an uncertain smile. “Sorry about that.”
Arlo grunts, flinching away from me like I just burned him.
Now that I have spoken to him, I want to continue talking to him. I desperately want him to open up to me and befriend me. Well, that and more. I don’t know what has overcome me—could it be my heart searching for a rebound or me trying to find a distraction from the pain?
Either way, I feel like Arlo can help—and possibly save me—from the darkness.
“So what are your plans after here?” I ask, maintaining the same pace as him. “I heard you like sports so are you thinking of taking that up?”
“Listen,” Arlo says sharply, coming to a halt. I do the same and divide all of my attention to him. “I’m not your friend, okay? I want nothing to do with you. You’re just some blonde-haired wannabe popular girl who thinks just because she has rich parents who will do whatever she wants, that she can talk to anybody she wants. But you’re wrong. I see through you and your innocent, shy and depressed act. You’re not fooling me.”
Leaving me stunned and hurt, he storms off after his friends. Students pass me in the hall, none of them giving me any attention or helping me as tears begin to trickle down my face.
I don’t usually let people bully me, I’m strong and I don’t let words get to me but Arlo’s words did. He thinks I’m someone I’m not.
And for some reason, he hates me.
The next week drags. I spend a lot more time with Talia, getting closer to her. The others are nice too, Cabe likes to flirt with me whilst Arden keeps telling me jokes. Despite his kind nature, I do feel a little intimidated by him. I’m not the only one though. Many people avert their eyes to the ground whenever he passes.
I would say it’s nice—for the most part, it is—but there is one massive problem. One giant elephant in the room every time I’m trying to have fun and forget about my shitty life.
And that is Arlo Gold.
After the incident on the way to the common room, I haven’t spoken to him. I’ve tried to start a conversation with him but every time I do, he shuts it down. I will sometimes catch him glaring at me, with pure hatred.
Why? I still don’t know.
You could say Arlo is a complete asshole. But I can’t. One reason is my feelings but the main reason is to do with what I have witnessed over the past week.
Arlo’s caring, kind nature towards Talia. Sometimes when I’m around them, he will be so kind and warm around her. He would tell her jokes when she was feeling stressed about exams, hold her when she was feeling down, and have normal, sweet conversations with her.
Over the past week, I have discovered that he is friendly around certain people. He definitely cares about the people close to him.
So perhaps he’s an asshole to me because I’m not in their close-knitted circle yet. He might have verbally attacked me the other day because he doesn’t know me yet and doesn’t want me to be in their friendship circle. That is plausible...I think.
However, it still doesn’t excuse his behaviour towards me. I had to disappear into the toilets for fifteen minutes to try and get my tears under control. Talia eventually found me in there and hugged me as I cried.
When she asked me why I was crying, I told her something I thought I would never tell anyone I had just met.
I told her about my ex-boyfriend, Joe.
And by god, did it feel good. Talia listened the whole time, never once interrupting me. When I finished, she pulled me in for a bone-crushing hug and whispered soothing words into my ear. She promised she would never tell anyone a thing unless I asked her to.
I can see why Arlo loves her, I had thought, for once without any malice. Talia is genuine—she has a heart of gold.
I’m currently sat outside on a bench with Talia, listening to music through her headphones. It’s quite peaceful outside for once, with only a few students loitering around benches or picnic tables.
We both have a lesson soon. In fact, I'm thankful we both share an Art lesson together. It almost makes me enjoy Art. The one reason I don't has to do with a certain 'bad boy'.
I discovered on my third day of being at this boarding school that Arlo was in the same art class as me. I didn’t know this piece of information until I finally had my Art lesson and he strolled in without a care in the world.
Fortunately for me, he doesn't sit anywhere near me. He likes to put as much distance between us as possible.
“Do you believe we have soul mates?” Talia mindfully asks, staring off into the distance.
Frowning, I follow her gaze, watching a pair of teenagers hugging each other, smiling. They look so comfortable and happy in their own bubble-like nobody can touch them.
“I am not sure,” I eventually reply. I have never really thought about soul mates—people you are destined to be with. At one point I thought what I had with my ex-boyfriend was perfect but I was wrong. I think what happened changed my idea of relationships and men. “I’m sure there’s someone out there that understands you and accepts you for who you are. Arden seems like that guy. He really loves you, you know?”
She nods her head and swings her eyes to me. “Yes, and I love him, more than anything else.”
When the bell rings, we both stand up and head straight for our Art lesson.
Talia loops her arm with mine so that we don’t get separated. When we reach my classroom, I stiffen at the sight of Arlo sat on the desk in front of me. Why is he sat close to my table?
Talia pulls me along with her, once again oblivious to my action.
“Hello princess,” Arlo greets Talia, swivelling in his seat. As usual, he blanks me. The usual sparks I feel at our close proximity cause me to squirm in my seat.
Talia flashes him her award-winning smile and I swear, he melts. He seems so transfixed by her lips, it feels like my heart is about to explode. My stomach churns and my breath falters.
Why can’t he look at me like that?
Because he’s not in love with you.
Because he’s not as close to you.
Because he hates you.
Of course, how could I forget?
The teacher soon steps into the classroom, causing everyone to settle down. Her eyes swoop the classroom for a few moments whilst we all sit, watching her.
“For the next few weeks, we’re going to be doing a project on portraits. You will be pairing up and doing a portrait on each other.” She announces, causing a few groans to escape people’s lips. “I have allocated everyone with partners so when you hear who your partner is, I want you to go and sit with them.”
“Rosie and Finn.”
“Talia and Trinity.”
And the list goes on until she eventually gets to me. When she reads out my partner, I swear my heart stops.
Of course, it’s none other than Arlo.