I I. DEAD BODIES AND PANCAKES
The hallways were filled with the usual cacophony of students busting and rushing through. The inky blue lockers were covered with posters of the upcoming prom- something that I clearly loathed. It wasn’t because of my null socializing skills, but mainly because I had a bad memory surrounding it, something I clearly didn’t want to recall now. So, instead of focusing on the garbage surrounding me, I continued my day by toddling from one class to another.
The day stretched on longer than usual and soon I found myself already getting tired of it. I had cheerleading practice after school and then I was supposed to go to the Holly Heads. I hated working there. I wasn’t exactly broke but I did have to try a lot to meet the ends. And the most annoying thing was that the customers that usually stopped by HH only knew one thing. Instead of grabbing food, they grabbed asses of the waitresses and this always infuriated me. Once I was on the verge of losing my job because a customer accidentally grabbed my ass and not being able to tolerate it anymore, I punched him square in the face, which had more effect on him that I intended to. He had a broken nose and was severely injured. I had to beg my boss and promise him to be more patient the next time, even though there was not an ounce of guilt in me. Luckily, I did not have to pay the medical bills either.
However, my thoughts came to a halt when I reached my next class. I looked into my schedule and groaned. Calculus. I hated that. Scratch it, I loathed it. Not only did I understand anything about the subject but also Maria was not here and hence I was kind of alone except those pathetic cheerleaders who I ignored on regular occasions. All they ever knew was makeup, dresses, jewelry, gossips, and boys. But the most irksome thing was their beady judgemental eyes that infuriated the shit out of me.
I could have easily bunked the class if I wanted to, but I hated bunking alone. And since Maria had history now, so I had no one to accompany me in this misdeed. So, instead of sulking around, I walked into the classroom only to find the teacher asleep; as usual.
I scanned the whole room for an empty seat and my eyes finally landed on one in the back- right next to the annoying and the biggest jerk in the world, Carter Harvey.
Annoyance instantly filled my nerves as I walked towards him and slumped my bag onto the desk next to him with a huff. He looked up at me questioningly but didn’t say anything. He was leaned back on the chair, his arms resting behind his head, which resulted in the bulging out of his biceps through the thin fabric of his black t-shirt. I tried not to look at his muscles much as I seated myself beside him, the scent of aftershave and outdoors cocooning me. So, in an attempt to divert my attention, I took out my phone and started scrolling through my Instagram.
None of us spoke for a long time before he broke the silence.
“Does he always sleep like this?” his voice was a bit gruff and for the first time, I noticed he had a British accent, unlike his brother who had an Irish.
“Mostly,” I tried to ignore him but failed at it when he looked at me expectantly.
“Not much of a talker are you?” he asked as a chuckle reverberated through his throat.
“Depends on whom I’m speaking with,” I replied as I kept eyes fixed on my phone, not daring to look up at him.
“I see. So I take it you don’t like me huh?” he asked as he turned his body completely towards me, causing the table to emit a loud creaking noise.
At this, the whole attention of the class turned towards us, including the teacher who suddenly woke up and looked as if he just witnessed an earthquake.
“What happened?” he asked furiously as he fumbled on the table for his goggles.
“Nothing. Please continue with your sleeping,” Carter grunted as he struggled to fit his tall figure in the seat. A boy beside him burst out laughing but quickly morphed it into a cough at Carter’s stony glare.
I was thoroughly enjoying his discomfort as I stifled my laugh.
“What the fuck is wrong with this seat?” he muttered furiously and after few moments of shuffling, he finally settled peacefully.
“Nothing’s wrong with the seat Carter. It’s your body,” I gave him a sideways glance while indicating to his torso.
He gave me an incredulous look.
“It’s not my fault that I’m so...large,” he replied as the corners of his lips quirked upwards.
I glanced at him and rolled my eyes at his innuendo.
“I don’t believe it,” I smirked, gauging for his reaction.
“Well, you only need to ask Hazel,” he replied as his blue eyes glinted with mischief.
I gave him an appalled look as I thought of an outcome. However, failing terribly at it, I instead settled for a fuming glare.
“Why are you so annoying?” I groaned.
“Depends on who I’m dealing with,” he gave a smirk that I so wanted to wipe off.
“Is this a comeback for what I said?” I asked now turning completely towards him.
“Well you could say that,” he stared intently at me as if testing me.
“You know what? You’re unbelievable,” I huffed, finally ending the staring contest.
“So I’ve heard. Besides, this is just the beginning,” he stated and shrugged his shoulders.
I was dumbstruck for the first time. He had successfully pushed all of my buttons and made me speechless. I just gaped at him in astonishment and seeming to realize this he started laughing, a warm and velvety sound emitting from the strong muscles around his throat.
“Okay geez. I guess we got off the wrong foot. Let’s start again. I’m Carter,” he said and held out his hand.
I contemplated the situation for a moment and not wanting to be rude, I shook it.
"Krystal," I replied with a small smile on my lips. His rough and warm palm rubbed against mine, causing a weird sensation to flutter in my stomach. But before I could dwell on it, the bell rang soundly, interrupting our moment.
Slinging my backpack over my shoulder I was about to exit the class when Carter called out to me.
"See you at lunch then Hazel," he smiled genuinely at me, and soon I found myself returning it to him as I walked out of the class.
Maybe I was wrong about him.
“Wanna ditch class?” Maria came up behind me as soon as I got out of Calculus.
“With pleasure,” I grinned at her, causing her to chuckle in return.
This had been our daily routine since my sophomore year. After having calculus we would always ditch the next class since she knew that I ended up in a sour mood most of the days. It also benefitted her, cause she would have chemistry in her next class, and being the lazy ass that she is, she ditched the class with me.
We sneaked outside the school and strolled over to The Harleys’, which was the best ice cream parlor in town.
The ding of the bell in the entrance indicated our arrival and the old lady in the counter smiled warmly at us. We had been her regular customers since sophomore year and she was such a loving lady. Sometimes she would even give us an extra scoop when she was in a good mood.
“The usual?” she inquired and we grinned at her in response.
We found a table near the window while waiting for our ice-creams to arrive.
“We gotta get back before the lunch break,” I informed Maria and she raised her eyebrows at me.
“Someone’s excited huh?” she smirked at me.
“Nope. I have an evening shift today at HH. It fucking ends near 10. So it’s both evening and night,” I groaned as our ice-creams arrived at our table. Mine was a chocolate mocha while hers was a strawberry unicorn or something. I don’t really like that many colors in an ice-cream but this is Maria we’re talking about.
“Uh-huh,” she replied as she digs into her bowl.
“So had any classes with any of the new students?” I asked her while putting a spoonful of ice-cream in my mouth and closed my eyes in pleasure at the heavenly taste.
“There’s this girl I met. Apparently, she is new too and is applying for the new cheerleader,” Maria spoke after devouring half of her ice-cream.
“Cool,” I didn’t say much as I was engrossed in my chocolate mocha.
“She’s cool and smart and friendly. The sad thing is I forgot to catch her name. And you know what? She also loves Chris Hemsworth,” she continued while making a star-struck expression.
“Ugh. You and your obsession,” I groaned.
Don’t get me wrong. I love that guy. I mean he’s drop-dead gorgeous and I don’t think there’s any other guy sexier than him. But Maria’s obsession with him is a little too much to handle.
“Shut up. By the way, you gotta do me a favor,” she looked up to meet my hazel eyes. I quirked my eyebrow at her in question. Maria asking a favor can’t be good. Ever since the stunt she pulled on a little girl called Bethany, in kindergarten, I know that her ‘favors’ are the literal danger. She made me put loads of rubber spiders in her tiffin box and seeing that the girl’s living daylights got out. She had been so scared that she still goes to therapy. I feel guilty about it and sometimes I secretly visit her too. I don’t know either of their deals nor do I want to.
“Look. I need you to agree to this. You know how hard it’s going to be for me if you don’t go. I’ll be like the deer caught in the-“
“Cut to the chase Mare,” I interrupted her rant.
“Right. So umm, you have to go today with me to the Kennington,” she completed avoiding my eyes.
I choked on the scoop that was in my mouth.
“What? No! I loathe that dickhead’s guts,” I scoffed and glared at her.
“Krys, please. And what about having my back? You’re my best friend. You’re supposed to help me,” she pouted and gave me the puppy dog eyes.
“Nope. Won’t work,” I popped another scoop into my mouth.
“OK. I’ll pay your Netflix subscription for a year. Do we have a deal?” she grunted.
I grinned up at her, “Deal.”
“You know you are a real bitch sometimes,” Maria wiped her pink lips with the napkins.
“You still love me though,” I smile as I kicked her leg under the table.
She rolled her eyes and continued, “ Today’s their engagement party. You might wanna wear something glamorous.”
“Glamorous? But you know my wardrobe collection-”
“And that’s why you’re gonna borrow one from me. In fact, I have a dress that’s just perfect for you,” she grinned like a five-year-old.
“Whatever,” I gave the bowl a final lick.
“You’re gross,” Maria groaned.
“What? I’m not missing the least bit of this heavenly taste. Thank you very much,” I flipped her off.
She started picking at her nails before continuing, “Oh and I’m going with my parents so you might also want some other ride. I’m so sorry Krys. You know my parents can be a handful”, she frowned.
“It’s okay. But you better remember all this bitch”, I indicated with the spoon at the space between us.
“If you’re done, we should get going”, Maria stood up from her chair and paid our bills. The woman gave us a friendly wave before we took off for school.
The lunch break had finally arrived. Maria and I booked our usual seats and that’s when I saw Cameron walk in with Carter along with a girl with dark hair, shorter than both of them. She must be Cameron’s girlfriend.
Maria waved over to them and the trio spotted us. They walked over to us and seated themselves.
“Hey, Krystal and Maria. This is my sister, Christina. She was late today and that’s why we could not come together,” the girl smiled at both of us and we returned it. I mentally face palmed myself for thinking her to be their girlfriend. She was pretty with brown hair and olive skin. Her eyes were brown and soft like Maria's, but hers was a lighter shade of brown.
“She’s the one I told you about,” Maria whispered in my ear, and as if on cue, Christina grabbed her hand which was laying on the tabletop.
“Hey, you’re the one from History. Funny I never caught your name considering how well we got along,” she gave her a warm smile and I saw hope twinkling in her eyes.
“Yeah same here. By the way, it’s Maria,” she extended her hand and Christina shook it.
“My brothers already told my name but still, Christina Harvey,” they smiled warmly at each other when suddenly her brown eyes landed on me.
“I’m sorry I didn’t see you. I mean I was quite excited to see a familiar face,” she smiled sheepishly at me.
“It’s okay. Happens. I’m Krystal”, I grinned at her.
“Krystal. Wait. You’re Carter’s Hazel, right? He was telling me----oww!! What the fuck? ” she yelped while rubbing her thighs and glowering at Carter simultaneously.
“Shut up. You’re talking too much,” Carter grumbled.
Finding this funny I prompted, “So what was he saying?”
"All bullshit," Carter interrupted, before Christina could reply as his blue eyes roamed over me.
I raised my eyebrows, not at all believing his words. Maria however, did not let me tease him further as she quickly changed the topic.
“So the dead bodies are quite something don’t you think?“, Maria asked Christina.
But choosing the wrong question.
Immediately the colour vanished from her face and her expression was morphed into that of a stony and indifference. I could almost see the clocks turning in her head and when I glanced at the boys, they also had a similar kind of expression. A grim and calculating look that surprisingly made me feel cold in the insides.
Christina was the first one to recover, as she shrugged her shoulders, ” I don’t know. I couldn’t care less. If my murderer brings me pancakes, I’ll be more than glad to die,” she replied as she bit into her pancakes.
“Seriously? In the time of an apocalypse, you think about pancakes?" I laughed.
She chuckled, some of the tension releasing from her shoulders.
“My sister will always be the first one to earn points for stupidity,” Carter smirked as he slung an arm over Christina’s shoulders who in turn glared at him. He had also surprisingly relaxed but I could still see the sharp edge of his clenched jaw, and an unsettling feeling crawled up my stomach.
However, not paying any heed to it, I retorted.
“But I bet you would beat her to it anytime,” I could see the corners of his lips twitch at this as his blue eyes once again met my hazel ones. He was about to speak something but got cut off when a high pitch scream resonated from outside the cafeteria. We all exchanged a confused look but I was the first one to react.
My body involuntarily moved to the sight of the scream and when I reached it, I felt as if I have been knocked down.
This was so fucking bad.