“Do you need a ride?” Zev asked.
Class was over and everyone was heading out. We were both walking out the double doors after waiting for the rest of the class to clear out.
“I brought my car, but thanks.”
“You drive?” He asked, sounding surprised.
“I do, why?”
“You’re a sophomore. I just thought you wouldn’t drive yet.”
“My birthday was last week. Guess what I got for my birthday?” I asked, grinning.
“You got a car?” Zev offered me a grin of his own.
“Yup, I got my baby last week. It has been the best present my parents have given me so far.”
“That’s cool. My parents also got me a car when I turned sixteen. Very original,” he commented and we both laughed.
“Hey, you never told me what grade you were in.” I still remembered our episode from earlier.
“Well, you never asked,” he replied, sounding smug.
“Yeah I did. I asked what you were and then you freaked out and started acting weird.”
His expression became thoughtful, almost like he was solving a hard math problem.
“Oh, that’s right,” he told me, grinning. “I’m a junior, but I was held back a year.”
“Why?” I questioned.
He did seem like a trouble maker.
“I skipped a year of school, so I had to make up for it.”
Unlike his bad boy appearance, Zev was a complete gentleman. He walked me to my car, opened the door, and even waited for me to reverse out before walking away.
I smiled to myself on the way home. My first day of school hadn’t been as bad as I expected. I made friends, even though most were guys. With the exception of Layton’s behavior, I considered today a success.
That night, I kept thinking about Layton. I thought about how annoying he was and how much his presence bothered me and what a nuisance he was.
Just before I drifted off, I replayed the moment when we touched. Despite his bipolar behavior, I couldn’t forget the sensations that ran through my body the moment he touched me.
With that feeling in my mind, I allowed sleep to take over.
The next morning, my alarm went off at 6:45.
I took my time getting ready for school. My parents had already left, and I was alone in the house. I’d been warned of how little I would be seeing of them.
Their jobs were not only far away, but they were time consuming. It was our third day in this town and I was already missing my parents.
By 7:25, I was in my car heading for school.
When I arrived, students were all over the parking lot or in the picnic tables scattered outside. I had almost fifteen minutes to spare, which I was going to spend next to my locker.
Jared passed by and smiled as soon as he saw me. After saying goodbye to some friends, he made his way in my direction.
“Hey Cass! You’re bright and early today,” Jared told me, leaning in the locker next to mine.
“I see you’re not running like a lunatic today,” I replied, remembering yesterday’s incident.
Even though I didn’t get injured, it still hurt when I fell.
Jared smiled at me and started saying hey to some of his friends who stopped by to talk.
“Hey guys, this is my friend Cass. They’re in the soccer team.” Jared put his arm around my shoulders and kept talking to his friends.
“How come you’re in PE if you have soccer?” I asked Jared.
“Walker is our soccer coach. It’s not soccer season yet, so we only practice after school some days. When soccer season gets closer, coach will probably take the whole class outside so that the team can practice while he keeps an eye on the PE class.”
“Oh…” It did make sense.
While the guys kept talking, I listened in on their conversations.
I found out that Jared was a senior, along with David. Layton, Nick, and Jackson were juniors. Tyler was a sophomore like me, and Drew was barely a freshman.
Despite the age differences, they were all tall and well built.
I found it strange when the halls began clearing out all of a sudden.
Layton appeared from the crowd that cleared up, looking high and mighty. As soon as he spotted me, he smirked. It was a strange sight, but at least he wasn’t frowning.
The smirk was wiped clean from his face once he noticed Jared’s arm draped over my shoulders.
Layton made his way towards us looking irritated, like usual, and he glared at Jared. Jared cocked an eyebrow at Layton, but he did remove his arm from around my shoulders.
Before I got a chance to say anything, the bell rang. When I walked away, Layton followed after me. He was walking beside me, although he didn’t speak. I didn’t want to bring down my good mood so I decided to not break the silence.
I was not looking forward to my first period Math. I didn’t know I had Layton in the class until he took a seat in one of the desks. We were early to class and most of the seats were empty.
After the teacher checked my schedule, I was free to pick whichever seat.
Layton was sitting down on the last chair, in the corner of the room. I wanted to get away from him, so I took the opposite end of the class. I had just put my messenger bag down, when Layton made his way over and sat next to me.
I rolled my eyes at him, but let it go.
Soon after that, the class started filling in.
I was starting to get bored, just staring at the dirty white board in front of the class. I was however snapped out of my daydream when a guy walked in. There wasn’t anything different about him, except his strong build.
After being around Layton and his friends for a few hours, I’d gotten used to how athletic and muscular most guys were in this town.
What did get my attention was the glare that Layton shot his way. It was barely my second day in the school, but I had noticed that people either feared or respected Layton. Zev had been the only one who didn’t seem to care.
I was surprised when the guy turned to face Layton and grinned. After doing that, he came and sat on my left. It didn’t escape me that Layton looked angry by something the guy had done. While Layton appeared to be fuming, the guy was laughing and looking very pleased.
I found myself once again confused by what was happening. Even though Layton and I weren’t exactly friends, I did get worried by how pissed off he looked.
I was honestly scared he would burst a vein with how upset he was.
I offered a smile, in attempt to distract him from glaring at the guy on my other side. When Layton noticed me, his expression softened. I was surprised it had worked at all, but he seemed to relax.
I was really curious to know what the heck was going on. First it was Layton and Zev. I thought they were bad picking fights with each other. Then I had to add this guy to the list as well. Instead of divulging in thoughts about why they seemed to hate each other, I focused on surviving Math without any fights.
By the time class was over, I didn’t even mind that the teacher had given out homework.
The moment the bell rang, I grabbed my stuff and headed for my locker. English was next, and that was definitely my favorite class. I was excited about meeting my new English teacher. Even Layton following me around to my locker and then to class wasn’t dampening my mood.
Layton took off when he made sure I was sitting down. He didn’t leave until I was at a table, with my bag neatly rested at my feet.
English had the same setup as my Art class. There were five rectangular tables, with four chairs per table. I took a seat in the table furthest to the back.
Among the students walking into class, came the guy from my Math class that had laughed at Layton. He was walking with another guy, both looking engrossed in their conversation.
I was surprised when they took a seat in my table. Even though I was wondering why he had made fun of Layton, I remained quiet, looking at the board.
“You’re Cassidy,” the guy from my Math class commented.
“Yup,” I replied, not bothering to look at him.
“I’m Nate and he’s Micah,” The guy from my Math class introduced, pointing at the guy next to him.
“Cool,” I replied.
While we sat across from each other, I started wondering why it was easy to make friends with guys. I’d only talked to a few girls yesterday, but most seemed to be repelled by me.
Just as I was about to space out, the teacher started class.
“So, you don’t talk much?” Nate asked.
“I guess not,” I replied, attempting and failing in concentrating on my assignment.
“Why did you laugh at Layton?” I asked Nate.
Since he’d struck up a conversation first, I figured I could ask.
“I wasn’t laughing at him. I was laughing to myself, at something he did,” he replied, giving me a smug look.
I stared at Nate, not amused by his comment.
“Let’s just say we differ in ideas,” he tried explaining.
“Whose ideas are right?” I questioned.
His comment wasn’t making any sense to me, but I had to admit I was intrigued.
“I think ours are, but I might be biased,” he admitted, grinning.
Micah chuckled at him and continued doing his work.
“When you say ‘ours’, who are you talking about?”
“Hmm… I guess I’m talking about Micah, Zev, me, and a few other friends,” he explained, looking at me expectantly.
“You know Zev?” I’d only seen Zev a few times since I arrived. The times I had seen him, he’d always been alone.
“Yeah, I know Zev. He’s like our brother,” Nate answered, pointing between him and Micah.
“So what’s the deal between Zev and Layton? Why don’t they get along?”
“They go way back. As time passes, things just add more to why they hate each other now,” Nate replied, shrugging his shoulders.
We kept talking throughout the period, but he didn’t mention anything else about Zev and Layton. When the bell rang, we turned in our assignment and I walked to my Art class.
Art passed by just as it had yesterday. We had to sketch a landscape, which we would be using during the next six weeks for a painting. The guys were rowdy during class, but Mr. Andrews didn’t seem to mind. While we were drawing, he played some music and most of it was familiar.
Lunch time came around too fast. I’d been having fun in Art and I wasn’t looking forward to a lonely lunch.
Jared had invited me to eat with them again but I wasn’t excited about the prospect. Having lunch with Layton didn’t seem like a great idea.
I was glad he wasn’t acting like a jerk, but he was still being weird.
“I need to go to my locker,” I told Jared after Art.
“Cool, we’ll wait for you at the table,” he said, handing me some books he’d been carrying for me.
“Boo,” someone whisper next to my ear.
I jumped and shut my locker loudly. Zev was standing right behind me, smiling at me teasingly.
“You scared the crap out of me,” I snapped at him while trying to control my erratic heart.
Zev had snuck up on me. The realization of that was truly frightening. Sure Zev had been joking, but what if it had been someone else.
The fact that Zev had been able to approach me without sensing it meant I wasn’t on high alert.
“I noticed. Are you going to lunch?” Zev asked, leaning next to my locker.
I stood in front of him, only a few inches separating our bodies. I couldn’t help but notice how intimate our positions looked.
“That’s the plan,” I replied, taking a step to the side to create some space between us.
“C’mon, let’s go eat.” Zev grabbed my hand and started dragging me out the front doors.
“Are we allowed to leave campus?”
“Well, we can leave school. The technicalities of that aren’t important.”
“If I get in trouble, I’m telling everyone you kidnapped me.”
Zev grinned and we continued walking. He stood next to the passenger side of a black sleek car. It was really nice. I wasn’t sure what type of car it was, but it looked expensive. Continuing his gentleman streak, he opened the door for me.
“Where are you taking me?” At that point, I was too hungry to care.
In the back of my mind though, I was hoping the place wouldn’t disappoint.
“We’re going to a diner. They have the best burgers in this town. If you don’t like them, you can get something else. They’ll pretty much make anything you ask them.”
“Who wouldn’t like burgers?”
“How would I know? I’m just saying,” Zev replied, grinning at me.
He didn’t respect any of the speed limits, which wasn’t much of a problem with me. I was worried though, when we passed by a cop, and he didn’t attempt to stop us.
We arrived at the diner just a few minutes after leaving the school parking lot. The diner definitely looked promising from the outside. I hopped out of the car before Zev had the chance to open the door for me.
Seeing how cool the diner was made me giddy and excited. Zev laughed at my enthusiasm since he was used to hanging out at the diner all the time.
When we made our way inside, there were only two booths taken. We took the booth in the last row and sat next to the glass windows overlooking the woods. It was a great view, which was enhanced by the nice weather outside.
“Today been any better?” Zev asked after the waitress brought our food.
“It’s been good so far. The only downside is all of my Math homework. The teacher said I have ’till Friday, but I’m hoping to get it done today. I don’t want the stress of it hanging over me,” I told him, taking a zip from my Dr. Pepper.
“Made any new friends?” Zev had already taken a few bites from his burger, and he was half way done with it.
I hadn’t even touched mine yet.
“I made a few, mainly guys though. I don’t think girls like me too much,” I replied, shrugging.
The food was as good as Zev had promised. The moment I took a bite from my burger, I decided the diner was my new favorite place to dine in.
“I think I know why,” he told me, raising an eyebrow.
I raised mine too, trying to mock him. Zev only laughed and shook his head.
“Why are you always laughing at me? I feel like I’m missing a joke or something.”
“You’re really different,” he told me, which confused me even more.
I let it go and continued enjoying my delicious food.
“I met two of your friends today. At least that’s what they said. One of them was laughing at Layton.”
“They were laughing at Layton?” He questioned, turning serious.
“Hmm… he told me he wasn’t laughing at him. He was laughing at something Layton did. But that’s not what Layton thought.”
“Who was it?”
“Nate. It happened during Math. And then I had him and Micah for English. Nate likes to talk. He’s kind of funny.”
“You talked to Nate?” Zev asked, looking like he didn’t believe me.
“Not really. Nate talked to me, all period long. It was hard getting him to stay quiet,” I replied, shrugging.
In a way, I liked how easy it was to talk to Nate. He made class go by faster.
“Nate usually doesn’t talk to people. Neither does Micah, but Nate is much more reserved.”
“He talked to me,” I said, taking the last bite of my burger.
We made small talk after that, but I could tell Zev was distracted by something.