Chapter Eleven - Risky Business
I, Grace Holland, was about to be caught breaking and entering.
I could hear the footsteps through house, so I quickly put the photo back in the shoebox, closed it up, locked the drawer and replaced the key exactly where I found it.
Then came the footsteps on the stairs. I silently cursed and snuck out through the door, stepping into the closest room and closing it just as footsteps walked past.
I’m going to be caught. I’ll go to jail. I broke into Cole Adams’ house and went through his private drawer.
Please be a nightmare.
Everything went silent as Cole’s footsteps ceased, and I held my breath. Please don’t find me, please don’t find me, please don’t find me.
His footsteps had gone silent just outside the door, and I could see the shadow of his feet underneath the crack of the door. I stayed completely still, knowing that if he opened the door even just a little bit, he would be able to see me.
The silver door handle slowly began to turn, and my heart knocked against my ribcage so hard I was convinced he would be able to hear me.
This is how I’m going to die, I thought to myself. Locked in an arrogant, jerky Bad Boy’s house. He’ll kill me. Asphyxiate me with his huge muscly body.
I was just contemplating my chances of survival when all of a sudden a loud ringtone went off, and the door handle ceased to turn.
A second later I heard Cole chatting away on his cell to some unknown stranger, and his footsteps picked back up as he walked towards his room, talking about football stats and margharita pizza.
When I was certain he was gone and his bedroom door was closed, I snuck out of his room and ran for my life.
I made it out alive! Always a bonus.
That night I sat at my computer researching the competition Cole had won, until I stumbled across his picture in the Images section. Gangly, geeky, weedy Cole Adams holding a trophy advertising his love for the violin.
Oh, Cole you are going down.
I know this isn’t as bad as what Cole did to me; but really he had more of a reputation to rip to shreds than I did. He had further to fall. Sure, doing something drastic to me would pretty much change everyone’s opinion of me, but think about it…. Digging up shocking photos of the Bad Boy as a nerds, violin-playing geek? I think we all know who would win that competition.
I had no problem with Cole’s appearance. People are allowed to look and be whatever they want. If he wanted to play the violin and wear glasses, I had no problem with that. I personally needed thick-rimmed reading glasses, but I wore contacts instead. Not because I was vain and worried about my appearance, I just found contacts more comfortable.
But I knew the people of Alderidge High weren’t as accepting as I was. They were more worried about make-up then accepting others for who and what they are. Probably the reason Cole Adams transformed himself for them.
I smirked as a thought came to mind: Alderidge High School: Where The Skirts Are Higher Than The Grades. I know, I know. I’m terrible.
I sent the message from my anonymous account, Poppy Withers, to the biggest gossip in the school, Geri Nicholson. I would’ve sent it to the most popular girl in the school, Jade Somers, but something told me she wouldn’t be impressed or post it. She was head cheerleader and very good friends with Cole. But Geri wouldn’t be able to pass up this opportunity.
With a malicious grin I began typing the message,
I stumbled across this picture on the Internet of Cole Adams. I thought that I HAD to show you.
That was all I had to do. By tomorrow morning everyone in this school would know about it. His reputation would be ruined. I grinned, satisfied. Our pranking war was over, Now I could go on living life like normal.
Somewhere up there, Fate was rolling on the floor, laughing so hard his sides were hurting.
“How could you do this to me, Grace?!”
The voice echoed down the corridor, reverberating around me. Students turned with startled expressions to see Cole Adams stalking towards me, fists clenched at his side and his face rage-filled.
I was a dead woman.
I turned around and picked up my pace to a jog, trying to get away from him. But, man, that boy was fast.
The rumours through school were astonishing when Annie and I drove in to the parking lot this morning. Everyone was talking about the weedy thirteen-year-old in the picture. My plan had worked.
Except now Cole had found out, which was expected. But one look at his face told me that I’d rather not be there when he blew. Which was probably minutes away from happening.
He too began to jog, and next thing I knew I was sprinting through the corridors, trying to get away from him. I was really unfit, so after about thirty seconds I was panting. I managed to run about twenty more meters before I had to stop and catch my breath. I ran through the doors of the school and out onto the sunny campus, where kids milled around.
I stopped at a telephone pole and tried to catch my breath. I jumped as I heard a bang and saw Cole shove the door, hard, against the brick wall, stepping out into the sunshine. He squinted past the glare, looking for me, so I made like a tree and froze.
Of course he saw me, and began stalking towards me. I yelped and ran, my heart pounding against my ribcage, until a strong hand encircled my wrist and pulled me back. Pain laced through my arm like fire, which I swallowed down as I stared into those caring chocolate-brown eyes. They really were gorgeous.
“What the hell did you do?” Cole demanded, his voice low and menacing.
“I… I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I lied.
“The picture, Grace! I’m talking about the picture! How the Hell did you find that?”
“It wasn’t me,” I said breathlessly and a little defensively.
He scoffed. “Oh, so I suppose the magical Internet fairy just came along, then, right? Sprinkled some dust and voila everyone found out about the picture. The timing was just so convenient, wasn’t it?”
I gulped. “I’m not the only one that dislikes you, Cole.”
“Maybe not, but you’re the only one that would do this.”
“So? So what if I did do it, huh? I’d just be repaying the favour. After what you did to me…” I shook my head. “It’s the least you’d deserve.”
“My reputation could be ruined because of you! God, Grace. I never thought you’d drop this low.”
“Me?” I cried. “What about you, Mr I’m-So-Perfect? You started this whole thing. Don’t start something if you’re not willing to face the consequences. What was it you said to me. Oh, yeah. If you play with fire, you’re going to get burned. Well, hotshot, you just got burned.”
He looked around at the gathering crowd who were all entranced by our confrontation. Cole fisted his hands at his sides and growled, “I’m not letting this go, Grace. You just wait and see.”
He turned around and stalked off, hands still clenched, and I felt my stomach churn. So much for ending this. I really thought it would be the end.
I turned around to the crowd, who was slowly starting to disperse, and caught the eye of Matt, who was standing next to Annie. I felt myself blush, and remembered my apology on his phone. About how I wouldn’t do it anymore. How I was sorry.
Now I was going back on my word. I’d lied to him, told him it was over. But it wasn’t. I had been stupid and naïve in thinking this would end the rivalry. All I had done was piss Cole off (even more than usual) and hurt Matt. I was on a roll today.
I saw hurt and disbelief flash in Matt’s eyes, before he shook his head and turned around, losing himself in the crowd. Annie gave me a small smile that resembled more of a grimace, before she turned around and followed Matt’s retreating back.
“Wait! Matt, Annie!” I said, running between two giggling girls and trying to chase her. But it was too late; they were gone.
I sighed as a crowd of kids enveloped me and my two best friends walked away.