After I managed to escape David, I circled the school building bordering the football field and headed for the library. I had a free period now and Jesse was waiting for me at the library, so we could start working on an essay we had to write together for History class.
“Look who’s finally decided to show up.” She greeted me, giving me an impatient look over.
“I’m sorry, you know I have to wait until the football team is out of the showers so I can take mine, Jesse. A few minutes late is worth getting beat up, don’t you think?” I asked, placing my backpack over the table and taking a few books out. “And David cornered afterwards, when I was about to leave the locker room. It took me a while to ditch him, sorry.”
She looked up from her book. “Are you okay? Did he do something to you?” she asked, looking concerned. “I will hunt that punk down and cut off his balls if he laid a finger on you-”
“I’m okay, Jess. Don’t worry.” I interrupted her. “He didn’t do anything, he just wanted to talk. I told him we had nothing to talk about anymore and walked away, okay? Relax.”
“Good,” she said, seeming appeased. “How did he even get you alone in there? Wasn’t Matt with you?”
I placed my book and a notepad on the table and took a seat across from her on the table. “He had left already.” I mumbled, as my mind went back to the events of the day and Matt’s strange behavior.
“Why didn’t he wait for you?” she asked again.
“I don’t know, Jesse. He had stuff to do or whatever.” I grumbled, irritated. “What do I need to do for this project anyway?” I asked, changing the subject.
She got the hint and dropped it, for the moment, at least. “Page fifty five, chapter seven is for you. I’m doing the one before that.” She told me as she turned her attention back to the book she was reading and the notes she was taking.
“Okay.” I tried to focus on the chapter I had to read, but I couldn’t stop thinking about Matt and the way he was acting around me. I didn’t know if the damage that our friendship had suffered over that one drunk mistake could be repairable or not now. I’ve never regretted doing something so much in my life. I would do anything to go back in time and take that kiss back…
And even though it was the last thing I wanted to do, I forced myself to get back to my History assignment, but after asking Jesse for the third time in a roll what exactly it was that I was supposed to be doing, she had enough of my distracted ass and slapped my book closed with a loud thump.
“Okay, I think you should take a break, Taylor.” She huffed at me.
“But I didn’t even started yet!”
“Yeah, but you’re obviously not up for any studying right now and I need you to stop interrupting me every five seconds, or we won’t have anything done for this project. Why don’t you take a stroll and relax? Go check the library aisles and see if you can find Nerdy Nick or something.” She suggested.
Nick was a small, nerdy and very much straight boy. I had the habit of blowing him kisses all the time, as a play thing, just for fun, and also because he was kind of adorable too. At first, he freaked out big time, but now he only sighs, shakes his head and walks away. I can tell he’s flattered though, because sometimes he smiles a little while walking away.
“Why don’t you go look for him? He’s always somewhere near books or doing something dorky.” She muttered, scribbling on her notepad. “Now, leave me alone. I need to concentrate. Go. Get out of here!” She ordered, shooing me away.
I rolled my eyes and stomped away because when Jesse starts glaring, you’d better leave her alone. I decided to go explore the back of the library, in search for a nerdy boy that might be lost or trapped somewhere under a pile of books. I ambled through the aisles, bored out of my mind, when I spotted a guy sitting on one of the reading couches by a corner in the room.
I squinted my eyes, trying to remember who the hell he was. He had curly brown hair, a strong jaw and thin lips, delicate features in a masculine face. He was kind of hot. By ‘kind of’, I mean, very much.
I walked towards the couch that was next to his and slumped down on it. He had his legs crossed in a lazy manner, and held a book in front of his face, reading with such concentration that he didn’t even acknowledge me in the room.
His name was ‘V’ something… Victor? It was something with a ‘V’ for sure. Vincent! That was it! Vincent Worthington. He was the richest kid in school.
Heck, he wasn’t only rich, he was a frigging billionaire.
People said he was some sort of a genius, with straight A’s in all advanced classes, spoke multiple languages and had the highest IQ score around. He could be the king of the geeks, if geeks were billionaires, hot, and scary.
There were rumors that his father had put him in this school to teach him values, you know, like, modesty, humility, commune with the commoners and all that jazz, so he wouldn’t turn up a spoiled brat when he grew up.
Everybody in school avoided him like the plague, because the guy had made the principal expel four kids who happened to have cross him the wrong way already. And that one kid was even deported, because he bumped into Vincent in the hallway and didn’t apologize.
Yep. Talk about major power trip. No one dared to even look Vincent in the eyes, in fear that he might take it the wrong way. So, rich boy didn’t have any friends around school, despite being a billionaire. He was always alone. It seemed like he didn’t mind all the solitude though, in fact, it looked like he preferred it that way.
“Take a picture. It lasts longer.” He muttered, his eyes never leaving the pages of the book.
I jumped, startled by his deep voice. Then I realized I had been staring for quite some time now. “Oh, sorry, my bad, I forget I space out and stare way too long at people.”
He continued reading like I wasn’t even there.I should have walked away then. That would’ve been the sensible thing to do. Obviously, I was anything but sensible. I stayed put and stared some more.
Then I grabbed a few leaflets scattered over the center table and browsed through them.Feeling adventurous, I made some paper balls and started throwing them one by one in his direction. I guess you could say my boredom was over riding my basic survival instincts.
Yeah, I wasthat bored.
It took about seven paper balls to make him stop reading and look at me. At that point he had a small paper pile on his lap.
“What do you think you’re doing?” he asked calmly.
“I think I’m trying to get your attention,duh,” I replied.
Boy, I really had a death wish.
“You have it then,” he said, resting the book over his lap to stare at me.
Ugh. His attention was scary!
Since I hadn’t planned this far ahead and didn’t have anything to ask him, I just stood there gaping like a fish out of water.
“What do youwant, Holmes?” he asked again, an edge of irritation attached to his voice.
Guess I was going for deportation tomorrow then. He was probably sending me to Alaska or some other far away deserted place like that.
“Could you at least deport me to some place warmer than Alaska, please? I can’t stand the cold.” I blurted out in panic.
He frowned, trying to make sense to what I was saying. “You’re a weird kid…” he mumbled, shaking his head.
“I’ve been called worse. Weird is not that bad… has a nice ring to it, the way you said it at least.” I mumbled but he had already returned to his reading and wasn’t paying attention to me anymore.
I pursed my lips. Well, that was kind of rude, to brush me off like that, while I was still talking to him! I guess he was a spoiled brat after all. Should I test him more? Or be smart and leave him in peace?
I tossed a few more paper balls at him.
Test it is.
“Holmes, I know I must take into consideration your usual hectic state of mind, but you are seriously irritating me now.” He grunted, with the book still held in front of his face.
“You don’t sound irritated at all.” I noted.
Then I tossed another paper ball at him.
He didn’t yell or anything, just stood there very still. I could see the knuckles of his fingers white with pressure over the cover of the book.
He was getting pissed all right. I was so dead! This was such a rush! It was like poking a cranky big ass lion with a very short stick. Not that my ‘stick’ was short. It was normal sized. Plus, it doesn’t matter the size of your stick, it’s the way youpoke with it that counts... But I digress.
“Hey. How do you know my name?” I asked, suddenly realizing he had called me Holmes a couple times already.
He didn’t respond, just sat there pretending he was reading. I was about to toss another paper ball at him when he let out a warning.
How could he see past that book? Oh my God, he must have X-Ray vision! He’s a super hero – a billionaire super hero. Dear God, he was freaking Batman!
“How do you know my-”
“You’re Taylor Holmes,” he cut in. “Hyper, loud, can’t sit still for a second even if your life depends on it. Can’t stop yapping during classes. Always skipping down the hallways with a bossy girl and that blond jock boyfriend who’s always following you around like a lost puppy.” Vincent recited as if he was reading it from the pages of the book in front of him.
I gawked, speechless for the first time in my life.
He knew quite a lot about me. Must’ve been all the surveillance cameras from his bat cave... or he could have made Alfred follow me around. Damned intruding super heroes!
“How did you know all that about me?” I managed to ask.
“You’re not the only one who knows all the gossip around this place.”
Wow. I was impressed.
“Plus, like I said, you are very loud. It’s almost impossiblenot to notice you, even though I try my hardest.” He muttered slightly irritated.
“Geez, sorry, I’ll try to tune down a little, and you should try to let that stick out of your as-”
“I advise you not to finish that sentence, Holmes.”
I know a death sentence when I see one. Better start shutting up now.I guess the cranky lion had put up with as much as he could for the day. Then I glanced at the book cover in his hands. It said‘The Selfish Gene’ by Richard Dawkins.
“Oh, I’ve read that one. It’s a good book. The way he writes is a bit too fancy, but it’s a good read. If he had simplified his writing, it could have been a much more popular book but I guess some things are not made for the masses or for popularity,” I said before I could stop myself.
Vincent slowly lowered the book and stared at me in silence for the longest minute ever.“You’ve read this book?” he asked in disbelief.
“Yes, I read it.” I scoffed, making a face.
What a stuck-up, smart-ass, know-it-all rich boy.
“But I don’t entirely agree with Dawkins when he states that there is no real altruism with all living beings just because our actions are primarily based on selfish motivations. If love is a selfish mechanism for human beings to propagate their genes, with procreation as a direct motive, biologically speaking, he didn’t consider homosexual love in his discourse. There is no procreation under motive there, but the concept of love definitely exists – a truly altruist one, or so I believe. Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic...” I finished with a shrug.
He stared unblinkingly for another long minute.
“OK. Youdefinitelyhave my attention now.” he stated, clearly interested.
“Uh...” was my brilliant reply.
I told you. His‘attention’ was scary! He had this intense stare that pierced into your soul. It was disconcerting, okay?
“I have a question for you,” he said, closing his book.
Oh, no. He had closed the book. That can’t be good. And he has a question for me. That can’t be good either!
“Why do you do this?” he asked. “This‘let’s make people think I’m just a silly air head gay boy’ when you’re nothing like it. You’re very clever, why do you make people assume otherwise?”
I could try to be honest here, I suppose. No use bluffing with this guy, he’d see right through it. “I guess it’s easier that way. People feel threatened by intelligence. They already dislike me for being gay, there’s no need to add one more thing to their hate list.” I explained. “Plus, nobody likes a know-it-all. You of all people should know that.” I gave him a pointed look.
“Hm... I suppose you are right,” he said quietly. “Do you fake it with the bossy girl and the jock boyfriend too?”
“Jesse and Matt? God no, Jesse would bitch slap me in a second if she caught me ‘dumb faking’ on her, and Matt is not my boyfriend. He’s just my friend.”
He snorted loudly. “Yeah, right.”
“Uh-huh. Did you forget to tell him this? I believe he’s not aware of the fact.”
“What are you talking about? Matt is not my boyfriend, he’s straight!” I frowned when Vincent started chuckling. “Stop laughing! I’m telling you, he’s just my friend!”
“Yeah, yeah, keep repeating that. Repetition is the key to any good lie.”
“Why would I lie about that? You know what, whatever, man. What do you know about us anyway?” I waved a dismissive hand at him.
“You’re acting as if you actually believe this!” he mused with a slight look of interest flashing briefly over his green eyes. “God be damned. You really think it’s true, don’t you? You really think he doesn’t like you.”
“He doesn’t! Not like that. We’re just friends!” I tried to reinforce the word as hard as I could.
He sat up straight, still trying hard not to laugh. ”You can’t be that naïve, Holmes. Or that blind. Come on.”
I huffed, deeply irritated by his condescending tone. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
He switched to a more serious tone. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to- You know what? I did mean everything I said, because it’s the truth. That boy hangs to you like he’s a little kid and you are a delicious bag of candy. You two are always together, and you act like a couple all the time!”
“We donot! We’re very close, that’s all. Matt is not gay. I would know about something like this! I’m his best friend.” I retorted, annoyed. “He’s had loads of girlfriends. He wouldn’t have, if he was really gay like you said.”
“I’ve heard his girlfriends don’t last a week. Why do you think that is?” he implied in a suggestive tone and a provocative smirk playing on his lips.
“I-I-I don’t know. It just... never lasts...” I mumbled.
“Of course it never lasts, because he’s in love with you.”
“Stop saying that. It’s not true!” I hunched in my seat, crossed my arms, stared at the floor and gave him a fierce pout.
“Maybe he doesn’t know that you are in love with him too.” He ventured. “He doesn’t want to risk your friendship by telling you that he loves you. Sounds familiar?”
“This is ridiculous.” I grumbled. “For someone who has a genius fame, you can come up with the most stupid theories. Talk about farfetched ludicrous concoctions…”
“I see…” he murmured and mulled over something before speaking again. “You know what? I’ll do better than just sit here and repeat myself, saying it is so. I’ll prove it to you!” he offered leaning forward with a devious glint sparkling in his forest green eyes.
“Let me prove it to you.” he proposed. “And if I’m wrong, you can ask for anything you wan- You know what, let’s be real now, that’s never going to happen, because I’m never wrong. Now, what do you say? Say you’re in!”
“Why would you do this? What’s in it for you?” I asked suspiciously.
“Oh, I get to be right,and gloat in your face about it. I love to gloat about how amazingly right I always am. When I prove to you that I’ve been right all along, you will have to acknowledge how ingenious my theories really are. I accept that in the form of an official signed letter, so I can have physical proof of how truly fantastic I am. Thank you very much.”
“Come on, for real now.” I insisted, giving him a skeptical look.
“Fine. I’ll have something interesting to do in this forsaken school. God knows this place bores me to death,” he said with an earnest expression on his face.
I watched him and pondered about his offer. What did I have to lose anyway? The way things were going between me and Matt, I was bound to lose his friendship for good at any minute now. At least with Vincent helping me out, I could have a chance to win over the boy of my dreams. It was worth a shot. Maybe Vincent could really use that ingenious mind of his for something good here.
“So? What do you say? Are you in or not?” Vincent asked excitedly, like he had just discovered the most amazing new game to play.
“Okay.” I conceded. “Let’s do this.”
“All right!” He cheered.
“So, what exactly do you plan to do?”
I was still not convinced by his ‘amazing’ ingenious skills.
“Well, before we start, you first have to shake on it, to close the deal.” He told me, extending his hand out for me. “You have to honor the deal you made, after a shake of hands, it’s a sacred rule of business. Do we have a deal, Holmes? Don’t shake on it, if you don’t mean it.”
I eyed him wearily, before I gave him a short nod and a firm shake of hands.
“Great! So, listen up. I have a plan here, but there are some rules I’m going to give you, and you need to promise me that you’ll follow them without question, okay?”
I gave him a suspicious raise of eyebrow. “Why?”
“Because otherwise, this won’t work. Come on.” He huffed out impatiently. “Do you agree to follow my rules or not? I can’t do this if you don’t agree, Holmes.”
I hesitated, but ended up agreeing in the end. “Fine. All right, I’ll do it.”
“Good. Now, your first rule is going to be this: Play along.”
I gave him a baffled look. “Play along to what?”
He moved closer to me on the couch until our sides were glued to each other and then he wrapped one arm over my shoulders. “It’s time for you to play along, Holmes.” He murmured close to my ear, leaning into me.
Heat rushed to my cheeks. He was really close and smelled really good. I glanced at his eyes, then at his lips and then back up at his eyes before I gulped, my throat suddenly feeling very dry. He was so close that I could even smell his minty breath. I kind of like minty things... just saying.
“That’s perfect, keep looking at me like that.” He instructed, smiling. For a moment there, I was lost in his eyes and almost didn’t hear what he’d said.
“W-what?” I muttered.
He rested his hand over my thigh and slid it slowly upwards.
My throat got even drier.
“W-what are youd-doing?” I stammered, blushing.
He leered over me seductively and whispered. “Didn’t I tell you he follows you around like a lost puppy?”
“Who follows me around?”
“Taylor.” Matt’s voice made me jump three feet off the couch.
“Hey! Matt!” I squeaked as Matt walked in our direction, glancing at Vincent, then at his hand that was still over my thigh. “Look, Vincent! It’s Matt!” I scooted quickly away from him, feeling like I had been caught cheating.
Vincent watched me with an amused smirk on his face, as Matt stopped in front of us, his backpack hung lazily over one shoulder and a slightly irritated look etched on his face.
“And you are...?” Matt inquired coldly at the smirking boy at my side.
“Oh, yeah, this is Vincent.” I answered in Vincent’s behalf. “Vincent, this is my friend, Matt. Matt, this is Vincent. So, yeah, Vincent, Matt, Matt, Vincent…” I rambled on endlessly.
“So, I don’t usually do this, Taylor, but I’ll open an exceptionfor you,” Vincent said, closing his book and looking at me with a strange glint in his eyes.
“Huh?” I mumbled, confused.
“You know,tutor you. You have my word, when I’m done with you,” he said that last bit a little too suggestive. “You’ll ace your test. This will be our special project, yeah? I’ll help youscore…” There he was again with the suggestive tone. “…all the ’A’s you need.” he promised, standing up. “If you follow my rules, that is.”
He gave me a pointed look, and I got his point across.
“Oh. Okay. Yeah. Sure.” I nodded, trying to play along the best I could.
“Good. I’ll see you after school then. For our first tutoring lesson,” Vincent said and strutted away before I could give a reply.
Matt slumped on the couch next to mine and tossed his backpack over the table. “Since when do you need a tutor? Are you having problems in what class?”
“He’s just helping me out with some stuff... for a project,” I said vaguely.
“Why? Do you even know that guy?” he asked, sounding slightly miffed.
“Not until a few minutes ago.”
“So why is he helping you out?”
“I don’t know, Matt. We were talking about the book he was reading and one thing led to another… What are you doing here anyway?”
“I have a project to finish for tomorrow and bumped into Jesse at the tables on the front. She asked me to come fetch you. Told me to tell you that break time’s over.”
“Oh. Okay.” I stood up and motioned for him to follow. “Aren’t you coming?”
“You go ahead, I’m going to look for some books first,” he said, avoiding my eyes.
I guess he wasn’t done acting weird around me. My presence was still making him uncomfortable and antsy. Lucky for me, I had the smartest kid in school now helping me to win Matt over. I couldn’t take that kiss back, but maybe I could make Matt see me as something more than just a friend.
“All right. See you later then.” I mumbled and left him in peace.