My heart raced in my chest. Butterflies filled my stomach. I was nervous, excited, afraid, and giddy all at once. My parents finally listened to me, and I would go to a public high school this year. I would get to attend for junior year with my best friend and if it went well, they would let me graduate from there, too. But as soon as I took one step outside of the car, I wanted to turn back. To run.
There were boys. Lots of them. I forgot. I bit into my lip, unfamiliar with it, until a familiar face appeared. Amber. My best friend. She wore a bright smile, jeans, and a graphic tee with a rock band on them. A few guys were standing with her, but she shooed them away, her blonde side ponytail shaking with her movements. Amber was also my polar opposite, despite us being from the same class.
“You’re finally here! I waited for so long!” She squealed, her excitement drawing the attention of a few nearby guys. “Convincing your parents was the hardest thing ever!”
Yeah, we worked as a team for two years to convince them to let me go to a public high school. My parents hated the idea, not wanting me to suffer from the ‘normal’ teenager delusions, but I had to tell them it was part of how I learned. Normal was normal. Everyone needed that normal. But I was quickly regretting that decision. I glanced around at all the onlookers and tucked a lock of brown hair behind my ear.
“But… can we maybe go somewhere quieter?” I ventured, glancing around again, causing her to look around curiously. “It’s a little awkward to stand here.”
“Fair! Come on, I’ll show you where our homeroom is.” Amber stated, pulling on my arm. “Your outfit is cute, by the way!”
“Oh, thanks!” We started walking towards the building, and I looked at the ground under my feet. “I don’t look weird?”
I picked blue denim plaid skorts (a skirt with built-in shorts) and a pink designer, graphic tee to wear today. It crossed my mind to dress nicely, despite Amber and my parents both encouraging me to wear what I was comfortable in. This outfit was not much different from my usual clothing, but I normally wore jeans. I followed her into an almost empty classroom when it happened. He walked in.
I froze. He was tall, at least six foot five compared to my five foot eleven, but good-looking with shaggy brown hair and hidden green-colored eyes. As soon as his boyish face lifted and our eyes locked, he made a beeline straight for me with something akin to awe written on his features. He stopped in front of me, hand still extended before he dropped it, color flooding across his face.
“Um. I’m Davin Robertson.” He introduced, taking my hand. “It’s nice to meet you… Lulu… I mean, you’re Lucia, right?”
As soon as our fingers touched, a shock ran up my arm, making me even more aware of him. I stared deep into those emerald orbs, completely losing myself as the world fell away. Who is he? The pads of his fingers were a little scratchy, the callused hands of a guy, and I inhaled sharply, taking in the smell of his cologne. My heart jumped into a run as he moved our hands in a shake, reminding me of where we were in an instant.
“You can call me Lulu… and yes, I’m Lucia Trinity Rose.” I stuttered, awkwardly returning the handshake. “Wait, how did you know me?”
“Amber wouldn’t shut up about you, but it makes sense. You’re adorable.” Davin smirked, leaning closer, which made my cheeks flood with heat. “I wonder what you would do if I kissed you.”
Kiss?! I felt so hot I would faint, and this stranger was talking about kissing? Amber smacked him on the back of the head before apologizing to me for his crude behavior and explaining he was not normally like that. She started talking about the school, this class’s teacher, the students, and the latest gossip, but I could not hear her. Because I was hyperaware of Davin standing next to me.
Remember to breathe. I reminded, chewing on my lip when I felt his green eyes on me again. I could smell the cologne clinging to his skin, feel his gaze hot on the side of my face, and could practically reach out and touch him with how close he was. Amber kept talking, but nothing registered in my brain until the bell ringing snapped me out of my trance. I quickly took a seat at the closest desk, still avoiding looking at Davin.
“Lucia?” the teacher asked, drawing my gaze up to the front. “Lucia Rose?”
“That’s me!” I raised my hand before shyly looking away, my hand falling back to my desk.
“Would you like to introduce yourself?”
“I’d rather not.” I replied honestly, glancing at everyone. “But I will. My name is Lucia Rose, and I’ll be going to school here this year. It’s nice to meet you.”
It was embarrassing to be the center of attention like that, so I quickly sat back down, cursing my luck. Thankfully, the teacher moved on without pressing the issue. I glanced to my left to find Davin sitting there, head resting against his fist, his green eyes focused entirely on me. All I had to do was know he was looking at me to feel his full attention, and it made me nervous. Made me feel hot in the face.
The slow tick of the clock echoed in my ears and my gray eyes were drawn to him again, only to find his focus still on me. It was a gaze that sent trails of fire across my skin, yet felt so tender I never wanted it to fade. And it confused me. How could he make me feel like this just by watching me? Shouldn’t I find this creepy? But he is so gorgeous! Unable to stand it any longer, I raised my hand.
“May I be excused? I need to use the restroom.” I asked as soon as the teacher nodded. “Thank you.”
“Yes, yes, go on. And Davin? Could you show her where to go?” The teacher requested, making me scream internally. “Since you seem more focused on her than school today, go ahead and say what you need to. Just keep the lovey dovey stuff out of my classroom.”
I wanted to escape everyone’s knowing gaze as soon as possible, so I practically ran when the door closed behind me. The childish part of me forced me to do it, I told myself as I ran through the hallways, my eyes on the walls, looking for any sign of the restroom. When I did not hear any footsteps behind me, I slowed my run, wanting to catch my breath to think. Who is he? What is wrong with him? What is wrong with me?!
“You are a fast runner!” He panted, wiping his forehead with the back of his forearm, something that seemed to enhance the scent of his cologne somehow. “Yeesh, I had a hard time keeping up with you.”
“Davin, remember?” Davin questioned with a goofy grin before he leaned closer, that goofiness fading into a more mature looking smile, complete with a dimple in his cheek. “And you’re Lulu, in case you forgot.”
Why could I barely breathe around him? I thought I didn’t hear anyone behind me! Could it be that he kept pace with me?! His head tilted a little, giving me a full view of his perfect teeth hidden behind even more perfect lips. My heart thudded in my ears, and I pulled away a little, hoping to quell the heat coursing through me all because of something so simple. What was wrong with me?
I hated it when people called me Lu or Lulu, yet the sound of his sweet tenor calling me that nickname made me let it go. Made me forget the hatred I carried for that nickname. And that dimple when he smiles. I lifted a hand to my chest to check my heart rate when I finally turned back towards the way we came, unable to fight off my embarrassment, but not willing to let him know he won.
“I needed to go for a run. The room was feeling a little stuffy.” I countered, shrugging off his chuckle. “Don’t laugh at me! Why are you staring at me so hard, anyway?”
“Didn’t feel too stuffy for me.” Davin crossed his arms in front of his chest, his steps shifting as he came closer to me, making me stop and stare up into his emerald eyes. “It just feels right to have you in my sights, Lulu.”
Woah. My heart throbbed again, making my entire face flush. It was the corniest thing anyone had ever said to me before, yet coming from him made me feel nauseous with butterflies. My brain was sending warning signals my body refused to listen to, and my gaze fell to his lips. The perfect kiss. Not like I would know what that was, but this moment made me feel sure that I wanted to kiss him, too.
The door nearby flew open, banging against the lockers behind it in the hallway, the adult behind it looking embarrassed, too. Before I could offer an explanation, I took off running again, leaving Davin to his unknown fate. Not that I hated him, just the way he made me feel. Why? I didn’t come here for love. I came to have the normal high school experience. Wait. I facepalmed right there, annoyed with my fumble. Dating was normal.
“Do you seriously hate me?” This time his deep tenor voice didn’t startle me. “Because if you do…”
“No, I don’t. You make my heart race and it’s strange. I’m not sure if I like it.” I replied, giving him my best shy smile. “But I don’t hate it.”
How could I just be honest like that? I wondered, as my face turned bright red, and I turned away from him. My emotions had been through more today than they had my entire young life. I hated the thought of being so vulnerable with a complete stranger, yet something about him had me at ease. Catching movement out of the corner of my eye, I turned to find him standing next to me, an awkward smile playing about his lips.
“Amber mentioned you were shy. Sorry, I shouldn’t push you so hard.” He shoved his hands in his pockets, emerald eyes falling to the floor. “You just seem so different from everyone, and I guess I’m the kind of guy who enjoys teasing the girl he likes.”
It was completely out of the blue, but I noticed his confession before anything else. I averted my gaze, my face feeling even hotter than before. Maybe it was stupid to act this way about a guy, but I didn’t know because I’d never been around one before. I had tutors and went to a private girls’ school. This was the first time I went to a school without a uniform. What did I say to that? How did I answer him?
“Why would Amber talk to you about me?” Had he not been walking next to me, I would have facepalmed again for such a moronic question.
“We’re cousins, though her parents are better off than mine. But she’s the type of person who just can’t leave anyone alone, especially if they have a ‘family’ title.” He shrugged before glancing at me out of the corner of his eye. “When she told me how she met you, I was a little worried. But I’m glad you’re here. Most people only want to be her friend because of her wealth.”
“Friendship doesn’t have a price tag.” I said without flinching, and his eyes widened. “What?”
“Nothing.” Davin chuckled, his head tilting as he smiled at me. “I just told her that same thing. You two really are exceptional rich people.”
Should that offend me? I wondered as we continued walking. Despite the different levels of wealth, I really didn’t think of myself any better than anyone else. Everyone had different struggles they had to face, so acting pompous would hurt more than help. And it wasn’t just for their sake, it was for mine, too; I thought with a nod. My parents may be wealthy, but they are good people. How did that make me exceptional, though?