I bashed my fist against the white wooden door again with a loud sigh. I don’t like waiting, I don’t like being late and at that moment I was both.
“Tilly hurry up, I need to get ready for school!” I called out to my younger sister.
“I’m pooping!” Tilly yelled back. I rolled my eyes accepting that my sister wasn’t going to come out for at least another ten minutes. Tilly was only four, and an absolute sweetheart. As innocent as they came, oblivious to the bigger world. Tilly reminded me a lot of our mother, light blond hair like Mom and the same hazel eyes all of us kids had. Even Tilly’s personality was the same, aloof and wild. Tilly could already be heard singing from the other side of the door whilst she took her time. With a huff, I walked down the hall and opened my brother’s door, an unbearable stench of sweat and boy filling my nose. I scrunched my face up and turned on the light.
“Harvey get up, Tilly and I have school.” I called out receiving a deep groan from beneath the blankets as the lump of male sat up, still cocooned in his blankets an arm extended out a thumbs up.
I shook my head, closing the door to stop the smell from seeping anywhere else. Harvey was the opposite from Tilly and me, more like our father. Dark brown hair, never maintained and scruffy. On the bigger side, but still muscular, carrying Tilly around like she was nothing but a feather to him. His mannerisms were similar too, the way he spoke, grumbled, laughed, they all reminded me of Dad. Sometimes it made me sad, other times, happy. I missed the sounds, I missed my parents.
I carried on down to the kitchen where the all too familiar smell of hot porridge wafted through the room.
“Gramps, for once could we have pancakes for breakfast?” I whined and my grandfather chuckled.
“You know, one day you’ll be in college and you’ll be grateful for porridge, it’s cheap and hard to fuck up when you’re hungry.” He replied, pushing a plate along the wooden bench towards me. I gave him a peck on the cheek as a thank you, taking the bowl and sitting at the table, soon accompanied by a far too energetic Tilly, a far from morning person, Harvey and Gramps.
Gramps, or otherwise known as Wesley was a man that often kept to himself, he never married but was always happy with Nana Celia. She had passed away before I was born and when Harvey was only a baby. Gramps would tell stories about her, how all our looks came from Nana. She was lost to cancer, a common thing in our family, though Gramp had said it was hard losing her, that he grieved for a while, things eventually got better and he had never lost his love for her. I hoped that I would get over the death of my parents too, though it certainly wasn’t proving to be all that easy. I took one day at a time, I tried my best to smile as often as I could muster and I never let myself cry alone just by not giving myself the time to cry at all.
Leaving my plate in the sink, finishing before everyone else I sped to the bathroom, finally able to get myself sorted. I washed my face, my fair skin mostly blemish free, deciding on not wearing makeup today before pulling my hair into a ponytail, the ends of it still reaching the middle of my back. I knew I needed a trim but Gramps had been busy working at his bookstore recently and I felt bad asking. Finishing up, I went into my room that I shared with my darling sister Tilly. I tiptoed over toys of all kinds to make it to my side of the room so I could throw my school bag over my shoulder.
“Toni! Leaving in five.” Harvey called out.
Normally I’d walk to school but it was a twenty minute walk, meaning I should have left awhile ago but as usual, I was running late and I still had to get Tilly to Kinder-care and then myself to school. Time wise, I didn’t have the ability to make that work. Mondays were never my strength.
I pulled on my shoes and straightened out my black pleated skirt and loose white, cropped knitted jumper. I was thankfully in my last year of high school now so my body had mostly finished developing, though I didn’t often flaunt my goods, it was certainly something I wasn’t insecure about. I was petite sure, but I was plump in all the right places. Satisfied, I went back into the living space and gave Gramps another kiss on the cheek where he sat at the table, his half eaten porridge mostly cold as he was far too involved in his paper, like every morning. I helped Tilly put on her shoes and put her bag on her back, checking it over, ensuring she had a spare change of clothes, and her lunchbox before ushering her out and settling her in the car.
Harvey pulled up alongside the Kinder care and I climbed out first, going over to Tilly, unbuckling her from her car seat and giving her a hug.
“Be good, I’ll see you later!” I called out as Tilly ran off, waving behind her. I turned to Harvey.
“Going to work today?” I asked him and he nodded.
He never really spoke all too much, it had been four years since our parents passed and he seemed to never have really come to terms with it. Neither had I but at least I hadn’t let it consume me like Harvey had. He barely went to work anymore, moping in his room, depressed. I knew he found it hard to be around Tilly, if it weren’t for her, we’d still be a happy family of four. But Tilly did happen, and Mom did pass giving birth to her, it just happened. Mom wouldn’t want us to resent Tilly for that so I didn’t.
“Yeah the boys in the workshop said they have a backlog of cars needing work on them.” He finally replied.
“It’ll be good for you to get out of your room, get some oxygen.” I said and he shrugged,
“Just there for the pay, it’s easy work. Shit I know how to do so can’t complain too much.” He replied.
Shit he knew how to do, I knew it meant he was thinking too hard about Dad.
Dad had taught him everything he knew about auto mechanics. He was an actual genius with cars, naturally too. Took him little effort and when Dad was here, he actually enjoyed it, the two of them working in the shop. Fixing cars, bonding.
Dads passing hit him the hardest. Barely a week after moms, leaving both of us with a new born sister and no parents. He died of a broken heart, at least that’s how we took it, medically it was considered a heart attack though the doctors told us he was fit and healthy so it made no sense, essentially calling it a broken heart. It made sense to us though, Harvey and I looked up to Mom and Dad like they were superheros, our superheros, their love for each other and for us, it was picture perfect.
“Have a good day at work bro, ” I nodded him off and he threw his fist out the window so I could pump my own fist against his. Something we had always done.
When it all came down to just the three of us Harvey and I became closer than ever before. We wouldn’t really hangout per-say but we were always there for each other in a heartbeat. We were good at talking, making sure each other was managing, together we cared and practically raised Tilly. We did everything we could to give Tilly the ideology of two people to look up to, making sure she knew we loved her like our parents would have loved her, like how Harvey and I had Mom and Dad.
Harvey left, leaving me to walk the nice twenty minute walk to high school. Normally it was nicer but today my brain was certainly heavier with thoughts, more than usual. Unlike Harvey neither death specifically hit me more than the other, but together, that hit was harder than I had ever imagined it to be. Its one of those things you don’t expect to happen, until it does, and you just have to live with it, move on. I’m sure I cried every day for at least a month after it, but I hadn’t cried since. A part of me swore myself to never cry again, my parents wouldn’t want me too, they wouldn’t want me to be sad, they would want me to do everything I could to make sure I was living the best life I could. I was trying to.
I walked up to the school, looking both ways and swearing that there was no one as I made my way across the parking lot only to scream as the screech of tires swerved to avoid me. I looked into the car at the driver, groaning to see the one person I didn’t want to see. Patrik Lowe. My high school bully, well one of them at least.
“Shit, didn’t see you there man.” He called out laughing,
“I highly doubt that.” I grumbled. Patrik chuckled more, a car filled with other students who were also laughing. I couldn’t quite understand what part of me getting almost hit by a car was funny. Dumb male brain cells, never making any sense, always thinking with the brain in their dicks, not their actual brains. Though I didn’t think they even have actual brains at all at this point.
“Maybe I did, but your reaction was well worth it.” Patrik laughed just loud enough for me to hear. I took in a deep breath, calming the rage that was firing within me and walked away from the group. He tended to always talk shit, nice initially but then a complete asshole a minute later. There was always a catch. Today he was bold though, biting back. It raged me more.
He was mean to me, sure, but he was nice to the eye, the perfect, preppy popular boy who even played golf. His always had perfectly maintained dark brown hair, and his impressively sculpted build was easy to stare at, his green eyes annoyingly captivating. But Patrik was a guy I would only ever enjoy looking at. I would never be able to have a genuine conversation. It always ended with him laughing at me, never with me.
I didn’t look back at him this time for that last glancing eye bore, keeping my head down, my pace fast, heading straight for the open doors of school, and straight to my locker.
I opened it up and shoved my bag inside it, pulling out my science books for my first class, closing the door. I jumped, a face popping out from the other side.
“Erin!” I squealed in fright, clutching my books close to my chest.
“Good morning bestie!” Erin replied with a wide grin, my best friend holding her own science books to her chest.
“You almost gave me a heart attack.” I breathed out heavily and Erin smiled.
“Almost, but not entirely.” She grinned and I laughed.
Erin Tanner, my best-my only friend honestly. I was just an outcast with dead parents and a lack of communication skills. Erin on the other hand was loud, obnoxious and didn’t back down. Faced shit head on and threw it right back with a power so aggressive, most people in general just didn’t fuck with her. She kept me safe, for the most part and I could never repay Erin enough thanks for that. Erin was pretty and definitely a tasteful character; black overly layered hair, streaks of colors like a rainbow and always in billions of ripped layers and chunky studded belts. Erin was going to be the girl that brought 2000’s Emo style back.
“How was your walk?” Erin asked as we made our way to class together.
“Well Patrik nearly ran me over,” I shrugged, Erin looked at me. Eyes wide.
“Again!?” She exclaimed, I nodded. “It’s like every other day he does this, are you sure you’re looking both ways?” Erin asked, a grin on the corner of her mouth as she tried to not laugh at her own joke. I laughed for her.
“I have to be sure knowing Patrik is on the road.” I replied.
“I have my bets on him liking you.” She laughed, and I looked her dead in the eyes.
“There’s no fucking way. He’s horrible to me.” I replied, she shrugged.
“You know what they say, if he bullies you, he likes you.” She said and I rolled my eyes, anyone who thought that was an idiot. Erin nudged me, laughing as we made our way into class.
Mindlessly we went over to our usual seats. I almost stumbled over my usual chair as a boy turned to me, sitting in my seat.
He was gorgeous, his black blouse tight on his defined chest, the first few buttons undone, a red tie loose around his neck, it was a sight that immediately melted my core. I closed my mouth in fear I would begin to drool. His brown eyes were so pure in color unlike I had ever seen before, his lashes dark and thick giving him that naturally eye-lined look. His stare was mesmerizing, and I struggled to avert my eyes from his. The sleeves that stressed over his gym defined biceps flexed as he flicked his hair back, making me want to almost fall to my knees right there and then for him. The dark straight mop of black with forest green streaks throughout brushing past his eyes as he ruffled through his hair, gave me the moment I needed to break from the stare pulling me back into reality.
Who. Was. This. Guy?
“Shit sorry.” I said, my cheeks hot with heat, going to turn when Erin stopped me.
“No, don’t be sorry, these are our seats.” She scowled. Erin looked up to take in the person before us, a new guy, a pretty damn hot new guy though I knew Erin probably didn’t share these thoughts. She didn’t sway that way. Meant more for me.
“I may be new.” They guy began, “but the seats aren’t named, fuck off.” He responded. I sucked in a breath, not expecting that as Erin began to practically steam out of her ears.
“Excuse me!” Erin shouted. The guy opened his mouth to reply, interrupted by the bell for class and the teacher storming in.
“SIT!” Mr. Davis shouted at Erin and me. I fumbled to look around, resulting in a cackle of amusement from the new guy. The teacher began his countdown, like he usually did when students were not seated fast enough for his lesson. If I didn’t find a seat soon I was doomed for an unfair detention.
“ONE!” He shouted. I looked around the room blinking, Erin no longer in my mind as I scanned the room for a spare seat.
“TWO!” He continued. The new guy began to laugh more as he watched me go into a state of panic, the students around me not being any help, putting a leg up and blocking the spare ones.
“THREE!” He finished. I was done for now, no going back.
“TONI! DETENTION AFTER SCHOOL!” Mr. Davis shouted and I sighed, the seats previously occupied by blocking legs now gone, allowing me to take a seat. My so-called friend at the back of the class having found herself a seat before the three.
“AND DETENTION FOR YOU TOO NICK, NEW OR NOT THAT LAUGH WILL NOT BE TOLERATED.” The teacher screamed. I looked over to the new guy, Nick, his face ignorant and unbothered. I knew from that moment on, it was going to be one of those days I should’ve stayed home for.
The bell rung for lunch and the students around me hurried to grab their books and file out the door, I took my time though. I was far from in any rush to go to lunch. My friend, my one and only friend had betrayed me earlier, jumping into a seat faster than the countdown and not even bothering to help me. I was mad about it honestly, I probably wouldn’t say anything though but it definitely heated within me. I knew that I probably should speak up, say something, defend myself but I had never been successful doing that. It either backfired or they just wouldn’t respond to it, either way, a waste of my time, and emotion.
I brushed off my thoughts and grabbed my books heading for my locker, in the other direction of the cafeteria, fighting against the flow of students walking against me as they made their way towards the cafe.
I wasn’t something, or someone people noticed, pushing past me like I wasn’t even there. I kept myself small, weaving through the crowd of students, it finally becoming less suffocating the closer I made it to my locker.
I breathed a sigh of relief, lifting my head from the stare I had on my feet making sure I wasn’t stepping on toes as I made my way through the sardine packed halls when my locker finally came into view. I headed straight for it, opening it up and taking the bigger breaths I was needing. Putting my books away, it took me a moment to gather myself before reaching my arm out to close the door. I had to eventually make my way to the cafeteria, I had to eat at some point. Though my hand never made it to the edge of the metal as another hand, a bigger, more defined hand took the place my hand aimed for, closing the locker door in front of me.
I turned quickly, coming face to face with a chest, a chest with a buttoned down blouse and loosely tied tie.
I pressed my back firmly against my locker, trying to gain some distance between us. A distance he closed by leaning in further, putting an arm over my head, his height towering over me, as if I didn’t already feel small enough. I looked up at his arm, the muscles, the flexing, inches away from my upturned head. My core heated again as I clenched my thighs together. Damn this man having an affect on me. It had never before taken so much as a simple look to crumble me like the way I was. It took time, affection, communication. Not some beautiful defined damn arms. I turned to face him, his brown eyes impaling me with a stern look. I felt the heat rise in my neck as his face leaned in closer to mine, not close enough to think that we would kiss. As much my stupid libido was hoping for it.
He was close enough though that my knees began to buckle. I don’t know how he knew, he probably didn’t, he was probably only trying to lure me further into his hypnotic presence as he put his free hand against my side, holding it tight, keeping me upright enough that I didn’t fall to a height where my libido was tempting me to be.
“Getting me into detention already.” He said, his breath was hot against my face, smelling of cigarettes. A scent that normally had me gagging, but his was chilled, like a menthol, it annoyingly suited him and it had my stomach flipping like an Olympic gymnast as I struggled to hold myself together.
“I didn’t mean to.” I attempted to apologize and he laughed.
He fucking laughed.
The sound alone sent me into a frenzy. One that begged me to inch closer but I strained myself to not.
“Don’t be, I’m impressed, Sunflower.” He responded.
A fucking nickname already,
Fuck me, literally, please.
“Don’t expect me to like you for it though, consider it a challenge.” He continued, inching closer. I instinctively moved my head to the side to create more space, I needed oxygen, I needed air. I sucked in a breath, my mistake of moving to the side becoming quickly apparent as he targeted the flesh on my neck.
His lips weren’t against it, but they were there, brushing against the hairs, sending goosebumps down my spine. I forced myself to not flinch, to not give a reaction. I closed my eyes and bit down hard on my tongue as I tried to steady my breaths. My frustration clearly noticeable like I was a freak on show. He smiled against my neck, his breath hot against me as he breathed steadily.
“I’ll see you later, Sunflower.” He whispered.
I crumbled, the shudder I was trying so hard to keep in control failing me as I did. A chuckle coming from his lips had me almost moaning as he moved away, releasing me from his hold. I surprised myself as I managed to stay on two feet, watching him walk away, amused and not taking a second look back.
“Fuck.” I whispered once he was out of sight. It was a word I had meant to keep to myself, to say in my head and yet it slipped through my mouth, the breathless word filling the empty space of the corridor.
I needed to move, move from the stunned state I was in. He had affected me and I knew it would but I didn’t expect myself to crumble like I had in front of him.
A fucking challenge.
What did that mean?
I breathed in deep and made my way into the bathroom not far from my locker, grateful that it was empty as I looked over myself. My cheeks were a horrific red color. I splashed water over them, trying to cool myself off. I wasn’t going to the cafeteria, not today. I needed to sort my shit. I had to prepare myself, prepare my damn sensitive libido for detention.
I was dreading detention. It had been on my mind all day. I’d already messaged Harvey, telling him I had something to do after school. I wasn’t about to tell him why. I had never had a detention before, not once in my life. I wasn’t a goody-two-shoes, at least I didn’t see myself like that, I just wasn’t actively ever trying to get in trouble. He didn’t seem bothered though, I told him I’d walk home like usual so it was no worry to Harvey.
I walked into detention, the first one there. I wasn’t surprised. Nick seemed to be the kind of guy who would turn up late, even to detention. I took a seat and swung my feet, waiting, the teacher walked in not talking to me. Just sat down and waited for the rest of the students who managed the same fate as me.
I had spent the last five minutes staring out the window endlessly, tying to remove myself from reality, from the stupid position I was in. The click of the classroom door opening and closing barely grabbed my attention, I kept my eyes fixed on what was beyond the window.
“Yo, Mrs.” The student said, his voice familiar, making me turn to look.
“Well, well, well.” Patrik laughed sitting in the desk next to me. I had chosen a chair the furthest from the door and closest to the window and out of all the seats in the room, Patrik took the one directly beside me.
“Toni, how did you end up here?” He grinned, it was mischievous and I riled an anger within me. How did he continuously manage to do that to me?
“Science class.” I responded, my tone was flat, purposefully as I had no intention of holding a conversation with him.
Thankfully I didn’t have too as Nick walked in, taking the seat behind me. Flashing me a grin, a stupid sexy fucking grin that had me writhing to be as far as I could away from him yet I was stuck as the teacher pulled out the timer and turned the dial, the ticking of time filling my ears.
“Silence.” She said, her voice low but stern. We all listened, falling into a silence so painfully awkward it had me biting my tongue harder to distract myself from it.
The tick had gone on for hours, at least it felt like that, the sound of the timer drilling so deeply into my brain I was sure I was going to hear it in my dreams when I went to sleep tonight. Better yet, my nightmares. The entire time I had been there seemed only breaths away from literal hell. With both boys surrounding me like hawks circling prey, I had forced myself to look anywhere but in their direction, grateful for my choice in the window seat as I stared outside. I could feel their eyes, pouring into me, leaking into my soul like some demon, behind me was temptation, beside me rage, both dangerous emotions to mix.
The teacher had turned the timer away from us so we couldn’t see how much time there was left.
The time was more than long enough and I was ecstatic to hear the ding go. I was tempted to run, run faster than I had ever run before but I didn’t, though I didn’t waste my time either. I gathered myself quickly and rushed for my locker, collecting my things, putting them into my bag and bolting for the front door, into the open air. I took in a deep breath and began my walk home, it wasn’t far but it was far enough for me to take my time and simply enjoy the walk but that was a short lived idea as Patrik’s car pulled up along side me, driving terribly slow to keep up with my walking pace. A pace I refused to stop.
“Want a ride, Sunny?” He asked, a smirk playing at the corners of his lips. I was grateful for the shades he wore as they covered his eyes. The stupid green pair that sucked me in.
“No.” I said, I tried to stay strong but I could feel dampness on the back of my neck, a misting rain beginning to fall, “though the nickname Sunny is new. Got bored of the insulting ones?” I asked, a grin on my own face now as I looked over to him. He took his shades off, an amused smirk on his face. The eyes, the stupid green eyes making me trip slightly, literally making him laugh a little.
“I just couldn’t help but take in your hair today, the sunlight compliments it.” He said, I squinted my eyes.
Was that a compliment?
“Sick of throwing me insults altogether?” I questioned. “Never thought I’d ever hear a compliment from you.” Patrik laughed at that.
“Just as bold of you to assume I was complimenting you. I said the sunlight complimented it, otherwise, well- “ He trailed his sentence off and I rolled my eyes, looking away and fastening my pace. The droplets of rain became heavier and his invitation became more enticing.
“Are you sure you don’t want that ride?” He asked again, I looked at him. I wasn’t stupid.
“At what cost?” I asked, Patrick grinned delightfully and I shook my head at him.
“Good one Sunny, you’re smart aren’t you?” He laughed.
“Don’t beat around the bush, Patrik.” I groaned, the drizzle of water becoming a downpour of rain. It was practically pointless now to get ride. I was already drenched.
“I need you to caddy for me this weekend. My usual girl is on holiday and I need someone who knows the course.” I rolled my eyes.
“Isn’t your ‘usual’ girl your girlfriend?” I asked, ignoring his request.
“Something like that. Shes going away though so you’re the next best.” He said. The words stung a bit, next best. It shouldn’t have, even though we had nothing but a ‘hate, hate’ relationship, it still bit.
“I’m not taking the ride but I’ll take the job.” I said flatly, walking faster and turning down my street. Patrick had to stop at the give way sign, giving me a brief walking head start, thankfully he carried on driving past me entirely, allowing me to walk the rest of the way home, in peace.