We were late for school, racing across the street like a pack of wolves. Not only had we woken up a hour past, but the electricity was cut off down our entire street. Last night a thunderstorm struck, apparently, and wiped out the post lines. None of this helped me as I lived with ten people, and are wrestling to get to the only two bathrooms in the house, needing to brush my morning breath and take a shower to start the day.
"Come on," my cousin, Nina, shouted at me from across the crosswalk. "Everyone is already in school. Mrs. Murray is going to have our heads!"
I rolled my eyes. My cousin can be over dramatic when it comes to her school attendance, whereas I could care less. My GPA gave me enough coverage to skip a few weeks, and only drop to a A minus.
The late bell rang for the second time, and all four of us made haste inside the tall, elite building that was our school, Venice High, looming over us and stretching as far as the heavens.
Together me and my cousins rushed into our English IV class with Mrs. Murray. Students were already seated, conversing as the teacher faced the chalkboard, writing the objective for this week.
She turned to observe us, her eyes accusative.
"Stupid alarm clock." I cursed under my breath, trying to untangle my golden ringlets pressed in a tangle down my spine. I didn't get the chance to brush my hair, because my Aunt Lesya took the fucking thing with her to work!
As we disrupted her class with our entrance we each apologized and took our seats as quietly as the silence in the room allowed. I tried to keep my head down in attempt to avoid the accusing glare of my mom's best friend.
The one thing I loathed more than anything was attention, and she knew this.
Mrs. Murray was like a sister to my mother during their years of high school since the last time she spent her teenage years here in Los Angeles. Why she left I don't know, but she doesn't like to talk about it.
I always wondered why. Who wouldn't want to talk about the town where you met your first, and only, love?
"Korina," Mrs. Murray announced, drawing the eyes of my classmates. "What on earth has you and your siblings late this morning?" She raised a brow. "That's not a normal character of yours."
"Alarm clock didn't go off," I said with a shrug. "The storm last night took out our power. Won't happen again, miss."
"See that it doesn't." She pointed a finger at me with a friendly glare before waving me off. "Take your seat, and never call me that." She shuddered. "Makes me feel old."
I giggled and started toward my seat like she instructed me. Upon locating my spot I stopped. There were two boys sitting in Nina and I's section.
What the fuck? Who the hell are these guys?
One wore a gray beanie with his back to me. I caught a glimpse of fair hair tucked under the hem, sticking out against his neck. He had broad shoulders encased by a gray V-neck and dark jeans and a navy blue hoodie.
The other beside him had his feet crossed over the long table with a bored expression on his sharp face, slouched in the chair with his head tilted backwards keeping his eyelids sealed. He appeared to be engrossed in the deep conversation with the row of jocks and cheerleaders behind him. His ears listened and head nodded ever so often with a dimpled smile.
Wow. His smile was gorgeous.
I cleared my throat. "That's my seat."
The boy with the beanie turned when he heard me speak. He was about my age with hazel eyes as silky as honey. His face was all sharp angles and planes; a scar long faded, dragging in a white strip alongside his right eyebrow.
He smiled up at me. "You must be Korina," he said and lent out a gloved hand. "I am Aleks. Short for Aleksandr."
I didn't shake his hand.
"You are in my seat," I repeated.
"You said that already," the boy beside him voiced, a profound Russian accent.
The undertone sent a chill to break out on my skin. Like smooth velvet sent to freeze. My hands curled around my books in my arms as I studied him.
The two were similar in the physical, same bone structure and sharp jawline except for the crooked way the second one's nose was angled. As I looked him over he studied me with the eyes of sweet honey, the pools of gold shameless in their perusal. "We are entitled to sit anywhere we like."
"You haven't listened the first time," I gritted.
I was not in the mood for his bullshit. Not after the chaos I went through this morning.
"You are both entitled to a empty seat such as those in the back row." I pointed to the desks Mrs. Murray kept free of name tags. "This is my section."
His lips pursed. "And what about this seat? It is empty. No name, therefore I have claimed it."
"That would be mine," Nina chirped. "But you can gladly take it."
I glared at her and she smiled sheepishly.
"I don't do well with partners," I explained, glaring at the Russian. "Not if you like people who bite."
His smirk was devilishly sly. "Vy mozhete ukusit' menya v lyuboye vremya, krasivaya devushka." You can bite me any time, pretty girl.
My eyes widened as every one of my classmates looked around with curious glances, whispering, and wondering what the Russian just said to me. But I knew. So did my cousin. Papa had taught us a second language, to which I chose it as one of my many foreign tongues in school, after finding out we were a descendant of Russian blood, too.
"Korina," Mrs. Murray rounded her desk knocking a kneecap against the edge and balanced herself. "Nina. These are new foreign exchange students all the way from, Russia. They're brothers. Aleksandr and Maksimillian Nikolaev."
"I prefer, Maksim," said the Russian.
"Not like I'm going to use it," I deadpanned. "I'd really like our seats back now."
"As you wish." Aleksandr stood and clapped Maksimillian on the shoulder. "Come, brother. Let us go sit with the pretty ladies in the back who are actually enthralled to sit with us."
The fact the females behind us giggled at this, like airless preteens, made me want to vomit all over the floor. Instead, I rolled my eyes. The females of our generation were so gullible when it came to male charm; it was ridiculous.
"Wait," said Maksimillian. "Her cousin offered the seat. I don't have to move anywhere." He slouched more, drawing his muscular arm along the backrest of the pairing chair. "I rather like this spot."
"Well I don't like you in it," I argued.
He eyed me up and down, his eyes like molten whiskey. "Come join me, krasivaya devushka."
I bit my tongue for a retort. He did it again, calling me that discriminating and sexist endearment. It set my blood aflame with rage, my hands fisting at my sides.
"Stop calling me that. I'm not your pretty girl."
The class gasped dramatically, and I rolled my eyes.
"I'm allergic to sharing with self-absorbed boys," I was pulling straws at this point at the same time infuriated I was even wasting my breath on this asshat.
"Are you sure you're not scared of boys in general?" He said nonchalantly.
Mrs. Murray stepped between us noticing the tension to say, "It's just how she works. It allows us to keep her from strangling another boy, of course." Her lips twitched as she finished her comment remembering exactly how it all came about.
"You strangled another boy?" Maksimillian raised a brow with intrigue by the notion.
"Yes," I said. "For good reason. Now that you know what I am capable of, you can move from my desk." I narrowed my gaze at him.
We harbored enough airheads full of themselves at this school. We didn't need another one.
Maksimillian stood and started a few centimetres, too close, for my liking. "Kto-to dolzhen nauchit' etomu tvoyemu manere." Someone should teach that mouth of yours some manners.
I faltered. He really just said that to me?
"Vam nuzhen urok bol'she, chem ya." You need the lesson more than I do.
He appeared shocked that I responded with such fluency of the language.
Aleksandr blocked his path when the Russian started for me. "Come, Maks. Do not do this here." He lowered his voice, but I overheard. "Remember we are to leave the girl alone."
Maksimillian calmed himself for his brother to release him. As they passed he knocked our shoulders together none too gently. "This is not over, pretty girl."
I furrowed my brows. What the fuck did that mean?
Adjusting myself I rubbed my possibly dislocated shoulder and angrily parked myself in my seat. Mrs. Murray started our daily objective on poems while Aleksandr and Maksimillian walked towards the back where they made a ruckus of flirting with most of my classmates. I tried to concentrate and ignore them when I heard my name spoken by Arina Ivankov: head cheerleader and a major bitch of the senior high social status.
I clenched my fists fighting the urge to turn because I was sure she was spilling bullshit about me. Ever since we were young her family and mine have been at odds, something I have no consultation as to rectify.
"Tell me," Maksimillian spoke low. "What's the deal with her?"
I could feel his gaze burning holes at the back of my head.
Arina made an annoyed sigh. "A lot of things. She's the school's Valedictorian right now. Quiet. Keeps to herself mostly. She doesn't bother anyone and we don't bother her."
Aleksandr asked this.
"Maybe you should keep your mouth shut about stuff you don't know," a random girl sitting at the far end of my row came to my defense.
Her head was snuggled in the crevices of her elbows, raven locks spread over a stack of books set underneath for balance as she faced the rain, splattering on the windows outside.
Alyona Ivankov. Arina's twin sister.
For twins they were total opposites when it came to personality.
"Who are you?" Aleksandr asked sounding contrite.
"A girl that perhaps wants to be left alone," I stated paying no mind to them, but my books splayed out in front of me, writing down the stanza on the chalkboard.
"Must you always be nosy," Arina sneered at me. I felt her burning hatred without having to turnaround.
"I wouldn't have to be if you kept your unseemly large nose out of people's personal space," I advised.
Aleksandr stood and walked to the empty seat beside the girl, staring down at the dark haired girl. He lend out his hand to shake. "I'm Aleks."
"Not interested," she said shortly.
"Don't bother," said Arina, brusque. "My dear sister is not fond of people. Much like Korina."
"Only of you, Arina," I spoke aloud and a few snickers traveled around the room. I turned to give her a smirk as she gifted me with the middle finger, smirking back sarcastically.
"That's enough girls." Mrs. Murray regained our attention, but I caught the smile on her face before she returned to the chalkboard.
This day was turning out to be absolutely shitty.
When the bell rang me and my cousin gathered our notes and exit the classroom before anyone else. The rush hour was near, and I made it to my locker unharmed by the mighty herd of teens passing me. Chatter rebounded off the walls giving me a headache.
"So what's the deal with you and the Russian?" Mikhail asked.
He was my second cousin and also Nina's older brother. They both obtained their father's striking blue eyes and blonde hair; same as my father. Though, Nina liked to dye her hair every month. This week was fire red.
"Why do you ask?" I was placing my chemistry book inside as he asked the question.
"Maybe," Nina started, leaning against the locker beside me, "because you two had a heated conversation, and it looked like you two wanted to fuck each other."
"Ha. Ha," I humored.
"Hey, Erik," I said turning to greet the handsome boy leaning in the space against my locker my cousin vacated.
"We'll see you after school, Kora." Nina waved at me as she left with Mikhail and Levin.
I said goodbye and shut my locker door to join my boyfriend on a walk to my next block. He smiled and his pretty blue eyes, glossed with admiration, caught onto my awkwardness. "You seem a bit tense."
I gave him a half shrug. "This morning didn't go so well. We were late because the electricity went out. And then this Russian and his brother. Oh god. I wanted to punch him in the face."
"That reminds me. I have to warn you. The new exchange students from Siberia, Russia?"
"They have a relation to my family. They're cousins of mine from my hometown in Moscow."
"They are," I grumbled.
"Yeah," he started. "But that nimrod knows not to touch you. Plus, my father is getting quite annoyed than usual by this. He thinks their motive for being here may be to overthrow him because his father and mine had a fallout when they were young."
"They're nothing but a pain in the ass. We already have enough brain dead jocks walking these halls."
"Old ties to the family never die," he shrugged. "I think my uncle is in trouble. That's the only reason why they'd be here."
I pouted my lip. "Does that mean I have to be nice to them?"
"Maybe." He wrapped his arms around my waist, reeling me in to his chest, our noses touching as I circled his neck with my small hands. "And maybe that means I get a kiss every time you disobey me."
I smiled for show. I've always known Erik had a crush on me when we were little, but my feelings never mounted to more than just friends. It sounds bad, but my heart never sped up whenever he was around. My blood never caught the licks of passionate fire under my skin. Nor did my body respond during heated makeout sessions.
His lips pressed lightly to mine and I let him. I preferred wild kisses instead of the way he handled me like a delicate flower. There were times when my body wanted him to lose control in me, like I was worth something more than a porcelain doll to be dealt carefully.
When we broke apart a goofy smile splayed across his handsome features. A few locks of ebony fell in his eyes, blue eyes the fleecy color of turquoise. I brushed them back, enjoying the silky finesse.
"How was your trip to Paris?" I tried to avert the conversation.
"Fine." The short answer told me he wasn't telling me about something.
"I have something for you," he tugged off his backpack and dug in the small pocket. "I went to Paris for a certain reason. And while I was there I was told to bring you a souvenir back."
"You did?" I said surprised by the sentiment.
"Don't get mad," he started gently. "But this was given to me by my brother."
I gave pause, glancing over to him with a serious expression.
"Vitaly wanted me to give you this."
He presented me with a silver rectangular box tied by a white bow. I slid the ribbon away. Inside a silver chain necklace laid inside and hanging from the ring at the hook was a hummingbird. It's colors were that of blue silver.
I was speechless a moment. I hesitantly grabbed the jewelry in my shaking hands. The pain that he remembered made the gift all the more heart wretching. My throat clogged and nearly choked on a sob.
I can't believe he fucking remembered.
"I know this means a lot to you," he said with a observant look in his eyes. I could never get anything past him. Even as his girlfriend I was pinning for a guy that abandoned me.
I wiped the slip of a tear. "Sorry. I just," my palm closed around the charm, "wanted things to be different."
"I've been meaning to talk to you about something that came up." He splayed his hands towards me in a please-don't-hit-me motion. "This was kind of sudden, but dad was talking to me the other day..."
"Erik," a dark voice called from down the hallway.
We both whipped our attention to the brooding Russian walking in our direction. Maksimillian and Aleksandr walked side-by-side followed ahead a few members of the football team and a squealing fanclub of flippant and clinging cheerleaders. He lead the group, his brother holding a curvy brunette up against his side.
Typical, I thought. And rolled my backpack over my shoulders as well as my eyes.
I peered up at Erik. "I'll see you at lunch," I told him and started for my next block.
He grabbed my arm and tugged me back. "Don't go."
I glanced at the stampede gaining proximity on us. I wasn't in the mood to deal with the one, and only, annoyingly depraved jerk headed straight this way. Maksimillian wasn't paying attention to the crowd of brainless girls and guys craving his attention, his eyes were trained on me, a depth of turbulence melting in those golden flecks, only seeming to grow once Maksimillian stopped in front of us.
"Moy dorogoy, kuzen. Kak dolgo eto bylo." My dear cousin. How long it's been.
"Privet, kuzen," Erik mumbled lightly, the undertone giving away a slight hint of agitation. His arm draped along my waist coming to grip my hip in a possessive gesture.
This day just keeps getting better, I thought wryly.
Erik shook hands with him in that form of male greeting, adding a short half-hugging clap on the back. "How is Siberia these days?"
"Still cold." Maksimillian, taking notice, eyed me. "Uncle had some business to attend, so he thought we should come see you and the rest of our relatives."
"Pa would be glad to see you. He's arranged for my brother to come visit soon. Maybe we can talk."
I visibly stiffened. Erik rubbed my side to attempt to console me. Why didn't he tell me he was coming back? Did his father not want him to?
I fingered the charm dangling from my neck.
Maksimillian's voice brought me from my internal thoughts. I met his eyes currently staring down at me. Why did they have to be so brightly gold? Like the sun.
"You did not tell me you had a girlfriend, Erik. I had a scuffle with her this morning. She's a little temperamental."
"That's because you were being rude," I said balling a fist at my side. "You could have just moved."
"You did not ask," he countered, hazel eyes fierce like flames. "You were being a suka." Bitch.
I impulsively slapped him across the face, the impact causing a crack in the air, bringing the eyes of many passing students, their eyes wide in shock and, possibly, curious as to why I just laid hands to a new student. His head whipped to the side, but only a fraction. His jaw was set, tight.
"Shit," Aleksandr said not taking his eyes off his brother who was staring dangerously at me with ire.
Maksimillian stepped into me. "You just crossed a line."
"I didn't know there was one," I said, cocking a brow.
He growled, snatching my wrist and wrenching my body an inch from his. "I'll be sure to take my pound of flesh in return."
"Hands off," Erik demanded about to step in.
"Come, Maks." Aleksandr dragged his brother under his arm, literally shoving him down the hallway. Reluctantly, Maksimillian let his brother guide him, but I didn't miss the promise in his eyes as our shoulders brushed.
He'd return the favor, somehow.
To all the readers. This is the start of my first book. I hope you enjoy it. And if you like it please change the pretty star to the lovely yellow.
I'd love to hear your comments. Don't be shy. All opinions are accepted. And follow me for more important updates.
'Til next time.