“So, then I preceded to tell Derek that he could shove his stupid opinion up his stupid fuc-Are you even listening to me?” my best friend, Phea, snapped her fingers in front of my face. Phea was short of Ophelia but the only person allowed to not have their nose broken for calling her that was her mother. She didn’t conform to society’s social norms but one look at her would tell you everything you needed to know. Her dyed pink hair was pulled into a tight bun on the top of her head. She wore a white sleeve tee shirt, overall and All-Star converse. Years of softball has made her lean but muscular. I felt inferior to Phea and there were days that I wished I was more like Phea. How could someone possible be unaffected by the opinions that people have of them?
“umm you were saying something about Derek the two-bit liar of the century I believe” I replied sheepishly. Derek was the source of every single insecurity I had about myself and Phea hated him with a deep thriving passion. She took every opportunity she could to show him just what she thought of him and how much he could in her word ‘go choke on a dick’.
“you are unbelievable. I’m telling you one of these days though, I am going to punch him in his little smug looking face.” She fumed while crossing her thick tan arms across her chest.
“your parents wouldn’t be too happy about you being suspended though.” I closed the grey metal door of my locker and pressed my biology binder tightly against my chest.
“honestly if its Derek’s face that I’m punching, I think my parents would back me up.” She scoffed and shrugged her wide shoulders. “besides I never said I was going to punch him while we were at school.”
I let out a long, exhausted sign. Pheas eyes narrowed at me. “we should get to class. You know how I feel about being late”
“Ro.” She growled but I was already turning to head the opposite way down the hall. I took two steps before I plowed into what felt like a brick wall and unceremoniously fell backwards onto my butt. I looked up and gulped as my eyes met cold grey steel covered eyes staring down at me in anger.
“watch where the fuck you’re going, chick.” Andrei Petrov growled down at me in his deep tummy-turning Russian-accent filled voice. Him and his blonde headed cousin who Phea had been secretly crushing over randomly showed up on a Monday two weeks ago as the new foreign students.
“hey buddy, why don’t you watch where the fuck you are going.” Phea spoke up as she reached down and took my elbow to help me up and grabbed my binder off the floor. She handed me the hard-pink plastic as she glared at the mountain of a boy in front of us. Both Andrei and his cousin, Orlando, were built like giant Greek gods. Andrei’s hair was shoulder length, jet black, and he kept it tied up in either a ponytail or a man bun. His eyes were such a cold grey that was always so guarded and full of anger that I shivered whenever I found them staring at me. Andrei rolled his shoulders causing his muscles to flex under his long sleeve black shirt. All he ever wore was black. His left hand came up to curl in his backpack strap and his eyes narrowed at me as I unintentionally flinched at the motion.
“I um I’m going to class, Phea. I don’t want to be late. I-ill see you at lunch.” I pushed my binder harder against my chest and headed down the hall to Biology. I felt those cold grey eyes on my back as I walked down the hall a lot faster then I usually did. I slipped into my desk at the back corner of the room and dreaded the moment that same large body with those same cold grey eyes would suddenly walk through that very same door I had just scurried through. Luckily, he tended to set towards the opposite back corner and stared out the window for most of class. I stared down at the top of my pale pink binder as my mind wander to places that I never wanted to revisit. I tensed when a large body plopped down into the tiny desk besides me.
I always found it comical looking at Andrei squeezed into the tiny wooden desks here at school but now as his body set in the one next to mine, I felt like throwing up. Dr. Spear, the always hungover biology teacher, entered the room holding a thermos of what I assumed was coffee but could have very well been his morning drink. His wife left him for her yoga instructor or so said the grapevine that was Phea. I watched as he pulled up a video onto the smartboard and half-butt took roll but the whole time I could feel those cold angry eyes on me. Dr. Spear took a seat at his desk and took a large swig from his thermos.
“why’d you flinch?” I jumped when that dark Russian accent reached my ears and looked over at the large male next to me. Andrei rose a single eyebrow at me.
“wh-what” I stuttered.
He rolled his eyes, “earlier in the hall, after you plowed into me, why’d you flinch when I rose my hand in the air?”
“Jesus, do you not know how to conform a coherent sentence?”
“I flinched because I didn’t know what you were going to do.”
“did you think that I would hit you?” he sounded both offended and appalled as he narrowed his eyes at me.
“well-I-it’s just that you’re so intimidating?” I wasn’t sure why the sentence came out sounding like a question and I almost felt guilty for questioning his character. Andrei Petrov was just a mystery, and no one could expect what he would do next. Even in his brief time here at this school, people had learned not to mess with him or his cousin unless they wanted to experience first hand just what those muscles they packed could do.
Andrei scoffed and leaned back in his seat and ran a large hand over his face. “damn,” he muttered under his breath. “if you truly believe that and are so damn frightened of me then do us both a favor and stay the fuck away from me.”
He slammed the chair back from his desk and jerked up his backpack from the floor. “Mr. Petrov where the heck do you think you’re going?” Dr. Spear shouted at his retreating back as Andrei swung the door open.
“None of your fucking business, you dick.” Andrei growled before slamming the classroom door behind him so hard the pictures of dissected frogs on the wall shock. My breath clogged in my throat and the room blurred as the stress made my head begin to pound hard against my skull. I raised my small trembling hand in the air slowly.
“yes, Miss.Evers?” Dr. Spear irritated voice growled from the front of the room.
“m-may I please use the restroom?” I asked.
“yes. Just be quick.”
I jerked up my backpack without another word and scurried out of the blurry room as best as I could without bumping into anything. I jogged down the hall, the sound of my tennis shoes slapping against the linoleum echoed off the dull colored lockers. I slammed through the door of the nearest bathroom and locked myself into the nearest stall. I slid down the wall next to the gross toilet as the world blurred further and the panic fully grasped itself around my thoughts and my throat. My buzzing mind slowly welcomed the darkness that the panic brought.
“ro?! Come on wake up. This isn’t funny. I’m panicking here.” Pheas voice cut through the darkness enveloping my conscious.
I blinked open my eyes and was greeted with the sight of my pink haired best friend on her knees in front of me. Worry clouded her eyes but the pissed expression on her face had me gulping loudly around the dryness in my mouth. “hey Phea. How’d you get in here? The door was locked.” I asked my voice cracking from the dryness.
“I crawled under the damn door. Why didn’t you text me if you knew you were about to have a panic attack?” she sounded angry.
“you were in class, I didn’t want to bother you.” I mumbled ashamedly. “how did you even know which bathroom I was in?”
It was Phea's turn to look ashamed. “well you didn’t turn up at lunch or last period- “
“last period?” how long had I been out?
“yeah. Anyway, I figured Mr. giant thinks he’s everything asshole had something to do with it, so I confronted him in the hall. Embarrassed myself in front of my crush while I was at it. He admitted that after storming out of the class you guys share that he’d seen you running down the hall before you disappeared into this bathroom. He’s um he’s actually waiting outside.”
“he’s what?” I screeched
“I’m sorry. I told him to go the hell away but hey he’s his own person.” Phea helped me up off the grungy bathroom floor before handing me my backpack. I smiled my thanks at her as she unlocked the stall door and we stepped out into the bright white of the girl’s bathroom.
True to what Phea said, Andrei Petrov was leaning against the grey wall across from the door to the bathroom. His face was its usual emotionless mask and his eyes were hard cold and startling grey. the sleeves of his black shirt were pushed up to his elbows leaving his thick forearms on display. It was no secret that Andrei had every inch of both of his arms covered in black tattoo ink. His blonde haired blue-eyed cousin stood next to him with his hands shoved in the pockets of his jeans and a small smile pulling at the corner of his full lips.
“See she’s fine. Can we fucking leave now?” Andrei growled, his gaze suddenly angled towards the equally large male next to him.
“She wouldn’t have been in trouble in the first place if you weren’t such an inconsiderate asshole all the time.” Orlando Rossi scoffed. His name hinted at an Italian family, but his voice was thick with a French accent. He fluently spoke the language as well, but I only knew that because we were in third level French together.
“Fuck. You.” Andrei said.
“I’m sorry about him. He didn’t exactly lean sympathy when he was a child. Or how to interact with other human beings really. Orlando Rossi.” The tall blonde stuck out a large hand in my direction.
“Ambrosia Evers but I go by Ro.” I said as I shook his large hand. I hated the crack in my voice from the dryness in my throat. It made me sound pathetic.
“and who is this pretty little thing right here. I never caught your name when you stormed up to us and preceded to verbally assault my cousins. Major props to you for having the balls.” Orlando gave Phea a full-blown smile and I had to fight back a giggle as a blush as pink as her hair crept into her cheeks.
“This is my best friend, Phea.”
“well you got one hell of a best friend there, Ro. And if I asked you two lovely girls to sit with two lonely bachelors at lunch tomorrow?”
“yes,” Phea screeched before pure embarrassment seemed to change her tone. “I mean yeah sure. I think we can squeeze it into our busy schedules.” Orlando just merely flashed her another dazzling smile.
“well that’s one for two. What do you say their damsel in distress?”
“well umm,” I started, “I don’t want to intrude and I um don’t really think Andrei cares for me that much- “
Orlando laughed. “oh, trust me, he- “
“shut the fuck up” Andrei suddenly growled before he stormed off down the hall like the giant angry being that he was.
“Ignore that asshole. Ill see you two beauties tomorrow at lunch” Orlando sent us a cheeky wink before strolling down the hall after his darker haired cousin.
’Umm yeah see you tomorrow.” Phea shouted after him. “god damn he’s fucking sexy.”
I chuckled around the unease in my throat. “then maybe you should learn how to actually talk to him.”
“oh, shut up,” she said as she laughed. We walked side by side in silence towards the side door that led into the back-parking lot.
“Are you still coming over after you get home?” Phea asked as we stepped out into the afternoon sun shining on the parking lot. We headed towards the back corner of the lot where my white Altima and her convertible set side by side. We usually carpooled but she had to be here early because she was a captain and team try outs were this morning. I did not feel like being up before seven.
“yeah, mom already texted and said she wouldn’t be home tonight.” I said.
“well you can spend the night if you want.”
“I would but Maurice is sick, and I don’t want to leave him alone tonight.”
“ahh well ill see you at my house.”
I set in my car long after Phea convertible had pulled out of the parking lot to gather my thoughts. Me and Phea had been friends since we were newborns, literally. My mom was an ER doctor and my dad was a hot shot lawyer. A kid wasn’t in their life plans, but my mom chose birth control over just having a hysterectomy. My dad left her when he found out they’d created an accidental life and he never looked back even when she sent him the divorce papers. My mom didn’t have the heart to nip me in bud like he suggested. Phea’s parents, Bailey and Christian, had just moved in down the block. Bailey was freshly nineteen and a month farther along then my mother. Christian was 23 in grad school and working part time at a business firm. They were strapped for cash and with no help from their family because they never approved of the marriage or the pregnancy so early. My mom paid Bailey to basically raise me when she didn’t have the time too and she never had the time. I love my mother because well she’s my mother and I love the work that she does for people. But she didn’t want me and so she didn’t really go out of her way to make time for me.
I had never seen my father before in my entire life. After the divorce he came and retrieved his stuff from the house and left without another word to my mother. He sends child support checks once a month and for my birthday a card with a couple of hundred-dollar bills stuck in it. No message and the card were never exactly festive, just generic. Sometimes I feel like he can’t wait till I turn eighteen, so he can completely cut us out of his life. I was never in the picture for their happy and bright future and sometimes I wondered if that’s why I despised myself so much. But then I remember the time I spent with Derek and how much of an emotional toll that took on my life.
My self-esteem issues were deeper than that and I blamed my view of myself to the people around me. Take my best friend Phea for instance. I felt inferior to her athletic beauty and long bouncy curls. The way she could jog more then two laps before she needed a water break and the way men drooled after her as she walked. The way she fixed her hair and it did exactly what she wanted it to do.
I hated my deep jade eyes set into an olive colored face with a rounded chin. Long blonde hair that brushed the area between my shoulder blades when it was pulled up into int usual high ponytail by an old worn-down hair tie. I hated the curves of my waist and the small bit of chub when I sat down. I hated the thick thighs attached to skinny calves of legs that were too short when all I wanted was to be able to reach the top shelf. I hated my tiny thin fingers with their blue painted nails that always chipped at the worst of times. I hated the slope of my tiny nose and even the way my eyebrows were shaped despite getting them waxed when they needed it.
A sharp knock against the glass of my driver’s window startled me and caused me to jump against the seatbelt. I groaned at the pain as it locked and sharply jolted me back against the seat as a throb radiated across my collarbone. I peered out at the cold steel gray eyes looking in at me. I swallowed the bile clogging my throat and rolled down the window.
“car problems?” Andrei’s gruff voice assaulted my ear in a sweet way that pushed out the ringing of my self-hating thoughts.
“umm no. I was just sitting here thinking.” I answered, my voice soft and weak even to my own ears.
“in the school parking lot?”
“why do you ask me so many questions, Andrei?”
“because I’m curious about you. Everyone else in that godforsaken hell hole could go fuck themselves and I wouldn’t give two shits but you. Your different and that is a dangerous thing.”
“you should really stay away from me, Ambroziya.”
“and whys that Andrei?”
Because there are things in this world that you wouldn’t-can’t-understand. Parts of my own cruel hellish existence that you can’t be a part of. But I can’t seem to stay away from you now, so I need you to stay the hell away from me.”
“but what if- “
“you fucking need to. You don’t understand.”
“then make me understand Andrei”
“Ya Zloy” and then Andrei Petrov disappeared from beside my car just as quickly as he’d crashed into my small pathetic existence.