I woke up the next morning to the sound of my alarm clock. Today, I was going back to school, and I couldn’t be more excited.
Or at least as excited as I could be, knowing that Jezebel was coming with me.
I dressed up in my faded jeans and black hoodie and even wore my worn-out sneakers. I let my red hair down in curls and frizzles down to my waist, and then I took my backpack.
The dinning room contained only three people: Ryder, who looked as bad-boyish as always with his shoulder-length brown eyes and gold eyes; Jez who looked tired and pissed and still as beautiful as ever, with her shiny, smooth dark-brown hair pulled into a high ponytail, her sky-blue eyes standing out on the gold skin of hers, and her curvy body dressed in skinny-jeans, fuck-you boots and Prada-worthy blouse; and Rose, Henry’s secretary, who looked as prim as I first saw her.
“Good, you’re here,” Rose said as I took my seat and grabbed a pancake. “Ryder’ll take you to school today, and I’m arranging Gunner to take you back.”
At Gunner’s name, my insides became a little mushy. It also made me seriously pissed at my lack of control when Gunner was concerned. He’s a killer, remember? I scolded myself. A hot killer, but killer nonetheless. So stop this foolishness, Rae Marie!
We ate breakfast really fast, and then I found myself at the front yard. It was magnificent, really, with bushes and flowers everywhere, trees and so much other green plants. It was so colorful and gorgeous, I was transfixed. But I didn’t have time to inspect the beautiful yard, and went with Jezebel and Ryder to the “parking lot” - more like parking-yard – where we entered a black Mercedes. Ryder took the driver seat, Jez the passenger one, and I settled in the backseat with no other choice. I wondered why Jez was driving with us – after all Henry said that she’d get to drive her own car to school. Maybe she was nervous?
The trip was longer than it would’ve been if I was driving from the apartment to the school. Ryder tried to make up a conversation but neither Jezebel nor I participated so in the end he gave up and the trip went in charged silence.
Ryder stopped the Mercedes just in front of St. Blacksmith High’s gates, where a mass of students made their way inside, but stopped still at the sight of such an expensive car. Great. Now everyone would see me, the sidekick of Marcus Jackson’s girlfriend, Isobel Devereaux. Thanks a lot, I thought bitterly. I hated being the center of attention; I preferred to keep a low profile.
Jez opened the door like a rock star coming out of a limousine, and I opened my own less gracefully. Everyone’s eyes widened at the sight of beautiful Jez and didn’t pay attention to me at all when I stood next to her. It was for the best.
“Bye, Ryd,” Jez said to Ryder, and I smiled hesitantly to him. He gave me the thumbs-up and I watched him driving the Mercedes out of the school’s area until it vanished. “Come,” Jez grabbed my elbow none too gently with a disgusted look in her eyes and a supermodel-worthy faked smile on her face. Such a contradiction, but it seemed like I was the only one who thought of it like that. The students stared openly at Jez, some of them even glazing, and I knew she had them all wrapped around her pinky. From the knowing glint in her eyes, she knew it too.
Great. Taryn Torres the Second had now arrived.
“Take me to the office,” she hissed at me, still holding my elbow too stronger than she needed to restrain me. I winced a little.
“Fine, but can you hold me less tighter?” I asked.
She loosened her grip, but it was still fierce. She may no have looked like she had muscles, but she was strong. Very strong. Maybe her curves hid her muscles? Possible.
Anyhow, I walked Jez to the office. Going in the packed hallway reminded me of how Chase always passing there. I mean, everyone looked at us, with no exception. Like everyone always looked at Chase when he walked here. But we were not Chase. We were Jez and Rae, or rather only Jez, seeing as no one paid any attention to me. Not that I blamed them; Jez was hard to ignore.
In the office, the secretary gave Jez her timetable, which was identical to mine. Probably Henry’s doing. Then Jez ordered me to take me to her locker, which was right next to mine. Now I had not doubt about Henry’s involvement in this.
“Dammit,” Jez cursed as she opened her locker, finally letting go of my aching elbow. “I can’t believe I’m back in this hellhole because of you.”
Telling her again it was not my fault wouldn’t do me any good, so I settled on, “Nothing I can do about it.”
“As much as I hate to admit it, you’re right,” she took out a history book. “Shit, I actually have to study history again?”
I shrugged and took my own book out. After our lockers’ doors were closed, Jez grabbed my elbow again. I felt like a little girl being led by her older sister or something, because Jez was tall and I was short, and she made it look like she was walking a dog instead of a fellow student. “Where’s this history class?” I almost missed her question under the unnerving gazes of everyone in the hallway. Sure, those gazes were on Jez at first, but now the students realized she was stuck to me like glue, and they had no idea why someone as beautiful as Jez would be walking with someone as lame as me.
I wished the earth to open up and swallow me down. I didn’t know how long I could handle this shit.
“Here,” I murmured to Jez as we arrived the history classroom’s door. The bell chose that moment to ring and we entered the classroom, which was full by now. I saw Taryn and two of her minions, Violet and Harper, looking shocked at Jez, and then at me. Taryn looked especially pissed that another beauty arrived to her “castle” and “took” my side, her “nemesis”. She was such an immature girl.
From the other end of the class, I saw Isobel and Marcus looking at me with wonder and astonishment. Isobel sent me a worried glance and a questioning look toward Jez, who now led me by the elbow to an occupied table in the end of the class. The guy who sat there, Abbott, took one look at Jez and emptied the seat for her. Jez smirked and took the seat he abandoned and ordered, “Sit.”
Having no choice, I sat next to her, chancing a glance to Isy at the same time, who was now coming to me. Oh God, she would probably want some answers.
She reached us and smiled hesitantly. “Hi, Rae,” she said, looking at me with worry. “Who’s... who’re you?” she asked Jez.
Jez looked at her arrogantly and I stiffened. “I’m none of your business,” she drawled, and I sent an immediate apologetic look at Isy, who seemed more dumbfounded. The classroom erupted into snickers and Isobel went a little red of humiliation. She sent me an offended look and returned to Marcus, who looked angrily at me. Oh no. Now Isy was mad at me because Jez had to go and say something so rude.
“Can you be a little nicer?” I hissed at her, feeling myself getting irritated.
She looked evilly at me. “You made me come her, you take on the consequences.”
Translation: She was going to make me socially isolated for making her go to high school again.
For the first time, I thought that perhaps it would’ve been much better if I didn’t push the school matter so much. I could’ve prevented this from happening. But I knew I needed my education – seeing as I wasn’t exactly Einstein - so it was not an option.
Besides, I would not let another bitch ruin my life.
Miss Summers, our hot, single, young history teacher, entered the room, with her blonde hair and blue eyes. “Good morning,” she greeted us all. “As you must have seen, we have a new student. Can you introduce yourself, please?” she looked expectantly at Jez.
Jez stood up, making everyone look at her again, but not before she threw me another glare full of pure hatred. “Jezebel Smith,” she said in a bored voice, “call me Jez.”
Miss Summers smiled with encouragement at her – as if Jez lacked self-confidence. “Thank you, Miss Smith,” she said and Jez sat back down. Afterwards Miss Summers started the lesson, and all along I tried to catch Isy’s eyes and try and mouth to her that I’m sorry. But Isy wouldn’t look my way, and Marcus sat closer to her, protective of his precious girlfriend, and shot me glares. Taryn also glared at me nonstop, and so did Jez. I was being glared at a lot this morning.
By the end of the class, before Jez and I could move to our next lesson – Literature – Taryn came with Violet and Harper and stood right in front of Jez. The two of them were the epitome of absolute gorgeousness, standing in front of each other. They were the same height, and even without looking the same, they both were more similar than they would’ve ever acknowledged.
“Hello,” Taryn said with an overly-polite smile. “I’m Taryn Torres, head cheerleader and the coolest girl around. If you want, you’re welcomed to our group of awesomeness.” She winked too friendlily and I knew what she was trying to do: Making Jez join their “group of awesomeness” would be for their advantage, seeing as Jez was beautiful and obviously instantly-popular. It was a pure, strategic move, and from Jez’s flat expression, she knew it too.
“No thank you,” Jez said with contempt, looking down at Taryn even though they were both the same height. “I’m not so keen on befriending girls who call themselves ‘the coolest’. You should really work on yourself.” She grabbed my elbow again. “And please don’t talk to me again, Blondie.” She then turned from the astonishment of Taryn’s expression and took me out of the class.
I would’ve never in million years thought that Jez would not want to befriend Taryn. I thought that the instant they would see each other, they would be fast friends. Besides, I didn’t know it was possible for Jez to be mean to anyone but me. For some reason I felt better, knowing that Jez had put Taryn in her place.
“What are you smiling at?” Jez barked the question as we walked down the hallway, making people stare at us.
“Nothing,” I replied quietly, feeling my slight happiness vanishing. Sure, Jez was mean to Taryn and rejected her, but she was still Jez, and she still hated me with passion for no reason.
In Lit class we were the first to arrive. We took our seats at the end of the class, and the room started filling with student. Isobel and Marcus weren’t in this class with me, and I was sad about it. I needed to apologize, to tell Isy something, if not everything. But she wasn’t here.
But Echo should’ve been in this class. And as the class filled, I didn’t see any sign for Echo Moore. It made me seriously worried; did Henry’s people catch her and her mother and sisters? I really hoped not. And if they did, then why? Why were they so fixated on the Moore family?
The classroom’s door opened and into the room entered Chase Montgomery and two of his friends and fellow teammates, Jayden and Leo. The girls sighed as Chase made his way to the table behind Jez and me. Jez’s eyes were on him as well, and I caught the awareness of a hot guy in her eyes. “Who’s that?” she whispered to me.
“Chase Montgomery,” I answered dryly and looked pointedly at her. “Aren’t you interested in Gunner?”
She shrugged. “Doesn’t mean I’m immune to deliciously hot guys,” she then smiled a flirtatious smile that made many guys turn their heads to her direction and sent it to Chase.
Chase looked at her, and I watched as an act of flirting took place. He checked Jez out, his eyes moving down her curvy body, stilling on her boobs for too long in my opinion, and then returning to her face. “Hey,” he said, grinning. “I don’t remember seeing you here. Are you new?”
I watched, slightly amused, at the envy on the girls’ faces as they watched the show. “Yes,” Jez replied in a husky, sexy voice, flipping her hair. “I’m Jez. You are?”
I’d just told you his name, I thought. “Chase,” Chase answered, “nice to meet you, Jez, and welcome.”
“You too, and thanks,” her smile became polite and she turned back around, apparently finished with him.
I arched an eyebrow. “That’s it?” I couldn’t help but ask, my voice soft so only she could hear.
She shrugged. “He got a fine ass and cute face, but he is too young for me. I like my boys older, and besides, he’s too nice. Guys shouldn’t be that nice. They need to be badasses with more spice. He’s too much of a gentleman.”
My eyes widened in wonder. Jez was the first one to dismiss Chase Montgomery so absolutely. “Gentlemanliness is a great trait,” I argued. “Besides, how old exactly are you? He can’t be younger than you in more than two years.”
“I’m twenty,” Jez answered and glanced at me arrogantly. “And you wouldn’t understand. You’re too young and inexperienced. When you grow up, you’ll understand what I mean.”
I folded my arms. “Why do you think I’m inexperienced?” I asked, insulted. Was it that obvious?
She snorted in mockery. “Hon, girls like you have ‘virgin’ written all over them,” she said. “I also doubt you’ve ever been kissed or even touched by the other sex.”
I flushed in embarrassment. “You don’t know anything about me.” I said defensively.
“Actually I do,” she said with a smug smile plastered on her face. “We all read your file, you know.”
“I have a file?” I asked in disbelief.
“Every person who gets involved with us has,” she replied dryly. “Especially the ones who have the power to endanger us.”
“That’s an invasion of privacy!” I protested, shocked at what she’d just said.
“It’s reality,” she said harshly. “Get over it.”
After that, we didn’t talk to each other all the lesson and the next ones. When lunch break arrived, I couldn’t be more relieved.
Again grabbed by my elbow, Jez and I walked to the cafeteria, where everyone was staring at us as we entered and went to pick us food. After Jez paid for us both for some lame-looking sandwiches, she checked the cafeteria. “Where do you usually sit?” She asked me.
Automatically I looked at Isy’s table, where Marcus, Chase and surprisingly Taryn sat, with Jayden and Leo, Chase’s and Marcus’s friends. “There.” I responded quietly.
Jez frowned. “With that ho? Really?”
“She doesn’t usually sit with us,” I mumbled.
She grinned. “Well then, that’s just perfect,” she said, “let’s sit with them. I want to mess her up a bit more, and flirt with this hottie.”
Even though I wanted to talk to Isy and explain, I wasn’t ready to do this with Taryn sitting inches away. “Let’s sit elsewhere,” I hissed. “Please.”
But she didn’t listen to me, and so I found myself sitting right between Jez and Isy, one who disliked me and one who was offended by me.
Could this day get any worse?