I jabbed my hands in my pockets as I stood in front of Cameron, as she slid her bag onto her shoulder, watching me curiously.
'You aren't interested, are you?' She stated calmly, twisting her hair around her finger slowly. I sighed as I looked at her apologetically.
'You're gorgeous, and I feel such a dick right now. But, it's complicated.'
She walked towards me, her heeled boots clicking on the wooden floor as she did. Once she was up close to me I realised I could see a sprinkling of freckles over the bridge of her nose, which she had covered up with make up. I never understood why girls did that, freckles were a sign of beauty.
'I understand complicated, trust me. You seem like a nice guy though, I'm not sure I will be able to give up on you that easily.'
Her blue eyes softened as I realised she was teasing me and I felt myself begin to relax. As we walked into the hallway, I became aware of the eyes on us, the question on everyone's lips being; who was this girl? I felt uneasy as I stole a glance at Cameron, who seemed to be taking it all in her stride.
She caught my eye and I felt myself redden, making her smile to herself. She tucked her hair behind her ear, looking at me expectantly as I stopped outside my History class.
'Uh, this is me. What class do you have?' I glanced down the hallway to see Rochelle eyeing us suspiciously as she made her way slowly towards us.
'Hey Ace, who's your friend?' She purred as she shot a curious glance at Cameron, who was watching her with a bored expression.
'Hmm, bitch cheerleader?' Cameron asked, cocking her head to the side. Her eyes widened innocently when I groaned, knowing full well she had just made an enemy for life.
'Excuse me? Who the hell do you think you are?' Demanded Rochelle, her eyes glittering in anger.
'None of your business. I'll catch you later Ace.' She kissed my cheek before winking as she walked away, leaving Rochelle open mouthed behind her.
'She was fucking rude. Who is she? She will regret the day she ever spoke to me like that.' Rochelle spat, flipping her hair over her shoulder, but not before I caught sight of a large hickey on her neck.
I tried to look away so she didn't clock that I'd noticed it; but it was too late.
'Jealous?' She asked as I scrunched my face up, much to her dismay.
'No. You crack on. I've got to get to class. Oh, for the record, that's Cameron Lucas.' I nodded in the direction Cameron had headed in, noticing the realisation in her eyes.
'As in Ryder Lucas? Are they related?'
I nodded as she chewed on her lip thoughtfully. We were interrupted by the sound of trainers slapping against the polished floor, revealing a breathless Rock. He pulled a face at Rochelle who made no move to leave despite his glare.
'Where did Cameron go?'
I rolled my eyes as Rochelle turned puce, her arms folding as she glared at Rock.
'If you like that kind of thing, but you are used to much higher standards Rock. Don't lower yourself now. Still, I recommend moving on.' she sneered, his eyes falling on her neck like mine had earlier. His jaw clenched and his eyes narrowed, as a twisted grin began to spread across her face which she didn't even bother to disguise.
God she was a bitch.
I sighed as they stared at each other with a dangerous mixture of lust and hatred, before turning into the classroom behind me.
The rest of the day passed easily, the relief at finally leaving school evident as I breathed in a lungful of fresh air. I was surprised to see Rock waiting for me at the bottom of the school steps, his expression hard as he unfolded his arms upon seeing me.
'Can I come to yours?' He ran a hand through his hair as I nodded. Rock was like family, and didn't really need to ask to come over. We made our way back to mine in a comfortable silence to see Violet washing her car on the driveway. I frowned as I noticed her t shirt was wet, her bra evident through it as she scrubbed.
Didn't she realise she looked like an extra from Pornhub right now? Jesus.
She reached for the hose and I cleared my throat, letting her know we were there. She jumped slightly, before rolling her eyes.
'Jesus, you scared me. What's he doing here?' She made a face at Rock who just stood watching her, much to my annoyance.
'I don't know actually. Rock? What you doing here bro?' I stifled a laugh as he blinked rapidly, tearing his eyes away from Violet. It wasn't personal, Rock found almost everyone attractive. My older sister didn't escape that, despite my protection. But she could more than handle herself with him, that much I knew.
'I'm going to cook.'
Violet did a double take upon hearing this, whilst I just laughed.
'You can cook?' She demanded, her wet hands on her hips as she gazed at him quizzically. 'Why am I only just hearing this?'
'My specialty is spicy burgers and homemade fries, but I'll bet you don't have anything in for that.' He shrugged at me as my mouth began to water just imagining the food.
'Let's go shopping then. I'll change, and we'll go. I want that in my belly immediately. ' declared Violet as she hosed the car down, suds running onto the floor. I nodded as I slung my backpack down in the house, peeling off my t shirt that reeked of school as threw myself in the shower.
'That you Ace?' I heard my mom call from the upper level of the house and I grinned as I made my way upstairs.
'The one and only Ma, how you doing?' I pulled on a hoody, before heading into my mom's room, her sweet perfume in the air. She was sat at her dresser, pushing pins into her thick dark hair, looking up at me in delight.
'My baby boy. Give me some sugar.'
She held out her cheek for me as I kissed her soft skin, noticing how tired her eyes were. My mother was a beauty, always had been. But gone was the smooth taut skin, replaced by fine wrinkles and bags under her eyes. Her frame was dainty, and I noticed how her nurses uniform seemed to hang from her. I frowned as I leant against the wall of her bedroom, knowing we were about to have that discussion again.
'Mom, you look real tired. Why-'
'Stop.' She raised her hand, her voice stern. 'I am a nurse because I love what I do. I work every hour God sends because I'm needed, and to be frank, we need the money too.'
I let out a sigh then, staring at the ceiling.
'ACE. You finish school. Then you decide what you want to do, you're almost a man now. But you finish school for me. No jobs, full focus on school. Got it? If we needed the money that bad, I would tell you. Now go, do whatever you teenagers do, but the next time I see you I don't want this conversation ok?' Her eyes met mine in the mirror as I nodded, but wanting to let her know how powerless I felt. As soon as I finished school I was going to get a job so that she didn't need to work as much, or at all if I had my way. I watched as she stood up, and she pulled me into a hug.
'Love you Ace.'
"Love you too mom.' I kissed her forehead, aware that now I had to lean down to her level, after years of her leaning down to me. She smiled then, before running her hand over my cheek.
'Stubble? Have a shave. Stubble indeed....' She tutted as she left her room, as I followed her downstairs. Violet and Rock were waiting in the kitchen in silence, which was odd.
My mother greeted Rock like a lost son before heading out of the door back to her other love, work. I filled her outside, waving her off as I waited for Violet and Rock to come outside.
What the fuck was taking so long?
'Bro, I gotta tell you something.' I heard Rock say quietly from behind me as Violet unlocked the car from the doorway. I met his eyes suspiciously as he stared at the floor. I swallowed hard as I watched him lick his dry lips.
I've hooked up with someone new. '
I felt relief then, for some reason I had a feeling it was going to be really bad news.
'Good for you. What's new?!'
Why was he telling me this? Rock hooked up with people all of the time.
'Promise you won't get mad?'
I blinked then, unsure what I could possibly get mad about. Violet was in the car now, the window closest to us wound down as she beeped her horn at us, making me jump. She googled as I swore at her, before turning back to Rock.
'What? Why would I get mad? Oh hang on, its not Rochelle is it?' I groaned then, pissed that he didn't seem to be able to move on from her.
'No. It's Veronica Dale.'