This is the only warning I'll give for Carter. He's a dick. He says very offensive things. But he's a character. What he says doesn't reflect on me. And he is in this chapter and he only gets worse. So...There ya go. Don't bitch at me because of what he says. Lol.
The world keeps moving around me, continually spinning on its axis. People go about their business in the surrounding apartments, clanking pans and stomping around. Loud music filters through the air, a party raging in the apartment below me. Whispers curve through the air from next door. Overpowering shouts from the lawn three floors down reach my buzzing ears. My soon to be classmates act as if nothing has happened, but it has. There’s a camera in my room. Tracking me. Watching my movements, dissecting my plans.
I’m frozen, ice moving like a thick sludge through my veins. My feet grow roots, sinking into the ground, planting me in the spot. Just move some dirt over my feet and I’d be a tree. Stuck. Frozen. Swaying in the wind. But unmovable.
On one hand, if I remove the camera, they’ll know I know. And who knows why they even wanted it there. Did they catch on to my plans? How would they even know? Only two people know the full details. Bodhi and Callie. Tristan barely knows, he knows I’m investigating something here, but that’s it. I gave no specifics. Just like our agreement says unless we call no bullshit.
So who the fuck? Why the fuck? I close my eyes and squeeze them shut. Think, Kace, think! Weigh your options and make a move.
There’s no way in hell I can look into the people I need to look into with a camera in my room. I wasn’t able to access the school’s information on an outside server, so this is my only shot to crack it. I can’t stand by and let some weirdo watch me parade naked or pick my nose. My entire body shudders violently at the privacy violation. Tiny, invisible ants crawl up my flesh, starting at my feet and working towards my elbows. My fingernails dig up and down my arm, scraping away at my reddened flesh. I hear my doctor’s voice in my head. Calm down, count to ten, lock your eyes on five things around you. My bed. My dresser. My precious computers. The carpet beneath my feet. One last deep, calming breath enters my lungs, and I know what I must do. No matter the consequences.
A tiny toolbox lays in the palm of my hand, courtesy of my father. He insisted on more than one occasion I would need these vital screwdrivers and wrenches. Or whatever tools are in there. So I guess he was right. Thanks, Dad, for your wisdom I take advantage of every day.
Once I have the tools, I head to the stupid vent nestled in the ceiling. What a perfect place for a vent. High up and out of reach. I pray to whatever God lives in the sky. The camera doesn’t have night vision. But with the technology these days, it’s probably the camera’s second nature. And besides, if I really had some weird stalker, they’d want to watch me in the dark too. Sleeping. Investigating. My fingernails scratch at my other arm. I lift myself onto the tiny corner of my desk and reach up high. Barely able to get the end of the screwdriver in the hole thanks to my short stature. Callie got all the good shit. Good hair, good eyes, and her height. I groan on my tippy toes. I can barely get the screws to twist. They’re stuck like they’ve been welded in place. My toes ache, stretch, and compressed. But I press myself further up. Reaching. Stretching. Until I undo each of the screws and take off the vent’s front. And there it is. The smallest camera I’ve ever laid eyes on. But it’s there. It’s in the fucking vent. And if I was a normal person, I wouldn’t have seen it.
My apartment illuminates once again, bringing the overhead lights on. I place the now covered camera on the counter, making sure the black piece of tape is secure over the lense. Can’t have my spy’s looking at me now. I narrow my eyes in on it, eyeing it suspiciously. If it were my prisoner, I’d rough it up a little to get some answers. But alas, it can’t speak to me directly, so I resort to other forms of punishment.
It’s small, square, and completely wireless. Whoever installed it used the network of the school to send the signal back to them. Making my job ten times easier than I thought. Once the camera is plugged into my computer, I track the shit out of the signal. But I come up short. Whatever signal the person used leads to a false dead end. No matter how hard I try to break through the dead brick wall. The other end seems blocked and secured. Whoever designed this is ten times smarter than me. Driving my brain insane and up a wall with frustration. This won’t stand. I’ll rip this technology apart piece by piece. Dismantling it to figure it out for myself. No matter how strong it is, I will win this. I will. I have to.
My eyes drift to every nook and cranny of the apartment, searching for another red light. Thankfully coming up empty this time. But going to sleep in the unfamiliar room, and the threat of a stalker sends my nerves into a frenzy.
Someone may know why I’m here and that means I’m fucked. Like super-duper fucked.
This whole situation has garnered me unwanted attention. I can’t have snoops. And I absolutely can’t have a crazy, camera watching stalker. I have to see them and know what I’m up against. Sleep will not happen until I have a clear picture of my stalker. I swallow hard and sit down at my computer. Tracking the camera back to its owner proved impossible, but I can still get a glimpse of the owner through another source. I access the security footage from the school’s network with ease. Being on campus instead of three hours away has its perks. Like getting into the network I couldn’t six months ago. Now if they only stored surveillance videos for longer than three days, I could follow Mags’ story on camera. But unfortunately, I can’t. So I’m stuck piecing together her time spent here all on my own.
In a few clicks of my mouse, I pour over the footage on the screen. There are so many panels of footage from every corridor of campus. Every hallway in and out of the classrooms spills over the screen. The courtyard, the parking lot, and even the meadow have a camera pointed at it. Two black screens take up the feeds labeled “the maze” and “VB house.” I wonder how the boys pulled that off? My eyes scan every panel until I find my building. Bingo!
I check the timestamps of each camera, finding one from my hallway. I watch myself and Piper exit my room and so do a lot of other people. They traipse up and down the hallway without a care in the world until it’s empty. Aside from one tall figure, dressed in black from head to toe. Sunglasses sit on their face and they pull a black cap over their forehead, blocking their facial features and gender. A black hood hides any hair they might have, and even the baggy clothes hanging off their body, conceals their gender. Their thick black boots are large, but still, it gives nothing away.
Who the fuck is this?
My body naturally leans in toward the screen, as the figure pulls out a set of keys. Fucking keys?! They unlock my door like it’s nothing and close it behind them. Only peeking out for a split second. Thirty minutes later they emerge. Thirty fucking minutes later. They had to have snooped for it to take that long. Their hands are empty as they tuck them into their pockets and walk away like they didn’t just break into my room. My skin prickles with awareness. Someone was in my room, in my space without me. Who knows what they looked at. The worst part about it is, I do not understand who they were or what they were looking for. Or why in the hell they put a camera in my vent?!
I rub my hand over my forehead. My stomach fills with lead, threatening to spill to my feet. I never in a million years imagined someone would be on to me? They have to be if they’re tailing me like this. With a few keystrokes, I set both computer cameras to catch any movement possible in my room and set off to bed.
Tristan: have a good first day. Give ‘em hell and run circles around those bastards.
Me: you’re so encouraging at seven in the morning. Have a good day too, don’t let ‘em beat you down this year.
Tristan: yeah.. that’s never going to happen. If anyone is doing the beating it’s me….
Me: you will... you’re a badass. Right.
Tristan: I’m not the only one boo. you’re my equal..
Me: ouch... just your equal? I thought I was your queen or something.
Tristan: yeah... I bow down to you...but I’m the king...so we’re equals…
Me: In the game of chess, me being the queen, equals the most power.
Tristan: I bow to you, my queen.
Me: Much better, peasant! HA! Have a good day, knock em dead fucker.
Tristan: You know it. Have a good day, babe. New schools are tough, but you’re tougher. And if they give you shit… give me their fucking names. I have brass knuckles with their names on it.
Me: kissy face.
I smile down at my phone as I make my way across the courtyard. Tristan always boosts my spirits whenever I need it. And he absolutely knows we are equals.
Sleep---Well—sleep was nonexistent last night. My mind had way too many scenarios going through it to shut off and shut up. So at the butt crack of dawn, I got ready for the day. School uniform and all, which seems ridiculous in such a place, but it’ll do. Knee-length skirt, knee-high socks, a white button-down, a tie (seriously?), and a matching overcoat to go with it.
I walk through the dining hall doors and make a beeline to the coffee table. I’ll need all the caffeine I can get my hands on to make it through this day. I take a small look around at the nearly empty room and make my coffee. My father would say, you want a little coffee with that sugar? Who needs such a bitter-tasting beverage this early in the morning when you can spice it up with three teaspoons of sugar and milk.
After my adventure through the buffet line—and I say adventure, because holy shit. French toast, pancakes, eggs, bacon, southern biscuits and gravy, sausage links, and patties; they have everything you can imagine. I don’t know how I will contain myself with all this delicious food in the mornings. Typically at home, I grabbed an apple and ran to my car. But here? Here I can waltz into the on-campus dining hall and stuff my face before going to class. Maybe this place won’t be too bad.
“Holy pigs in a blanket, Kaycee! I’m so super duper sorry I missed our time together yesterday!” I shove a piece of biscuit into my mouth to stop the groan from escaping my throat. Another fucking odd food reference. What is this girl’s deal? I need to look into her again. So odd.
“It’s ok,” I say with sincerity, because holy fuck balls, I don’t think I can endure another hour with her and her ridiculous speech patterns. More biscuits and gravy enter my mouth as she sits beside me, staring intently at me eating. “Did you need anything else?” I gargle out with a mouth full of food. Her hands go below her chin like she’s posing for a picture, giving me the sweetest smile she can muster.
“I can better acquaint you with our beautiful campus after class!! We’ll have heaps of fun frolicking through the meadows! OHH I can show you the fountains and gardens and there’s much to show you!” She squeals every word again. Fuck. Me. Time to let this looney toon down easy. There is no way in hell I’m frolicking in a meadow.
“That’s very, very kind of you, Piper, but Chase gave me a tour yesterday and it was very thorough,” I say shoving food into my mouth again. Piper’s face drops a mile as her eyes narrow in on me. Much like a viper getting ready to strike its next meal, Piper looks murderous. And I’m her damned prey.
“Oh, that snake in the grass gave you a tour? That bloated bag of beans wouldn’t know one end of this place to the other! Let me guess, that slippery toad took you to that repulsive maze first? Then his precious little football field!?” Every word she says gets progressively louder and eventually turns into full-blown shrieks of rage. She stands up, pushing the chair behind her, and pounds a fist into the table…... repeatedly. She huffs again, stomping her foot, and looks me dead in the eyes. For the first time since meeting the cheerleading captain, I see the evil lurking like a shadow below the surface. Yeah, time to check her out online again.
“Mark my words---” She growls, inching her face closer to mine. I swear if she gets any angrier the bulging vein on her forehead will pop like a pimple. Pop! Blood everywhere. Maybe her head will go with it too.
“Harassing the new girl, psycho?” I shove more food in my mouth to avoid any altercation with Piper. I really don’t want to piss her off more than I already have. I’m trying to stay neutral with everyone in this place, so my spying goes well. Pissing off this obviously unhinged, peppy cheerleader, is a big mistake. A mistake I will never make again. Note to self: meet Piper after school for a tour so she doesn’t stab me in the gut.
Seger steps up to Piper, white-knuckling his breakfast plate. Piper exposes her teeth like a dog and nearly barks at him before stepping back. “The offer still stands, Kaycee, unless you associate with filthy, mud bathing snakes instead.” Like the queen she thinks she is, she flips her long, blonde ponytail in Seger’s face and stomps off and out the door.
I swallow my bite and look back to see the twins standing together. Their faces are identical in rage, watching Piper storm out of the room. As soon as she’s outside, her Snow White mask comes back on and it’s like nothing happened. She chats with students as they walk by and hugs them. The birds probably have a friendly chat with her too.
“Trouble seems to find you,” Zepp says in an even tone, not bothering to look at me. In fact, those are the most words he’s said to me since I integrated into the student body.
“Just call me a magnet,” I wisecrack, shoving more food into my mouth. Trouble always seems to find me no matter where I go, hence why the wonder twins are now sitting beside me. Stoic like statues and almost impossible to tell apart in their school uniforms, but their moles give them away. Mirror twins, identical in every way, but it’s like looking in a mirror. The boy’s eyes continue to stare out the window, watching Piper sashay across the courtyard towards Cruel Carter. He lounges against one building like he has no other place to be. With a cigarette pressed between his lips and a cruel smirk working behind it. His eyes are invisible from here. Such a shame too, I’d love to get a read on him. Especially after last night. As soon as Piper is an ant to our eyes, they shove food into their mouths. Seger shoves food in like he’s starving, while Zepp slowly piles it in. He seems to have all the time in the world.
“Why is she a psycho?” I ask, staring out the window. The white puffy clouds float in the blue California sky, giving a peaceful facade. Two sets of green eyes seer into me like fire blazing under my skin, drawing my attention back to the statue twins.
“Stupid question,” Zepp huffs, taking another careful bite.
“How so?” I ask, tilting my head to the side. I want specifics, damn it. I need to know why she’s so…. her. But I can’t publicly pry. It would arouse too much suspicion.
“You fucking saw her, didn’t you?” Seger asks through a mouthful of food and a shrug. I nod, because who didn’t see her act like that.
“Yes,” I say, the clouds catching my attention again. “A normal person doesn’t fly off the handle like that. Besides, her speech pattern is on par with a psycho trying to manipulate you into believing they’re just like everyone else. Which she’s clearly not normal.” A white cloud floats in front of the blazing sun, sprouting a trunk and four legs. I smile as the elephant dances in the wind. Its trunk extends further, and it dissipates completely, as the sun takes back the reins.
“Wow, New girl,” Chase says through surprise. Where’d he come from?
I shake my head from the distraction and find four sets of eyes on me now. Chase’s eyebrows are in his hairline at my words. But the girl beside him catches my attention at the moment. Her dirty blonde hair sits in a tight bun and her school uniform is to perfection. Not a wrinkle in sight, unlike mine. Ainsley Benoit makes her first appearance with a sharp eye. Her eyes rake over me in instant judgment and I’m not sure If I like the wrinkle in her nose. But I’m not here to impress her, I’m here to investigate her.
“Huh?” I ask, as my eyebrows furrow. I don’t know if they’ve said anything else to me, but I suspect they have. Each person at the table wears an expression of concern and awe. Their eyes locking in on my smiling face. Fucking clouds. I really have to keep my head in the game here, but I just can’t seem to focus. The exhaustion ravishing my body really doesn’t help my mental focus.
“That was some deep shit. You a shrink in training or something?” Seger jokes, stabbing into his pancakes like it did him wrong. How on earth did I get surrounded by my enemy again? Oh right, I got too distracted again, and let them infiltrate my table. But how’s that famous quote go? Right, right, keep your enemies closer, because let’s face it. I need them around so I can try to figure them out.
“Just observations,” I say, pushing my plate towards the center of the table. “People like her are easy to dissect, especially with a personality like that,” I say pointing out the window. Piper has her cheer squad surrounding her in a big group hug, chanting something. Probably a positive quote like, live your best life, or YOLO, or some stupid words to say.
Ainsley snorts and shakes her head. Red puffy bags dominate the real estate under her eyes, despite her near-perfect appearance. Her eyes stay downcast on her food, but I suspect they’re bloodshot from here. She still holds herself like the queen of campus. Her rigid posture presents her as the perfect Benoit she is. Only taking small bites of her food, much like a bird picking at her meal and killing it slowly. Maybe that’s how she corners her victims. Slowly devouring them mentally and physically.
“Piper had a psychotic break two years ago,” Ainsley says in her sweet as pie voice without lifting her eyes to mine. She pokes around at her food, going back to ignoring my existence.
“Yeah---So, just don’t piss her off again. She probably has a knife shoved up her vag or something ready to stab you with.” Seger says, shoving more food into his mouth. Giving me a glimpse of the small tattoo carved into the side of his wrist. It’s a pair of small white wings with an inscription on the inside. I’ve seen it somewhere before, but I can’t place it right now. I tilt my head to the side discreetly, really wanting to ask what it stands for. But I’ve already let myself slip in front of them several times. I can’t spout more random shit right now. Callie’s used to it, but these guys? Not a chance.
Try to stay normal.
“Nice one,” Chase says, pointing a fork in Seger’s direction. “Knife up her vag, man, could you imagine her digging in there to grab it.” He laughs to himself, doing the motions over her own crotch. “That’s not a knife, this is a knife covered in my---”
“Chase,” Ainsley says in a small voice. “That’s disgusting.” She bumps her elbow into his ribs, knocking him off-kilter.
“Buzzkill,” Chase harrumphs, shoving eggs into his mouth with a scowl.
Pushing my chair back, I grab my plate and stand up. “See you all in class,” I say with a nod.
“New girl, what’s your first class?” Chase asks, raising his eyebrows. Four sets of eyes are on me as I pull out my phone.
“Calculus,” I say and Chase’s face erupts in his contagious smile.
“YESSSSSSS!!” He fist pumps into the air several times. “Save me a seat.” He says with a smirk as I leave. I take my plate and discard it, heading out the door. I walk through the courtyard, looking down at my phone. I tried to track the camera again using a different technique, but it didn’t work.
me: any ideas on how to track a device a different way?
Tristan:.......what kind of device?
I roll my eyes.
Me: might or might not have a stalker. Nee to track it but it all leads to a dead end.
Tristan: I have a few ideas, but class is about to start. I’ll think about it and text you later. Up for some gameplay later? I’m in desperate need.
Me: yeah. We can play later. I have some stuff to do right after class. Then we can come up with a solution.
Tristan: Look at you…..not even five minutes into a bratty prep school and you already need to trace a camera. This has nothing to do with your secret mission, does it?
Me: I don’t know.
Tristan: FFS, you need to be careful with whatever you’re doing.
Me: always am.
Tristan: I’m only 17 and you’re going to give me a fucking aneurysm.
I snort at his text and make my way towards my room. I walk toward my room with caution. My skin itches as I unlock my door and walk inside. In the back of my mind, all I can see is the black figure coming in here and leaving. Knowing they had their thieving paws on my things sends my stomach-churning. My heart pounds as I log into my computers and check the footage. Luckily the stalker hasn’t realized I fucked with the camera, because the only person who has been inside my room is me. Thank fuck.
My hands rest against my forehead as I lean forward. I give myself two minutes to freak out about everything and then I stand. Having a stalker is scary, but having a stalker with a ring full of keys is even scarier. What other rooms can they get into and how in the hell did they get them? A visit to a hardware store is a must in the next day, I can’t function properly knowing someone could walk inside my room and murder me too.
I grab my books and head to class with a weight off my chest. For now. Once Tristan comes up with other ideas, which he usually does. I’ll have a better idea of who I’m dealing with. Tristan’s just as good with these kinds of things as I am, sometimes even better. But don’t tell him that, he’ll let it go to his head. His ego is already inflated like an over-filled balloon.
Outside of my calculus class, paper litters the corkboard in the hallway. I tilt my head for the extracurricular activities I could sign up for. They always look good on paper for colleges. Parkford in particular. I already got accepted at the end of last year with my grades, but the extra push never hurts.
A school production of an unnamed play is up for grabs, with several audition spots. Tutors wanted. Basketball sign-ups for the upcoming season already have several names written. But the torturing catches my eyes.
“Tutors wanted for every subject, meets in the library, pupils chosen at random, $50.00 per month paid to the tutor, depending on grades.” I raise my eyebrows at that. The school pays the tutors for their work when in normal circumstances it would be on a volunteer basis. I write my name down, the first to do so, and walk into class. The extra $50.00 I earn per month won’t be much, but for what I want it for it’ll be perfect.
I grab a seat in the middle of the desks and rest my backpack against my chair. “You aren’t supposed to bring those to class, ya know?” I turn my head to the girl beside me. She flashes a smile at me, her green eyes studying me. Star stickers decorate the crinkles of her eyes in brightly polished purples. A forbidden leather jacket lays over her red and yellow uniform.
“I’m new,” I shrug, making no move to remove my backpack. If they really want to yank me out of class over it, then so be it.
“I kind of figured,” she says with another smile, putting a notebook on her desk. “You look a little out of place here. It takes getting used to, I guess.” She shrugs and twirls her purple pen in between her fingers.
“How so?” I ask tilting my head watching the pen twirl in her fingers. It spins and spins with perfection like she’s done it a million times before.
“Kinda like a baby deer in a den of wolves.” She says again, still twirling her pen. Well, she’s got the den of wolves right.
“I can assure you I’m no baby deer, more like the bear that stalks.” I mindlessly say, watching the fascinating pen still.
“Damn, New girl, a bear?! I’m gonna have to keep a sharp eye on you.” Chase asks with a grin, sitting in the chair in front of me.
“AHHH, Benannoyed, how awesome you’ve joined us.” The girl beside me says and instantly I like her.
“Aw, Zo, you can’t ever get rid of me!” Chase says bringing a hand over his heart. “Like ever…….!” He adds, slamming a book onto his desk.
“Please,” She says, rolling her eyes. Raising a hand, she makes a hissing noise and mocks a spray towards Chase. “I sprayed my Benoit Repellant. It works on both of you. Now turn yourself about.” She says through a smile, twirling a finger in his direction. He rolls his eyes and does as he’s told.
“I could really learn a thing or two from you., I say jokingly, as her palm smacks into her desk. A laugh burst from her mouth. Chase turns around with a wrinkle in his nose and a twinkle in his eyes.
“New Girl! I’m hurt and offended. Bad, Zoe, bad! Don’t teach her anything, leave that up to me.” Oh Chase, he sure knows how to make me melt with that playful lop-sided grin.
Zoe snorts and waves a hand, dismissing Chase. The teacher walks in and we begin our lesson. The teacher gets right down to business on the first day of class. They hand a detailed syllabus to each of us and expectations are high.
“So where did you come from, New girl?” Zoe asks, sitting back in her seat. Her eyes stay on the teacher, heavily panting in the room's front. His round belly bounces with every breath and I wonder if he’s about to have a heart attack. What a sight that’d be to see on the first day of a new school.
“New girl?” Zoe nudges me, gaining Chase’s attention again. He completely turns around, tuning out the teacher.
“It’s Kaycee,” I say, eyeing Chase. “Nowhere special. Just your average private school. Came here for a change.” I shrug my shoulders.
“Kaycee, huh?” Zoe mulls over my name by bobbing her head up and down. “It’s cute.” She says with a shrug.
“More than cute.” Chase pipes in through a grin. Zoe’s hand connects with the back of Chase’s head with a thud. His jaw falls open as his hand cradles the pain in his palm.
“I see the sunshine and European tours did nothing for your personality. You’d think after having stadiums scream your name, you’d be much more pleasant.” Chase grumbles, rubbing his head. Zoe snorts at his comment and starts twirling her pen again.
“Yeah, well—you’d think after red carpet events with your daddy you’d learn when to shut up.” She says popping the P at the end of her sentence with a cruel-looking smile. Chase grumbles more under his breath, probably calling her all sorts of names, but never says them aloud. All the while I’m trying to figure out why Zoe would tour in Europe? Touring is very popular in the summer months.
“What was your favorite place to tour?” I ask, envisioning tall glasses of wine and delicious meals.
“You have no idea who she is, do you?” Chase asks with wide eyes and a grin. I want to feign innocence.
“Zoe?” I question with a shrug, half-listening to the lesson in the background. I take sloppy notes, as the teacher speaks in a very monotone voice. His breaths have evened out, but he still paces the front of the room. Wiping sweat from his forehead with a handkerchief fashioned with an odd design. At closer inspection, it looks like tiny penises decorate the sweat rag. Gross.
“Did you live under a rock at your old prep school?!” Chase asks in surprise. “It….. it’s….”
“Zoe Hart,” She supplies.
“From The Hartbrakers! The friggin’ Hartbrakers, New girl. They’re like the hottest band since west by East except Bigger and way fucking better!” His eyes are wide.
“I…... don’t really listen to music much,” I say, watching the teacher out of the corner of my eye. “Unless you count the Angel warrior soundtrack. Or Skyrim…. Fallout 4 had a good one too.” I say with a shrug, still writing sloppy notes.
“I didn’t peg you for a video game kind of girl,” Chase says with that lazy grin I want to slap off his face right now. My pen slips from my grip.
My lips purse, “and what exactly did you peg me for?” My head tilts. His Adam’s apple bobs from the force of his swallow. Zoe can’t keep a straight face. Her hand hides the grin on her face, as Chase’s panic flashes in his eyes.
“I—I--well--fuck--I don’t know! You don’t seem like the type.” The muscles in his jaw twitch as his jaw clenches. I shrug at his comment.
“Not the type, huh?” I ask, tilting my head again. The muscles in his jaw tick again, as his body tightens. The smile he always has plastered on his face has disappeared. This is the Chase Magnolia described in her emails when she talked about the bullying. Stone-faced and stone-hearted. Calculated with every move he made against her for whatever reason. There had to be a reason, right? You didn’t just decide to wake up one day and make someone’s life hell. Right?
“You seem like the pony and princess type of girl. Romantic movies, long walks on the beach, that kind of thing.” Chase finally says with a shrug, his calm smile crossing his lips again.
I snort at his way off base description. “I can tell you by the look on her face you’re are off by a friggin’ mile,” Zoe says through a hysterical cackle, causing some other students to look back at her. Her middle finger raises in the air, their eyes quickly turning around.
“I guess it’s true what they say then, you really can’t judge a book by its cover. Or-or you can’t judge the pretty girl by the blonde of her hair or the blue of her eyes.” He laughs to himself, winks, and turns back around.
“Do those lines work on other girls?” Zoe asks with her eyebrow popped up. “Because seriously, Benoit, you need new material. Even, New girl can see your desperation from Mars.” Zoe earns herself the death stare from Chase. His eyes are slits as his brain picks her apart.
“You jealous, Zo? We could go to the maze later. I can show you a thing or two on how these words work wonders with the ladies.” He smirks as her face drops.
“I wouldn’t be caught dead with you in the orgy infested hedge.” She spits back.
“Anything you’d like to share with the class, Chase? Zoe?” The teacher up front says, wiping his sweaty forehead again. Chase gives me one last wink and turns himself about.
“We were just talking about orgies, Sir.” The teacher blanches at the front of the classroom, tripping over his club feet. He dabs his head again, shaking it in disappointment.
“Oh-I--won’t have any of that talk in my classroom, you got it?” He says as sternly as he can, but his stutters give him away. Is he afraid of Chase? Or Zoe? I associate them with very influential people.
“Who wants to meet at the maze later?!” Chase screams, throwing his arms into the air with victory. Cheers erupt from the ladies in the room, excited to get down with Chase. “You’re invited too, New Girl,” Chase says over his shoulder.
“Sorry, got plans,” I say with a shrug. The bell above us sounds off with its loud, screeching ring, and we all stand up. The teacher continues to bitch about us not being dismissed, but we ignore him and walk on.
“Change those plans then,” Chase says in a last word and disappears through the crowds of over-privileged youth.
Zoe slinks up beside me and bumps me with her shoulder. “Wanna be best friends?” She says through a sly smile, laughing. She snorts when I keep staring ahead, “I’ll see ya around, Kaycee.” And takes off through the crowds.
Most of my classes are the same. Zoe and I seem to share a few of them together, which is nice. She seems to be a person I could get along with. Her favorite topic in each class was how embarrassed Chase was when I rejected him.
After classes let out, I head back to my room with anticipation. Every time I walk in the door, I feel like that person dressed in all black will be here to kidnap me. But thankfully, my door is shut. When I walk inside everything still seems in place, just like last time. Looks can be deserving. My computers tell me there has been no one in my room either, so thankfully I feel a little better. I keep wondering when the person who installed the camera will try again. What was so important that they spied on me?
I gather my messenger bag, my credit card, and my car keys, leaving to the student lot. There sits my perfect little VW bug. It may not be the fanciest or the nicest, but it’s mine. And I love it.
“Hey, New girl—I mean, Kaycee, wait up!” I lean against the side of my car. Chase’s shaggy blonde hair bounces as he runs towards me, waving an arm to get my attention.
“What’s up, Clark?” A grin spreads across my face as he advances on me. He shakes off my teasing and stops right beside me.
“Where ya off to?” He asks, looking over the blue of my car with a gleam in his eyes. “Nice car, you don’t see very many of these around here.” His index finger runs up the hood of my car in admiration.
“And what kind of car do you drive, Chance?” His eyes meet mine again, finger pointing in my direction.
“God, Chance?! Ugh, I guess I deserve it right.” He snorts at himself and nods his head to a parking spot in the back of the lot. A bright orange sports car sat in its spot with the license plate “myplaything246”.
“Mclaren 720s, next year’s model. Dad insisted I get the best, it was for my birthday.” He runs a hand on the back of his neck with a sheepish smile plastered on his face. “It seems excessive……” He says with a shrug, shame filling his eyes at the thought.
“It’s nice, I’m sure it’s fast.” My mind instantly floats to another place, sitting in the passenger seat of a fast car. The seats vibrating, the car floating faster and faster down the road. The wind in my hair from the open windows, sending the mountain air into my lungs. Ahh---a girl could dream.
“I’ll take you for a drive.” He says patting his pockets with his hands. “Well—some time,” he shrugs and stops looking.
“I’ll keep you to that. There’s nothing else like a nice fast car.” I grin, craving the adrenaline pump.
“So, you going somewhere?” He asks again, nodding toward my now not so impressive car.
“A few errands.”
“I--uhh-- was gonna give you a tour of the maze?” His grey eyes beg me to take his hand and join him in the dirty, sexed-up maze. I blink a few times, my brain trying to keep up with what he’s saying.
“The maze?” I ask again.
“Yeah, we could--uhh---you know, hang out or something.” He shrugs, running his hands through his hair.
“Or something?” I raise my eyebrows, but I know exactly what he’s insinuating. “Listen, Chase..”
“Ah-ha! You said my name, yesssssss.” He does a weird happy dance in the parking lot, smiling like an idiot.
“Fine. Go to the maze and wait for me. Strip to your underwear and close your eyes and wait for me to come. And don’t you dare open your eyes until I say so.” He instantly loses his eyebrows into his hairline.
“You’re fucking with me again, aren’t you? Goddddddd, Kaycee, you’re killing me!” He runs a hand down his face. “I’m just….just trying to--I don’t know!” His hands fly up in the air frustrated with me.
“I’m curious, Clark, do those lines work on other girls?” He sighs again and shrugs.
“I don’t usually have to try so hard to get a girl’s attention.” He mutters, taking a step closer.
His grey eyes shine in a vulnerability rarely seen in this self-proclaimed lady’s man. It’s odd to see it in his eyes. The smile he usually wears is nowhere. A little boy stands in front of me, begging me to understand his ways. I want to. I really do. Despite the circumstances, Chase is easy to get along with. I could see a future with him, friendship wise. When we were 10, we kissed. It wasn’t awful, in fact, for the first time in my life I wanted someone to touch me like that. He did. It didn’t burn. But in the back of my mind, I have to think about Mags. She listed him in her emails. He helped in bullying her.
“Woo me,” I say, tilting my head to the side.
“Woo you?” He asks back with surprise. “Like, woo you, romance you type shit?” He asks to clarify my statement.
“Sure, if that’s how you interpret it.” I shrug and open my car door, needing to head off campus ASAP. As the seconds' tick on the clock, my room is vulnerable. More vulnerable than I want it. Whoever has keys to it will be in for a big surprise in a few hours.
“Wait…… I — I don’t know how?” He asks, twisting his face. His brain obviously going through the motions, trying to figure out how to woo someone. Or if he wants to. Am I worth the wooing and the effort? Well---I’d love to see him try. It’d be interesting to see what he has up his sleeve. Do I expect anything from it? No. Chase is the type of guy to hate the literal chase. He doesn’t want to chase me all over campus, begging me to hang out with him in the maze. No. Chase wants an easy girl to flirt with and fuck with. That’s it. That’s that. And I’m not that girl. Not one bit.
I shrug, putting one leg into the car, still staring at the confusion lining his face. “Figure it out, Chris. You got this. If I really am worth it.” My smile reaches my eyes. My fresh challenge rings through the air like a bell. His body straightens. Eyes shining with the need to complete this. To show me he wants me and he wants to do this.
“Oh---you’ll see, New Girl! I don’t give up easily.” He grins, rubbing his hands together in planning. My heart beats inside my chest like a rapid drum. So—Chase really likes that chase. This should be interesting. I’ll keep an enemy close in challenge.
My car starts with ease. Just as I’m about to back out, a Porsche shoots through the parking lot at break-neck speeds. Narrowing my eyes, Seger comes into view with determination on his face. His flashy, blue Porsche shoots out of the parking lot and onto the highway heading towards the small town, East Point Bluff. I head in the same direction, with my maps leading the way.
‘Max’s Hardware Store’, comes into view. It only took ten minutes from school, even with the horrific traffic. Once in the store, I cruise the aisles with my eyes on my prize. A brand new deadbolt and door handle sits in my hands. Each with a separate lock and separate keys no one else will have. Only me. I continue to look through the store, trying to find anything else worth my drive, but come up empty. Passing by a few windows in the back corner of the store, I get a glimpse of the alleyway beside it. Brick’s come into view, but it’s the loud, muffled voices that catch my attention.
A steady punch knocks the muffled words away from Seger, his body staggering back. Blood seeps from his nose, drenching his perfect white teeth in a bloody hue. Ugh. Damn the brick walls and their thickness, I can’t hear a damn thing. The only thing I see is their lips flapping together, forming angry yells. I wish I could read lips right now. Cruel Carter points a finger around the empty alleyway, taunting him with his signature cruel smirk. His body sways back and forth. Seger’s fist balls the front of his shirt, pulling them nose to nose. They spew more words at the moment's heat, Carter never loses his smirk. But Seger... he looks done with everything. If his looks could kill, it would bury Carter in the alley.
Seger pushes Carter’s back into the brick wall, pushing him one last time, before walking away. And not just walking, no, Seger stomps the whole way, pulling out a carton of cigarettes and lighting one up.
I can’t move my eyes away from Carter’s heaving chest. Sweat breaks out on his forehead. He shouts fuck into the air above him, the only word I can make out from his lips. His heavy fists slam into the wall behind him. Whatever I just witnessed---is a mystery. Why were they fighting? I pay for my things and do the stupidest thing my brain has ever conjured. Stupid me. I approach Carter without apprehension, finding him in the last spot I saw him. Heaving against the wall, sweat pouring from every inch of his cruel and tattooed body.
“He really beat your ass,” I say, tilting my head. My eyes finally take in the amount of damage inflicted on him. Blood seeps from Carter’s split lip and a bright, red mark lines his right eye. Five points of metal look like they’ve dug into the side of his face, leaving an intricate design in its wake. His knuckles are bashed and bloodied from the fight. Seger must have really gotten in a good beating.
He clenches and unclenches his fists. Pain probably soaring through his hands and wrist, but his expression stays the same. Twisted with rage and ready to go on the attack again. He could hit me for what I’m about to do. Or not. His choice, really. His breaths are like a bull about to charge. Half of me wishes he had a ring in his nostrils for me to pull so he’d calm down.
“This’ll hurt,” I comment, reaching into my messenger bag at my hip. I place an alcohol wipe on his bloodied knuckle. A grunt comes from above me from the stinging pain of the cleanup. Fire burns through my skin. His eyes set me ablaze with his burning anger. My nerves turn into tiny ants marching a weird tune on my sensitive skin. He will kill me, I just know it.
“What the fuck are you doing, New girl? I swear to fuck, I didn’t ask you to do this. Now back the fuck off, I’m not in the fucking mood.” He growls, trying to yank his meaty hand away from my grasp. But I hang on, forcing him to stay in my hand, cleaning more blood off.
“For fuck’s sake,” I say, looking up into the violent storm brewing in brown eyes. “If one more person spouts off about me being the goddamn new girl….” He snorts at that, successfully pulling his hand away from me, rubbing his bruised knuckle.
“You’ll what? Spit on them? Try to crush them with your shoe? Jesus, New Girl, you’re about as small as a fucking troll. You can’t do a damned thing.” He rolls his eyes in aggravation. At me? At Seger? Who the fuck knows. Carter seems to get angry at anyone and everyone around him.
“Oh--- a troll? Really?” My eyebrows furrow as I think about those rainbow-haired dolls my sister collected as a child. They had weird gems in their belly buttons, I wonder if they still make those.
Carter’s ferocious growl pulls me from my thoughts. His hand slams around my throat and pushes me back into the wall. Knocking the air from my lungs. The back of my head collides with the brick wall softer than I expected, but it still scrapes against my scalp, pulling my hair with my jerky movements.
My eyes widen at his violence against me, staring at the monster looming over me. I knew this was a possibility. Always expect the unexpected, I say. My muscles go limp in his grasp. Sure, I could pee my pants right here and now, but that won’t make him stop. My heart pounds in my ears and steadily thrums through my veins. His touch burns my skin as most others do, but I try to ignore it. I need not poke this very unhinged bull any more than I have. Stupid, stupid, fucking Kaycee. Why try to help him? His nickname is Cruel Carter for a reason.
“Is this why they call you Cruel?” I ask through a breath, willing my heavy tongue to work with me. He sneers at me, showing all his clenched teeth. The constant pressure around my throat is constant, threatening, but not enough to kill me. No. By the darkness seeping into his eyes, he wants me scared and begging. But he wouldn’t harm me right now.
“For more than one reason,” he growls, inching his face closer to mine. I stare into the soulless depths of his eyes. Has he killed someone? Has he beaten someone so hard they’ve failed to wake up?
“And those are?” I ask, raising my eyebrows up in question. Ugh. I need better sleep tonight before I get myself killed.
“Jesus,” he growls, squeezing his hand around my neck again, putting a little more pressure in. But I can still breathe. I’m still here. “You really don’t know when to stop, do you? Do you just keep asking stupid fucking questions until someone finally has enough and walks away?” I shrug, which seems difficult through the tension bleeding into my muscles.
“Ah--- it’s just part of my condition. I speak before I think, I utter questions before I’ve had time to think about them, which reminds me. Do you really fuck your step-sister?” His soulless eyes bug out in surprise. A deep, soul tearing laugh vibrates up his chest, shaking his head. He licks his lips and presses his body against mine. His annoyingly fiery breaths heat my ears.
“I wouldn’t put my dick anywhere near that fucking psycho ass bitches pussy and neither would she.” He leans in further, lips touching my ear lobe. “Because not a common fact, New Girl, but Piper’s tongue has been in more pussy than I can count. She’s a carpet munching psychopath, hellbent on ruining my fucking life. So—why don’t you let that cute little rumor fly instead.” He whispers those last words directly into my ear. I swallow hard.
“Well, there’s nothing wrong with that,” I whisper back, connecting my eyes to his. He shrugs a shoulder and steps back. I’m sure my brain could think of more than a few things to say right now, but I think I’ve already pushed my luck with Carter. If I could get my brain to shut up and ask questions, my life would be easier. Impulse control, Kaycee, Jesus.
He steps back, eyes roaming over my body with predator intentions. Wiping a bloodied knuckle against his swollen and broken lip like he’s contemplating something. Hopefully not to kill me. Ya know—I like my life right now. Maybe Mags’ came into contact with him? Physically, Carter could throw her off a boat easily. Maybe he held her under again? The water-filled her lungs. Questions sit on the tip of my stupid, unthinking tongue about whatever Seger and him were talking about. Could it be some cliche’ Prep school underground fighting bullshit? Maybe it’s some weird group hunkering down in the scary basement under the chem lab. Or maybe Carter insulted Seger’s mother?
“You scare easily, New Girl?” Carter growls, rubbing his knuckles again. I shrug my shoulders.
“No,” I say through a swallow. He exposes his teeth in a wide and scary grin. This dude shouldn’t smile like this.
“Oh good, because what’s about to come your way, you’ll need that fearless bullshit you think you’re on.” He stretches his neck and takes a few steps away from me. “Remember my warning, little troll,” My face falls at another stupid nickname.
“It’s fucking Kaycee, for Christ’s sake. New girl? Troll?” I push off the wall with force and march right up to him. He towers over me like the huge, muscular giant he is. “It’s Kaycee,” I say again, and he nods, mocking my sudden outburst.
“Nahhh, New Girl, I realllllly like this whole nickname business. Little Troll, New Girl, it could be worse. I could call you a fucking whore or something.” My teeth clench so hard, I’m afraid I’ll break a tooth. I see red. My brother does this same shit. Picks on me repeatedly, until he’s squealing like a little girl on the ground, holding his nads like they’re about to fall off. Foot meet balls. Unfortunately for Carter, he’s doing the same now. It’s an odd satisfaction to see such a big man on the ground holding his aching nuts, cursing you every which way to Sunday.
“It’s Kaycee. And you might want to ice your dick or something,” I say, stepping back, eyeing his rocking body. He’s growling, cursing, and squeaking in pain. His arm reaches out to me like he wants to pull me down and beat the shit out of me. When I look back from the mouth of the alleyway, he’s sitting up against the wall. Heavy breaths rock his body again. His fingers curl around his aching junk. His soulless eyes connect with mine again and he just smiles. Fucking smiles at me. My heart drops into my stomach. He will fuck me up. Terribly.
“Bring it on,” I smile back, tilting my head. Respect glimmers in his brown eyes and he nods in agreement. Like he’s saying, ‘bring it on, indeed.’ And that’s when I know I’m superly-duperly-utterly and completely fucked.
Fun Fact: it took me 5 fucking hours to edit this one...ONE chapter. Man. That's a long time to edit, but hopefully I didn't miss anything. Anyone wanna be an editor? Like...legit a second pair of eyes? I can't pay you anything...only with love...and cyber hugs. Lol.