Tristan: let me guess... there's at least a Lambo in the parking lot. Has to be! You're at a bratty prep school, perfect for your bratty self.
I snort at his attempt to insult me and scan the pretentious student parking lot. Packed to the brim with over the top sports cars decked out in weird kits and upgrades. No 16-year-old needs these kinds of luxuries. Who am I to tell these brats anything, though? They all live in their own little bubble with butlers and maids.
(Me) Addi: fine. There's like 5 here. Happy? It's ridiculous.
Tristan: I fucking knew it. You can't go to some prep school without it. How about..... a Porsche?
I shake my head again and scan the parking lot again, looking for it like I'm in a stupid game of eye spy.
Addi: of course. There's only two tho. The rest are beamers and Benz and ridiculous red convertibles. Stupid.
Tristan: don't hate. I like Porsche. So unique. So fast. Gets me laid every timeeeeee!!
Addi: pleassseeee don't tell me about your gross conquests. I might puke a little.
Tristan: righhhhtttt your virgin ears and everything.
Addi: 🙄🙄🙄 you're a dick.
Tristan: I got one and I know how to use it. BTW gotta go. Football shit going on. Enjoy your holier than thou new prep school. Hope your senior year is magical, like you. Wink. P.S. let's play some Angel Warrior tonight?
Me: can't wait to kick your ass, bring your friend too, so I can kick his ass too.
Tristan: we'll see.
I snort again and roll my eyes at his words.
Oh, Tristan, my best friend. My ride or die, the only loyal friend in the entire world by my side. Since Mags died, he's all I have left. The dude can tell you almost everything about me, well not everything. He doesn't know my actual name, only the name I gave him. Addi, which is technically my middle name. He has no idea what city I call home, only that I'm in California. He doesn't even get the privilege of knowing the name of my new fancy prep school. Can't have a crazy stalker, now can I?
What Tristan (if that's even his real name) and I share is something special. Our relationship is more about our personalities and souls connecting rather than our outer physical beings. He can't look at a picture of me and say, damn that Kaycee is hot, that's why I give her the time of day.
We've never seen each other before. We've never Skyped or FaceTimed, even if we can do so. We simply chose not to. Mutually. We communicate anonymously through an app that suits us both. I try to pretend he's not a 40-year-old pervert in his parent's basement trying to seduce a 17-year-old girl and it wins every time. My confidence in him actually being an actual teenager is high, though. He also goes to some prep school down the coast. Or so he says.
"Tristan again?" I lock eyes with my very skeptical sister, as she wraps an arm around my shoulders. I shudder at the contact, my skin burns, and itches. I take a deep breath and remind myself it offends my sister when I pull away and I'm trying my hardest to see it from my sister's eyes for once.
"Always." I nod, placing my phone into my over the shoulder messenger bag.
"You ever going to meet him?" She asks with a raised eyebrow, hoping to fish answers from me. Snort. She should understand by now, my lips are sealed on the subject of Tristan. So I simply shrug and evaluate my surroundings, always evaluating my surroundings. I'm calculating everyone's next moves, storing them for further examination later.
Students convergence on the enormous courtyard, engaging in various activities in front of me. Some are talking. Some are arguing and rolling around in the dirt. And some---well, some should probably get a room. Some girls lay in the grass on towels in their bathing suits. Just another day in paradise to lounge for them. They're showing off their perfected California tans and bodies the doctors sculpted for them and others... Well, the other's hope to catch some eyes from the boys tossing a football a few yards away. Constantly wiggling their asses in the air or turning so the sun's beams on their barely covered breasts. Hoping and praying to the gods above the boys tossing the football will give them the time of day.
"You know your pawns?" Callie whispers as she scans the crowd with me.
"Always," I respond again, taking in the faces of everyone I cyber stalked ages ago.
Research, I mentally correct myself. I researched everyone attending this school, leading up to my grand entrance. Every single student currently enrolled in East Point Prep. From the freckles painting their faces, to their carefully covered tattoos. A lot of stalking happened. I mean a lot. Hours upon hours of research. It probably sounds creepy if I say it aloud, but I promise it was very necessary. Very, very necessary. Essential to my perfectly constructed plan. Especially my pawns. I could probably name whether they like mac and cheese or mashed potatoes. Or if cheese puffs or cheezits are their go-to snack. And so on...
Chase, pawn number one, prefers the sunshine of summer to ward off his winter blues. He enjoys his jet skis and trips around his private lake. The twins, Seger and Zeppelin West, yes THAT West family. Sons to retired billionaire rockstar, Corbin West, who has too many kids he can't even name them all. In total from my research, there are probably 14 West children. But he only claims and pays for four, the twins are two of them. They tend to prefer Autumn because football is in full swing. They enjoy the rain, running, and the bashing of skulls of their opponents. Classy footballers.
"You don't have to do this, you know that right?" She asks with concern, convincing herself I'm in over my head.
What my beautiful sister doesn't understand is, I'm not drowning here. No. I'm not floating just above the water either. No. I'm soaring high above the sharks I'm about to go up against. I'm in a league of my own and these pretentious fucks have no idea what they're about to go up against.
"The thing is, Cals. I do have to do this. This place was Mag's future and someone, somewhere within these walls, stole it from her. They stole her from me. From her mother." I narrow my eyes on the shaggy blonde boy fumbling with the football a hundred years in front of me. He rolls in the grass with a laugh, cradling the pigskin under his arms before springing back to his feet in an instant.
Pawn number one, Chase. Hotter than expected. Damn it. He's smoking hot in person. Way better than the photos I stalked getting a better idea of who I was up against. The grin on his face reaches his eyes and melts the panties off the girls laying out. Probably mine too. He's like Prince Charming wrapped into a devilish high schoolboy. Dangerous and appealing, all encompassed in the flesh of Chase Benoit.
Callie leans in, letting her horrible smelling perfume invade my nostrils. How does Dex even sleep next to her with that overwhelming, putrid scent?
"That's what the police are for, Kace. The case is still..."
"They closed it the second they pulled her body from the water. Suicide, stamped right on her damn death certificate. She drowned. She did it herself. Bullshit. She found something and someone punished her for it and now she's fucking dead." I state, my voice cracking with unshed emotions I can't afford to dwell on. Not now. Not until I'm finished here. Then I can cry. Then I can grieve, but until that day comes I must remain strong and coherent enough to find an over-privileged murderer.
A familiar-looking football bounces at my feet as I try to reel my burning tears back in. I stare down and cock my head to the side. How on earth does my brother find this sport fun? And how does he play it so well? This little piece of pigskin wrapped into a weird-shaped ball, celebrated by the masses. Hailed as a weird sort of sports god. Tailgate parties, Superbowl parties. And don’t get me started on the weird jersey and face paints. Football. Pshht.
"Hey—uhh--- can you throw it back?" My eyes snap up to pawn number one and then back down to the ball. I pick it up, the warm leather tingles beneath my fingers.
I smile, dropping Callie's arm from my shoulders finally. I walk forward meeting the sun-kissed, shaggy-haired, blond boy in the middle. A smile pulls at his lips as I hand the football back. Heaven would laugh hysterically if I attempted a pass of the damn thing. I need to grace his good side, not poke his eye out with a football. I peer into the pure gray of his eyes, but looking back at me is anything but pure. He may wear a spectacularly hidden mask of indifference and laid-backness, but there's more to him than meets the eyes. He has weaknesses and an extremely aggressive evil streak. I intend to exploit both of them.
"You must be new around here." He says through a slight smile, pointing a finger at me like he's got me all figured out.
If he had it his way, I'd be in his bed, and underneath him within the hour. That's how he rolls, at least that's how he portrays his life on his FlashGram posts. Girl after girl hanging off his arm at parties and events his father hosts or attends. He's never alone. It makes me wonder if something happened in his life? What makes him seek people out constantly? Oh—fuck, I lost myself again. Focus Kaycee, don't let them see your mind wander.
"You seen me around here before?" I quip. Tilting my head to the side, letting my long blonde hair fall down my back. His lips twist in amusement more at my dry remark, like I said the world's funniest joke. All the while his gray eyes memorize the curve of my neck. Hopelessly searching my chest and body like a dog with a desperate bone. I try not to let his burning gaze burn through my skin and set my insides on fire with a bone-crushing desire to please him. I'd be just another conquest to him. I'm sure girls throw themselves at him for a chance to crawl into his bed. I sure as shit wouldn't give a womanizer like Chase my virginity, even if I got over my touch sensitivity.
"I suppose I haven't before. You a senior?" Oh, he's fishing for information now. Typical. He scopes out the new girl and spreads the word to the others. But I don't crack that easily. No, sir-ey.
"I am," I say with a slight nod, only giving him that little nugget of information. His eyebrows shoot up like he's expecting me to ask the same. But I don't. I bite my tongue. Because the thing about silence is, it drives people to talk more. And when people talk more to fill the silence, they tend to spill their secrets.
"Looks like I'll be seeing you around then. I'm a senior too. All of us are." He points back to the other footballers he's playing with and the other girls I recognize on their towels.
Pawn number two and three stares back. Identical in every form of the word. Dressed alike. Heads shaved in the same dimensions. Their arms crossed across their chests alike, but still, having studied them for over the past six months through a computer screen. I can tell the stark differences from here. Different moles, different scowls, and unique body languages tailored to each distinct personality.
The most powerful player of all slides her glasses down to the tip of her nose. Her crystal blue eyes zone in on me and every move Chase makes. She's studying me, calculating every move like I'm an unknown player on her board, accessing if I'm a threat to her well-established kingdom she's built around her. I might be a fresh piece on her board, but soon I'll knock this queen down and I'll be the only queen standing. My pawns and my kings will be down, dead, and won't come crawling back for more.
"Cool," I say, with a tight smile, as I access my newest victim more. He returns my smile tenfold, showing his perfect teeth.
"I'm Chase, by the way. Chase Benoit." He cocks his head to the side and studies my unmoving face with scrutiny. This must be his move to reel the ladies in. Dropping his last name like it'll drop my panties and make me spread my legs wide enough for him to slide inside.
"Good to meet you, Chase," I say simply, holding my indifferent mask in place. My heart pounds against my ribs, as my mind turns in circles. My mind is screaming at me to react, to jump up and down. It wants me to freak out at who he is and beg to meet his father again or get his autograph this time.
My dad may be famous in the gross erotica book world, but Chase's dad? God. His dad is a fucking acting legend. More than a legend, the most sought after action star on this side of the world. Chase's father, Tate, got his acting debut because of my father's books. Leading roles in every erotic sci-fi book to movie my father ever produced. Chase doesn't have any idea yet, but we've definitely met before. Behind the scenes at the movie studio many, many years ago. We've played together and even shared a special moment together in a darkened corner.
He laughs a little, as a red tint takes over his cheeks. "Man, usually that gets at least a little reaction. So—uhh — what's your name, new girl?" His eyes light up at the thought of getting anything from me. Ah....and there it is. A name. A way to find my secrets. A way to move ahead in the game he's playing.
"A name holds a lot of meaning," I say with a cheeky grin, taking a step back, offering a little wink instead. "It was great to meet you, Clark. I'll see you around." His face falls at the realization, but quickly masks his disappointment with a lop-sided grin.
"You played me, new girl. I won't stop until I find out that name of yours. A beautiful name for a beautiful girl, I'll bet." With that, Chase stalks off with a pep in his step and a football in hand, returning to his little game of catch with his best friends in tow.
"What the fuck, man..."
"Who the fuck was that?".....
"New girl. Hot girl." Chase responds to the identical twins. Their eyes cut to mine, burning through my soul like venom burning in my veins. I planted the seed of want in their minds, ready to sprout into curiosity. They're suddenly interested in who I am and where I came from. All in good time, boys, because soon, you will wish you never met me. Soon you'll wish the tides had turned the other way. I walk back towards Callie, as she crosses her arms across her chest.
"You better be fucking careful here," Callie says narrowing her eyes in on the boys down the field.
"I always am," I respond within an instant.
"Cover your tracks. Don't let these assholes sniff around. Money talks, Kace. If they can cover a suicide up, they can do anything. They're rich and desperate to keep their secrets covered up. I know this school, Kace. This isn't something to mess around with." Callie licks her lips, eyeing every building on the grounds.
Every medieval structure holds tight to the buried secrets inside its walls and I will unearth it all. I will bring down this establishment brick by brick and bury its ashes in the dirt. Callie understands this place. Callie has seen the players who roamed these halls because her tormentor once roamed these halls with her.
"Don't worry. I swear, I'll be careful." I turn towards Callie and take her hands in mine. I give her a slight squeeze of her fingers.
A burning scorns the side of my head, as Callie drops her hands. She turns back to Mom who's been on the phone frantically yelling at her PA for fucking up. I turn my eyes and find the queen on her feet, sauntering over to my pawn twins. She eyes her brother, Chase, and leans in to talk to them. Her eyes never leave mine.
There's not a single doubt in my mind that by Monday morning when classes start, they'll all call me by name. My lips won't need to utter a word.
The way Mags made it seem in her emails, the queen of campus, Ainsley fucking Benoit caused all her problems. The relentless tick in her skin that never gave up. I won't be Mags. I won't let these assholes tear into me like they did her, because I'll be the one to tear into them and tear them down. Slowly but surely I'll make them all pay forever laying their hands or opening their mouths and ruining my best friend's life. They took her from me.
So I'll take their goddamn kingdom from them.
Welcome to Kaycee's world! Sit tight, it's going to be a bumpy ride. Riddled with lies, secrets, bullies, hot guys, mean girls, shitty pranks, and so much more. Enjoy!
BTW......Did you all remember Tristan from Sex and Radio??? He's totally in there......lol.