II - New Neighbour
It wasn't just Evelyn and her friends that'd heard about the new boy either - pretty much all of the Year 11 form rooms were buzzing with interest and excitement discussing Maddox's arrival, pestering Harley about the rumours, extro girls like Amanda using it to their advantage. Lavinia on the other hand huffed and rolled her eyes as she pushed past classmates impatiently, sitting opposite me and Melissa in our last class of the day.
"Honestly, I don't see what all the fuss is about," she began crossly, scribbling down notes on a piece of lined paper glancing up at me and Melissa occasionally.
"He's most likely to be another annoying, jumped up wannabe," she commented, eyeing Leroy purposely, a boy in most of our classes that she was always arguing with, "like other idiots I could name."
He rolled his eyes, glaring at her. "You just know that no boy would be stupid enough to go near you, and take it out on all of them, Anderson."
"At least my IQ isn't the same as my shoe size, dumbass!"
Lavinia and Leroy bickered furiously and Melissa raised an eyebrow, writing neatly in calligraphy, earning smiles of approval from the teacher, who had noticed Leroy and Lavinia's voices growing louder and going over crossly.
"I agree with Lavinia, though," Melissa told me, flicking back her mousse-brown hair from her face, "it'll all die down in a couple of days after he gets here. He might call himself a bad boy but actually has an after-school job at Mugshotz," she joked, making me smile.
Then Carmen made an appearance, coming back from her drumming lessons and joining us at our table at the back of the class, throwing her bag down carelessly on the floor and sitting next to Lavinia, who was scowling at Leroy.
"Hey, guess what I heard from Lysander in my drum lessons?" she asked us, and Lavinia looked over at her, still annoyed.
"More about the new boy? Not interested - seriously, when will people play another tune?"
"No no, it's not that. Lysander was telling me that Bethany's throwing a party next week, after school on Friday, and all the Year 11's are invited. It's gonna be wild - no parents or adults, and you know how big their house is. There's even a pool outside, and Mickey Davies said that someone might be smuggling alcohol in from their older sibling!"
I gasped in shock, and Lavinia rolled her eyes at me. Then the bell sounded, signalling the end of the school day, and the scraping and clattering of chairs could be heard throughout the block as students hurriedly filed out of their classes, joining friends and pulling out their phones.
"What do you think?" Carmen asked us, as we made it out of the crowded Art Block and into the cool outside air. "We should totally go. Come on, it'll be fun! We deserve a break from all the studying anyway. Vinne," she said, nudging Lavinia, "what about you?"
Lavinia hesitated for a moment before sighing in defeat and nodding.
"Yeah, okay. Sign me up. But there's no way I'm getting smashed by alcohol. Melissa?"
"Yep," she said, smiling happily, "I should be fine to come. As long as you stay with me, right?"
"Esme? You feel up to coming?"
I shook my head, biting the inside of my lip anxiously.
"No, I won't be going. There's gonna be really bad influences there you know - drinking, and the popular couples will probably try to get away with doing you-know-what upstairs, where no one's around. And if it's after school then it'll probably be late at night, so-"
"Oh, for goodness' sake, Essie, just come! You'll enjoy it, hanging out as a group, away from school and studying for once! You never let your hair down," Lavinia said persistently.
"Yeah, come on. Look, this could be the way out of being teased as a good girl!"
I sighed, tieing the sleeves of my denim jacket around my waist, and shrugged.
"I'll think about it, okay?"
"Fine," Lavinia said, brows raised as we waited at the bus stop. Melissa perked up again.
"Hey, I wonder if that new boy's moving in anywhere near us?"
Lavinia groaned, and Carmen shrugged.
"Maybe. It's gotta be near here if he's coming to our school - you know you have to live in the area."
As students and my friends gradually rang the bells and piled off the bus at their stops, I was left sitting alone upstairs at the front of the bus, looking out at the shops and cars and people quickly passing. I plugged my earphones in my phone, playing some chilled study music, and started reading an ebook, blocking out the noises of students chatting until I got off myself, crossing the roads and walking up pavements to my house.
Then I frowned, noticing a large van on the opposite side of the street to mine. There are two long rows of houses where I live, facing each other, and the van was opposite my home. I frowned, confused as I kept walking to get a better look at the side of it. Then my mouth opened in realisation, eyes widening.
It was a moving van.
And sure enough, furniture was being carefully carried into a house opposite mine, a girl that was probably a tween standing beside her dad, who was talking to someone behind the van that I couldn't see. She huffed and disappeared inside the house, an older boy that was probably college age glancing at them from inside. He rolled his eyes and went back indoors, and then a black car pulled up at the parking space to their home. The boy who got out looked around my age, with a bemused look on his face as he looked up at the house, closing the car door and locking it. His hair was dirty blonde, with fair skin, very slightly tanned, and freckles were scattered across his nose. His eyes were a light sage green colour, and he was wearing a red hoodie with a sports logo on the front, with jeans and sports shoes. He stuffed his phone in his pocket and started talking to the man, who looked over at him and said a few things before talking with whoever he was talking with before. Then, the boy pushed open the door, looking back and catching my eye.
I felt my body flush in surprise and embarrassment, and he raised an eyebrow, smirking in a boyish, amused way. I turned my attention away from him, unlocking my door and going inside my house, closing it again and locking it immediately, my back leaning against the door as I breathed out deeply, my eyes squeezed shut. That can't have been Maddox, could it? It probably was - and when he saw he me in school, he'd probably gossip to Harley and the popular gang that I'd been staring. 'A great boost to my already crazy good-girl reputation' I thought to myself, sighing and putting my jacket and bag away, lining up my shoes evenly on the rack and going in the kitchen, picking up the money that mum had left on the side. No one was home - the house was completely quiet and empty, and I rolled my eyes, getting out my phone and calling Melissa, inviting her over.
"He moved in opposite you? Are you sure?!"
Melissa questioned me, astounded and excited when she came over to mine, and I passed her a glass of juice.
"No, I'm not sure - but I'm sure I'll die of embarrassment if it was. Because he caught me looking!"
Melissa shrugged, smiling at me comfortingly.
"Who wouldn't be distracted by all the noises and commotion of a moving van? Isn't that excuse enough?"
"Yeah," I agreed, sitting down on my bed and taking out my laptop, "you're right."
"What was he like? Do you speak to him?"
"Why not?" she asked, giggling, "you should've taken advantage of the opportunity! Is his bedroom window opposite yours?"
My eyes widened as a pang of dread and annoyance ran through me.
"It better not be."
Melissa glanced to the side, then looked up again, a new look of excitement in her expression.
"Hey, let's go make cookies and bring it over to him!"
I rolled my eyes as she laughed.
"Not gonna happen, Melissa. I didn't speak to him, I just saw him."
"Wel, he's got blonde hair and green eyes and wears sports clothes, like hoodies and stuff. I think he has a brother and sister too - I saw a girl that looked like a tween, and a boy a little older - college age."
"Wow," Melissa breathed, eyes wide, "lucky you!"
"Yeah! You'll be the first student to have seen and maybe talked to Maddox! Just don't tell too many people - the popular girls won't leave us alone, and I think Lavinia might just lose it if that happened."
"Yeah," I said, smiling, "don't worry. Even though we live close by, it doesn't mean anything much, does it?"
Melissa shrugged, smirking as she took out her i-pad, and I glanced outside my bedroom window, biting my lip.
It didn't mean anything much... right?