III - Made You Look, Made You Stare
I woke up the next morning, and the first thing I did was groan - remembering what happened yesterday after school. I had quite possibly seen Maddox, the new bad boy of the area, and if Melissa accidentally let the info slip then I’m doomed to fighting off popular girls from pestering me with their questions, suffocating me with the sickly scents of Victoria’s Secret Pink perfumes. Melissa had decided to sleep over too since my parents weren’t back from whatever they were doing. I used to be and still kind of am embarrassed by the whole situation, and it gets even more awkward when I’m asked about family stuff. But I’ve known Melissa since Year 7, and she doesn’t judge me at all. With her around, the house felt more alive and full, like it could be that small family that everyone laughed along with on family comedies and role-reversals that I see on tv.
We went downstairs, and I ran the hot tap, rolling my eyes when I felt what I expected.
“Great,” I muttered, “she hasn’t paid the gas bill yet.”
“That’s okay, there’s always cereal. And your mum left you some money, right?” Melissa said quickly, “so we could go to Mugshotz. Yeah, let’s do that, Es! Before we have to catch the bus to school.”
I nodded, smiling and getting changed into a jumper and black denim jeans, wearing the silver necklace with a small rose quartz pendant linked to it. My dad had bought it for me before he was diagnosed with the illness he has now, but when he notices me wearing it he smiles, but very slightly. Still, even that’s rare for him.
I grabbed my keys from the hook on the wall in the hallway, leaving my mum a note to let her know I’m okay. She probably wouldn’t even notice or think twice about it, but I still wrote it out, slipping out the door with Melissa and locking it. Thank god, Maddox wasn’t outside yet - and I didn’t dare look up at the windows. We spent a great hour at Mugshotz, getting heated pastries and smoothies and hot chocolates for breakfast - the best I’ve had in ages. Sitting at the back of the cafe outside on the benches, laughing and messing around with my best friend cheered me up completely. After a while, Carmen made an appearance getting an energy drink, and sat with us, her foot sliding and pushing against her football under the table.
“Hey, you know we’re talking to the career advisors soon,” Carmen told us, as we walked in a three to the bus stop, “I’ve got mine today actually.”
“Do you know what you want to be?” I asked her, and she shrugged.
“Roughly. Something to do with sports - I know you can do fitness and stuff in college. Hey, I could be a footballer or an instructor of something...”
“Well, I’m not 100% sure what I want to be,” Melissa said, frowning a little, “I’m still sort of working out who I am, how am I supposed to know what I want to be? Though if it’s related to art or photography or fashion, I suppose that would be okay. Or working in a nursery! Wouldn’t that be great for job experience, Esme? Looking after all the cute little toddlers-”
“Who’ll drool on your clothes and whine and scream and get on your nerves when you’re busy,” Carmen interrupted, shaking her head in distaste. “I know little kids, Lissa, and trust me, they aren’t all that once you’ve been sicked on by your younger brothers.”
Then, Carmen looked over at the opposite road, frowning a little in curiosity.
“Hey, who’s that blonde boy talking to Harley?”
Melissa and I looked over, and her eyes widened as did mine, as I saw the confirmation of my theory.
“It’s... it’s Maddox,” Melissa said, spellbound, and the other students hanging around the bus stop watched too in interest, gossiping to their friends, as the two passed and took the car instead of the school bus. Lucky for him, because he’d most likely suffocate by everyone crowding him.
Then the bus came round the corner, and students piled on, their conversations mostly the same.
“Hey, did you see that boy with Harley? That’s gotta be Maddox, right?”
“Do you think he’s single?”
“He doesn’t look like a bad boy to me-”
“Oh, shut up Veronica.”
Then Lavinia made it onto the top deck of the bus and sat next to Melissa, scowling.
“You know this new boy, Maddox? You wouldn’t believe the comments him and Harley made in their stupid flashy car when I was trying to cross the road. Honestly, what’s so special about him?! I told you, didn’t I, that he’d be the same annoying show off that pretty much every boy is like here.”
“Just ignore it,” Carmen told her, picking up her football and stuffing it in her Vans backpack.
“If he gets invited to this party,” Lavinia continued, taking no notice of Carmen, “I swear I’ll...”
“I won’t go if he does,” Melissa said, “boys like him are nothing but trouble, and I don’t want to get involved in it. Why can’t we have a sleepover party instead or something? All the music and shouting gives me a headache after a while.”
“No, come on, don’t let him spoil it,” Carmen said, frowning, “just stand up for yourself. He probably will be hanging out with his lot anyway.”
Getting off the bus and going to our lockers was okay, because Melissa managed to change the subject, and soon we were back at ease and laughing.
That was, until, I realised who had the locker to spaces next to mine.
“Hey, you’ve got to come over later,” Carmen said, as we unlocked our lockers and took out the folders we needed, “I’m getting a new game system. It’s gonna be so cool when we get to try it out together.”
“I’ll meet you there a bit later after school,” Melissa said, smiling and zipping her bag up, “I need to leave my dad a note first.”
“Yeah, I’ll come,” Lavinia agreed, and I nodded too.
“Sure, why not.”
Suddenly, Lavinia’s expression changed into an annoyed, cross scowl, and she slammed her locker shut as Harley and Maddox came near, Harley shaking his hand in that weird way that boys usually do before going off with some of his other mates. I bit the inside of my lip hard, and Melissa came closer to me too, red in the face. Carmen, however, nodded and smiled.
“Hey, you’re the new boy, right? You joining the football team?”
Melissa’s eyes widened at her easy-going attitude, and Maddox nodded, smirking at her as he opened up his new locker.
“Yeah, that’s me. Don’t know about football though. Huh, am I really that popular already?”
Lavinia scoffed, grabbing Melissa and pulling her away with her down the corridor. Maddox raised an eyebrow, looking amused, then caught sight of me, still figuring out how the hell I was going to get out of the situation.
Nope, too late.
“Hey, you’re the girl that was watching me yesterday, aren’t you?”
My mouth opened a little in surprise and confusion at his smug, confident attitude, and I forced myself too look at him.
“Yeah, I guess that’s a start. It’s rude to stare, you know. Can’t same I blame you though.” He smirked in amusement as I crossed my arms, annoyed.
“I wasn’t staring at you, actually. I was right opposite a moving truck commotion, it’s natural to notice.”
“Oh, okay,” he said mockingly, the smirk still on his face as he looked over at Melissa, who blushed and glanced at me.
“What’s your name?”
Melissa didn’t answer for a second, still in shock.
He grinned, leaning against his locker door. “Yeah, the both of you.”
“Oh, um, I’m Melissa,” she said, slightly flustered, and before I could stop her she added, “and this is Esme.”
He raised an eyebrow, tossing his dirty blonde fringe out of his eyes in interest.
“Esme and Melissa,” he repeated, grinning, “okay, that’s not too hard to remember. What form are you in?”
“11 B,” Melissa answered, as I tried not to roll my eyes impatiently, “Miss Becklea.”
“Same as me then,” he said, as Carmen nodded at us and rushed off to her football game. Then, he looked back at me, smirking again.
“Wanna show us around, Esme?”
I closed my locker, rolling my eyes and raising a brow at him, annoyed.
“No, not really. Get Harley to.”
“Nah, I’ve know Harles for ages. But I don’t know much about you, and I took the hint from you watching me yesterday that you probably want that to change, right?”
The bell rang just in time, and I shook my head, glaring at him.
“For the last time, I wasn’t staring at you, I just happen to notice a massive moving van and stuff across the street.”
“Exactly. And stuff, which includes me,” he answered, smirking and looking at me with his light green eyes. “How about this - I’ll ask this Becklea specifically to get you to tour me. Sounds good?” And before I could answer, several popular girls and boys came up to him, and he went off with them, leaving me speechless with Melissa, sighing and going off with her to our form room angrily.
Now I could definitely see what got Lavinia so angry. Smug, confident, mocking and full of himself. Pretty much all the main traits of the bad boy people claimed he was, and although a part of me was curious, the bigger part knew that Melissa was right. Trouble is best stayed away from.