♥ Chapter One
“I’m not going,” I said firmly, my voice echoing around the empty school corridor I was standing in with my best friend, Beth.
She had been trying to get me to meet her latest boyfriend, Joshua, since they'd started dating two months ago, and they were trying to set me up with Joshua's best friend, Max, on some kind of awkward double date.
I didn’t do the dating thing because I’d never seen the point in it. At seventeen years old, I figured I had my whole life ahead of me to worry about that nonsense.
My one and only boyfriend had been over a year ago, and that had crashed and burned within a matter of months when it became clear that his feelings were a lot stronger than mine. I hadn’t had a boyfriend, or even so much as gone on a date with anybody since.
“Aurora,” Beth replied in a warning tone, her voice echoing around the empty school corridor we were standing in.
I could always tell that she meant business when she called me anything other than my nickname. “Rory,” I corrected, raising an eyebrow at my best friend because she knew full well that I couldn’t stand my name.
Beth took no notice of my interruption and carried on speaking as though nothing had happened. “Why don’t you just give it a shot? If you don’t like him then I’ll never mention it again, I promise.”
Weighing out the options, I figured that it didn’t sound like that bad an offer. I'd just have to go on the stupid date and make an excuse to leave early. Hello, freedom!
“Fine, I'll go,” I said with a sigh, not even trying to keep the annoyance from my tone. “But don’t expect me to enjoy myself.”
“That’s the spirit,” Beth replied sarcastically, proceeding to rummage around in her bag trying to find her phone – probably to text Oliver to tell him I’d finally caved.
Beth and I had met Oliver on our first day of primary school and took an instant liking to him, so we'd initiated him into our little best friend trio. The two of us, me and Beth, already knew each other from pre-school when we were three, and we’d quite literally become best friends instantly. She had walked over to me, confident as ever, and said something along the lines of, “Let's be friends!” to which I had replied with something like, “Best friends!” And the rest, as they say, was history. The tree of us had other friendships, of course, but we only really hung out with each other.
“Did I mention Max is in a band?” Beth added casually, bringing my attention back to Max as she tapped away on her phone’s screen.
“No, you didn’t mention that.”
Beth really did know me as well as I knew myself. Possibly better, at that. I was a black jeans, band t-shirt, Doc Martens or Chucks kind of girl. My idea of a good night out was going to a rock concert. Beth, on the other hand, was what people would consider a stereotypical girly-girl. The loves-pink, loves-makeup loves-fashion, hopeless romantic type. While Beth had wanted a pony and ballet lessons, all I’d ever wanted was a guitar.
When I was seven, my wish was finally granted and I got my very first guitar, along with lessons twice a week. It had been challenging, sure, but I couldn’t have been happier about it. Needless to say, I was big on guitars and people who shared my affinity for them.
“It doesn’t change anything," I added quickly. "I refuse to end up like my parents.”
The reality was that it was pointless for me to be in a relationship because I didn’t buy into the whole romantic-love myth. The only functional relationship I’d grown up around was that of my grandparents, and then later on, my dad and most recent step-mum. What was the point in dating when there was no chance of it ever going anywhere?
Beth looked at me with a mixed expression of pity and annoyance. She didn’t see how anybody could live without someone special in their life, and it had always bothered her that I was so outspoken about the myth that is love.
“Because nobody can be happy being alone. Everybody needs someone in their life,” Beth told me, as she started twirling some of her long, dark, naturally wavy hair around her index finger.
“I have you and Oliver,” I reminded her, shrugging. “Boyfriends are stupid, marriage is stupid, and love doesn’t even exist. What’s the point?”
“The point is that you’re majorly pissing me off with the whole pessimistic love-doesn’t-exist crap! You’re just scared that you might like Max, so you’re hiding behind that façade because you’re a commitmentphobe.”
Beth’s mum was a psychologist, and it showed.
I just shook my head slowly and said, “I’m pretty sure commitmentphobe isn’t a proper word, Beth.”
“Whatever, Rors,” she said, untangling her hair from her finger and letting it bounce back into its natural place just above her waist. “You know I’m right so you’re trying to change the subject.”
Rolling my eyes, I took the opportunity to check the time on my phone’s screen, realising that I was about to be late for French for the third time that week. At least it saved me the effort of thinking up some smooth conversation changer to dodge Beth’s overactive desire to talk about my non-existent love life. “Walk me to my lesson?” I asked. “I’m late again.”
Normally Oliver walked me to my French lessons because he had a free period, but he was home sick for the third day in a row. It was strange for him not to be at school because, until that point, he hadn’t had a day off sick in his life, and Beth and I had really noticed his absence.
“I can’t, I’m late for Geography.” She sighed sympathetically before air-kissing me on the cheek and departing down the corridor to her lesson. “See you after school, babe!” she called over her shoulder as she went, and then she was gone, leaving me alone in the empty corridor.
I sighed to myself before starting to walk up the stairs to my French classroom, not quite believing that I’d just caved in and agreed to go on a date with some random guy I didn’t even know.