Adaline knew the moment she drove into the parking lot of Dalton High that something was wrong.
Or actually, something was right after a long time.
She felt the excitement bubbling from the people moving around the place before she even saw them. For once, everyone seemed normal.
And that scared the shit out of Adaline.
Her silver Aston Martin slowed down. Adaline was aware of everyone’s gazes on her. But this time they were different from the ones she was used to. This time... she could feel them looking at her, instead of just staring.
Looking at her with curiosity, amusement, nervousness, pity?
Adaline waved off their gazes and drove away to her parking spot next to Lola’s. Since her first day here, the spot had been left empty for her. The special spot reserved only for Dalton royalty.
So naturally, when she looked at the jet black Bugatti parked there, she got pissed. Deciding against honking this time, Adaline turned off the engine and forcefully opened the door of her car with a single jerk. Her sparkling white Giuseppe Zanotti stilettos hit the pavement with loud clicks.
Adaline could spot Sebastian and Jack standing over their usual spot. They both shot her an awkward look before looking away. Adaline could also sense Prince’s gaze on her, but she chose to ignore that.
She could only deal with one asshole at a time.
She walked up to the Bugatti. It was a very good looking car, but nothing matched her Aston Martin. Looking around, she tried to spot the owner but nobody stepped up. Adaline clenched her jaw.
“I’m going to count till five, and by then I want this car gone.”
Nobody moved. Everybody gulped.
You could have heard a single pin drop, until a voice spoke up.
Adaline hitched a breath. No. No no no no.
Why is he here?
She shifted her head to face the owner of the voice. Her face betrayed no emotion but her heart was beating at a dangerously quick pace.
He looked different. Different than he did a year ago. His black hair had grown a bit longer, maybe by an inch and he had a light scruff on his chin. And his eyes looked stone cold.
“Michael,” her voice came out a whisper but everyone heard it.
Michael let out a smile but there was no humour behind it.
“Glad to know you still remember my name.”
Adaline shook her head at him and almost suddenly felt the urge to walk up to him and hug him till he forgave her. She settled her gaze at his neck instead, his arms folded at his chest, his school blazer, anything but his eyes.
The school bell rang but nobody paid attention to it. The drama unfolding between the former King and Queen of Dalton High was far too interesting than attending classes.
Adaline stepped closer to the group of boys. Her mind registered the absence of a certain tattoo-covered boy but she couldn’t care less about the whereabouts of Wesley at the moment. Or the fact that Prince had a swollen purple eye. She was only looking at one person.
Michael. Michael was here. In front of her.
“Where were you, Michael?” Her voice shook with need.
Michael shrugged. “Guess you’re not the only person who can run away, Jo.”
He had given her this nickname during their very initial talks. Adaline let out a small smile at the single syllable sound, remembering their encounter, and the way Michael’s eyes softened only for a second told her that he was thinking about it too.
“I didn’t know you liked to read.” A voice shook her out of her trance and Adaline looked behind her shoulder to see a grinning Michael leaning against the shelves of the school library.
Adaline gave him a single look before looking back at her book.
“There’s a lot you don’t know about me.”
Michael took this as an invitation to settle himself on a chair in front of the brunette girl, who raised her eyebrows at him.
“Care to tell me your secrets, West?”
Adaline closed her book and kept it aside. She leaned on the table and Michael followed her movements without a single thought. They were inches apart and neither of them spoke for a minute, or maybe eternity. Adaline broke the silence first.
“You tell me yours, then maybe I’ll tell you mine.”
Michael grinned at her. “Why do I feel like you’re just going to lie to me anyway?”
A twitch of her lip. She gave him an almost-smile and Michael’s own grin became wider. She shrugged and leaned back on her chair, Michael did the same. She met his gaze and smirked at him.
“You’ll never know until you try.”
Michael shook his head at her with a wide smile. He was great at figuring people out in a single glance, but there was something about Adaline. Something he couldn’t put his finger on. Was she sad? Broken? Angry? Psychotic? Or did she like playing with everyone’s feelings for her own amusement?
Michael always loved a good challenge.
He cleared his throat and started. “I hate sports. Can’t play a single game to save my life.”
Adaline raised her eyebrow, not expecting him to actually tell her something about himself. She decided to play along.
“I hate dancing.” She loved to dance.
Michael narrowed his eyes a bit but quickly spoke again.
“I’m allergic to peanuts.”
“I...” she thought for a second before speaking again. “I’m a cat person.”
Adaline disliked all kinds of animals.
She didn’t know why she decided to lie to the boy sitting in front of her, giving her his perfect smile, but she loved it when people couldn’t figure out her next move, figure out why she is the way she is, figure out her.
Michael didn’t believe a single crap she gave him.
“You’re doing it. You’re lying.”
Adaline looked at him with sharp eyes.
“And what makes you think that?”
Michael shrugged. “You’re thinking way too much before replying. Calculating your every word as if it’s a trap.” He paused and looked at her with a shine in his eyes. “You’re a complicated person, Adaline.”
Adaline rolled her eyes but hid a small smile threatening to creep out.
“I love to dance and I... don’t really care about animals.”
Michael grinned, clearly satisfied with her answer. “And now, since you didn’t obey the rules the first time, I get to ask you a question.”
Adaline gave him an unimpressed look but didn’t object.
Michael nodded at the book sitting on the table beside them. “Do you like reading?”
“I love reading.” Adaline loved to read.
“What’s your favourite book?” Michael could sense her opening a sliver to him, and he wanted to know all he could about her before she snapped it close again.
“Little Women.” Adaline replied without any hesitation.
“Why?” Michael pressed but she didn’t seem to mind, or notice.
“I feel that Jo and I are cut from the same cloth.”
Michael didn’t know who Jo was, he hadn’t read the book. But he smiled anyway.
“You intrigue me, Adaline West.”
“Get in the line, Michael King.”
Michael let out a laugh. “Tell me something real about yourself.”
Adaline gave him a smile but it didn’t reach her eyes.
“I’ll ruin you.”
“I’d like to see you try, Jo.”
He did see it. And he did not like it.
Adaline shook herself out of her thoughts which only pained her more as she looked at the hard eyes in front of her.
“I was worried about you.”
Michael let out a sarcastic laugh.
“That’s why you slept with Prince?”
Adaline widened her eyes and glared at the other boy next to her. Prince visibly cringed at the venom dripping from Michael’s voice. Sebastian glanced from Prince to Adaline to Michael with his eyebrows raised. Beside him, Jack looked at his best friend and let out an amused snort.
Fucker wanted her for himself.
Prince fixed his eyes on his shoes the whole time. He couldn’t bear to look at any of his friends or at the girl who ruined everything. He hated being weak.
Adaline’s voice was calm when she spoke, unlike her thoughts.
“That was a mistake.”
Michael’s eyes showed no mercy.
“Just like I was?”
Adaline couldn’t take it anymore. She abruptly turned around. The parking was a lot emptier now. Almost everyone had gone inside the school to attend their classes. God knows for how long they were talking. She didn’t care.
Opening the silver door of her car, Adaline quickly hit the gas and sped off, once again running away from him.