Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 86

Elena


It’s too soon. I’m not ready to go back to the late nights of studying, doing homework for pointless classes that I won’t actually need in the type of career I’m leaning towards.

Last I checked, you don’t need chemistry, biology, or human anatomy for accounting or becoming a math teacher.

Do I really want to be an accountant, though? I’ve always been good at math, calculus is challenging, but do I really want to crunch numbers all day and balance the books?

What does Mike plan to do with his life?

Mike mentioned that he only plans to work at the auto shop after school, but have his thoughts changed? Would he try to get into the same college as me? Would his suspension before break hurt his chances for college? Will he be able to bring up his grades in time?

“Are you ready?” Mike’s deep calm voice shakes me of my thoughts. When did we get to the parking lot of the school?

I look around at all my fellow students swarming through the front doors and grip the backpack on my lap. “No,” I sigh. “Can we just skip and go back to your place?” I give him my best puppy dog eyes and shove out my bottom lip in an attempt to beg for mercy.

“Ignoring the inevitable won’t make it any easier,” he drawls.

“Ugh, fine.” My fingers wrap around the handle of his truck and push open the door. Upon jumping out, there’s a smack on my butt.

I gasp and turn around at a beaming Mike. “Atta girl.” He flashes me a clean, bright smile. “Couldn’t resist. Those jeans hug your ass just right.”

Heat scorches up my neck; I can’t help but smile and roll my eyes as I close the door. He hops out from the driver’s side and meets me at the front of his truck.

Before I know it, a large arm drapes around my shoulders, tucking me into his side. He leans down to kiss my temple, then says, “Let’s do this.”

Walking through the blue double doors and into the building that will hold us here for seven and half hours a day, for five days a week, for the next five months - I can’t help but feel as though this year will hold something different. This year will be so incredibly different, not just because it’s senior year and college is on the horizon. The feeling goes deeper than that - I just don’t know what it is.

*****

“So, you two are together now?” I hear a snide tone prick my ears from behind. Turning around, I see Ovid with wide blue eyes and unruly, big red hair. It works well for her, now that I know she’s Rose’s sister – I can see the resemblance.

Just so I don’t fall under any unwanted rumors...again, I ask just to make sure who people are saying I’m with.

“Mike! Duh,” she retorts flatly.

“Oh, yes. That is true,” I inform her.

Her eyes go wider. “Girl, I know I’m not supposed to say anything, but I really think you need to pump the breaks on that relationship before –”

“Ovid,” Mike calls as he walks in the classroom, causing Ovid and me to snap our focus to him. His presence in the room dominates the space. I don’t think I will ever get use to how built of a man he is for being eighteen. “I apologize for not recognizing you upon my transfer. It’s been a while, nice to see you again. How is Rose doing? I haven’t seen her in a few days.” He takes his seat behind me and next to her.

Looking nervous, she settles in her seat, gives me an apologetic look, and answers Mike by letting him know that Rose is doing fine. I question her with my stare, but she directs her attention to her planner instead of meeting my eyes.

Mike gives me a wink and a smile before it fades to a grimace as his green orbs shift over my shoulder. I turn around in my seat to see Declan stroll further into the room then plant himself in the assigned seat right next to me.

“Hey, Elena. How was your break?” he asks me, completely oblivious to Mike’s lasering smolder.

“It was good, good. Yours?” Why do I feel awkward?

“Eh. It could have been better. We’ve had some family problems to deal with and to look into,” he says solemnly in a whisper.

“I’m sorry, Declan.” I hope he can sense my sincerity.

His shoulders shrug at my response. “It’s okay.” It looks as though he’s been through the wringer. His dark hair seems longer, and there are bags under his deep brown eyes.

“What happened? If you don’t mind me asking.” I hate to pry, but I’ve been a little worried about him. He usually texts me throughout the week to chat, and lately, there hasn’t been much correspondence from him.

“My brother’s gone missing,” he whispers under his breath as his eyes cast down at the desk.

“Oh, Declan, I’m so sorry.” Didn’t realize you had a brother. I can’t imagine what he’s going through. “When did you last see him?”

“Christmas Eve,” he answers.

“Sorry to hear about your brother.” Mike breaks in on the conversation. Declan and I both turn in our seats to look at Mike, but he doesn’t seem to be too sorry. If anything, there is a hint of something a little dark, something almost vile in his expression towards Declan.

Yep. This will be an interesting year.

The bell rings, and I can’t get out of this class fast enough. If I wanted to, I could cut this room’s tension with a sharp knife with how thick it is between me, Ovid, Declan, and Mike.

I don’t know what it is with Mike, but he’s had it out for Declan since day one. I’ll have to talk to him about that later, but first, I need to corner Ovid.

With purpose, I push my feet towards her locker. II clear my throat. “Uh, hey, Ovid.”

She steps away from her locker and gives me a narrow eye. “What do you want?” she hisses.

My hands form fists at my sides. What is it with this girl? “What did you mean when you said that I should pump the breaks with Mike?” I search her icy blue eyes for an answer, for some sort of clue, but she’s not giving it up.

“Nothing. Just forget about it,” she deadpans and closes her locker with a bit of force.

“Ovid, please just tell me. If you don’t, I’ll just go to Rose,” I threaten, folding my arms over my chest, remembering that I still have Rose’s phone number on a notepad back home. I like having a backbone; hopefully it won’t fail me now.

With a sigh, she rolls her eyes. “Look, I shouldn’t have said anything. I’m sorry. I’m sure your relationship with him will be just fine. Just watch your back, okay. Not everyone in this school is who they say they are, and... be careful about Ashley. She can be a real bitch.” The words coolly roll off her tongue before she turns on her heel and struts off to her next class like this conversation never happened.

I’m left standing at her locker in a daze. What the hell?

Not everyone in this school is who they say they are. Is that directed to Mike? To someone else?

Watch your back. Was that a threat? Could it be a threat from Ashley?

Ashley.

My blood heats from her name, registering in my brain cells.

Knocking my frustrations and confusions aside, I will myself not to think too much about Ovid’s words. If I do, then there’s no way I’ll be able to get through the day without spinning myself into a tizzy about wondering what in the world she meant.

So, I do what I always do. I unglue my feet from the mucky questions that hold me down then trudge onward and upward to my next class: Biology.

Biology with the perfect porcelain skinned - straight bleach blonde-haired - fooled around with Mike – red lips - gossip spreading – beautiful - top of the food chain of a specimen named Ashley.

My backbone is no match for her. With one evil sneer for a smile, she buckles my feeble attempt of standing strong as I cross the lab and sink into the chair next to hers.

Why does she intimidate me so much? Maybe because she reminds me of Bethany from back home. Bethany was always so mean to anyone not in her clique. I’ve gotten so used to just keeping my head down and try not to get in her way. With Ashley, it seems like old habits really die hard.

I wonder how that project went with Bethany and Rachel. I never did find out...

Thankfully, the last class of the day ends. Before Ashley can make any type of comment, Mike meets me at my side from the back of the classroom and plants a firm, sweet kiss on my lips. All the stuffy, intense body language I’ve endured during these last fifty-four minutes of unspoken nasty words between Ashley and I evaporate into thin air as I look up into those bright emerald eyes of his. I can literally feel all the negative energy leave my body.

Ashley scoffs, brushes her hair over her shoulder, and marches out of the room. “See, school wasn’t as crazy as you thought it would be,” Mike smirks, showing one of his dimples.

Oh, he has no idea.

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