I smooth my freshly curled hair, making sure that no strands are out of place. My skirt is pressed, button-up is crisp. With a light sigh, I grab my bags and head out into the warm summer morning.
Bouncing outside, I make sure to give my housekeeper a peck on the cheek. “You look beautiful today, Mrs. Rita!” I gush, twirling my keys around my manicured nail. She sends me a brilliant smile as I trot down the driveway.
The salty wind catches my hair and I fix it in the rearview. I turn the ignition of my pearl range rover; it hums to life and I slip out through the open rod iron gate.
My car phone rings, breaking me from my sing along with the radio. “You bitch! You better hurry up to get me.” It’s Kate, “About to pull in!” I tell her, laughing as I see her rushing down the driveway.
“Nervous?” She stares at my shaking leg as she climbs into the warm leather seat. Throwing a suitcase in the back, her crimson red hair slaps me in the face. “Ouch!” I squeal, trying not to laugh as she plants herself firmly back in her seat.
“Sorry!” Kate giggles, looking me over with worry as I tap my nails on the leather wheel. “For real, are you nervous?” she asks.
I nod, this will be my first day attending a public school. I had to beg and plead with my father for months after I loathed every minute of my first semester at an all-girls, private college. Elementary through high school has always been private but at least it was Co-Ed.
He finally caved after I wouldn’t give up, but he had rules. It was hard for him because he’s always prided himself on keeping me in the best schools. ‘Education can get you far in life.’ He tells me, all the time.
His rules were: I can’t live on campus. No parties. Keep my grades up. I jumped on the deal. I’ll do anything to keep from going back to that school.
As for Kate, she may live on campus, but we live close. She stays at her parents on certain occasions, like today, when it’s my first day. “I just don’t know anyone.”
Kate’s laughter booms through the car, “Skyler, you have nothing to be nervous about. You’re literally perfect. Look at you! Everyone is going to love you.” She smiles, turning up the radio to drowned out my worries.
I take in a deep breath as the ocean springs into view, calming me. Salt air flows through the open windows, surely ruining my hair but I need to therapeutic scent of the ocean breeze. Surprisingly, the heat is calm... not suffocating like a typical Florida August but it’s also morning.
“You know you have me, and Brett.” She winks. We’ve all grown up together, we’ve just never been to the same school.
I feel a sense of freedom as we pull into the University of Miami lot. Orientation with my parents was interesting but seeing it in action is completely different.
I drive past the front lawn in awe. Students dot the grass, soaking in the Florida sun before we start our day stuck inside.
Diversity flows freely in public schools. Everyone is free to express themselves through fashion. My entire life I’ve worn a uniform, and now I can dress how I want. My wardrobe doesn’t really go past plaid skirts and dresses.
Girls in all black smoke cigarettes, leaning against their cars. The jocks -I’m used to them- wear their lettermen’s and play fight on the courtyard. Band and Orchestra to my left. Endless amounts of vibrant colors lay before me. Normally, it was only the jocks and cheerleaders, then just... everyone else.
I link my arm through Kate’s, “I’m not ready for this first-class without you.” I groan, wishing we were able to be in every class together. But I’m optimistic, this will be a good thing. I just know it.
She laughs, tossing her red hair behind her slender shoulder. “You’ll be fine! We have gym together, so that’s a plus.” She winks, bringing me in for a hug in front of the doors to my biology class.
The room is empty, and I take my spot at the front table. In orientation I saw the large classrooms with massive pews, this is more like a high school lab... which I prefer, it’s more comfortable.
As the room fills with students, no one sits near me. My stomach aches from the feeling of rejection, but it’s only the first day. Things will get better. “Welcome back students, you’re officially Sophomores so no bullshit this semester.” I snicker hearing a teacher curse, that would have never happened at my old school.
My eyes trail down the Professor’s accusatory finger, landing on a lean and long boy. “That means you, Foster. I don’t want any trouble.” He gives the tattooed boy a pointed look, then his eyes travel the room. “From any of you.”
The gritty sound of chalk on the board makes me jump, in cursive he writes out: ‘Human Biology with Professor Dyer.’
“I’m going to need you to pair up.” The class groans about being given an assignment on the first day, and immediately getting started on it. I don’t mind, I love presentations. I know that’s weird but it’s kind of my thing.
My eyes float around, trying to see who my partner will be. Everyone has someone at their table, except for me and... “Foster, sit with Skyler.” He adds. “Welcome to UOM by the way, Ms. Johnson.” The professor says, I’m so thankful we don’t have to go through the embarrassing tasks of telling my life story to strangers.
I smile back politely, nervous about pairing up with someone that looks so... edgy? Maybe I’m being judgmental, I’m sure this will be great!
The leather-wearing tattooed boy, Foster, rolls his eyes. Lazily sliding his books off the table, he heads towards me. I first notice his height, he towers over the room, people either look to him or away from him as he walks.
“It’s Ghost.” He informs the professor, his black hair a disheveled mess that looks like he just woke up, yet also looks as though he spent hours designing each piece to lay where he wants it to.
The professor shrugs, “Doesn’t matter how many times you tell me that, Foster. Your birth name sticks.”
Foster’s legs lay languidly under my table. His attention turns to me, a toothpick sticking from his mouth. My eyes trail to his sharp jawline and the tattoos that lay on his neck.
The black ink matches the obsidian shade of his eyes. He cocks his head; I give a bright smile extending my hand. “Skyler.” I say. The first person besides Kate to acknowledge me, even if I am his forced lab partner.
He takes one look at my outreached hand and gives a crooked grin. “Freckles.” He corrects me, his deep voice bleeds into my ears. I retreat my hand quickly and open my book to no particular page. I look down, letting my hair blanket my face.
The professor hands us our assignment, my eyes graze over the sheet. We got human anatomy, which makes me blush knowing at some point me and Foster will have to discuss the makings of the male and female bodies, in length.
Foster peels the paper from my hands, mulling over the assignment we’ll be working on for a month together. He smirks as he reads over the contents.
“This project will be worth thirty percent of your grade in this class, and that’s why we’re starting it now.” Dyer sits, thumbing through a book.
I take the sheet from Foster’s hands; thirty percent is huge and we need to get started immediately. I can’t risk my grades plummeting. “So it looks like we can break this into two par-” I’m cut off when Foster playfully snags the paper away again.
Sighing, I begin to get prepared. Foster directs his hard gaze to me, the corners of his mouth tilting as he observes me pulling out colored pens and notebooks to get started.
He throws his elbows on the table, planting his hands under his chin. “So, you’re new here.” He states, taking off his leather jacket and chunking it on the table. I stare at it for a moment, how will we get work done if he’s taking up so much space?
“Yup.” I smile, eagerly waiting to get started. “I came from Crestview.”
“Ah.” He smiles as if he’s figured me out. “The posh all-girls campus?” He laughs, nodding his head. “Should have known.”
A light scoff escapes me. “What does that mean?”
His tattooed finger touches my diamond bracelet. “Well, this. The matching earrings and your plaid... skirt. You scream prep school.” His condescending tone annoys me, but also intrigues me... but I’m not sure why.
I scoff, pulling my wrist away. “Are you always so judgmental of people you don’t know?” I’m surprised by my tone, but that was rude.
He collapses in his chair, folding his muscled arms over his broad chest. “Oh, I know your type. But I can almost guarantee you don’t know mine.”
“Rude.” I state under my breath, but he’s not wrong.
Foster leans forward, grinning. “What was that Freckles?”
“My name is Skyler. Why do you keep calling me that?”
His demeanor shifts from playful to downright stoic in an instant. “It suits you.” He sits back in his chair, pulling out his phone.
I lean over, “Won’t they take it?”
His expression is confused for a moment, then a grin spreads across his face. “You’re not in private school anymore, freckles.” I ignore the nickname and continue to obsess over our assignment.
I hope y’all enjoyed the first chapter of Race to Me! 😍
I missed you guys! How are you?