This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
Just like in any high school, mine was always buzzing with gossip and rumors. Not that I paid much attention to them. If I heard them, I’d listen, but I never gave them much credibility because I’d played the game Telephone as a kid and I knew how badly things got distorted when passed from person to person. Especially when there was one kid that wanted to stir things up a little. Today was different though. Rather than gossip, everyone was talking about some new guy and setting up competitions to see who could get his phone number first. I remembered four months ago, when the same thing had happened with Franklin, the poor guy. He was still dating one of the lowest low lives on this planet, and he didn’t seem to care that she was cheating on him with roughly five other guys. Some guys were just desperate, I guess.
My day already sucked. I’d woken up ten minutes late and had to get a ride from Sierra, and even though I loved her--she was one of my best friends after all--she was definitely not someone I wanted to be near in the morning. She was one of those people that woke up in the morning as if they were going to Disney Land or something. I, on the other hand, was the kind of person that you had to roll out of bed and risk being beaten by for waking me up. Her perkiness was normally kind of nice, but in the morning it made me want to choke her.
The night before, my hair had dried weird, so it was falling in tangled waves down my back and almost to my waist instead of a messy bun where it was normally stored. I hadn’t even tried to yank a brush through the tangled mess, but it still looked kind of neat; wind blown, almost. Except the way less hot version of whatever image that sends through your mind.
Now, I was at my locker, glaring at it because my combination wasn’t working. Once a month or so this would happen, causing me to have to go get a janitor to open it for me because it was jammed for no reason whatsoever. Lucky me.
I sighed sharply in anger at the locker and kicked the bottom of it, hard. Luckily all of my shoes had steel toes, so it didn’t hurt me; but it clearly messed up the locker a little bit. Not enough for just anyone to notice it, but enough that I had a small panic attack from seeing it. Something clicked when I kicked it, and I thoughtfully pulled on the latch, swinging open the locker easily. “Finally,” I muttered victoriously. Tossing my books in without bothering to make it tidy, I turned around to start walking, and ran straight into the chest of some guy. I gasped sharply, apologizing under my breath.
“You looked like you were having trouble.”
“I’m fine.” Ugh. I didn’t want to start a conversation; I wanted to get to my first class and get it over with so that I could just finish the day and go enjoy my weekend. “Please move,” I sighed when we did the thing where you kind of step in the way of mirroring the other person so neither of you could pass.
He stepped to the left in a lengthy stride to let me pass.
I walked around him quickly, but something grabbed the handle of my backpack and almost sent me flying backwards.
“What’s your name?”
I glared up at the boy, looking at his face for the first time. Oh. Great. It was Brady. This moron was the most irritating person I’d ever met in my life, and he was one of the popular guys in the school. All the more reason do dislike him. No wonder he didn’t know my name; not many people wanted to know it. “My name is let go of my backpack.”
I struggled, then sighed. “You know what? I don’t have time for this crap.” I slipped my arms out of the backpack and pulled my phone out of my pocket, texting Sierra that I needed to borrow some paper and pens for first period. Once I reached my Astronomy class, I assumed my regular seat in the back left corner of the room at the small cluster of desks that were completely uninhabited except for me. The bell rang, and there was no sign of Sierra. I groaned mentally. This was going to be miserable. Maybe the teacher would let me borrow a pencil.
Most people would probably not leave their backpack with a stranger, but the truth was that when I was angry, I truly didn’t care about anything. Someone could come up to me and legit come up and grab my leg and I would probably just saw it off to get away from people before I asked them to let go. Therefore, I no longer had a backpack.
Eh. It would probably make its way back to me eventually.
Just like always, Mr. Newill started class late. When he rushed in, I shook my head, smiling. He was my favorite teacher. “Sorry students. There’s a new student in the school, and he was having a hard time finding the room.”
Sure, Newill. I snorted, smiling.
“This is Foster Woods. He’s an incoming junior from Alaska, I believe.” Newill motioned vaguely to the boy standing in front of the chalkboard. The first thing I noticed was that he was huge. Most of the guys at this school were between five ten and six two, but this guy looked like seven foot twelve or something from the way he towered over Newill. He had black hair and a slight arrogance in his stance that bothered me for whatever reason. The second thing I noticed was that his eyes were locked on me. And finally, the last thing I noticed--he had my backpack.
How the hell? Brady had it. Ugh. New to the school and already buddied up with the biggest moron in the school. Great choice. Whatever. As long as I got my backpack back, I didn’t really care that he had it. Again; I didn’t care about things when I was angry.
His gaze was intense and I shifted a little bit, thinking that if he saw me looking at him he would look away from me. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. Foster’s eyes were locked dead on to mine, and he didn’t show signs of looking away. I couldn’t tell what color they were from here, but I assumed they were blue. Black haired boys with blue eyes were always the bad boys in this school, and he definitely had the “bite me” vibe coming off of him.
Newill cleared his throat awkwardly. I loved how awkward he was. “Um...Foster, care to share a few things about yourself?”
Foster was still looking at me. “I’m seventeen, I’m a junior, and I’m not available.”
At least six girls groaned in defeat. I snorted, rolling my eyes and looking away from Foster. There were slight chills touching my spine; he had been addressing the class, but I had felt like he was talking to just me when he spoke. Stupid, yes, but the eye contact made me feel like it was a little more directed than it actually was.
Newill laughed awkwardly. “Alright. You can take a seat wherever you like. Anika’s entire table group is open, so feel free to go sit over there.”
Why. Why would he do that. No. Come on, Newill. Why.
Foster walked over to my table group and took the seat diagonally placed away from mine, facing me but not directly in front of me. He didn’t say anything, but tossed my backpack carefully over the tables so that it fell in to the seat next to me.
Surprise flashed through my eyes for a moment before I nodded to him in thanks.
He nodded back.
I reached in to my bag and pulled out my Astronomy notebook, looking down at my notes and flipping through them while Newill explained something that I probably wasn’t interested in hearing about. When he set a test down in front of me, I almost jumped in surprise. When I looked at him in surprise, he laughed and shook his head. The test stared up at me evilly. Damn I hated those things, with their imaginary numbers and hard to understand words that I wasn’t sure actually existed. Penumbra. Who the hell knew what that was?
I glanced up, and Foster was looking at me. It was tempting to just blurt “what?” but he had been nice enough to give me my backpack, so I decided to ignore it and just turn back to my test. After ten minutes, I was pretty sure he was still watching me. I could feel his eyes on me, and I did my best not to look at him. His eyes were burning holes in to me; I could feel it. Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. “Stop. Looking. At. Me,” I growled between my teeth quietly to the boy less than three feet from me. What was his problem? Was he trying to cheat on the test or something? Poor choice on his part, I didn’t know any of the material either. Ha, sucks to be you if you’re trying to cheat. I felt slightly victorious. Did that even count as a victory?
Foster didn’t reply.
The rest of the class went like that. I could just feel him watching me. The whole time. It was kind of creepy. So when the bell rang, I almost bolted out of the classroom. Just outside of the Astronomy room, though, someone grabbed my backpack, and yanked hard. This time, I flew backwards in to someone. When I spun around, I punched blindly.
Mitchell doubled over instantly and my eyes widened.
“Oops,” I said awkwardly.
He groaned. “If I didn’t love you I would hate you right now.”
It was suddenly very funny to me. I started laughing at my other best friend as he pretended like he had been shot or something. To be fair, I was a kickboxer and probably hit him pretty hard. So what? I was irritated and creeped out. Really, it was his fault. Mitchell glared up at me and I grinned at him. “Well, you shouldn’t have grabbed my bag like that. Brady did it earlier and it pissed me off pretty bad.”
He straightened himself up and sighed. “I changed my mind. I hate you.”
I snorted. “Nah. You love me.”
He glared again and I blew him a kiss dramatically. “Next time I’m gonna hit you back.”
“I’d like to see you try.”
“Yeah. Come at me, Ross.” We play fought all the time, and I always called him by his last name when we did. I raised my fists teasingly and Mitchell brought his fist backwards so that he could do his lame punch thing; basically he would pretend to actually punch me pretty hard, but his hand would slow down dramatically last second and barely tap my shoulder. I lightly kicked his shin and laughed, and he started to do his stupid habitual punch, but suddenly someone had him by the elbow.
I stared at Foster.
The look on Foster’s face...well, have you ever heard “if looks could kill”? This look could wipe out a country.
Mitchell turned around in confusion and Foster pushed him against the locker roughly.
“What the hell?” I yelped, grabbing on to Mitchell’s other arm and trying to pull him away.
Mitchell looked terrified. He was only five foot nine, just two inches taller than I was, and he was not exactly a body builder. In fact, he was captain of the chess club, if that hints at all toward his body type.
Foster looked dead in to Mitchell’s eyes, his arm like a bar across the smaller boy’s chest to keep him against the locker. “What were you doing?”
I glared angrily and shoved on Foster’s arm. “Let go of him!” I ordered.
His eyes shifted toward me in consideration, their dark black depths looking down in to my blue ones. “He was going to hit you.” As if that explained it! Why the hell was he attacking Mitchell? It’s not like he had done anything to him!
“No he wasn’t, that’s just some stupid game we play.”
“It’s definitely stupid,” he agreed coldly.
“You know what else it is? None of your business. Let go of Mitchell.” Foster removed his arm from Mitchell’s chest and I yanked him toward me suddenly, away from his attacker. I was certain that my evil look could match his, and his look of suppressed anger was now just an acidic glare. I didn’t look away from him, and instead met his glare with my own. We stayed like that for a while before Mitchell pulled me lightly away from Foster.
“Anika, we have to go now,” Mitchell muttered lowly in to my ear. “You’re causing a scene.”
"He’s causing the scene,” I hissed.
He was right, though. There were roughly ten people just staring at me and Foster, waiting to see what would happen. Finally I broke my gaze away from Foster and grabbed Mitchell’s hand, towing him away from the hallway.
My phone buzzed, and I ignored it. It was probably just Sierra apologizing for not bringing me paper or a pencil. This boy was weird. He’d attacked Mitchell, and he’d gotten my backpack out of nowhere and returned it to me. I sat down in my choir seat with my friend and grimaced, looking at him apologetically. “Are you okay?”
Mitchell rubbed his chest lightly. “That hurt,” he grumbled.
“I can imagine it did.”
“What was that all about, anyway?”
“As if I know.”
He sighed and my phone buzzed yet again. Really not the best time, Sierra.
“Are you okay?” I repeated, skimming over the rest of his visible skin for any injuries. “You don’t look too beat up, so I guess you can’t be too bad.” His face flushed red as I looked him over and I laughed. “You’re such a loser, I love you.”
“Losers are better anyway.”
I snorted. My phone buzzed again.
For the love of--
I pulled out my phone and looked at the messages.
is he a friend of yours?
or are you two dating?
either way, if I see him put his hands on you in any way i’ll break off his arms.
I stared at the unknown number. Putting two and two together, I realized it was Foster. Three things about this bothered me. One: he was threatening Mitchell. Two: the entire line of questioning and his statement were creepy. And three: how in the hell had he gotten my phone number? My thumbs flew across the screen as I replied.
Is this Foster?
The reply came so quickly that I was certain he had been waiting for my reply. I felt like I was going to be sick. There was something wrong with this guy.
How did you get my phone number...? You’ve been at this school less than a day.
brady gave it to me.
Oh. Wonderful. Just great. Note to self: beat the hell out of Brady next time I see him. It didn’t surprise me that he had my number, because I’d been paired up with him multiple times on school projects, not that he remembered. Clearly he remembered enough to have my phone number, though. Boys were so infuriating.
Don’t touch Mitchell again, or else.
is that a threat? ;)
Yes. Do. Not. Touch him.
this is backwards. your the one thats meant to be listening to me, not the other way around.
Excuse me? I don’t belong to you, you can’t order me around.
you do. you just don’t realize it yet
Chills shot through my entire body. This was so weird. What could he possibly want? “You do belong to me, you just don’t realize it yet”. What the hell did that mean? I shoved my phone in to my pocket, not bothering to reply, and looked at Mitchell. I guess I looked pretty shaken, because concern shot across his face instantly.
“He has my phone number now.”
“The guy that just handed your ass to you on a silver platter.”
“Report him for harassment or something, then.”
“And say what? ‘A boy is texting me’? I’ll just block his number or something. He’s a creep.” I sighed as the choir instructor walked in to the room. “We’ll talk about this during lunch, when Sierra’s there for me to bounce ideas off of.”
“Alright, I guess.”
He didn’t sound too convinced, but I didn’t really care if he believed I’d talk about it later. I was seriously creeped out.
What was wrong with this guy?
LouiseJ2: I enjoyed the detail you went into with regards to the case. It made the UNSUB appear believable. The crisis in the middle of the story was my favorite part, very dramatic but not over the top. I feel like sometimes pairings can be overdone but I liked that some of the relationships were a little...
Fashakin Michael: I have looked for the right word to describe this piece of Art but I concluded with "Wow!" Every chapter held me glue till the last and the book is just the reflection of our environment with its reaction. Though the writeup is not far from what happens in home but the writer was able to hold me ...
Ben Gauger: Kudos go to wordworrywill, author of Kings and Things, an otherwise imaginative tale set against the trappings of the royal set, but then again I don't imagine there'd be many authors who invoked the names of Oprah Winfrey, Vladimir Putin, Jeff Bezos, Beyonce and Steven Spielberg, As for the plot...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."