The day passed relatively quickly. I bumped into Navid one too many times in the hallways than I would have liked to. He had grinned at me and even called out, “How’s it going, Rivers?”, earning me looks from everyone else in the hallway.
I had replied deviously, “Good, although it would have been much better if you were invisible.”
Earning me a round of gasps from all the girls around me and a snort of laughter from Cassie. Navid’s eyes just glinted and he replied, “You’ll be hanging off of my arm in no time, Rivers.”
I rolled my eyes. “This girl doesn’t hang off of any guy’s arm.”
He had leaned in so close that his lips brushed my ear. “I could change that.”
Scoffing angrily, I shoved him off. Navid just looked smug, aware that he made me feel uncomfortable, before sauntering off with his friends.
“Don’t worry about him,” Cassie had said reassuringly. “He’s just like that.”
The next few days Cassie mysteriously couldn’t pick me up on the way to school so I had to take the bus everyday. I had a nagging suspicion that she was forcing me to take the bus for…reasons.
Everyday Navid got on the bus and sat down next to me.
On the second day, he had smirked mischievously before asking me, “I thought you were only taking the bus once?” He sounded very smug.
I had cursed Cassie under my breath before saying, “Well, I suppose you want your seat back.”
“I don’t mind you sitting there,” he said. Then he added, “You know, if you wanted to see me that much, you should’ve just told me.”
“In your dreams,” I retorted.
A week after the first day I took the bus, I finally managed to make friendly conversation with Navid. As he sat down beside me, I smiled at him and said a friendly, “Hello.”
Navid looked momentarily surprised but he recovered in the speed of light and grinned pleasantly. “Hey.”
“How did you sleep last night?” I asked in an attempt to continue being nice.
Navid sighed. “Not so good.”
“Why not?” I asked curiously.
“Couldn’t sleep,” he said with a shrug.
“Oh. Um, okay then.” We fell into an awkward silence, the situation making the air feel suffocating. I cringed inwardly.
Navid just smiled and leaned back into his seat, his arms behind his head, looking completely at peace. This time when we arrived at school he walked with me all the way to the school building, although we didn’t talk to each other. People pointed at me as I passed and I bit my lip nervously.
Navid stopped just inside the building and I stopped with him. He looked at me. “Well, I’ll see you around, Leigh,” he said, his eyes piercing into mine.
“See you, I guess,” I said.
I entered my classroom and headed straight to the back of the classroom, where, with luck, I might be able to finish my book. The annoying thing was, a bunch of girls were already there occupying most of the back row. I swiftly moved to the back left corner of the classroom, as far as possible from the girls. Unfortunately, one of the girls noticed me.
“Ashleigh!” a girl with long golden hair, bright green eyes, and an excess amount of makeup called.
I raised my left eyebrow as I turned around to see Lavinia Spooner. You could call her the deputy head of the popular girl clique. She and her group never talked to me if she could help me, and I was honestly surprised that she even knew my name.
“Lavinia,” I nodded to her.
“Oh my god, the messy hairstyle is so in right now,” she said, giving me a sickeningly sweet smile.
I gave her a thumbs up along with an overly enthusiastic smile and tried to turn to the front and ignore her. Apparently, that wasn’t what she was planning.
“So I saw you with Navid today,” she plowed on. The other girls whispered among themselves and Lavinia looked smug about their reactions.
“Right,” I said.
“I just wondered, you know, if theres something going on between you,” she said, snapping her bubble gum, still somehow managing to smile at me in the sickly sweet way.
“Don’t be silly, Lav,” a girl in a pink skirt that was three or four sizes too small said.
“Yeah, don’t be silly,” I said. “I mean, look at me. Navid doesn’t have time for me.”
I couldn’t help but feel a strange pang at my own words, my mind bringing up an image of his eyes inside my head. Lavinia cocked her head to one side, as though confused as to why I was kind of insulting myself. I was too. Normally I stuck up for myself, but what I said sounded like I was trying to convince myself of something. I shook my head. I was overthinking.
“Quiet down now, everyone,” said Mr. Johns, my teacher as he walked in. The noise level dropped immediately. Mr. Johns was known for being short-tempered and giving out detentions for things like being loud in class. “Turn to page 66 and read and do the questions. Anyone that’s not finished will finish it for homework along with the essay on ‘Was the NEP a success or a failure?’”
With that happy thought in mind, I sighed and opened my book.
Three lessons and a break later, the bell rang and I joined the sea of students walking to their next lesson and made it to my locker. Twirling the combination into the lock, I pulled open the door. As I was putting in the books that I needed for my next lesson, a person crashed into me. My books flew into the air and I flailed my arms wildly, hitting quite a few people and earning plenty of hisses of annoyance.
“Sorry!” the person said. It was a small freshman with glasses and short cropped copper hair.
“It’s alright,” I said. “Could you help me pick my books up?”
“I can’t, I’m really sorry. I’m in a hurry.” With that he scrambled up and took off in the opposite direction to the one he came from. Sighing, I collected all the papers that had fell out and by the time I finished picking everything up I was late for class. I rushed to my next class.
“Ms. Rivers. How nice of you to join us,” Mrs. Stanley said when I burst into the classroom.
“This is the fifth time you’ve been late this month! No excuses. Detention after school on Friday,” she said briskly before returning to lecturing. I was even more annoyed when I saw that someone had stolen my usual seat. Fuming, I stormed over to the single empty desk and stopped when I saw who was sitting on the table next to it.
Navid grinned charmingly at me. I glared at him.
“Ms. Rivers? Is there a problem?”
“Uh, no,” I said. I sat down warily and pulled out my books, beginning to take notes.
While Mrs. Stanley droned on and on, I couldn’t help but feel the prickling sensation you get when you feel like someone is watching you. I turned my head to the left to sneak a peek at Navid and saw him staring right back. I blushed when I knew I had been caught trying to look at him. I heard a small chuckle and my blush only deepened, much to my annoyance. In my nervous state, I accidentally pushed my eraser off of the desk with my arm when I moved. Bending down to get it, my hand moving through thin air as suddenly a faster hand snatched it up, my hand just scraping the back of the hand.
I straightened up quickly and pushed my hair out of my face, raising my eyes to see the smirking face of Navid Wayland. His dark hair fell into his stormy and mysterious grey eyes and he shook his head slightly to get the silky locks out of them.
Silky locks? Where did I even come up with that?
“Got to move faster than that,” he smirked, voice so quiet only I could hear him.
“Yeah, cause I’m so slow,” I snapped back at him, voice dripping with sarcasm.
Face flushing, I glared at him. “Give me my eraser, Navid.”
He didn’t seem to hear me, instead twirling my eraser between his slender fingers. “Well, I guess you’re not that slow to catch that basketball.”
I knew he was referring to a week before when I had somehow caught the basketball a nanosecond before it smashed into my face.
“Good to hear,” I said brusquely.
“But I’m still faster.”
I rolled my eyes. “You wish.”
“Ms. Rivers and Mr. Wayland, please finish your conversation outside of the classroom. I’m sure it’s more important than what you’re supposed to be learning anyways.”
Glaring as angrily as I could at Navid, I scooped up my possessions, threw them into my bag and walked out of the room, Navid right behind me.
“Thanks for getting me kicked out of class,” I said. People tell me that I’m very sarcastic. I probably am and won’t waste time trying to deny it. In my opinion, sarcasm is an art. If it was a science, I would already have my PhD.
“You’re welcome,” he replied smoothly.
“Can I have my eraser back now?” I held my hand out for it.
The smirk I received from Navid was answer enough. “After I’m done saying what I want to say,” he said, tossing it carelessly in the air. I eyed the eraser, and before he could say another word my hand lashed out and snatched it straight of the air just as it left his hands.
Surprise was etched on every line on his face. I smirked at him. “Got to be faster than that, Wayland,” I said tauntingly, repeating his words from before.
Navid recovered lightning fast and he lunged at me. With a yelp I tried to run but his hands grabbed me firmly around the waist, pulling me back. I laughed and struggled against his strong hands. The classrooms doors suddenly opened as the bell rang and students poured out of them. Many stopped at the sight of us, frozen mid-struggle. I became uncomfortably aware Navid’s hands wrapped around my mid section, and his fingers brushing the small bit of skin between my shirt and pants.
My face burned as Navid quickly released me.
“Uh, see you around,” I muttered, my fist still clenched around my eraser. I quickly turned away and pushed through the crowd, my face resembling a roasting tomato. Finally reaching the cafeteria, I headed over to the table my friends occupied.
Cassie was chatting animatedly with Richard, who had decided to sit with us rather than his friends today. Jasmine and Alex were arguing heatedly about which guys in our grade were the hottest.
“…forgotten Rylan Keagan,” Alex was saying.
Jasmine snorted. “Please. Rylan’s just got looks and money, but nothing else.”
“He’s still hot,” Alex said pointedly.
Rylan Keagan, dirty blonde hair and hazel eyes, was known for being a notorious player. He was a cute and funny guy but no one could forget that he went through girls as fast as he made people laugh, breaking hearts left and right. He was also friendly with me and I considered him a good friend (I kind of ignore the player side of him).
“I don’t even know why Leigh talks to him,” Jasmine said. “Ugly soul.”
“Um…” Alex said, glancing up at me.
“What?” Jasmine turned around and looked up at me. “Hey, Leigh.”
“Hello, Jaz.” I pulled out the chair next to him and plopped into it. “For your information, I talk to Rylan because he talks to me.”
“Well, you should stop. You know he’s a player, right?”
“Can’t you see he just wants to ‘kiss and leave’ you? I mean, what do you see in him?”
I shrugged. “He’s nice, he’s funny, he’s cute, he’s polite. And,” I added, “he does not want to ‘kiss and leave’ me.” The perfect guy, I thought suddenly.
“No, Leigh, he is not the perfect guy!” Jasmine said impatiently.
I felt my face reddening. “I said that out loud?”
Smirking, Alex nodded.
“Leigh, he will break your heart!” Jasmine said while gesticulating forcefully.
“I’m not interested in him, if that’s what you mean,” I said defensively, leaning away from Jasmine to avoid getting hit by her waving hands.
“You just called him the perfect guy!”
“Well if he just stops being a player, then he is, isn’t he?” I retorted. “Not that I like him!” I added when both Jasmine and Alex looked at me with raised eyebrows.
I turned around to see Lacey Thomas running towards me with her lunch tray, a bottle of coke balanced perilously on top of it, accompanied by a pizza and a blueberry muffin. Lacey was on good terms with everyone, even Lavinia Spooner. Despite Lavinia’s protests, Lacey sometimes came over to sit with us (more like to sit with Cassie, but anyway).
“Ooh yes, muffin,” I said eagerly, tearing out a chunk of Lacey’s muffin.
“Hey!” she protested.
“You stole my entire muffin yesterday!” I pointed out.
“Fine, good point.”
I tore off some more muffin, stuffing it into my mouth. Then I went and bought a burger. As I sat back down, I turned to talk to Cassie, only to be very surprised. Cassie was kissing Richard passionately and I tried not to snigger like a little kid, which Alex was already doing. I turned briskly to talk to the others and to give Cassie and Richard a little privacy.
“Leigh, did you hear yet?” Lacey suddenly asked.
I frowned. “Hear what?”
“The rumors!” Lacey exclaimed.
“Crap, what are they saying now?” Alex asked.
“Whatever they’re saying, it can’t be that bad, can it?” I said.
Lacey shook her auburn head, her green eyes showing worry. “It’s pretty bad. They’re all saying you got kicked out of the classroom on purpose to make out with Navid Wayland in the hallways before lunch.”
Silence. Everyone turned and stared at me. I stared back at each of them.
In an incredulous voice, I uttered, “What the actual fuck?”