Letters to Romeo: Bad boy good girl

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Bonfire

Eleanor and her three friends turned around and walked away from where they stood to go closer to the bonfire.

“Is she always like this?” questioned Julie. They were living in a modern era with techno-oh forget it, she thought to herself. The university welcomed and stuck to traditional methods implemented to keep the students in line, while some of the students had opted for the division of rich and the poor.

“A lot of them are like that,” replied Melanie with a sigh. “The first time I met her, I thought she was sweet.”

“But she’s only a sweet talker,” answered Julie, and Melanie nodded her head. She had already met those kinds, and it was hard to differentiate such people’s intentions to be true or false.

“Though Eleanor does come from a wealthy family, she joined the university in the same year with Conner and me,” explained Melanie. They started to walk again, heading closer to the bonfire while also making sure to sit on the other side to avoid sitting near Eleanor’s group. “She is obsessed with the rich class and she has been wanting to get into Olivia’s group for a long time now.”

“I think now I can connect the dots much better,” replied Julie.

Julie remembered how Eleanor had changed her tone when she had realized Olivia had spoken to her. She was trying to be friends with her because she wanted to know how she had gotten close to Olivia, when in truth, Eleanor had a misconception.

“I don’t think she will bother me anymore after knowing I belong to the so-called lower-class too,” said Julie. But when Melanie and Conner gave her looks, she asked, “What is it?”

“Julie,” started Melanie, her voice turned low even though the surrounding was filled with chatter that blurred others conversation. “The ones who get targeted are usually the people who belong to a poor family. Even though we got through and into this place with high marks, it doesn’t warrant protection from the bullies. The safest way is to stay away from them.”

“It looks like Julie is more popular,” commented Conner with his eyebrows raised.

“I don’t think it is in a good way,” murmured Julie as they sat down under a tree that was near to the bonfire. The little warmth that came from the bonfire felt good, and she rubbed her hands against each other.

“Let me go and get something to eat and drink,” said Conner, and he left them.

Sitting here right now felt surreal because two months ago, Julie had never imagined being in a different place at this time.

Like Melanie had mentioned, there were indeed a lot of students scattered around the forest. Julie noticed some of the students were drinking alcohol or smoking. Most of them had their own group and were busy laughing and talking. As she looked around, she caught sight of Olivia and Maximus, who stood not too far away from where she sat.

Julie leaned towards Melanie and asked, “What is with the famous five?”

Melanie, who was looking around, turned back to Julie at her question. She said,

“They are the popular clique of this university. A total of five students who are all in their senior year. Some like to break rules and get into trouble. They are often seen making visits to the headmistress’ office with Mr. Borrell. A lot of students are wary of them, while at the same time curious to get closer to them. Supposed to be the elite of the elite in this university who don’t like to mix with others.”

Conner quickly returned with a packet of chips and three cans of cold drinks in his hands. He took a seat next to them.

Melanie then continued, “You have already met Olivia Trosney. She’s probably the only remotely approachable person in the group apart from another one. Likely because she helps in the infirmary. The next one is Maximus Marudas.”

Maximus was grinning about something another girl said, who stood with them. “Who is that girl next to Maximus?”

The girl wore a black dress that stopped above her knees and her blonde hair tied into a high ponytail. She had a black choker around her neck. “That’s Victoria Elliot and the other guy who is sitting on the log of wood with ginger hair, he is Simon Wallace.”

Julie looked at the guy who looked tamer in his clothing style than the rest of his group. He wore a shirt over his round-necked T-shirt.

“The last person to complete the group is Roman Moltenore,” Melanie whispered.

Julie’s eyes moved from the ginger-haired boy, and it fell on the person whom she had met several times since the time she had joined Veteris university. “He is Roman? The one mentioned in rule number twenty-nine?” Julie asked in a surprised voice.

“He’s the guy,” confirmed Melanie while throwing a potato chip in her mouth.

“He’s the leader of the group and gets into trouble the most to be followed by Maximus. I think I lost the count of times they received detention the first year I was here,” Conner added his thoughts on the little gossip they were having.

Julie knew he belonged to the same group because she had seen him with Olivia, but she didn’t know he was the same person she had been warned about.

Roman was wearing his usual leather jacket, and his jeans ripped at his knees.

The air around him seemed aloof, which could compel a person to take a second look at him. One of his long legs was stretched forward, and the other placed near the log. He had his right hand placed on the surface of the wood while his head slightly tilted as he listened to one of his friends speak.

Melanie then said, “The surprising part is that as much as some of them in their group get into trouble, they have good grades while most of us fail.”

No wonder he didn’t mind skipping classes, thought Julie to herself.

While Julie, Melanie and Conner diverted to another topic, away from them, where one of the popular cliques were, Simon’s eyes fell on the new student.

“Isn’t that the girl?” asked Simon while staring at Julie.

“What girl?” asked Olivia, her eyes shifted to see where Simon was looking. Nobody in the group brought up about the new girl, who was now using the dorm, which once was Roman’s room. Because they knew it would unnecessarily blow the dim burning charcoal in Roman’s mind. “Earlier this week she was hurt. It was like a walking meal to some of them.”

“It takes time for the new students to get accustomed with the rules,” said the girl named Victoria, who leaned against the tree.

“Got into trouble?” asked Maximus with interest.

Roman’s eyes didn’t go to watch Julie as he had noticed her before the rest of his friends did. A few days ago, after watching her step near the gates of the Blue Block, he had left amused. Even though he appeared to be least bothered with anything, his ears continued to listen to his friend’s words while he chewed gum.

“Maybe. Said it was nothing but looked like her clothes were covered in mud that day,” replied Olivia. “Seems like a good one,” she said, referring to the girl.

“How about we ask her to join us?” suggested Maximus. Leaning forward, he asked, “What do you think, Rome?”

“Do whatever you want,” replied Roman in a tone of indifference.

Julie smiled about something Melanie said about Conner while enjoying her time with them near the bonfire in the forest when someone came to interrupt them with the looming shadow.

She turned to her left and saw a pair of long legs, and when she looked up, she saw it was Maximus. What was he doing here? Julie asked herself.

Maximus gave the three of them a bright smile before he suddenly sat down on his heels, “Good evening, what are you talking about?” he asked Julie.

Melanie and Conner seemed as taken aback as Julie because Maximus had walked to where they were and sat in front of Julie.

Julie replied, “We-we were talking about Melanie and Conner’s time when they were in mid school.”

“And what was that about?” asked Maximus with a bright smile on his lips, his eyes fluctuating from looking at her to her friends and then back at her as if he couldn’t wait to hear more of it.

Melanie then cleared her throat and said, “It was the time Conner poured ink on his test papers and it soaked his written paper.”

“How exciting,” responded Maximus before his amber eyes fell on Julie, and he looked straight into her eyes. “I came here to have you guys joining me and my friends.”

Conner’s eyes went wide on hearing this, “Y-your friends?” he asked in surprise.

“Mhm,” Maximus responded. The smile slowly started to feel unsettling to Julie because it was too bright. The last time she had seen such a smile was in a movie where the guy was a killer. “I am sure we seniors would love to treat you with some refreshments while we have a chat together. Also to get to know you all.”

“We wouldn’t want to intrude on your time,” said Julie because she wasn’t sure this was going to be a good idea. Mainly because their clique was a popular one, she doubted it would go well with some of the students here who wanted to get closer. She offered him a smile, but Maximus didn’t leave from there.

“Is that a no?” he asked directly, the smile on his face lowering down as he played with the pin in his mouth.

Julie felt her heart slightly drop at his cold tone where his expression had made one-eighty degree. “I don’t think I used a no in my sentence,” she said to him while feeling the nearby people’s eyes on her and her friends.

“Great then, I will see you over there,” said Maximus before standing up and walking to where his group was.

“Why did you do that?!” whispered Melanie.

“What?” asked Julie. It wasn’t like she hadn’t tried to refuse as politely as she could, but her polite words had backfired.

“You don’t refuse the seniors, Julie,” Melanie quickly filled her in. “They are so scary and unnerving like this one. All of us just go along with them and then hope to never meet again.”

“Does it ever work?” asked Julie in a low voice, standing up and slowly starting to make their way.

“Seniors often don’t call us juniors to join them. It doesn’t happen often,” replied Melanie. But Conner had other thoughts in his mind, and he said,

“I think it is pretty cool that they have invited us. Ah, the satisfaction of seeing Eleanor burn over this, can you imagine?” laughed Conner.

When Julie and her friends walked to where the five seniors were, she pushed her glasses up her nose. Somewhere in the back of her head, she could hear the sounds of drums loudly beating. Especially with the bonfire, it felt like they would be sacrificed, either now or later.

Her eyes met Olivia’s, and the girl smiled, “It is good to see you here attending the bonfire, Julianne. Melanie,” she gave a nod.

Melanie offered a nervous smile. “Conner Linton,” Conner introduced himself.

“It’s good to meet you Conner. You are a student from the art department, aren’t you,” said someone who was sitting on a log of wood. It was the person named Simon who had spoken.

“Yes, that’s me,” Conner seemed pleased to know that a person in the group knew about him, and he wasn’t an unknown junior.

Olivia spoke, “Let me introduce you to the others. This is Victoria, Simon, Roman and Maximus whom you have already met.”

The other girl looked unfriendly, who didn’t bother to greet but stare at them, while the senior named Simon smiled. When her eyes fell on Roman, his head tilted to the side while looking at her.

“Let us sit down,” said Olivia, and Julie sat next to her while the others followed, leaving the log behind to join them. The place where they sat had soft grass-grown that made it easier to sit.

Julie quietly listened to the conversion between Olivia and Conner, holding a can of soda that had been passed to her. Melanie seemed like she was frozen in the presence of the seniors. And during that time, Julie could sense Roman’s eyes on her from the opposite side, but she tried to keep her eyes fixed on the two girls talking near her.

Suddenly, it felt like she had turned into an experimental mouse under the observation of a scientist named Roman. He could have sat at the side, but it felt like he had purposely chosen the spot to sit right in front of her.

Her hands went to hug her again, feeling the cold air pass where they sat.

“So, Julie, how are you finding Veteris so far?” said Simon, who sat next to Roman. He seemed pleasant in appearance with a polite smile on his lips compared to the brooding person on his left.

“So far it seems alright. I am still learning how things work here,” answered Julie while not bringing up about the porcupine or the letters or about the detention she had been trying to stay away from. “I love the food here,” and this earned her a chuckle.

“I am sure all the students appreciate the food that the university provides,” chuckled Maximus and Julie noticed the subtle look Olivia gave at her friend. She wondered what that was about.

“Cannot deny that one. They do have some quality food,” agreed Conner.

“Of course, we always aim for quality food,” Maximus stressed on quality.

“Heard about your parents, we’re sorry to hear that. Was it an accident?” asked Simon, his upper body leaned forward.

Julie looked slightly uncomfortable with the question, and she nodded, “Yes. It was an accident, an unexpected one.” She tried not remembering it, something she had buried along with the coffin being closed.

“How come you didn’t pick the other places? They have much more liberty even if ours is reputed?” questioned Maximus, and it seemed like it had turned into a session of questions to her.

“I guess I wanted some time away for myself and to start fresh. This place seemed the best,” she hoped the questions would drop.

Maximus started, “Must have-”

“Heard you had a phone problem, did you get it fixed?” asked Roman out of the blue while he continued chewing the gum, and Julie’s eyes met his eyes. He was being sarcastic… Maximus must have told him because she did ask him about the network.

“I will, when I get it back home...” answered Julie.

“Hm. You should be careful with the rules,” he warned her, his voice distinct compared to the other voices she had heard this evening. “You never know which one will get you into trouble.”

Julie gave him a nod and cleared her throat, turning away from him to ask, “Did all of you join this place together?” trying to switch the subject from her to them.

“I wouldn’t say we joined together, but maybe with a bit of a time gap of a few days difference. Since the beginning of the year,” replied Olivia, her voice polite. She picked up a bottle of alcohol before taking a sip from it. “Do you want some?” she offered.

“No, I am fine. Thank you,” replied Julie.

“Looks like you are that classic good and boring girl, who likes to keep a clean image. Taking a sip won’t hurt,” came the voice of another girl from the group, Victoria. Suddenly the atmosphere around them turned silent with the group’s eyes on the two girls.

“I don’t like the taste of it and it doesn’t warrant every person who drinks it to be fun. Some are sad drunks,” replied Julie with a small frown.

Both Melanie and Conner turned alert as if they were sitting on pins and needles while the others in the group stared at the two girls.

“You are right. You do look like you might be a sad drunk,” commented Victoria.

“I don’t need to prove my point by drinking it,” Julie replied with a smile at Victoria, who stared back at her.

“You don’t have to mind Tori’s words, Julianne,” said Simon, bringing her attention to him and for the briefest moment, her eyes shifted to Roman, who was staring at Victoria.

With only her not drinking while even her friends had taken sips, Julie found herself to be an odd one out. “Now that we have many members here, why don’t we play a game to liven up the bonfire?” she proposed.

“Count me in!” Maximus was the first one to agree.

“Sure,” said Simon.

“What about others?” asked Olivia, and she turned around to get nods.

“If it is better than the boring questions you asked, sure,” remarked Roman.

“What game are we playing?” asked Melanie, and Julie was thankful for the question. She didn’t want to do one more round of questions at her.

“Let’s play munchies,” suggested Maximus.

“Who eats a lot?” asked Conner in doubt.

Simon went on to explain it, “It is a game where everyone eats together one after another. Make sure to concentrate and not to touch each other. The rules are simple, to be careful.” That made zero sense! Thought Julie to herself. By the looks of it, Melanie looked as confused as her, but she nodded her head like a sheep that was going to be butchered soon.

But somewhere, Julie was glad that they were going to play a game that would distract everyone from any remarks or questions to her. She had come here to have fun, and some of these people seemed nice.

“Alright then. Time to shuffle,” said Maximus with a clap in excitement. “Melanie dear, why don’t you sit between me and Simon. Julianne next to Simon.”

Before Julie could protest, saying she was good where she was sitting, space was already made, and she bit the inside of her cheek before crawling to sit between the two boys. After being pointed out that she was a possible boring person, she didn’t want to prove it.

“Tori next to me and Conner between the girls. I guess we have a perfect sequence now,” stated Maximus, and he fished for something in his bag to pull out a box full of choco sticks.

Wait a minute…

Julie’s mind started to race, and she realized what game they were going to play.

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