Chapter 3: Revenge
“Driving me to school was completely unnecessary, Noah,” I said, staring out the window as tall trees passed by on our way to school.
“Hey, we need to make a good first impression, don’t we?”
“You are getting strangely into this, Noah,” I noted, turning to him with narrowed eyes.
“Why wouldn’t I? I hate Logan; any chance to get back at him will be hilarious. Plus, think of all the things I could do to you while we pretend to date. The options are endless.”
Panic welled up within me. “Noah, you’re not…”
“Take a joke, Mar. I was kidding.”
We pulled into the car parking lot, and I took a deep breath. Teenagers milled about, and my gut twisted nervously when I spotted Logan amongst them, leaning against his car and talking to Daisy with his hands around her waist. The sight was sickening.
Noah unsnapped his seatbelt and opened the door, coming around and opening mine for me. I gaped at his unprecedented chivalry.
As I hopped out of the car, I looked around the school. It was quite nice, with modest brick buildings, lemon-yellow walls in the hallways and red lockers. There was a football field, a gym, a computer lab, a photography darkroom, and special artrooms, as well as an awesome cafeteria with stellar chefs. It was actually a really nice school.
The kids that attended the school? Yeah, not so nice.
“Follow my lead. Don’t say a word or you’ll blow it all,” Noah said, snaking an arm around my waist and pulling me closer. I resisted the urge to push him off me and slap him.
As Noah and I began walking, more and more heads turned to look at us. The whole parking lot went dead silent. Everyone knew of the hatred Noah and I felt towards each other, and I imagined this made everyone do a double-take.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Logan turn towards us, and stop talking mid-sentence as he took in the sight of Noah and I. I leant up on my tip-toes and kissed Noah on the cheek for effect, just as a way to rub it in.
I heard Noah gasp a little. “Geez, what was that? Here I thought I’d have to do all the action.”
I didn’t respond, just slipped my hand into Noah’s and followed him towards his friends, who were all gathered around a sleek silver sports car that belonged to one of Noah’s friends, Brendan. They were all tall, muscly, fit, broad-shouldered jocks in the signature red-and-gold letterman jackets. Well, those are the kinds of friends you’ll find if you pretend to date a senior football player.
“Noah, what is this?” one of Noah’s friends, Tom, asked, raking his eyes quickly over my body and making me blush and twitch uncomfortably under his scrutinizing gaze. “What are you doing with her?”
“We’re a couple now,” Noah said, pulling me closer almost possessively. “If any of you so much as lay a hand on her, you’ll have hell to pay.”
For a moment I was scared of the tenacity in his voice, until all of his friends broke into grins and started fist-pumping him. Maybe this was just a normal guy thing? I didn’t know; Logan had enver done it, but I didn’t know if he was just nicer than most other guys around.
“Alright, man, she’s all yours. Like they say, there’s a fine line between love and hate.”
“Looks like we crossed it,” Noah responded with a half-smile.
I felt my cheeks heating up, but didn’t say a word. I didn’t want to blow our cover like I was prone to do. So I stood there and stared at my sneaker-clad feet, not meeting any of his friend’s curious gazes.
“How long have you two been together?” another guy asked. I had no idea who most of these guys were. Noah and I didn’t exactly swim in the same social circles.
“A couple weeks. We’ve been keeping it on the down-low for a while, just until we knew how things would pan out. Right, babe?”
I grimaced at the use of the nickname, then conjured up a smile, knowing I had to at least act like I was semi-willing to date him. “Right.”
“Well, congrats, dude. We were wondering if you were seeing someone on the sly.”
“You found her. Well, I should probably go make the introductions to her friends. I’ll see you later, guys.”
They all did their secret handshake thing and said goodbye, before making my way over to my group of friends - which just consisted of two girls, but whatever.
“That wasn’t so bad, right?” Noah asked, leading us towards the park-bench my friends were at, and effectively passing Logan, who was staring at Noah with a burning hatred. My heart warmed a little at his line of sight.
“Um, yeah, right,” I muttered, distracted. I was trying to envision the looks on my friends’ faces when they saw.
We neared the group, and they turned around at the sound of approaching footsteps. Their faces lit up until they spotted the hand I was holding, and the boy it belonged to.
Surprised couldn’t even cover the looks on my friends’ faces.
“Um, Marley?” One of my best friends, Chaska Constantine, asked, looking us over. “What’s going on, girl?”
“Yeah, last time we checked you guys were, like, mortal enemies or something,” my other best friend, Ciara Collins, chimed in.
It was funny how Chaska, Ciara and I had stuck together, considering that our parents were best friends. Chaska’s adoptive mother, Amber, was one of my mom’s close friends, and Ciara’s mother was Maggie, my mom’s old boss.
Of course they all knew Noah, considering we’d all had barbecues together when we were little.
One of my dad’s friends Aly also had a boy, Josh, but he was two years younger than us, so we didn’t hang out, but we still saw him often. And Emilie—Aly’s sister—also had a boy Topher, but he was still in middle school.
“Wow, Chaska, Ciara… I didn’t know you guys still hung out.” Noah glanced over at me with a questioning gaze.
“We’ve been best friends since we were four. Of course we still know each other,” I laughed. “Anyway, guys I’d like to introduce you to my new boyfriend, Noah.”
Chaska and Ciara seemed at a loss for words as they looked us over, shock on their pretty faces.
“What—why—how?” Ciara stammered, her mouth opening and closing, making her look like a fish.
“We’ve been going out for a couple weeks,” I said, copying Noah’s lie. This was only a cover story until I could see Chaska and Ciara alone. Then I would tell them everything when we were in private. But if anyone overheard, this was the story we wanted them to know. “Turns out we’re actually pretty cool together, and Noah’s…amazing.” It was pretty hard using Noah and amazing in the same sentence. Next to each other, nonetheless.
“Gosh, babe, no need to sound sarcastic,” Noah said dryly in my ear, low enough for only me to hear.
“Oh, trust me, I’m trying not to,” I said, forcing a smile and a bright tone.
Chaska stared between us, her dark brown eyes suspiciously moving between us. “Something’s not right.”
Was it that easy to figure out? I looked at Noah worriedly. He glanced at me coolly, not looking the slightest bit anxious at all. He was in a laid-back posture and his facial expression hadn’t changed at her observation. Oh, he was good. Real good.
She stood up and walked around us as if we were animals in a zoo exhibition. I stared at my best friend. With long black hair, almond-shaped chocolate-coloured eyes and café au lait skin, she was a beautiful girl originally born in Samoa. But now her pretty gaze was speculating and making me nervous.
“There’s something not right about you two. I mean, the chemistry is obvious—it always has been—but you guys don’t seem… couple-y enough.”
I decided to ignore her comment about chemistry and said instead, “What do you mean, couple-y enough?”
“You seem uncomfortable.” She gasped. “You guys are trying to make Logan jealous, aren’t you?”
“Shh,” I said quickly, holding my index finger to my lips in the universal sign of Keep it down. “I’ll explain everything later.”
Ciara stood up, glancing between us. She was the complete opposite of Chaska, with a peaches-and-cream complexion, icy-blue eyes and wavy blonde hair, much like Ella and Noah’s mom, Grace. She was also beautiful, and a bit of a fashionista. Today she wore skinny jeans, three-inch kitten heels and a stylish leather jacket.
“So this is some kind of scheme?” Ciara asked excitedly; she was a sucker for gossip and drama. “I love it!”
“I’ll explain everything this afternoon, I promise. But for now, tell us how we could look more couple-y.”
Chaska looked us over, tapping her chin with her finger, her eyes still observing. “Hmm. To be honest, Mar, Noah’s got it down. You’re the one who looks awkward and uncomfortable. When Noah looks at you, you can see the adoration in his eyes. You need to look up at him like you think he’s the most amazing guy in the world.”
“That could be harder than it sounds.”
“Why?” Ciara asked. “Noah’s got it down.”
Noah beamed proudly at the compliment, and I cleared my throat, before turning to look up at him. I admired the way the sun highlighted parts of his hair, making it a sort of golden-bronze colour. His clean-cut chin and smiley features. He was kinda handsome, and I knew a lot of girls in the school were in love with him.
I turned back to Chaska. “Like this?”
She grinned. “Perfect.”
Just then the morning bell chimed, and I sighed. We could probably make more of an effect if we went to class together, but unfortunately Noah was a senior, while I was still a junior. Sometimes age differences sucked.
“I’ll walk you to your first class,” Noah offered.
“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” I said. “I’ll be okay.”
“But it seems romantic,” Noah argued. “Something real couples would do. And plus, it’d make the girls jealous.”
“Ah,” I said, accidentally thinking aloud. “So you’re doing it to make someone jealous as well!”
I felt like the cat that got the cream. Wow, I was using a lot of these euphemisms lately. Early birds and worms, cats and creams, I really was weird….
Noah shrugged good-naturedly, the corner of his mouth lifting in a half-smile. “Hey, nothing wrong with wanting to make yourself an object of envy.”
“So, this is kind of like a game.”
“A game of jealousy,” Noah agreed.
“Let’s call it… The Jealousy Game,” I said with relish as we walked hand-in-hand towards my first class. His palm was warm and soft, and it felt strange to be holding hands with my enemy. I was just thankful we were actually having a civil conversation and not arguing with each other like we normally did.
He rolled his eyes. “How original,” he said sarcastically. Of course he had to go and ruin it.
I punched him lightly in the shoulder, my fist making contact with his tightly-corded muscles. My hand throbbed painfully, but I wouldn’t let him know that. It probably hurt me more than it hurt him.
He chuckled. “I thought that was a butterfly landing on my arm,” he teased.
“That was just a love tap, snuggly-pie,” I replied.
His eyes narrowed to slits. “I thought I told you not to call me that.”
“You haven’t stopped calling me babe,” I reminded him as I quickly dialed in my locker combo and got out my first period biology book. “I think it’s only fair.”
“I have no idea how Logan stood you,” Noah said with a small shake of his head, that made his brown hair flop into his eyes adorably.
“Apparently he couldn’t,” I said quietly, trying not to feel hurt at his words. I lowered my eyes.
“I’m sorry, Mar. That slipped out,” he apologized sincerely. “I didn’t mean that.”
“It’s okay,” I said, shutting my locker.
He took my hand again, before we started making our way towards class.
“So, who have you got for biology?” he asked conversationally as we skirted around a bunch of giggling freshmen.
“Miss Trumm,” I replied regretfully with a small smile, forgetting about his earlier words.
“Ah, Terrible Trumm, eh?” he replied, chuckling. “I had her as well. She’s awful.”
“You can say that again.”
Miss Trumm was this fifty-something teacher with the worst smelling breath I had ever known, decayed teeth and straw-like mousy brown hair. She also had the worst fashion sense ever. Ciara almost had a fit every time she saw her. Miss Trumm was a big fan of long, gangly earrings and necklaces, copious amounts of chunky bracelets, a million rings on each hand, maxi-skirts and oversized t-shirts that in no way coordinated with the bottom half at all. She also had absolutely no idea what she was talking about when it came to biology. How she ever got a teaching degree, I will never know.
We made it to my classroom, and I sighed. Not only did I have Miss Trumm as a teacher, but I shared this class with both Logan and Daisy, who would no doubt be sitting next to each-other and making googly-eyes at each other for the next hour. Great.
“So, I’ll come get you after class?” Noah asked.
“I don’t know whether I should kiss you now, or…?”
“Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, big boy,” I said, gently pushing him away with my hands with a small laugh.
He grinned. “I’ll see you later, Adams.”
“Cya, Fordman,” I replied, before turning and entering the classroom. And, you guessed it, Daisy and Logan were sitting right next to each other.
And the only spare seat was right next to Logan.