What's That Sound
This Isn't The 1800s
Your Average Girl
Don't Make Me Go
Dress-Up Game
Alone With the Enemy
Some Strange Magic
You Only Live Once
What Are You?
A Wrong Turn
A Deal's a Deal
The Secret Inside
Helicopter, Helicopter
Mind Your Manners
A Maze and Delight
The Lost Seed
A Secret Escape
Getting Hot Inside
Seriously, What The
Got a Bad Feeling
Let's Try Something
Breathing is Overrated
In the Meantime
Nice Day for a Drive
Can't Turn Back
Your Average Girl
My head was still swirling the next morning. I woke from a torrent of strange dreams, the kinds of dreams that are all wildly different but universally bad--things like falling off cliffs and bridges breaking while you're on them, that kind of bad. Except that in the very last, just as my alarm rang and lava spewed down onto me from an erupting volcano, someone was there reaching out for me, a strong grip belonging to a boy whose face I couldn't see.

But upon waking, I knew exactly who it was. I'd dreamed of the black-haired boy. The one who had kissed me.

In the early dawn before school, I stood at my bedroom door and looked out over the balcony towards the forested hillside beyond. There was no sign that anything strange had happened, no hint that a hot guy had fallen from the sky or rolled off the roof onto my balcony.

Stranger still was the longing in my gut when I remembered the kiss.

 

At school, I kept an eye out for Mercurius. When his sportscar swung in and he strode out onto the sidewalk, he hardly looked up as he clicked the lock shut behind him, let alone noticed me or gave any indication that our parents had decided to set us up on a date.

Just as well, I supposed. Maybe I'd get out of it yet. Besides, better to be invisible than face the certain wrath of a jealous classmates if the other girls found out I'd "get to" go out with the object of their affections.

I watched him from where I hid behind the safety of my locker door, peering through the slats. He wasn't bad to look at, what with the sleek, blonde hair and cool, crystal eyes. But there was an aloof air about the way he walked, a stiffness and a sneer like he thought he was better than everyone else.

I watched him a few seconds more, that is until--

"You're hella creeping," said a shorter girl with long, black braids down each side of her head. But she didn't say it in a mean way--more like she was trying to warn me how obvious I was being.

I slammed my locker shut and looked away too late. I was blushing like mad, face burning. From the corner of my eye, I saw Mercurius smirk and walk away.

Crap. I didn't want him to think I liked him or anything--I was just--what had I been doing?

"It's okay, I'd creep too if I were you," said pigtails girl with an exaggerated sigh, "He's so gorgeous."

I smiled at her, loading my textbooks into my backpack. "You gonna ask him out?" She was pretty--probably the kind of girl guys like that go for.

But she only laughed, a little "Ha!" sound like she thought I was making fun. "You kidding? You know what they say. Some guys are more trouble than they're worth."

"Do they say that?"

She shrugged, grinning as she pulled the strap of her messenger bag over her shoulder. "Well it should be a saying, anyway. The names Addi. You're in my PE."

Ah yes, PE. Now that she mentioned it, I did recognize her, but maybe only really when she started to walk and I saw the back of her head. That's right, because I pretty much only ever saw her from behind during laps. Despite her size, she was probably the fastest one in class. 

Good thing, too, because the bell was already ringing.

"Better run!" She said, and waved as she sprinted off.

I headed of to my first class, which was, thank God, not PE. I think if I had to sweat laps before I'd even had time to process my breakfast, I would have--well, I would have done it, but I sure wouldn't have been happy about it.

As I walked across the quad, I saw the poor souls stuck in first period PE already starting to warm up. That was when I noticed the silvery glint of blond hair and realized Mercurius was out there on the track, running laps ahead of--and soon to be around--the other students.

Weird. Just like Addi, he was crazy fast. Maybe faster.

 

That was the last I saw him until English, where he sat three seats behind me. Mercurius appeared late and walked in while the teacher was already talking, ignoring the scalding glance he received.

"Mr. Whitley," said our teacher as a silence took over the room, do I need to remind you what our school's policies on tardiness are?"

If I'd been called out like that, I would have shrunk down in embarrassment. But maybe that word isn't in the Whitley vocabulary, because Mercurius didn't so much as flinch. Instead, he sprawled casually in his seat, saying, "Perhaps you're the one who needs a reminder. My parents have offered a generous endowment to this school. If you value your job, I'd see you don't offend them."

And that was that. Exactly the kind of thing only Mercurius could get away with, and exactly the reason so had no desire to go on a date with him, no matter what my parents said.

When I saw Addi in the locker room after our PE, I told her about what had happened.

"Oh that?" She said, sounding not-at-all surprised, "Yeah, his parents practically own the school now. Just be glad you missed his first week here. A real nightmare, that one. Now he pretty much does whatever he wants."

That surprised me. Not that he had such free reign, but that, "He's new?"

"Yeah. Started not long before you, actually. Guess his fancy private school finally got tired of him or something and kicked him out. That's the rumor, anyway."

Weird. "Couldn't they have just paid them off?"

Addi shrugged. "Maybe. Or the old school had enough fancy rich kids they didn't need the money."

It was at times like this I was glad I hadn't told anyone about my family's windfall inheritance. Since I hadn't actually had anyone over to the house, my status as a member of the regular kids was one I still got to enjoy. For the moment, at least.

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© Hopeful Romantic ,
книга «Just a Kiss».
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