“You’re such a killjoy.”Brooke said through tightly clenched teeth, annoyance heavily coating her voice as she sat down opposite of me at our usual table in the cafeteria.
I rolled my eyes before taking another bite out of my turkey sandwich.
Ever since the accident two years ago, Brooke had been much easier to annoy—but that was because she had a special…gift (and I use the term ‘gift’ rather loosely; it’s more a curse for Brooke than a gift).
Brooke was, in the scientific term, an ‘empath,’ which basically meant that she had the ability to feel the emotions of everyone around her. In the beginning, we were both worried, because most empaths—based off the research I’d found online—went insane because feeling so many emotions from so many people at once put so much stress on their minds. Of course, now my dark, gothic friend claims to have it under control so that it’s nothing more than a faint buzzing in her ears.
I still worried…
“It’s not like I’m trying to be.” I said defensively as she gave me a hard, icy glare that normally sent the football players off to the other side of the room.
Brooke rolled her eyes and flipped her dark, curly hair over her shoulder with a sigh as she leaned forward on the table until she was resting on her crossed arms. “I know. I’m sorry,” she said, her jade green eyes flickering around the room, no doubt taking in the emotions on the people around her for something interesting.
You see, my best friend hadn’t always been dark and gothic. She used to be one of those weird, happy-go-lucky, live-life-to-the-fullest kind of girls. The change was drastic and, to be honest, a little frightening at first.
“So,” I said, finishing the last of my sandwich and grabbing the apple I’d packed as part of my lunch—I’d become a health nut as of late, when I got my last physical and found out I was a little heavier than I would want to be. “Any good gossip to spread?” I asked with a wicked smile in an attempt to forget about my own sour mood.
“You mean you don’t know?” she asked, giving me a look of shock.
I gave her a blank, quizzical look, my head tilted to the side slightly. “Know what?” I asked blankly.
Surprise crossed her features for a short moment before she moved until she was sitting right beside me. “Didn’t you hear about the new guy?”
“We have history together.” I said, taking another bite out of my apple. And literature and French…I added as an afterthought when I realized the double meaning between my choice of words.
“You are probably the first girl at this school—besides me, of course—whose hormones haven’t skyrocketed to the ceiling.” Brooke said, obviously relieved. “No offense, hun,” she said, stealing my apple just as I was moving in to take a bite from my apple, “but if you ever fall that hard for a guy, I will shoot you.” She said, giving me a pointed look before taking a bite from my apple.
I rolled my eyes before taking my apple back. “He’s just another guy, Brooke.” I said. “I don’t even plan on dating any of the guys from South Salem anyway.” I said.
She nodded, staring absentmindedly over at the table where all the football players and cheerleaders were huddled at their circular table, laughing as they talked with the new guy at school—Lucas Hathaway, who was the attention of many here at South Salem High.
“Brooke, don’t tell me you’re falling for him.” I groaned.
“What? No! He’s not my type!” she argued defensively, her porcelain cheeks turning a bright, cherry red.
I grinned; she reminded me of the old Brooke when I got her flustered like this. It was nice knowing that I could bring that out in her.
Brooke’s cheeks burned an even brighter red—this time, more out of anger—and her eyes narrowed. “I hate you, Ellie!”
“Come on,” I said, still grinning as I picked up my trash. “I don’t want to be late for chem,” I said, standing up from my seat.
Brooke sighed—she had journalism—and followed after me, albeit reluctantly.
I rolled my eyes before turning to look ahead. In the instant that I looked back around, I felt my brown eyes lock onto a pair of smoldering, emerald green eyes. I shouldn’t have been attracted to him—I told Brooke I wasn’t, and I didn’t want to be (he’d been a jerk to me in history), but, for some odd reason, I think I was.
He flashed me a charming crooked smile, to which I abruptly looked away to throw my paper bag into the trash before hurrying out of the cafeteria with Brooke. Already, he was probably telling Camille Whitely what a freak I was, and they were all probably laughing at my expense…
Brooke groaned and rubbed her temples. “That’s it! You’re bipolar!” she cried, to which I shot her a glare. “Well, it’s true!” she said defensively. “First, you’re mad. Then, you’re happy. Two seconds later, you’re flustered. Now, you’re embarrassed.” She said.
“Well, how do I feel now?” I asked, raising an eyebrow at her.
“I don’t need to be an empath to know you want to kick my ass.” She scoffed, rolling her eyes at me.
I couldn’t help but laugh and roll my eyes at her.
Normally, chemistry was one of my favorite classes of the day. In fact, I loved all my science classes—and I have since freshman year, when I decided that I wanted to go into a career of forensics. But from the very moment that I sat down on the stool at my blacktop table, I knew that today, chemistry was going to be my least favorite class of the day.
Mostly because Lucas Hathaway was sitting in the seat right beside mine…
I noticed that he looked a lot more welcoming than he did in history. In fact, when I stood by my seat, he actually looked up from his work—the assignment was always written up on the board for us to do, and today, it was a worksheet that Mrs. Sanders handed around before the beginning of class—and flashed that same charming smile he gave me when Brooke and I made our way out of the cafeteria.
“Are you bipolar or something?” I asked, too shocked and confused to care about my bluntness—or my rudeness, now that I thought about it. He looked up at me, an amused, curious smile on his face. “I mean, you were all angry and tense in history, and now you’re all smiley and relaxed…or did I just do something to piss you off and then make you laugh?”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said calmly, still giving me that look that was a mix of confusion and amusement.
I wanted to punch him.
Maybe even break that perfect face of his…
I bet it’s not even his real face.
“You’ve got some nerve, you know that?” I growled, tightening my grip on my books and narrowing my eyes at him angrily. “First, you act as if I’ve stabbed you with a pencil, and now you’re acting like none of it had ever happened.” I said angrily.
“What are you talking about, Ellie?” Lucas asked, his smoldering green eyes staring straight into my brown ones. “Nothing happened in history. We just worked on our project, that’s all.” He said, and something seemed to zap my brain.
We just worked on our project, that’s all…
…just worked on our project…
I blinked, dazed and confused, still staring into his amused eyes. “Oh…right. Of course,” I mumbled dazedly, slightly confused. “I…I guess I was thinking about something else.” I said slowly, trying to comprehend what had just happened, and a bit embarrassed that I’d snapped at him for no apparent reason.
Lucas shrugged, still smiling. “That’s fine.” He said before going back to his work. “Hey, Ellie, are you good at chemistry?” he asked.
“Yeah, I’m good at it.” I said, furrowing my brows together in confusion.
He nodded and looked back down at his worksheet. “The answer to problem nine, isn’t it 392 degrees Fahrenheit?” he asked, pointing the end of his pen at the problem.
I grabbed the worksheet that was on my side of the table and looked down to the question he was referring to. “Yeah,” I nodded. “200 degrees Celsius converts to 392 degrees Fahrenheit.” I said. Mrs. Sanders was making us review the different conversions before we did any actual stuff.
“Thanks,” he said, writing it down. It surprised me how neat his handwriting was. Most guys wrote chicken scratch that was just as bad as mine.
I settled down into my seat next to his and, after scribbling my name across the name line at the top of the paper, I set to work in converting all the problems from degrees Celsius to degrees Fahrenheit. I was done about ten minutes after Lucas—five minutes after the bell for the beginning of class rang and Mrs. Sanders explained the homework to the class.
And, even when I started doodling away on my notebook, I couldn’t stop thinking about what just happened.
Clearly, something did happen in history. I never overreacted—well, not like that, at least. But what happened? Every time I think about history earlier today, I see a mental picture of me and Lucas working on our project silently.
Something about that image didn’t look real in my mind…
“So, how long have you been living in Salem?” Lucas asked curiously from beside me, pulling me out of my thoughts.
I stopped doodling, looking at him from the corner of my eye. He was watching me with interest, his dark hair falling into his green eyes. I looked back down at my notebook and drew a couple of messy looking stars. “Since I was ten,” I said. “My parents travel the world.” I said, as if that explained it all.
He nodded, and I noticed that there was a thoughtful look on his face. “That’s cool…I guess. Do they write often?” he asked.
I shrugged. “Not as often as they used to.” I said. “What about your parents? What do they do?” I asked, looking over at him.
He gave me a bitter smile. “My parents are dead.”
“Oh,” I winced. “I’m…I’m sorry.”
“It’s been almost seven years. I’m okay,” he said, grinning as if nothing were wrong, but there was still something in his eyes.
A moment of silence passed.
I cleared my throat. “So,” I said, trying to switch to a safer topic of discussion, “why the sudden interest in me and my life?” I asked, looking at him curiously.
Lucas leaned back in his seat, resting his hands behind his head, looking over at me with a smirk on his face, his green eyes bright and happy, all the previous traces of sadness disappearing. “Well,” he said, turning to stare at the white board at the front of the room, “it doesn’t hurt to be a little curious.” He said, looking at me from the corner of his eyes.
I couldn’t help but smirk as I leaned forward in my seat, resting my chin on my hands as I returned his stare. “Didn’t you know that curiosity killed that cat?” I asked teasingly. “For all you know, I could be dangerous. I could be in some kind of mafia.”
“You, in the mafia?” he asked, turning to look at me. His green eyes looked me up and down for a moment. I came pretty close to blushing under his gaze. “I don’t think so,” he chuckled, bringing his eyes back up to my face.
“You never know,” I said with a smirk. “I’ve been told I’m an amazing actress.” I lied. In truth, I couldn’t act to save my life.
“Somehow, I can’t bring myself to believe you.” He said, grinning widely, obviously amused.
“Somehow, I didn’t think you would.” I sighed, picking up my pen and doodling across my notebook once more.
Silence fell between us. It wasn’t awkward per se, but it wasn’t comfortable silence, either. It was just…in between. Neither of us knew what to say next.
In short, it was probably the longest hour of my life. When the bell rang, I was almost grateful that I didn’t have to strain my brain to think of anything to say to him that would make me seem cooler than I really was—but it’s possible that Camille already tainted his thoughts about me and he was just humoring me.
Brooke caught me in the hall and joined me on our walk to Algebra II. There was a smile on her face, and she looked relieved to be thinking about something else. “Good, you’re in a good mood. Do something to cheer me up,” she said, pulling me along.
“I take it last hour wasn’t so great,” I said, rolling my eyes, a smile on my face. I always found Brooke amusing—no matter what mood she was in, she could always make me laugh.
“Brett was practically begging for me to punch him in the face.” She said with a scowl.
I gasped. “You didn’t!”
“No, I didn’t actually punch him.” Brooke said, rolling her eyes. “What do you take me for, stupid? No. I accidentally stabbed him with my pencil. That’s all. It wasn’t anything too serious, but it was definitely enough to keep him away from me for a while,” she said, obviously proud of her ‘achievements’.
I narrowed my eyes at her. “You shouldn’t have done that.”
She rolled her eyes. “Chill, Ellie. It’s not like I killed him or anything. His hand just going to be really sore for a while,” she said, smirking as she looked down at her nails, where the black paint was starting to chip.
I sighed and shook my head, but what was I going to do? Brooke was Brooke and I couldn’t change her even if I tried. “One of these days…” but I didn’t finish.
Mostly because someone called out my name from behind just as I was about to head down the stairs to the first floor for my algebra class and I tripped. The last thing I heard was Brooke scream my name before my world exploded in black…