I hated crying in front of Josh, but what was more was I hated the fact I couldn't seem to stop. I truly felt guilty for Jake's probable death and the destruction of Bill's livelihood. Bill had split up from his wife who was the richer of the two, she had left Bill as soon as Jake was born and married a Hollywood actor. Jake had explained the huge split between his father's lifestyle and his mother's grander one. Now their one shared object had been destroyed - if only he had known, water and hot oil don't mix.
I buried my head into Josh's chest; if I didn't look at his face it didn't seem so bad. He smelt musty and I realized it was the soot I had rubbed on his shirt earlier, underneath the mustiness I caught whiffs of cologne. Josh had a distinct smell, it wasn't his aftershave or the soot on his shirt, it was Josh's own personal cologne and I liked it. I pulled back as I heard the first bell go, it was the end of second period and now it was a quick break before third period. Josh smiled crookedly and shrugged, pupils burst into the school yard and started to swarm around us, soon we had merged in with everybody else. Josh took my hand and swung it casually has he led me into the building,
"What have you got in period three?" he asked,
"Math," I replied, Josh nodded and smiled,
"Fun!" he added sarcastically as we rounded the corner, I stopped in my tracks and pulled my hand out of Josh's. Standing in front of us was the group of girls who'd found and threatened me before, and here I was standing right next to the guy they'd told me to stay away from. I took a step away from him subtly but it was too late, the girls noticed. The leader of the pack raised an eyebrow at me and narrowed her eyes, a face which made my heart pick up a pace,
"Thanks Josh, see you later," I muttered, he was totally oblivious to my sweaty palm and dry throat.
"W-what?" he asked looking at me, I put on my coolest face,
"Lessons start soon and I like to get in there early," I told him, Josh smiled down at me with a face I'd never seen him wear before. He went to tuck a stray lock of hair from behind my ear but I slapped his hand away hard, he looked hurt and his eyes tried to read my face,
"Bye," I said forcefully, he mashed his eyebrows and turned away confused, I felt wretched. He stumbled round the corner and I turned back to the girls who were crowded around the leader's locker, she smiled at me.
"Come over here Sarah!" she called, I took a deep breath and stepped forward telling myself to play it cool, "Do you like my cute new jumper?" she held up my jumper which she'd found whilst raiding my shelter the other day,
"It's...nice," I said quietly,
"It is nice!" she waved it in my face, "and such perfect evidence for your secret life," I narrowed my eyes,
"How is that evidence?" I asked,
"We've got photos..." she trailed off evasively,
"Not even my dog would wear that," another girl spoke out, she had shocking red hair and coincidently her name was Amber, she had been in my English class last year. The pack leader slammed her locker shut making me jump; she stepped towards me - towering over me in her heels. Looking down at me I could feel her breath wash over my face as she said,
"Here's the deal, stay away from Josh and he'll never have to know,"
"I...I don't care if he knows," I said strongly, I had decided it at breakfast today, I had been about to tell him but my courage had failed me. Now I knew Josh I felt better about it, he wasn't superficial, he didn't care about appearances and he was altogether a nice, honest, Christian guy. The leader pushed me back and I stumbled under the weight of my backpack - I had all my belongings in it - she stepped forward again impeding on my personal space.
"But you wouldn't like social services to know, would you?" she smiled at my reaction, "What about the police? The head teacher?" I gulped,
"Don't! Please don't!" I cracked spoiling my cool façade, "I'll stay away from him, I'll do whatever you want, please just don't tell anybody..." I trailed off as tears sprang into my eyes, I wiped them away viciously. The bell rang and the corridor began to fill with more students, the pack leader smiled in delight.
"Oh I'm Natasha by the way," she held out her hand as if I was doing business with her, there was no way I was going to touch her hand. She looked at my face and then withdrew her hand, "I guess it's safer this way, I'm not going to catch some homeless person disease by touching you," I glared at her as she and her sheep walked off. I stormed into math and collapsed on my chair; I buried my head in my arms and waited for the lesson to begin.