Apparently, someone up there hates me. I would rather die than have a "fairytale" life, but it seems like that's exactly how everything's going. But I don't care. I won't fall for Owen Whitaker. He's a jerk, and nothing else.
No one has the right to be that good-looking. It’s not fair. The gods would never allow it. But apparently, they do.
The boy I’m speaking of, Owen Whitaker, is strutting down the halls like John Tucker. He’s slapping his friends’ hands and his sluts’ butts. Outlandish, as usual, he literally swaggers down Sophomore Hall on his way to first class- Geometry.
I hate that boy. I hate that boy for two reasons. One, he’s really hot and that bothers me. Two, the reason it bothers me, is because he’s so obnoxious and snide and he’s forever trying to make me think that he’s sweet and cool or whatever. He always tries to sell me that crap that everyone else believes and it drives me nuts because he’s really such a jerk.
Since my teachers have no imagination when it comes to seating charts and my name is Riley Welsch, I sit next to him in every class, except of course Gym. He is the epitome of evil and misery in my life.
“Hey Riley, whatcha staring at?” my best friend, Adela Trent, asks curiously, tapping my left shoulder.
I turn to my right, out of habit from her favorite little trick, and find her standing there; smiling the quirky grin that I knew meant she was thinking the same thing I was.
“Nothing,” I quickly answer, turning my back to Owen. Adela, or Ada as I called her, glances behind my back, and her golden brown eyes suddenly glitter mischievously. She begins to twirl a piece of her long, shiny black hair. Never a good sign.
“Oh, oh, Owen!” she sings, drawing out the sounds in Owen. Ada has a stunning singing voice, and usually I would love to hear it, but at this moment, I’m tempted to karate chop her in the throat.
I snap my palm over her mouth while I try to ignore the deep crimson blush I can feel burning my cheeks and neck. My back is to him, but I can hear his footsteps as he approaches the scene.
How much more obvious could I have been? I scold myself, gritting my teeth as Ada grins.
“Hiya, Owen,” she coos, teasing me and flirting with him. I grimace.
“Hey Adela,” he answers, his voice dismissive. I laugh internally at Ada’s put-out face, but it’s cut short when I see his shoulder turn to me. “Hey there, Wry Ri,” he adds, his voice substantially more interested.
The little nickname he has for me is Wry Ri because he thinks I’m a wry person. It bugs me, so he figures, why not?
I just harrumph like a six-year-old and turn my back on him, my long golden brown ponytail whipping around. Opening my wallpaper decorated locker, I shoot Ada a look and she frowns back at me.
She thinks Owen’s hot and always flirts with him. I hate being near him, but even more so when Ada’s around. She’ll flip her black hair backwards, smiling so prettily and seductively that she could make the moon scoot closer.
Whenever I see her do her little hair-flippy-smile-coyly thing, I wish I could do that. The way he looks at her… Not Owen! No, I just mean in general, I wish I could make boys swoon over me by a little twist of just the right strand.
Sure, I’d had a boyfriend before, but he wasn’t really boyfriend material. In my opinion, he was the perfect example of the Avril Lavigne song: “He Wasn’t”. That song was made for my ex, Hunter Ross.
I’m not completely inept with guys; I’m just not as great with them as Ada is. That’s why I’m jealous of her. Definitely not because she flirts with Owen.
Anyway, I’d begun filling my bag with the books I needed for my morning classes when, of course, Owen leans oh-so-casually against Veronica Whalen’s locker, staring at me with his almond-shaped (who comes up with the shapes of eyeballs? Does somebody just go, “hey, that looks like a walnut,” and presto? New shape of an eye?) green eyes with little speckles of light, light brown in them.
I avoid his gaze, stuffing my Spanish 2 book in my purple and pink cheetah-print bag and shutting my locker with way too much force.
“Can I walk you to Geometry?” he asks, holding out his arm and talking old-fashioned as if it was the 1800’s. Whoa, weird mental image!
“Not a chance, Whitaker,” I reply brusquely. I turn my back on his still outstretched arm and stride purposefully towards my least favorite class on Earth.
A minute later, as I enter the classroom, Ada runs at me, shouting random things about Owen. The only word I understand is “why”. She reaches where I stand, frozen, and begins to calm down. But not much. “Owen Whitaker asked you if he could walk you to class AND YOU TURNED HIM DOWN?! What kind of a Welsch are you? What kind of a girl are you?”
“Well, she’s definitely smart, and she’s funny, and she’s pretty nice to everyone but me,” a voice interjects. I recognize it by the immediate burn of hate in my lungs.
“You’re just saying that to get in my pants,” I snap.
The one minute bell rings. Ada pales and sprints out the door, her sweater flopping around behind her as she left. I’d forgotten Ada’s first class was American History—all the way across campus.
If I’d been with Nicole Kinglet, my other best friend, when Ada had her crisis, I would’ve cracked up. But no. It had to be Owen.
“You know, if you took two minutes to get to know me,” Owen comments serenely, almost teasingly. “You might figure out that I don’t just want to get in your pants.”
Wow, really? He just said that? “That is the most ridiculously chick-flick-like quote I have ever heard.”
“Is that a bad thing?” His deep voice is curious, but also a little… self-conscious maybe? A tad bit hard to describe.
“Um, yeah!” I’m about to go on, to tell him how horrified I was by clichés and cliché-like things, but the bell rings.
My thoughts clear with that slightly annoying, very normal sound. I realize that I’m almost having a civilized conversation with my enemy. Very slowly, I shut my mouth and slide into my chair.
Owen shoots me a strange look before he sits down too.
Mr. Harling, my wretched, evil Geometry teacher (who hates me, so that’s even better), begins class. He’s almost ten minutes in when a note slides onto my desk and I realize I haven’t taken in a word he’s said.
I look down with surprised cerulean eyes, then quickly hide the folded up loose leaf in my notebook. The handwriting was impeccable. Glancing around the room for the writer, I notice Owen staring at me.
I turn to shoot him a glare and tell him to stare creepily at someone else, but he’s looking at me funnily. Like in a “go on, do it” sort of way. I look back down at the elegant script and recognize it.
I shoot a confused glance at Whitaker before I scan the words. So, what’s your problem with cheesiness?
This was weird. No, this was way beyond weird. He usually just accepts that I hate him and uses it to bug me more. He doesn’t try to… Decipher me.
I crumple up the note into a little ball and neatly swish it into the trash can halfway across the room.
I hear someone quietly clapping and turned. Brent Apple is grinning in my direction. He gives me a thumbs-up as I wish violently for Ada’s talent.
Brent’s pretty cute, with dark brown, tousled hair and brown eyes that seem like they’re always smiling. He loves basketball, as I do, and I’ve always liked him a little bit. He’s kind of shy, but in a good guy way.
I grin back and shrug in a “what can I say” gesture. Blushing a bit, he grins wider, and then looks down at his paper.
I look away, catching a strangely annoyed look on Owen’s face. Then I remember I’d thrown his paper away. He begins writing furiously in his notebook without looking at the board to see what to write.
Dread washes over me. Is he writing another note to me? God, will he just leave me alone?
Then he finishes scrawling and folds the paper into an impressive origami heart. He is not, I think incredulously. I’m angry, but also a little… flattered, and that scares me.
Then he scribbles one more word on the front and passes it away from me, towards his girlfriend, Gina.
Shame floods me, pushing away the dread. How self-centered could I be? How could I think he was writing that to me? I blush easily, and can feel my face now turn a deep pink.
I can’t even come close to comparing with beautiful, perfect Gina Beckley. She’s captain of the dance team, which is a thousand times better than our joke of a cheerleading team, and since Owen is captain and quarterback of our football team, it’s just so cheesy it makes me want to puke. And she’s blonde of course, that really light, perfect honey blonde. She straightens it every morning, so it’s never up except if that’s what the dance team has decided to do with their hair for some event. Her eyes are an evil icy green, and they always seem to find me. To glare. Apparently, she thinks I’m some sort of a threat.
As if. Me and Owen? Yuck. Anyway, according to my very few guy friends, Gina is “among the sexiest girls our age”. And I’m, well, not.
My very best guy friend, Dan, told me the truth, as he always does. “You’re absolutely gorgeous, Riley, and lots of the guys in our grade would kill to get a date with you… In a few years. It’s just that, right now, we want hot. Not beautiful. We’ll catch on eventually,” he grinned. Dan’s a great guy. And he’s managed to land the most perfect girl of all, besides Gina. Valerie Jenson. She’s beautiful and hot at the same time, without being grossly slutty. She’s one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet too.
She and Dan have been together twice. The first time they lasted about a year. So far, this time, they’ve been together about eighteen months. Dan’s absolutely smitten with her. Even though he’s a total charmer, he always asks me for advice about how best to get her to like him more.
The bell rings, pulling me from my thoughts. That was definitely faster than usual. Wait a second…
A loud gasp reverberates around the room. The fire bell? Nobody had said anything about a drill, and they always announced them. “Everybody get out now. Straight line and no talking please!” Mr. Harling says, bristling his mustache.
I get in line behind Harry Bengal, shocked and slightly scared. Then a voice whispers in my ear. “Don’t worry, if we end up locked in a burning room together, I’ll keep you distracted,” Whitaker mumbles.
I bring my hand up towards his face, as if to hit him, and feel him flinch. I grin. Then I jab my elbow into his stomach.
Ow! “OUCH!” he yells. Mr. Harling reprimands him. “Sorry, bit my tongue,” he lies. I rub my elbow sourly. I didn’t realize he had such a hard stomach.
“Dang, Wry Ri, you’re really feisty today. Something on your mind?” he asks, winking.
“I’m just thinking up ways I could get you into that fire,” I retaliate as our class shuffles out the door into the brisk spring breeze.
A firetruck pulls up, complete with blaring sirens. The principal, Mrs. Langton, sprints up to the firefighters, waves her hands around, and they all get back in the truck and drive away.
What on earth…?
“I wonder who set off the alarm,” Brent muses, appearing beside me.
“I don’t know,” I answer, smiling at him. He smiles back. I feel butterflies erupt in my stomach.
Could he really like me?