Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Even two hours after my strange encounter with Nicholas, my hands were still trembling, which made it very difficult to scoop the salad onto my plate without getting it all over the place, as I was aware that everyone everywhere was curiously watching every move I made.

I was just beginning to lift the last spoonful of lettuce onto my tray, when an unfamiliar voice made my reflexes jerk with surprise.

“Hey.” all the lettuce on the spoon fell back onto the counter. “You’re Juliet Bailey, right? The new girl?”

I looked up at the nervous speaker, whose voice shook uneasily; A tall guy, my age, with bright red hair that was cropped and spiked up stylishly. He wore a green varsity jacket--which I could see by the look of the green and gold banner that hung on the wall, green was the school’s color. He wore the jacket over a plain white t-shirt with some kind of football design on it. I assumed he was a football player, or jock, or whatever they called them.

I nodded, brushing back a stray curl that had fallen over my face.

“Awesome. I’m Boone. Boone Prince.” He introduced himself. “I’m on the football team. Quarterback.” He said, smiling smugly as though he had given himself a great compliment.

“Hi, Boone Prince.” I said, pressing my lips together in a somewhat-smile.

“Hi.” He said laughing, a little harder than was called for.

I turned back to the counter, and began shoveling more lettuce into my bowl.

“So, are you like, a hippie or something?”

I stared at him blankly, caught off-guard by his question.

“Sorry?”

“Your like, only eating salad and fruit. Isn’t that all hippies eat?”

I looked away, my expression still baffled by his accusation. I looked down at my tray. The only thing I had managed to pile onto it was an apple, a pear and a small bowl of salad.

“I’m a vegan.” I corrected, picking up my tray and walking towards the check-out counter, Boone right on my heels.

“Oh!” He said, surprised. He came up beside me, carrying his tray and watching me check-out. “Well, that would explain why you didn’t take advantage of the fried chicken and macaroni.” He lifted his tray to my face to show off the breaded drumstick and breast that he had laying on a paper plate, all wrinkly and covered in grease. I crinkled my nose in disgust, feeling my stomach flip with nausea at the smell.

I turned around and paid for my food quickly, then walked forward, towards all the tables. I could feel the points and stares of people as if they were shooting me with pins and needles. Boone was quickly at my side, pointing towards one end of the room.

“Hey, come on. You can sit with us for lunch.” He insisted, walking to a half full table.

I followed him hesitantly, my shyness beginning to kick in.

“Hey, hey, hey.” Boone said, dropping his tray onto the table.

“Yo, what’s up, Boony?” said a guy with the same cropped and spiked hair and jacket.

“Hey, who’s the new girl?” a tall, slim blonde haired girl asked.

“Guys, this is Juliet, the new girl.”

“Oh right!” The girl said, smiling. “I’m Amber.”

“Hi.” I replied to her, smiling contagiously from her grin.

“Juliet, this is Kevin, Jake, Jake’s girlfriend Marie, and Amber.”

Kevin was the one with the matching jacket and hair-do, while Jake and Marie were African-American, Jake with short afro styled hair, and Marie, beautiful, with straight black hair that poured down her shoulders. And then Amber was the cheerleader type, with short, perfectly blonde, curly hair and a soft, kind looking face, and athletically slim body.

All of them looked like they were stereotypically “popular” or “jocks”. I was neither. Not even close to one. I wasn’t sure how they would welcome a backwards girl like me into the group, without at least questioning whether or not they should. Not that they weren’t…

“Hi. I’m Juliet.” I said, forcing a small laugh, unsure of what to say. I twirled the fork in my hand while I waited for them to keep eating and ignore me, but they continued to watch me and smile nicely.

“Where are you from?” Asked Marie, with a soft, high pitched voice. “I mean, you just moved here, am I right?”

“Juliet’s from Chicago.” Boone said. I looked at him, completely surprised that he knew. “Word gets around pretty quickly in a small school.” He told me, as thought reading my mind.

“Chicago?” Amber said in surprise. “That is so cool! I’ve always wanted to go to Chicago. I hear its pretty intense.”

“You only want to go ‘cause you saw that movie…what was it?” Jake asked, staring off in thought as he tried to remember.

“You mean the movie Chicago?” Answered Marie.

“Yeah, that.”

“Well, so?” Amber shrugged, licking cheese off the tip of her scrawny fingers. “It still looks cool.”

“Yeah, I saw that movie. It was pretty cool.” Kevin said, smiling at some invisible memory that was replaying in his head.

“You only liked it because of that one chick…Catherine Zeta Jones.” Boone said, laughing and biting into his chicken leg. I looked away, sickly.

“So what?” He said, laughing.

“Yeah, she did look alright in that movie.” They both burst into laughter, pressing each others fists together in a ‘pound it’ handshake.

They began chattering on about Renee Zelweger and her pretend foe Catherine Zeta Jones in the movie. I had never seen it, so I looked away as they discussed which one was better looking in the movie.

I just stabbed my fork into my salad, not exactly hungry enough to stuff the soggy lettuce into my mouth. I tossed around a slice of raw mushroom, then looked up subconsciously. When I did, I could have sworn my heart stopped. My breath had gone completely, leaving my throat dry, and my eyes wide with surprise.

Sitting at the table directly in front of ours, with his back straightened and his electrically blue eyes glued right to mine, was Nicholas, twirling his fork around with his fingers and watching me so intently, I would have thought he was trying to burn a hole right through me. He looked almost angry. Like he was upset with something, or frustrated at the fact a new student had arrived at the school.

Or that I had arrived at the school.

“Don’t even think about it.” Amber whispered to me, scooting her chair closer to mine and leaning in.

“What?” I replied, dazed.

“I can see that your totally gawking at Nicholas.” She said, giggling. “Don’t feel stupid though, every new student does. Male or female. Except, the guys all gawk at him because they’re mostly jealous.”

“I wasn’t gawking at him.”

“Sure you weren’t.” She said, smiling. I guessed the cat was out of the bag. But then again, how could you not gawk at him? His eyes seemed to draw you in to him, like a magnet to a helpless piece of steal. It was like spotting a celebrity, or a model, among hundreds of regular, plain looking citizens. How could you not sit and stare?

“Believe me, I’ve had my share of gawks, too. But I soon realized that it wasn’t going to happen.”

“Why is that?” I asked curiously, not that I was really wanting to know, or anything. I mean, what could a guy like that want with a girl like me? It was like comparing a stallion to a mule.

“Trust me, a guy like that wouldn’t be interested in any girl that small town Cutler could provide. He’s more of a Hollywood babe type of guy. Probably a player. But who cares. He is fine.”

“Fine” was most definitely an understatement. Gorgeous was more the right word. Even Beautiful would do. But even those were a bit to belittling.

I glanced over at him, wondering just what type of guy he really was. When I had run into him on the beach, he seemed like the type of guy who was polite and civil. A respectable gentleman, perhaps. Not the type of guy who took advantage of his good looks to satisfy himself with a flock of wild girls that would bow down to him, even though it would be pretty easy if that was his intent.

But if it was, it was a little peculiar that he would be sitting alone, at a completely empty table, watching me with a firm gaze.

I looked away bashfully, feeling my face grow hot red, but knowing his eyes never moved.

“When he first came to the school, I seriously thought that he was like, my soul mate or something. I tried everything to get him to notice me, but he just…never seemed to pay any attention to me. Or any of the girls, for that matter. None of the girls here seemed to catch his eye.”

I looked down at my food, disappointed. If he wasn’t interested in Amber, then there was no way on earth he would be the least bit interested in me. Amber was so much prettier than I was. No doubt about it. Her face was perfectly arranged, and she had the nicest shade of green eyes. I was no match.

But it wasn’t like I wanted a chance with him anyways. I wasn’t even interested in that kind of relationship.

“Why not?” I asked, to keep my casualness. I didn’t want her to see the defeat in my eyes.

She shrugged, sticking a spoonful of macaroni in her mouth. “Beats me.”

I looked back down at my food, which I hadn’t even touched. I wasn’t even hungry. My nerves had taken over most of the emotions in my body, leaving no room for hunger.

With a sigh, a took up my tray, scooted my chair out and carried the food away to the nearby trashcan. I dumped it in and set the hunter green tray on the stack of trays on the top of the trash can, my eyes subliminally trailing back to Nicholas’ table. He hadn’t moved his head, but his eyes were still on me, following me around like a curious puppy until I was back into my seat, where he grabbed his tray, emptied it in the trashcan and walked out the door.

I can’t say I wasn’t bummed out the rest of lunch that Nicholas had left. Something about the way he stared at me kind of sparked a bit of hope in my mind, that maybe he would consider me different from the rest of the girls. But when he left, it had gone. The spark had blown out, and the hope had walked straight out with him.

I didn’t keep up with the rest of the conversations that went around at the table. Most of them were about random things from movies, and different actors and actresses. Then somehow it managed to take a turn towards different types of vegetables and the “rare” species of avocado that only grew in Mexico. I wasn’t sure how it ended, because as soon as the bell rang, ending lunch, I had remembered that I was still at school.

My next class, I had with Amber and Kevin. We all walked together to the class, but unfortunately, as I gave the teacher my slip, I was sent to a table on the opposite side of the room as there’s, partnered with myself. Everyone else had lab partners, but I sat at the table alone, which the more I thought about it, I didn’t mind. In fact, I kind of preferred.

As soon as I set out my biology text book, pencil and notebook, Blake turned around and grinned at me.

“I see you don’t have a partner.” He said, looking at the empty seat next to me.

“Yeah, well…” I shrugged. I looked over at his lab partner, a brunette with pin-straight hair that flowed down her back, glistening in the light from the window. From behind she looked beautiful. When she turned her head to give a gawking stare at her partner, the outline of her face looked even more perfect. I sunk back in my seat, my self-esteem level sinking below zero. I wished I had come to a school with a little less beautiful girls, so that at least I could feel good about myself somewhat.

“That’s too bad.” He said, giving me a sympathetic gaze that looked particularly fake. “Now that you’re here, the class is odd numbered.” he said, almost as if he were pointing the finger at me and saying it was my fault.

“I don’t mind.” I assured, looking out the window beside me.

Thankfully the teacher stood up and began the lesson before Blake could say anything else. I opened my textbook to the instructed page, and kept my eyes on it, reading the text just to keep my eyes occupied.

After the class was over, I gathered all my things into my book bag, wandering out into the hallway, checking my schedule for my next class, and following my map to the correct room.

As I handed the slip in to the teacher, she signed it, and the assigned me to an empty desk near that back of the room, I realized that I was being followed. Not by someone physically, but mentally. I could feel eyes watching me as I sat down, took out my pencil and notebook and pretended not to notice. Someone who’s gaze was the only one that distracted me from the reality.

Nicholas’ gaze.

I lifted my eyes, keeping my head low and pointed to my book. I directed them towards Nicholas, gazing at him through the veil of my hair. As I had suspected--and somewhat hoped--his head was turned in my direction, his eyes on my face, and his expression the same sternness he had uttered before.

My stomach leaping, I looked away, hoping he hadn’t caught me. As a way to distract my eyes, just as well as my mind, I lifted my pencil to my notebook and began drawing spirals in between the lines of the paper, that started out small, but got bigger with each twirl. I hoped it didn’t look too obvious that I was attempting to stall my senses, even though I was failing miserably.

Other students began to pile into the classroom, and the room grew with noise and chatter. I watched as Jake and Marie entered the room, hand-in-hand, followed by Boone and Kevin. I guessed Amber didn’t have this class.

I was beginning to wonder if I had gotten to class early, as the room quickly crowded, then realizing that Nicholas was the only other person I remembered seeing in the room when I had walked in. I scoffed at my stupidity.

The teacher began with her lecture, and I followed along in my notes, writing down each sentence I felt was important, even though I was positive I had already taken this lesson in my other school, since the lesson felt so familiar.

Before I knew it, class was over, and everyone was packing their things and leaving the room. I finished the sentence I was writing, and then quickly stuffed my notebook and pencil into my bag. I turned towards the door and took a step forward to leave, but when my foot hit the ground, it twisted, sending me and all my things diving onto the floor.

I waited for the impact of the hard wood floor, and the pain that I was positive would shoot up my arms and legs, but instead, I felt the warmth of Nicholas‘ arms as he caught me before I hit the ground. He lifted me back up on my feet, like I weighed nothing and grabbed my backpack which had slid underneath a desk and slung it over my shoulder.

“Thanks.” I muttered. But it was too late. He was already walking out the door, just as quickly as he had come.

I stood there, puzzled and embarrassed. It wasn’t the first time he had caught me when I fell, I realized. But now he probably thought I was as clumsy as I was annoying.

It took me a while to actually process what had just happened. I felt like I had stood in that same position for an hour, when in fact it had only been a few minutes.

Did what I think just happen really actually happen? Did I actually make contact with Nicholas? Did he actually touch me with the heavenly biceps that every guy envied and every girl desired?

Ridiculous, yet intriguing questions like those had ran through my mind. Questions that took concentration to ask myself, so much so that I couldn’t walk and think about them at the same time.

When my mind had finally comprehended and replayed what had just happened, I walked across the room and exited through the doorway, into the emptying hallway. With my backpack on my shoulders, I draped my coat around my arms, and walked towards the double doors. The exit to the building I thought I might hyperventilate in.

As I pushed on the door, I stopped, remembering the slip I was supposed to turn in.

With frustration, I turned around and walked into the office that conveniently I was only feet away from, digging around in my backpack for the paper.

I approached the lady behind the desk and handed her the slip. She was on the phone. She saw me, nodded and smiled, then mouthed a “thank you” as she grabbed the slip from my hand.

Then, I was eagerly out the door, turning and exiting the building, walking out into the crisply cool air outside.

The fresh air felt extremely revitalizing to my senses. It had just stopped raining, so everything smelt and felt like moisture.

Freeing my arms from my coat, I let the remaining raindrops fall on my arms and neck as I dug around in my bag for my keys. I hadn’t realized that I had parked so far down into the parking lot, until I spotted my truck near the end, next to the black motorcycle I had parked next to earlier. Only this time, the bike was standing next to its owner. None other than the tall, handsome and mysterious Nicholas.

I stared at him, completely in awe that I happened to park right next to his means of transportation, of all the people in the school that I could have ended up beside.

He watched me with the same expression as I him, throwing his arms into a leather jacket and strapping on his black helmet. As he climbed onto his bike, I was beginning to wonder what exactly his fondness was with the color black.

Ignoring his completely livid stare through the clear shield of his helmet, I stabbed the keys into the side of the door, unlocked it and fervently slid inside.

I started the truck quickly, and waited for it to warm up. Nicholas started his motorcycle beside me, revving up his engine loudly, as though to flaunt its growl, and sped out of the parking lot. I watched him, wondering why but not turning away.

I sighed, wiping the wet hair strands from my face and throwing my hands on the wheel. With one last heavy exhale, I shoved the gear into reverse and backed out of the space, and drove out of the parking lot, back onto the highway.

The End

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