“Uh... C-Cayden” I heard someone say quietly behind me.
I’d been joking around with John and Brent on the way to my locker and was in the middle of laughing at something Brent had said about one of the jocks or something when I turned round and came face to face with Amber Phillips, the Sophomore girl who was in the same biology class as me. She wasn’t bad looking; she had a pretty face, blonde hair down to her shoulders and bright green eyes. She wasn’t the brightest of sparks, though and had all but failed her Freshman year. I smiled at her, kind of amused as she blushed.
“Hey, Amber” I said, still smiling.
She blushed a little more and looked down at her feet. “Um”
“Did you want something?” I asked, trying not to sound like a bitch.
“Oh, no, um... I just... Uh...”
“Spit it out, honey” Brent’s friend Adam said sarcastically and I bit back the urge to glare at him. He was amazing once you put him behind a drum kit, but most of the time he was a dick.
Like I’d expected, it just made Amber even more nervous. “Sorry, um, I was wondering if you wanted to... to go...”
Her face lit up bright red and she nodded. I honestly didn’t know what to say. I mean, she was a nice enough girl and she was pretty hot. But then that not to tiny part of me that was head over heels for John cut in, reminding me that I’d been infatuated with him since the first time I’d met him. The tiny rational part of me piped up then, that John was straight, Catholic and my best friend. Ultimately, I didn’t stand a chance.
“Sure” I smiled.
Her eyes lit up as she grinned at me. “Nine on Friday at the pizza place?”
I nodded and she grinned before practically skipping off to join her friends, who had been hiding not so slyly around the corner. I turned back to John and the others to a mixed reaction.
“Bro, I think you just pulled the dumbest chick in the school” Adam laughed slightly.
“Dude, what does it matter if she’s dumb? Cay’s gonna get laid in his fucking Freshman year” Brent said, awe shining in his eyes.
“Yeah, great. Congrats, man” John said quietly, his gaze not straying from the locker beside me for a second.
I felt my heart skip a beat and start to swell in my chest. Was he jealous? Did that mean he felt something for me? Or was he jealous because he had the hots for Amber? That had to be it. There was no way he felt anything for me. But no matter how much I told myself that, I couldn’t keep my eyes off him throughout lunch. I was extra careful like usual and no one saw me watching him, but I was almost hoping John would look up before I had a chance to look away. It didn’t happen, though, and soon enough the four of us had split up. It was just my luck that I had a class with Amber’s best friend Lottie and apparently she wasn’t all that pleased about me and Amber getting together.
“I don’t like you” she said, stealing the seat next to me before the guy who usually sat next to me had a chance to put his bag down.
“Hi to you too” I said cheerfully, determined to win against her.
“Don’t play cute with me, Australia. I know your type and I don’t like it”
“And what’s my type?” I asked curiously, genuinely wondering what she meant.
I mean, did she know I had the hots for John? Did she know about me and Paolo? Fuck.
“You think you’re God’s gift to women or something. You might be hot but you’re nothing special”
I arched an eyebrow. “I don’t think that. I’m surprised anyone even likes me like that”
Okay, so that was a tiny lie. I knew that most of the Freshman girls had the hots for me, some of the Sophomore girls and a couple of Seniors. I knew I was fucking gorgeous but I’d been too busy focusing all my affections on John to pay attention to any of the girls.
Lottie glared at me, her forest green eyes lined with a thick black line. “Leave Amber alone, I don’t want her getting hurt”
“I’m not going to hurt her, Lottie” I whispered as our teacher shot a glare in my direction.
“I’m keeping my eye on you” she said venomously before flicking her hair at me and pretending to pay attention to the teacher.
I frowned and got on with my work. No one besides Amber really liked Lottie. She was a Freshman but she was almost ashamed to hang out with people her own age, which was why her best friend was a Sophomore. The thing everyone knew about Lottie? She was a first class bitch with a tongue that cut like a blade and stung like a slap in the face. Long story short, everyone was afraid of her and nobody actually liked her, even if she was smoking hot.
Mom was more than pleased when I introduced her to Amber. The two got along like wildfire and Dad patted me on the back once they were out of the room, congratulating me on pulling such a stunner. I grinned at him and went off in search of Hadley. He’d been having a rough time at school again and I hadn’t really been there for him lately. I’m a sucky brother, I know. I checked in his room, frowning a little when there was no sign of him. I could hear Mom laughing with Amber downstairs as I tried to figure out where he could’ve gotten to. I mean, it was kind of in his nature to run off when he was upset but he wouldn’t just disappear. He’d always make sure someone had seen him go just in case something happened. I opened his window, checking to see if he was in the backyard but there was still no sign of him. I started to worry, then. What if he’d gone off and done something stupid?
“Mom, have you seen Hadley?” I asked and she shook her head, still laughing with Amber.
“No, hon, I think he was in the garden”
I clenched my jaw and slipped out into the yard. I looked around for him but he was genuinely nowhere to be found. That’s when I heard this quiet little sniffle come from the roof. I looked up, seeing this rope ladder hanging from the edge of the roof. I clambered up it and found my sweet little eleven year old brother sat hugging his knees to his chest, fresh tears glistening on his cheeks. He blushed when he saw me, wiping his eyes.
“What’s up, sport?” I asked, sitting next to him.
“Nothin’” he sniffled.
“C’mon, you can tell me. Is it school?”
He shook his head. What else could it be, then? I slid an arm round his shoulders and he leant on me, burying his head in my neck. I tried to ignore the wetness of his cheeks against my skin, rubbing his back softly. We’d found out when he was a toddler that if he was scared or upset or anything like that, all you had to do was rub circles into his back and it’d calm him right down.
“Cayden, do you... Do you love Amber?” he asked after a while.
“I guess. Why?”
He sniffled. “I don’t like her”
“She was mean to me” he said, sniffling again.
Don’t you dare fucking judge him. If you’d been there to see even half the shit he went through at school then you’d see why Amber being mean would upset him so much.
“What did she do?”
He sniffled again. “She called me an idiot. And...”
“And she was on the phone to some guy, talking about what they were gonna get up to tonight because you won’t put out”
I frowned. Me and Amber hadn’t even gotten as far as thinking about fucking. Why would she be pissed that I hadn’t slept with her yet? Hadley sniffled again and I hugged him, telling him I’d be back in a few minutes and heading for the kitchen. The look on Amber’s face when I told her it was over was priceless. I almost wish I’d had a camera.