High school is hard enough as it is. Add in a family death, a friend going through major changes, and that's even MORE stress. In walks a sun-kissed Southern cutie, and Ebony's world gets turned upside down.
Chapter One – Shut Eye
"Ebony." Quinn said, deliberately breaking me out of my trance-like state.
I nodded, trying not to growl at her. That had been the closest I had been to sleep in the past twenty-four hours. When I tried to move my arm on which my chin had been resting, sharp icy pin-pricks ran up and down its length.
Quinn quietly laughed once at my disgruntled expression. She had never seen me so "out of it" before. No. I had never been so out of it before. And to her, apparently, it was rather amusing.
All through the rest of that morning's Geometry lecture, I wasn't really paying attention. I was almost… nervous? It felt like I was, but I had no reason to be. Worried was more of the right word, but it still didn't quite fit.
I fumbled with the hem of my bright purple Henley, messed with the buckles of my black knee high suede boots. I about gnawed my lip off, too.
After enduring the awfully long remainder of the class, I bolted out of the door to my locker.
Unfortunately, Quinn was tailing right behind me with silent speed. At least, until we got to our lockers.
"What's with all of the fidgeting, Eb?" She asked with careful nonchalance.
"Nothing!" I snapped. It was a little harsh, but I wasn't in the mood to have that conversation right then.
"Oookay… Can I trade in grumpy Ebony for bubbly Ebony?" She continued.
"Can I at least get a freaking explanation?!" She complained.
"Later, Quinn. Let's go meet Jake and James. You know they're waiting." I cursed myself for being a total pushover; I wanted to keep this to myself.
"You are going to tell me, Ebony." Quinn said, knowing my tendency to back out of telling her news.
James, Jake, Quinn, and I always ate outside when the weather was nice, and even a lot of the time when it wasn't nice. We always sat in the shade of the old oak tree behind the school building, our backs against the grainy wood or laying on the soft grass beneath the tree.
Quinn was lying on her stomach on the fringe of the shadows, basking in the soft light filtering through the leaves. Somehow, though she spent more time in the sun than any of the rest of us, she was the palest. She was far from unhealthily pale; she just didn't tan more than the tiniest bit, and rarely burnt. I wasn't sure if I was the only one who noticed a long white cord trailing from one of her ears down to the cargo pocket of her olive green capris. Obviously it didn't bother anyone.
I was sitting against the tree, James on the left, and Jake on the right. My head was resting against Jake's shoulder, and his arm was around me, but it was the far from romantic. No, it was the furthest thing from romantic. Jake was my best friend and the closest thing I had to an older brother. Plus, it was obvious that he and Quinn had the hots for each other, not that I would ever point that out. This was further proven by the fact that every time I opened my eyes, he was gazing adoringly at Quinn – until he noticed me watching, of course.
Any time I glanced at James, he was running his fingers through his soft chocolate brown hair. Jake's mop of black hair was nearly as long as my own (sans my curls), but James' was at least three inches shorter, and had a tendency of sticking out at random angles, an odd halo around his face.
With every blink, my eyes stayed closed a little bit longer. It was nice to get some rest, even if it wasn't the long, deep, peaceful sleep I had been craving.
Or, at least, it would have been if James would shut up!!
"Ebony, is there a pop quiz in Geometry?"
If there was, I would have failed it. "No, James."
"Homework in Modern World Studies?"
Stupid question! "Always, James."
"A report in Miss Blair's?"
"Shut up, James." Jake answered for me in the same manner I had been answering James.
"So, what's up, Eb?" Jake played with a curlicue of my hair, trying to seem casual. I knew he didn't mean it as a friendly question, though. He was asking for an explanation.
"I'm tired!" I groaned. It was an insignificant detail, but as good of an excuse as any.
"Those nights of less than a couple hours of sleep catching up with ya, eh, Ebony?" James teased.
"What did Jake just tell you, James?" Though my eyes were closed, I could just see the death glare she was giving James, her dark eyes boring into him menacingly.
"Yes, ma'am." He said like a misbehaving child being scolded. If I hadn't been so tired, I would have laughed.
"Get some rest, Ebony." Jake said at regular volume, then dropped his voice so that only I could hear. "You can tell me later. It's yours and my mom's TV night, remember?"
I nodded slightly, resisting the (extremely strong) urge to groan. I had completely forgotten that it was Tuesday.
It was going to be an extremely LONG Tuesday, that's for sure.