Chapter 2: Cari Delgard
When we first moved to Delve, Washington, I thought it would be a good thing. You know, getting away from all the drama back home, starting fresh. Yeah, I thought all that would be erased when we set our feet on new soil. I was wrong.
The high school here is just like my old one —dramatic, self-centered, idiot girls who want to be your friend and give you a makeover all the time, or join the cheer leading squad, because they think you’re light enough to throw. But behind your back, they say you’re anorexic and that would be like just tossing a toothpick into the air and letting the wind take it away.
The guys are no better. Bunch of jock assholes who think they can fight each other in the halls and it’ll impress the new girl. It’s more than a little annoying, because sometimes other people get accidentally pushed into the mock brawl and get hurt.
I had been minding my own business when one of those stupid, prearranged fights broke out in front of me. I recognized the two guys from my Biology class. The whole time they were hitting each other or shoving the other into a locker, they were looking over to see my reaction. I didn’t give them any satisfaction, not until another student got pushed into them.
The end result was a bloody nose and lip. The other guys left him there, landing on the floor against the hard metal of the lockers. No one did anything. I crossed the hall, sank to my knees, and touched his mouth, my fingers coming away with droplets of blood.
“Jesus, are you okay?” I asked.
He looked up at me with a pair of startling blue eyes and blinked once. Then he said, “They’ve wanted to do that for a long time. I guess I was in the right place at the right time.” Then he laughed.
“That’s awful,” I murmured. “Here, let me help you up.” I gripped him under the shoulder and together we worked to get him to his feet.
“Thank you,” he said softly. He pushed his brown hair out of his eyes and extended a hand. “I’m Clay Davenport. You’re new here, aren’t you?”
“Yes,” I said, shaking his hand. “I’m Cari Delgard.”
He nodded. “Well, if you need any help getting around, don’t hesitate to ask.” He grinned. “And, please, if you’re going to have two assholes fight in front of you, make sure I’m not walking by.”
I frowned. “I’m sorry about that. Do you need me to take you to the nurse or something?”
Clay shook his head. “Nah, I’ll be alright. Besides, this wasn’t your fault. You’re fresh meat; you don’t know the laws of the jungle yet.”
“This is a high school,” I reminded him.
“Look closely at the people,” he told me. “They all act like animals. Not one of them is an exception of that.”
“Not even you?” I said without thinking.
He leaned close to me and grinned. “I have my own characteristics that separate me from them.” He rubs a hand down his face, his palm tinted red. “Ugh, I’d better get this cleaned up.”
“I have a free period,” I heard myself say. “I could come with you, if you want.”
Clay, who has started walking away, turns his head slightly. “That sounds like an excellent idea.”
I smiled and stepped beside him. It didn’t take us long to get to the nurse’s office. Before I knew it, he had reappeared, leaning against the door frame. I had been sitting out in the hall when he came back, clearing his throat to get my attention.
“So that’s what you look like under all that mess,” I said, standing. “Personally, I think I like you covered in blood.”
What am I doing? I am not flirting with someone I barely know. That would have been something my sister had done. I was not going to turn into her.
“You are unusual,” he told me, his mouth twitching. He ran a hand through his hair. “So, tell me, what made you move to Delve?”
I bit my lip and looked away. I could make up some bullshit excuse and maybe he wouldn’t ask anymore. I hated when people pried.
“My dad got a job offer and I wanted to live closer to my sister.” One was the truth, the other a lie. I had a feeling he couldn’t guess which was which.
“And your mom?” Clay wondered.
We had started walking again when I spoke. “She left awhile ago. My parents had problems, or rather; she had the brunt of them.”
“That’s rough,” he said. “I know how that is, though, but in my case it’s my dad who left. I’m also an only child.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
He smiled softly. “Don’t be, it’s okay.”
“Did he have a drinking issue?” I asked quickly. Then my eyes widened. “Fuck. I’m sorry. That just came out before I could stop it.”
He shook his head. “I guess it’s common.” He shrugged but didn’t say anything else, so I didn’t press the topic. “So, your dad. What does he do now?”
Relieved by the change of subject, I said, “He works at a law firm.”
Clay whistled. “Big time money then, huh? What firm did he used to work for?”
“Wicker and Hunt.”
If he had been drinking or eating anything, he would have choked on it. His eyes widened and he said, “Your dad is Peter Delgard? No fucking way.”
“You know him?” I asked.
“Are you kidding? He’s pretty famous here. He just had a murder case, didn’t he?” Clay looked a little too excited, more excite than I felt when I told him who I was related to.
“He did.” I nodded. “He travels a lot.”
Somehow we’d ended up outside. Clay took a seat on the sidewalk while I sat in the grass, picking at the blades and not really looking at him. He had his knees pulled up to his chest and his arms were resting on them.
“Do you miss your mom?” he asked softly.
“Every day,” I whispered, lifting my head to watch the clouds float by.
If she was still here —if she could see what was going to happen to her youngest daughter— she would try and stop it. Too bad no one would be able to.