We found Aria in the auditorium. She was sitting in the very back, near the doors, so that when we walked in we would see her. She pushed her hair behind her ear and turned her head as I called her name. Her hazel eyes widened as she looked at Caleb’s hand.
“What happened?” she asked, standing up. Someone shouted at her to sit down and she gave them the finger. “Is she okay?”
I looked confused.
“You’re holding her awfully tight,” Aria said to Caleb.
“Oh.” He shook his head, his lip ring catching the lights overhead as he moved. He dropped my hand and smiled thinly. “Sorry.”
“What’s wrong?” Aria muttered. “Are you okay?”
I shook my head. “I’m fine. I just met the new History teacher.”
Aria’s eyes lit up, and behind us Caleb groaned.
“Can I help you?” I muttered, turning around.
“No,” he responded, frowning. “But I think we should sit down. The woman on the stage looks really pissed.”
It was true. As I looked forward, the bright lights overhead fell on a short, plump woman holding a microphone. Her eyes were narrowed. She pointed a finger at us, and then gestured to any seat left.
The orientation took an hour. An hour of my life that I could have been talking to Aria about the new teacher, about how green his eyes were, smoldering, like he had this secret he wasn’t letting anyone in on.
My hands involuntarily gripped the sides of the chair. I hadn’t heard the other students leave, which was probably due to my being so deep into my daydream that I had completely zoned out on everything and everyone around me.
“Tate.” It was Caleb. He was waving his hand in front of my face.
I glanced over at him. “What?”
“Where’d you go?”
“Nowhere,” I mumbled. “What’s going on?”
“It’s over,” Aria said. She didn’t sound too worried. “Someone handed out our schedules.”
She thrust a paper at me and I looked at it carefully. I didn’t want to go to the wrong room. Both of them watched me for a few minutes, and then they stood up.
“What’s your first class?”
“Math,” I mumbled.
Caleb grimaced. “I have History.”
Aria rolled her eyes. “You’re just mad because the teacher made eyes at Tate.”
“How did you know that?” Caleb asked. “You were in here.”
“I watched you guys then ducked back in here before you saw me.” She smiled, and then turned to me. “Did you have a problem with a good-looking guy staring at you?”
“I didn’t really notice.” It was the truth. I really wasn’t that spot on of a person. It was slightly sad. “So it’s not a big deal.”
Aria grinned and clicked her tongue ring against her teeth. Then she turned to Caleb and reached for his hand.
I blinked, my eyes sweeping back and forth between the two.
“Since when?” I asked suspiciously.
Aria smiled and released his hand. “I told you, didn’t I? You’d only really notice something if it was right in front of your face, and sometimes not even then.”
I frowned at her and looked sideways at Caleb before grabbing my schedule and leaving the two of them alone. I walked out of the auditorium and down the long hallway, past the main office, trying to find my way.
I was walking so fast that I didn’t even pay attention to the WET FLOOR sign and before I knew it, I slipped on something, collided with the wall, and dropped everything I was holding.
“Damnit!” I hissed, hobbling to gather my things. My knee ached terribly from the impact. “I’m definitely going to be late now. Ugh!”
As I bent to pick up my notebooks and bag, a voice interrupted me.
“Do you need some help?”
I didn’t but I nodded anyway.
When the person bent down, I caught a whiff of cologne and saw a pair of green eyes staring at me.
“Mr. Mills,” I mumbled, “thank you for helping me.”
“Elias, please,” he said as he handed me a few fallen pens. “I want to have an informal relationship with my students, Tate.”
I smiled as I staggered to get up. Putting weight on my leg hurt.
“Are you okay?” His voice was soothing next to me. When he put a hand on my shoulder, I looked up at him.
“I just messed up my leg, I’ll be alright.” I smiled tightly.
“If you’re sure. I’ve got to get to my class now.” He nodded at me. “I’ll see you again, I hope.”
“Okay,” I replied, slightly dazed, staring after him as he disappeared down the hall.