Authors: Shelly Crane
I ran to my new home room just as the last bell rang. I slid into the first empty seat I saw by the door. I noticed Tate across the room, looking at me with amused eyes. He made kiss lips at me as we both turned to face forward.
After the bell rang, we made our way to the hall. I waited for Tate and he studiously threw his arm around my shoulder and kissed my temple.
We walked to my locker and there was Eli. At first I thought he was waiting for me there and wondered what Tate would do, but I saw him reaching into the locker next to mine. He was now my neighbor.
“Hey, Eli,” I said.
He looked surprised to see someone knowing his name and almost dropped his books, catching them very cutely in a jumble before they hit the floor and stuffing them in his locker.
“Oh. Hey, guys,” he said in that low rumbling voice of his.
“Who do you have for homeroom?”
“Mr. Winepeeno?” he tried and Tate and I both laughed.
“It’s Winepegofski. I know, it’s an impossible name. I think he’s from Russia or Poland or something.”
Someone called my name and I looked up to see Ashley. I waved and turned back to Eli.
“A Polish guy teaches U.S. History?” Eli asked with a smirk.
“Welcome to America, Mr. Zimbabwe.”
He laughed and leaned on his shoulder against his locker. I looked up to Tate to see him no longer smiling. He was looking between us with a slight frown gracing his brow.
“Tate, who do you have next?” I asked, trying to include him.
“Bishop. Shop,” he spouted shortly.
“Ugh, well, we definitely won’t share that class. I have Menendez.”
“Me too,” chimed Eli.
“Huh,” Tate said, clearly annoyed. “I’m out. Gonna be late and Bishop will ride me all year.”
“Tate,” I called and grabbed his arm. “I’ll see you at lunch, ok?”
“Ok,” he said tightly.
“Hey,” I pulled him to look at me and saw a couple freshman giggling at us from across the hall. I ignored them. “I’ll miss you,” I said to appease him. “It’s too bad we don’t have anymore classes together.”
“Yeah, I’m sure you’ll really miss me with Zimbabwe over there,” he said low where Eli couldn’t hear us.
“I will. He doesn’t watch vamp shows with me and follow silly rules at the house I live at. He doesn’t know exactly where to find me when he comes to see me and I’m not home. He’s just a guy, Tate.”
He laughed a small breathy laugh.
“Ok,” he conceded. “You better miss me,” he joked and poked a finger at my chest gently.
“I already do,” I said and accepted his kiss. He usually didn’t kiss me on the lips in school, but right then he was letting me have it. I felt his hand on my lower back, pressing me closer. In the distance I heard a whistle from someone and I pulled back to breath. “Wow.”
“I can definitely deal with wow.”
I watched him walk away as he bumped fist with someone and they started to jog across the campus.
Then I turned to see Eli still standing there, with a wry look on his handsome face. The fluorescent lights made his hair even blacker. He looked almost ethereal like that. Today he’d worn his hair spiked to the side and I noticed he had his right eyebrow pierced with a small silver rod. I hadn’t seen that last night. He was wearing the same jeans as before but with a Queen 1986 Tour shirt. It was his first day, so he didn’t have his uniform yet. It always made the new kids stick out like sore thumbs.
“Hey, sorry. I told you he’s...I don’t know. And I’m sorry about last night too.”
“No worries. It’s not your fault. So,” he grabbed a black messenger bag from his locker and threw it over his shoulder, “can I walk with you to our next class or will I get my spleen removed for it?”
“Ha ha. Yes, walk with me. It’s way over on the other side of the gym, so we better get going.”
We walked and I saw he was getting quite a lot of attention. I even got the stink eye from a couple of girls and I couldn’t help but laugh. He was definitely cute with a bad boy thing going that made me cringe with the cliché of it. He wasn’t hot in the traditional sense, I guess. He was a little rugged and jagged, but he was extremely nice and not cocky so that added to his appeal.
“Hi, Clara!” Sarah called as she passed.
“Who’s this?” she said and walked backwards beside us to eye him appreciatively.
“This is Eli. He’s new.”
“Oooh. New meat. I’m Sarah. I’m single by choice, a Pisces, and I’m on the spirit squad with Clara. I’m also free this Saturday.”
Eli chuckled and it had the same effect on Sarah as it had on me yesterday. She looked about to jump him right there in the hall, so I saved her some embarrassment.
“Sarah, we’re late. You can ogle him at lunch, ok?”
“Ok. Bye, babe! Bye, Eli,” she sang his name and flounced away.
“She eats lunch with you?”
“Afraid so. You may as well get used to it now. We hardly ever get new kids at our school and the girls I hang out with are...forward when it comes to guys. You can back out now and I wouldn’t blame you.”
“No. No, I like a challenge.” I looked at him sideways to see him smiling in his profile. “So the spirit squad? I didn’t peg you as a cheerleader.”
“You pegged right. I’m not,” I laughed. “Spirit squad decorates for games and sells tickets and ribbons and stuff. We try to pep people up for events.”
“I see. Sounds interesting. And cheerleaders can’t do this?”
“Not when they’re too busy
busy in the bathroom before the games.”
He laughed and I looked at him with a smile. He was so different somehow.
While gazing at him I forgot to watch where I was going and plowed right into a freshman, but he may as well have been Andre’ the Giant. He was huge and the fact that I was a girl apparently had no effect on him.
“Watch it,” he growled.
“Why don’t you just take your,” he slapped my butt hard, “pretty little pampered spirit squad butt back to where you belong and get out of my way.”
“Whoa, pal,” Eli said and pulled me behind him. I was surprised by it but grateful. “Don’t talk to her like that and don’t
touch her again.”
By this point there was an eager crowd with the word fight dancing in their eyes.
“Who are you, Pippy?” Everyone laughed and snickered. “If I were you I’d watch it. You’re not making a very good first impression at this school. First, you’re hanging out with spoiled ice queen over here, and now you’re messing with me. I’d just go around me and pretend you never got in my way if I were you.”
“Sure. I’ll do that after you apologize,” Eli said calmly.
“I don’t apologize to brats who get everything they want. She should apologize for bumping me.”
“I did,” I mumbled at the same time that Eli said, “She did.”
“Get to class!” Mr. Brank called from his classroom and everyone scattered. “Now.”
“Later, Pippy,” the big freshman jerk called. “Later, spoiled brat.”
We started to walk and heard the bell. We were still a couple hallways away from class and I saw no point in rushing now.
“Thank you,” I said after some time. “I have no idea who he was but he apparently knows me.”
“I don’t think he does if he thinks you’re a pampered spoiled brat.”
“You don’t know me,” I said but thought it sounded defensive so I added jokingly, “I could be a horrible drama queen who stomps freshman under my leather stiletto boots.”
“I highly doubt that,” he rebutted and looked at my feet, then dragged his gaze back up to my eyes. “Besides, I don’t see any stilettos.”
I realized we’d stopped in the hall and were now just standing there, looking at each other.
“Thanks. Really. You didn’t have to do that. Now you’ve already made an enemy and it’s the first day.”
“Yeah, but I made a friend too.”
Gosh, his eyes were so breathtaking. It made me feel like I had Jell-O knees looking at him. His face changed and he cocked his head a little before opening his mouth slightly. He looked surprised this time though. He had that same look before, last night, when Tate and I had been fighting; like he was in ecstasy.
“What is it?” I asked.
He shook his head and smiled sheepishly at me.
“Sorry. You’re just...um. We better get to class.”
“Yeah,” I said nodding.
We walked into Menendez’s class well after the bell, everyone turning to look and see the new guy. I saw a couple people I sat with at lunch in this class too and dreaded the conversation I knew would take place later as we took the only two seats left; the two sitting right next to each other in the back.
o, I was just sitting there, minding my own business, when he comes up and asks for my notes from the day before, right in front of everyone. Number one, like I take notes, and number two, like I’d give them to that nerd just because he missed a day for his allergies,” sneered Megan, flipping her white, straight as a board blonde hair, making everyone laugh.
Everyone but me and Eli, I noticed.
We’d all piled in as we always did and sat together. Eli had found his way to our lunch table not long after that. He sat across from me and Tate and I introduced him to everyone and the girls swooned appropriately.
Then more stories of their precious existence encounters with the commoners of our high school droned on. Mike tripped a guy and he almost spilled his chili and everyone laughed. Tommy told us how he lifted some band girl’s skirt before gym and she’d cried and ran to the office.
As much as I liked my friends, they could be awfully shallow and cruel. Usually Tate wasn’t involved in that stuff. He was a nice guy who would talk to anyone but he laughed right along with everyone else on most things.
When it seemed everyone was done with their stories, they started asking Eli questions about where he was from and Megan asked if he was attached to anyone. He answered their questions smoothly and even threw in a joke here and there. He seemed to pass their exam.
Then I saw it; the look and the cold smile directed at me that I’d been waiting all lunch period for from Deidre.
“So, Clara. Why were you and Eli late to Menendez this morning? You both came in way after the bell rang.”
I felt Tate tense beside me. Deidre was jealous. She apparently had a crush on Tate forever and decided to tell me this after I’d already been going out with him for weeks. Then she expected me to dump him because of it, just like that. I explained to her she should have said something before. She was still pissed, hence the foul behavior from her. She was pretty - really pretty. She tanned every week and had a bright glow to her that matched her more strawberry than blonde hair perfectly. But it didn’t match her demeanor.
“We were late because Eli saved me,” I told everyone.
“What?” she sneered in unbelief.
“What?” Tate bellowed, his jealously gone. “Saved you from what?”
“Some big freshman guy slapped me on the behind in the hall when I accidentally bumped him,” I explained. “Eli put him in his place.”
? What are you? Two?” Deidre sneered but everyone ignored her.