Authors: C. L. Stone
Tags: #spy romance, #Young Adult, #love, #menage, #young adult contemporary romance, #multiple hero romance, #young adult high school romance, #reverse harem romance, #contemporary romance
North raked his fingers through his hair. He found my hand, picked it up and brought it to his lips. “Do you still like me?” he asked against my palm.
“Yes,” I said, without hesitation. “Do you still like me?”
North let a breath out slowly against my palm. He released my hand to hold on to my waist. He bent over me, until his face hovered over mine.
I closed my eyes as the overwhelming feeling that he was about to kiss me surged through me. I was sure of it now. He’d bitten my neck. He liked me. He was going to show me with a kiss. My first real kiss would be with him and my heart raced, dazed with new sensations.
North’s nose brushed against mine as he dipped in close, but he stopped. At first, I thought maybe he was drawing it out. Part of me was wondering how to kiss and I was preoccupied with how to position my lips.
His face turned away. He captured my chin in his fingers, tilting my face to expose my neck. His lips kissed at the skin just under my jaw and he claimed my skin with a bite.
The Ghost Bird Series
Push and Shove
Written by C. L. Stone
opyright © 2014 C. L. Stone
Published by Arcato Publishing
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
From The Academy
The Ghost Bird Series
Friends vs. Family
Forgiveness and Permission
A Drop of Doubt
Push and Shove
House of Korba (coming Fall 2014)
The Scarab Beetle Series
Liar (coming Fall 2014)
Other Books by C. L. Stone
he fight started with a shout further down the hallway. The words were slurred and the dialect was too different for me to understand, since this was South Carolina, and I was from Illinois. The shout was angry and threatening, which was enough for me to understand something was terribly wrong.
Victor must have understood what was said, because instead of continuing to the staircase, he turned, scanning the crowd with his fire eyes lit up to a brilliant roar, aware and focused. I followed his gaze to a thicker part of the crowd that had stopped.
Two boys punched each other. One of them had very red skin, like he had a terrible sunburn. I didn’t know their names, but recognized both of them. They hung out together in the courtyard. I had thought they were close friends. Now the red kid swung a fist at his friend’s face, and the other retaliated by slamming his book bag at him, full force.
“Victor?” I asked, though my voice had disappeared amid the noise of the crowd.
Victor squeezed my hand. He had a lean figure, slim in the hips. His brown wavy hair was swept back in a stylish way that suited him: an almost-famous pianist and local celebrity. His arching eyebrows capped his brown eyes, lit up with a fire from within and warming when he gazed at me. “Go to gym class, Sang,” he said.
“Don’t get into a fight,” I said.
“I’m just going to watch unless someone gets too hurt.” He leaned in and kissed my cheek quickly before anyone noticed. My heart warmed a little. “Let me do my job. Don’t stop until you get to class.”
I nodded, wanting to stay with him, but knowing my interfering could make things worse. I distracted them enough from their Ashley Waters job, part of which meant school security. The fighting boys didn’t seem to be interested in anyone else, but I was glad Victor was going to watch over it. Victor was going to time to see when teachers and administrators reacted to this fight, monitor who started it, and turn in a report to Mr. Blackbourne.
I left Victor to the fight, knowing he had his cell phone and could call in assistance if he needed it. I crossed my fingers he didn’t need to.
Cell phones had become a problem for us lately. The boys had gotten a security update that they included me in on. We were to avoid using them if possible, and absolutely no Academy business, in code or otherwise, was to be conducted by phone. We had to appear as normal as possible. Normal was uninteresting to anyone who might be listening in.
I weaved my way around gawking students and headed down the stairs. I tried to move quickly and not be noticed. I was having a hard time being invisible and not getting noticed lately. I didn’t think I was anything out of the ordinary. My hair had a slight wave, was dirty blond, a color that Gabriel often said was chameleon-like, as it changed depending on the lighting. I was a little short, which made things easier dodging around students. I did my best not to attract attention.
My fingers hovered over the phone planted in my bra. Touching the cell phone made me feel like I wasn’t too far away from any of the boys. I waited for a chance to get through a narrow point in the hallway.
A bony shoulder jabbed hard against mine, striking with enough force to knock me back. Unbalanced, I fell, landing in an ungraceful mess on the tile. My book bag slid off my shoulders, and the skirt I was wearing skidded up high on my hips.
“Oh,” a female voice said. I glanced up, spotting a familiar pair of disapproving eyes and dark hair. “It’s you.” Her tone implying that she had been fully aware who she’d bumped into.
“Jade.” Jay materialized next to her. He had a shaved head and a hulking figure. I remembered him being on the football team. He frowned at her. “Don’t be such an ass. It’s ugly.”
“Excuse me,” Jade snapped at him. She glared, nearly baring her teeth. “I was trying to get to class. She stepped in my way.”
“She’s Rocky’s girl.” Jay stooped, and without asking, he took my arm. His eyes were cold with distrust, but something lingered behind them. Respect? Loyalty? Responsibility?
I let him pull me to my feet. My cheeks were on fire. I wanted to correct him about being with Rocky. I hadn’t seen either of them in a while. Rocky was handsome, but he was assertive and, to me, too assuming. And the last time I’d seen him, he’d had Jade in his lap. I thought
Still, Jay was being nice, so I didn’t want to contradict him. “Thank you,” I said softly.
Jay’s head tilted, quietly studying my face as if trying to determine if I was being sincere or not.
“She’s not Rocky’s girl,” Jade uttered with coolness. “She’s with Silas. Or that muscular guy with the red hair. Or that punk kid with the gay earrings.” She raked her fingernails through her hair, as if trying to make sure it wasn’t out of place. “Honestly, I can’t keep up with which one of those courtyard retards she’s dating.”
“Two of which are on the team,” Jay said. He turned to her. “You’re a cheerleader. So stop talking shit about the team.”
Jade’s eyes flashed at his face. If I ever thought someone could throw daggers with a look, she could do it. She squared her shoulders at me. “Just so you know, the football team’s Friday night party is at my house. I want to keep it a small party. Cheerleaders and football players only. No friends or girlfriends.” Her thick, ruby lips parted into a cold smile. “No offense.”
I blinked at her, unsure of what she expected me to say. “Okay,” I said softly again. I broke my gaze with her, trying to appear unconcerned about the obvious rejection to something I hadn’t even known about.
Only, I realized her decision meant North and Silas would be there alone. And North and Silas didn’t know my suspicions about Jade and how she might have spiked my water at the last party, the one North ended up drinking and had reacted so badly from.
“It’s my house, too,” Jay said.
“And it’s my party this weekend,” Jade snapped back. “My party, my rules. I only support the team, not their bitches.”
Jade and Jay moved on up the stairs. They were siblings? I didn’t catch the family resemblance. Jay wasn’t exactly the warmest person I’d ever met, but Jade was most certainly one of the coldest. I couldn’t believe they were related.
The bell rang, and I started jogging to get to the locker room. The lucky thing about having gym class was if I happened to be a few minutes late, no one noticed as long as I was dressed and ready when class started.
“There you are,” Karen said. She sat on a bench between the lockers and was tying on her tennis shoes. Her brown pixie hair was a little messed up in the front. Karen’s eyes swept over me once. “You okay? Your skirt’s all messed up. Or is it a new fashion I don’t know about?”
“There was...” I paused, still feeling rattled about Jade. I blushed. I didn’t often attract attention and I wasn’t sure what to do about Jade. I never talked to her. I didn’t even try to. But she seemed determine to single me out. “Do you know a girl named Jade?” I asked.
Karen’s soft brown eyes widened. “Don’t tell me she’s trying to talk you into joining the squad.”
I shook my head. “No. She doesn’t really like me.”
“She doesn’t like anyone who isn’t a cheerleader. I don’t think she likes most of the cheerleaders, either. And the feeling is pretty much mutual for everyone.”
I took my gym clothes out, and out of a need to use the restroom and to get two things done at once, I dashed to the stalls on the other side of the locker room. When I was finished and returned to my locker to put my clothes away, Karen was still there, dressed and waiting.
“How come you always go into a stall?” Karen asked.
“I don’t always,” I said.
“You do it before and after gym.”
“I had to use the restroom,” I said, though now when I thought about it, perhaps I did use the stalls to change. “It’s a habit.”
Karen shrugged and stood up. She was taller than me, and with her lean, athletic body, I thought she’d join a sports team, but she told me she was too busy for that sort of thing. She nudged at my shoulder. “Let’s go before we’re late.”
At her touch, I clammed up. I don’t know what came over me. I hurried, as though doing as she told so we weren’t tardy. In reality, I just wanted to keep a distance from her for some reason. I wasn’t sure what it was, but I noticed it as the weeks into school progressed. While we did talk, we never became close. I often ran out of things to say and we spent time staring at other students in class and not talking at all. I had a rough time with making friends, but it was better with Karen who was sweet and friendly; this was about as close I’d ever gotten to a friendship with a girl.
I tried to relax with her, but I clammed up every time. I internally sighed, wishing I could get over this shyness. I just needed to stop thinking about it so much.
I followed Karen into the gym and to our spots on the floor to wait with everyone else. The gym at Ashley Waters High School felt surreal with the onslaught of rain tapping at the wide windows. The clouds were so dark; it felt like night even though it was still around two in the afternoon.
I scanned the gym for Nathan and Gabriel. They were sitting and talking while other boys found their designated spots, and waited for instructions from the gym coaches. They wore matching black sport shorts and T-shirts that were the guys’ uniform.
Gabriel’s gym T-shirt looked a little snug against his long, taut body and his angular collarbone stood out against his broad shoulders. The three black rings that aligned along the crest of his right ear contrasted with the red crystal studs, one in each lobe. His angled face turned to me, catching me staring at him. He waved and then ran his fingers through the blond front locks in his chin-length hair, mixing it with the russet brown in the back as if trying to make sure his hair was in place. The tips of his hair were starting to hang below his ears. He didn’t need to fix anything. The punk style seemed perfect for him.