Authors: Danielle Pearl
by Danielle Pearl
Copyright 2014 Danielle
Pearl Smashwords Edition
Copyright 2014 by Danielle
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This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places and incidents are the product of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance
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This one is for all of the incredible
readers and bloggers who took a chance on an indie author. I love
sit in my usual desk in the second row of Mr. Frank's
calculus class, already bored out of my mind not ten minutes into
it. Frank goes over formulas I mastered months ago, thank to Bits
and her home-tutors. I scowl down at the homework I actually had to
take the time to do last night, no less annoyed that Frank is going
to screw with my GPA if I don't make up last semester's "laziness"
by volunteering as a student-tutor. It's total bullshit. I know the
course work, and score nearly perfectly on every test. He's on a
goddamned power trip.
I raise my hand and he rolls his eyes.
"Bathroom," I tell him, though really I'm
just looking for an excuse to kill ten or so minutes of this boring
as hell subject.
Mr. Frank scribbles his signature on a pass
and tears it from the pad without ever pausing his lecture or
looking away from the rest of the class.
I jump out of my seat, grab it, and head out
But there's someone in the
usually empty hall. A girl. A girl crying against the
I try to recognize her, but I don't. I let
my gaze skate over her, trying to place her as a freshman or
sophomore, but my eyes get stuck on her tight little ass.
I would have remembered that ass.
I mentally shake off my distraction - the
girl is fucking crying and I'm checking out her ass. Part of me
wants to just wants to continue on my way to nowhere - I don't know
this girl, after all - but something has changed in me since Bits
had her incident, and I can't just walk away.
"Uh, are you okay?" I ask her. I realize she
probably reminds me of Bits, back when she was still down all the
time, and that's probably why I feel compelled to help her in some
She nods vaguely against the lockers, not
even turning in my direction.
. I don't usually have trouble getting
a girl to look at me. But her little nod isn't convincing, and I'm
pretty sure she's just trying to get rid of me. It makes me even
more determined to help.
"You don't look okay. Can I get you
something? Or someone? The nurse maybe?" I offer.
I watch as she takes a deep breath, musters
what is obviously false confidence, and turns toward me.
"I'm really fine, I just needed a minute,"
she tells me, squaring her shoulders and stretching her lips into
the fakest smile I've ever seen. And I've known Chelsea Printze
But despite the falseness of her smile, I
find myself riveted by her lips. Full, pink, and not an drop of
gloss or color on them. I feel a pull in my belly, and I recognize
it immediately as attraction. I realize then that she hadn't been
crying at all. She's practically gasping for breath, but her eyes
are dry - she just seems really, really overwhelmed. Like she's
about to panic or something.
I watch her in consternation. She is an
enigma - overcome by something that has a sharp hold on her breath,
but forcing a gripping strength despite herself.
She trembles as she
finally takes a good look at me, but when she meets my eyes,
there's a strange calm. And it doesn't just calm
, no, it also does
She is absolutely beautiful. Big, round,
brown eyes. Long lashes, and not those fake ones all of the other
girls wear these days. I'm pretty sure she isn't wearing an ounce
of makeup. She's flushed with what I'm now pretty sure is
She looks down to get something from her
backpack, and her trembling gets worse. Something falls onto the
floor and I automatically bend to retrieve it. It's a prescription
pill bottle, and even though I'm aware of what an invasion of
privacy it is, I can't help reading the label.
Aurora Pine, Alprazolam
I frown. I don't recognize the name of the
medication, but I do recognize the family. The generic drug name
closely enough resembles my mother's diazepam, which she used to
take supposedly for anxiety, but really just to help her sleep. It
confirms my assumption that she's in the midst of what could very
well be a panic attack, and I hand her the bottle.
She opens it and heads for the water
fountain down the hall. I follow her, watching as she pops a pill,
takes a drink, and then leans back against the wall and closes her
I watch her, captivated, as her breathing
slowly calms and regulates, and her trembling subsides.
It's a strange thought to
have, considering the circumstances, but it's all I can think
nonetheless. I shake my head, admonishing myself for the earlier
thought that she reminded me of Bits. She's nothing like my sister.
This girl, this
, is something else.
Here I am, trying to help, and she doesn't
need a bit of it. Held down by panic or not, she can take care of
herself, and I feel kind of useless. But I can't bring myself to
retreat. I'm beyond intrigued by this strange, gorgeous, tough-girl
I found in the hallway, and there's nothing I'm more interested in
right now, certainly not calculus.
"Better?" I ask when she seems in control of
Her eyes shoot open and she glares at me, as
if she hadn't realized I'd followed her - as if maybe she would
have preferred if I'd just gone away. It stings, and I'm not sure
why. I don't even know her, and even if I did, since when do I care
if some random girl wants me around or not? Honestly, I usually
prefer it this way.
But it doesn't daunt me. If anything, it
makes me more determined to figure this girl out.
"Fine. Like I said," she
replies, not bothering to hide her annoyance. It's almost amusing -
that this girl I'd intended to help not only doesn't need it, but
is staring at me with a look that says
For a moment I consider
that maybe I should just back off - the girl nearly had a panic
attack barely minutes ago, after all. But something tells me that
when she isn't. That this girl can handle anything.
"Why don't I know you, Aurora?" I ask. I
sure as hell would have remembered seeing this girl around. There
isn't a more attractive girl in the whole damned school. It's not
just her tight little body - that sweet round ass, tiny waist, and
long, slim legs. But that heart-shaped face - it's like I can't
look away. Those lips and eyes, small, upturned nose, it's all just
set perfectly - like the face of an angel.
The face of an angel?
I laugh inwardly, completely unable to
recognize myself in my own thoughts.
"Rory," she murmurs softly.
. It fits her well.
is a beautiful name, unique, like her, but
just makes more
"Wait... how do you know my name?" A hint of
fear has crept back into her tone, and I hate it. I don't want her
to fear me.
"It was on your..." I don't want to
embarrass her by reminding her that I read the label of her
medication, but I want to put her at ease even more. "Um...
She looks down in shame, and I hate that,
too. Fear and shame, two things this girl should never have to
feel, especially not from me.
"So why don't I know
"I'm new," she breathes.
I'd figured as much - it's the only
reasonable explanation. It must suck to have to start a new school
in the middle of what must be her senior year, considering she was
hyperventilating outside of my calculus class and this hallway only
has senior classrooms.
"I see. Well, welcome to Port Wood. I'm Sam.
Sam Caplan." I inwardly cringe at how dorky I sound, how formal. I
may as well pin a "welcoming committee" badge to my shirt and offer
to be her student buddy or something.
"Nice to meet you." But her voice is still
barely a whisper, and she won't even look at me, and I worry that
maybe she's still not feeling very well.
"So, can I, like, walk you to the nurse or
something?" I offer, and her gaze snaps to mine, defensive and
"No. Like I said, I'm
fine. I just need to get to class." She turns away and I grin to
indeed. I make a mental note that the next time Rory seems scared
or ashamed, there's one sure-fire way to morph her right back into
the tough-girl who can take care of herself - offer her
Suddenly my best friend, Tucker Green, comes
flying down the hall, even later than usual, which he announces
crudely. I notice Rory's reaction to him, though, and it unsettles
me. She backs up toward the wall, hunching over subtly, as if she's
trying to make herself as small as possible.
Tucker notices her - how
could he not - and he stops in front of us. "Well,
I see him rake her from head to toe with
interest. I feel an irrational pang of jealousy. I don't even know
this girl, and anyway, Tucker is all about Carl these days, whether
he'll admit it or not. But Rory huddles even smaller, and wraps her
arms around herself. My instincts tell me to protect her, even from
a danger that doesn't exist, and they push me in front of her,
guarding her from my best friend for absolutely no reason at all.
But she's nervous and I want her to feel safe, even as I question
why I'm so deeply concerned for a virtual stranger. Tuck obviously
doesn't get it either, and he looks at me all confused.
"Sorry, Tuck, we're late too, gotta get to
class," I tell him, and then before I realize what I'm doing, I
take Rory's hand and start leading her away.
"Uh, okay. Catch you later, I guess," Tuck
says as he continues back toward his economics class.
Rory yanks her hand back as soon as we're
clear of Tuck, and I realize that I may have overstepped. Shit.
"Sorry," I murmur.
"He's harmless. Tuck. Tucker," I tell her.
"He's just a flirt." I don't want her afraid of me or my best
friend, though I don't especially want Tucker anywhere close to her
"Whatever. It's fine. I'm-"
"You're fine. I got it." I don't mean to
interrupt her, but I don't want to hear her tell me she's fine
again, to remind me that she doesn't need my help - that I'm
useless to her.
But she looks up at me, and I almost think
she looks a bit guilty.
"I'm sorry," she murmurs,
"Whatever, it's cool." I try to lighten the
mood. "You in my class? Calc?" I gesture to the door.
"Cool, let's go."
"Didn't you... weren't you headed
somewhere?" she asks.
I laugh. She must think
I'm insane for rerouting from my destination and following her
around like a loyal puppy dog. "Nah. I just get bored in calculus
sometimes and ask for a bathroom pass," I admit with a shrug, and
then before I can let her distract me any more, I open the door and
gesture for her to go ahead of me.