Read The Wrong Path_Smashwords Online

Authors: Vivian Marie Aubin du Paris

The Wrong Path_Smashwords (7 page)

BOOK: The Wrong Path_Smashwords
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“Do you want to watch a movie?” she asked, desperate to keep him around.

He hesitated, glancing at his watch. “I would really like that… But I need to try to keep my mom from worrying about where Will is.” He smiled apologetically. “Another time?”

“Anytime,” she agreed immediately. He grinned and she stood and walked him to the door, her heart lodging in her throat when he leaned down and lightly kissed her cheek. He bid her goodbye as she stood, glued to the spot, until she finally forced herself to shut the door.

As soon as she turned, she saw both her parents standing there with large, beaming smiles. She blushed furiously despite her grin, and her parents laughed out loud as she turned and ran wordlessly up the stairs, embarrassed and thrilled.

Trevor Scarlett had kissed her cheek.

Trevor Scarlett, the boy she had been in love with since childhood, had kissed her cheek.

It was almost too much to believe.

Chapter Five



She wasn’t sure if she was pleased or embarrassed at her sudden status as Trevor’s girlfriend. People she barely knew kept coming up to talk to her as though she were Claire, and other girls kept giving her dirty looks and making snide comments to her. When she was alone, of course—the girls were still afraid of Claire.

“Hey,” Claudia greeted, tapping Annabelle on the shoulder. Annabelle turned back, smiling in relief at the sight of her and Mary. Her friends were here. They would make everything better. “All anyone will talk about today is how uptight Annabelle went crazy with the guys. Is that how you managed to snag Trevor?”

Annabelle flushed, stricken. “No,” she protested weakly.

“Mmm…” Claudia murmured, exchanging a look with Mary. “Careful, Annabelle. You’re going to get a bad reputation if you keep this type of stuff up.”

Horrified, she tried to defend herself, but she was too mortified and the words caught in her throat. Tears sprang to her eyes and she quickly gathered up her books and fled from the classroom, making it out into the empty hall when the bell rang.

She rushed out the back door so her friends wouldn’t see her, hating herself for letting the harsh words get to her. She hurried over to a cluster of trees at the edge of the campus and stepped behind one, shielding herself from the school’s windows. Then she slid to the ground, holding her hands against her face to try and hold back her sobs.

“Rough day?”

Startled, she looked up, and seeing no one, continued her gaze upwards. She jumped to her feet and spun around, gaping up at Will, who lounged on the tree branch above her head with a book in his hands.

“Will?” she asked in disbelief. She looked around, but they were alone. “What are you doing up there?”

“Reading.” His dark eyes studied her. “What happened?”

She swallowed hard. “Nothing. I’m fine. Just needed some air.” Seeing Will reading a book in a tree was so different from her image of him that she felt her mood lift a little, curiosity overtaking her. She leaned forward, trying to peer at the cover of his book. “What are you reading?”

He suddenly grinned, turning so his legs dangled in the air. “Why don’t you come up and find out?” he suggested mischievously.

She took a step back, aghast. “What?” she asked, stunned. “No. I-I can’t.”

He set his palms against the branch, and in a graceful movement was down on the ground in front of her, straightening to his full height. Without her heels, she discovered the height difference between them was even greater than it had been at the party. She only came up to his chin, her eyes level with his chest.

“Come on,” he said, tucking the book into the waistband of his jeans. His eyes danced playfully. “Have you ever climbed a tree?”

“No,” she breathed. She couldn’t climb a tree… She was wearing a skirt. And she would get dirty if she tried. Images of skinned hands and knees filled her mind and she shuddered, shaking her head. “No.”

He rolled his eyes. “Come on,” he insisted. “It’s not like you’re skydiving. It’s easy.”

She tried to protest, but he was already pulling her by her wrist to the other side of the tree. He held her between his body and the tree as he conducted her like a puppet, forcing her hands to grab limb after limb. She struggled, but it was a futile effort. Will was just stronger than she was, and determined.

A sharp stabbing sensation went through her right arm as her grip fell from one of the branches. She sucked in a quick breath of pain, but Will wasn’t going to be deterred, stubbornly forcing her hand back onto the branch. With him climbing up behind her, they were at his previous perch in only a minute or two. Her hand throbbed as she finally sat on the branch, holding it with a frown.

As she sat there, her heart pounding, her palm aching, practically sweating with exertion, she realized she felt oddly triumphant. Despite her protests, she had successfully climbed a tree—something she had never done before. And she had done it in a skirt.

Will dropped onto the branch beside her. There was just barely enough room for the two of them to fit leaning against the tree, and she shifted to make more room for him, resting her left side against his right one. The smell of cologne hung around him, and she couldn’t help but be reminded of the shirt she had washed and folded the night before.

He pulled the book out from his back waistband, holding it out for her to see. “Sinclair Lewis,” she read aloud slowly. “It Can’t Happen Here.” Stunned, she looked up at him. “That’s one of my favorite books.”

He laughed, looking surprised. “Really? You?”

She felt her shock fade to wariness at his tone. “Is that so unbelievable?”

He shrugged, holding the book on his lap. “It just doesn’t seem like the type of thing you would like reading.”

She frowned up at him, confused. “Why?”

He glanced down at her, and she was taken aback by his close proximity. The memory of being in his arms at the party suddenly filled her mind, making her cheeks flush. She had been so sure he had been about to kiss her, but that was crazy—it must have been the drug inducing those thoughts in her mind. She wasn’t even close to Will’s type. Will liked girls like Ebony. And besides that, Will wasn’t her type. She was dating his brother, Trevor!

Flustered, she dropped her gaze to their feet, staring forward, unable to hold his eyes any longer.

He suddenly laughed. She felt her heart fall into her stomach with embarrassment. Had she misread the situation again? Was he making fun of her? Did he think she was a moron who couldn’t read? She had shelves and shelves of books. In fact, she had given away half of her books because she had run out of room on her bookshelves.

“You seem like one of those romance-novel types,” he told her, still smiling.

“There are some I like,” she admitted shyly, then rushed on. “But I like books that make you think, too… Ones you learn from.” She felt his eyes on her and slowly lifted her gaze to his.

His dark eyes held hers so long the air between them grew thick and heavy. She was desperate for him to say something, but he seemed content in the silence… in the strange atmosphere between them.

Finally, unable to take it any longer, she shifted and looked out over their legs, stretched out side-by-side on the branch. “I have your shirt at home,” she said, her voice sounding strangely loud compared to the quiet she had just interrupted. “I washed it for you. I can bring it over after school, if you want. Or you can come pick it up.”

“Why wait until then?” he challenged, a mischievous tone in his voice. She looked up quickly, horrified.

“You mean skip school?” she asked.

He shrugged. “Why not?”

She worked for an answer, but nothing came out. There were so many reasons not to skip she couldn’t put them all into words. “My… my dad is home today. If I go home, he’ll know I skipped. And… I came in with your brother. He’ll be worried if he can’t find me after school.”

Will’s demeanor switched instantly. “Ah. I heard a rumor that you two were dating.” Without warning, he turned and was down on the ground. She gaped at his back, startled. Did he hate his brother so much that just talking about him made him angry? “Since you don’t want to skip school, don’t you think you should get back to class?”

She uttered a protest, looking around wildly for a way down from her perch. She certainly couldn’t jump… She’d probably break her ankle. Or fall on her hands and knees, and her hand already hurt. “Will!” she cried after him desperately, when she saw that he had turned to go.

He turned back, his eyes still dark, but when he saw her dilemma, a small smile graced his features. “Just jump,” he instructed, walking back under the branch.

To her dismay, tears welled up in her eyes. “I can’t,” she argued brokenly. She had never been particularly afraid of heights, but now that she was faced with falling herself, she could understand the phobia.

“Do you want me to come up there and push you off?”

“No!” she exclaimed, terrified. She stared down at the ground, which seemed impossibly far away, and then up at Will. “I’ll break something.”

He sighed. “You’ll be fine. People jump off of buildings and don’t break anything. Now jump.”

“I can’t!”

He held out a hand to her. Slowly, carefully, she reached for it, keeping a fierce grip on the branch with her other hand. She stretched as far as she could, but his hand was still just a few inches too far away. She felt more tears of panic form in her eyes. She was going to get stuck up there, in the tree, and they were going to have to call the fire department to get her down and she’d be the laughing stock of the entire school—

She screamed when something grabbed a hold of her hand, clenching her eyes shut as she was yanked off the branch, her body going into freefall and heading straight down to the ground.

The crash was surprisingly not as painful as she expected. Her knee hurt a little, but other than that, the ground was soft and not at all dirty or unpleasant under her.

It only took a moment for her to realize it was because she wasn’t on the ground.

Her eyes flew open and she looked down at Will, who had her wrapped securely in his arms. He was flat on his back on the hard, unforgiving ground, holding her against his chest. He had caught her and protected her from injury, risking his own safety.

“Will?” she asked fearfully, looking down at him from the shelter of his embrace.

His eyes opened, one after the other as if testing to see if they still worked, and met her gaze. Then he burst out laughing. “You sure know how to fall,” he declared, still laughing. She scrambled up off of him and he sat up, rolling his shoulders. “That was the most ungraceful thing I’ve ever seen.”

She flushed, then scowled at him. “You pulled me out of the tree!” she argued angrily. “You tried to kill me! What if I had fallen on my head?”

“You’d get dirt in your hair and then go home?” he suggested. “Can’t be seen at school with dirt in your hair, you know. Your friends might not talk to you.”

She frowned. “You don’t know my friends,” she argued, though he was right… If she’d gotten dirt in her hair, she would have gone home. Dirt in the hair would have been unforgivable by Claire’s standards.

“I know enough,” he assured her. He stood and brushed himself off, then held out a hand to her to help her to her feet. Hesitantly, she took it, allowing him to pull her up with strong, slender fingers.

She couldn’t resist a smile when she saw a leaf in his silky dark hair. Before she could think twice, she reached up and pulled it out, holding it up with a laugh for him to see.

His eyes studied hers.

She felt her smile die as their eyes held, heat rushing up around her. She couldn’t make herself look away, no matter how hard she tried, but again, she tried to tell herself it was just the adrenaline pumping through her veins.

Sirens in the distance finally broke their stare. She frowned as they got closer, to the school, then looked up at Will, who had tensed. Wordlessly, he headed toward the front of the school, and after a moment of deliberation, she followed him. She couldn’t go to class without a late slip, so she would have to wait until the next period started before she could go in. And until then, she didn’t know where else to go. So she went with Will.

He seemed surprised to see her behind him as he stood behind the bricks jutting out from the school building, giving them a perfect view of the cop cars that had gathered in front of the school. He glanced back at her, then returned his attention to the assembled cop cars.

“What’s going on?” she whispered, leaning past his shoulder to see. She held on to him, afraid that if she didn’t, she would fall off balance and give away their presence. Her heart pounded nervously in her chest. She had never spied on anything before, and certainly not while cutting class. Would they get suspended if they were caught?

Will’s body suddenly jerked forward, and then he was out from behind the bricks, stalking toward the front of the school. Annabelle started to protest, bewildered. For a moment she struggled internally, trying to decide if she should follow or remain hidden. Finally, feeling slightly ashamed of herself, she remained where she was, peering around the bricks to see what Will was doing.

BOOK: The Wrong Path_Smashwords
8.9Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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