Authors: Claire Farrell
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Teen & Young Adult, #Werewolves & Shifters, #Paranormal & Fantasy
“Oh, my God. I am not going to be his bridesmaid. I’d have to be his bridesmaid, Perdy. And
, then they’d throw the bouquet thing, and I wouldn’t catch it, and I’d live alone forever except for al my cats. I’d be a cat lady.” Tammie frowned. “No, wait, I hate cats. I’d be Miss Havisham!”
“You know, the one who sits in her wedding dress forever. I’d buy a dress and wear it al the time, except my house wouldn’t be mouldy.” She went bizarrely far with my scenario, but whatever worked was fine with me. She was way too possessive over Joey without actualy staking a claim, and I knew the only way for her to accept Amelia into our group was if Tammie became too busy trying to catch Joey’s eye.
She stopped hyperventilating long enough to grin at me wickedly. “So, I guess that means you can’t get mad at Dawn, considering you haven’t told Nathan you’re interested in him.”
My frown was so deep I could barely see her. “I never said I was interested in anybody.”
“Oh, please! Don’t even think about denying it, you can’t even say a ful sentence when he’s around. You nearly wet yourself if he smiles at you. You. Are. Smitten.”
“I’l have you know I’ve already said a few sentences to him.” It was pretty much true.
She patted my arm. “Sure you did. You lurve him.”
“I don’t. I just... he’s quite easy on the eye is al.”
She snorted with laughter. “Easy on the eye? Sure, that’s al it is. Don’t get in denial about it; I’ve known you for years, and I’ve never seen you like this before. You can barely look at him without blushing.”
“Oh, so what! He’l say something stupid tomorrow, and I won’t like him anymore. Big deal.” I slumped back in my chair feeling annoyed. I hoped he wouldn’t say anything stupid.
Tammie’s eyes grew wide. “You realy
like him, don’t you?”
I shrugged. I didn’t want to fuel those particular flames, but I couldn’t exactly lie about it either. At least not in a believable way.
“Aw, poor you. It’s going to be hard hanging around with his sister when you like him,” she said.
“No bother. I’l be over it in a few days.”
“What, like me?” she said softly.
I gulped. I saw her point. She had started off with a tiny crush that progressed into a ful on obsession with my cousin. And he wasn’t even good looking. I must have looked stricken because she leaned over and gave me a hug.
“It’l be okay, Perdy. He’s noticed you. It’l be different for you,” she said, but her reassurance didn’t work on me.
“Like I said before, we must be living in two different worlds. Now, when are you going to talk to Joey?” She paled at the thought. “I need something new to wear. And somewhere to go. And someone else to tel him for me.” We giggled together until one of the cleaners cleared their throat and wiped down our table for the fifth or sixth time. We decided it was time to start shopping.
We wandered up Grafton Street, stopping to listen to the occasional busker. At the entrance to Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, a man gave me a leery smile. I might not have noticed him, but his eyes were a strangely yelow shade of amber that attracted my attention. He seemed familiar, but it wasn’t until we passed him by that I remembered he had been standing across from our school the day before. I looked back to check, but I couldn’t see him anymore and assumed I had been mistaken.
We spent the rest of the day trawling the clothes shops and picking up a couple of sale bargains. For once, shopping cheered me up a little. Until I got home.
Gran was waiting for me in the kitchen. “What did you get?” she said, spying my bag. I shoved it at her. She looked at the contents and nodded.
“So, is this where you were during your last couple of classes today?” she asked sternly.
I groaned and sank into a chair across from her.
“Indeed. Your school rang me and asked where you were. I told them you had come home sick with my permission. Do you have a good reason for me to lie for you, or should I cal them straight back with the truth?”
“Ah, Gran, stop. I didn’t ask you to lie. I was having a realy bad day, okay? I was ready to hit someone, so I figured it would be better to step away than end up in trouble for flipping out at school.”
She studied me for a couple of minutes. “That actualy sounds like a good reason to me. The real problem is your father. What’s stopping me from teling him the truth? Nothing. At least, not yet.”
Her eyes took on a mischievous glint, and I knew she was up for making a deal.
“What do you want?” I asked, wary because I knew she would think of something either ridiculous or embarrassing. Probably both.
“I want you to wear your hair down for the rest of the week,” she said with a cheeky grin. “And no navy jumpers either. In fact, no dark clothes at al. I want you to look like a girl for the whole week.”
“Gran!” I protested. “You’re not serious!”
“I’m deadly serious. Unless you want your father to have you homeschooled for going on the hop?” I couldn’t believe my grandmother sometimes. But knowing her, this was my only choice. I hated wearing my hair down, but at least I would be able to sort of hide behind it. The clothes part wouldn’t be too bad, but she reaped some kind of sadistic pleasure from me bringing attention on myself. When she was younger, she worked as a club singer and had long, dark red hair like mine. She always brushed my hair and said it was wasted on me because I didn’t use it to my advantage.
Whatever that meant.
I ran upstairs to hide my shopping bag from my Dad and decided to give Amelia a cal. I was stil afraid she was mad at me.
“Hey, Amelia, it’s Perdy.”
“Um... you didn’t text me back earlier.”
“Yeah, sorry, I didn’t have credit. Did you get anything nice?” She sounded chirpy enough.
“You’re not angry at me?”
“Why would I be angry?” She laughed down the phone, it was a complete relief.
“Oh. Wel, ‘cos I kind of got pissy with your brother when he picked up for Dawn before, and then I went off with Tammie even though I wasn’t realy talking to her.
My head was just melted, I needed to get out of there before I threw something at Dawn.”
“Hold on, he picked up for Dawn? What, like, against you?”
“Yeah, wel, sort of. It was no big deal, but I
snap at him, and I figured he told you, and you weren’t impressed with me. I don’t want to fal out....”
“No, of course not! And Tammie’s your friend, I’d hardly expect you to avoid her over one comment. Like you said, she just didn’t think.”
avoiding her, until we had a row, and then the whole class seemed to get involved. Anyway, not the point. The thing is, there was a reason she was mean to you. I’m not saying that’s an excuse, but she wanted to hurt you because she thought Joey liked you. She’s always liked him, but she’s too afraid to make the first move. We had a bit of a chat about it, it won’t happen again.” I hoped.
“Oh.” Amelia was silent for a moment. “Oh, wel, that makes a lot of sense. Maybe we can nudge him in the right direction then!” We chatted for a little while longer about how we could get Tammie and Joey together before we finaly hung up. I was delighted she was stil talking to me, and even better, she wasn’t holding a grudge against Tammie. I was glad to have her as a friend. The fact her brother was hot didn’t exactly hurt either.
Tammie and I were both feeling nervous about sitting in front of Amelia and Nathan the next morning for similar reasons. They sat opposite us, an awkward atmosphere immediately filing the air. I tried to look as apologetic as I could, but I was too freaked about having my hair down to concentrate on doing a good job.
Gran had insisted upon me holding up my end of our stupid deal. Tammie opened her mouth to start saying sorry to Amelia, but I had to interrupt.
“I’m sorry, just everyone hold that thought for a sec. Amelia, do you have a lend of a hair band or clip, or something I can put my hair up with? Please say you do, Tammie’s refusing to help me.”
“Don’t give her anything!” Tammie shouted. “Sorry.” She lowered her voice. “But just don’t do it!”
“What on earth is going on?” Amelia said.
“My Gran found out about us ditching yesterday, and in exchange for not ratting me out to my Dad, she’s made a deal with me. Her silence, if I wear my hair down for the rest of the week. I know. She’s insane. She even checked my bag and pockets this morning and confiscated everything I was sneaking into school.” I was nearly in tears by the end.
Amelia glanced at Nathan and burst into laughter. “I can’t wait to meet your Gran. How cool is she?”
. Insane is the word to describe her. So can you help me out?”
She shook her head. “Even if I wanted to, which I don’t by the way, I don’t have anything with me. Sorry!”
“Are you done? Can I say my bit now? Is that okay with you?” Tammie asked me snottily. I nodded, feeling a little bit desperate with the need to plait my hair back.
Tammie launched into a long spiel of an apology that Amelia took gracefuly. They did al the girly squealing that went along with making friends again. They were so intent on their conversation it felt like Nathan, and I were alone together.
He leaned forward just as I opened my mouth to try and apologise to him. “Oh, wait,” I said. “I just need to say something realy quick before you go.” He sat there quietly while I spoke. “I have to say sorry about yesterday. I was in bad form al round and snapped at everyone within viewing distance. I was a total bitch and took it out on you too so, sorry.” I took a deep breath and winced, not sure if he’d tel me to get lost or not.
He shook his head, putting his hand on my knee in a completely absent-minded way. “No, I was about to say sorry to you,” he insisted. I tried to ignore his hand and leaned forward to focus on his words.
“My sister told me you thought I was taking Dawn’s side or something, but I wasn’t, I swear. I was just trying to calm everyone down. Obviously laughing in the middle of it wasn’t the best move, but you looked so cute when you were al outraged at me that I couldn’t help it.” I grinned at him, and he tugged on my loose hair a little. “Obviously I think you’re cuter when you’re not thinking about physicaly harming me.” I tried not to laugh at that but failed miserably.
He leaned a little closer and lowered his voice to a whisper. “By the way, you shouldn’t worry about your hair. It suits you like that.” I imagined myself melting into my seat because that’s literaly how I felt. He glanced at my mouth, and I caught my breath, convinced he was about to kiss me right there on the bus.
“Oh, get a room already!” Tammie said with a snort, abruptly ruining the moment. We both puled backward automaticaly. He looked at his hand on my knee with the kind of horror that could have been explained had his hand been unexpectedly amputated. He didn’t even bother with a mumbled excuse, he just hurried down to the back of the bus.
Tammie raised her eyebrows at me, but al I could do was glare back at her. Amelia, on the other hand, was grinning broadly. I hid behind my hair and concentrated on ignoring them both. Although I was glad they were getting on, I wasn’t exactly having a great morning. First the hair thing. Super annoying when your hair is long and thick and completely inconvenient. Then Nathan. I mean, did he realy have to look so traumatised when he noticed his hand was on my knee?
I spent most of the day having my hair puled. It wasn’t as sweet when Nathan wasn’t the one doing it. In fact, it was extremely irritating. Dawn always wore her hair down, and I had never seen anyone pul her hair over it. They were just picking on me because I’m not scary. Or maybe they wanted to see me lose the rag again.
Either way, I didn’t win. Dawn made many, many scathing remarks throughout the day. I made a mental note to throw something at her the very next time she said the word ginger.
At lunch time, Joey took one look at me before remarking, “What the hel happened to your hair?”
look?” Tammie said, out of the blue. I had to bite the inside of my cheek to stop myself from laughing at the surprised expression on Joey’s face. He peered at Tammie as if it was the first time he had ever seen her.
“You always look nice,” he replied, quite sensibly. He was nowhere near as charming as Nathan, but he managed to put a smile on Tammie’s face.
“Get a room,” Amelia whispered cheekily, but Joey didn’t hear her. Tammie blushed but stil seemed pretty pleased with herself.
Nathan sat next to Amelia for a few minutes before lunch ended. She introduced Joey as my cousin.
“Cousin?” Nathan said, looking at me for confirmation, so I nodded.
“See? I told you.” Amelia sounded triumphant.
I must have looked as confused as I felt because Amelia decided to carry on with an explanation.
“Oh, Nathan thought Joey was your boyfriend,” she said, beaming at me. Nathan made a choking sound. “But I thought he was Tammie’s,” she added quickly. This time, Tammie looked physicaly sick.
“Realy?” Joey said. He didn’t seem unhappy with that notion. In fact, it was as though the idea had occurred to him for the very first time if the way he looked at Tammie was anything to go by. Nathan, on the other hand, was already on his feet and edging away from us, his face a little pink.
“What on earth is his deal?” I said, when he sat down at his usual table.
“Ask him,” Amelia piped up.
I was about to answer her when somebody puled my hair yet again. I spun around in my seat to see Aaron Hannigan grin at me as he passed by our table.
“Is there a ful moon or something? The school’s gone mad this week.”
“Aw, it’s not so bad,” Tammie said. “At least things are halfway to interesting. You’re always complaining how boring everything is. Quit moaning, and enjoy.”
“Easy for you to say,” I said under my breath. I couldn’t figure Nathan out, and it bothered me more than I liked to admit. One minute he was overly familiar with me, the next he was running off. Al the damn time. His mood swings were making me dizzy. He was so unpredictable that I was permanently on edge, waiting for something to happen already.