Authors: T.S. Harvey
T S Harvey
The right of
T S Harvey
to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by the author in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
The story contained within this book is a work of fiction. Names and characters are the product of the author’s imagination and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the written permission of the author.
Winter of Discontent
T S Harvey
The desire to succeed can come from many quarters, mine comes from only one: Family
For my Grandchildren: you are my greatest pride and my greatest joy
With special thanks to ‘my girls’
I couldn’t have done it without you
Chapter 1 – The Geek
Chapter 2 – The New Girl
Chapter 3 – Nurture over Nature
Chapter 4 – The Photograph
Chapter 5 – What an Idiot!
Chapter 6 – Second Chances
Chapter 7 – Mirror, Signal, Manoeuvre
Chapter 8 – Starting Over
Chapter 9 – Slip of the Tongue
Chapter 10 – The Truth
Chapter 11 – Hope
Chapter 12 – Explanations
Chapter 13 – The Wall
Chapter 14 – The Climb
Chapter 15 – Karma
Chapter 16 – The Family
Chapter 17 – Ghosting
Chapter 18 – Misunderstandings
Chapter 19 – The Meeting
Chapter 20 – Who is That?
Chapter 21 – The Visitors
Chapter 22 – Revenge
Chapter 23 – Resolution
Chapter 24 – The New Year’s Kiss
Chapter 25 – The Second Mistake
Chapter 26 – Time and Space
Chapter 27 – Pure Class
Chapter 28 – Temptation
Chapter 29 – Truth or Dare
Chapter 30 – All New
Chapter 31 – Reunion
Chapter 32 – Thank You
Chapter 33 – Thinking Laterally
Chapter 34 – The Italians
Chapter 35 – Taking Care of Business
Chapter 36 – The Stranger
Chapter 37 – The Betrayal
I never really thought I was different.
I liked going to the movies, bowling, picnics, I wasn’t much into Xbox or computer games and I definitely wasn’t into the whole Candy Saga thingy. I liked sports, pizza, and Sam Worthington, though not necessarily in that order! I quite liked school although I hated the first day of school, and I’d had a lot of those in my sixteen years, which brings me round to why I wanted to stay with Aunt Suze. I had exams coming up; I needed some stability in my education. I was also hoping I’d have a settled home life, some female company, and the chance to make some friends that I wouldn’t have to say goodbye to in six months’ time.
Dad’s job in the Army had meant we were forever dragging our bags around Europe and I hoped that the move to Texas would be permanent; permanent and normal. Although just how normal wasn’t clear. Suzanne Du Bois, my aunt, was great. She was nothing like Dad; he was regimented whereas she was really easy going. She was a lot of fun and she had a laugh that lit up the room.
The move back to the States was gonna be a good thing for me. As I unpacked my things, hung up my clothes, and set my photos out on the dresser in the smallest of the three bedrooms at Aunt Suze’s, I felt strangely comfortable. I’d had many bedrooms in my life so far but this one felt unlike any of them. This one felt like home.
I always knew I was different!
Chapter One – The Geek
It was part way through the Fall semester and Carterbrook High was bustling with life. The all too familiar groups of friends were littered haphazardly around the school grounds. The talk was likely to be of sports, boyfriends, social media, and parents that don’t understand them all of which merged to make one loud bustle.
As I walked quietly and alone towards the secretary’s office I couldn’t help feeling downhearted. I’d hoped that today would feel different from the many other first days that I’d had, I’d hoped I would feel different, that I would have a sense of belonging but I didn’t.
Just to the left of the reception was a group of girls, you’d know who they were if you saw them, every school has them – the popular girls! By the way she was holding court you could tell who was in charge. Blonde, of course, and gorgeous, why are they always blonde and gorgeous? I wasn’t an unattractive girl, that much I knew but I wasn’t a ‘popular girl’. I got on well with people in the main and I could hold my own in most conversations but my confidence wasn’t as assured as I would have liked. I guess the unsettled nature of my upbringing might have had something to do with it, maybe I’d feel better in a few days.
As I walked past the girls and into the hallway towards the Secretary’s office I couldn’t help but smile. ‘Join The Army’ was the sign hanging on the wall that greeted me. Not likely; I’ve had enough of travelling to last me, I thought, wryly.
Once I’d registered and got my timetable sorted I made my way over to the Math class. I hated Math. If there was dyslexia with numbers then I had it. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t stupid; I just didn’t like the subject. I was more sporty than academic; just another reason why I needed to settle down, to ‘knuckle down’, as a girl I met in England had once said.
Mr Cartwright smiled broadly as I entered the classroom, ‘Miss Trent, I presume?’
To my shame, I just nodded rather sheepishly. This bit wasn’t great. The whole class turns to look at you, to judge you in the first thirty seconds, and dismiss you in the next five.
‘There’s a seat free next to Kacey,’ he said, pointing towards a face I recognized. It was the gorgeous blonde! Her shoulders shrugged as she forced a smile, the look she gave the girl on the desk to her right spoke volumes. This was quite possibly the worst start to a school day ever.
I didn’t smile at her as I took my seat; I doubted she would smile back and quite frankly I could do without the rejection. Instead I sat as far over on my chair as I could to avoid catching elbows as we opened our books. As it turned out, I’d actually sat a little too far over to the side and the edge of the hard wooden seat started to press into my butt cheek. It was damned uncomfortable!
After about thirty minutes of this, I tried to move inconspicuously onto more of the seat. However fate was determined to make this impossible and the chair dragged slightly across the floor as I moved, making a sound just about as close to farting as you can get. The class sniggered noisily and Mr Cartwright had to bring them to order. I’m sure he’d heard too but he said nothing to me. In some ways I wish he had. Being to blame for being told off by the teacher was not going to endear me to my classmates. I coloured up furiously and just prayed that the bell for recess would go soon, but of course it didn’t.
Three quarters of an hour later class was over and the inevitable scuffle for the canteen started. I held back, hoping that somehow I would just melt into the background; but even that was not to be.
‘So, what’s it like to fart in front of the whole class on your first day?’ grinned Kacey.
I stood there for a moment wondering whether to just smack her in the mouth, knock the smile off her face, but I didn’t. There was something about the way she smiled that wasn’t entirely vicious, not quite the bitch I’d first thought she was.
‘Yeah well, it was always my favourite ice breaker’ I said grinning back just as broadly.
‘Come on then, Trump, sorry, Trent; let’s show you to the canteen.’
The other two girls I’d seen her with earlier that morning, Leanne and Britney, followed us down the hallway laughing and nudging each other like they were little kids. I knew they were laughing at me rather than with me but I said nothing; this was about as quickly as I’d made friends in forever.
Much as it had been at the beginning of the day, entering the school canteen was like overdosing on
. The same groups, same cliques of students huddled together but this time sat at tables rather than leaning against cars, sat on the wall, or the grass. Having chosen what we were eating we made our way over to a table by the window.
To the left were the jocks – you know the type – fit, athletic, toned, spoilt, and not a brain cell between them! Well, that’s not entirely fair, I’m sure they weren’t
Just over from them were the plain Janes. These were the nice girls, well behaved, somewhere between average grades and almost achieving, but all decidedly ordinary.
The table behind us was the ‘different’ girls. Nose rings, Goth make-up, attitude of doom and anarchy, but always hinting at the kind of intelligence that your stereotyping of them wouldn’t allow for.
Three tables in front were the ‘geeky guys’. Thick-rimmed glasses, haircuts that begged to be mocked, painful degrees of acne, not a long pass between them but a clutch of Valedictorians in their future. I lingered over this group a little too long and got a sharp elbow in the rib for my sins.
‘If you’re gonna hang around with us then don’t go looking in that direction,’ snapped Kacey.
‘I wasn’t. I’m sorry,’ I protested.
I was really annoyed at my response. How dare I apologize for myself like that! I hadn’t actually done anything wrong.
‘Well, see you don’t do it again,’ she snarled with half a grin.
I shook my head, kept my mouth shut and just smiled.
When lunch was finished, we had to pass by the geeks on the way out. I couldn’t tell you what it was but I was strangely drawn back to them again. There was one geek in particular. I couldn’t see how tall he was as he was still seated but he had broad shoulders, and he stood out from the others. His skin was clear and although he was wearing glasses he wore them well. I couldn’t help but smile at him as we went past. I can’t believe how gutted, how offended I felt when he didn’t smile back. There was no point making an issue though, as Kacey had made it quite clear I shouldn’t be bothering with them. I did want to say something but in the end I just shrugged my shoulders as if to say ‘please yourself’ and walked off with the girls to our next class.
Kacey sat next to Britney in Art Appreciation so I found myself sat alone toward the back of the room. The teacher, Miss Kingston, had just told us to open our books to Page 23 when in walked the geek that had ignored me at lunch.
‘I’ve been transferred to this class,’ he said to the teacher.
‘Fine, go find a seat. Do you have the right books?’
There were two empty seats in class. One next to me and one over by the window next to a girl with greasy hair and body odour issues. I thought I’d been put out when he hadn’t smiled back at me at lunch but as he sat down next to her instead of me, I was stunned. I’m by no means vain but I was a far better bet than she was. Clearly he likes his women grubby, I thought spitefully.
As the lesson went on I noticed him looking across at me. Of course he’d turn away when I saw him but soon enough he was doing it again. This set me thinking. I bet he’s shy, I bet that’s why he chose to sit with her instead of me. I felt decidedly better about it now. My ego was repaired! I determined that I would test out this theory after class. I held back slightly when the bell went and waited until the geek had gotten up from his seat. As he started to head for the door I cut him off and ‘accidentally’ bumped into him.
‘Sorry,’ I said smiling at him so warmly that I was sure he would smile back.
I was wrong. He didn’t smile, he didn’t speak, nothing. Not a damn thing.
I was livid. I wanted to smack him; I wanted to get a reaction. But more than that I didn’t understand how someone I’d never had a conversation with, someone I hadn’t really met properly could get me this wound up.
Who the hell was he to ignore me like that, to wind me up so easily? I tried to shake it off but when the final bell went that day and I headed off to the parking lot it was still riling me.
Aunt Suze had a scooter she hadn’t used in months and I’d used it to ride to school. As I headed over to where I’d parked it I saw him; the ignorant geek. I stood back for a moment not wanting to bump into him again. As he walked between a row of parked cars, he stopped just briefly. He turned to look over his left shoulder and I could swear, I really could swear he stood and stared right at me. The really weird thing was though it felt like he was inches from my face not the hundred yards or so he was actually away. I went a little cold, a sudden shudder went down my spine and the hairs on my arms stood erect. I shook it off as he turned back and walked away.
This hadn’t turned out to be the worst first day in the history of my school life so far but for some peculiar reason it somehow felt the strangest.