|Secrets and Lies
Author: WigsOut PM
What's a girl like Alicia to do when secrets and lies slowly become a way of life? This is Book 1 in my Houston High young adult series. Happy reading!Rated: Fiction T - English - Drama/Hurt/Comfort - Words: 3,542 - Published: 07-09-12 - id: 3040128
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Book 1: Secrets and Lies
The first in a series of at least six books about students at a Californian high school, oddly named Houston High. This book predominantly "stars" a girl named Alicia Tom.
"Wow." That was all I could think of to say in that moment. Reading the latest poem by the ever elusive and cryptically named J.D. feels like time-travelling back to the sixteenth century and having a front row seat at the opening night performance of Romeo and Juliet. It was that … magical. Yes, magical. That's the best word I can use to describe it. Thinking that some high school kid had penned those amazing lines was even more exhilarating. Not to mention humbling. I had wanted to be a writer for as long as I could remember but I knew I didn't have that kind of skill. The thought that someone did – someone right here at Houston High – made my knees tremble a little under the desk. I had to share this latest triumph of the written word with someone!
I looked around the newspaper office for my best friend Jocelyn but she was nowhere to be found. Knowing her, she had slipped out to study for another one of her AP exams or maybe her boyfriend of three years, Terrence, had whisked her off somewhere. I was admittedly so immersed in reading J.D.'s poem that I hadn't noticed her leave. I wouldn't have noticed if a circus blew through the room; I was that hypnotized by the power of this writer's words. This was the fourth poem of J.D.'s to find its way into my mailbox at the newspaper office in the last two weeks. No one knew who J.D. was (believe me you - I've asked around) or if they do, they won't admit it. The poems always came in a manila folder with the words "Lit Mag Submission" scrawled on the front. The writing was sort of messy though so I was thinking it belonged to a boy. I kind of hope so because there was a distinct possibility I was falling head over heels with them! This is weird because I've only ever loved one guy in my whole life.
The guy I've always loved? His name is Michael "Mike" Aaron. The serious hottie who stars in all my secret, fanciful daydreams. I have literally said zero words to him in my entire life but I have loved him deeply for nearly three years now. Ever since he transferred mid-semester into my eighth grade algebra class, he has been on my mind and in my heart. We have biology together this semester and he always sits in the back by his sexy loner self but I find myself sneaking glances at him more often than not. I think he's noticed me staring at him but then most of the girls at this school do so. It's hard not to when he looks the way he does – like a cross between James Dean and the guy who plays Ricky on The Secret Life of the American Teenager. He carries himself so confidently too that you can't bear to look away.
So was it possible that this J.D. person could actually usurp Mike's place in my heart? I wasn't sure but I was definitely drawn in by the words he had painted on the page that showed such an amazing picture. I was still full to bursting with excitement that J.D. had struck again and decided I would run to Coach Griffin's office across campus and tell him we had a new and awesome submission for the school's Literary magazine, The Piston. Yes, The Piston. Yes, we get a lot of jokes from students out of that one.
But I digress. I needed to find the coach. Coach Griffin is not only our advisor for the literary magazine but as the name implies, a coach. For the school's football team, naturally. He doesn't know a lot about the craft of writing but the school budget is so tight that staff had to take on advisory positions wherever the principal instructed them to. Coach Griff was also our newspaper advisor though during class he spent most of this time drawing up new plays for the football team.
I got to my feet and held up the paper with J.D.'s poem on it, thought briefly of kissing it (yuck, I know!) because I am so in love with it but instead stuck it back in the manila folder it came in and ran for the door of the newspaper office. It was lunchtime so thankfully the halls were deserted. The Quad would be packed by now though; I knew that. It always is and every student has their place in the school's social hierarchy. Me, I don't know exactly where I fall. Newspaper Girl is not exactly the epitome of cool, that's for sure, but then I'm not as shunned as say kids from the marching band are.
I hurled myself out of the office just in time to run smack into a hard body. I nearly fell the impact was so great but suddenly a warm, slightly calloused hand was grabbing my wrist in time so that I avoided being ass-to-pavement. I turned to look up at my savior and absolutely could not believe my eyes. I was looking at none other than Mike Aaron! The Mike Aaron – you know, the one who haunts my every dream. My heart literally started hammering in my chest and my pulse started racing and my mouth got totally dry and my stomach erupted in butterflies as his beautiful blue eyes locked on mine. Ohmigod. We were still touching!
Seeming to realize he still had his hand on my wrist, he finally let go. You know that saying about an amputated limb? Where someone loses their leg and they can still feel it aching when it's gone? That's how I felt when Mike let go of me. I was aching. He had never touched me before; he had never even talked to me, and here we were!
"Um, sorry … for running … into you," I said. I could feel myself start to hyperventilate but he just stood there looking oh-so-cool and calm and collected in his baggy jeans and denim jacket.
He didn't say anything at first and I was scared that I had really pissed him off. All these crazy scenarios were running through my head as I looked under my eyelashes at him as he bent over and picked up the manila envelope. I hadn't even realized I had dropped it. And Mike was now looking at J.D.'s poem, reading it actually. He then looked over at me as he passed the poem and folder back to me. "Cool poem," was all he said and then to my shock, gave me a little smile. Well, he lifted his perfect lips anyway in what appeared to be amusement. I hoped to God he wasn't secretly laughing at me. Not that I would blame him.
He then side-stepped me as I stood there, mouth hanging open like a freak, and he walked – no, sauntered – past me. I couldn't help but watch, wondering what he was doing down here. The newspaper office was at the very backend of campus, right before the tennis courts and beyond them, the football field. He had nowhere to go.
Wait, never mind. He was ditching. I watched him toss his black backpack over the nearby fence and then soon he was joining his stuff on the other side. He saw me staring and to my shock, winked at me – yes, winked! - before picking up his stuff and walking away. He didn't even hurry or look worried at the idea of getting caught. In the words of my brother Zach, Mike Aaron is so hardcore.
And I love him for it.
After delivering the poem to Coach Griffin's office, he looked it over a second and then told me to "put it in". Meaning put it in the magazine. He's a man of a few words unless he's all fired up about football or sports. He's a big guy with an enormous gut who was supposedly all state or something on his own football team back in Arizona. But I guess he hurt his knee doing line-backer duties his first semester at college and so he never made the big-time. But he seems content enough pushing his own team to the limit. Whatever he is doing is working too as the Houston High Falcons haven't lost a game yet this season. I know this not because I follow sports but because Jocelyn's boyfriend Terrence is sports editor of the school paper and is always "regaling" us with stories about all things athletic. Terrence loves football but he's so skinny he could never actually play it. It's a classic case of those who can't play, watch others do so. But he's a cool guy and not bitter or angry about his lack of athleticism.
I was still on Cloud Nine as I left Coach's office. Not only did J.D. visit my mailbox again but I finally, after three years of just dreaming about it, I had talked to Mike Aaron. Okay it was only a few words and I made a total idiot of myself in the process but it was something. I never would have had the nerve to approach him so I will take what I can get. I can't wait to tell Jocelyn everything! Now if only I knew where to look for her.
I head to The Quad and see the whole student population (or most of them) there. We have over one-thousand students at Houston which means the chances of me finding petite little Jocelyn Henderson before fifth period are slim to none. Still, I really am bursting to tell her all of this stuff. I know she'll be happy for me even if she doesn't get why I like Mike so much. She keeps saying how can I be in love with someone I never talked to? She's so rational, sometimes it sickens me but I love her anyway. But maybe now that I have actually talked to him, and I love him even more, maybe she will understand. She's been dating Terrence for as long as I've been in love with Mike so she doesn't exactly understand the whole dating scene for the unattached like me. She doesn't understand how hard it is to be nearly sixteen and never so much as kissed a guy. It's not the coolest position to be in, that's for sure.
I finally spot a familiar figure up ahead. Terrence's. He's skinny but fairly tall too. Where Terrence is, Jocelyn is likely to be. Or he will at least know where she's hiding out.
I break into a sprint across The Quad, weaving my way through a group of about fifty students who are watching some girl with long black hair dance on a table. I shake my head and keep running until I reach Terrence. He spots me coming and breaks out into a little smile and waves to me as I come to a stop, breathlessly, in front of him.
"Hey, Terrence," I said.
"Hey, Alicia," he replied, pronouncing my name A-lee-cee-uh as he always does though everyone else, including my parents myself, pronounces it A-lish-sha. I think he likes to be contrary.
"Are you looking for Jocelyn by any chance?" Terrence asked as he looked down at me from his height of nearly six feet.
"Yeah, I am," I admitted. "Have you seen her?"
"She went to Guidance a while ago to sign up for some new volunteer opportunity," Terrence said. "As if she doesn't do enough with AP classes, running the tutoring program, being an ASB member, etcetera, etcetera." He ran a hand through his cropped, dark hair. I had long suspected he wanted more time with Jocelyn to do couple-y things but he was dating the school's biggest overachiever. What did he expect? "Anyway, she should be back soon."
I nodded and took a seat on the stone bench across from Terrence, tapping my foot anxiously as I waited. When I finally was sure that Jocelyn was never returning, I heard him speak up. He said, "Here she comes now to save the day." Terrence is such a dork. But he's Jocelyn's dork and a pretty nice one so I don't judge too much. It's not like I am the queen of coolness. Not even close.
I looked in the direction Terrence was pointing and sure enough, there was Jocelyn. She walked over to us and offered Terrence a brief kiss before turning to face me, her naturally too-pink lips jutted out in surprise. "I thought you had sequestered yourself in the newspaper office for the day," Jocelyn said as she dropped down next to me and started unzipping her backpack. She pulled out an apple and held it out to me. I shook my head so she sunk her perfect teeth into the crisp green flesh of it.
I smiled at her. Sequestered. Only Jocelyn uses cool words like that, I swear. She is so smart. And pretty too with long golden-blonde locks, super high cheek bones, and a body that weighs all of ninety-five pounds soaking wet. It's really hard being the best friend of the smartest girl at school when she happens to also be one of the prettiest. I wouldn't call myself ugly exactly but my hair is plain brown, my eyes a boring green, and my older brother Zach likes to say my hips were built for child-bearing. Jerkoff!
The worst part is Jocelyn has a twin sister. An identical twin sister. They are alike in every way – at least outwardly. Secretly, I think her twin Caitlyn is a total beeyotch but I have never admitted that allowed, not wanting to muddy my friendship with Jocelyn. The sad truth is that here in San Diego, beautiful, sun-kissed beach babes are everywhere and I can't even tan without turning into a lobster first!
I shook my head. "I was planning to 'sequester' myself there," I said, winking at her catchphrase, "but then I found J.D. had struck again!" I said excitedly.
Jocelyn nodded as she crunched on her apple. After swallowing she finally said, "So that's what you were so intently reading. I tried waving my hand in front of your face to get your attention but when you didn't respond or hear me say that Terry had come for me, I knew it was hopeless." She calls Terrence "Terry". I always find that funny for some reason though he doesn't seem to mind.
"Sorry. J.D.'s poetry just … speaks to me," I said with a shrug of my shoulders. "I get lost in it."
"I know." Jocelyn finished her apple, nibbling it right down to the core, and then tossed it into the nearest trash can. She would never litter. She is absolutely against it. She's a little too perfect sometimes, I can't help but think. "Anyway, is that what's got your cheeks all flushed and why you're smiling like the cat that ate the canary?"
"That's part of it, anyway," I said and looked up at Terrence. Pointedly. I really didn't want to spill my Mike news in front of him. Not that he would tell anyone or tease me or anything but it's still an epic moment I only want to share with my bestie.
Terrence rolls his dark brown eyes. "I am sensing some female bonding is in order here," he said and shook his head. He leaned over then and captured Jocelyn's lips in a brief kiss before grabbing his backpack off the bench behind him. "It's fine. I have to interview Parson anyway about last Friday's game." Parson is short for Parson Headley, but no one calls him by his last name. He's just well, Parson. He also happens to be the captain of Houston High's varsity football team. He's the guy every guy wants to be and every girl wants to date. Or one of them. Houston High admittedly has a population of very attractive guys who are almost all unavailable, of course. It's a wonder Mike is still single. At least I hope he's still single. There were some rumors going around that he hooked up with a few different girls last summer (some even college-aged) but I haven't seen concrete evidence as he is almost always by himself.
Terrence waves to Jocelyn and then walks away. Jocelyn turns to stare at me. Pointedly. "Well out with it. Why are you glowing right now?"
"Glowing?" I asked in disbelief. "I wouldn't go that far."
"Just spill. Lunch ends in –" she looked at her silver Cartier watch, a gift from her very rich grandparents –"five minutes."
"Yes and you would never be late to class, ever," I teased, nudging her in her side. She doesn't answer, just stares at me.
"Tell me already!"
"Well, as I was headed out of the newspaper office to find someone to share this awesome poem with, I ran into – guess who?"
Jocelyn shook her head. "Hmm, Mike Aaron maybe?"
I nodded eagerly. "Yes! I literally crashed into him. But he caught me before I fell!" She raised an eyebrow and I sighed. "Okay he grabbed my wrist to keep me from landing on my ass but same difference, right? He still was nice about it. He didn't jump away like I disgusted him. He even looked in my eyes and he picked up the poem I hadn't even realized I dropped. He said 'Cool poem' and …" I sighed. "It was magical, Jocie. Embarrassing yet magical."
"I bet," Jocelyn said. "He has a way with girls, so I hear." She more or less muttered it but being the glutton for punishment I am, I grabbed Jocelyn's arm and tried to shake the truth out of her. What was she talking about? It sounded like she knew of some recent rumors. Was Mike seeing someone?
"What have you heard?" I asked, sounding pathetic to my own ears. "Does Mike have a girlfriend now?"
Jocelyn shook her head. "Oh please. He doesn't do relationships, Alicia. He does hookups."
"How do you know?"
"I just heard –"
"Rumors?" I said, feeling irritable for some reason all of a sudden.
"No. Not this time. This time I know it's true."
I tugged on Jocelyn's short-sleeved white sweater top. "Okay. You are being cryptic. What's going on?"
"I just don't think Mike's a very nice guy," Jocelyn said.
"Why do you say that?" I asked nervously.
"Because he hooked up with my sister this past weekend," Jocelyn said softly but I heard it and felt sucker punched.
"He and Caitlyn ..." I felt like crying. Why did I feel like crying? Mike is hot. Of course he's not going to be celibate like me forever.
"No but they almost did," Jocelyn said with a shake of her head. "And apparently she said something to him that he didn't like hearing and he walked out on her right then and there. She called me, practically in tears, at two a.m. and I had to go and pick her up so my parents wouldn't find out. She's been trying to get ahold of him – god knows why – all weekend and he won't take her calls. He's being a total ass."
Jocelyn must have seen the devastated look on my face because she reached over and hugged me tightly. I felt like crying still but didn't give into it, thank god. I don't know why I was so upset. Was it because Mike apparently was a total jerk or because he had almost slept with my best friend's sister who I really don't like? Or maybe both? I knew I was jealous too, still even after hearing he was sort of a flighty Casanova. Why couldn't he want me? Maybe I could be the one for him, the one to make him want to be monogamous even.
Jocelyn hugged me tighter and then said, "I think if Mike comes around you again, you should consider going the other way."
I sighed. How was it that this day had started out so good and suddenly it was now totally shit?