A/N: Some of this is based on true events, not a lot of it though. I got the idea from someone from Sweden that I met (and yes....his name was Martin and he was very gorgeous.) This first chapter doesn't get into the story that much. Please RR.
"And remember: make me proud. Don't scare them away."
Claire Miller listened as Mr. Smith finished his famous "representatives of McClellan High" speech. She'd heard this speech about 10,000 times since she started high school. Every time they went on a field trip, went to a basketball game, or had a guest speaker, Mr. Smith repeated the same speech, which told them not to embarrass him, themselves or the school by 'acting like hooligans'. As he spoke, Clair gracefully put her long black hair in a messy ponytail and sat back in her seat.
The reason for the speech this time was because the Foreign Exchange Students that would be attending the school for the rest of the school year were visiting for the first time. Since most of them were going to be seniors, Claire couldn't understand why the freshmen were going to meet them. Claire wasn't very exactly thrilled about the three page essay that she knew would follow in at least one of her classes, but she was eager to meet people from different cultures, especially the guys.
Claire had never really had a boyfriend, and all the guys she'd had a crush on the past had either led her on but never committed, blown her off completely, or just pretended she didn't exist. Fuckers. It's not that she wasn't pretty, because she was, she just had lots of goals and was very determined. Most guys (and girls for that matter) felt that she dominated them in a way and was usually on a power-trip. And her goals weren't the sort people usually looked up to. Her main goal was to get the hell out of McClellan as soon as possible.
Mr. Smith finally dismissed them to the library where the meeting was to take place. They had all been given little sheets of paper with 'interesting conversation topics' listed on them. Teachers could be so corny. The library was buzzing with sound, and it was mostly the girls looking at the foreign boys, turning back to her friends and whispering and then the whole lot would giggle hysterically. The large room that was usually filled with rows and rows of bookshelves was turned into an auditorium of sorts. All of the shelves had been pushed to the walls and the entire back-half of the room was filled with plastic school-chairs for the students to sit in. At the front of the room was a row of about 20 more sophisticated, comfortable chairs. In these chairs were seated anxious looking foreigners, of which most looked European. Clair scanned the row. They all had little signs in front of them with their names and countries listed on them. Most of them looked shy and jittery sitting in front of everyone, and Clair couldn't blame them. She hated getting up in front of people like that.
Out of the group, one of the guys caught her attention. He looked almost amused and very relaxed compared to his friends. His blue eyes were lit up with life as if he felt that he had 'been there, done that' and wanted nothing more than to just get up and dance. He had longish soft blond hair that fell over his ears and into eyes when he moved so he had to keep moving hand up and sweep it to the side. His sign read Martin Svensky, Sweden. Damn. Claire continued watching him. He looked up and sent a big, pearly smile in her direction. Blushing, Claire looked down.
Suddenly, she was harshly pushed to the side by a big hulky guy ("Get the hell outta my way.") Fucking jocks. She moved through the crowd and found her friend, Mary, saving her a seat as close to an Argentinean guy as you could get without sitting on his lap. By the time Claire got there Mary was practically drooling. "What do you think of Sweden?" She asked outright, her and Mary were to close to start a conversation with hellos.
Mary actually took a second away from Adam, the Argentinean, to glance over at Martin. "He's alright - not my type, too blond and preppy. Just too conservative for me." Naming Mary Mary would have been a joke to anyone if they knew how she would turn out. She wasn't exactly religious (she converted from being Catholic to Atheism when she 12), she didn't take shit from anyone (she got suspended for fights with other girls at least 2 times a year), and most people would put her under the 'punk/goth' category. That's why Claire loved her so much, because she was so different from the other preppy bitches that went to their school.
"He's Swedish: they're all blond and preppy. And conservative to you means they won't kiss you on sight. Argentina looks like he could rip a girl's clothes off with one movement." Claire stated blankly.
"That's the way I like them." Mary laughed and sat back in her seat, she knew that Adam was watching her and she was playing on it. Claire guessed that Adam thought Mary was a just another slutty American girl, but it didn't look like Mary cared.
Claire felt eyes on her and she look up to find Martin staring directly at her agin. She blushed deeply and smiled sheepishly at him. He didn't seem at all embarrassed for being caught staring and smiled again at her. Claire was totally infatuated.
The Principal, Mr. Knight, went to the podium that was set up near the students and slowly the room quieted. "Good morning, students! Today is a very special day for McClellan High." He looked around at his students proudly; Claire didn't think he realized that a group of stoners in the back were making derogatory gestures at a Chinese girl sitting near them. Happily, he continued, "The foreign students attending our school for the rest of the semester are here for a meet and greet. I hope that all of you will treat them with the respect that they deserve and will gratefully bestow upon you. This will be a great opportunity for you all to learn about different cultures and heritages and to meet new, exciting friends! Let's start out by getting to know them. How about we go down the line and you can all say your name, country, what grade you will be in here at McClellan, and why you decided to do Foreign exchange." He stepped back and gestured for the first girl to start.
The slim girl stood up, her long red hair trailing down almost to her waist. "Hi, I'm Adriana, I'm from Ireland, and I will be in Eleventh grade. I wanted to do Foreign exchange because I thought it would be a really good experience." She spoke softly, but you could still hear her thick Irish accent.
The group continued to stand and introduce themselves and Mary had an amusing comment for all of them, not that she said it to anyone but Claire. The list of countries ranged from the UK ("Christ, look at her nose…") to little nondescript places like Laos ("He looks like a fucking monkey.") Claire was getting more and more exasperated by the second; she couldn't wait until Martin stood up and she would get a full view of his body, and could finally hear his voice.
The guy before him seemed to drag on forever about "how he came here because his family was very poor and he thought that an education could help him get a job…blah…blah….blah."
Eventually it was Martin's turn and he stood up swiftly. He quickly got every girl in the room's attention. "Hey," He said smoothly in a deep Swedish accent. "I'm Martin from Sweden, and I will be a senior at McClellan. I decided to do foreign exchange because I thought it would fun and Americans seem to be a lot cooler than Europeans.." He watched Clair as he spoke. Oh, great, he's a senior. That means that there is no possible way that I have a chance with him. It's not that Clair cared about what age a guy is, to her age was just a number. But, her parents would definitely not approve of their fifteen year old daughter dating a senior. Claire didn't like her parents that much, she thought of moving out at least 10 times daily. Martin continued speaking,"And I think that the people here will definitely meet up to my standards." He smirked at Claire and slowly sat down.
When all of them had spoken, Mr. Knight announced that he will now give the students time to ask the visitors questions and 'mingle'. Everyone started talking and laughing, and Mary immediately went over to speak with Adam, leaving Claire by herself. She wasn't that confident around guys and felt too nervous to go talk to Martin. She sat there pondering what to do when suddenly she had a burst of self-assurance and decided that if she didn't speak to him she would definitely regret it.
Claire sighed heavily and approached him warily. He grinned as she drew near and once again spoke way too assertively. "Hi, angel, I saw you watching me."
"Well, I guess I just couldn't help it. How the hell are you so confident in front of people you don't know?" Claire blushed a dark shade of red, but once she started speaking, usually she calmed down.
"Simple: I just don't care what people think of me. Why should it matter what they care?" He was still grinning and it was becoming a bit overwhelming for Claire.
"I wish I had that quality…." Claire changed the subject to something that didn't make her nerves jump. "You're a senior, right? So that makes you how old…?"
"I turned 18 last month. How old are you, pretty girl?" He asked, slyly
Ugh. Christ, not only is it not going to happen, it's fucking illegal.
"15: I'm a freshmen." Claire stated with obvious disappointment. "And my name is Claire, not 'pretty girl'." Martin's eyes flickered with something, but she couldn't tell what. "And, I thought you usually graduate when you're like 16 in Europe."
"Well, actually, I did technically graduate high school already. I just came here to take the year over and have an American diploma as well. It seemed like a challenge." He said with a quick smirk.
Claire couldn't help but be entrance by his blue eyes; they seemed to capture you. He looked right into her own green ones as if he felt the same. "Do you have any friends, Claire? You've seemed very alone the whole time I've seen you…" The smile faded from his face and it suddenly seemed full of compassion. Claire closed her eyes in thought. The truth was, she didn't have many friends besides Mary. They were two of a kind in their small town, most people rejected them for being unusual.
"My friend, Mary, is very infatuated with the guy from Argentina. You see her, over there?" She pointed Mary our to Martin. He leaned down nearer to her in order to follow her hand better. She caught a whiff of his cologne, he smelled like sandalwood and forest. Wow.
He laughed, "You mean the girl that's about two, what do you say, inches, from Adam's face?"
Claire laughed, too and replied, "Yeah, that's Mary. She's a bit of a whore, and the sad part is, she knows it."
He beamed at her, and then said quietly, "Let's go somewhere alone, I'm sick of all these people." He glanced up quickly at the people in the room.
Claire's heart leapt and she grinned, "Alright…." They stepped out into the hallway and down the stairs that led to the lower level. It was only 10:30 so everyone would be in class on the upper level or still be in the library for at least two more hours, until lunch. They sat down at the bottom of the steps.
"Do you live around here?" Martin asked vaguely, trying to keep up the conversation.
"Yeah, I live about four blocks from the school, why?" Claire asked.
"Just curious…" Martine hesitated and put his hands in the pockets of his khakis. He looked slightly confused. "Have you always lived here?"
"Yeah… not that I want to. I fucking hate it here." Shit, what if I offended him or something? Foreign guys don't like swearing, do they?
"I can understand why. It's fucking boring here." Thank god. "Does anything interesting ever happen? I've been staying here for almost a week, and the most exciting thing I've seen is a car accident." Martin said rather smartly.
Claire covered her mouth with hair hands because she was laughing so hard. "Exactly. It's sucks here so bad!"
"You should show me around sometime. Here, I'll walk you home and you can show me on the way…" He stood up and started for the door.
Claire ran after him. "Dumbass, school doesn't end for like another 5 hours. You can't walk me home."
"Then let's just go now. What's the matter, afraid of ditching the school you hate?" He pushed the door open and walked outside, heading the opposite direction of Claire's house. I never told him I hated school…How did he know that?
Claire opened the door and looked at Martin walking down the road. "Martin!" She yelled at his back. He looked up at her, smiling again. "You're going the wrong way!" She pointed down the street towards her house.
She heard him faintly swear under his breath in Swedish and sniggered. Claire started walking, not bothering to wait for him, after all, he hadn't waited for her.
He ran and caught up with her. Clair watched him out of the corner of her eye as they walked. He had his tanned hands in his pockets and his eyes were always pointed straight ahead, not once did he look down at the ground.
"How are you always so damn confident?" She finally asked.
"What do you mean?" He looked at her quizzically.
"Well, I know you said you don't care what other people think and all of that, but it even shows when you walk; it's just strange I guess." The wind was blowing against their faces and Claire kept having to brush the hair out of her eyes and lip gloss.
"I don't know, maybe it's just a European thing so you're not used to it." He's so stubborn.
Claire thought about it. "Maybe."
"Are we almost to your house? It's fucking cold out here!" He exclaimed and then looked at Claire for an answer or something. Claire didn't know what he wanted her to say.
"What?" She asked. "If you're gonna live here, you're going to have to deal with the coldness. It's cold like 90 of the year!" She shivered, she was cold to.
Martin simply laughed and then started taking off the sweatshirt he had on. As he took it off the shirt below it rode up and Claire caught a glimpse at his muscular abs. He offered it to her to warm her up. She took it graciously and clumsily pulled it on over her head. It fell almost to her knees. "I'm used to it though, because it's the same way in most of Europe."
They approached Claire's house, a big green one at the end of one of the more wealthy streets in town. She stopped in front of it and looked at Martin shyly. "This is it."
"Alright…." He hesitated for a second, like he didn't know what to do next.
Claire smiled. "Do you want to come in, or do you need to get back to the school?"
"Sure, they won't miss me." He nodded for her to start towards the house and slowly put his hand in hers. His hand felt so warm and soft, Claire's face felt like it was on fire.