Hey everyone—sorry I haven't updated in forever! I usually have a few chapters "pre-baked" to throw up regularly, but I think I'm going to change the plot a bit. Hang in there, I won't forget! –S.v.

10

What a bloody mess.

I had no idea what Monday would be like, but it didn't take long for me to get the point. Veronica wanted nothing to do with me. I followed her in the hall, and she would look at me and walk away. I asked all her friends if she was talking to anyone, and they somewhat happily told me that it was just me. Benji and Will were the only ones who sympathized with me—I guess the lapdogs were jealous. Veronica wasn't just friends with the five that followed her around, Natalie, Addison, Lucy, Sleepy, Dopey, etc. etc. but their friends and their friends' friends, and they all turned on her. Girls are horrible.

Anyway, Benji and Will helped me out. They told me she wouldn't hear of me, and I was stuck.

I shouldn't have lied to Laura; she didn't deserve that treatment. She was my first American friend, so I told her that she was right. I apologized for lying to her and for being a general arse. To make a long speech short, she didn't buy it.

"I expected better from you, Callum," she fumed in her matter-of-fact manner. "You seemed like the kind of guy who wouldn't care about girls like Veronica."

"What girls like Veronica?" I asked with a frown. Why did everyone have something against her?

"I thought you were different!" she finished. I followed behind her for a bit, but gave up on trying to mend our already insignificant relationship. Veronica was getting a beating from her mates, so I thought it would be a good time to confront her again.

"Callum doesn't even like you, Addison," she coolly said. I immediately listened in.

"What about Callum?" I chirped. She blew me off.

"I hope you're happy, Veronica, and I hope he's worth it." That was harsh. Her friends could be so mean. Veronica wouldn't take that, though. She knew that I had blown her cover, and I expected a roaring, snarling Veronica to fight back. Instead she smiled at me and once again took me off guard. So much for that plan—I thought if she was yelling at me, at least she'd be talking. I managed some reply to her kindness and turned before the look of pure confusion came over me. She must have something else up her sleeve; she was a loose cannon. I left to go find some of my student council friends.

"Yeah right—after what you did to Laura?"

"Don't bother, Cal. We know the truth."

"Go back to London. We don't care."

Ouch. So much for my so-called friends. Wasn't I the new kid that everyone liked? I mean, didn't I have the cute accent? I met the prime minister for crying out loud—and now, just because I had a fancy for the horrible Veronica Andrews, I was a nobody. American high schools are ridiculous. I wandered through the halls without anyone behind me and no where to go. At football practice, none of the blokes would talk to me. I guess Veronica had been pretty cold to them in the past, but I came, saw, and conquered. And then failed, miserably.

"Nice work today, Cal," Will told me after one of the roughest practices since I had joined. Every man was out for me.

"Thanks," I muttered, wiping my dirty face. "I…I appreciate the aggression out there."

"Yeah," Will half-laughed. "I think you inspired the team."

"What's the big deal?" I asked under my breath, letting some of the frustration out. "All we did was…well, we were perfectly entitled to do it!"

"It's just all that hype, man," Will answered. "Veronica and you…well, you're not exactly on good terms with anyone right now."

"Jealous," I grumbled.

"Lied to," he corrected. I frowned a bit. He was right. "Hey, I got to go," he quickly whispered. I looked over my shoulder to see the rest of the team catching up.

"Yeah, right," I muttered. "Not on good terms." Will shrugged an apology and hurried on by. About five of the guys sneered at me while the others "accidentally" knocked into my side. Jerks, all of them. Mrs. Holder's SUV was the only one left when I walked out to the front of the school.

"Hi Cal!" she greeted cheerfully. "How was your day?"

"Fine," I lied.

"Great! I hope you don't mind, but tonight we're having some friends over for dinner. They've been wanting to meet you for a while—they just love London, so I thought it'd be nice to talk about home. Can you be ready by six-thirty?" I sighed and agreed. "I think you know their daughter from school. She's in your grade."

"Really?" I asked absent-mindedly. She probably hates me.

"Veronica Andrews." Yep, I know she does.

I had barely enough time to shower and get dressed before the Andrews came. I was still tying my shoe when I heard the doorbell downstairs ring. Mrs. Holder's high-pitched voice greeted the calm, sophisticated replies of who I assumed to be the Andrews. I heard Veronica say something, and I tensed up. What was she going to do tonight—maul me in the kitchen or kick me in the shins. Well, at least I was going to see her.

"Callum?" Mr. Holder called from the hallway. "You ready, son?"

"Be there in a minute," I shouted. I took a deep breath and told myself she was just a girl. That didn't help. I walked to the top of the stairs and literally lost my breath. There Veronica was, standing in a light blue cotton dress that made her eyes completely steal my attention and everything below them fight to the death for it. She gave me that look, the first one she ever gave me, of pure honesty and surprise. I managed a reactionary smile and stumbled down the stairs to meet them.

"Rich, Sandra, this is Callum. He's our exchange student from London…you know Veronica, don't you?" For the first time in my life, I blabbered like an idiot because of a bird. She gave me the smartest little smirk.

"Yes, we have lunch together," she smoothly finished. "Everybody knows Cal." They all smiled and headed for the kitchen, leaving us alone. I could hear them popping open the wine and chatting about London without me. She stood there rocking on her feet with her hands behind her back, waiting for me to mentally catch up.

"You…look nice," I blurted. She ran her fingers through her hair and sighed. Oh, she knew exactly what she was doing.

"I guess I could have mentioned that I was coming over tonight, but it slipped my mind." I shrugged with my hands in my pockets. "Sorry."

"You're fine," I replied. I felt my cheeks get hot. "I mean…that's fine, whatever, sure." She smirked and walked toward the kitchen. "Right…" I grumbled to myself.

Dinner was disgusting. The wine was cheap, the food was a failure, and I wasn't even hungry. All I could think about was her, sitting across from me. Touching her glass. Shifting in her seat. Looking to me every now and then to make sure I was drooling like a dog. It was embarrassing. They drilled me with all these questions about home, and I barely answered.

"Why don't we put a pot of coffee on? Cal, do you want any?"

"Huh?"

"No thanks for me," Veronica politely replied.

"No," I mimicked. The Holders and the Andrews left us to the backyard to talk about school or whatever teenagers talk about. We stood on the newly installed porch in the warm night air in silence staring into our half-empty glasses. I wish I could have said something, but she beat me to it.