Chapter 1: Dealing with a Demi-GodI was going to kill him.
The moment he showed up, I was going to pummel him with a textbook and castrate him with a pencil. I was going to gag him with my necktie, knock him out with my book bag, and dance around his lifeless body while reciting turn-of-the-century American poetry. I was going to... ah, who was I kidding? None of that was possible. And even if it were, I wasn't that sadistic.
Besides, all he'd have to do is smirk at me and my attempts would be ineffectual. Yes, such was the power of Wes McDermott, Trudeau Prep's resident demi-god. He's not only ridiculously wealthy, but he was also popular, and just as good-looking. One smile and girls turn into putty. Even I wasn't exempt from his physical prowess.
God, I hated that.
I slumped my head in my arms, peeking at the clock for the umpteenth time. Hasn't he heard of a watch? For over an hour, I'd been stuck in his bedroom waiting for his lazy ass to arrive. Finally convinced that Wes wasn't going to show, I packed my books and stood up to leave. As soon as I did however, a pang of guilt hit me.
Our tutoring session was scheduled from four to six o'clock, exactly two hours.
It was only five-thirty.
I felt torn. On the one hand, no one would blame me for leaving, not even Jonathan McDermott who hired me to study with his son. But at the same time, Mr. McDermott was my employer. I'd already swallowed my pride by making a deal with him, so there was no point in doing things half-assed. Determining that I was going to stay after all, I flopped back into my chair, almost knocking over my empty glass.
Huh. I'd forgotten about that.
When I arrived at the mansion, the McDermott's housekeeper, Rosa, welcomed me in. She brought me a drink as I waited.
Rosa was a matronly woman in her fifties, and was more of a family member to the McDermotts than she was hired help. Although I never built a rapport with her, I knew her well from past dining occasions. Wes' father and my stepfather, Sam, had been best friends. In fact, our families used to see each other regularly before the McDermotts divorced, and when Sam was still alive.
I placed the glass further away on the desk and sighed. What was I supposed to do for the next half hour? It wasn't like I could snoop around in someone else's bedroom.
Or could I? Maybe it was a good thing Wes wasn't here.
Smiling, I wandered around the room. His bedroom was as massive as it was luxurious, not to mention incredibly masculine. All the furniture was black, from the queen-sized bed at the farthest end of the room to the leather couches by the fireplace. The wall nearest to the desk was marked by bookshelves; the opposite wall, a flat screen TV. He owned a good collection of CDs, and to my surprise, an even larger collection of black and white movies.
He likes blue, I deduced, noting the navy bedspread and the matching drapes. I trailed my fingers down the side of a drape and pushed it aside, revealing a sliding door. Just as I suspected. A balcony! I tugged at the handle and it opened easily, letting the frigid January wind swallow up the room's warmth.
The wind whipped my hair into my eyes when I peered outside. I shivered. It was snowing like this when Sam died.
It'd been over a year since the accident, but I couldn't bring myself to call him Dad like I used to. He was my mother's husband, Evan's father, and if circumstances made it necessary, my stepfather. Mostly I referred to him as Sam; it was easier that way.
Sam loved me like I was his own daughter, and I grateful for that. In fact, he legally adopted me soon after their marriage, giving me his name as well. I was ecstatic when it happened. Nothing makes a kid happier than being told she finally has a real dad.
That was eleven years ago. Now that I was seventeen, I couldn't help but feel that my mom and I had been abandoned again. The only difference was that my eight-year-old brother, Evan, had been abandoned too.
"What are you doing?" a deep voice drawled, jarring my thoughts. I whirled around to see Wes. He was standing by the doorway, an arm propped lazily against the frame. He had been watching me.
His sudden presence was unnerving. You'd feel the same way if you knew what he looked like.
Wes was over six feet tall, sporting a toned, muscular build. He had brown-black hair, an angular jaw, and eyes of sharp blue.
I was immediately conscious that, permission or not, I was knee-deep in his territory.
Plus I'd been snooping.
"Hi," I croaked, my voice sounding strange.
What was wrong with me? I mentally kicked myself and tried again.
"Hi. Remember me? Amy Kaplan? It's about time you showed up."
I pushed my hair out of my face while he sauntered over. He raised an eyebrow. "Do you have some sort of death wish?"
He moved closer then, our bodies mere inches apart. He was a head taller than me, so I was eye-level to his neck. I shifted my gaze to the wall. "Listen, I don't know what you're doing but I don't think--" I immediately forgot my words when he thrust his arm around my body, his hand brushing past my hair.
What the hell was going on? I knew this was a mistake! I didn't care that Wes McDermott was the most desired guy in school. If he thought he could do anything he wanted just because I--
THUD! The balcony door slammed shut. Wes dropped his hand and I blinked.
His lips curved mockingly, as if he'd known what I'd been thinking. "The room was getting cold. Or didn't you notice?"
I stared at him, his expression unreadable. Finally, I said, "I was feeling hot."
He looked me up and down then, reminding me that I still wore our school uniform. His eyes lingered on the hem of my kilt when he smirked, "Then take off your clothes."
My jaw dropped at his suggestion. As I was about to make a retort, he moved away. I followed but he ignored me, the stereo remote in his hand. He collapsed on the couch, the room suddenly loud with rock music.
"Hey!" I yelled, trying to be heard. "Do you know how long I'd been waiting? You're late!"
His only response was to stretch out on the couch and fling an arm over his eyes.
I felt my blood pressure rise. Yanking the remote from Wes' dangling hand, I punched it fiercely before sending it flying to the other side of the room. The room was brought back to silence, and I felt slightly triumphant. "There. Much better."
No sound came from the oaf sprawled on the couch.
He rolled over so his back faced me.
"Are you planning on studying at all?"
Silence ensued from his side of the room.
I tried a different approach. "Look," I began, my voice rational, "we can help each other. You're barely passing your classes and my GPA's flawless. My family's current financial situation sucks, and you're… a McDermott. I despise this scenario as much as you do, but senior year's almost over. We might as well make the most of it."
When he didn't reply, I rolled my eyes. "You know, any sort of acknowledgment will suffice. A nod, a twitch, a grunt. Hell, I'll take anything."
He flipped his body over and cracked an eye open. "Get a clue, sweetheart, and go home."
I sputtered. Get a clue? Sweetheart!
Suddenly, the door swung open, and Rosa peeked inside. "Oh! Amy, you're still here? It's almost six thirty."
My eyes flew to the clock and realized she was right. Apparently time goes by quicker when you're dealing with a demi-god.
I was about to mention the next day's tutoring session, but Wes was no longer on the couch. He had taken off his shirt and was heading to the bathroom.
I took that to be my dismissal.
With gritted teeth, I passed an amused Rosa and trudged angrily out of the house.