Savannah could have gone down like the Titanic. All on her own. Layton just placed the iceberg.
But she didn't, which surprised him. Layton Rochester wasn't surprised very often.
He forced her into a corner—or more accurately a locker—and she handled it better than he thought. She could have gone against him with insults, which would have sealed her fate as Public Enemy #1. Or she could have yielded. Layton doubted she would go so far as to sleep with him, but if she participated in the public display, she might as well branded herself a slut. But instead she played her own game and Layton acknowledged that.
Savannah surpassed his expectations. Who knew that fat girl with the awkward shuffle was now so...provocative. Just thinking about the way her eyes burned gold when his lips brushed her ear; the scent of orange and rosemary that tickled his nose; how sure and warm her hands were when she grabbed his hip...
She was no longer the same person. Her hair, face and body had changed, only her eyes were familiar—it was what gave her away—he recognised her the instant he saw them. But it wasn't just the physical aspect, the way she moved and spoke was different.
Layton knew he had to watch her. Her name change alone was suspicious.
"I'll buy you lunch," Layton offered.
Savannah's mouth lifted. "I'll take you up on that. It's least you could do." She patted him on the shoulder and sauntered ahead, skirt swishing. "Hurry up, I hate waiting."
Layton was amused. He followed her, another unusual act of the day. He was well aware that the whole school watching them. Their whispers were loud as they continued to speculate who she was. Let them talk all they like.
Savannah and Layton joined the queue. It turned out there wasn't much of a wait since one student after the next ushered them forward. Excuses like waiting for a friend and tying shoelaces were used. Savannah chose the most expensive items on the menu and Layton kept to his word and paid.
"That dish looks appetising," Layton commented, eyeing her full tray. He doubted she would eat all that. "Are you a fan of duck?"
"It's definitely more...flavoursome than chicken." Savannah stared straight ahead but he caught the twitch of her mouth.
"I know a nice French place if you're ever interested. They have everything, including escargot."
"I'll keep it in mind."
They reached the table and Layton took his usual seat. He didn't make any introductions. Savannah had to squeeze in next to him. One of the girls glared. Layton started on his meal, interested in what Savannah would do next. The next test started now.
Mark was busy locking lips with a girl. It was some pretty redhead Layton had never seen before. It took more saliva exchange for Mark to notice.
"Woah," Mark's first word. His brown hair was a mess, there was also a red stain on his cheek. "Who's this?" He looked at Layton.
"I can speak you know," Savannah's tone was dry. "You have something on your face."
Mark grinned; he started rubbing with his fist. It was a complete miss.
"Let me help you, baby." The redhead was prettier than Layton expected. She was tanned, unusual for a carrot-top with cat-shaped eyes. Her smile was playful. "I'm Angus. It's my first day here as a Senior. You must be the infamous Layton Rochester." She looked Layton straight in the eye and turned to Savannah. "And you're the girl who stole my thunder."
"You can have it back. The rest of the day is all yours," Savannah said. "Call me Vann, Aurelia Vanderbilt is a mouthful."
"A girl after my own heart. I think girls with guy names have more balls. Don't you?"
Someone on the table coughed. Mark just laughed and slung an arm around Angus.
"Is that short for something?" Savannah asked.
"No, my parents wanted a son. But unfortunately they got stuck with me. Believe me, they tried for another kid."
"Jesus. Where did you find her, Mark?" Daniel asked, he was a Junior on the football team. He was eyeing Angus since she sat.
"I found him," Angus grinned and laid one on Mark. There were whistles and cat calls.
The redhead was suspicious. When she sized up Savannah it was patronising. The way she smiled and kissed seemed to be with reckless abandonment. But Layton recognised the gleam in her eyes—she was a calculative bitch.
"Look what we have here, two new additions on the very first day. So this is what all the ruckus is about." Meredith appeared. One hand on her hip as she glanced around the table. She towered over the table in Louboutins and her diamond earrings sparkled under the lights. Layton knew she was taking everything in. "So tell me, who did you two sleep with to get in?"
One of the boys sniggered and a Freshman girl drew in a breath. Everyone was watching now.
"Him," Angus drew a line down Mark's chest. "And you?"
Everyone turned in Layton's direction. Mark snickered.
That one knew how to take care of herself.
"Funny," Meredith tossed her hair back and turned to Savannah. "I know you, you're the girl who practically humped Layton in front of the school."
"Sure you're not jealous?" Savannah drawled. "Or are you worried that you're losing your hold on your meal ticket?"
"Please, I have more class." Meredith's gaze shifted to Layton. He gave her the barest of nods and she smiled. It was the menacing kind packaged in gloss. "Welcome to the fold then. Looks like you girls will fit right in. We're shopping after school, come along." It wasn't a request.
"We'll be there." Angus showed her perfect white teeth.
"Good," Meredith rested her hand on Angus's shoulder. "And before I forget, if you ever take my parking spot again Blondie, I'll hurt your pretty car."
It didn't go the way Layton wanted and he had Angus to thank for that. But he'll let it pass. For now.
The rest of the day went by in a mind-numbingly boring fashion. The monotony of it all made it as though he never left. Hard to believe it was only the first day. But hope wasn't lost yet, especially with Savannah and that redhead in the scene. Layton had an idea what Savannah wanted but the other girl's motive wasn't so clear. He fixed that with a simple phone call.
Turned out Angus Waverley's mother was a fashion-designer and her father a diplomat posted overseas. She moved frequently, having attended eight schools in the past ten years—this was her ninth. Her longest stay was at Crescent High School, nearly three years. It explained the tan, the school was in California. It also happened to be the same school Layton's cousin attended.
Mark was at his locker when the end-of-school bell rang; he always left early whereas Layton came and went as he pleased.
"What's up?" Mark asked and slammed his locker shut. "You have that fucking ice-cold look in your eyes, could feel you from a mile away."
"How did you meet Angus?" Straight to the point. Mark was used to it.
"Why? What's wrong? Are you mad that I took her first?" Mark seem slightly confused and ran a hand through his hair.
"No, just curious."
"She bumped into me. We have lockers right next to each other."
"I'm not complaining." Mark grinned. "Is that all you need?"
"Been meaning to ask you, what's your story with the blond?" Mark shifted his stance and crossed his arms. "The whole school's talking about it. Never seen you this way before. Do you know her?"
"Sort of," Layton's mouth curled.
"Not in that way," Mark laughed then his eyes turned serious. "What's really going on? You alright? I know you came back from Japan two days ago. Is your dad still a dick?"
"There's something about her that's interesting." Layton avoided answering about his father.
"Wow, haven't heard you say that about a girl before." Mark arched an eyebrow. "Shit, this could be serious."
"She's a Vanderbilt, I thought they were a dying breed. Could be good for business."
Mark shook his head and strands of brown hair fell into his eyes. "It's always business with you. Even when we met. You were the quietest kid in a sharp business suit. You still scare the crap out of me."
"Good." Layton said and started walking away.
Layton turned around. His jaw tightened.
"You didn't hear from your brother did you?"
"Walking away now, Williams."
"Fine, but me and the guys are going to McGaffey's now. If you want to come, meet us there."
Layton raised his hand in recognition. He didn't understand why Mark still tried.
Layton tapped on the glass. The tinted window rolled down.
"What?" Savannah asked. Her hazel eyes were cool.
Layton leaned into the car. "What are you doing here? Thought you had someplace to go."
A saccharine smile. "Thought I would make them wait. Meredith for her little command and Angus answering for both of us."
"Vengeful, aren't you?"
"Very." The smile widened.
"How was your first day?" Layton did a quick sweep of the interior. The black leather was spotless. There was no clutter on the seats or lipgloss rolling around. Definitely brand new. It had the smell.
"Nothing special, same boring school stuff. Got more stares than I'm used to. People love gossiping around here."
"Welcome to Ashwood. That's one of our special features." Layton kept his tone light. He appreciated the sun reflecting in her eyes. Made it more gold than brown.
"Yeah, guess it is." Savannah looked away and thrummed her fingers on the wheel. "What are you up to? Doesn't the great Layton Rochester have something to conquer?"
"Did that last week. I'm taking a day off."
Savannah laughed. The sound was sweet in his ears—innocent. Layton didn't expect that.
"So. You do know my name." He liked how full her lips were.
Savannah stilled. And then she shrugged. "Who doesn't? Everyone worships you here. It's all they talk about. How smart you are. How you make everything look so easy. How all the teachers are afraid of you—well, everyone's afraid of you."
"What about you?"
"Are you scared of me?" Layton asked seriously. He remembered the times when he made her cry.
"I guess," Savannah absently twirled a hair around her finger. "I mean, you're the mighty king around here who can freeze people from the inside. I have to say though, that mysterious aura around you isn't helping to keep the girls away. They all want to figure you out."
"No wonder I have to fight off a mob everyday."
"Maybe if you didn't brood so much."
"I don't brood." Layton was quick to reply.
She laughed again. He decided he liked it.
"You seem to know a lot for someone on her first day."
Savannah froze. Her eyes stared straight ahead. Then she sucked in a breath. "I'm nosy, what can I say."
Layton wanted her to look at him. So he tugged a strand of her hair.
Savannah turned around. He caught her gaze. Blue met gold. They continued to stare at each other. One beat. Two. Then three.
Layton moved first. He grabbed her face with both hands and crushed his mouth to hers. Her lips were soft, sweet—like strawberries. He moved one hand to the back of her neck, bringing her closer, drinking her in. Deep.
She weaved her fingers through his hair. Pulling. Her scent overwhelmed his senses.
More. He wanted more. He didn't care that the car was digging into mid-section. If the bloody thing wasn't there he would have been all over her, pressing against her, feeling her soft warm flesh.
Then his tongue touched hers. There was an explosion. Fire raced through his veins; his bones liquified. Need made his chest ache but she filled him.
The only air they breathed was each other.
When they broke apart, their chests continued to heave. He was satisfied that her lips were swollen and red; her eyes glazed. He could still taste her.
"Fuck. What the hell was that?" Savannah gasped. "Are you crazy?"
Layton's lip curled. At that moment he probably was.
"That—it..." Savannah gestured to the space between them "Whatever the hell that was, don't do it again." Savannah snapped. Her eyes were flashing. She seemed angry. And confused. She turned the key in the ignition and the Ferrari roared.
"I got the kiss you said I didn't deserve," Layton said. "Took me less than a day."
"Asshole." Savannah spat.
Layton moved just in time. She threw the gear and reversed. He watched her speed away.
A/N: Sorry the chapter was shorter and took longer than I wanted.
But man, writing from Layton's perspective always drains me. Next update might not be so fast. I'm going overseas soon though.
Once again, let me know what you guys think. Way too fast? Wondering what's going on? Any feedback much appreciated. The support always makes me want to write better and update faster. So thanks!