Ever dreamt of being a fairytale Princess?
Meet Sarahjeanne. She's nice, pretty, sings to children, has the manners of an angel and the personality to match. There's a Prince Charming just around the bend who seems just cut out to save her – the damsel-in-distress.
Except in the real world, fairytale Princesses don't have happily ever afters.
While we marvel at the beautiful personalities of fairytale princesses, real people like them are scorned and ridiculed – just like Jeanne.
While in fairytales, the first handsome man these Princesses meet happens to be a Prince who immediately falls in love with her, the real hot guy will usually ignore you, or, worse, make fun of you – just like Jeanne.
While fairytale Princesses find their Prince, marry them and have their Happily Ever Afters, the real world has parents with very different plans – just like Jeanne's.
But despite being a "fairytale Princess" living in the real world, can Jeanne overcome the odds of peers whom she hates, an irritating, yet really hot guy, and a betrothed marriage to a guy she's never met before?!
Maybe there are such things as happy endings in real life too…
Welcome to Reality
"Love, like truth and beauty, is concrete. Love is not fundamentally a sweet feeling; not, at heart, a matter of sentiment, attachment, or being "drawn toward." Love is active, effective, a matter of making reciprocal and mutually beneficial relation with one's friends and enemies."
- Carter Heyward
I stared at the person who had just spoken to me and wished that I was deaf – or even delusional. Because I could not have just heard those words. In my life, everyone was already always against me, but I had never expected God to join in as well.
Because only God could have let such a thing happen. But why?
I stared at the mirror as she tapped at the golden chain hanging from my neck with a heart-shaped pendant dangling from it. The one he had given me. Because love is active, he said. Because love is…forever…
"No!" I yelled at her, slapping away her hand and standing up from the chair she had pressed me into earlier. "No, you're lying!"
"Why would I lie, dear?" She sounded calm. So calm it was nerve-wrecking. "It has been arranged since your birth. This has to happen. We're Cockads – we keep our promises."
I felt tears slipping out of my eyes. No. No! I didn't want to cry – didn't want to feel…to feel so…weak…not in front of her!!
"You can't make me!" I shrieked with all my might.
I blindly ran from my room, hearing all my emotions roaring inside of me. Feeling my heart tear so, so slowly into small, small pieces. Feeling, not for the first time, that life itself was against me.
This. Couldn't. Be. Happening. To. Me.
Just when things couldn't seem to get worse, the words which started all this seemed to reverberate in my mind.
"You may think you love him, Jeanne…but you're betrothed to another – betrothed from birth. No matter what you do, no matter how much you fight it, you have to marry him."
Chapter One: Surnames
"Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away."
--Philip K. Dick
The whole room sniggered while I reddened with embarrassment. I did not quite understand why every single time this happened, I would feel a wave of shame overcome me – but it happened anyway. Every single time.
Which, of course, was every day of the school week.
As usual, I did not dare to look up to see the leer that I knew my fellow students would give me, so I ducked my head and let my long, dark hair fall as a sheet around my face.
Honestly, I have no idea what I did to the population of Huntsmen's High.
I'm not extremely smart…or extremely dumb. I'm not really ugly – at least last time I checked in the mirror – and I'm not really mean to anyone. But still, most saw it as a duty to make my life a complete and utter misery.
No idea why.
Maybe it's just the surname that causes all the grief.
It was the surname that started it all in the first place.
When the bell finally rang for first period, I promptly grabbed for my bag and ducked out of class, hoping no one would see my beet-red face.
The next thing that happened was something that would only happen to me. My being in such a rush meant that I did not realise that someone's foot was conveniently in the way. I, of course, not noticing anything but my escape door tripped over this conveniently placed leg and started falling…really fast.
Most days, I would end up on the floor, papers flying and everything but today, someone else happened to be in the way. So, instead of falling on hard ground, I fell against someone tall and with an exceptionally hard chest.
What could be worse? The floor or someone's rock-hard chest?
This person with the exceptionally hard chest happened to be Luke Hawkins, the recently elected School Captain as well as the captain of the Rugby team. Luke Hawkins also happened to be one of the meanest people I had ever met…to me, anyway.
So as to what could be worse? You tell me.
The way my life was turning out – with the whole totally stereotypical damsel-in-distress thing and with everyone completely against me – I would expect the handsome, social elite to be the love of my life…or at least the chivalrous knight who would come and rescue me.
But this being my life, I had no such luck. Because, instead of helping me up or grabbing my bulging schoolbag from the floor with a pitying expression, Luke Hawkins pushed me away (not gently, either), then brushed at his chest as if he had touched something contaminated before saying in the most disgusted voice I had ever heard, "Watch where you're going, Cockhead."
And as if life couldn't get any worse, the whole class erupted into a chorus of laughter, despite our Rolls teacher standing right at the front of the room and shooting the supposed School Captain a withering look.
I couldn't look at him – or anyone else, for that matter – as I brushed past him and ran out of the classroom, wishing that I was anyone but me.
Waiting outside for me was my best friend, Jane.
She gave me one look then wrapped a long arm around my shoulders and squeezed it. "Ignore what they say," she advised me.
Jane is seriously the best thing that has ever happened to me.
I tightened my lips, too used to this ritual to feel anything except slightly sorry for myself…and wishing I was someone else.
"Did I grow ugly between leaving home and now?" I asked her quite genuinely, turning to face her and giving her a grim smile.
Jane made a face. "Come on, now. Don't be silly. You look absolutely fine."
I was about to ask her. I was totally about to ask her. But thankfully, my mind worked quicker than my mouth this time and I didn't speak the last of it. Because when I asked her, I knew what she would say.
She would tell me the reasons why everyone was totally against me.
And I didn't want to hear them.
Because I would be reminded of it anyway. Every time I looked in the mirror…or every time I looked at my packed lunch in the cafeteria…or every time I talked to a teacher or any other adult.
The surname was only the start.
Jane was now giving me a funny look, reminding me that I had been halfway through a sentence. The thing about Jane is that she's really curious about anything. She cannot let a single thing drop – even if you had forgotten what you were going to say, she would persist until you remembered. By that time, I usually make something up to be what I was about to say.
Which was exactly what I did then.
"Then what's…with Luke Hawkins? Why was he elected Captain when he's such…such…"
"Just say it, Jeanne. Just…say what you feel – for once." Jane had stopped walking and was looking intently at me.
I blinked at her, pursed my lips then shook my head slowly.
"He's such…such…?" Jane prompted.
I closed my eyes and sighed, then looked back at Jane and shook my head again. "I…I can't, Jane."
"Such a retard! Loser! Jerk!" Jane was shouting, catching the attention of a lot of people who turned and looked at her with shock and curiosity. I could tell that some were even thinking that she was calling me those things from the large smile they had plastered on their faces.
Why, world? Why?
"Gawd, Jeanne!" Jane exclaimed. "Why is it that you can't even say anything bad about a person when you so obviously think it?!"
"I…I never thought those things about him…I just thought he was…well…mean…"
Jane slapped her forehead with her palm and then looked at me with a serious expression. "Seriously, Jeanne. I don't know what your Aunt and Uncle do to you at home, but you really need to stop being so…so…so…" She screwed her eyes shut. "So nice and innocent and start standing up for yourself. Start…start acting like a normal teenager."
I was staring at her in shock as if she had just fully slapped me. Because she had never gotten exasperated at me before. Never. She had known me for this past year and should have understood why I was the way I am…
Suddenly, being "nice" was a really bad thing. And being nice was apparently abnormal too? I really couldn't understand.
I opened my mouth, about to ask her why she was so upset with me but before I could, the deputy, Mrs Freed, started bellowing at all the corridor-lingerers to get off to class before she put everyone there in detention.
Seeing that Jane and I were in different classes, she wondered off without saying another word to me while I was left to trail with a bowed head towards my English Class.
"Too nice." I murmured to myself. "Abnormal."
"You're late, Miss Cockad."
A scatter of giggles.
I turned to my innocent-looking English teacher and wondered if she realised the impact of that one sentence. Poor, poor Ms Leons knew nothing.
I gave Ms Leons a smile and apologised whole-heartedly, as I knew what Ms Leons felt when she was disrupted from her teaching. She responded with a nod before waving her hand, allowing me to turn and start walking towards my desk, right at the front of the room. It wasn't too long ago that I had come to Huntsmen's High, which was the reason why I got the terribly detested 'front seat' in class.
I wiped a sweaty palm against my long, flowery skirt before pulling my chair out and sitting down.
"Thank you, Miss Cockad." Ms Leons said with a gaze over her half-framed glasses.
She always referred to my last name at the end her sentences. Ms Leons really was clueless. Poor lady.
"Now, where were we? Ah, yes. Shakespeare…" And Ms Leons started gushing about the 'genius' that Shakespeare was while I stared down at my exercise book and started doodling randomly.
"…the way he is able to simply grasp each character's distinct souls and put them on"-
I inwardly smiled. Now she really wouldn't be happy about this.
Looking up from my doodles, I set my eyes upon Mrs Freed, the deputy who now looked much more at peace. Her wrinkled face giving way to a polite smile, Mrs Freed looked from Ms Leons to the rest of the class and said, "I'm sorry for disrupting your class, Ms Leons, but this student here signed in late."
She waved her hand towards the doorway, from which in stepped a brown-haired guy who was really tall, slim and had a bored look on his face.
Scarily, he looked almost like the twin of Luke Hawkins – even the expensive clothes he had on looked so similar! Dark pants, suede shoes and a black collared shirt with sleeves folded up towards his elbow, he looked like he was out to dinner in a restaurant and not to school.
His similarity to Luke, though, was obviously not what Stacey Jones – the giggling girl who sat behind me thought. For as Luke's twin started walking into the room, she gasped quite loudly, "Oh my…he is so hot."
I glanced at his clothes once again, noting that the money spent on that could easily feed all the homeless children in a small town for a month. Then at his heavily tanned face with the full lips and set jaw, face being cleanly shaven from any form of facial hair. He had dark hair, cut jaggedly, with a sprinkle of blonde streaks. Then I looked into his eyes…an odd mixture between blue and grey which I could conveniently see due to my closeness to the front of the room – 'front desk' and all.
Then, so suddenly that I froze, the boy's blue-grey eyes snapped down to meet my own gaze, a look of amusement dancing in his eyes. As was my usual reaction, I quickly ducked my head and pretended it didn't happen.
"What's your name?" Ms Leons asked Luke's twin, breaking the momentary silence in the room.
I slowly looked back up, relieved to see that he was now paying full attention to Ms Leons, who was having to crane her neck pretty high to look into his face.
"Justin. Justin King." Said a baritone, very masculine voice.
"Well…Justin…" Ms Leons said, looking to be overcome by, as Stacey stated, his "hotness" too. "…well, you can sit there." And promptly, she pointed to the only empty seat in the room which was – voila! – a 'front desk' seat too. Because only newcomers are rejected to sitting at the front.
So, nodding appreciatively to Mrs Freed, then Ms Leons, Luke Hawkin's twin – or Justin – trudged towards that desk which happened to be next to mine, the bored look still present on his face and a bag slung over one shoulder.
The silence continued as Justin pulled out the chair, dropped the bag with a loud thud onto the floor, and sunk into the chair. He then looked up at Ms Leons and smiled at her, calmly.
Ms Leons, who also happened to be watching Justin, then jumped in a pixie-like way – because if you're as short as Ms Leons, every action you make would be pretty much pixie-like – and picked up Othello and told us all to start at Act II, Scene III.
I let out a sigh and picked up my text, flipping through the pages to find my place.
"Shakespeare's boring, ain't it, farmgirl?" A low voice whispered.
Startled, I turned to look wide-eyed at Justin.
"What?" Was my intelligent answer.
He made an act to tighten his lips then repeated in a way so slowly that it seemed like he thought I was stupid…or mentally retarded, "Isn't Shakespeare boring, farmgirl?"
There, he said it again.
He called me farmgirl.
In my mind, I ran through the clothes I had put on today. A soft, cotton blouse and a long, green and flowery skirt with lace at the bottom. Oh, and a green ribbon tied into my hair too. Farmgirl-looking? I think not.
For some odd reason, due to the demeaning way he had spoken to me, I felt that I should show him that I did have an IQ higher than 0. So, instead of ducking my head which I would normally have done, I looked at him from the corner of my eye and murmured, "Shakespeare is…an essential learning experience for the English student -"
"- Just admit it's boring, farmgirl. I could see it in your face…and that." Then he pointed to the doodles that lay sprawling over my notebook – the doodles Ms Leons never noticed.
I felt myself redden. I must have looked like such a weirdo to this guy and he was new! The only guy in school who did not know my last name or my supposed abnormal niceness.
With my ability to look dumb in front of people in the space of five seconds, no wonder people were mean to me.
"Mr King!" Ms Leons exclaimed, looking down at Justin with such shock, one would have thought he had murdered instead of whispered to me.
The first thing that came to my mind, though, was how good Justin's last name had sounded when Ms Leons has exclaimed it. Mr King. Like…royalty King.
Not like…well…not like Cockad.
I inwardly kicked myself to think that I would come near to feeling sorry for myself for having my surname. My surname was the only connection I had to my parents.
Just when I was thinking about my surname, it was said out once again.
"Miss Cockad." Ms Leons sounded even more appalled at me.
This taught me for ever replying to Justin...
"Sorry, ma'am." I said quietly, pursing my lips and looking to the desk.
I heard Ms Leons let out a sigh before she started going through the script once again, this time speaking strangely louder.
"Cockad, eh?" I heard Justin say under his breath. I noticed that there was a hint of amusement in his voice, but nothing bad. So, deciding that this guy was causing me more than enough trouble, I simply ignored him.
I hurried out of class when the bell rang as usual, trying my best not to catch the attention of anyone, and, this time, watching the floor so that any conveniently-placed feet would not hinder my escape.
This time, I made it out the door without doing anything uncoordinated. I stood still for a moment, took a breath of air and then started walking purposefully towards the cafeteria when I heard my name being mentioned. What made me stop and look around was that my name was mentioned in full – and it was hardly ever done so except when with new teachers or doctors.
I turned around in time to see none other than Luke Hawkins pointing to me and saying, "There she is. Cockhead's right over there."
The guy who Luke was talking to turned around and met my eyes again with his blue-grey ones. He had a look of surprise on his face before he turned back to Luke and thanked him before coming towards me.
I'm not sure why, but seeing him stand next to Luke and seeing their scary similarity along with the way he was practically charging towards me caused me to turn my heels and move swiftly towards to cafeteria.
"Sarahjeanne!" I heard him call.
I shuddered and pretended I couldn't hear him, walking even faster towards my goal.
People were seriously staring at me by now, and I absolutely hated attention. So, despite my insides yelling at me to keep going, I turned and waited as Justin came towards me, a wad of sheets in his hand.
Before I could say anything, he pushed the sheets into my hands, saying, "You left these on your desk and no one would take them for you," - figures – "but your name was on this," he pointed to one of the sheets, "so I came to find you."
He had spoken in a babble of words while I mutely took the papers from him, wondering when he would realise that I was the epitome of social rejection. When he finally had a chance to take a breath, Justin rolled his shoulders then looked around the wide corridors at the people who were, in turn, looking at him funny. This, he seemed to notice as he said, "People are looking at me weird."
I first expected him to say that it was because of me. Not because he was mean – although seeing as he looked and dressed incredibly like Luke Hawkins, no doubt he would be mean – but because it was just obvious. I mean…duh…weird looks Sarahjeanne Cockad.
I raised my eyebrow at him, waiting to say what I thought I knew he would. What he said next, though, bemused me.
"Must be because of my incredibly good looks, right?"
My jaw dropped at his conceit.
"Um…excuse me?" I asked, not quite sure I had heard him right.
"You really have a hearing problem, farmgirl." Justin informed me, folding his arms across his chest. "Maybe you should go see a doctor."
I furrowed my brows, partially because he had called me farmgirl again when I so evidently wasn't, and partially because he had suggested I see a doctor.
Justin evidently did not see my expression of anger because he said next, "Sarahjeanne, now there's an odd name. Is it your real name?"
As if there was a person alive who would call themselves Sarahjeanne as a fake name.
"Excuse me." I said quickly before turning and walking away from him. And due to there being many people in the corridor, I think I must've lost him because he didn't call my name out again.
A/N: To the readers who have read this before but are up for the re-editted version, thank you for wanting to read this again. For all of you who are new to this story, i hope you enjoy it and will keep reading. I hope this version will be even better than the first as i have had the time to ponder how to make it better, as well as the help of my wonderful beta, Stylo.
For you who may wonder what changes there shall be, here's a list:
1. Grammatical and spelling checks (curtesy of my lovely beta) so you won't cringe at any horrific wording
2. Addition of a few perspectives from Justin's pov (to compromise people who don't/do want it in, as well as i think it'll work better than every chapter change of pobvv)
3. Addition of quotes to every chapter instead of a few
4. One or two chapters added to the later part of the story (for those who have read it, note chapter 18)
Hope you enjoy!! And please give feedback for even more improvement!! And for all my loyal readers, thank you SO much for your support!