CHAPTER 1: Not a Freshman
The tall stone building, backed by the cloudy sky, looked more like a penitentiary than a school. Bars covered the windows, and the high, concrete wall surrounding it included a wrought iron gate.
This was going to be fun.
Looking about at the ominous building, I had a sudden urge to run. (I wasn't known for bravery. Hell, I wasn't known at all.) But, I didn't. I just stood there and stared.
Did I really have to go in there?
As if in answer to my question, I heard voices approaching, and I quickly rushed through the menacing gates. I didn't want to be caught standing in front of the building, gaping at it with my mouth open. This day was going to be embarrassing enough.
Inside the gate, I stopped in awe of the sheer size of the place. It had to be at least five times bigger than my old school. And I had thought that my school was big!
Footsteps echoed ominously behind me, and I crossed the yard swiftly, heading toward what seemed to be the office. It was. So far so good.
I went inside and immediately felt a rush of warm air, which simply reminded me how cold it was outside. I had barely crossed the threshold when I was met by two piercing eyes. I halted, barely in the room, startled by the hostility emanating from the only other person in the office. She took in my messy brown curls and well-worn clothes critically, and my stomach squirmed under her gaze.
"Do you want something, or are you just going to stand there like an idiot?" the lady snapped.
She was sitting behind a desk, with her feet propped up and a coffee cup in her hand. I realized then that I was intruding. Maybe I should I have knocked. Too late now.
When I didn't answer, she scowled at me, which only emphasized the deep wrinkles on her withered old face.
"Spit it out or get out. I don't have time for this." I held back a skeptical snort. Yeah, she sure looked busy, lounging in her chair drinking coffee.
She seemed to hear my thoughts.
"This is the only break I have all day, and you're wasting it. Is there a problem with your schedule or something? I have limited patience."
If this was her being patient, I definitely didn't want to see her impatient.
"Actually, I need my schedule," I stated in relative politeness.
She looked at me from under her thick brows. "It's halfway through the school year-" Then an epiphany hit her, and her eyes looked me up and down, as if she was seeing me for the first time. "You're a new student." It was a statement, not a question.
"Yeah," I answered anyway.
"Thought so," she replied smugly. "Have you just moved here?"
"Have you ever been to a big city like this before?" she asked proudly, as if her city was the most amazing place in the world.
I almost rolled my eyes, seeing right through her question. It was her way of asking me if I was a hick. And so what if I was? Walton, the place I had lived for practically my entire life, was way better than this concrete dump of a city. You could actually breathe there without choking on fumes.
"No. I've been here before. Never liked it much, though."
She frowned. "Really? Well, you would probably have a hard time adjusting. It's understandable." She looked at me with pity.
My lip curled in disgust. "Oh, no. I'm adjusted. I just don't like it."
She shook her head, pity still emanating from every line on her face (and there were many lines).
"Well, I am guessing you need your schedule?"
An eyebrow rose at my tone. "You're a freshman, right?"
My hands clenched into a fist. Just because I was short!
"Oh." She looked at me disbelievingly, then sat down at her computer. "ID number?"
"What's your ID number?"
"I don't have a driver's license."
"Your school ID number."
"I don't have one. At least not that I know of."
She sighed, as if I was purposely trying to make her life miserable.
"Fine. What's your name?"
She glanced up at that, and before she could say anything else, I spelled it out for her. Yes, I knew my name was weird.
"Is that Italian?"
I shrugged. How the hell would I know? I had been adopted when I was four, and my adoptive mom had no idea where my name came from. She claims the name was scrawled on a note I had with me when she found me on her doorstep. I had never bothered to look it up.
The old lady did some quick typing on her computer, and, soon enough, I heard the sound of a printer coming to life. She grabbed the paper as soon as it was done and held it out to me.
"This is your schedule. If you have any questions, feel free to come back and ask." The smile she shot me contradicted her very words, for it was anything but welcoming.
I reflected her menacing smile back at her, and, grabbing my schedule, I muttered a "thanks" and walked out the door.
Such friendly people they have in this city.
Thunder clapped overhead, and I quickly realized that it had begun to rain.
"Great," I mumbled, "This is just great."
I crowded into the hallway with the rest of the students who were trying to avoid the rain. I immediately regretted joining in the herd, though, because as soon as I did, they bumped and pushed me around as if I didn't even exist (which to them, I guess, I didn't).
When I was finally able to free myself from the swarm, I glanced at my schedule for the first time and groaned. I had Chemistry first. I hate Chemistry.
Whatever. At least I could get it over with. (A sorry attempt at optimism, I know.)
Finding my classroom while avoiding the mosh pit was rather difficult, but I made it in one piece just as the first bell rang.
I opened the door slowly, peering inside before entering. (For the record, I wasn't afraid. I just wanted to know what I was getting into.) The teacher had his back to me. He was writing what looked like a very complicated formula on the board.
I sighed. I would never understand chemistry. What's the point anyway?
A throat cleared behind me, and I realized I was still standing in the doorway. I quickly went inside and sat down in the nearest seat I could find without looking at the person looming behind me. (I had decided that morning that I would try to be as inconspicuous as possible. I hated to attract attention.)
Unfortunately, that person followed me.
"Hey," a voice said in my general direction.
I looked up and saw a guy, and from first glance I could tell that he thought he was really hot stuff.
"You need something?" I snapped moodily.
"Yeah. You're in my seat, freshman. Move it."
My face grew hot.
"I am not a freshman!" I growled through clenched teeth. (Of course, I only heard that part, not the part about me being in his seat.) I was already pissed about the crappy day I was having, and he just wasn't helping.
"Really? 'Cause you could've fooled me."
I launched myself at him but found a restraining arm had wrapped itself around my waist. I twisted around to find the source of the offending arm, but I couldn't see a face. All I could see was a mass of long, light-brownish hair. So, instead, I angrily tried to get the filthy arm away my body.
"Cool it," a low voice whispered in my ear.
I shivered. A mysterious voice talking softly right into your ear can be pretty creepy. Or at least it was for me.
I stopped fighting, deciding I'd wait for the creeper to let go. Not like I had much choice, though. He had a strong grip.
"Hey, Kyle," the creeper said over my shoulder to the guy in front of us, "Back off."
"Why do you care? This has nothing to do with you."
"I don't want anyone to get hurt," the voice stated simply.
"I wasn't going to hurt her," the jerk looked offended that the creeper would suggest such a thing.
"I was more worried about you than her," the creeper said with a hint of humor in his voice.
Maybe he wasn't so bad, I thought. And then I remembered that his arm was still wrapped firmly around my waist and quickly erased that last rogue thought.
The guy-named-Kyle's face turned red out of anger or embarrassment, I wasn't sure which. But before he could say anything else, the teacher arrived.
"Is there a problem here?" the old man asked grouchily. The creeper suddenly released me, almost causing me to tumble forward.
"No, sir," the guys both answered innocently.
"Mm-hmm." The teacher didn't believe them, I could tell. And he was angry. Oh, they are so in trouble, I thought maliciously.
But, instead, he turned to me. "What are you doing here?" he inquired accusingly.
My mouth dropped open. They were the ones causing problems!
"You're in the wrong class, missy," the old man grumbled. Then he grabbed my arm and started dragging me to the door. "It's to the principal's office with you."
"What?" I cried, my voice coming out as a high-pitched squeak.
Before he reached the door, though, the creeper stopped him.
"Sir, shouldn't you give her a chance to explain herself first?" he said politely. I looked at him thankfully. "I mean, she's just a freshman. Show some mercy."
Thankfulness turned to hatred.
"Fine," the teacher growled, letting go of my arm.
They all turned to look at me, and that was when I noticed that there were more than three pairs of eyes on me. The whole class was gazing curiously in my direction, wondering what I would say. (I was wondering the same thing right about then.)
"Um…" I started, suddenly nervous.
"Come on, freshie, now's your chance," Kyle said cruelly.
That was it.
My fists clenched tight at my sides, and my face grew red.
"I AM NOT A FRESHMAN!"
The words echoed in the room, and I just stood there, catching my breath, while everyone simply stared at me, stunned. The teacher had his eyebrows raised, speechless.
The creeper was the first one to laugh, and everyone else followed suit, including the teacher. I just stood there, my face probably now the color of a ripe tomato.
Now extremely frustrated, I marched over to my bag, grabbed my schedule, and held it out to the teacher. He took it, still laughing.
His laughs stopped abruptly as he read it. And, eyeing me shrewdly over the paper, he asked in disbelief, "You're in this class?"
"Apparently," I snapped. It probably wasn't smart to be talking like that to a teacher, especially on my first day, too, but I was past caring.
The creeper walked over, peering over the old man's shoulder, and declared in amazement, "She's a Junior!"
I rolled my eyes. They finally got it.
Everyone peered at me, reassessing their previous assumptions.
"Isn't she kind of short for a freshman?" some smartass said from the back of the room.
I could feel my nails cutting into my hand. Were they trying to piss me off? Because it was definitely working.
The teacher finally recovered. "Quiet!" he growled. "Class is starting. Get your journals out!"
All chatter and laughter immediately died out, and everyone hastily pulled out their journals. (Apparently, this teacher knew how to control his class.)
"You! New student!" He shoved my schedule back into my hands. "You'll work with Mr. Tempestas. Now get to work!" With that, the old man stomped away, back to his desk.
I turned to the guy he had pointed to with a groan. It was the creeper. Evidently he was my new lab partner.
Well, at least I wasn't stuck with that jerk named Kyle. (Another sad attempt at optimism.)
The creeper ambled coolly up to me with his hand out. "Name's Aerin. Nice to meet you."
I looked down at his hand and back up at his face. If he really expected me to shake his hand after all that, he wasn't the brightest bulb in the bunch.
A/N: So? What do you think of the first chapter of my new story? Review and tell me what u thought!