42.

Cassie St. Cloud was popular in a way that was befitting every cliché high school drama ever written. It would have been comical if she didn't feel the need to use her popularity. I don't mean she used it in any specific way that infuriated me, she just used it. She used her popularity to be well-liked. She used it to get out of things she thought were unpleasant. She used it to 'hold court' and act superior to everyone around her. And when she thought it was necessary, she used it to crush other people.

Like Cam.

Seeing Cam, standing on the carnival-themed stage with his hands in his khaki's pockets, rocking back and forth on his chuck taylor's with a huge goofy grin on his face… and that bitch Castille, smiling so sweetly like she hadn't done anything wrong. Like she hadn't pushed me off a fucking mountain. Like she didn't try everything she could think of to take Bixby away from me. Like she didn't break Cameron's heart just to get her stupid fucking fair! I was suddenly livid. I narrowed my eyes and scowled at her.

"What's wrong with you?" She didn't try to pretend to like me anymore, and it was about the only thing she'd ever done that I could respect. I couldn't even really give a shit about her charity work, because she never did it for the benefit of the charities. Not really. She used the charities to make herself look better, and for their part the charities didn't care why she did it, just that she did. And she was good. She raised a lot of money for a lot of charities. But whatever. Bitch.

"Other than having to share this stage with a fucking bitch, nothing's wrong with me." Yeah. I'd pretty much given up on trying to just float by. Fuck her.

She sputtered. "Excuse me?" She tried to keep her volume down to keep from attracting attention. Heaven forbid someone see the real her, someone that mattered. I rolled my eyes.

"There's no excuse for you, you skanky whore!" I wasn't really that concerned with attracting attention, and seeing Cassie frantically look around like a suspicious crackhead just made me enjoy attacking her even more.

Then Cameron saved her. Pity. "Do we have to stay here the whole time? Don't you think we'll make more money if we can mix with the masses?"

Witty comments about Cassie and her tendencies to be a total whore flew to my brain and stumbled toward my lips, but Cam shot me a look that made me scowl. After a moment, Cassie's scowl morphed into a bright smile and she agreed with Cam's idea. Naturally, if it worked well, she'd claim all the credit for it. But she did all of those obnoxious underhanded things with such a sweet smile on her face that the people she was screwing over tended to thank her for it. Bitch.

I was glad to have the freedom to walk around though. And honestly, I didn't give two shits about helping her stupid kissing booth make money, so I wasn't soliciting in any way. Instead, I wandered around the fair, amusing myself with visuals of the crap Cassie the bitch would do to get those lip-print stickers.

"Emma Grace!" I was near the giant ferris wheel when I heard my name, and I turned to look for the voice. I saw Riley and waited for him to walk to me. "There you are! Geez. I've been looking for you."

"Uhh… why?"

He waved a stack of stickers at me. "For these of course."

"Oh geez. Why do you even have those?"

"I got a text message from your boyfriend about it." He shrugged like that should explain it all. It didn't. I raised an eyebrow at him and he chuckled. "I was probably not supposed to tell you that. B said you needed help, so here I am, helping you. Now… where do I want to stick these?" He got an evil grin on his face as he looked me up and down like a piece of meat to buy. I raised an eyebrow at him again and he laughed. "You know, most girls swoon at my feet for that look."

"I don't doubt that." I couldn't help myself. I laughed.

"It's not that funny." He frowned like a pouty little boy and I laughed again. "Well it isn't." His tone had changed to a petulant pout and I tried to hide the giggles with a cough. "Fine. Turn around. If you're going to be a brat, I can at least get the pleasure of torturing your boyfriend."

I had no idea what he was talking about, but I turned around anyway. Mostly, I turned away from him so I could smirk at his stupidity without hurting his little baby feelings, but the smirk faded instantly when I felt his hand on my ass. I spun with a screech. "Riley!"

"I can put them wherever I want. That's where I wanted to put that one." He shrugged nonchalantly, but he couldn't keep the smirk off his own face either. I scowled. "Now, where else do I want to kiss you?"

"What?"

"Well… that's what this is about, right? I paid money to get to pretend to kiss you, and since it seems I'm first, I'm putting these where I'd really like to kiss you."

"You want to kiss my ass?" I giggled. What a ridiculous conversation!

"No, but you tell me to kiss your ass all the time, so… Now, where can I…"

Before I could even think of a response, Riley pressed another sticker to my neck just below my right ear. Then another to my shoulder. And another to my left hip. He was being obnoxious to torture Bix, and I just hoped Bix would take it as a joke.

"For fuck's sake, how many of those things did you buy?"

"Twenty, but I really want to go use them as an excuse to feel up Cassie St. Cloud."

I scowled. "If you give her those fucking stickers you just don't even bother trying to talk to me again." I was fuming mad that he'd even consider helping her. He was shocked by my vehemence. "Seriously Riley? She pushed me off a damn mountain for crying out loud!"

"You weren't that worked up about that before… Did something else happen?" His joking stopped instantly, replaced with a hardness I'd come to expect from Protective Riley.

I deflated instantly. "No, nothing else happened." I sighed, and it sounded tired even to me. "I'm so tired of the drama and bullshit. It's ridiculous. I'm normal. I'm just a normal person. And all of a fucking sudden I'm stuck in this awful teenage movie with Cassie St. Cloud as the star and me as the equivalent to Cinder-fucking-ella!"

Riley stared dumbly at me for a moment. "I have no idea what you just said. So, nothing else happened, but you're mad at Cassie even more. That about sum it up?"

"Never mind. I'm sure you can find Castille fairly easily. I need to go whore myself around, so I don't get a lecture from Queen Bitch." I started to walk away and Riley tugged on my hair.

"Here. Turn around, and you can have the rest of these before you go find Mr. Fantastic to make you feel better." He was only slightly bitter and I frowned at him as he spun me around so my back was to him. He pressed several stickers seemingly randomly on my back, kissed the back of my head,and swatted my ass. "Go play little girl."

When I turned back he had a predatory smile on his face, and he was focusing on a pair of very blonde, very scantily clothed cotton-candy sellers. Good grief. I laughed out loud at him as I wandered off, pretending to care about the stupid stickers.

An hour and a half later, I'd managed to finally make it to the dunking booth. It was exactly as you'd expect it to be: large clear tank filled with smurf-colored water, bright red trim around the tank and yellow background board, mini-diving board-type seat supporting a dripping Bixby. I'd sold several stickers, and they'd been stuck all over me. The only places untouched were places that Connor would not appreciate a sticker on, but I was so just over it. Bix noticed me and smiled, then he cringed when a baseball bounced off the cage that was protecting him from the terrible pitches. The look on his face said he'd been dealing with the awful throws for a while. I stood back and watched, wondering who'd managed to sink him, and what his face looked like when the seat fell from beneath him.

A few minutes later, I watched appreciatively as Bix climbed out of the cage, his back and shoulder muscles flexing like a gym commercial. He dried off with a fluffy orange towel while talking with Kristoff Amerson, who was apparently the next to plop in the tank. They laughed and then went their separate ways.

"Hey you." Bix kissed me lightly on the lips, then his smile melted to a frown when he saw the stickers. "What the hell?"

"You snooze you lose, apparently." I smirked, but his frown hardened more. "What? What's wrong?"

"I don't like this at all." He looked pouty then, and I smiled.

"I love you." And I did. More and more every day. "I'm not exactly stoked to have you in that tank, but your BFF made demands and this is what happens. Although, to be honest, I'm still not sure how I got voted into this position."

"Skyler is just as persuasive as Cassie, when she wants something."

"Um, okay… but Skyler wants Cam. Why would she even care if I'm… oh Geez." It dawned on me that Skyler was using me as a pawn in her new war against Cassie.

"Where do I get those sticker things?"

"They've been selling them at school for two weeks." I quirked an eyebrow at him and he grimaced.

"Yeah, and I bought some, but what the hell was I gonna do with them here? I left the ones I bought at home. I didn't honestly expect I'd feel the need to use them. Seriously, did you expect me to put stickers on you?"

Now that he mentioned it, it did seem out of character for him. "Well I have some if you really want to buy more, but what's changed that you all of a sudden want to play with stickers?"

He moved closer and bent to speak into my ear. "I didn't need stickers because I can put my actual lips wherever I want on you. But I wasn't thinking defensively. Now I need to cover you with those stupid fucking stickers to prevent other people from doing it."

He hadn't said anything particularly sexy, but his body heat and his breath on my ear made me hot. I shuddered and I felt his lips upturn against my ear. "You're wet."

"Yeah that happens when you fall into a tank of water." He was back to normal, flirty Bix and I rolled my eyes.

"Who did it?"

"Some of Riley's moronic friends." There was no malice in his voice, but I felt like ice had been dripped down my spine. I'd gotten comfortable with Bixby as my boyfriend and Riley as my friend, and they'd gotten at least tolerant of each other, in my presence anyway. I'd let myself forget the rest of the story. Riley's obsession with blaming Bixby for his sister's death. Riley's insistence that Bixby be made to suffer for it, even if it meant poisoning an entire school against him. Bixby's refusal to do anything to stop it. It had filled me with anger and hate when I was at the Academy, forced to live with it every day. But since I'd gotten to Carlton, I'd let myself get caught up in Cassie and my own drama.

"Are you okay?"

He rolled his eyes. "Josh Pierce is a douche. He hit the release wand with a baseball, Emma Grace, that's it. It was probably pure luck anyway. Don't baby me."

If he'd said it nicely, or if he'd said it jokingly, I would have let it go. But he didn't do either. He sounded almost mad and I scowled at him. "Fine. I won't 'baby' you ever fucking again."

"Oh hell." He ran his hand through his hair, scattering droplets of water everywhere, including on me. I rolled my eyes and brushed at the water. "I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings. I appreciate that you care about me. Thank you."

It's not that I didn't believe him. I did. But it sounded like he was mostly just trying to placate me. And I was just too tired to think about it. "I'm sorry for treating you like a baby." I barely kept myself from rolling my eyes.

"God I hate when we get like this."

I did smile at that. "Too much togetherness does that. I'm gonna go wander around and sell myself like an underage prostitute. You have to go back to the dunk tank don't you?"

"In an hour or so. Let me have the rest of your stickers."

I frowned and told him how much money that would cost him, but he didn't care. After going back and forth about it, I finally relented and let him spend a ridiculous amount of money on stupid stickers. Then he spent a long time placing the stickers all over me. He kissed each place before pressing the stickers there, mindless of the people around us including teachers and parents.

When he finally finished, I was dizzy and he was smirking. He swaggered off and I had to shake my head a few times to get my brain to work again. Then I was off to find my way back to the kissing booth where I could hopefully be excused from 'kissing' duties for the rest of the day.


AN: The story will speed up very soon but I've wanted this "Grease" fair thing for a long time so I'm going to drag it out and enjoy it. :) Seriously, if it feels like I'm dragging it out, please let me know.