Chapter One: Jerks and New Kids Ruin Lives


Worst feeling in the world? Getting slammed into a wall of lockers. It hurts like hell. I repositioned my glasses upon my face and pulled up the collar of my pull-on sweater that had dropped over my shoulder. My hair, deep brown but not nearly as shiny as it should be, was falling out of its bun.

"Sorry," the jerk that had slammed me mumbled before walking away.

Invisible. That was the word to describe me. Getting pushed and knocked into was the norm for me. Muttering profanities, I pulled my backpack off and dropped it onto the ground, toying with my locker until I got it open.

"Dominique," a cocky voice said from the other side of the open locker. Sighing, I slammed it closed and crossed my arms. Dark hair, smug grin, too perfect clothes. That was what stared at me, arms crossed, leaning against the row of lockers—not a person, but the shell of one.

"What d'ya want, Shawn?" I asked, not in the mood for his antics.

"Well, that's an easy one," he purred. "You."

"Go away," I spat, turning on the heels of my silver flats. There was no way that I was letting Shawn Andersen toy with me today. Or any day for that matter. He was a jerk. An ass. A playboy and a hothead. He was one of the most popular people in our junior class. And he decided for some reason that I was his plaything. It had started last year, when my family moved here in my sophomore year. I was at artsy nobody, who wanted nothing to do with the superficial clique that was so exalted by this joke of a school. But for some reason Shawn Andersen decided to make my life miserable, by whatever means necessary. If that meant flirting, so be it. If it meant tripping me in the lunch room, then it's been done. He was childish, stupid, and worst of all, hot. And he knew it, too, adding to my distain.

He grabbed my shoulder, pulling me to a stop. Add strong to the list of why I despised him. "Dominique," he said, as if he was disappointed. "Why do you run?"

"Why do you follow?"

The corner of Shawn's mouth twitched. "You win this round, my sweet paprika." Like I said—stupid. He kissed his palm and waved his hand at me before turning on his heels and walking down the hall with a swagger that he thought made him look cool. I snorted. Fucked up school filled with fucked up people.

Shall I make the list? Lists were a favorite thing of mine, whether they are in my head or written down in purple ink.

Reasons Why I Can't Wait Until I Graduate from Here

-Freaky teachers that don't give a crap if you fail

-Popular kids that have too much time on their hands (Shawn being the prime example)

-No people worthy enough to being friends with

I could go on and on. Out of the hundreds of kids that went to this school, I had found one person worthy of my time. Logan Raymond. My best and only friend. Sure, he was gay and criticized the clothes I wore every single day of my life, but isn't that what BFFs do? Well, it's what we do—or he, really. I take no part in the "Let's Destroy Dominique's Confidence" rally. As I arrived at my art class I groaned, knowing that the rally had begun. Logan's first period class was right across the hall from my art class, and he took advantage of it. Ahh, Logan how I love your homosexual soul.

He was pretty normal looking, which surprised me the most when I first met him. I had known all of two other gay people on my life before moving (went from a small school to a very large one) and they were on the flamboyant side. Logan criticized my preconceptions and stereotypical behavior. Apparently I have a problem with classifying things. Anyways, Logan was normal height, which was a giant compared to me, the shortest girl you could find (5'2''). His blonde hair flapped against one side of his face, causing him to twitch his head almost constantly. His eyes were a bright blue, brought out even more by his tan skin. Logan was an unfortunate spray tan addict, but I was slowly breaking his habit.

"Girl," he said, shaking his head in disappointment. "What the hell are you wearing? No"—he held up his hand—"don't answer that. What am I going to do with you, Dom?" Dom—his pet name for me. It had started with sophomore gym glass, when he ended up as my partner for badminton and I hit him in the head. Since then, we've been friends, and I've been known as Dom. Anyone that is not a gay dude named Logan has no right calling me that. Ever.

"Sorry, Logan," I sighed, trying to act like I cared. "Do you have my book?"

"That god awful one?" Logan whined as he pulled Wuthering Heights out of his backpack. "That's the last time I take book recommendations from you—even if it is your, quote, 'favorite book.'" He tossed it at me, and I scrambled as not to drop it. "I don't even know what happened, except some dude married some lady who died."

"You sure caught the whole drift of the novel," I said, rolling my eyes. I flipped over the front cover. I heart you Dom 4ever was scrawled on the inside in Logan's horrible handwriting. I had once told Logan that he should be a doctor because he has the handwriting for it. Apparently, his dream job was working at MTV. "Thanks for defiling a classic."

"You know you love me," Logan said, giving me a wave before slipping into his classroom. He had made me a promise that he would not be late for his classes this year, and so far, being the dead of winter, he had stuck to it. Logan would break it soon, I knew it. He was about to reach his breaking point.

We were halfway through my art class—drawing, 'cause I epically suck at painting—when my teacher, Mr. Swartz, looked up from his desk. Some kid that I had never seen before had entered the room, with some papers in his hand, and was talking to Mr. Swartz, who stroked his chin thoughtfully. New kid, maybe? I thought. You never know—there're so many kids in this school that he could have been here since freshman year. My teacher was pointing around the room, showing things to the kid, who nodded, but was most likely not taking any of this in. Anyways, he was new to the class.

Mr. Swartz cleared his throat. "Class, this is Luke Poole. He's new to the school."

Well, that settles that, then. The kid—Luke—set his backpack down by the door, as we art students did, and walked slowly across the room to the U-shaped tables where we worked. Please don't sit next to me, please don't sit next to me, please don't sit next to me, I chanted. Always the one for human contact, I was. And of course, I fucking jinxed myself, 'cause he sat right next to me. Shit the world. I continued on my work, not acknowledging that he had sat down next to me.

He—Luke, I have to keep reminding myself that he has a name—was given the right materials by Mr. Swartz and had started working. I peaked at him out of the corner of my eye. He was staring at me. I quickly recoiled. If there was one thing I did not like, it was people staring at me without my knowing. Luke shook his head, as if he was pulling himself out of a daze. "Sorry," he said, sounding genuine. "You just look… familiar."

Yeah right, I do. I pushed my glasses up my nose and simultaneously snorted. "Sure." I bent my back and reached over my work, indicating that the conversation (if you could call it that) was over. A few minutes later I glanced over at him again, trying to see what he actually looked like. I guess if I had to sit next to this creep whose come-on line was "You look familiar," then I should know what he actually looks like—just in case I have to alert the police one day.

Luke's Appearance Through the Eyes of Me

-Sandy hair—not quiet brown, not exactly blonde, too strange a color to be called dirty blonde—that was too messy to be called curly

-Hazel eyes

-Wide shoulders, not as wide as Shawn's but they created a nice silhouette

-Simple t-shirt with a hoodie and jeans

-I couldn't comment on the smile, since I hadn't seen it yet. But you can tell a lot from a smile. If one's nice, genuine, cocky and arrogant, or forces a smile that says they're really not paying much attention to what you're saying

I was expecting him to say something else to me, make small talk or excuse himself for the weird staring that went on earlier. But there was nothing. As you can see, I'm not only a hypocrite (I find him creepy for staring, then what do I do—stare at him) but a bad judger as well. If I was forced to predict human nature, then I would fail, even if my life depended on it. My sister said that I was barely human. She meant it as an insult, but I kinda agree with her. I'm just waiting for the day when my alien brethren come to take me home.

I bit the end of my pencil, feeling my mind starting to wander. Over-active imagination. That's all I have to say. I wanted to find Logan and tell him about the new kid, even though there was nothing to really tell. I could hear Logan's voice in my head: "Ooh, Dom, is he cute? He must be cute! Oh, you are so lucky, having a cute new kid sittin' next to you. He'll probably ask you where his classes are. Oh!" Logan would pick him to pieces, bit by bit, tearing him down about some things and praising him for others—his clothes, his hair, the type of air he puts off (whatever the hell that meant). If you didn't pass the Logan inspection, then so long.

This surprises me, because I doubt that I somehow passed that inspection. With Logan's ridicule of my clothes and appearance (which I liked, by the way), it must have been my bubbling personality that attracted him. And by bubbly, I mean as sharp as glass.

"I can't wait to see this kid, Dom," Logan said giddily, shoving his sandwich into his mouth. We were sitting at our usual lunch table, at the far right side in the middle. The cafeteria was set up in a way so that the status quo never changed. "Cool" kids at the front center. Brainless jocks on either side of them. Pot heads in one corner, with all the other hopeless losers in the other. The artsy ones in the very middle. Band geeks at the side. Asians in one group; Latinos in another. It was the perfect high school set up and if anyone messed with it, there would be hell to pay. Kids don't like change, even if it is applied to the cafeteria seating arrangement.

"Where d'ya think he's gonna sit?" I asked, smugness in my voice. This was going to be the best part of my day.

Logan tapped his chin thoughtfully. "At that empty table," he said as he pointed to one near the front of the room. Everyone called it the Random Table because it had no special stereotype attached to it. Usually, it was for the kids who had to eat alone, because their friend was out sick or they knew no one in that specific lunch block. It was always fun to see who sat at the Random Table. I had to, part of last year, until I became friends with Logan. Thank god those days of humiliation were over.

"Look!" I hissed, grabbing Logan's arm and almost causing him to spit out his milk. "There he is—"

"With Mr. Hot Stuff!" Logan gasped, his mouth still half full of food. He's one for manners. And just as he was indicating, Luke was walking into the lunchroom with Shawn Andersen. Logan had a bad habit of calling Shawn a multitude of names that were of the same origin of "Mr. Hot Stuff." Only my Logan would have the hots for the most hotheaded—and straightest— guy in school. "What I wouldn't give to be New Kid right now," he said dreamily, resting his chin on his hands.

I rolled my eyes. "Snap outta it, Logan!" I gave his a push. "You're supposed to be looking at Luke."

"I am, Dominique," he pouted. Logan leaned back in his chair and tilted his head to the side. "Hmm… Not bad looking," he said. "I'd hit that."

I groaned. "Too much info, Logan."

Logan sighed and leveled his chair. "Nah, he's definitely straight. No gay guy dresses like that. And did he even comb his hair this morning?! Pssh. He's gotta cute-simple-boy look goin' on there. I approve." I raised an eyebrow at him while taking a bite out of my grinder. Logan shrugged his shoulders. "Just saying, if you wanna become friends with him, then I'll let it happen. I'll even let you be friends with benefits."

I didn't realize Logan had to choose out my potential friends. Sure, he had the whole appearance inspection, but I did not know there was a friend inspection, too. Logan kept surprising me by the day. "How 'bout we don't become friends," I tried. If Luke was now friends with Shawn, then I wanted no part in him whatsoever.

"No," Logan said, shaking his head. "It doesn't work that way, Dom. You can't have the benefits and not be friends." He was dead serious.

"I think you missed the point of what I just said," I muttered. "C'mon." I grabbed his arm with one hand and the remnants of my lunch with the other. "We gotta go." Despite Logan's whining, he let me drag him to the garbage cans, which were, unfortunately, situated by the popular asses. I think they planned it that way so they could ridicule kids when they disposed of their trash. I try to throw my things away as quickly as I can, but Shawn almost always finds a way to intervene. And today was no different.

"Hey, Dominique," he said, his voice as smooth as ice. Ice I wanted to break. "We all really like your arm candy. How much did ya pay this one?" I realized that my arm was still looped through Logan's. The ass bag. Shawn knew he was gay. Everyone knew it.

"Not nearly as much as you paid for that face transplant," I spat. The whole table went, "Ooh." Logan pulled at my arm. He did not want any confrontation. But I was ready to spit back whatever comment Shawn might squeeze out of that undersized brain of his.

"At least I can pay for one." Shawn grinned at me, silently saying "I win, bitch."

My eyes narrowed. My family did not have a lot of money. My single dad had to support two teenage girls on his own, and as he once said, "Girls cost a lot." We weren't in financial trouble or anything, but money was a bit tight right now. Stupid economy and all. My hands curled and uncurled into fist and I took a deep breath. The number one thing my therapist says is to control my anger (and yes, I have a therapist—gotta problem with that, fool?) At least Logan knew when it was time to drag me out when I had gotten in too deep. With a tug of his arm, he jerked me away from the table and out of the cafeteria.

"I'm gonna kill that mother fucker!" I hissed.

Logan, my poor Logan, winced at my language. He said that he use to think he had a bad mouth, but then he met me. At times he has literally threatened me with a bar of soap. "It's okay, Dom," he said soothingly. "We'll get back at him one day, okay? Just… calm yourself."

I took another deep breath. "Will it hurt him where it hurts?"

"If you're talking about Tina and Turner, then heck yeah."

Failing miserably, I attempted to hide my laugh. "I was talking about his heart," I laughed, "but I like your idea better." Logan grinned like a little kid who had been praised by his mother.

"Girl," he said, "I'll think something up during study hall."

I. Hate. My. Car. It was a rusty old thing that barely worked half the time, but it was, in its weird way, my baby. At the end of the day, I rushed out to where it was parked, careful not to slide on the ice and do a face plant. It was frickin cold out and I wanted to get into the warmth and protection that my car held. Unfortunately, it would not start. I swore. I cursed the supernatural force that had caused this. I almost tore the steering wheel off. I couldn't call my dad—he was still at work and would be for a while longer; and my sister was off doing something after school (what exactly, I don't know—I don't exactly listen to her when she talks).

In frustration, I got out of the car and proceeded to violently kick it with my foot, yelling whatever came to my mind. "…and I hope you get crushed in a car dump, you f-ing piece of trash!"

"That's no way to talk," a voice said behind me. I turned around to see Shawn leaning against a car that was parked a few spots down. It was a nice, shiny, new car. One more thing to add to the list. "You're a lady, Dominique."

"Fuck off."

Shawn pretended to be hurt by the comment. "Oh, come on, Dominique, I'm just trying to be nice." He took a few steps towards me and peaked through the driver's window. "Won't start, huh? That sucks. What're you gonna do?"

I rubbed my eyes, tired. Shawn was the last person I wanted to see right now. "I don't know," I groaned. "Call a cab?"

"You'll do no such thing. Here." He opened the back door of the car and pulled my backpack out, then proceeded to walk towards his car.

"What are you doing?!"

Shawn rolled his eyes. "Calm, down, bitch. I'm giving you a ride home." I narrowed my eyes as he climbed into the driver's seat and motioned for me to come in. "C'mon—really. It's not like you live far," he snorted.

I rolled my eyes, and, feeling uncomfortable, climbed into the car. "Thanks," I muttered. Like I wanted to be stuck in a car with him, the person I hated most in this godforsaken world. He was right, though. We did not live far from each other at all. And that was because Shawn Andersen and I were neighbors.

To be continued…