Chapter one: The Rival
"Jayden, you've done it again," I smirked at my reflection. I smoothed out an eyebrow and winked. "You could not look any better."
Today was the first day of a new school year. Summer holidays will be officially over in one hour and frankly; there wasn't anything to miss. I liked school and I was popular. Like, really popular. Mostly everybody liked me and I couldn't blame them. I'm awesome. With puberty being extremely kind to me, giving me soft rosy skin and small pearly white teeth in addition to my fresh leaf green eyes and golden blond locks, who wouldn't like me? With my mirror as my witness, I was like a modern day prince. Who needs to be an academia nut or a sporty jock when you've got a cute smile like mine?
"Why don't you just fuck yourself already?"
In the mirror, I saw Alice leaning against the door frame, smirking like a total dork. I looked at her with pure disgust. Thick black eyeliner was smeared densely around her eyes and pimples were scattered over her cheeks because of a poor skin care regime. Her uniform was all shabby and wrinkled and to top it off her white day socks were already sagging and yellowing – the school year hadn't even officially started yet! It'll be years before I can admit that we were related.
"Jealousy is an ugly thing," I sneered, flipping her off.
"You think I'm jealous of a pompous a-hole?" she cackled. "Stop kidding around."
I shrugged and checked my tie in the mirror one more time. "Not my fault that I get more girls than you do."
"I'm not into girls."
"Then why are you like that?"
"It's called being a tomboy," she said matter-of-factly.
"Whatever," I rolled my eyes and squeezed past her. "See ya later, lezzo."
"Fuck you, prissy faggot!"
I ignored her, grabbed my school bag and headed off to school. I was used to being called that and I've stopped letting it bother me a long time ago. Kids can be cruel sometimes and not everybody loves everybody. Even the most popular guy has haters. Mine were aggressive, chlorine-smelling water polo players. I couldn't blame them for hating me though. It wasn't their fault they've gotten stupid from drinking too much chlorine water. Always stinking up the hallways with their toxic smelling sunscreen and spraying everyone with the water from shaking their heads like wild rabid dogs. And they wonder why they can't get more girls than me. It was a good thing that I'm almost never alone so bashing me up won't do them any good. Instead they attack me verbally, like spreading rumors about me being gay and shit like that. Being a lean kind of guy with a beautiful face, it was actually kind of believable as I fit the stereotype. But I wasn't gay. Just ask any of my past girlfriends and they'll tell you. There was no way I could be a homosexual.
"Jayden! Wait up!" a high pitch scream came from far behind me. I looked over my shoulder and my mood brightened. Chloe Vines. Can anyone be as lovely than her? Pretty, thin, bouncy dark red curls and have I mentioned, wonderfully voluptuous in all the right places? She was my best friend since kindergarten but because we're super close, she refuses to date me cause she's worried that 'it'll ruin the relationship'. I swear to all the Gods out there, I will marry that girl one day.
"Hey," I grinned at her when she caught up. Her arm looped through mine and we walked to school together at a slow pace to extend our time together.
"So are you going to tell me?"
"Tell you what?"
She gave me a playful nudge in my waist. "About your girl."
"You weren't dating anyone over the holidays?" she asked, her smile a little mischievous.
"You know who I want to date," I grinned. "Are you by any chance talking about yourself?"
"Jay! Will you quit?" Chloe laughed, pinching my arm. I winced. Far out. Didn't anybody tell this girl about the existence of nail clippers?
"I'm not dating anybody."
"Oh yeah? Then what about Kylie?" she accused me.
"What about her?"
"I saw you making out with her at Howard's party."
Shit. She was there?
"Are you jealous?" I fished instead of denying it.
"Why would I be?"
"Cause I was with another girl."
"Jay, I want to make this super clear to you. I want you to be with another girl. Then maybe you'd stop making passes at me all the time. You just really need to get laid."
I laughed at the irony. In fact, I did get laid that night. It was a pretty good party. Don't get me wrong, I love Chloe but I'm still a guy. Given the opportunity, sex feels too good to pass up.
"I don't need that," I tried lying to her.
"Jayden, are you trying to tell me that you don't need sex?" Chloe almost laughed. "Who do you think you're talking to?"
"Alright, fine," I resigned. "I'm a rabid sex-addict, happy?"
"Oh," Chloe exclaimed, sounding a little surprised.
"Like that's believable," I scoffed.
She glanced at me and pointed to a guy standing by the front gate. Her eyes were twinkling as she looked at him. I frowned. She's never looked at me like that. I examined the guy she was pointing at and there was no point in trying to deny it. The guy was freaking hot. He was a big boned fella with messy black hair and electric blue eyes that contrasted so well with his hair color, it was down right hypnotizing. The guy caught me staring and smiled at me. I quickly looked away.
"We have to introduce ourselves," Chloe urged me to walk faster.
"We shouldn't get close to him. I got a bad feeling about that guy," I tried to persuade her.
"What are you talking about?" she laughed at me. "C'mon, let's be friendly to the new kid."
Chloe ran up to the new guy and I reluctantly followed her. Well at least now I can prepare myself when Chloe announces to me that she's got herself a new boyfriend. It'll give me a head start on thinking up ways to hate him when the day he takes Chloe away from me comes. Before I could reach the two eventual lovebirds, a hand thumped me on the back. I gagged on my saliva.
"Jayden! Walk with me to homeroom," Mark rumbled.
Mark was the fallback on the football team who's taken me under his wing, or so he likes to believe. Ever since his voice broke, his previously already low voice had turned into this deep booming sound that could be heard from yards away. If I didn't love myself so much, I'd be totally jealous on how manly he sounded. I was always trying to make myself manlier but it was kind of hard to get anything to work since my body refused to build any muscle, no matter how much time I spent on weight training. Maybe I wasn't doing it right.
"How are you man?"
"Dude, I heard about you and Kylie," Mark grinned and ruffled my hair. "Atta boy."
"Who did you hear that from?"
"Walked in on you guys," Mark laughed. "Could have at least hung a sock on the door."
"So the whole school knows?"
"Got to trust Howard to tell everyone."
"So you guys dating or something?"
"Player!" Mark held out his fist for me to bump it. I punched his arm instead and laughed when he complained about how my 'skeleton hands' really hurt. My smile dropped when I noticed the new kid and Chloe walking together ahead of us. I looked away. Well shit. They were inseparable already. Damn Kylie and Howard just had to flap their lips around town.
Mark and I walked to homeroom, chucking our bags into the locker along the way. Walking in, we were greeted by the people inside, the rest of the guys hooting at me about my very public score over the holidays. Just as I sat down at the back, the girls packed over to me and asked me about Kylie. I sighed inwardly. It really was all over the school. Damn Howard and his fat mouth.
"We're not dating," I smiled at them.
"Knew it!" Valerie punched the air. "Jayden's still single."
"Good, because you belong to all of us," Gaby scolded me.
"That's stupid," James retorted. "Jayden is his own man."
"Unless he wants to disrupt the peace in the female and gay community within this school, he had better stay single," Gaby explained.
"Gaby, will you please head on back to kindergarten where you belong?" James sneered.
The bell rang and we all went back to our proper seats. Start of the New Year meant sitting in alphabetical order according to our last names since the homeroom teacher changes every year. Not that any teacher wouldn't be able to recognize any of us by now but it was an easier method to remember who was in their class.
I banged my head against the table when the intolerable math teacher, Mr. Hamilton walked in. God I hated that guy. He thinks he is so great, constantly demeaning me in his classes, suggesting that I was just a bubblehead with nothing inside to absorb the 'oh so' precious information he was spewing. The only thing I actually learned from his classes was that I was going to choose a course that had nothing to do with math. Numbers. Who needs 'em?
"Settle down," Mr. Hamilton exercised his Nazi regime by smacking the table with his wooden pointer to get our attention. "We got a new student joining us so be quiet. Come on in."
And in walked the Chloe-stealing future rival from before with his black hair falling over his eyes. He blew at them only to have his bangs fly up and then fall right back down again. Giving up, he ran his hands through his hair and pulled them back away from his face. I looked around the room and frowned at how smitten all the girls seemed to be with him already. I made an annoyed sound. Fucking great. My fan base was depleting already.
"You're O right?"
"Um, O'Reilly sir," he corrected.
"Yes, well sit down next to Meyer. Phillips, move over."
I cursed silently. Why weren't there anyone with surnames that started with N in this class? I caught Lachlan smiling at me and although I wanted to reach out and kick him in the shins, I forced myself to smile back. Super. Now he's going to be all friendly with me. If he thinks he can get closer to Chloe through me, he's got a prayer.
"Now for roll call," Mr. Hamilton announced, searching through his stack of books for the folder. Straight away, everyone took that small chance of his disorganization to talk and soon the room was buzzing with hushed whispers.
"Hi," he greeted me. "I'm Lachlan. You must be Jayden."
I looked at him skeptically. "Yeah. Did Chloe tell you that?"
"Yeah. She's really nice."
"Oh she's mighty fine," I exaggerated with obvious annoyance.
Lachlan arched a brow, pausing at my comment. "I guess she is."
I glared at him. It wasn't enough that this guy was oblivious to the fact that he was usurping my reign as the prince of the school, but with him constantly smiling at me all the time, it pissed me off even more. God I hate him so much.
"What the hell is your problem? Did the wind change direction on you?"
"What do you mean?"
"You keep smiling at me," I pointed out. "It's creepy."
"Yeah. Stop it."
"Sorry, I didn't realize. Looking at you makes me happy."
Why? Cause you're thinking of the day when you're going to steal Chloe away from me? What a jackass.
"You're really pretty," he complimented me.
I didn't stop glaring at him. He didn't think I knew that? That he had to point it out for me because I wasn't attractive enough to realize that on my own? God. Just because he was a little taller, he thinks he's better than me. Arrogant bastard.
"Thanks," I muttered.
"And you smell really good."
Okay. To say that I was pretty was one thing, but smell? And the polo guys thinks that I'm gay.
"You don't seem like the type to use deodorant."
"What? Do you think I'm some sort of a gross slob?"
"No. I meant you seemed like the kind of guy whose sweat wouldn't smell bad."
The fuck? What kind of guy says that to another guy?
"Everyone's sweat stinks."
"I bet yours doesn't."
"Okay… This conversation is getting really weird for me," I told him. "I'm going to stop talking to you now."
I grabbed the edges of my table to shift it away from him and Lachlan grabbed my arm to stop me just as Mr. Hamilton started taking the roll. He pulled his hand away from me and sat back down properly in his seat. I could still feel the heat from his hand on my arm. The more I thought about it, the more fidgety I felt. I gave myself a quick body shake to get rid of the goose bumps growing on my skin. Guys touched me all the time but that was the first time that a guy made me like ants were crawling in my bloodstream. That was definitely really weird.
When Mr. Hamilton finished his roll call he went on to preach his propaganda about the importance of something about statistics as he handed out our timetables for the semester.
"Hey, you're doing modern history as well," Lachlan, commented, looking over at my timetable and back at his to compare. "We got math and drama together too."
"You do drama?" I asked, absolutely appalled. My only class with Chloe and this dweeb was going to get between us even in our class? Why is the universe punishing me?
"Yeah," he grinned. "Hey, maybe we can partner up for assignments and stuff."
"I've already got somebody for that."
"You're talking about Chloe right? She asked me to join you guys' drama circle."
I widened my eyes. "She did what?"
"So it's no problem right?"
"Of course not," I grumbled. Shit. This guy was making me hate my life. The bell rang for first period and I kicked back from the chair and rushed out to my locker before Lachlan could follow and tell me how good I smelled again.
"Jayden!" I heard Kylie call out to me. I stopped and waited for her to come up to me. Okay, now's the chance to set her straight. The nerve of her to jump ahead of herself and announce to people that we were dating. Who does that? Really, it's a bit pathetic.
"Hi Kylie," I smiled. "I've been hearing about you all day."
"Me too," she flushed. "Everyone seems to be talking about us, huh? Word sure gets around fast here."
"Yeah about that –"
An arm wrapped around my shoulder and squished me into his side. I glared at Lachlan's familiarity. How could this guy think he can get this intimate with me after only a five-minute awkward conversation? I tried to shrug him off but his arm was too heavy for my shoulder to do anything about it. He took the timetable from my hand and glanced at my first period.
"Aw, you have English."
"So what?" I yanked back my sheet.
"I have wood shop. You don't do that do you?"
"Do you mind?" I asked him, jerking my head at Kylie. "You're being rude."
He looked at Kylie and smiled sheepishly at her. "Oh sorry, you're such a tiny little thing, I didn't see you there."
"That's okay," she sighed. I frowned. That was definitely a sigh wasn't it? Oh for heaven's sake. I'm outta here.
"Kylie, we're not dating so stop telling people that," I said straight out and ducked around under Lachlan's arm and went to my locker.
I got out my books and went in the opposite direction to where Lachlan was still standing next to Kylie. Out of curiosity, I glanced back over my shoulder and cringed. He was smiling at me again. I shivered and quickly escaped into the classroom. I'm generally a pretty nice guy but there was something about him that brings out this sadistic side to me. I just have this constant urge to bully him, do anything that would just wipe that darn smile off his face.