Tom & Becky

Chapter One: Ripe for Picking

"Thomas Sawyer!"

Up on the second floor, the young man who had very intentionally been named 'Sawyer' (hence the nickname) groaned. He hated waking up on Monday mornings, and the fact that school started today was just the icing on the death cake. But, he supposed, somewhere in the back of his mind, where his brain was working away, completely unaffected by the night's sleep, he supposed that it was a good thing he could go to school, because hanging out with his little sister was becoming even more irritating than seeing her after school had been.

The three of them – Sawyer, his sister Polly (a name which had also been taken from the Tom Sawyer novel) and his mother Marie – had moved to the little town of Beaufort a week ago. Because of the fact that hardly anyone moved out of Beaufort, let alone in, the arrival of the Brydon family – mother, son, and daughter – caused quite a stir. Hardly anyone moved to the tiny town of Beaufort, which was one of the few English-speaking municipalities in the whole of Quebec. The people who had been living there were generations old, with deeply rooted traditions and values. This didn't mean that they were not modern folk. The teenagers, most especially, loved to have fun, which most times included drinking, smoking and holding parties. Most parents were okay with this sort of activity, simply because they knew each other very well and knew what others tolerated. Besides, there wasn't much else to do in a town this small.

The Brydon family's move into a quaint little house on Sunset Boulevard, just down the street from the downtown core, brought out some curious neighbours from their houses, quite a few who were willing to help them out. When it was a middle-aged woman, her teenage son and her preteen daughter, they needed as much help as they could get. It didn't take too long, not with the help of several teenage boys, most of who had been pressured to assist in the move by their respective parents.

Sawyer had done little more than roll over in his bed when his sister, ten years old, ran into the room and shook him with an almost violent fervour. "Mom says you have – to – get – up!" she grunted.

"I'm up, I'm up," slurred Sawyer. And he did get up, because ouch, did his sister's wake-up calls hurt. She stood intimidatingly as he stumbled into the bathroom and brushed his teeth. The shower finally awoke him, and by the time he pulled on his uniform – dark dress pants, Oxford dress shirt, forest-green tie, black blazer – he was good to go. Polly was unimpressed.

"Let's go," she said, taking him by the hand and leading him downstairs. His mother was flipping pancakes; she'd taken the day off in order to take them to school. She was to take up a position at the hospital, working with the more psychological problems of patients. Mrs. Brydon was very good at her job, but unfortunately, this meant a lot more psychoanalysis for himself and Polly.

"Pancakes, Sawyer?" asked his mother, in the exact same tone as her daughter. Sawyer nodded, pouring himself a glass of orange juice from the carton. A plate stacked with pancakes slid onto the table, and he helped himself. "So," said Mrs. Brydon, wiping her hands, "ready for school?"

"No," said Sawyer matter-of-factly, stuffing pancakes into his mouth. His mother laughed.

"Your sister is," she pointed with the towel. Polly was wearing her elementary school uniform, the female version of Sawyer's. The school was different as well, with its colour being maroon.

"That's because she's an overachiever," teased Sawyer. Polly crossed her arms and scowled, still chewing the pancake that was in her mouth.

"I am not," she retorted, in a typical ten-year-old way. Sawyer grinned, ruffling his sister's wispy brown hair, and deposited his empty, syrup-stained plate in the sink. He kissed his mother and waved goodbye to Polly. The high school was a mere five minutes away from the house, whereas the elementary school was a good fifteen-minute drive.

"See you," he called to his mother. She hugged him goodbye, wishing him good luck as if Sawyer was a five-year-old on his first day of school, and closed the door behind him as he left.

Beaufort High School was the only secondary school in the vicinity of the little town. It was well-known for its beautiful, meticulous upkeep, and of course, for its attractive student body. Even in a school with this many good-looking people, there was one girl who stood out among them all. And it was probably why she was the most popular, sought-after gal in the entire school. Her name, Allira, was on the lips of every student at least once a day, whether it was because of the food she churned out at the Home Economics lab which made the entire hallway smell simply divine, a well-aimed piece of wit, or that gorgeous, sexy smile she flashed only at a few people.

Her best friend, Nyla Neil, was cute, with her dorky glasses and thick, wavy dark hair. She was long and lean, which could be taken as a good thing, but when compared with the curvaceous Allira, her beauty was quickly diminished. Soon, however, dear Allira would be meeting her match.

"It's too bad we don't have any classes together," Allira lamented, tugging on a tightly wound curl. That was another thing she was known for – that tightly curled hair.

"Well," said Nyla, adjusting her grip on her textbooks, "maybe if you took a few more math classes instead of Home Ec. all the time, we might have some –"

"Ew," Allira interrupted. Nyla laughed, growing thoughtful after a moment.

"I'm really looking forward to math this year," said Nyla, her voice betraying excitement. Allira grinned and shook her head good-naturedly. "Only you would be that happy about math," she replied.

"You're excited about Home Ec.," retorted Nyla. "And most people hate cooking."

"Not as much as math," Allira ribbed. Nyla stuck out her tongue.

"A bit childish, isn't it, sticking out your tongue in senior year?" came a teasing voice from behind Nyla.

"Jackie," said Nyla, without turning around. "Allira was being a smart aleck again."

Jackie squeezed Nyla's shoulders, chuckling. "And I can see that nature has also decided that the rest of us girls don't deserve a chance at love," added Jackie, raising an eyebrow at Allira's assets.

"Thanks," smirked Allira. She looked up at the clock in the hallway, seeing that they had a few last minutes before it would be time to walk to class, and when her eyes lowered to the hallway, she saw, as usual, a number of eyes on herself. She didn't bother with them.

Nyla tugged down her school-issued skirt, a bit self-conscious. Allira was itching to fix her pantyhose, but there wasn't enough time. She'd have to manage.

"So," said Jackie, her tone conversational. Her face, however, said that she was about to reveal something more akin to gossip than conversation. "There's a new student here this year."

"Really." Allira and Nyla were completely engrossed. Rarely did any fresh faces show up at their tiny little high school, so of course, when they did, it was cause for interest. Jackie thrived on this sort of information, being the first to deliver the juicy gossip. Because Jackie worked in the office, she managed to get the news before anyone else did, and that was one of the primary reasons why she'd taken the job, the secondary, of course, being that she wanted some more stats on her university resume. Usually Allira and Nyla couldn't be bothered with trivialities like gossip, but in this case, there wasn't a soul who wouldn't want to know.

"Who is it?" asked Nyla.

"His name," – and here, Jackie paused, because what story was complete without a bit of dramatic tension? – "is Sawyer Brydon."

Nyla pulled back a little. Allira's lips quirked in some semblance of her usual smirk.

"Sawyer?" Allira repeated. "As in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer?"

"Yup," Jackie confirmed. "I don't know what he looks like, but his info was pulled up on the computer when I went in this morning, to, uh... do some extra work."

Nyla raised an eyebrow. "'Extra work,'" she repeated. "Sure."

Jackie shrugged. "Keep an eye out for new meat of the senior variety, would you?"

"Why? Interested?" Allira laughed.

"Well, he is an honour student, which puts him at the top of my list," Jackie grinned. "And yours, I guess, Allira."

It was common knowledge that, despite Allira's apparent popularity at Beaufort High, she refused to go out with anyone whose GPA was below 3.5. Her own was a solid 3.9, due mostly to the fact that she knew her way around a kitchen. And a laboratory, for that matter. Her greatest ambition was to become a chef, a goal she knew would be tough and daunting, but she was willing to put in the effort.

"Hey," interrupted Nyla. "I have high standards, too." Hers were even more stringent than Allira's – she wanted a 4.0 GPA with no exceptions. Except one.

"Yes," agreed Jackie, "but you're too busy mooning over poor Charlie Haywood. What's his GPA, a 3.0?"

"Shh!" She clapped a hand over Jackie's mouth, who shooed her away, laughing. Allira's lips were pursed together, clearly to keep from laughing herself.

"It's pretty obvious, Ny," said Allira. "Why don't you go and talk to him?"

"Because I'm not you!" she retorted. "I have no discernible assets to offer him, except possibly the dorkiest glasses to ever cover a pair of eyes –"

"They're not dorky," Allira argued. "They're cute." Jackie nodded in agreement.

"If you don't talk to him," she warned, "I will."

"Oh, leave her alone," Allira patted Jack. "It's probably just a crush, right Nyla?"

Nyla nodded vigorously, obviously wanting Jackie to let the matter be.

"28B, 28B..." Sawyer muttered. For a tiny school, they had some major issues with labelling. So far, he'd had to ask every person he'd come into contact with for the right room number. The vast majority of them had stood there silently, gawking at him. But he'd checked himself out in the mirror, and there was nothing ghastly on his face. After that, he wondered if he'd inadvertently walked into an insane asylum or possibly a school for those who had misplaced their manners. Since then, he'd resigned himself to searching out the rooms himself.

The bell rang, and he swore under his breath. His footsteps were faster now, moving with the crowd to what he assumed was the Home Economics hallway from the chocolaty scent being given off from it. He finally spotted the elusive 28B just as a striking, curly-haired brunette slammed a football-player-type guy into a locker. Sawyer, like many of the people who had been walking down that hallway, jumped back in surprise.

"Don't call me Allie," the girl hissed, "and don't you ever talk about my ass like that again." At that particular mention, Sawyer's gaze drifted downwards, just to see what all the fuss was about. His eyebrows rose when he saw it, rounding out her uniform skirt nicely. Nice.

"S-sorry, Allira," said the boy pinned against the locker. She relaxed considerably, even going so far as to straighten his tie with an apology as well. Everyone else was already clearing out the hallways, obviously dismissing the incident as normal. As Sawyer slipped inside the classroom, stealing a seat in the middle of the room, he thought about what he had just witnessed. The girl was intriguing and a little bit terrifying. She wielded power, obviously, but she was willing to back off if others respected her.

"Excuse me," came a voice. He looked up, temporarily confused. His eyes widened when he saw the same girl. She was even more beautiful up close, her almond-shaped eyes narrowed a bit in annoyance and amusement, her bow-shaped lips quirked in a smirk, her dark hair a fiery halo of curls around her face. She was utterly breathtaking.

"Sorry?" he responded, unable to think of anything else to say.

"You're sitting in my spot, Tommy," she answered, leaning her shoulder bag on the desk with a decided thump.

"My name's Sawyer, actually," he corrected. She tilted her head.

"I know." She raised her eyebrows, tapping her heeled foot expectantly. She was already leaning into the seat, which meant, of course, that she was leaning into him. Not that he minded at all.

He finally understood. "Oh," said Sawyer. "I get it."

Her smirk melted into a tiny grin. "Quick as a whip," she replied. "Now, would you mind?"

"Uh... sure." He figured shifting into the seat next to her wouldn't be too bad. For the first time, he looked around the room, finally becoming aware of the fact that all eyes in the classroom were on them. Or more specifically, her. There were a lot more boys than Sawyer was used to in this classroom; in fact, they outnumbered the girls. The only reason Sawyer had taken it was because he wanted some cooking experience for college. The girl sitting next to him was indubitably more popular than he thought.

"What's your name?" he asked her. She turned to him, appraising him with her dark, seductive gaze.

"Allira," she replied.

"I take it you don't like the name Allie, then?"

Her lips curled at the mention.

"No. I hate it." But then, she looked a bit sheepish. "You saw what happened in the hallway?"

"Yeah," he admitted.

"You're new," she said, bringing the topic to a screeching halt and replacing it with what she clearly thought was less intimidating.

"You're sexy," he said boldly. "Are we through with the obvious?"

She appreciated his compliment; her mouth hitched up on one side. "Yes. And thank you," she added. "So are you."

The teacher, Mrs. Christie, unfortunately, decided to show up and command the class's attention at that moment; otherwise, Sawyer would have said something more.

Mrs. Christie was Allira's favourite teacher. Not only was she a fantastic chef, but she was also patient and understanding. Her age made her wiser and more accepting, rather than crusty like the other teachers. One thing she loved most especially about Christie was her habit of repeating things. Every year, at the beginning of Home Ec., no matter what class she taught, she introduced herself and the course in the same way. So, while Mrs. Christie spoke, Allira had the opportunity to observe her seat partner's profile as he listened attentively.

There was no doubting his attractiveness. His eyes, light blue and amused, were probably her favourite part about him. But he had a great head of hair, not too short and not too long. As he listened to the teacher, Allira noticed, with amusement, that his lips pursed in a decidedly seductive manner. It was entirely too distracting. He looked as if he'd be too shy to even speak a word to a girl, but when he grinned, that utterly masculine grin, she immediately knew that he would soon develop a reputation as a heartbreaker. It was practically spelled out in his smile. And in his compliment.

This guy – Sawyer – had to be one of the gutsiest men she'd ever met. Where others, like that idiot Derek, who'd complimented her when her back was turned, and in a disgustingly lecherous way, Sawyer had the chutzpah to tell her to her face that he thought she was sexy. Honesty, however rare it was with these boys, was a trait Allira had always appreciated in a man.

Flirting with him wouldn't be too bad, she supposed. Just as long as she kept her distance. Guys like him knew how to manipulate, and she'd be damned if she let him manipulate her.

"We'll be baking cookies today," announced Mrs. Christie, and just the word 'cookies' grabbed Allira's attention, "as an introduction to the course. Don't worry, it won't be marked."

Mrs. Christie disappeared into the kitchens after explaining that she was going to make sure there were enough ingredients. The rest of the class quickly elapsed into side conversations. At one table in the middle, there was silence, and Allira noticed.

"Is there a problem?" she asked him, raising her eyebrows.

"No," he responded. "It's just – your hair, I've never seen hair as curly as yours."

"And you probably never will," Allira agreed.

"Would you mind if I touched it?"

The question took her off guard. People admired her hair, complimented it, compared it to Marge Simpson's except for the fact that it was going out rather than up, but no one had ever asked to touch it.

Probably because those people knew what boundaries were. Oh, well. She was a flirt, might as well.

"Go ahead." She inclined her head, and his fingers threaded through the tightly wound curls, unwinding them for a moment before letting them spring back into their original shape.

"Is it natural?" he asked her.

"Do you think I'd wake up every morning and spend hours curling my hair like this?" she responded. He chuckled, amused by her antics. And, though it would seem like a cliché, what with the number of boys after her at the moment, he was charmed.

"I guess not." He raked a hand through his own hair, which felt straight and utterly ordinary in comparison. She eyed the top of his head.

"Mind if I touch yours? It's only fair." Sawyer raised an eyebrow, a little bit surprised at her question, but bent his head toward her.

His hair was bristlier than hers, but also smooth when she ran her fingers through it as he had. "Not too bad," said Allira, and Sawyer straightened himself.

"Compared to what?" he arched a dark eyebrow.

"Others," she said vaguely.

Unbeknownst to the dark-haired pair, while side conversations were going on, they all had a common theme: the most talked-about girl in school seemed to have met her match in the new guy. Instead of shying away from her flirtations the way most boys did, Sawyer Brydon was responding fervently, replying with witty remarks of his own.

And both of them seemed to be enjoying it.

If a person attending Beaufort High happened to be a romantic, they would hope that a tall, gorgeous, hot-blooded male like Sawyer would fall for a small, mousy, Nyla-type. In this situation, however, it seemed to be the opposite. He was flirting and touching and talking with an equally gorgeous, not-so-tall female with a considerable amount of popularity power on her side. And she was charming him with her every word.

When things like this happened, when a smouldering, fiery-hot couple got together in comparison to a cute, lovey-dovey one, things would definitely be heating up. If Beaufort High School gossip was a moderately-paced train, then Sawyer and Allira's little liaison would have been like adding fifty pounds of coal into the furnace: full steam ahead and no thoughts of stopping.

The gossip train had suddenly picked up speed, and it was only the first day.

Please be critical with your review, I'd really like to try and improve my writing! :D Thanks in advance.

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