Nathaniel Berry was the type of guy that nobody ever crossed—which meant no one ever said no to him, no one ever confronted him no matter how angry they were, and no one ever dared to question him.
In our school, he wasn't what you would call popular, no, popular meant the jocks and whatnot. Nathaniel Berry, however, was the school's resident bad-boy and he didn't deny it.
No one knew him well enough to be considered his friend—or at least, not that I knew of. We all assumed he was a druggy, as he had been seen smoking behind the school's main building quite a few times. He had the typical bad-boy leather jacket and motorcycle, but obviously, that was expected of a guy like him, right?
But while his habits were not exactly the best choices, it was also known that he was anything but dumb. If you ever heard him speak to someone, he had an abundance of vocabulary words that nearly half the school wouldn't understand. He was intriguing, in a way. I found him… interesting, not that I had ever met him before.
I couldn't tell if he was a good person or not, the only times I had ever seen him, his face had been hidden underneath his motorcycle helmet.
So while everyone knew that he was not to be crossed, how was it that I found myself wrapped up in his arms in front of my locker?
Well, let's start from the beginning, shall we?
5 hours earlier
I ran into the classroom, looking a little frazzled, I was sure, as I had almost been late to class—and I was not ready to give up my perfect attendance record just yet. I scanned the room and walked over to one of the two remaining seats in the back.
The teacher clapped her hands to get the class's attention, and then smiled at us in greeting. "Good morning, everyone!" she said, brightly. I smiled at her cheery tone while the rest of the class groaned. Yes, it was, what—seven in the morning? But I was admittedly a morning person and people with bright personalities—even if it's a teacher—never failed to give me a swift kick on the road to happiness.
… did that make sense?
No, not really.
Well, let's just say I was a happy person, there was no denying that. It was difficult for me to look on the negative side of things. My best friend, Carrie Lygason, always told me I probably had a genetic mutation that made me happy all the time. And as I noticed myself smiling there in the back of the classroom at seven in the morning…
… I was beginning to think that she was right.
But there isn't any type of genetic mutations that would make you happy all the time, right?
Okay, enough of that! Well, not really enough of that because, really, I couldn't help but be happy around the clo—
"Miss Perkins!" Mrs. Silva called out, "What is your interpretation on the poem on page 225?"
My eyes widened and then immediately dropped to my unopened textbook, "I—uh—" I stammered, struggling to get it open to page two-twenty-five. "It's very—very…" I said, stalling for time. This had never happened before, and let me tell you—it was embarrassing.
"It's a very deep understanding of the author's emotions. In this case, he's very upset." A deep whisper sounded from my left, the previously empty seat. I jumped, having not noticed that someone was there as I had been so immersed in my thoughts.
I whipped my head to the side, my boring brown eyes connecting with bright green ones before I turned back to the front of the room and said to the expectant teacher, "It's a very deep understanding of the author's emotions. In this case, he's very upset."
Mrs. Silva nodded approvingly, "Very well said, Lali. Very good."
I breathed a sigh of relief, then turned to the green eyed boy, "Thanks." I whispered, not really looking at him, but rather at my hands. I rarely ever felt embarrasses, it just wasn't me. I was perky, happy, and not exactly what you would call shy, but from time to time, my happy face would slip just a little bit.
He grunted in response. I furrowed my brow. Something about that lackluster reply reminded me of—I looked up- … Nathaniel Berry.
I gaped. Nathaniel Berry just saved my whole good-girl image. Wait, what? That was not the ways things worked around here. It was… just not! The resident bad boy and the school's good girl were not supposed to sit next to each other. Ever!
I studied his face a little. It was the first time I had actually seen him without his helmet, but then he turned away so I couldn't see his face anymore. The thing I remembered most about him was his eyes.
I gulped and turned around again. It was very nerve racking to sit next to someone like him… he had an ominous aura… in a way. I fidgeted and pulled out my pen and notebook, beginning to take mindless notes on the lecture. It wasn't as if I were scared of him, no, actually, I think it'd be quite fun to be friends with him, you know, if he would stop smoking. It was just that he wouldn't be the type of person to want to befriend me – or anyone, for that matter.
I snuck another glance at him, then faced the board again. We didn't speak again for the rest of the period.
"I thought Nathaniel Berry had a thing against helping people." Carrie said, scowling as she tugged on her notebook that refused to budge from her locker.
I shook my head, "Exactly, I don't get why he helped me." I said.
"Well, maybe he was—" she yanked on the binding of the notebook forcefully and stumbled backwards when it was finally freed from where it had sat in between a couple textbooks, "—having an identity crisis."
I raised an eyebrow and laughed, "Sure, Carrie. An identity crisis." I said. Sure, he was mysterious and rebellious… but an identity crisis? Not a likely option. "Spur of the moment kind of thing, probably. He didn't know what he was doing." I mused out loud.
Carrie nodded in agreement, "Sounds about right. C'mon, math class await us." She said pointing in the direction of our classroom.
I smiled brightly, I had always liked math and I was pretty darn good at it if I do say so myself. I skipped a little after her and I admit, that was a little childish, but hey, life goes by way too quickly, why not add some youth? People often told me I acted like a five year old kid in a seventeen year old's body… I think their right… except I'd like to think that I'm much smarter that the average five year old.
Well, five year olds don't take calculus, so there.
I slid into my usual seat in the second row, Carrie sitting to my right. I grinned at the teacher who smiled back—she had always liked me. I watched patiently as the room began to fill with my fellow classmates, flashing a smile at everyone who passed by my desk—even Mana Blake who absolutely hated my guts for no reason at all.
"Class, please turn to page seventy-two of your books. Today, we'll be learning lesson four point five." The teacher said loudly to get our attentions over the loud chatter of students. Hm, you would think people in a calculus class would be more respectful. Then again, many people had more bright and confident personalities as opposed to my quieter one.
I flipped to the said page and smiled to myself when I saw that I had already learned the lesson before. No, I wasn't exactly a nerd. I was a normal, happy person who happened to enjoy school. It wasn't out of the ordinary… or at least, it seems normal to me. I was relatively well-liked and well known in my school. Sure, many people called me a goody-two-shoes, but more often than not, it was said in a teasing manner, not in a taunting way.
I wasn't class president, no, that spot was too… high-powered for me. I preferred to be secretary, a position that I found rather fun although the other class officers sometimes complained about not being able to read my overly-loopy script. They said it matched my bubbly personality.
I took that as a compliment.
"Do you want to come over to my house today?" Carrie asked. I looked up and realized the math lecture had ended already. The class was now doing their work and chatting quietly in a way so the teacher wouldn't mind.
I thought for a moment, then shook my head, "Sorry, I have to help serve a party tonight." I said. Carrie nodded and turned back to doodling in her notebook. My mom owned a catering service and we were a bit short on our employees at the moment, which meant that I had to help out by being a waitress at the parties. I was actually dreading tonight's event—even I couldn't come up with anything possibly good to come out of it. And that was saying something.
The event was a business banquet, one of the parties hosted by the ultra-rich that had booked us recently. The last banquet I had been a waitress at, I had been insulted because of the clothes I had been wearing—a waitressing uniform. But, hello I was a waitress and it was the uniform. Talk about rude.
I shook my head at the thought. I hated having negative thoughts.
"Good luck." Carrie said, tapping my arm with her pen.
I flashed her a smile, "Thanks, but don't worry. It should be fun." I said convincingly.
She quirked an eyebrow and shot me a look that clearly meant she didn't believe me, but I simply smiled again and started my homework.
I passed by the 'It' table and promptly stumbled over something in my way. I caught my balance and glanced up at Mana's smirking face. Her expression was making me feel uncomfortable, but I forced a smile on my face and waved to the guys at the table. None of the popular girls liked me. I wondered why.
"Oh, I'm sorry." Mana said, looking and sounding anything but sorry, "I didn't see you there. You got dirt on my new shoes, by the way."
I looked down at her outstretched leg that had caused me to trip, "That's okay!" I said brightly, although it wasn't, "And the dirt should come right off anyway. Things happen—hi, Chris." I smiled at said boy when he waved at me. Mana turned and glared at him. "Well…" I said after a moment, "If there wasn't anything you needed, then I guess I'll be on my—"
"No, there was something I wanted to ask you." Mana interrupted.
I swallowed down the uneasiness and smiled, "Okay. What is it?" I asked.
"Well," she began, her voice taking on a tone of fake sweetness, "I have always had a problem with math and I was wondering if you could help me, you know, because you're so smart." She blinked innocently at me. I noticed the curious stares we were receiving and tried to ignore them. While I was nice, I wasn't naïve. I knew she was out to get me.
"I can't tonight." I said honestly, "I have to help my mom with her work stuff."
She laughed, but I couldn't help but notice the mocking tone in her voice as she spoke, "Oh, that's right. You're a waitress, aren't you?" she asked with a smirk, "You have to wait on people, don't you? You know one day, if I have a party, I might call you up to serve the party."
I swallowed, "Um, yeah." I said with false brightness in my voice, "It's a really successful catering business. But if you really do have a party one day, you can really book us. My mom's a great cook." I said smiling even though all I wanted to do was run away and cry at the way she was treating me. What had I ever done to her?
"Oh, right, because we can afford it and you guys need the money." Mana said haughtily. Her friends snickered.
I forced another smile. I wasn't poor, no, not at all. It was just that I was normal as opposed to Mana's rich-girl life. All I knew was that her dad was some rich business man and she had a new stepmom who was just as wealthy—hereby doubling their load.
"Well, not necessarily need it, but everyone likes to get some business for their companies, right?" I said cheerfully. Mana's confident face faltered as she seemed to notice that I wasn't breaking. Well, on the outside I wasn't, but on the inside I was, not that she had to know.
"Yes, definitely." She said, her voice still strong. "Don't worry, one day, you'll—"
She was cut off when a male voice interrupted, "Mana, shut up, seriously. What did she do to you?" Chris asked.
Mana pressed her lips together and then gave me a fake smile, "Nothing, Chris. I was just trying to be friendly." She said. "You know what, Lali? You should go, I've held up your lunch period enough." She said.
I pushed out some more false cheerfulness and said, "It was nice talking, Mana." But I doubt anyone missed the thankful glance I sent Chris. He saluted me and I smiled at the people seated at the table once more before continuing on my way.
Carrie rushed to my side, firing question after question immediately when I reached our usual table. "Lali, what was that?" she demanded.
I shook my head and smiled—a real smile this time—" Oh, nothing. She just wanted to ask me about some math stuff." I said, only telling the partial truth.
She gave me a look telling me with her eyes that she didn't believe me. I responded with a weak smile, then pushed my untouched lunch tray at her, "Here, I'm not hungry anymore and I have to get to a student council meeting." I said with a small wave.
Carrie rolled her eyes and I think I heard her mutter something that sounded like 'Miss Overachiever' but I couldn't be too sure.
I skipped to my locker, pushing through two students whom I recognized from my science class. They looked a bit angry…
I spun the dial on my lock, squinting in concentration when I over-spun the dial and missed the second number. I prepare to spin it again and then—
"You can't be fucking serious." A low voice ground out from behind me.
Oh, swear words.
A sarcastic laugh followed, "Oh, but I am." He said, his voice was haughty—almost like Mana's.
"If you even—" the low voice said.
"Then what?" the other boy taunted back.
It wasn't until then that I realized they were probably about to fight. I whirled around and found the two much closer to me than I had expected. So close in fact, that I couldn't squish past them unless I pushed them.
"Um, guys?" I squeaked with a nervous smile. They didn't budge. Either they didn't hear me or they just chose to ignore me. I pressed my back against my locker as they continued to argue, glued to the spot in front of me, trapping me between them and the lockers. I was about to be late to the student council meeting! I was never late to anything! Hold on, that wasn't what was important at the moment. They were about to pummel each other! This was not good.
"What about you, Lali?" one of the, Chase, asked.
I snapped my head up and smiled nervously, "I, um, what's going on?" I asked in what I hoped to be a gentle tone. Fights were not good. They were bad, very bad.
"He fucking slept with my girlfriend!" he yelled angrily.
The other boy, Jonah, sneered back at him, "So what? It's not like she was going to keep you around longer anyway."
In the next moment, Chase lunged forward and Jonah was on the floor, his nose bleeding but not broken. They were both breathing heavily already. "Oh my gosh!" I squeaked, instinctively moving forward to help him, but in the next second, he was up again, nearly knocking me back into the lockers as he lunged at Chase.
A crowd began to form around us and I backed up more against the lockers. Why were they all just watching? Can't somebody break up the fight or get a teacher or at least get me out of the middle of the fight?
I took a nervous step sideways as an attempt to get out, only to be roughly shoved backward by Jonah's elbow as they fought. My head hit the metal door of my locker and I winced with a small, "Ow."
I looked through the crowd with pleading eyes, only no one seemed to respond.
"Stop it!" I yelled desperately. There was blood, probably mostly from their bloody noses, but the scrapes and bruises were pretty obvious already, "Guys, don't!" I said, wringing my hands together. They didn't listen obviously, but why wouldn't anyone else help me? I was hit in the stomach and I coughed a little.
Suddenly, out of the blue, both Jonah and Chase were knocked onto the ground and someone's hand circled around my wrist, pulling me forcefully away and I stumbled into the person's arms.
I took a quick calming breath before looked up at the person, trying to thank him. My eyes caught onto bright green ones—Nathaniel Berry.
"I—uh—I—thanks." I said lamely, pulling out from his arms.
He looked down at me awkwardly and then stepped through the crowd. A second later, all the spectators were gone and the fight was broken up. Well, leave it to a bad-boy to break up exactly what he's good at.
"What the fuck." He hissed at Jonah and Chase, "Did you guys just happen not to see a girl standing right there? You fucking dumbasses, you guys got some shit problems, take care of them somewhere else."
They glared at him, but kept their mouths shut and then limped away in opposite directions. Nathaniel, or Nate, stared at them for a moment longer before turning back to me.
"Why the fuck were you standing in the middle of a fight, Perkins?" he demanded.
I shrunk back a little, thankful as I was, he was still very intimidating, "I didn't mean to." I said, my voice small, "I was getting my books and then they started fighting in front of me. " I explained, wincing a little at the thought of the already forming bruises from their accidental strikes.
He stared at me, "Oh." He said, "Well next time, get your ass out of there as soon as you can, you could get hurt staying there, trying to dodge them than pushing through them before they get all heavy."
I nodded, a little dumbfounded at hid behavior. From what I had heard, Nate didn't care about anything. He was most definitely not caring. I was very, very confused.
"Are you okay?" he asked after a moment of silence.
I nodded, "A little banged up, but no biggy." I said weakly.
He nodded and began to walk towards the double doors of the main building.
"Wait, there's still sixth and seventh period." I called after him.
He turned back to face me before turning back, "What's your point?" he called back.
I snapped my mouth shut. Oh right. Bad boy. "Right." I muttered to myself. "Bye." I called after him.
He didn't reply, but waved his hand in a sort of half wave and pushed the doors open when he reached them.
Well, hey… he wasn't so bad.
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