Chapter Two

"How was PE?" Keith asked in history. Luckily Jesse was across the room and couldn't hear our conversation. Although by the way he stared at us, I wasn't so sure. "Strange," I replied in a whisper and repeated my discussion with Jesse.

"That makes no sense," Keith said.

"What doesn't make any sense?" Jules inquired when she walked into the class room with Aiden.

"I'll tell you later," I muttered and she nodded slightly.

"Come on, Aiden," she said. "Let's go introduce you to Mr. Harris."

"So what're you going to do?" Keith whispered.

"About what?" I asked. "Aiden and Jesse? I'll treat them like I treat you guys." Keith scoffed lightly.

"Please. I saw the way you looked at Aiden. It's only matter of time."

"Shut up, Keith." I nudged his shoulder and smiled at Jules when she came back.

"Explain," she ordered.

"Where'd you leave Aiden?" Keith questioned with a sly glance at me. I glared at him.

"In the back of the room," Jules replied. "Now tell me what you were talking about." So I repeated my story for the second time and at the end of it, Jules shook her head.

"It makes perfect sense," she said. "Jesse obviously finds you attractive and he wants you ignore Aiden."

"You're right," I told Keith. "It makes no sense."

"For once, I agree with Jules," Keith said. "You're just so blind you can't see it."

"I wonder which one she'll pursue," Jules mused.

"Pursue?" I echoed with a snort at the same time Keith said,

"Aiden. It'll be Aiden."

"Really?" Jules asked. "I would have guessed Jesse. He's much more attractive. Maybe it's the bad boy thing."

"I never really got that," Keith remarked. "Why are girls so into bad boys?"

"Well it's that danger," Jules started.

"Enough," I ordered. "Both of you." They didn't listen to me, of course, but I tried my best to ignore them. Yet I couldn't shake the feeling that someone was watching me. When I turned around, I realized I was right; Aiden was staring at me from the back of the room. Ours eyes met and he smiled slightly. I blushed and looked down. This was going to be a long class period. Half-way through it, I got a note. The hand writing wasn't Jules's or Keith's and no one else passed me notes. If they wanted to talk to me, they would just text. There was only one way to find out who it was from. I unfolded it and ground my teeth together.

Take my advice. Stay away from my cousin.

-Jesse.

When I looked up Jesse was smiling at me. I crumpled the paper and glared back at him. He just smirked and my glare deepened. Who did he think he was? He didn't have any right to tell me what to do.

"Emma, please recite the preamble to the constitution," my teacher, Mr. Harris, said.

"Sure," I answered, "but what does that have to do with the lesson?"

"Just making sure that you were paying attention," Mr. Harris smiled and went back to teaching. I spent the rest of the class smiling.


The final bell had rung ten minutes ago and yet I was still at school, sitting in the little auditorium. Silently I curse Jules for making me come to this. There was a reason I quit Drama after one semester.

"You're glowering, Emma," Keith pointed out. "It really isn't that bad."

"I don't act," I growled.

"Maybe you won't even have to," Keith said. "Maybe they have enough people." I scoffed.

"Welcome to the audition for the school play," the drama teacher, Mrs. Bingham, said dramatically. I know. Bad joke but unfortunately accurate. I turned to glare at Juliana.

"Audition?" I mouthed. She just shrugged and pointedly didn't look at me. I muttered under my breath and I felt Keith chuckle beside me. Just then the auditorium doors and Jesse, followed by Aiden, walked in.

"Hello gentlemen," Mrs. Bingham smiled and spread her arms in welcome. "You must the new students Juliana told me about."

"That's us," Jesse grinned. "We would like to tryout but first we need to know what play we're doing." His grin grew wider but it wasn't a grin that made you think he was happy. He looked a lion about to pounce on his cornered prey.

"This year we will be preforming a revision of Romeo and Juliet. It's set in the nineteen forties. Our very own Mason Powers rewrote it," Mrs. Bingham announced. Mason was the top Drama senior in the school and the state last year. He was now studying Drama at the local university. Remember the guy who wrote me love letters? Yeah well that's Mason. When I was in theater, Mason had been the highlight of Mrs. Bingham's existence. It made me want to gag. To make it worse, I absolutely hated Shakespeare. Jules would definitely pay for this.

"In that case, I would like to try out for the part of Romeo," Jesse told her.

"As would I," Aiden said.

"Who would like to read Juliet opposite to him?" Mrs. Bingham asked. Keith and Jules stood up.

"Emma would!" the exclaimed together. I stood up quickly and glared at them.

"No I wouldn't," I informed Everyone.

"Ah, come on, Emma," Everyone replied with a groan. Man, I hate Everyone.

"I'm glad to see you back, Emma," Mrs. Bingham commented with a raised brow. "I think that you would be perfect for Juliet. In fact, I believe Mason suggested you for the part. Please step onto the stage." I tried not to scowl as I stalked up to the stage. It didn't work. Jesse winked at me and I intentionally ignored him.

"Would anyone else like to try out for Juliet?" Mrs. Bingham asked.

"I would," a familiar voice said from the back of the auditorium. Brittany Neilson strutted up to the front of the auditorium. Her black hair was cut short and framed her narrow face. I gritted my teeth. She had been my bitter enemy since I moved here and her boyfriend looked at me once. Now I had to get the part, just to spite her. She could not win; I wouldn't let that happen.

"Excellent," Mrs. Bingham exclaimed in her theater voice, which isn't much different from her normal voice, and clapped her hands together. "Emma will read with Aiden first. Action." I looked down at my lines and let Romeo (Aiden) start.

"My dearest Juliet," he said with feeling. "It has come time, darling, to go to the church to be married." His voice flowed over me and I just acted like there weren't forty people staring at me.

"Romeo, I cannot do it," I read with equal fervor, staring into his charcoal eyes. "My father is suspicious of us. He has spies watching my every move."

"I believe that we can make it if you hurry, darling." He had a slight smile on his face and my heart fluttered.

"I'm afraid," I whispered. "I do not want to abandon my family in this time of war. You are an Italian Nazi solider and I am a Rabbi's daughter. The Gestapo will find us if we run."

"Juliet," Romeo/Aiden said as he took a step closer, "I love you and that's all that matters. I will not allow a war that I do not believe in, tear us apart. True love only happens once and it deserves to endure." I hesitated slightly as if pondering his words.

"You are right. Wait only a moment and I will be ready. Our love will rise above this war and its prejudices. I will love you no matter what happens." I announced and thus ended the scene. For a moment, the auditorium was filled with silence. It was broken by Jules yelling out, "That's my girl!" I laughed and the entire room burst into applause.

"Very nice," Mrs. Bingham said with a smile on her face. "Now Jesse and Brittany." I took my seat next to Keith and smiled at him when he squeezed my shoulder. Jesse and Brittany did the exact same scene as Aiden and me but their performance didn't elicit the same response. When she didn't get as much applause, Brittany huffed and stormed off the stage. I tried very hard not to smirk at her as she passed. I really did. But I couldn't resist giving her a gloating grin. She sniffed and tossed her head. I wondered why she decided to cut it so short when she was obviously used to using her river of raven hair as a way to tic people off.

"Before we go on," Mrs. Bingham started, "is there anyone else who would like to audition for Romeo or Juliet?" No one said anything. "Good," she continued. "I would like our Romeo and Juliet to start learning their lines, so let's take a vote. Jesse and Brittany or Emma and Aiden?"

"What about Jesse and Emma?" a girl, I think her name was Annette, shouted out. My stomach tightened. Please, not Jesse.

"Excellent point," Mrs. Bingham said. "Okay let's try it this way. Emma or Brittany for Juliet?"

"Emma, Emma, Emma!" Jules and Keith started to chant and soon almost everyone joined. Perfect. I would have to kill Jules later. If Brittany didn't get me first

"Quiet down," Mrs. Bingham yelled over the noise. "Emma will be our Juliet and Brittany will be her understudy. Now for Romeo."

"Please suggest Aiden," I whispered to Keith. "I don't want to act with Jesse."

"I nominate Aiden!" Keith shouted.

"I second that nomination," Jules said.

"As long as we're officially a democracy," Mrs. Bingham smirked, "are there any objections?" No one said anything and I sighed in relief.

"Good," Mrs. Bingham said. "Aiden and Emma please come and get your script. I expect scene one memorized by the end of the week." I trudged up to her and snatched the script, all the while muttered less than kind words under my breath. When I looked up, I almost stopped in my tracks. Jesse was glaring at me and it was more than a normal glare. Behind it, something burned fiercely. I couldn't tell what it was, but I knew that I wanted to avoid it at all costs.

"Can I go now?" I asked Jules when I sat down.

"Not until Keith and I audition," she replied. "Now start memorizing." I stuck my tongue out at her with a smile and opened my script. By the time both of them were done, I was half asleep. It had been a long day and I just wanted to get home to play my new baby grand piano. I used to have a full sized but it burned like everything else in my old house. I heaved a sigh. I missed the sun and my grand piano and windows. Oh well. It's not like I had much of a choice.

Jules decided to stay and watch everyone else but Keith and I started to leave the theater. As we walked into the aisle, Jesse stepped back onto the stage. He was auditioning again, this time for Paris. I didn't want to stay and watch but the entire time he was reading, his eyes stayed on mine. I shivered.

"Let's go," I whispered to Keith. He nodded and put his arm around my shoulders. It felt comfortable but not in a romantic way. Keith had been my best friend since freshman year and now all three of us, Jules, Keith, and me, were closer than to family. He was my brother in all aspects but blood.

"See you tomorrow," Keith called as he walked to his car. Snow was falling lightly and it stuck in my hair. I looked up and smiled. I grew up in California and had always dreamed of snow. Now that I lived here, snow didn't lose any of its appeal.

"Emma?" a voice said from behind me. I jumped and dropped my keys. When I bent down to pick them up, a hand was already there. Our fingers brushed and I looked up into a pair of black-gray eyes.

"Hi," I said and stood up.

"Hello," he replied and just stood there looking at me. What seemed like many hours was probably only a few minutes.

"Was there anything you needed?" I asked, trying to move the conversation along.

"Would you like to have lunch with me this Saturday to go over our lines?" I open and close my mouth like a fish. Sure, it really isn't as shocking as I thought it was but that didn't stop me from exclaiming,

"Lunch?"

"Yes, lunch," he smiled. "Shall I pick you up at noon?

"Sure," I squeaked. He bowed over my hand and kissed it.

"Fino ad allora, il mio tesoro," he whispered. I blushed at the serious undertone of his voice.

"What does that mean?" I asked. His lip quirked up into a small smile that made my heart flutter.

"It's in your script," he told me. "Mason was gracious enough to give us tranlations." I pulled my script out of pocket and started to open, but Aiden's long fingers stilled mine. My brown eyes met his gray ones and I coudn't look away.

"Or you could sit by me in English tomorrow and I'll tell you what it means," he murmured. I chuckled nervously.

"How do you know that we have English together?" I asked and pulled my hands away.

"Jules might have let something slip," he smirked. I laughed but it soon died away when I noticed Aiden wasn't smiling anymore.

"Hello, Emma," Jesse said coming up to us.

"What do you want?" Aiden asked in exasperation.

"I just wanted to talk to my leading lady," Jesse smirked at me.

"I'm most definitely not your leading lady," I said. "You didn't even get the part.'

"Such harsh manners," Jesse said as if offended. "I expected more, Emma."

"What do you really want, Jesse?" I asked. "I'm really tired and I just want to go home."

"You, me, Saturday aftertoon," he smiled dangerously. "What do you say?" I heard Aiden snort beside me.

"I already have plans," I informed Jesse. "Thanks anyways." His jaw tightened and I was almost afraid of him. If I wasn't sure that I could kick his butt with my self-defense, I'd be tempted to cower behind Aiden. Jesse wasn't used to being rejected. That much was obvious.

"Move on," Aiden ordered. "She has plans with me and I would not like you to ruin them."

"Really?" Jesse inquired. "Where's the common courtesy? I asked you first!"

"Are you complaining about this?" Aiden asked. "Your father will not approve."

"Actually, he has already approved," Jesse smirked. "It's only a matter of time."

"Okay guys, I'm flattered by this battle of manliness but I really need to go home," I said stepping in between them.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Emma," Jesse said. "Maybe you'll come to you're senses and agree to my offer." With that, he walked away.

"Are you okay?" Aiden asked in concern. "You look a little pale."

"I'm just naturally pale," I told him which wasn't completely a lie. "I'll, um, see you tomorrow, Aiden. Goodbye."

"Goodbye, Emma," he whispered and as he walked away, he seemed to melt into the shadows. I stared after him for a while but eventually got into Bert and drove home.