“You look like hell, Jane.” Samantha raised an eyebrow, glancing over at me.
We were at school now, just starting our second-period class. I had woken up that morning in the dirty clothing from the night before,feeling grungy and miserable. I had a nightly routine that involved brushing my teeth, taking a bath, looking at a mirror and describing my appearance in my head, and wearing pajamas. None of this seemed to have happened the previous night. Instead, I had a mushroom-induced illusion of monsters and hot abs.
“I just had a strange dream,” I replied to my close friend.
“A bad dream?”
“No… not bad,” I remembered Andrew pressed up against me, his sweet breath filling my senses; it was almost enough to make me blush.
“Oh, one of those dreams.” Samantha smirked.
“No, not that!” I explained, raising my head from the stupor I had been in since homeroom this morning, “There was a demonic beast in it.”
“Hey, whatever does it for you.”
“I’m just saying, sometimes in my dreams it’s a werewolf ravishing me. Alpha-ing my Beta if you know what I mean.”
“I really don’t.”
“Oh, come now, we read the same books,” Samantha winked.
“You know wolves are pack animals.”
“I don’t follow.”
“Nothing, I’m just saying…”
“Well, naughty dream girl. How about we get some lunch? Should cheer you up.”
“I suppose it might,” I stood up, moving to join her.
A young guy my age pushed by; he glared back at me and gave a condescending sneer as he moved on. He had fiery red hair, dark eyes, and was as attractive as Andrew. He had a similar muscular build but seemed to exude a sense of danger. I also smelled spicy cinnamon as he passed. This would be filed as another irrelevant event with no bearing on my future. That would be the normal expectation.
“Who is that?” I asked.
“Wow, you were out of it this morning,” Samantha sighed, “That’s Rune. New kid, just transferred in from out of town. Although, he might be a serious contender for the hawtness.”
“Oh, come on…”I rolled my eyes at her and shook my head.
The hawtness was the name of a group of boys. Specifically, they were the ten most attractive boys at Fairmont high school. It was less an actual group and more of an ongoing joke between the pair of us. Still, it was always convenient to refer to the hawtness. When you referred to it, there are some people you knew were included; Andrew was one of them.
“Did you see him? He’s got a kind of bad boy thing going on, doesn’t he?” Samantha gushed.
“Bad boy is just another word for a jerk.”
“Maybe, but sometimes you like a bad boy because they’re just… Baaad…” Samantha enunciated the last word, breaking into a grin as she did it.
I smiled back, though I wasn’t sure I agreed with her statement. He seemed less like a bad boy and more like a troublemaker. Then again, I didn’t really know what kind of boys I would like. I’d never dated anyone before. Whether he was a demon or a saint, I guess a lot of it depended on how he treated me.
“Besides,” I spoke the rest of my thought out loud, “Doesn’t the hawtness already have a resident bad boy?”
“Daniel,” Samantha seemed to caress the words, “Well, there are always ten of them; they don’t all have to be different personality types.”
“Whose spot does Rune bump off this time?”
“Jeffrey has been letting himself go lately…”
“Didn’t he break his knee and end up in a wheelchair for the last three months?”
“Irrelevant to the unforgiving will of hawtness!”
The pair of us laughed as we made our way to the mess hall and got something to eat. I got a small salad while Samantha went with a reheated cheeseburger. Samantha was right; I was starting to feel normal now that I had a little food in me. I was just about to tell Samantha about what I dreamed the night before when Samantha’s eyes opened wide and her mouth fell open. What was wrong now? I turned to where she was glancing.
“Are you alright?” Andrew asked in a low whisper.
He slid into the seat next to me, keeping his head close to mine so he wouldn’t have to raise his voice in the crowded hall. Samantha shot daggers at me. It was a look that said ‘what is this and why haven’t you told me’. The complete look of shock on my face was the only reason she didn’t press more on the spot. Realizing he was still waiting for a response, I gave out a small nod.
“I saw that there is a new student that transferred in. He has a lot of classes with you.”
“I’ve seen him,” I stated.
“Don’t trust him, stay away from him,” he said, before standing up, “And I trust you won’t tell anyone… about us.”
Andrew turned and walked away, not turning to glance back as he turned a corner.
“What was that? Tell him about us? You guys are a couple? When did you start dating a hawtness? Why didn’t you tell me?” Samantha demanded in a fervor.
It wasn’t a dream. Everything I saw the previous night was true. I was wrapped up in a hawtness’ arms for several minutes. Other things probably happened too. I wouldn’t word it that way to Samantha though. Her fragile mind could only take so much. The reality of the situation seemed to come crashing down on me. I told Samantha that she was mistaken and it wasn’t what it looked like. Samantha seemed to sense something in me as she didn’t press further; she was a good friend for that.
After lunch, we ended up in our next period class, biology. The teacher asked us to divide up into our groups. I turned to Samantha, but before I could say anything, someone moved in between the pair of us. I found myself staring at a tight rock band t-shirt framing a muscular body. My eyes moved up and met those of the new kid, Rune. How was I supposed to stay away from him if he just went and shoved his abs in my face?
“I’m new here.” Rune grinned. “Wouldn’t mind teaming up with a smart girl for a while.”
Then why did he pick me? I’m not the smartest person in this class and am not well known for biology skills. Why didn’t he sit by Janice? She was three months pregnant. If anyone knew some biology, it was her.
There was something off about Rune too. His grin seemed condescending and insolent. The way he moved and talked seemed on edge, like he was a water kettle ready to burst. His eyes were full of a kind of heat and energy, on the edge of extreme emotion. It was so much different from the cool and collected Andrew; it also held a bit of familiarity that confused me.
I didn’t have a choice though; Samantha would never forgive me if I turned him down. It would look worse if I made a scene, and my so-called friend was already finding a new partner, shooting me jealous glares all the while. I nodded my head, not quite trusting myself to say anything at that particular point. Why did all these hot guys have to start throwing themselves at me? I must be the unluckiest person ever. He sat next to me, still grinning, but was content to remain in silence.
“The partner you just selected will be your lab partner for the rest of the year,” the teacher declared.
This was odd because it was November and we’d been having labs for, like, the last two months, but who was I to argue? I cringed on the inside, but it almost seemed like Rune’s grin grew even more insolent.
Andrew would not like this. Wait…why did I care what Andrew thought? What did this have to do with him, anyway? I barely knew the guy. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. I was my own person, and Andrew was just some guy. The hottest guy in school maybe, and he did save my life. Well, there was that. However, he stabbed… a monster. I don’t know; this was just a confusing time.
“We should go out.” Rune nodded to himself, interrupting the relative silence in which we had found ourselves.
“Out?” I responded, a little too loudly.
Thankfully the word didn’t reach Samantha; God knows what she would do with that information. This was the first thing he had said to me. He sat just a few inches closer to me than I thought he should, but he was being respectful and didn’t touch me. Why did he have to go and say a thing like that?
“I’ll think about it,” I said; the only response that came to mind.
“I look forward to it.” He grinned just as the bell rang. He stood up, grabbing his books and heading for the door.
“I didn’t say yes,” I called after him.
He put up a hand, either acknowledging or dismissing what I said before he was out the door. What a jerk. Bad boys my left buttock.
“Oh, my God,” Samantha exclaimed, joining my side. “What have you been doing? All these guys are practically hanging off you!”
“I don’t know what is going on, but it has to do with some bad mushrooms I think.”
“You’re so lucky.”
“It doesn’t mean you should be staring at me angrily throughout class,” I responded.
Samantha blushed. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to.”
“You just tweeted, ‘Ugh, Jane gets all the guys, what a whore. #Janesabitch’.”
“I have to keep face with the other girls.”
“Speaking of faces, I just looked up your Facebook on my phone; you just updated your profile with, ‘If I was Jane I would grab that piece of man meat and…’ Ugh, Samantha, this is not an appropriate Facebook post. Your mom is in on your friend’s list; stop posting this kind of stuff.”
“No, it’s okay, she liked that post. Besides, you should stop worrying about me and start worrying about the other girls in this class.”
I glanced around, realizing that I was seeing a larger than normal degree of venomous looks. I mean, most of the girls were always jealous of my mundane looks, average income, and no discernibly interesting character traits, but this was worse. It looked like neither Andrew nor Rune would do me any favors in the foreseeable future.
“You’re going to tell me everything you did,” Samantha continued, “after I get back from cheerleading. I want the whole story. You must have said or done something to attract hawtness and newbie hawtness.”
I assured her I would and before long, she was gone, leaving me as one of the last to finish packing up and leaving the class. I never liked to leave too early, or I’d get stuck with all the traffic in the hall. I liked to wait for the school to start clearing out before I left. I assisted the teacher in erasing the chalkboard and putting away the lab supplies. Once I was certain that I could get out of the school without being shoved and prodded, I took off.
My phone buzzed, and I checked to see another tweet from Samantha: ‘Rune/Andrew BoyXBoy fanfic’s finished and sold at my locker in 20 minutes.’ Well, I had to give Samantha some credit; she was diligent. When had she even written it? It had to have been during Biology class.
I barely had a warning when I saw Andrew and Rune together in an empty room. My instincts told me to keep walking, but my curiosity got the best of me. I stopped and listened; the door was open a crack and I didn’t have to struggle to hear what was being said.
“Did you even tell her about what we are?” The voice was Rune’s.
“That’s none of your business,” Andrew responded; his voice was cold but angry.
“You didn’t, did you?” Rune laughed. “Well, I might just have to; I owe you some payback for that demon. Do you know how much it cost me?”
“You stay away from her,” Andrew snapped.
“Oh, you like the girl…is that it? She’s your girl?” Rune chuckled, “Well, you know how I feel about things you claim are yours.”
“Oh, Andreatis, I will take everything that is yours and make it mine.”
A few girls snickered somewhere down the hall, causing me to break from the conversation. I turned and began walking away. They weren’t talking about me, were they? He didn’t tell me what they were? What were they? I remembered the fire sword, the monster, and the purple flames. What were these people? What had I gotten myself into?
Worse, I realized why I had found Rune’s voice so familiar and unnerving. That was the voice that was coming out of the forest the previous night. Both of these men were dangerous, and both of these men had seemed to find an interest in me. Of course, they were treating me like a piece of property. I wasn’t some prize for either man to win.
What a couple of asshats.