"I don't want to go," Ronnie Valkirk yelled. I could see her from my locker, not too far from the front door where she stomped her feet in a temper tantrum. Ronnie was one of the stereotypical cheerleaders at our school—blonde with no brains and barely any clothes covering her skinny body.
The principal took one of Ronnie's arms while her mother had the other, yanking her inside the school. "No! I need my social life!" Ronnie howled, her sunglasses covering her tired eyes.
My friend, Cammie Johns, moved to stand beside me while clicking her tongue. "Her social life consists of her boyfriend staying at her house all night." She gave a nod. "Bridgette lives next door and told me he snuck out the window this morning. Her parents never knew."
"No wonder she doesn't want to come to the first day of our junior year."
"This is going on my secret underground blog, 'West Cary's Highlights and Lowlifes.' I just started it today. I think I'm going to nickname it 'WCH and L.' Ronnie's definitely a lowlife."
Our school was West Cary High, located in the town of Cary, to the west of Raleigh, North Carolina. Most of the people at the school were from families who moved to the south from up north, thus the local thought that Cary really stood for 'Containment Area for Relocated Yankees.' The thought made us all laugh, because only a handful of the kids had southern accents. My parents were originally from New York City, with the accents and attitude that went along with the location. I wished I were from New York City, but could only act like it and be tough.
I turned back to Cammie's thoughts. "'WCH and L' is too long. No one will remember it. Besides, couldn't you be charged with libel by printing that?" I knew the law from watching the news every night.
"Nope." She stuck out her chin in defiance. "The first amendment gives me the right to speak and write. And considering it's a fact her boyfriend left the house this morning, it would stand in a court of law." Cammie shook her head. "Kids never learn."
"Kids? She's our age. We're juniors and hardly kids. I'm turning 17 in a month and I certainly don't want my mom thinking I'm still a kid. I just wish I had a car so I could come and go as I pleased. I hate riding that bus, still feeling like someone spit in my hair." I moved my hand to the strands, but felt nothing. "I think I'm going to have my mom drive me from now on."
"You do have a weird Mom and your bus is scary." Cammie stopped talking and nudged me, nodding toward the front door. "New kid. I can spot 'em a mile away."
I turned, seeing a guy walk into the school past Ronnie who was still sobbing with the principal and her mother. He wore a black t-shirt, tight jeans, and dirty white sneakers. With his medium length hair, the guy was very hot.
He nodded to a bunch of other guys known for their bad reputation, but he had some other sort of air about him. Something different and indefinable.
With dark brown slightly curly hair and very light blue eyes, he almost looked like a model. But he was an odd sort of model, because his skin was light like mine. It was too light for his hair color, almost like a vampire in a movie. My look worked for me with my red hair and blue eyes, but for him, it just didn't make it.
When he finally made eye contact with me, my heart fell. His eyes were almost the color of ice and that smile…all I could think was 'wow.'
Ronnie ran from the front door, tucked her blonde hair back behind her ear, and wiped under her eyes. "What's your name?" she said to New Kid. "Is this your first day here? I'm Ronnie. I'm going to be head cheerleader this year."
Wow. She dumped her sleepover boyfriend in a heartbeat and recovered really fast from her drama at the front door. Even her mom and the principal seemed surprised, finally walking away.
With a slight glance toward her, New Kid's smile disappeared as he stopped walking. "Cheerleaders have to prove themselves to me. I dated one last year and she was dumber than a sponge. How many advanced classes have you taken?"
"Um…" She lifted her head in thought, tapping her finger on her freshly over-glossed lips. "Does home ec count?"
He grunted a chuckle. "No. I'm talking advanced physics, college level English, calculus, advanced placement microeconomics…classes like that."
I pulled my schedule from my planner. He was describing my day, even in order for my first four classes.
Something wasn't right and I knew it when New Kid's gaze moved slowly to my face as he stepped closer. "What classes do you have?"
My heart stopped and I swallowed hard. This guy was the definition of sexy. "Um…" My voice came out as a squeak and I cleared my throat, grabbing it in surprise.
"Jenna's a nerd," Ronnie said. She grabbed New Kid's arm and spun him toward her. "You need to hang out with me. I can make your wildest dreams come true."
In one quick movement, he removed his arm from her professionally manicured nail-claws and approached me. "You're Jenna."
"Uh…" I was star-struck and took a step backward to collect my thoughts.
New Kid moved closer. The air got hotter and thicker. "My name's Erik," he said. "I'm…not from around here. Show me around, please?"
I sucked in a breath and looked past Erik to see Cammie, standing slightly behind the guy. She was just as star-struck, her eyebrows lifted and her mouth agape showing the pink bubble gum on her tongue. A slight wind could've knocked her over.
"Uh…sure," I finally said. "Do you have your schedule?"
"Yeah." He lifted his hand, covered in black ink, but never moved his eyes from watching me.
I glanced downward. "You wrote it on your palm?" What an idiot. "You won't remember it when it wears off."
He leaned toward my ear. "Photographic memory. The secretary made me write it down, but I didn't need to."
He was too hot for his own good. I blew out a breath and sucked in another one. I had to stay in reality and not dream about dating this guy.
I held the back of his warm hand and lowered my eyes, feeling the electrical surge his skin provided. Staying logical around him and not swooning would be tough.
I had to gather my wits, still studying the schedule written on his hand. "You have the same schedule I do. Exactly the same schedule." As I dropped his hot hand, I lifted my eyes to see his smile. "No one has exactly the same schedule as anyone else."
His eyebrows lifted twice, dancing in front of my face. "I do," he whispered.
That was it. Time for interrogation. "Who are you and why do you have my schedule?" I put my hand on my hip. He was nothing but a stalker and I dreaded the thought.
He moved beside me and put his arm over my shoulder, the scent of his cologne making my knees weak. "Babe," he whispered, moving me closer to my locker. "We need to stick together."
"I'm your…bodyguard." He chuckled, but he was entirely too smooth for my liking.
"Uh-huh." I had to be bold, to show I wasn't falling for him. Maybe I was trying to convince myself, but I had to be tough, so I rolled my eyes and moved away from his arm. I wasn't going to be easy for him to conquer. He had to treat me right, first.
"Jenna," Cammie whispered, running to my side. "He's hot."
"I know," I whispered back. He stood at my other side, nodding to all the kids in the hallway with a grin. "I don't trust him." I grabbed my notebooks from my locker and shoved them into my backpack.
"I do," she whispered. "May I have him?"
I slung my backpack over my shoulder. "Go ahead." I walked away, suddenly flanked by Erik on my left and Cammie on my right.
"Introduce me," Cammie whispered.
"Erik," Ronnie said, running up to his other side. "We're having cheerleading practice tonight and I wondered—"
"Not interested," he said, and took my hand. "Taken, so scram."
"Not." I pulled my hand from his with a sigh. "Have you, by chance, met Cammie?" I pointed so he'd get it. Cammie was average looking with mousey brown hair, brown eyes, and big thick glasses. Maybe he liked the nerd look?
He leaned around me, appearing nonchalant as he put his arm over my shoulder. "Hey," he said to Cammie.
Cammie jumped up and down. "Hi! I have to go, uh, update some things." She waved back at Erik. "I'll see you after school?"
Cammie squealed and ran off.
I shrugged out of the hold Erik had on my shoulders. "Who are you, anyway?"
"We'll get to that. But first, let's talk about you. You seeing anyone?"
Lying to Erik would be no problem. "Yeah. Nathan. He's in a few of my classes and he's going to be really upset if you're this forward around me." At least I hoped Nathan would be upset.
Erik wasn't falling for it. "You don't seem to mind. You even like me flirting with you."
"No." I sighed. He was going to be a pain if he kept bothering me like this, but maybe I could pawn him off to someone else, or kick him out the front door. Needless to say, with this albatross around my neck, my four-point-zero GPA just went kaput.