Oh God, I feel sick. I can’t believe I have to go to this stupid school! I only got back from my months’ vacation last night, and the following day I have to start a new school? This really sucks!
Junior year was probably the worst time to start a new school too. People would already have their own friends and groups, and I was going to be left out and lonely for the next two years. I huffed and scowled out of my windshield, seeing the entrance to my new nightmare. South Shore High School. As I approached the gates I contemplated driving straight past, heading home and begging my stepdad to just let me go back to my old school. I sighed deeply, already knowing that he wouldn’t give in because I’d been working on him for the last three months to no avail, so I reluctantly turned the wheel and pulled into the parking lot.
I stopped in the first available space and glanced around nervously, seeing people sitting around on the hood of their cars, laughing and flirting, making the most of the sunshine before they had to go into the school. Gulping, I reached up and tilted my rear-view mirror, looking into it at myself, trying to settle my fluttery stomach. I looked okay; my long chocolate brown hair had been pulled into a loose bun. I had put on a tiny bit of mascara to make my blue eyes stand out, and some clear lip gloss. I hadn’t gone to too much effort to make myself up today. Being my first day, I was just hoping to make it through school without embarrassing myself.
I pulled on my leather jacket over my red shirt and black skinny jeans, took a deep breath, and stepped out of the car. Almost immediately everyone stopped talking and looked at me. It felt was like one of those movies where the new girl steps out and everyone stops what they’re doing so they can analyse everything about her and see where she fits in the social hierarchy of the school.
So much for getting though the day unnoticed!
I pulled back my shoulders and tried to look confident, not letting the nerves show on my face. As if on cue the boys started to whistle and shout cat calls at me and the girls stared at me with a mixture of jealousy and hatred. Looks like I wasn’t going to fit in here very well after all….
“RILEY!” I heard my favourite voice in the world shout.
A big goofy smile slipped onto my face as my heart rate seemed to increase at the sound of his voice alone. I turned expectantly, my eyes raking the parking lot for him. My heart almost stopped as I spotted him running towards me, a huge smile stretched across his beautiful face. His short messy blond hair was blowing in the wind as he ran across the lot, skilfully dodging around people.
Clay Preston, my best friend in the world, the one I told all my secrets to and who knew me better than anyone else. I sighed contentedly as all the stress and strain, loneliness and heartache that I’d felt for the last month, just ebbed out of my body at the mere sight of him. It had been too long since I’d seen that smile.
I dropped my bag, and just as he got over to me, I jumped into his arms and wrapped my arms and legs around him, squeezing him as tight as I could. I pressed my face into his neck and breathed in his smell. My God I’d missed him! It felt like I hadn’t been able to breathe for the last month without him. I had barely eaten anything the whole time I was away; I’d just wallowed and missed him like someone had taken a piece of me away. Here, in his arms, breathing him in again, I felt whole. I sighed contentedly as he squeezed me tighter and spun us in a small circle, laughing.
Everyone in the whole parking lot was staring with wide eyes and open mouths at us. “Clay! I missed you so much!” I told him, unwillingly unwrapping myself from him and kissing his cheek.
He sighed, his beautiful green eyes sparkling with excitement. “I missed you too, Riley Bear. I didn’t think you’d be here today, you only got back last night, right?” he chirped, slinging his arm casually over my shoulder and picking up my school bag, his grin still stretched across his face.
“Yeah, I’m so tired, but Brian said I had to come today because I’d already missed the first week of school,” I whined, rolling my eyes.
“You should have told me, we could have rode in together.” He tightened his arm on my shoulder, guiding me in the direction that he ran from minutes earlier.
“I didn’t get back until after one this morning so I didn’t think I could call you,” I explained. Personally, I would have much rather rode in with him today too, then I wouldn’t have had to try and drive here with shaky hands.
He stopped walking and looked me straight in the eye. “Riley Jane Thomas! You can call me anytime of the day or night, you know that,” he said fiercely, looking a little hurt.
I rolled my eyes at him. He always used my full name if he had a point to make. “Come on, Clay Richard Preston,” I mocked, using his full name like he did mine and giving him a little shove forward, laughing. He grinned and grabbed me again, tucking me under his arm as he kissed the side of my head. I tried to ignore the stares that were directed at me.
He seemed to be guiding me towards a group of three boys that were sitting on the hood of an old red BMW. As we approached they looked up at me expectantly, smiles plastered on their faces. Their eyes raked over me, curiously, making me feel a little uncomfortable. I guess, being the new girl, I was going to come under scrutiny today. I couldn’t help but hope that someone else new started today too so that the attention would be divided.
“Guys, this is my best friend, Riley. Riley, this is Craig, Ben, and Tom,” Clay stated, pointing at the guys in turn. I looked at them carefully, noticing quickly that they were all good-looking in their own way. They all had a confidence that told me that they were in the popular crowd at school and that they knew they were sought-after. Craig had blond hair and blue eyes, Ben and Tom both had brown hair and brown eyes but Tom had really cute dimples in his cheeks when he smiled. They were all the same sort of build, height about six foot, and muscles that you could plainly see under their clothes.
I smiled a seductive smile. Hmm, maybe this school won’t be as bad as I thought!
“Hey,” they said, almost in unison.
“Hey,” I replied with a flirty smile. Instantly Clay stiffened next to me.
Crap, I’d forgotten that he got all protective of me when guys were around. I’d had a few boyfriends before and Clay had scared most of them away with his ‘you hurt her, I’ll kill you’ speech. I slung my arm around his waist and gave him a reassuring squeeze, making him smile at me.
“I can’t believe you have kept this little hottie away from us all this time! This is the Riley? The girl who lives next-door to you? The girl that you’ve been best friends with since diapers?” Tom asked Clay with a smirk, doing air quotes around best friends.
Clay just nodded, looking uncomfortable about something. “Yes, and hands off! She doesn’t need players like you chasing her around,” he growled with a threatening tone to his voice.
I burst out laughing. “Clay babe, I think I can handle things myself. You don’t need to go all protective big brother on me.” I shook my head at him and patted him on his hard chest.
“I’m not trying to be your brother, Riley,” he mumbled, frowning.
Just then a group of five very pretty girls walked up to us. They all looked the same, short skirts, low cut tops and way too much make-up. They all stood around with flirty smiles. One draped herself over Ben and started making out with him. Another one walked over to Clay and gave me a sneer, making me pull my arm from around his waist quickly.
“Hey, Clay. How are you doing, baby?” she purred, running her hand up his chest seductively. He smiled at her but I could tell he was uncomfortable by the way he was clenching his jaw. I smiled and shook my head at him; he could never tell someone what he really thought if it would hurt their feelings, he was way too soft.
“Er, I’m fine Zoë, how are you?” he replied, stepping backwards. The move didn’t really have the desired effect though, because she just stepped with him and pressed her chest against his, smiling seductively.
“Oh I’m much better now that I’ve seen you,” she purred. “How about you take me out tonight? We had lots of fun last time we went out, didn’t we?” She raised one eyebrow suggestively, smiling a little smugly. Clay squirmed a little and shot a quick glance at me.
I rolled my eyes knowing that was my cue to leave. “I’ll see you later. I’ve gotta go get my schedule.” I smiled and picked up my school bag, heading off in the direction of the main doors of the school hoping I could find my way or a teacher to ask.
“Riley, wait!” Clay called. I ignored his plea and just carried on walking. I hated watching him get pawed by girls; it turned my stomach for some reason, though I guess I should have gotten used to it by now. I probably saw him with a different girl draped all over him every week. How he’d not caught Mono from all the kissing I’ve witnessed over the last couple of years, I don’t know.
I looked up at the huge school and a shudder ticked down my back as a blush crept onto my face. This place looked a lot bigger than my old school and I was already envisioning getting lost within it. I only got a few yards away when an arm slung lazily around my shoulder. “I’ll walk ya, sweetheart,” Tom suggested, giving me a wink. I flinched a little when I realised it wasn’t Clay, but I decided to go with it, I didn’t want to walk on my own anyway.
I smiled gratefully. “Thanks.”
“So, why do you think Clay forgot to mention you were a little hottie?” he asked with a smile.
I shrugged. In my opinion I wasn’t exactly a ‘hottie’, I was just average. Like every girl, I had my flaws and insecurities. “It’s probably because he’s never noticed. He doesn’t look at me that way. We grew up together.” I’d known clay for the since the day I was born, our parents were friends and we even lived next door to each other. Clay was slightly over a year older than me, he was a senior here, but the age difference never seemed to matter to us when we were growing up. Since the day I could walk and attempt to say his name we were inseparable.