Tatiana Zaikov is a senior attending Acadia Academy in California. Here, she is one of the lucky few to be at the top of her school's social hierarchy. She has only ever known what it was like to be at the top in Acadia. That is until she manages to upset Acadia's Queen Bee, Mariah Wellis. Actions have consequences, and with her actions, Tatiana finds herself to be falling down the ladder faster than she can comprehend. Even though she is doomed, she puts up a brave front. But, Caspian King and Nolan Pierce, the kings of Acadia, know she is falling apart. So, they offer her an irresistible proposition. A proposition that will ultimately cause Tatiana's rise, fall, and ruin.
Will Tatiana be able to rise above what is thrown in her way, or will she be ruined?
'One must fall before they can rise.'
"I HATE YOU CASPIAN KING!"
My head jerks up from my locker as the shrill voice echoes through the main hall. Every student has immediately dropped what they were doing to watch the drama that's unfolding. I quickly and quietly close my locker, making sure to not disrupt the silence. I have to say that this is a very interesting way to start a Monday morning.
In the middle of the hallway, not too far from where I currently am, stands the kings and Caspian's latest girlfriend. And I use that term loosely. Everyone in this school knows he never stops sleeping around, even when he is supposed to be tied down to his girlfriends. But hey, it's his life not mine so he can live it as he wishes. Now that doesn't necessarily mean I like the guy. If anything, unlike almost all girls here, I'm repulsed by him.
Who is their right mind would even want to date a player? It almost seems as if girls think Caspian will change when they date him. That they will be the one girl to put an end to his player ways. Sorry honey, hate to break it to you, but this is reality and he isn't going to change his ways because of you. Girls know he cheats and, yet they still throw themselves at him. My only guess as to why is the status a girl gets when dating one of the kings, the status of Queen.
"Kate, darling, why would you hate Caspian King?" Nolan, the second king of this school, questions with amusement.
"He slept with four other girls during our one-month relationship!" Kate seethes pointing an accusatory finger at Caspian, who stares at her in boredom.
Nolan shakes his head and the small smirk on his lips says exactly what I'm thinking. "Sweetie, this has happened how many times before? Why did you think it would be any different for you?"
"I-I," Kate stutters and open and closes her mouth as she tries to find her words. They seemed to have escaped her for the time being.
Half a minute later, she speaks. "I thought I was different." Her voice is weak and a mere whisper. I had to strain my ears in order to hear her. But once I did, I scoffed.
And boy did that scoff turn everyone's attention on me. Nolan and Caspian turn their gazes from Kate to me. Their eyes meeting my own. My face stays devoid of the emotions running through my body. I hate attention and now I have at least twenty pairs of eyes on me. I move my hands in a sweeping motion, gesturing for them to carry on. Which they do, but a certain someone's gaze stays on me a little too long.
"We're done Kate." The man of the hour finally speaks.
"You can't break up with me! I'm breaking up with you!" Kate's face is now painted with the red of embarrassment and anger while Caspian scowls.
A sickly-sweet smile replaces Caspian's scowl within seconds, "It's too late Kate. I've already taken the initiative of breaking up with you.”
Kate's mouth hangs open and she gasps. I can only imagine the feelings running through the poor girl's mind. Hurt, frustration, anger, embarrassment just to name a few. To be frank, I find it exceedingly difficult to feel any remorse towards Kate. The girl simply had it coming. She’d knew what was bound to happen. People don't change. And if they do, it's only a matter of time before they revert back to their old habits. Humans are creatures of habit after all.
Caspian and Nolan turn away from Kate and walk down the hallway in my direction. I step back to let the pair pass and could swear Caspian was looking at me from the corner of his eyes. Great, my little scoff has brought about the attention of the last person I'd ever want it from.
The bell sounds, alerting the student body of their tardiness to first period. Students scurry in their hurry to get to their classes. I sigh as I make my way to AP Calculus, knowing Mariah is going to have my head on a spike for being late. I decide to extend my tardiness by walking slowly and enjoying the last few minutes before I reach the class I die in every day.
The halls are deserted now, save for a few late stragglers such as myself. The sound of my heels meeting the floor reverberates as I walk. AP Calc is across the school from where the drama was this morning. It usually takes me a good five minutes to get to the class, but today the walk is more like ten minutes.
I don't bother knocking on the closed door as I walk right inside instead.
"Miss Zaikov, it's nice of you to finally make it to class. Care to explain?" Mr. Clarke questions.
I continue to walk to my desk as I answer. "I needed to pray to God for the strength required for me to get through this class."
I don't hear his response, if there even was one, because Mariah yanked my arm as soon as I took my seat next to her.
"Why are you so late?" She hisses in a low voice as she throws daggers at me with her eyes.
I roll my eyes at her. Poor Queen Bee can't stand when she doesn't have tabs on her best friend. Why? Good question. Make sure to let me know if you find out the answer.
Taking my Calc book from my bag I respond, "Caspian broke things off with Kate." Speaking of Caspian, I think he is in this class? Oh right. How silly of me to forget. Mariah only talks about him all the time.
"Oh, I know. Like I can't believe he even dated her in the first place."
I don't say anything in response because I know exactly what she is thinking. 'It's me he should have asked out already. I mean just look at me and then look at him! We would like make the perfect couple.'
Mariah played the role of Queen Bee well. She fit the stereotype perfectly. Beautiful, charismatic, blonde hair blue eyes, manipulative, entitled, a bitc- Opps. I got a little carried away there. Anyway, she's Queen Bee, as previously mentioned, and I'm her best friend.
Best friend. Another set of words that I use loosely. In an environment such as Acadia Academy, your friends are your worst enemy. When you have a status as high as mine, you're lucky if you even have true friends. Truth is that everyone is for themselves in this school. If you're not the predator then you're the prey, and being the prey in Acadia is damaging.
A pain shoots through my arm and I turn to face Mariah. "Did you just pinch me?"
She nods. "I called your name like three times." She says annoyed.
"Huh. Must have zoned out again."
"You've like been doing that a lot lately."
One of the things I cannot stand about Mariah is her ridiculous overuse of the word 'like'. I've contemplated many times about getting her a dictionary and telling her to find other words besides ‘like’ to use, but that would be a bitch move.
"Anyway, we like totally need a girl's day. Just you and I."
A girl's day with just Mariah and I. I have to keep myself from groaning out loud. I absolutely hate spending time with her outside of school. All she ever talks about is gossip, shopping, money, gossip, shopping, money, and then more gossip, more shopping, more money.
I know I seem like the bitch, but believe me when I say I'm really not. Compared to the other girls here I am an angel and that's says a lot. Besides, this school makes one ruthless. I just hope I never find out how ruthless I can be. I don't want to become the girls I despise. Even though in some aspects I guess I am already like them.
I plaster a fake excited grin on my face, "We so do!" Not.
I look away from Mariah and towards Mr. Clarke. "Yes sir?"
"First you're late to my class and now you can't even at least act like you are paying attention?"
"Sorry sir. I'll act like I'm paying attention."
Quite a few people, Mariah being one of them, either giggled or snorted. Mr. Clarke just huffs out a breath of anger and continues on with his lesson.
My phone vibrates on my desk and I turn to look at Mariah thinking she texted me about the girl's day. Except it wasn't her since her phone is surprisingly nowhere in sight. Which is kind of strange. The girl can’t go a millisecond without it. Shrugging, I look up to see what Mr. Clarke is doing and find that he is helping another student with this lesson's work. I grab my phone and press its home button. The lock screen shows a mass amount of notifications, but one recent text message from a number that is not in my contacts. I unlock my phone and open the message.
'SunRise Café. 4:00.'
Strange. Don't know the number so I'm most definitely not going. The person could be a murderer, or maybe they have the wrong number for a drug deal? Yeah, definitely not going.
And just in case it's someone I know, I'll claim I had plans with Mariah. They'll understand.
I put my phone down, glance in Mr. Clarke’s direction to make sure he is still busy, and lean towards Mariah.
"What do you say we have a spa day after school and go shopping tomorrow? School is stressing me out too much." She smiles and nods her head in replace of a yes.
She is being too nice. She must want something from me...
This day is going agonizingly slow. It's just now lunch time, meaning I still have four classes left. Thankfully my last class is a free period.
"I can't believe she like actually wore those heels to school. They are from the last season's collection." Mariah grimaces as she speaks with utter disgust.
"I know right! Sometimes I wonder why you even let her in your group." Ahh, yes. Leave it to Carrie to kiss ass and jump aboard the 'fashion police train'.
I find myself questioning just why I am still with Mariah and her group. I don't like any of them. I suppose the only reason I am still here sitting at this table, listening to gossip, is so I can keep my position on the ladder of social hierarchy. Now that I think about, that is basically the same reason girls date Caspian and Nolan.
Here at Acadia Academy we have what we call 'The Zones'. Zone One consists of the kings, the Queen Bee, and their followers, which I'm included in. The girls that date the kings are considered to be the ‘true’ Queens of the school, and are also included in this group. Mariah is just the Queen Bee since she happens to be the wealthiest girl at this school. These are mostly your richy rich kids. Zone Two is the rest of the school's wealthy population. Athletes also make up this zone. Zone Three is the entire freshman population. However, some freshman can be in the upper two zones due to certain circumstances. But that's just minor detail. Zone Four is the zone you don't want to find yourself in. For one, it's below the freshman and two, it's made up of the social outcasts, geeks, nerds, and band members. And these students are picked on and harassed daily. Unlike most ladders, this one is easier to climb down than up.
Thank the Lord I have only ever been in Zone One. I can't even imagine how'd I'd be getting through high school if I was in Zone Four. Just thinking about it makes me shiver.
"TATIANA!!!" I turn to look at Mariah who has an annoyed expression.
She rolls her eyes, "You zoned out.... again. You need to stop doing that when I'm talking to you."
I know she is serious and pissed since she didn't use like one time while talking. Great.
"Sorry, what were you saying?"
"I was asking you if you could like go talk to Caspian for me. Well, not really asking. More so demanding." There you go people. I was right, she did want something.
"Ask him what?"
"If he will go to dinner with me tomorrow night." Why can't she do this herself. Oh, right because she has me, her loyal best friend.
"Time?" Maybe she will cancel our shopping plans. Fingers crossed.
"Well, if we like go shopping right after school and only do it for a couple hours, then around seven. That gives us like four hours to shop." FOUR HOURS. Lord help me.
If I don’t do this, then Mariah will be even more pissed than she was when I zoned out on her. I get up from my seat and make my way over to the table the kings and their friends are sitting at. I stand across the table from where Caspian is sitting next to Nolan. He looks up at me expectantly.
I keep a bored expression and a nonchalant voice, "Mariah wants to know if you will go to dinner with her tomorrow night at seven."
He stares at me and Nolan answers for him. Can these boys read each other’s minds?
“No. Caspian is not having dinner with Mariah.”
I sigh and turn around to walk back to Mariah and give her the news when Nolan’s voice stops me.
“But, he will have dinner with you.” I freeze mid step. Nolan practically yelled it and now, all eyes were on me waiting for my reaction.
I look over my shoulder and see that Caspian is watching me with a serious expression and waiting for my answer. Nolan, however, is smiling in amusement while the rest of the cafeteria has fallen silent.
I let out a strained chuckle, “That’s a good one.” I go to walk back to Mariah when a hand grasps my wrist. I peer down at the hand. My eyes travel up the arm and finally to the face of Caspian.
His brown eyes pierce into mine. “Nolan wasn’t joking.”
Alright, my heart just dropped into my stomach. Mariah is going to murder me. She has been wanting to go out with Caspian since I moved here and met her, and that was freshman year. I look over at my table and see Mariah’s deadly gaze situated on me. Her face is contorted in unspoken anger and rage.
“I don’t think that would be a good idea,” I say in a whisper returning my gaze to Caspian.
His lips fall into a hard line. He then gives me a sharp nod and releases my wrist. I walk back to my lunch table, taking my seat next to Mariah.
“So, the guy I sent you to ask out to dinner for me, asks you out instead?” Fan-freaking-tastic. She is now, somehow, going to turn this all on me.
I sigh, “If anything, Nolan was the one to say no when I asked Caspian. Maybe Caspian will still say yes?” I know this is a poor argument because of the fact that Caspian claimed he wanted to take me out for dinner. God, this whole thing is stupid.
“I’m not stupid Tati. He wanted to take you out for dinner.” She spits out with hatred. “Why would he even want to take you out when I’m here? You and I can’t even be compared! I’m blonde and blue eyes, the perfect combination! You’re a brunette and besides, your eyes aren’t even the same colour!”
I keep my mouth closed and look at my hands. The best thing to do in a situation like this is to say nothing. Then again, if I stay quiet, Mariah has time to think. And that, is never a good thing.
All of a sudden, Mariah jumps out of her seat, grabs my arm, and yanks me out of the cafeteria. I pull my hand from her tight grasp once the doors to the cafeteria close behind us.
“What the hell?!”
“I’ve got an idea.” Damnit. She thought of something.
“I’m not doing whatever it is that you want me to do.” I state.
“Oh, yes you are. You told Caspian you weren’t going to dinner with him, right?” I nod my head. “Good. I want you to go back in there and tell him you changed your mind. I have a plan.”
“No. no no no. I am not doing this. I am tired of doing shit for you.”
“Really Tatiana? You haven’t even heard my plan yet.”
“I don’t need to hear to know what you want me to do.”
“And what do I want you to do, hmmm?” She questions.
“You want me to go out with him, make myself look like a fool, and then proceed to tell him that I believe you are a better match for him.” She gives nothing away as I stare at her waiting for her reply.
“I’ve got to give it to ya. You’re pretty smart. That is precisely what I want you to do.” I shake my head rapidly. I am done with being her little puppy. I am tired of doing everything for her.
“Too bad cause there is no way in hell I am doing that for you. You want him, then you can get him yourself.” I turn on my hell and press my hand in the cafeteria doors to open them when she stops me.
Her voice is low and filled with anger, “You will be doing this. Are you forgetting that I can tear you down in the blink of an eye? That I can ruin you beyond measure? I know everything about you Tatiana, I know your secrets, things no one else knows. So, unless you want those secrets out and your life to be ruined, I suggest doing what I tell you to do.” Her face is in mine and I so so badly want to punch her perfect little nose.
But, I can’t do that. I need to be rational. She knows a lot about me, not all, but enough to do some serious damage. I need to be smart about this. Karma’s a bitch and I just hope to God she pays Mariah a visit soon because I can’t keep doing this shit.
“Fine,” I throw my hands up in the air. “Are you happy now?”
A wicked smile dances on her lips, “Very.”
I let out an exasperated groan, push through the cafeteria doors, and stalk my way back to Caspian’s table. His eyes were on me the whole way. I stop in front of him and get ready to start something I want no part in. Unfortunately, I do not really have a choice unless I want my secrets to be spilled.
“I’ll go to dinner with you tomorrow.” I state bluntly.
He tilts his head to the side, studying me. The boy is not stupid. He knows something is up. I mean wouldn’t anyone think something was up? I just came back from be dragged by the girl he practically rejected and am now giving him a different answer. Anyone would find it suspicious.
“I’ll pick you up at 6:30.” He knows where I live?
“Don’t you need my address?” I question in confusion.
“No.” What a short, clipped answer.
“Okay.” My voice rose at the end making it seem like a question when it was, in fact, a statement.
I walk back to my lunch table and see that Mariah is still not back. Her things are missing as well, so she must have came in to grab them. As soon as I take my seat, I am bombarded with questions from the eight girls sitting at the table.
“Are you dating Caspian now?”
“You’re going to dinner with him?”
You have soooo lucky Tati!”
“Are you the new Queen then? Oh, mer Gawd, you are totally the new Queen!”
I whisper under my breath, “I am not dealing with this.”
I grab my purse and walk out the cafeteria. Any minute now the bell for class will ring. A bell also singling the start of the gossip that’s bound to travel like wildfire. I still have to go to the spa with Mariah after school. Lord knows if I bail out she won’t let me hear the end of it. I can only hope I get out of shopping with her tomorrow because of the dinner date with Caspian. But, regrettably, we don’t always get what we want.
School just ended, and I am currently on my way to the spa downtown. Mariah is already there, as she left school early. Typical her. It takes roughly fifteen minutes to get to the spa, giving me enough time to think about the dinner I will be having with Caspian tomorrow.
Just thinking about it makes me want to throw up. As I have said before, I am repulsed by the boy. But, no one can know how I feel about him. It is an unofficial rule at Acadia that one can not speak out against those superior to them. If you are caught saying the wrong things about Caspian King or Nolan Pierce, your life as you know it is over and down the ladder you fall.
However, if you do happen to be in Zones Three and Four, you can say whatever you want about the Kings, Queen, and Queen Bee. If you are in Zone Three, you can still drop to Zone four. But, it’s highly unlikely since those is Zone One tend to ignore the people below them. Unless of course they want to pick on them.
It’s not like I can talk to Mariah about my strong dislike towards Caspian. She would go to him right away and have me dropped. The only thing I can do is to keep my feelings towards him to myself. Meaning, I must keep my face impartial when around him.
I arrive at the spa and park my car next to Mariah’s new Audi. I make sure my phone and card are in my purse before stepping out of the car and heading into the building. My eyes instantly spot Mariah in the back of the room. She must have gone home and changed because instead of our uniform, she is wearing an extremely short dress. Sighing, I walk towards her and take the open sent beside her.
“Is that you Tati?” She questions. She is unable to see me because of the cucumber slices covering her eyes.
“Oh, good.” She replies before shouting out, “Ashley! Tati is here.”
A woman, likely in her forties, with dirty blonde hair approaches me and has me lean back into the chair. She proceeds to give me a facial. Once she is done, and I have cream resting on my face along with cucumber slices, Mariah gets down to business.
“Do you know what you are wearing to dinner tomorrow?”
“Because, I am like picking you out something to wear.” She exclaims in a duh tone.
“And what will I be wearing exactly?” There was a bit of a waver in my voice because, frankly, I am terrified. She wants me to act like a total fool on the date. So, just imagine what she is going to make me wear.
“Don’t worry about it. Now, on to the more pressing matters… From the time Caspian picks you up to like the moment he drops you back off, you will be on your worst behaviour. You ruin the date. And at like some point, you are going to tell Caspian that you believe he is a better match for me.”
“And what if he just happens to like the way I am acting?” I ask to ruffle her feathers.
She snorts, “Oh trust me Tati he won’t. It’s like a wonder he even asked you to go to dinner. There is like absolutely no way he would want to go out with you, no offence.”
I want to reach over there, grab her neck in my hands, and squeeze the life out of her. She is such a bitch. Regardless to my inner thoughts, I remain quiet and keep my hands rested at my side the rest of the time. Only speaking when spoke to. Nothing more and nothing less.
After hearing, not listening, to Mariah gossip about the girls that are in our ‘friend group’ for half an hour, I’m more than ready to leave. Ashley just removed the cream and cucumber slices from my face and began to put on the finishing creams. As soon as she finishes, my phone vibrates under my thigh. I pick it up and find a text message from the same unknown number as this morning.
‘Don’t keep me waiting Tia…’
Who in the hell is this? I am getting concerned. It has to be someone I know, right? Otherwise, how do they know my name?
AM I BEING STALKED?!
“What’s with the face Tatiana?”
“It’s-It’s nothing.” She gives me a disbelieving look. Damn.
I come up with a quick lie. “Ok fine. Chanel is having a sale right now, but everything is sold out of my size.” Please tell me Chanel is having a sale right now Lord.
“Really? I like have to check then.” I need to leave. Now.
“I’ll catch up with you tomorrow. I have to get home and work on this AP English essay.” She nods her head and sweeps her hand in a motion that says, ‘Get outta here.’
I pay for my treatment, exit the building, and hop into my car. I start the car and sit with my hands on the steering wheel. Do I go to SunRise Café? Or do I not go to SunRise Café? You know what? I am just going to throw all caution to the wind.
SunRise Café is five minutes from the spa place, so it’s not like I am making a voyage. I make a left turn at the light and pull into the café’s parking lot. I park a good bit away from the building, turn my car off, and just sit there. This could possibly be a reckless decision on my part. Then again, it could be someone I know.
It could also be a serial killer.
My conscious never fails to terrify me. Screw it, I wasted gas to get here and can’t let it go to waste. I climb out of my car and start to walk across the parking lot when a certain car catches my eye. I look over to the right and see a red Maserati. Caspian King’s car.
What is that boy doing here?
I shake my head and continue walking to the café’s doors. SunRise Café is a bustling place where most kids hang out after school. Whether they be from Acadia or the other schools in this area, students are always here. I head towards the counter and peer at the menu board. I suppose since it is hot outside, I’ll just go with an iced coffee.
“Hello Miss. What can I get for you?” The guy behind the counter asks with a smile. The barista looks to be about my age and just happens to not be too hard on the eyes. Dark hair and light eyes, not a bad combination at all. Too bad I don’t have time for guys.
“I’ll just have a grande iced coffee, please.”
“That’ll be 7.50.” I hand him a twenty and tell him to keep the change.
He grabs a cup from behind him and lifts his gaze to mine. “Name?”
“Alright, Tatiana, I will call you up when it’s ready.” He winks at me. I offer him a small, polite smile.
I have an agenda and at this moment in time, boys are not on it. It is my Senior year; the time colleges are looking for incoming students. I need to keep focus on my grades and my sight on Yale. There is no time for distractions, especially when my future dreams are riding on me now more than ever.
“Tatiana.” I head back to the counter and he hands me the drink. He flashes me a pearly white smile. I thank him then turn and walk to sit at a table by the window with stools. Whoever texted me knows who I am. So, as far I am concerned, they can find me.
I look out the window and watch as people walk up and down the sidewalk. A bright neon pink shirt catches my eyes. A child, most likely five or six, skips beside her mother. The pair are holding hands and laughing. The mother was watching her daughter with pure love in her eyes.
Something drips onto my hand, and only then do I realize that I am crying. Crying in public… I quickly wipe at my eyes, being careful to not screw up my makeup, ridding myself of the tears.
Get yourself together Tati. It is what it is. There is no changing that.
Unfortunately, my conscious is correct. It has been years since my mother has shown me an ounce of love. I suppose she thinks she shows me, but maybe that is just wishful thinking on my part. With the comments she makes I have no idea how I still hold on to the hope of her loving me. It will just have to stay the way it is. After all, you can’t change or help people if they believe they do no wrong.
While gazing down at the cup in my hand, I realize more than just my name was written on the side. I shift my hand over and my eyes widen in surprise.
‘The name’s Leo. Call me 669-221-6251.’
Well, that’s interesting.
“What the fuck. It’s four thirty Tia. What happened to you being a stickler for being on time?”
Instantly recognising the voice with the Italian accent, I turn around in my chair. I should of known it was him. He is the only one to call me Tia. A smile finds its way onto my face and I jump down from the stool. I throw my arms around the boy in front of me. He wraps his hands around my waist and brings me closer as his embrace tightens.
“I’ve missed you Eros.” I sigh into his neck. He chuckles, pulls out of the hug, and holds my shoulders at an arm’s length.
“I think I’ve missed you more, Tia.” We sit in the stools of the table I was just sitting at.
“So, why are you back here in California and did you get a new number?”
“Damn Tia. I see your bluntness is still here.” I shrug my shoulders and sip from my coffee. “Honestly, I couldn’t stand our once to twice a month Facetimes. Seeing you in person is much better than through a screen and I did get a new number a few days ago.”
Eros and I have known each other since our preschool days. I still remember the day we met as if it were yesterday. It was the second day of gym class and we were tasked with running laps around the gym as warm-ups. Being preschoolers, we all ran in different directions. Eros and I ended up colliding and since then, we have been best friends.
We went to the same school as each other until middle school. In middle school, he had to go back home to Italy. We tried to keep in touch by FaceTiming every night, but they grew to be too difficult after a few months with the different time zones. Instead of calls every night, we opted to calls once or twice a month.
I smile at him. “Seriously, why are you back Eros?”
He looks down at the table and smiles lazily. “I could never get a lie past you. Okay, I am here because my parents practically banned me from the estate and their sight.”
My jaw drops and I look at him disbelievingly. “What did you do?!”
“I may or may not have caused some trouble that could possibly tarnish my parent’s reputation.”
“I’m not even going to ask you what you did to achieve that. I’m afraid of the answer truthfully.” At this, he chuckles and nods his head.
“That’s probably a good idea. Oh, and do you mind if I stay with you at your house? My parents not only banned me from the estate in Italy, but also our place here.”
“Damn Eros. You are seriously scaring me right now, but no I don’t mind. I’m positive my mother won’t either. She likes you more than she likes me.” I sigh.
He places his hands over mine, which are resting on the table top, and fiddles with my fingers. “You know that’s not true.”
I scoff, “She is the same as when you left. If not worse.”
“Well, let’s go find out.” He stands from his chair and holds a hand out to help me down from my chair. I take his hand and step off the stool. I try to remove my hand from his as we walk out the café, but his hold tightens. Whatever, I’m sure it’s a onetime thing.
Once Eros and I are out the doors, I notice a figure leaning against the front of my car. As we get closer, I finally see just whose figure it is. It is none other than Caspian King. My eyebrows draw together as I try to think of why he would be at my car. Eros takes his hand out of mine and snakes his arm around my waist, pulling me closer to him. I look up at him and see him smirking at Caspian. Switching my gaze to Caspian, I find him with a stoic expression.
Eros and I stop in front of Caspian and I ask the sole question that is on my mind. “What are you doing here?”
He shrugs his shoulders, “Just thought I’d remind you that I will be picking you up tomorrow night at 6:30. Make sure to wear this.” He pulls a black box wrapped with a red ribbon from behind him and extends it out for me to take. I eye it warily and grab it with caution.
He stands from the car and acknowledges Eros with a nod. Eros returns the acknowledgement with a nod of his own. Boys, strange creatures they are. Caspian leaves, walking back to his Maserati while Eros stares down at me.
“You and Caspian? Never would have guessed.”
I open my car door, slide in behind the wheel, and place the box on the passenger’s seat. “Please, it’s just a set up.”
If only I knew how ironic that statement was.
I drive to my house with Eros following closely behind me in his sports car. It doesn’t take too long to get home and before I know it, I am stepping out of my car and waiting for Eros to do the same. Once he does, we walk up to the front door where I pause. I look over to him at my side. He notices and glances down at me in return.
“What’s on your mind Tia?”
“Nothing.” I lie. When in truth, I am not exactly excited for my mother’s reaction when she sees Eros. She has always taken a liking to him. She honestly loves him more than her own daughter. Pushing my trivial worries aside, I open the door and walk inside. Eros closes the door behind him.
“Everything still looks the same.” He smirks.
“Well, looks can be deceiving.” With that I head into the kitchen and grab an apple off the counter.
“What? You aren’t going to show your dear friend around?”
I chuckle. “You said it yourself. Everything looks the same in here. The guest room you stayed in when you came over is still the same as before. Wouldn’t surprise me if your stuff is still in there from last time.”
“Thanks again for letting me stay here Tia. You have no idea how much this helps.” He says with pure gratitude.
I take a bite of the apple and shrug my shoulders, “No problem. Make yourself at home. I’m sure you remember where everything is?”
“If not, I’ll figure it out.”
I nod my head at him and start to walk out the kitchen to go upstairs when a question enters my mind. I stop and turn around in the kitchen’s doorway to face Eros once more.
“What school will you be going to?” I question with slight interest and curiosity.
He gives me a devilish smile. “Acadia Academy starting on Thursday.”
I smile with joy. “Awesome! Can’t wait. Goodnight Eros.”
I head upstairs and throw the box Caspian gave me on my vanity. I then change into my pajamas. Nothing like good ole’ Kermit the Frog jammies. I throw my hair in a messy ponytail, not really caring what I look like. After all, it doesn’t really matter since my hair will be a bird’s nest in the morning. I climb into bed and under the grey cashmere comforter. I close my eyes, but find myself unable to fall asleep.
Thoughts invade my mind and they have no intention of leaving anytime soon. All I can think about is the dinner with Caspian tomorrow. Every bone and cell in my body doesn’t want me to go. But I have to go, or else Mariah will run her mouth around school. No way in hell can I drop down a Zone. Because once I drop down one, I am bound to drop again. Mariah won’t stop with me in Zone Two.
‘You don’t want what happened in middle school to happen now T.’
I grab the pillow next to me and stuff it on my face. I hate this so much and yet, no matter what choice I make, I will have to go through something I don’t want to. I suppose it comes down to which choice has the better outcome. And right now, that choice appears to be going through with Mariah’s plans.
“Uggghh. I am so not looking forward to any of this.” My voice comes out muffled since I am speaking into my pillow.
Another thought has also invaded my mind. A thought that involves Eros. Just what did the guy do to practically get kicked out of his family? He was always the bad boy type, but never did anything too serious. Just what happened all these years with him while he was in Italy? I’ll just deal with all this tomorrow. No sense in losing sleep over things I can’t necessarily control.
I remove the pillow from my face and put it back next to me. Turning on my side, facing the door, I close my eyes and try to fall into a peaceful slumber. Just as I am on the verge of falling asleep, I hear the steps creak slightly with the weight of a person. Footfalls travel down the hall and stop in front of my door. My door slowly creaks open and the hallway light shines through the crack.
A soft voice whispers my name, “Tia?” The accent gives who it is away.
“Hmm?” I groggily respond. He shifts his weight around and nervously runs a hand through his dark hair.
“I-I… Uh just wanted to make sure you’re okay.”
“And why wouldn’t I be Eros?” I close my eyes and question.
“No reason. Goodnight.”
He closes the door softly and I can hear him sigh before he walks to the guest room. He had meant to say something else, but reverted to making sure I was okay instead. I would question him on what he meant to ask me, but I am just too far under the influence of sleep to do so.
A horrid beeping noise fills my ears and I groan knowing precisely what it is. I turn the alarm on my phone off and lay in my bed staring at my ceiling. I don’t have the greatest feeling about today. Let’s just hope my intuition is wrong.
With sloth like slowness, I climb out of bed and head into the ensuite bathroom. I turn the shower on and set the water to the hottest temperature. Stripping out of my clothes, I walk into the shower and stand under the hot stream of water. My tense muscles relaxing instantly. I wash my hair and body before shutting the shower off and drying myself off. After wrapping my hair in a towel, I walk back into my room and into the walk-in closet.
The one plus of going to a private school and having to wear a uniform is the fact that I don’t have to waste time choosing an outfit for school. Acadia’s uniforms are simple. A red plaid skirt for girls with a white or black top. We can choose what kind of top to wear as long as it is white. We can also choose to wear the black uniform blazer or one of our own. Again, as long as it follows the colours of the uniform, the faculty doesn’t care. We even have a choice in what shoes we wear. Most girls wear name brand clothing and shoes.
I grab the uniform skirt from a hanger, a simple white button up top, and a black blazer with Acadia’s symbol. I throw everything on my bed and walk back into the bathroom to do my hair. I style my dark brown hair naturally in its loose curls. Next, I quickly do a little makeup, but not too much. Once finished, I get dressed, pick out a pair of Louboutin’s, grab my purse and phone, and head downstairs to the kitchen.
I am met with voices as soon as I walk into the kitchen. Eros and my mother are sitting at the counter and it appears that they are having a lively conversation. But, that all seems to change once my mother’s eyes land on me. Her smile turns into a frown and her laughter dies out immediately.
“Tatiana, what are you doing here? Get to school.” I hold myself back from rolling my eyes. If I did, nothing good would come from it. Besides, I have enough on my plate as it is.
“I have time mother. I don’t need to leave for another fifteen minutes.”
Her eyes narrow. “Did I ask you how much time you had? No. Go to school now.”
I look over at Eros who looks at me with concern. I give him the ‘I told you so look.’ My mother is worse than she was, but I suppose that is my fault too. I walk out the kitchen and out of the front door. Off to school I go. Yay…
I arrive at Acadia ten minutes early and park in the Zone One parking spots, which are the closet to the school. To waste some time, I sit in my car and watch all the students walking into the building. For the most part, they all seem to be carefree and happy. I wonder just how many of them are faking it.
I try to see through what people show others to find out if there is more to them than meets the eyes. A majority of people have two versions of themselves. The version they are when they are around others and then the version they are when they are alone. Some may have more than two versions and some may only have one.
Knocking on my window takes my attention off the students walking around. I look over at the person standing beside my car, Mariah. I close my eyes and take a deep breath before exiting my car.
“Good morning Mariah.”
She rolls her eyes. “Yeah, whatever. We have like stuff to go over right now. I like totally have the worst outfit for you tonight.” She smiles in delight. “Caspian like won’t be able to look at you without puking.”
Lord, I know I am a sinner, but please help me out here.
“That’s great Mariah. I will see you later.” I try to move away from her, but she grabs onto my wrist and pulls me back to her.
“You better not fuck this up Tati.” You’d think she was a snake with all the hissing she does.
I remove her hand from my wrist and smile at her sweetly, “Wouldn’t dream of it.”
The school day goes by far too quickly. It also seems like the day goes faster when you are not anticipating what’s to come. But when you can’t wait for something to happen, the day goes slower than a snail stuck in honey.
Since Mariah cancelled our shopping spree, I am currently sitting on my bed staring at the monstrosity Mariah expects me to wear tonight. It is absolutely hideous and will cover every ounce of my body. It consists of a long maxi skirt only grandmothers would wear, a pink sweater, and a purple cardigan.
“There is no way I am wearing this.” I mumble under my breath. I am going to be making a fool out of myself as it is by ruining this dinner. I don’t need to make a fool out of myself by wearing this too. I’ll just wear what Caspian gave me. I hope it’s decent because I haven’t open the box to see for myself yet.
Caspian is picking me up at 6:30 and it is 4:45 now. I have more than enough time to get ready. I take a shower, straighten my hair, touch up my makeup, and now to get dressed. I take the black box and sit on my bed as I remove the red bow holding it together. A gasp escapes my lips as I pull out the short red dress.
The Gucci dress was stunningly beautiful. It was a deep cherry red and compliments my tanned skin perfectly. I put in on and peered at my reflection in the mirror. It is truly a gorgeous dress, just not on me. It is a body hugging dress ending at mid-thigh and I am not the skinniest girl. I am a slightly curvy girl with a little extra skin here and there.
To finish my outfit, I throw on a pair of black Versace pumps and wrap a black shawl around my shoulders. The nights are beginning to get chilly.
The doorbell rings and I look at the time on my phone. 6:30. Huh, turns out more than enough time was the right amount of time. I grab my COACH bag, throw my phone and wallet in it, and head downstairs.
I find Eros blocking the doorway and holding the front door open. I tap his shoulder once I am behind him to get his attention. He looks at me over his shoulder, his eyes widening, before finally moving away from the doorway.
There, on the porch, stands Caspian King in an Armani suit.
His light brown hair looks like he had been running his hand through it repeatedly. It doesn’t hamper his appearance in anyway, it actually does the opposite. If anything, it makes him look better. But, looks are just looks. The personality is where everything’s at. If you were to put the world’s hottest guy with the worst personality in front of me, I can guarantee you that I will have no attraction to him in anyway.
“Red is a good colour on you.” Caspian comments while taking in my appearance.
I casually lean against the doorframe as I respond. “Ah, yes. Did you know that powerful people wore red in Ancient Rome?” Caspian has always struck me as the domineering and dominant type. Maybe this will be a shot at his ego? Probably not, but a girl has to try when it comes to ruining a dinner without embarrassing herself too much.
The corner of his lips lift up a bit and a devilish glint lights up his dark brown eyes. “It is also the colour sin and passion,” he winks.
Damn. He’s smooth.
I feel a heated gaze on the back of my head. I look over my shoulder and see Eros watching me with an overpowering stare. He had never liked Caspian, and I am not entirely sure as to why.
“Bye Eros. I’ll see you later.” He nods his head once at me and turns his steely gaze to Caspian, who stares back with a wicked smirk. Ugh, guys.
I roll my eyes and shut the door after I have steeped out onto the porch. Caspian takes my hand in his and walks me to his Maserati. He opens the passenger’s door and closes it once I am seated inside.
The drive, to whatever restaurant we are going to, is quiet and overwhelmingly awkward. I don’t want to break the silence to try to make things more comfortable between us. I have a mission tonight and if I fail, I can say goodbye to my life as I know it.
No words were exchanged between Caspian and I. He parks his car, opens my door, and we walk to the entrance of the posh five-star restaurant. We are seated in a secluded section of the overcrowded and bustling restaurant where barely anyone resides.
“My name is Micah and I will be your waiter for the night. What can I get you to drink.” Micah smiles warmly. I smile flirtatiously at Micah and twirl a piece of my hair with my finger. Step one of Mission Ruin this Date had begun.
Micah’s eyes widen a bit and he quickly steers his gaze in Caspian’s direction. From the corner of my eyes, I can faintly see Caspian watching me with curiosity. Really? Curiosity?
“We will have a bottle of your best red wine.” Micah looks between Caspian and I with his eyebrows scrunched together.
“I’m sorry, but you neither of you appear to be twenty-one.”
Caspian sighs heavily and says two words that change everything. “Caspian King.”
Micah looks surprised and apologises before running off to fetch the red wine. Caspian can get anything in the world as long as he has his name.
Micah brings a bottle of cabernet sauvignon and asks us for our orders. Caspian looks at me waiting for me to give my order. I order an entrée consisting of chicken with a sultry voice while Caspian orders one with steak. I ordered the chicken entrée as a bonus step to my mission. Everyone knows that red wine does not pair well with chicken and the look on Caspian’s face says it all. He doesn’t comment on my order, instead he tries to spark up conversation.
“Why is E-.” He is cut off by the sound of my phone receiving a text. I smile at him apologetically and reach into my purse, grabbing my phone.
The text is from Mariah. I told her earlier today to start texting me a around six. Nobody likes a girl who is on their phone during a date, or at dinner.
“Go on. I’m listening.” I tell Caspian as I text back and forth with Mariah about mundane things. He begins speaking again and I ignore everything he says. I haven’t heard a word of what he has been talking to me about.
My phone being ripped from my hands brings my attention to the boy sitting in front of me. He is not happy, at all. His glare and scowl tell me just how he is feeling.
“I have asked you a multitude of questions only to not get a single answer in return. You’re not acting like yourself Tatiana. Why is that?”
I scoff. “Oh, so now you know how I act? Hate to break it to you Caspian, but this,” I move my arms in a sweeping motion, “Is acting like myself.” I say in a snotty tone.
His jaw clenches, but he is unable to say anything as Micah arrives with our food. I flutter my eyelashes at him and rest my hand on his arm as he places my plate in front of me.
“Thank you so much Micah.” He gulps nervously, quickly places Caspian’s plate down, and rushes away.
“I’m going to the bathroom.” Caspian stands abruptly and walks in the direction of the men’s room.
God, I am a horrible person. I should have never agreed to go on with Mariah’s plan. Then again, I don’t want to drop down a zone. What happened in middle school can’t happen now.
By the time Caspian gets back, I have already eaten half of my food. A polite person would have waited for their date to get back. A person attempting to sabotage their own date would do what I have done and what I am about to do.
Once Caspian is seated, I switch our plates. I now have his food and he has what is left of mine. Strangely, he doesn’t seem phased by this as all. I narrow my eyes and find that he is trying to hide what is either a smirk or a smile.
The date ends when I accidentally spill wine all over the table, Caspian, and myself. This, however, doesn’t upset Caspian. The boy is amused.
He drives me back to my house and as I about to open the car door, the lock sounds. I turn to Caspian confused and just a little worried.
“Don’t forget this.” He pulls my phone from his pocket. I had completely forgotten that he had it this whole time. I take my phone from his hand and he unlocks the doors, allowing me to leave.
“Oh, by the way, before you are loyal towards someone else, make sure they are loyal to you.” He tells me with a wink.
What is that supposed to mean?
I get out of the Maserati and walk inside my house. What exactly did he mean by, ‘Before you are loyal towards someone else, make sure they are loyal to you?’
What all do you know that I don’t Caspian King?
Right before I go to bed, I text Caspian. Thus, ending my mission and saving myself from becoming a possible social outcast.
Hey, its Tatiana. I don’t think we have what it takes to be with each other. I believe Mariah Wellis would be a much better match for you.
I hit send and turn my phone on airplane mode for the night. I fall asleep believing that everything worked out just the way I needed it to.
I arrive at school and park in my usual spot. Mariah meets me as soon as I step out from my car.
“You like didn’t text me last night. How did it go?”
“He’ll be coming after you in no time.” Hopefully, for my sake.
Mariah squeals and launches herself at me, giving me a tight and excited hug. I awkwardly pat her back willing her to let go of me. She does. After, oh say about three minutes.
“You just like saved yourself from falling down the ladder. Congrats!”
Yeah, go me.
“We are like so going shopping after school today since we didn’t go yesterday!” I nod my head going along with what she is saying.
We start to walk towards the school and head in the direction on our first class, AP Calc.
The day, as all days do, goes by slowly. There has been no drama today besides the fact that everybody is questioning me about what went wrong on my date with Caspian King. He must have started a rumour that him and I just aren’t meant for each other. That, along with an incident he refuses to speak about, whatever that may be. I am glad that things have turned out this way. Although, his behaviour after he returned from the restroom last night at dinner was a little odd with him trying to hide smirks and smiles.
I am just overthinking things per usual.
The bell rings saving me from having to present a presentation on climate change in AP Biology. It is now lunch time, a time I look forward to everyday. I mean, who wouldn’t look forward to a time when they can eat food?
I push open the doors leading into the cafeteria and head over to the table Mariah and our 'friends' sit at. I take my seat next to Mariah and wait for the lunch line to die down before getting my food.
I must have zoned out again because a scream, followed by shouts, draws me from my thoughts and places me back into reality. The cafeteria has grown quiet. Everybody's looking behind me, so I naturally turn to have a look myself.
I never knew Mariah got up, but there she stands in the center of the cafeteria. Mariah has her mouth hanging open and is pulling her shirt away from her body. It is now that I see it is soaked with some dark liquid. A girl, a freshman I believe, is cowering and stepping away from Mariah with fear written all over her face. I cringe because any second now Mariah is going to explode. Trust me when I say that you don't ever want to be on the receiving end of her fury.
"WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!"
"This blouse cost me five hundred dollars." Mariah fumes as she slowly stalks towards the freshman. The girl doesn't respond and is now shaking.
"I am going to make sure your life for the next four years is hell at this school and any school you go to if you transfer thinking you could get away."
Well shit. Things just got real.
The girl's eyes start tearing up. This isn't the first time Mariah has made that declaration, or promise. One thing about Mariah is that she will make sure she follows through on her promises. Truthfully, I'm not positive I can watch another person suffer from Mariah's wrath.
Sure, I may sound bitchy a majority of the time, but I draw the line at stuff like this. Next thing I know, I'm doing something I've never done in a situation like this before. And I'm not entirely sure why I do what I am about to do. Maybe it is because I do not want others going through what I've gone through before. If what I'm about to do means I have to go through what happened in my past all over again, then so be it. As long as I can save someone else, I will go through the emotional pain a thousand times over.
I stand and walk over to Mariah and the freshman. My stomach starts to churn from every pair of eyes being on me right now. I can feel my body heating up and I can only hope my face hasn't turned red. Have I mentioned that I can't stand attention?
I pull the six hundred dollars from my purse I was going to use to buy the new COACH bag with. (Yes, I carry around wads of cash. Sue me.) I hold it out to Mariah who is looking at me with shock. Shock that quickly turns to outrage.
"Go buy yourself another blouse, Mariah." My voice comes out sounding clear and confident. A total contrast to the multitude of emotions flittering inside of me.
She swats my hand away, "I don't want your money."
Shrugging, I respond in what I hope is a careless tone. "Suit yourself then." I stuff the money back into my purse. Maybe I can still buy that bag?
Turning to face the girl, I make eye contact with the one and only Caspian King, who his sitting at his usual table. He tilts his head to the side as he watches me with a small knowing smile. I look away from his scorching brown eyes and offer a small smile to Mariah's victim.
I wrap my arm around the shoulders of the trembling freshman and I pull her along with me towards the cafeteria doors.
"If you walk out those doors don't expect to be in my friend group anymore!" Mariah shouts.
"And that's a bad thing? If we were truly friends, then something this insignificant wouldn't ruin our friendship." She knows just as well as I do that we were never truly friends. If anything, we were just acquaintances of circumstance. Shit, I am not sure if I would even classify us as acquiantances.
I reach the doors when her voice shouts out again. "I'll make sure you're not in Zone One anymore! That's a promise!"
My step falters. I never thought the day would come when I put my social position in jeopardy. Not too long ago I was thanking the Lord for only ever being in Zone One and was having a hard time imagining what it would be like to be in the lower Zones.
A small voice reaches my ears, "You don't have to do this." I peer down at the girl at my side who is avoiding eye contact by staring at her shoes.
"You're right. I don't," She nods her head slightly in understanding. "But I am."
I glance over my shoulder at Mariah. "So, I'm guessing this means our shopping spree is cancelled?" She lets out a frustrated screech.
With that I take the final steps out the cafeteria doors and across the threshold, completely oblivious to just how shitty my life was about to get. Of course, I expected it to take a plunge, but not a plunge so far down to where it was bound to go.
That threshold was not only a gateway out of the cafeteria, but also a gateway to my new fate.
The girl at my side still trembles as we walk down the deserted hallways. Maybe conversation will help calm her? I don’t know what to do. I never have been good when it came to people and their feelings.
"What’s your name?" I ask in a soft voice.
"Well Amelia, I'm Tatiana." I smile.
The sadness etched on her face falls away as a small smile dances on her lips. "I know."
I have no idea what to say so we continue to walk down the empty hallways in silence.
"Where are we going?"
"To get you situated." Poor girl has streaks in her makeup from tears.
She nods her head catching my drift. "Can’t we just go into one of these restrooms?"
I shake my head back and forth. "No. Too many girls go in these restrooms. We are going to the one that’s rarely used."
The restroom is, of course, on the other side of the school. I know about it because it’s the one I go to when I just want to get away from the people attending this school. For some reason, not many girls use this restroom. I’m not sure if it’s because it’s on the other side of the school and they just don’t want to make the trip, or for some other odd reason unbeknownst to me.
"I never knew there was a restroom over here." She states as I push open the door.
"Not many do, and I’d like to keep it that way."
A half an hour later and you can’t remotely tell that Amelia was crying and was threatened by the school’s Queen Bee.
I place my hands on Amelia’s shoulders and look into her eyes. "If Mariah comes up to you, tell her to come to me. If you are having any problems because of her then come to me. Understand?" Her face brightens up and she encompasses me in a hug.
"Thank you so much!"
I just chuckle and awkwardly pat her back. Not only do I hate attention, but I also hate contact such as this.
"No problem." If Mariah keeps her promise, which she will, of making this freshman’s life hell, then the girl will need someone there for her. She has no idea how lucky she is. I know I just met her and all but from this last forty-five minutes, I can tell she is a lot like me when I was younger, and not just because of the situation she is in.
I have a minor issue.
I share practically every class with the she-devil herself. Strangely, she hasn’t done anything yet.
Is she glaring at me as if I’m a pair of Steve Madden heels compared to Louboutin’s? Yes.
Is she imagining running her stilettos through my eyes? Most likely.
Am I afraid of what she is planning? Just a tad.
Delightedly, this is my last core class and there is roughly five minutes before the bell rings. After this, it’s my study hall. Which is basically a free period. I begin to pack my books into my bag as I anticipate the ringing of the bell.
My phone suddenly vibrates with a text notification. I pull it from my bag and unlock it. The text is from Mariah.
‘Don’t be surprised by what happens next:)’
I turn my head to the side and glance over at her. She has a knowing smirk plastered on her face. I have a bad feeling that shit is about to hit the fan. I don’t give her any indication of fear as I smile innocently at her.
As soon as the bell rings, I slowly stand up, feeling anxious all of a sudden. It’s my free period, maybe I should just leave? Or will Mariah’s surprise take place before I can reach my car? Oh Lord, why can’t I just have a normal teenage life? Is that too much to ask?
I cautiously walk down the crowded hallways and head down to the first level. I’ve decided that I’m just going to leave early.
Everyone’s eyes are on me as I slowly make my way to the front doors. I start to tremble under all their gazes. Adjusting my purse's strap on my shoulder, I pick up my pace and look down at the ground.
I finally reach the school’s doors and hastily push them open. I'm met with the mild mid-September wind and a sight that makes my heart skip a beat.
What the fuck?!
A crowd had gathered in the student parking section. All of them are trying to contain their laughter. They have gathered right around the space I parked this morning. My face pales. She wouldn’t do anything to my car, would she? She knows how much it means to me.
I slip my feet out of my heels, rush down the stone steps, and jog to where the people have gathered. I shove my way through the throng of students until I reach the front. A gasp escapes my lips and i drop my purse and bag as I take in the sight before me. The Jaguar XJ Supercharger my dad passed on to me is ruined.
Tears start to build up behind my eyes as I stare heartbroken at the car, the car my father passed to me before he died.
No. She is not going to get the satisfaction of seeing me cry.
This car was the only thing I had left of him. It meant the world to me and now it was keyed, had missing paint, smashed headlights, multiple dents, and missing side mirrors. The windshield was decked in red painted lettering. I walked around to the front to read the words.
‘I WARNED YOU. ZONE 2’
Damn her. She knows how much this car means to me and she still ruined it. I can deal with being bumped down a step on the hierarchy ladder, but vandalising my car? That’s pretty freaking low, even for Mariah. I inhale a deep breath. No one needs to see how troubled I am over something like this. Something all these half brains would find trivial.
"I told you I’d make sure you weren’t in Zone One. How does it feel?" I turn around at the sound of Queen Bitch’s voice. She’s smiling in satisfaction.
"I don’t care about what stupid zone I’m in anymore. I thought I made that clear when I walked out the cafeteria doors." I point towards my car, "However, I do care about you vandalising my car."
She laughs. "Oh Tatiana. You have a lot in store for you yet. Did you think I’d stop with you in being in Zone Two? For each Zone you drop, there will be a surprise. Maybe I should institute a fifth Zone just for you?"
I stare at her with anger. "Why are you even doing any of this? All I did was save someone from your wrath. That hardly constitutes your behviour. Stop acting like a child. If you have a problem with me, talk to me." Her smile is swiped off her face instantly at my words.
She stalks towards me with fire in her eyes. "You disobeyed me and gave me the perfect reason for what I have waited almost four years to do."
What the Hell?
My face scrunches in confusion. Four years? Why has she been waiting to do this? And why now? She’s basically a Queen of the school, she could have done this at any time.
"You see Tatiana-"
I cut her off. "No, you see Mariah, I honestly don’t care why you’re doing this. All that really matters is the fact that you are doing this.
"This is only the start." She states in fury and turns, strutting back to the building. Everyone is once again watching me. All their faces hold shock.
"What are you lot looking at? Get on with your lives!" I snap at the crowd. Looks of surprise cross their faces before they turn to hurry back inside the school.
I swipe my hand down my face and sigh once I’m left alone in the parking lot. This is utterly ridiculous. I do something good and then my life becomes hell. It hasn't even been three hours since the lunch incident. If Mariah goes to the trouble of ruining my car right away, then I can only imagine what’s bound to come my way.
I turn back to face my car. I can’t believe she went this far this soon. It’s going to cost thousands to repair the damage. I can’t press charges against her because her parents will just pay everything off. Her parents pay it all off and nothing is placed in her record. It would be a waste of time.
I’m about to get in my car to take it to the shop when a voice stops me.
"Got yourself in some trouble, princess?"
I whirl around to find Caspian and Nolan leaning against Caspian’s Maserati. Parking is set up according to the hierarchy. The higher up you are, the closer to the school you can park. Zone ones get the closet parking, followed by Zone Two and so on.
"Nothing I can’t handle." I reply in a nonchalant voice. There is no need for them to know I’m lying and that I am quaking in my boots.
“You intrigue me Tatiana.” Caspian says coolly while watching me closely.
How is one supposed to respond to that?
I cross my arms over my chest and tilt my head to the side. “How so?”
“Because you are a contradiction, love. Unpredictable yet predictable at the same time.” I roll my eyes. What does this boy want?
“What do you want Caspian?” I question starting to get annoyed.
“I want you Tatiana.”
I am positive I look hilarious at the moment while trying to contain the laugh threatening to spill from my lips. The key word in that sentence is trying. I was trying, and I failed miserably. The laugh comes out and it takes me a good amount of time to collect myself.
Is he serious? Does he honestly believe that I will buy that?
Caspian rolls his eyes in agitation and Nolan is also trying to contain a laugh. Unlike me, he succeeded.
“What do you take me for Caspian? One of your love-sick puppy followers? Hate to break it to you, but that is definitely not the case. Your words have no effect on me.”
“Is it so hard to believe that I want you Tatiana?”
I lose my smile as it is replaced with seriousness, “Yes.”
“Damn. Good luck with this one Cas. You’re in for it.” Nolan chuckles while slapping his friend on the back.
“Listen, I know I don’t have the best reputation when it comes to dating. But, for you, I am willing to change that. In other words, I am willing to change my ways.”
I start to sneeze out of control. When I finally stop, Caspian speaks.
“What the hell? What’s wrong with you?”
I start to walk back to my vandalised car when I reply to Caspian. “Sorry dude, but I am allergic to bullshit. And with the amount of bullshit you’re spewing, I need to leave.” I turn to face him as I open the driver’s side door and speak to him across the car, “Oh and by the way, people don’t change Caspian. Especially people like you.”
I don’t wait for his response. I get into my once spotless car and pull out of the parking lot. I glance in my rearview mirror and see Caspian and Nolan engaged in conversation. Caspian seems to be greatly upset and pissed off. While Nolan appears to be a bit distressed, not as bad as Caspian though. Surely this can’t be because of me? That would just be plain stupid.
An estimated eight thousand dollars and a rental car later, I am finally opening the door to my house after a long ass day. As soon as I step through the door and into the foyer, I can here laughter stemming from the living room. I can guarantee, with upmost certainty, that the laughter is from Eros and my mother. As I have said before, my mother absolutely adores Eros to no end.
I walk into the kitchen and grab some fruit and yoghourt from the refrigerator. I quickly scoop yoghourt from the container into a bowl and place some berries on top. I put everything away and take my bowl, along with myself, upstairs. I have no energy to deal with my mother. I will be doing enough of that during dinner. Of course, that is if she is even here by then.
A soft knock on the door resonates throughout my room interrupting my studying and essay writing, not that that is necessarily an issue.
I don’t take my eyes of my laptop as the person walks into my room. I know it is Eros without looking up because if it was my mother, then she would have either just barged in or she would have knocked harshly. I scoot over the other side of my bed to make room for Eros. He takes the spot beside me and leans his head on my shoulder.
He doesn’t say anything and neither do I. The sound of my typing fills the silence between us. There is no awkwardness between us. It’s crazy, really. We haven’t seen each other in person for years and yet, nothing has changed between us. Maybe it is because of our Facetimes?
A weight is lifted from my shoulders as soon as I send in my essay. Thank the Lord that that is over and done with. Even though this bliss won’t last long because I am sure I will be getting another essay prompt tomorrow in AP English.
Closing my laptop, I place it next to me and peer down at Eros, who is still resting his head on my shoulder. My eyes meet his and he smiles softly at me.
“You start school tomorrow, right?” I ask him. He nods his head in response.
We sit in silence for a while. With Eros and I, we never needed to speak or talk to each other. We could sit, just as we are now, and be comfortable. I missed moments like this with Eros. I wonder if middle school would have been easier if he hadn’t moved. I am sure it would have been, which means I never would have gone through the trouble I did. But, there is no point in wondering about the past. What happened, happened. And there is nothing that I can do now to change that.
“Want to watch some movies?” He nods his head again.
He shifts so he is no longer resting his head on my shoulder and I get up to grab the tv remote and turn the wifi on. I throw the remote on the bed and head over to my dresser. I grab a pair of shorts and an old tank top before turning around to speak to Eros.
“I’ll be back. Just going to change.” He nods, but he looks slightly worried. He is not one for words today I suppose. I will have to ask him about it when I’m finished.
I enter my en suite and change before walking back into my room. After shutting the lights off, I climb into my bed next to Eros. I get under the covers and lift them up for him to get under as well. He does, and I grab the remote to turn the tv on that is mounted on the wall opposite of my bed.
While waiting for Netflix to update, I turn to face Eros. “What’s wrong? And don’t say nothing is bothering you because that would be a lie.”
He sighs heavily before turning on his side so that he is facing me too. “I don’t want to talk about it right now Tia.” He says softly.
I bite my lip and move closer to him, pulling him into a hug. “I’m here for you when you’re ready to tell me. Whether that’s tomorrow or years from now… even though I hope it’s not something that should affect you years from now.”
He pulls me close to him. I rest my head on his chest and listen to his steady, but quickening heartbeat. “We’ll see.” He says it so lowly that I doubt I was supposed to hear him at all.
Does that ‘we’ll see,’ apply the first thing I said or the last? He is probably just exaggerating what’s bothering him.
Netflix finished updating and Eros and I decide to watch an action movie. Not even halfway through the movie, I hear a quiet snore. I crane my neck to look up at Eros’s face and find that he is asleep. My eyebrows scrunch together as I take in his facial features. Even while sleeping, the worry that was slightly etched on his face remains. Whatever is bothering him must be serious.
I will ask him once more about it tomorrow after school. I don’t want to pester him, but if he is unable to relax while sleeping, then I need to know what he is going through.
Picking my phone up to turn on my alarm, I see a text from Caspian. I blow a sigh out through my nose and decide on ignoring the message. After setting my alarm, turning my phone on airplane mode, and shutting the tv off, I close my eyes and try to fall asleep.
Between what I am going through and what is bothering Eros, sleep is farther away than I would like. After almost an hour of trying to shut my mind off and sleep, I get up from my bed and grab an extra blanket from the end of my bed. I walk to the doors leading to my terrace. As I open them, the cool night air wakes me up more than I already am. I take a seat on one of the reclining chairs, drape the blanket over my body, and stare into the cloudless night sky.
I have always had a soft spot for the stars. Who wouldn’t? Staring up into the endlessly vast sky and at the stars makes my problems seem so insignificant. And maybe, just maybe, they are. It also makes me realise just how alone I am in this world. The only real friend I have ever had, has been Eros.
I had gone through my middle school years alone. It’s not like my mother would do anything to help me. And now, something similar seems to be taking place. Everything I have built to keep me from getting hurt again is falling apart. It’s all bound to come crumbling down, and Mariah Wellis will make sure of that.
At least I have Eros this time.