School's star athlete + New girl + an ugly rumor =
the complete opposite of the drama-free college life they've both wanted.
Old high school friends, Maria and Reagan, meet up once again after Maria transfers over to the college Reagan's been going to for the past two years. Neither of the two are the same as they used to be back in high school; both have gone from being one of the losers to being the most talked about people - which was once a good thing, but is now totally ruining them.
What started as a simple rumor has now turned into something more and has shocked the whole school. The victims of the rumor happen to also be the last to know and before they can stop it, it's spread around so much, it's impossible to figure out where it came from in the first place.
But it looks like they're going to have to find out as soon as possible, because soon there are bodies dropping like flies; every guy that's been a part of Maria's past is starting to end up dead and Maria realizes it can't be too soon before Reagan becomes like one of them.
What is the connection between Maria and this rumor? And will Reagan even want to find out now with both his future at stake and his life in danger? Or will Maria's secrets and lies about why she's really transferred over to a new school and Reagan's distracting feelings about her suddenly get in the way and end things between them - PERMANENTLY?
Real Eyes Realize Real Lies (prologue)
"Now, can you explain to me from the very beginning how all of this started?"
I don't make any notion of letting the man sitting across from me know that I'm listening. It's been less than twenty-four hours since all the events have unfolded and even less since the world has been destroyed all around me, how could they really expect me to be so okay with actually talking about this? I wasn't okay at all, period.
"Please, I know it's been a difficult time for you."
'That's an understatement.' I thought bitterly to myself.
"But, you're not exactly free yet." I snap my head up at that. What does he mean - I'm not free yet? After everything that's happened, how can this still be my fault?! I take in the big bulk of a man sitting in the chair in front of me. He's got a scruffy beard and looks like he hasn't slept the entire night. I probably looked no better, even though I had been given a cell with a bathroom and fresh new clothes, I had refused them. The only thing I wanted, I couldn't have ever again. "Unless and until you fully cooperate with us and retell the full story to us, there's nothing we can do to get you out of here. There's nothing else we'd like to see than for you to finally move on with your life."
'What life?' I almost start crying at his words. 'What exactly do I have left? I've already lost everything - from my reputation to my sanity!'
But, I don't say those words out loud. There's one thing I do have left though - the truth, the whole full truth. The one thing no one else knows about - well, that's still living, that is.
I look up from my lap and at Officer Reynolds, he said his name was, with my bloodshot eyes, dry with tears face, beaten blue and black body. I open my dry mouth, crack my lips open and start my story.
"One little video was all it took to ruin everything. I came here to start fresh, to try again, you know, work harder, be successful, have the life I've always wanted. But, before I could even make a name for myself, one had already been made for me.
A video that didn't even last a full minute introduced me to the whole entire campus.
Destroyed any friendships or relationships I could've made before I even had the chance to explain myself.
Made me look like a fool, a slut, a bitch, among countless other things.
Ruined my every single chance of starting over.
Broke my entire life.
Threatened the most popular guy and athlete.
My best friend.
He got hurt right alongside me.
It took aim at both of us...but only one of us made it out."
And I still regret it even now. But, if I have any chance of getting over this, then I need to tell this story.
Real Eyes Realize Real Lies (one)
I stood in the cafe, staring at a large presentation board with a group of other people, watching a short video on loop.
It started off at a random corner and then kind of like wobbled.
"Hey, look at that." Someone said. It's a guy, but I can't recognize him.
"What?" Another voice asks.
The camera wobbled a little more and then swung over to the left.
"Whoa." The two voices chorused together.
There are a group of feet standing in front. A girl's wearing flats flanked by two other guys, one wearing converses and the other vans. And in front of them, in the center, are...
It isn't too clear in the beginning just what we're all looking at and it had been my fifth time watching it too.
Rolling around on the ground, wet grass getting on them was two people. A girl on the bottom, her legs spread out in a V shape and a guy on her. Their arms are wrapped around them. And the worst part of it all is the moans and groans coming out of their mouths as they writhe around on the ground.
The whole thing seemed oddly familiar to me. It gave me this weird sense of deja vu and not just because I had been watching it so many times on repeat. But it wasn't until it was over that it finally hit me where I had seen this before.
"Hey, wait, turn that back on!" I shouted out.
The crowd murmured around. They had gotten sick of it by then.
"Come on, just one more time!" I continued.
"Oh give it a rest would ya?" Someone yelled back.
"Yeah, and who the hell are you even?" All eyes turned towards me at that. "And what makes this stupid little video so interesting?"
They knew exactly what made it so interesting.
Reagan Neveen. The guy on top, straddling the girl on the bottom. He was the most popular and sought out after guy in the whole school. Everyone knew him and now everyone had seen this video.
"The video's obviously fake." The girl continued. She obviously had some very strong feelings about it. "Someone stupid and desperate who probably doesn't have anything better to do with their lives probably posted it as a joke."
"Who I am doesn't matter. I just need to see it one more time." I found the guy holding the remote to the presentation board and snatched it from his hands.
The crowded groaned and muttered some more. I scoffed; just a little while ago, they had no problem laughing and pointing and jeering on the two on the big screen. But as soon as someone realized just who they were cheering on, all hell broke loose and all taunting fell apart.
I grimaced. This was the last thing I wanted. Attention. Bad attention. Goddammit! It hadn't even been a week since I've been going here and I was already known now as the stupid girl so crazy about the stupid video portrayed against Reagan Neveen, star football player.
I had to go find Reagan - immediately! - because that girl, in the video, was none other than...ME!
Real Eyes Realize Real Lies (two)
I sped through the clean white halls with my fists bunched and my teeth clenched.
Reagan, oh that bastard, this was probably his whole idea! Thought he'd get back at me with a funny little prank that almost gave me a heart attack just now. Very funny.
'Oh, just you wait, Reagan, after I'm done with you, ohh, no one will be calling you the most handsome guy at school anymore, that's for sure.' I seethed to myself.
But, when I headed towards the guys' wing, all the rooms looked so alike, I had no idea how I was going to find him. It didn't matter though, I had to find him somehow, someway.
The halls were pretty much empty and for good reason, it was well past curfew, almost ten. But, there still seemed to be a few stragglers. I wasn't really in the mood to talk to anyone right now, but I still made my way over to what looked like an underclassmen. He seemed to be on the nerdy side with wide-framed glasses and a large textbook in his hands. From the exit he was coming in from, I figured he was just returning from a late study sesh in the library.
I gulped and came to a stop in front of him. "Excuse me, do you happen to know which room belongs to Reagan Neveen."
"Yeah, he's more around the corner, I believe." The guy said, briefly looking up from his notes. "The nicer rooms are all up there." He pointed forwards.
"Hey, wait a minute." The guy was now fully looking up and staring at me with a confused look and scrunched up eyebrows. "You look very familiar. Do I know you from somewhere?"
"Um, no, I don't think so." I shook my head. I peered over his shoulder, eager to escape and find Reagan.
"Yeah, no, wait," The nerd moved all his things into the crook of his one elbow, and started digging through his pocket for something. "Isn't this you."
I started bouncing on the back of my heels. I really wanted to get the hell out of there, but then he pushed something in my face. It was a phone and there was some video playing on it.
I really wasn't interesting in watching another video, regardless of what might be in this one, but from the guy's anxiousness, it had to be something worth knowing. It was like a news report, but not from the major news channel, like more of a school based one.
I grabbed the wrist of the nerd and moved the screen back a little, so I could see it better.
"Yes, folks, you heard right, we have officially identified the girl in the spoof video starring our very own Reagan Neveen." A senior girl I've seen around couple of time is the one reporting. She has her curly blonde hair up in a stylish pony tail and shes dressed professionally in a white dress with a black jacket. A picture of me, from my student ID, came up then, an underneath it played the video. "This is Maria Nowell, a recent transfer. Though we don't have too much information on her and we don't know whether or not she, herself, was the one who created and posted the video, we will definitely have all that info for you and more soon enough! If you haven't seen the video as of yet, just tap on the link here and-"
"Shit!" I hissed, shoving the guy's hand out of my face. I spun around towards him. "When was this posted? Why?"
He sneered back. "I should be the one to ask you that." I stared back at him dumbfound. "Why did you post that spoof video?"
Before I knew what I was doing, I had the kid's shirt bunched up in my hand and I was all up in his face.
"That. Is. Not. Me. Okay?!" I barked back. "And you answer my question, or I-!"
"J-just now. Like, not even ten minutes ago." He stammered out.
"T-there's a weekly newscast made by the journalism team and-and sometimes they do a nightly news report for the news that can't wait till morning or the end of the week usually."
"But, who specifically posted that?!"
"H-how am I supposed to know that?!" He held his hands up in surrender.
The anger dissolved out of me as soon as it had developed. I released my hold on the guy and backed up a little.
I turned and started heading towards the way he had told me about.
"You're welcome!" I heard him shout back.
I scoffed and just sent him a middle finger back over my shoulder.
As I started to turn around the corner, I felt the temples of my head start to throb. Ugh, all this anger wasn't good. Not for me or my head. As the rest of my anger started to disappear, exhaustion took over it immediately.
I almost didn't feel going over to Reagan and finding him and talking to him about all this. But, that video, the second one, the newscast, that was the only reason I still kept walking.
I had to find the reasons behind that. I mean, Reagan and I were friends. We were best friends back in high school and just 'cause he's like a big celebrity now after leading his team into the state nationals and winning the whole thing, that doesn't mean he would go and pull some stupid prank or whatever it was on me like that. That didn't make sense and I needed to hear his side of the story. And before more newscast like that started popping up.
I had just gotten around the corner, when suddenly I felt someone grab my arm and yank me to the side. I gasped and was about to yell out a scream when a hand slapped over my mouth.
What the hell was happening now?
Real Eyes Realize Real Lies (three)
It doesn't matter how many movies I had seen where it doesn't help what you do when you're captured like that, I was still struggling like a mad woman. I flung my arms and legs around, and screamed against the hand on my mouth and gripped down on the hand trying to shut me up.
"Fuck!" A voice hissed against my ear. The breath from his mouth immediately warmed up the side of my face. "Would you chill?"
"Obviously! Who else?" He took his hands off of me.
I tried to take a step back, but I ended up hitting the wall. In all the craziness, I hadn't even thought to see where I had been taken. We were around the corner, but deeper into it where the lights didn't reach. After curfew, most lights would go off, but a few dim ones would be lit just in case.
Without even taking another breath, I turned towards Reagan and went into full pissed off mode. I launched myself at him and began slapping and punching his chest.
"You jerk!" I hissed. "What the hell was that?! You scared the fuck out of me!"
"Hey, hey, stop!" He tried to grab my wrists. "Stop it!" He finally got them and pushed them up against the wall over my head.
I narrowed my eyes at him and huffed.
"We need to talk." Reagan's voice was low but hard. I huffed again. "Look, I don't know what's gotten in that little head of yours, but whatever it is, it needs to stop."
"What are you talking about?" I questioned.
"I mean, I know we have history and all that, and we're close friends, but I mean, come on, it's been two years, you can't still be on me-"
"What are you talking about?!" I demanded to know, not even bothering to keep quiet this time.
I struggled against his hands on me. Reagan shifted his hands, so he was only holding me back with only one of them. The other hand, he pressed against the wall next to me. He bowed his face towards it and I inched my own away.
"You know what I'm talking about!" He said, his voice coarse and cold. "And I can't freaking believe you would-"
"W-wait a minute," I sputtered. "You think I posted that stupid video! Are you fucking serious?!"
"Oh please, Maria, don't play dumb, it doesn't suit you."
I scoffed. "Okay, first of all, can you get the fuck off of me, so I can breathe a little?!"
His hands released me and I pulled back, rubbing my wrists and glaring at him.
"Second of all," I veered around to face him and get away from the wall at the same time so he couldn't try anything again. "you can't really believe that I'd be that desperate or go so low as to post a fake video of us like that! Like wake the fuck up, Reagan! What's next, huh, are you gonna accuse me of like hunting you down and-and finding out which college you're going to, to make sure we meet up again and we can, I don't know, 'continue from where we left off'. Jesus, you should know me better than that, you idiot." I suddenly thought of something. "And three, in case you don't remember, it was you who tackled me."
Reagan sighed. "Fuck, I know. I'm sorry. It's just...all this...it came out of nowhere. I mean, it freaked me out. You know, I was going to come talk to you about it, when I saw the newscast and it just riled me up some more. I felt blindsided, like I didn't have anyone else to go to for help and I just....Ugh!" He punched the wall.
I sighed deeply. "Yeah, I know, I get it. I was actually coming to scream my face off at you too." I started taking my hands through my hair. "But, wait, I mean, there's no way either one of us could've done this."
"What do you mean?" Reagan asked.
"I mean, think about it. Both of us were...on the ground, right? So there's no way either one of us could've taken the video. And since we're both here, freaking out over it, that means neither one of us planned this. If it's not a prank or a joke made by you or me, then..."
"Someone else did this then." Reagan nodded, finally understanding. He scrunched up his eyebrows then. "But, who?"
I turned towards him. "You tell me; you're the football player."
"What does that have to do with anything?" He asked defensively.
I sighed again in exasperation. "Do I really have to spell it out for you, Reagan? You can't be the most popular guy at school without having a few haters!"
"What?" He scoffed. "That's ridiculous. Everyone loves me."
"Dude, stop being so difficult. You have to understand; this is something serious!"
"No, dude," He mocked me. "You have to understand that this is just one big joke. A mistake. Someone trying to be funny. They probably didn't even mean to release the video. It just happened."
I stared at him, feeling super tired and fidgety at the same time. I wanted to fight him, fight his stupid thoughts and opinions, but I knew it wouldn't do anything but exhaust me further.
"I really wish I could think the same way as you." I dumped my face in the palm of my hands.
My head felt like it weighed a ton.
"Come on, think positively." Reagan said. I looked up. "I bet you this whole thing will blow right over by morning." He said with a smile.
"And if it doesn't?" I can't help asking.
"It will. Stop being such a Debbie Downer; it doesn't go with your new image."
I couldn't help laughing at that. "Fine."
We both sighed together. Then I remembered how late it must've gotten.
"I should get going then."
"Oh yeah. Do you want me to walk you back to your room, it's pretty late."
I almost wanted him to, but I figured it was best for us to keep our distance from each other. Even when there wouldn't be so many people out at this time, I couldn't risk the "Night Patrol Newscast" to be out and about catch us in another super demeaning act. I didn't want to voice those opinions to Reagan though.
I shook my head. "No, I think Dane's still in the cafe. I'll just go with him."
"Cool. Night then." He waved.
"Yeah. Night." I turned and waved back over my shoulder.
"Hey, listen!" I heard.
I turned around. "Yeah."
Reagan had an uncertain look on his face.
"Uh, never mind, it's nothing." He shook his head.
I sighed, I knew exactly what he was trying to say.
"We're just friends okay, so just chill yourself." I smiled, thinking of Dane.
"You sure?" He questioned. "I mean, the way he talks about you, it sure doesn't seem so."
For a second, I thought about telling Reagan the truth about Dane, but it wasn't my thing to tell and I didn't want his opinion towards Dane to change in any way. I liked that they were friends and I didn't want them to have any enmity between themselves like I figured they would've.
"I'm sure." I told him positively.
"Okay, fine, but I mean, you can't come whining to me when you find out-!" He held his hands up and smirked.
"Good night Reagan!" I replied back in a sing-song voice as I spun around and walked off.
As I made my way through the halls, I thought about what Reagan had said before about it all just being one big joke that had gotten out of hands accidentally. I really hoped he was right about everything. But, we still had hope. The next morning would prove to us what was really what.
Little did I know that the next morning would only prove to be Hell.