I walk to my school, Union Valley High School, and prepare for another day in hell. After my mom died, it seemed like no one knew how to talk to me, so they just ignored me. I changed schools at the beginning of this year, so I just try to blend in and make as little trouble as possible. I completely lost touch with everyone at my old school, all my old friends had been slowly drifting away anyways, which was actually easier because if no one cares about you, no one will try to learn your secrets.
I trudge up the stairs and walk to my first class, Algebra II. Also known as a lesser form of torture. The teacher, Mr. Sanchez, seems to think that we will actually use this again someday, which is not very likely. I mean really, who needs to know how to use the Pythagorean Theorem in a real life situation. I sit at the back of the class, so I am able to nod off until to bell rings.
The rest of the day passes slowly until we reach my least favorite part, lunch. I usually just sit in the bathroom and eat my sack lunch in peace, but today it smells worse than usual so I must subject myself to eating in the cafeteria.
I walk through the doors slowly and scan the room, looking not for a friendly face but an empty table. My eyes land on a table, then quickly flicker away.
Stop it. I tell myself firmly. It’s silly to even think about it. But, almost as if without my permission, my eyes glance back over and land on him.
Xander Blakely. He hangs out with the “wrong” crowd, according to concerned parents. His parents died when he was young, but that’s all I really know about him. His dark, curly hair contrasts with his striking green eyes. He has a lip ring and tattoos covering one arm. He is dangerous. He is beautiful.
I quickly look down again and shuffle to an empty table in the corner. It’s ridiculous for me to be so, well for lack of better word, in love with him. Even if he wasn’t such a rebel, so much trouble that I should know better, he would never consider someone like me, even as a joke. Someone so quiet, with so many secrets. I am unlovable.
The rest of the day passes uneventful. I shuffle home after school, not in a hurry to start on the mounds of homework I have to finish tonight. Also, I am worried about what will be waiting for me at home. I unlock the door and slowly push it open, listening for any sound of my father. I don’t hear anything so I walk boldly into the front room but stop when I see my father, not having moved an inch since I left him this morning. I sigh. This is the reason why we barely have enough money to pay the bills. My father gets so hung over that he misses too much work, and he can’t keep a job for long. I feel certain that he will lose the one he has now, he’s missed over two weeks’ worth this quarter. I work as much as I can at the local bakery, to help pick up the slack and try to keep us from being evicted, but I still worry how we are going to make it much longer. I put my books away and walk back out, heading to the bakery for tonight’s shift.
The door jingles as I walk in and I am greeted with the scent of cinnamon rolls and cappuccinos. I quickly slip into the back and grab my apron; my boss, Mrs. Coleman, hates it when I’m late.
This afternoon has a fairly steady stream of customers until about 6, and Mrs. Coleman gives me my break. I stay in the back, eating bits of burnt cinnamon roll until my break ends. Then I have to work the register until closing. Around 7:30, a loud group of boys stumble in, laughing and chatting over on another. I cringe inwardly and hope they won’t notice me, which is silly considering they need me to take their orders.
I shyly glance at them as they lumber towards me and realize with a shock that it is Xander and his friends. Great. I feel the heat on my face and my heart begins racing. This is ridiculous, I tell myself. You barely even know him! Give it a rest, stupid.
As the first boy approaches, I give him a cursory glance; skinny jeans, faded band t-shirt, and an eyebrow piercing. Exactly what I expected in this group. He orders and then the other boys go, one by one, barely glancing at me as they recite their orders. The last boy steps up, none other than Xander himself, and my mind goes absolutely blank.
“Umm, yeah I’d like a caramel macchiato with a cinnamon roll,” he states, his eyes on the board behind me. I cannot force any words out of my mouth. It feels like my vocal chords have disappeared and I am a mute.
“Hello? Anybody in there?” he questions, shifting his gaze to my face. “Hey, do I know you from somewhere?” he asks, his eyebrows furrowing. I quickly shake my head no and hand him his change. He turns away, a puzzled expression still on his face. I twirl around and swiftly begin to blend his drink, reminding myself to breathe. I turn back and hand him the drink, keeping my eyes down.
“Hey thanks.” he says, already sauntering back to his friends, the strange girl who cannot speak already forgotten. When I am sure that there is no one waiting to order, I rush to the bathroom and lock myself in a stall, trying to slow my breaths. I silently chastise myself for being so silly and tell myself to be brave; he’s just some boy, why should he have any power over me?
I exit the stall and quickly splash some water onto my face and neck. I look up at myself in the mirror, and further convince myself that any feeble hopes I have are pointless and will only result in pain later on. As I view the girl in the mirror, I try to see how I would look to anyone else. Too pale, with flat blond hair and small lips, a ski-slope nose, and perhaps the only nice feature, my eyes. Blue, with a tinge of green around the edges and a splash of gold as well. My mother used to tell me that when a person looked into my eyes, they felt like they could trust me with any secret in the whole world.
I sigh. I need to get back to work. I walk out of the bathroom and feel relieved to see that the group of boys are gone. The rest of my shift is uneventful and I am off the clock at 9. I jog back home and take a breath before I enter the house. I don’t see my dad, but I can hear his snores floating out of his bedroom down the hall. Good. He must have been too hung over to go back to the bar tonight.
YOU ARE READING
Gracee Wilson has a secret. She is shy, quiet, and tries to avoid attention at all costs. But when her life collides with the mysterious, dangerous Xander Blakely, will anything ever be normal again? Will Xander be able to help her open up, let loos...