Sharon’s note: High school sucks. This is a well documented phenomenon. It’s also one of the few things that teen supernatural romances get right. They also have far to little adult supervision allowing kids to get away with all sorts of horrible things. And now I’m not sure if I’m talking about fantasy or reality. Warning: Things could get messy.
I take my tray to the table with the most open chairs. The kid in the hoodie is there, staring at the phone in their lap. I shoot a smug look over at Wannabe. His eyes are wide and impossibly, he’s gotten more pale. Max’s gestures for me to join him have gotten desperate.
I’m mouthing ‘what?’ at him when the kid in the hoodie says, “What are you doing at my table?”
Their face is turned up finally and . . . I’m not sure exactly what to think their defining feature is. Artistically beautiful? Supremely arrogant? Totally androgynous? They’re all of those things.
I cross my arms and say defensively, “Sorry. I didn’t see name cards, so I figured it was just sit wherever.”
They cocked their head to one side. “You’re the girl who punched Clarissa this morning, aren’t you?”
I shrug, trying to look like I don’t care, but ready for a fight if this kid is a friend of the bottle-blond bully. “Yeah. So what?”
They lean forward to put their elbows on the table and prop their chin on their folded hands. “That may have been the most entertaining thing I’ve seen in a while. Just for that, you can stay.”
“I wasn’t aware I needed your permission.” I narrow my eyes at them.
They laugh. “Oh, you don’t need it. It’s just a good idea. I’m Alex by the way.”
“April.” I pick up my fork and start clawing it through my spaghetti. “Why aren’t you eating?”
“Honestly?” They raise an eyebrow and I nod. “The food here is terrible and I forgot my lunch.”
I snort and take a bite of my spaghetti. It tastes like cardboard coated in grease. “You’re right. It’s horrible. So, while I decide whether or not I’m going to throw up, why isn’t anyone else sitting here?”
“Well, I suppose it’s because my introduction to the school was very similar to yours. Someone tried to show me the pecking order and I . . . corrected them.” They glance over my shoulder and sit up. I follow their gaze and Bottle-blond is making a b-line straight for me. “And this promises to be entertaining.”
Heads turns to watch Clarissa as she stalks across the cafeteria. By the time she’s standing next to me, we have quite an audience. To my shame, she doesn’t even have a mark from earlier, but her pride looks plenty hurt.
“Hey, bitch!” Her chin is lifted like she’s daring me to take another swing. “Do you think you’re going to get away with that shit you pulled earlier?”
“Do you think you’re going to get away with pulling this shit at my table?” Alex says, mildly.
Clarissa pales. I don’t think she saw Alex until just now. She looks scared, but is standing her ground. “This is none of your business, freak.”
“Freak?” Alex asks, rising from their seat. Their voice is somewhere between delighted and incredulous.
“She did not mean that.” I jump, because Max is suddenly there from nowhere. He’s beside and a little in front of Clarissa, who has started shaking.
“Pst!” I hear a hiss from over my shoulder and jump again to see Wannabe just behind me. He whispers, “This is about to get ugly. You should get out of here. Follow me.”