Chapter Four

*Katie

I remembered the first time a guy had ever wanted to sleep with me. Was quite amusing, actually, seens as I'd only been 15 at the time; not that I was the kinda person who would say no to a guy at 15, just I was aware it was underage, so the guy had to be pretty special to qualify to get moi into bed (or into anywhere else for that matter).

No; I'd been at a party, rather like tonight, but it had been like an outside- thing. Okay, I am not going to say it was a Garden party because I was not approached by a vicar or anything! But it was like a party in the garden for teenagers… get that?!

Anyway, I was there with the usual gang: Lil, Mattie, Caitlin, Sara, Rob, Melissa (who was being a right gobby cow as she ever was) and… actually, I think Paul had been there as well. I remember clearly Rachel hadn't been there because she'd just got out of hospital after having her appendicitis, and was resting. But the rest of the gang had been there- and everyone was drinking alcohol, listening to music blaring across the lawn, everyone having a laugh- it had been great fun. And at 3 in the afternoon too! Really cool!

I think Lil had been going out with James then; am not sure. Anyway, that was the day he'd been talking to her a lot, and because everyone else had wandered off doing their own thing, I was getting a bit restless wondering what I could do, so I decided to go for a wander down to the bottom of the garden with my lime Archers when I'd bumped into Simon.

Now, this all sounds really dodgy, doesn't it? And you'd probably say well now Katie if anything happened it was probably your own fault for going down there in the first place… well, I stick up for myself! I say that I was bored and needed something to do, so I drank. And then I got more bored and so I went for a walk and there appeared Simon. So I got even border so we decided to make out against the tree.

Well, I thought, why not? I'm up for anything once! Didn't even fancy him all that much anyway, it just seemed an interesting thing to do at the time…

*Kate

I remember the first time we'd kissed.

It hadn't been so long ago now, but because after that moment we'd been so inseparable, it seemed like we'd been together forever.

It had just been a perfect, perfect moment. I remembered it exactly because I constantly replayed it in my head to myself, a silly grin giving it away.

I was sure I'd fallen in love with him at that moment as well- it all happened so fast, but I suppose when you're with the person you know you're destined to spend of your life with, I guess that's should be so. Time doesn't really matter; it's probably an advantage knowing earlier because you have less time to worry about it or deliberate whether it's right or not. Good for me too; cos that's precisely the kinda thing I'd do. I analyse everything in way too much detail, and even though it can be a good and healthy quality, it can also lead to unnecessary stress due to me reading into things too much.

And then I read into them waaay too much and completely misinterpret the whole situation, and argh, I'm a bloody nuisance.

But back to my reverie: it had been about 10 months ago now, back in February. Early February I think; because this year's January had been so icy cold, and so the beginning of February had been very similar. It was just post-snow, the ground was all cold and frozen, the grass having turned a pale green so much to the fact that it resembled artificial turf. The trees were bare, looking more like features of the 'dark, dark wood' than anything, and the sky was an icy, light blue, no clouds around; just an icy, cold atmosphere wisping through the air- typical winter weather.

And I was out with my, erm, people; we were outside, wrapped up in thick hats, coats, gloves and scarves, desperately trying to keep warm which was near impossible. We were stood, about 7 of us, supposedly 'hanging out' in the town- I had no idea what I was even doing there, really; I guess it was just something to do. I didn't want to miss out, or anything.

And it had turned out to be a choice move. A very choice move, in retrospect.

I didn't know Chris very well (or maybe I should say Christian, as that's what I'd known him as initially)- he was a friend, of a friend, of a person I hung around with.

That made me sigh.

I wish I could call the people I knew more than that, but I couldn't. I didn't really know them all that well. Actually, correction: they didn't know me that well. At all, in fact.

*Chloe

I thought back to the only time Mark and I had had any form of contact.

It had been such a frustrating time for me, because when we'd been thrown together it had been through awkwardness, and I didn't even know if he was in a good mood or not; so when he sat next to me I think my whole world just flipped over.

We were in maths, a lesson I hated with a passion, because I was a word person and not a number person, and I happened to sit on the front row completely through accident (I'm not a dork on purpose, you do realise) and all 'them lot', the 'cool' lot; they were all sat towards the back, and Mark was included in them. There was about 8 of them filling up a whole back row and of course, they didn't really care much for learning. I think they all chewed gum back there, and talked and laughed loudly, just generally being disruptive.

And then our teacher, Mr Landsdowne, was not a person who trusted the 'back row' a great deal. He was always shouting at them, telling them to get on with their work and to buck up their attitude: and then of course, some good for nothing would answer him back and he'd threaten to move them all. Not that I ever once heard Mark answer back, I don't think, but that didn't matter to Mr Lansdowne, he was still part of that posse.

And then, one Tuesday morning in Y11 (why do I remember such stupid things?! Wait, yes, it was February 18th and it was a cold morning- HA) we were sat doing bloody algebraic fractions, me at the front, sat next to Lucy-Ann who sniffed a lot, completely struggling as usual, but too shy to put my hand up for help in fear of people laughing at me.

And them at the back were not paying attention to the lesson at all; they were just laughing and joking- sometimes I'd strain my ears to hear what kind of things they talked about, what kinda cool things they talked about, but then when I heard them mention, "going down in the backseat" it had freaked me out so much… I had just played S Club Juniors really loudly in my head.

But that day they were being particularly annoying, and being Tuesday morning, Mr Lansdowne couldn't deal with it, and so picked on the first person he saw talking. And that had been Roxanne, a girl with a tight, pursed face and about 4 piercings which screamed I'm gonna knock your head against the wall and hang you by your shoelaces. Also, interestingly, she sat next to Mark in maths, and when he yelled at her to shut up and work, no question: she yelled back.

And then the whole class would go silent and listen to the verbal hatred swinging back and forth from the back to the front of the classroom, and then rather helplessly looking back at it, Mark got involved, and by this time Mr Lansdowne looked like he was going to burst a bloody blood vessel and shouted at the top of his voice,

"THAT'S IT! MARK, COME UP THE FRONT AND SIT NEXT TO CHLOE SO I CAN KEEP MY EYE ON YOU! AND ROXANNE KEEP THAT MOUTH OF YOURS SHUT AND GET ON!"

Oh my God. I'll remember that moment for the rest of my life.

*Rachel

If you keep something from someone… is it actually a lie?

I mean, you're not actually saying something to someone that's false… in fact; you're not saying anything at all. So, maybe it's one of those occasions where you're telling a 'white lie'… whatever the hell one of them is. Why are they called that, anyway? I dunno… but I think that best describes what I'm doing to Katie right now. I'm keeping something from her that I guess I really ought to go tell her.

Except I don't want to.

Katie and I have been best friends for years. We're one of these types where we both have tonnes and tonnes of 'normal' friends who we can hang around with occasionally and say hi to, and superficially talk to about loads of abstract things- and then you generally get seen as a friendly, sociable person.

But then you have this one, particular friend who you'll just go to in a crisis, or when you need advice and she'll be like your 'personal' friend- I guess your best, best friend.

And that's what Katie is to me, and she means a lot to me as well, we've been close friends for about 4 years now. We kind of stumbled across each other- I was in this totally different group to her, we weren't like enemies or anything, but I don't think I spoke to her once until about Year 9. No- it was Year 10, I remember, we both got thrown into the same art class together with about 10 other people, and I didn't really know anyone and she was in the same position, so we just kinda ended up sat together.

I remember I had to even ask what her name was because I didn't know.

She knew mine though; worryingly.

"You're Rachel Holdsworth, aren't you?" She'd said to me, as I shaded away at this person's face I'd just drawn (and it wasn't very good… what was I even doing in art anyway?).

I looked up at her and saw this girl that I'd never really paid any attention to before. She existed, yeah, but not in my world. The fact that she knew my name instantly put me on slight precautions- okay, what kind of reputation do I have?!…

*Katie

So yes anyway, we were kissing against this tree, and then he starts pulling at my clothes as if I'm some Barbie doll and trying to erm, 'casually' undress me, and the thought of shagging Simon Ainsley up a tree is enough to put anyone off their bloody lime and coke, so I just kinda pushed him off and grinned, saying,

"hang on babe, let me just go get another drink!"

and then promptly left him. And never went back. Euwwww- can you blame me?!

Anyway, I think Lil got off with James that night… er, I mean day (no, not like that! She's as pure and angelic as moi!), so she was busy wrapped up in herself (and other things) so I kinda ended up flirting around and snogging about another 3 guys, which was pretty cool for me. But none had wanted to go as far as Simon back there!

Hmmm, he never spoke to me again after that and avoided me at school… I wonder why that was?

But then Ben had come along and changed everything. Now there is someone you'd want to shag up a tree! Actually, come to think of it, I'd pretty much shag Ben anywhere…

And nooooo, I am not a slut, or easy, or desperate or anything like you're probably thinking- you just don't know Ben! He's gorgeous… I'd do anything for him!

He hadn't directly said to me, "so when are we sleeping together, then?" But you can just tell when a guy wants to, right? Well, I can, anyway. Had enough bloody guys trying to take my skirt off! At least Ben's courteous with me!

But no- I want him to be my first; it's so important that he is. I'm 16 years old now and me and Ben have been together 4 months- I think I should be having a sexual relationship about now, don't you?!

Besides, everyone else does it. I know they do. Rachel's not a virgin- no, no, no way! Although would never go into detail with her… euuwwwww, too icky… but some useful tips of advice wouldn't go amiss! Don't wanna go unnecessarily biting him now, do I?

*Kate

It was just sooo… superficial. The 'friendship' we all shared, it was only surface deep. I'd kind of been pushed along into their gang, just because we were alike to each other, not because we liked each other, just because. And I did like them. Kinda. They were amiable, nice enough people. But I just didn't relate to them- I couldn't bring myself to be close to them. I kept a shield around myself, because maybe I knew deep down that I wasn't like them at all.

But Christian broke all that. He was different from all of the people in that crowd there; and from the moment I'd seen him, he had totally warmed me up.

If he'd hung around with us before, I'd never noticed him. And I swear he hadn't because there was no way I'd miss something as good as him. I was attracted to him straight away, especially when he caught my eye and smiled at me… Ooooh, that had been such a wonderful moment.

And then we had decided to go to the cinema as a group, and I walked with them, a few people between us, but when I glanced up now and again, he was looking back at me, and we'd smiled.

I knew then that we had a connection.

I was silent all the way to the cinema- I never knew what to talk about- and then when we got there the film we'd wanted to see had a huge queue to it, so we had to hang around in the cold even more. The cold always attacks you more if you're still.

And then what with people going to see other people, and etc, we ended up stood together. I could have a proper look at him, see how gorgeous he really was- and we stood there huddled up, smiling at each other.

"You're cold," he observed, and I just nodded furiously, trying to warm myself up even more.

"Come here," he said, and I walked over to him without so much as a hesitation, and he put his arms around me, bringer me closer to him, and I heated up instantly.

I grinned up at him. "Thankyou."

"I'm Christian," he introduced himself.

"Kate."

Think that's about all it needed.

It was so surreal though; like we knew each other already, or something. Like the connection I felt with him was much, much deeper than I had first anticipated.

It had taken about 5 minutes into that greeting for us to kiss.

5 minutes! But I didn't care.

We were looking at each other for ages after he'd pulled me to him and barely spoken two or three words to each other, yet when our lips moved towards each others', I didn't hold back; I just let us connect even more, and he just gave me a polite, but tender, brush of the lips and then smiled at me, as if to say, okay, we belong to each other now.

*Chloe

Everything froze; I realised Mark was going to be sat next to me. The guy I dreamed about non-stop…

Sniggers went up around the room and I heard shuffling from the back, and my heart beat faster and faster until he plonked himself down beside me in the front row.

I cringed inside; smelling, taking in his whole presence, not daring to even look at him in case I burst out crying. God, I'm such a complete soft idiot! It was only Mark sat next to me. Maaark…

Slowly, everyone got back to normal, and I watched him out of the corner of my eye as he got his book out, pencil case out, the text book…

I just gulped and turned my face back to the question I'd been stuck on for the last 7 and a half minutes or so… whenever since I'd first begun it, and Mark had moved over here. But however could I concentrate now?! Not with him sat next to me; all 5"11 inches, or whatever he was… and that lovely smell of his aftershave, and I could just imagine what he was looking like… Ararghhh.

This was a complete, heavenly nightmare.

He didn't look over at me, just got on working, and I thought he was probably in a bad mood for getting innocently moved. Not that he wanted to be sat next to me, anyway. Who am I to him? A complete nobody. I can't talk on his level, can't even talk to him. We had nothing in common.

I chewed my pen as the seconds, then minutes, ticked by.

Oh my God his writing was so perfect… oh my God, why the hell am I staring at his book?! Stop being so bloody infatuated, girl.

Awww look, he was a Mickey Mouse pen, how cool is that?! I want one. I wanted to BE in that crowd, so I could be just what he wanted. I wish he knew I even existed.

He suddenly turned to me.

Absolute mid-question, suddenly looked my way, and of course, because I'd been looking at him, I looked back.

And I froze: he was so unbelievably, completely, fantastically gorgeous! And I will never, ever forget those words he said to me then; that made my love for him remain; fluctuate, and get stronger.

"You've been stuck on that question for aaaages! Want some help?"

*Rachel

"Erm, yeah." What else can you say?!

"Ahhh, I thought so. You were in Macbeth last year, weren't you?"

Oh- that reputation!

I nodded.

"You were really good! I wish I was that good."

I looked up at her for the first real time, analyzing who she was to pay compliments to me so freely.

She was working on her piece again now; she seemed to be enjoying it, enjoying the subject.

"Were you in it?" I asked her. I really couldn't remember.

"Um, kinda. I didn't have a main part like you, though. You were really fab as Lady Macbeth."

I felt myself blushing. How sweet was this girl?!

"I thought they coulda done your clothes a lot better, though," she said abruptly. "You looked like you were in mourning, or something."

I laughed. "I think they were trying to show how evil she was."

"Well personally, I would have complained," Katie added, putting some tone into her drawing.

I couldn't help but admire the way she was speaking her mind. Amused me a little, too.

"So what colour would you have had the dress?" I asked her.

"Pink."

"What?!"

"Pink. Tis the best colour."

I laughed at her and she looked up at me and grinned. "Yesssss…?"

"You can't have Lady Macbeth in pink!"

Katie shrugged. "I would have. Bet Shakey would have too, he's Mr cool bloke."

"Shakey?!"

"Shakespeare."

"Ohhhh… right!" I laughed again. What an extraordinary girl! She was so funny and cute!

"Are you two girls working or chatting?!" Mr Palmer's stern voice floated over our way.

"BOTH!" Katie called back, carrying on drawing.

"Well, keep it down!"

"OKIE DOKIE!"

I laughed at her- she was completely her own person; I knew instantly we were going to get on.

"You're so sweeeet!" I laughed at her. "What's your name?"

She looked up at me. "Don't be so patronising!" She grinned. "And I'm Katie."