Chapter One: Stand Out

It wasn't like I hadn't seen a new student before, let alone a hot guy, but he stood out in the crowd of transfers.

Last week there was a fire at West Lake High, the school about five blocks away from Oakridge. They haven't figured out what caused the fire, but the school is now completely useless for at least a year and a half while they rebuild it. Therefore the state education department decided to split up the students and send them to schools nearby.

Today, the first day after Thanksgiving break, is their first day at Oakridge High. (Or any other schools that other students were headed towards.) Principle Nolan decided that we needed an all school assembly to welcome the newcomers to our school, but almost all twenty-five of them onstage just look uncomfortable and shy under the lights.

All but one that is.

He's standing a little to the left, in between a small, mousy girl and a tall thin blonde with too much makeup. I can see his intense blue eyes from my seat in the middle section of the auditorium, even with his shaggy black hair covering most of his eyes. He's wearing a smirk that says he knows he's confident and good looking, and that there are people in the auditorium thinking the same thing.

"We have a new hottie in the building." Emma whispers into my ear, her eyes never leaving the stage. I automatically now she's looking at the same person I am.

Emma King has been my best friend since she moved here in the fourth grade. When she introduced herself to the class back then, you could barely hear her whisper of a voice in the silence of the classroom. You would never think that Emma could've been shy now with how far she's come. Even as she whispered to me in the assembly, I knew that the people close by us had heard her comment.

"Shh." I say back to her as Principle Nolan drones on about making our new students feel welcome and showing them our 'Jaguar Pride!' I roll my eyes at his comment and Emma snickers.

"Do you think he has a girlfriend?" Emma asks sheepishly.

"Who knows." I tell her. I can tell that she's getting ideas in that blonde head of hers so I don't want to give her a definite answer. He probably does have a girlfriend, or at least a friend with benefits or something like that. He's too good-looking not to have someone.

"Please head to your first block class now." Principle Nolan announces into the microphone. "There's only about twenty minutes left but it's okay!"

Actually it isn't okay I think as we walk out of the auditorium and file back through the halls toward the classroom. Mr. Marcel would probably be pissed that we missed all of his class and decide to give us homework that'll take three hours to finish.

"Mr. Marcel is gunna be pissed." Emma says as we walk, voicing my thoughts out loud.

"Probably." I say, groaning.

"Did you get the homework done?" She asks. I nod as we turn the corner. "What did you get for number five on two twenty six. I think it was something about Shakespeare being radical in his time or something…"

"Shakespeare was just lonely. Have you read some of his poems?" Emma laughs.

"Yeah, they're all about wanting love, etc., etc…" All of a sudden Emma gasps and pulls on my arm, making me stop right in front of the classroom.

"Emma, what?"

"He just went into our class." Emma breathes. I barely hear her say it at all.


"The hottie!" She squeals, and then proceeds to drag me into the class. Sometimes I feel like a rag doll with her.

We take our regular seats three desks back and near the windows in the classroom. Three desks back is perfect because you're not in the front getting picked on, and you're not in the back trying to avoid learning anything. You're right in the middle where teachers aren't suspicious of you passing notes, and you can still pay attention without getting called on too much.

Sure enough Mr. Marcel is pissed off, and rants for the last fifteen minutes of class about stupid assemblies, and somehow fits in Shakespeare being a good reason for an assembly. The man's logic is out of my comprehension.

Maybe it's the male pattern baldness getting into his brain.

I tune out Mr. Marcel's ranting and glance out the window at the leaves on the ground. I'm so ready for it to snow it's not funny. The weather is cold enough that it should be snowing right now, but there haven't been any signs of it yet. I can't wait for it to snow though; I love going sledding on the hill in the park with Emma, like we've done for years and years, and especially having our annual snowball fight with my family after the first big snow.

I have a huge family, with my dad having four brothers and two sisters, and my mom having three brothers and three sisters, I have a lot of aunts, uncles, and cousins. I have three brothers and two sisters, a big family in this day and age.

"Ms. Knight." My eyes snap to attention on Mr. Marcel standing in front of the whiteboard.

"Yes?" I answer hesitantly. I have no clue what he was just talking about.

"What do you think?"


I glance at Emma who scribbles quickly onto a piece of notebook paper and holds it up discretely so only I can see. 'Assembly's: Stupid/ No?' is written big enough for me to see.

"I think it might've scared the new students a little, standing in front of the whole school on their first day here." I said, hoping to God I was on the right topic.

"And what do you think Mr. Teigan?" Mr. Marcel turns his head and addresses none other than our new school 'hottie.'"

"I definitely wasn't scared, but it wasn't exactly the most comfortable situation being stared at by the entire school. I felt a little like a trophy on display." His voice is low and husky and the arrogance was dripping from his words like honey.

Just as Mr. Marcel opened his mouth to reply the bell rang, signaling my walk all the way across the school to the Gym department. "Read through Shakespeare's Twelfth Night before next class!" Mr. Marcel called out as everyone filed out of the classroom.

"He is so cute!" Emma squeals next to me before winking and dashing up the stairs to her next block. I shake my head and head to my locker, stashing my bag and grabbing a spare reading book to take with me just in case. I dodge my way through the halls until I get to the locker room, heading to my assigned locker there and twisting the lock to get to my gym clothes.

I catch parts of conversation from other girls, most of them involving Mr. Teigan himself. I still don't know what his first name is.

"Hey Duke." I turn around at the sound of my name, and come face to face with Ashley Sarah, the smartest girl in our grade.

"Hey." I say warily. Most people usually ignore me. They'll talk to Emma, but I'm the strange girl that no one wants to talk to for reasons beyond my comprehension.

"I heard the new guy was in your first block." She says, and suddenly I have thirteen girls staring at me in the small locker room.

"Uhh. Yeah, he was." I say slowly. I'm bombarded with questions after that. Was he quiet? Did he draw in a notebook in class? Did he look at anybody? Did he say anything to anyone? Of course no one asked if he talked to me in particular, because I'm the nobody no one wants to talk to; unless of course I have useful information on the new hot student.

"Girls! What's going on in here? Get out there!" Coach Brown yells into the locker room. All fourteen of us left in the locker room file out into the gym in our black shorts with a light blue line down the side, and white shirts with Oakridge Athletics: Jaguars written across the front in black letters.

Automatically every girl notices at the exact same time that none other than Teigan himself is in our class. He's wearing his smirk again, and gives 'the nod' to the group of girls standing beside me. They squeal and gossip amongst themselves while I roll my eyes and take a seat on the bleachers.

Coach Brown blows her whistle and everyone files onto the bleachers. Ashley and her small crowd of girls sit next to me while Coach explains that we'll be playing volleyball on teams for the next two weeks. I can deal with that, I used to play for a volleyball team in elementary school.

She splits us up into six teams, as the class has about fifty kids in it. On my team are Lily Parett, Jessa Blymiller, Allison Hawley, Jacob Zidichowski, Toby Weaver, and big surprise, Teigan.

Lily, Jessa, and Allison are all cheerleaders, blonde, and gorgeous. Allison is extremely smart and is a student body officer with Patrick Martell for a boyfriend; the star of the basketball team and most unattainable guy in school. Jessa is Allison's follower, and an amazing violinist. Lily is your typical, empty-headed bimbo, who takes any guy she can get.

I feel bad for placing her in the stereotype, but that's what she is.

Jacob is probably the biggest goofball in the school, but he's also extremely good looking. He's got brown hair that you can tell is soft as a fluffy blanket, and a smile to die for. Toby is a smart kid, neither popular nor nerdy, but he has lots of friends and a girlfriend who goes to another school about half an hour away.

Don't ask me how I know all these things. I just kind of listen in on other people's conversations in the locker room and I'm sort of in the loop.

But now I have Teigan on my team, Darren Teigan. Who, I find out as I listen to the groups conversation as we warm up, tossing the volleyball around our circle, was head of the basketball team at West Lake, and was dumped by his girlfriend two weeks ago when she moved to California for 'new opportunities'.

Lily practically throws herself at him after learning this information, and Jessa is flirting herself, but more discretely. I simply watch as an outer party, knowing that they don't really even know who I am.

They ignored me the entire time, even while we named our team. (The 'Froggy Frogs' after Jake's detailed description of his dissection of a frog the previous block.) During the first two games they completely ignored the fact that I hadn't served once, until the third game, when Toby noticed I hadn't gone.

"You can go after me then…" Darren said, and I realized he hadn't even bothered to learn my name. I rolled my eyes and waited for him to serve the ball. I didn't even realize at first that it was his serve that hit me in the back of the head. All I knew was that it hurt, and that my face was squished against the gym floor.

I heard laughter and recognized the deep voice to be Darren's, and the others to be Jacob, Lily, and Allison.

That's when I first realized that I despised Darren Teigan.

"Dang Duke, you got hit hard."

"Shut up Ryan. You don't think I realize that? My head is pounding." I say, holding the back of my head with my hand. "I just wanna go home and lie down."

"You sure you don't have a concussion or anything?" He asks, trying to get a look at the huge bump I can feel underneath my hand.

"The nurse said I was fine." I say as we walk out the doors and towards our car.

"Yeah but we don't know how accurate Nurse Ross is after her diagnosis on Goodwinn. You remember him right?" Emma says, latching her arm through mine. She always rides home with my brother and I as she lives next door.

"Didn't he have a broken leg and she told him he was fine?" I say, vaguely remembering the small, blonde-haired kid.

"Exactly." Ryan says as he unlocks his car. "And she made him go to classes for the rest of the day." I shuddered. Now I remembered the picture etched into my mind of Seth Goodwinn with his bone practically sticking out of his leg a month and a half ago.

"So did you talk to Darren today Ryan?" Emma asks, climbing into shotgun as I crawled into the back. Emma's had this, 'secret' crush on Ryan since the eighth grade, but she won't do anything about it even with my encouragement. She also tries to hide it by talking about other guys in school, like she has crushes on them.

"Yeah, he's a pretty cool kid. Lily was all over him today which means she'll probably have him by the weekend." Did I mention that Ryan is part of the popular group in school? Well he is, and he's also ten months older than me, which is how we both ended up in the same grade. He's got more friends than I do, although I get the better grades. (If that matters at all.)

"That's a horrible way to put it." Emma says.

"But it's the truth. If she has her way she'll lay him by Saturday."


"What?!" He says, laughing. The two of them flirt without even realizing it. I cover a smirk with my hand in the backseat. As we pull out of the school I catch a glimpse of Teigan making out with Lily Parett by her Mercedes.

My only thought is disgusting.

My eyes follow the flashlight in my mother's hands as she waves it back and forth in front of my face. "Yup. You're alright hun." She says, flicking the flashlight off.

"Other than the fact that I'm blind now." I say, rubbing my eyes.

"Oh hush, you'll be fine in a minute." I smile and make my way back up the stairs to my room. My mom, Joan Knight, is a doctor, the reason why she can still somehow afford to keep up the bills for the house, for three of my siblings college educations, and keep three at home. (One of who is married with triplets and nowhere else to live.) She double-checked my possible concussion just to make sure when she got home, and luckily Nurse Ross wasn't wrong this time in her diagnosis.

I walk back into my room to find my oldest sister, Sarah, searching my desk for something while bouncing her baby girl, Maura, on her hip.

"What're you lookin' for sis?" I ask, taking Maura from her and rubbing my nose against Maura's small one. She giggles and grabs for my finger, shaking it contentedly.

"Do you remember that book I lent you? The one about the saints days?"

"Yeah, I put it right over here." I say, walking to my bookshelf that is stacked to the point that some of the shelves are bending with the weight. I pull out the small, silver book and hand it to Sarah, smiling at her familiar frazzled brown hair and tired expression. "Hey, I finished my homework and I don't have dance tonight. I'll watch the kids if you want to sleep."

"I knew God sent me a baby sister for something." She says, smiling at me. I'll go and get Adler from Brent." She says, walking downstairs.

"I guess it's just you, me, and your brothers tonight." I say to Maura, sitting down on my bed and bouncing her on my knee. I smile at the sight of her smile, and at that moment, my life was content and clear for the last time for a long while.

Authors Note: So this idea just kind of came to me and I wrote it out. I didn't have anyone proofread it so there may be mistakes, but I'll come back and fix them. I know I'm really bad at updating, but I'm going to try to be better about it, really I am. Please keep reading and I'll try to get a new chapter up soon. Hopefully a longer one too!