Olivia Delarosa sighed as she opened her bedroom door. This was either going to be one of the best days of her life, right up there with the day she first played her violin, or one of the worst alongside the day she found out her parents were getting a divorce. Something told her it would be the latter. As she walked down the hall she adjusted the black pleated skirt of her school uniform. Her black ballet flats—which weren't exactly supposed to be part of the uniform—were dangling from the fingers on her left hand; her right already occupied by the strap to her red plaid messenger bag.
"Morning," she said cheerfully as she paused by the open door to her stepbrother's bedroom. "Do you think you could help me with my tie? I couldn't quite manage to get it to look right."
"Morning Livvie," he greeted. "Your tie? It looks okay to me."
She glanced down at the loosely tied red tie. "Really? Doesn't it need to be, huh, actually tied like a tie?" He chuckled and shook his head. "I thought the college was pretty strict about the uniform?"
"At the beginning of the school year, yea, but it's November. No one is going to care about it now. Besides, the only thing they're likely to get mad about is if you aren't wearing the uniform. They won't mind if the top few buttons to your shirt are unbuttoned," he reached over and undid the two buttons, "and your wearing the tie and your skirt is the proper length so you'll get points."
"Proper length my ass," she muttered. "This skirt is ridiculously short. The skirt for my old school was longer than this."
He laughed. "That was a Catholic school, this is just an incredibly private, exclusive college. Don't worry so much. I'm sure people will just adore you."
"I'm sure they will," she murmured as she left the doorway.
"Hey," he called after her, "until my dad finds you a car that Maria will agree on, your free to use the Audi that's in the back garage; it was my mom's. Dad hasn't gotten rid of it yet."
She turned on her heel and smiled, "Well, why bother to get me a car if it's okay that I use your mom's?"
"I don't know, I certainly don't mind it being yours. Talk to my dad about it."
"I will," she promised. "Well, I have that meeting with the headmaster in twenty minutes so I should get going. See you later."
Olivia paused before the stairs and slipped into the ballet flats. She slung the strap to her messenger bag over her shoulder as she ran down the dark wood stairs. Her stomach was a mass of butterflies; the last time she was this nervous was her last violin recital three months ago. She shuddered just thinking about it.
She slid on the last step and almost fell except for the hand that caught her. "Thanks Mike." She took a breath and focused on her stepfather. "Is something wrong?"
"Your car keys. I filled the car up with gas yesterday so it should be set for the week."
"Oh thank you! I probably would have left before even considering that."
"No problem. Don't forget if you need anything, just ask."
She nodded and glanced at the hall clock, "I have to go or I'll be late for my meeting. Umm, do you mind if I cook dinner tonight?"
"Of course not, I'll tell Gracie."
What the hell type of college forces its students to wear a uniform?
Regardless of the uniform there was obviousness about the groups. She could tell which group was which just by how they were acting. The group closest to her consisted of geeks and nerds (a few of which were probably there on scholarships, based on how the rest of the groups treated them) who had placed themselves by the entrance to the math and science building. The group farthest from her, over by the school's library, were obviously the 'popular' clique based on how many of the other groups kept looking over there and whispering in awe. Well, that group also consisted of her stepbrother so it wasn't hard to assume. Over by the walkway to the parking lot were the loners to which she would probably find herself at some point. Sprinkled about the rest of the courtyard were the random groups of people who didn't fit into any of the other categories.
Olivia shook her head as she surveyed the college students wondering around the courtyard between the main school buildings. She stood up from the bench she sat on and walked over to the entrance of the library. Her first class wasn't for another half hour so she might as well get some studying done; it wasn't going to be easy as a mid-semester transfer student to make up for the classes she had missed. Thankfully, her stepfather had made it a bit easier for her by getting her into classes that were similar to what she had been taking at her old school.
"Well, look if it isn't the newest scholarship student."
She shifted slightly and looked at the man standing in front of her. Scholarship student? What the hell was that about? She definitely wasn't at the school on a scholarship!
"Ah, hard of hearing too then," he directed that to the popular group and then spoke to Olivia a bit louder, "I said, look if it isn't the newest scholarship student."
She raised an eyebrow, "First, I'm not hard of hearing. I heard you quite well the first time. The 'excuse me' was because I didn't understand what you meant." Her tone was biting. "Maybe you should get your facts straight before accusing people of something that they may not be."
With that she smiled and walked past the strawberry-blond haired idiot. Inside she was seething. Scholarship student? Psh. There was nothing wrong with going to school on a scholarship—many of her good friends were from middle class families, where it was hard to make a living, and they had been forced to look for scholarships to go to school. But to be called a scholarship student, when she was far richer than anyone at that school was a bit insulting.
Olivia settled down into a plush leather armchair in the center of the first floor of the library. She pulled her math notebook out of her messenger bag and went to work. All she had to do was finish a few problems, look over a few more, and then she could forget all about math…until it was time for class. She sighed softly and teased her lower lip as she looked at the complicated equations. Math was definitely her worst subject, right up there with science, but she still managed to get good grades; she only hoped she would be able to keep it up through college…without the help of a tutor.
Olivia took her seat at the back of the large lecture hall—that sloped up so that students in the back could see the board over the students in front of them—and hesitated in taking her notebook out of her bag. Everyone already in attendance had expensive laptops set on the tables in front of them. She bit her lower lip, a nervous habit, and proceeded to set her notebook and pen on the table in front of her. It wasn't long before the taunts began.
"Look at that, she can't even afford a laptop." That came from somewhere towards the front of the hall—the speaker raising their voice so she could hear.
From a few rows behind her came, "Laptops aren't that expensive you know. Considering you're here on a scholarship you should be able to get one."
"Hey, scholarship girl," this was came from her left, "you should find some rich guy and sleep with him; I'm sure then you'd be able to get the things that the rest of us have."
"You know what," Olivia declared, "just because I don't use a laptop doesn't mean I don't have one. Again you idiots really should consider getting your facts straight; it would make everything a hell of a lot easier for all of us."
"Did she just call us idiots?" A strawberry blond student—who looked incredibly similar to the guy who had first called her a scholarship student—placed her hands, palm flat, on Olivia's desk and smirked. "Do you have any idea who we are?"
Olivia cocked her to the head, "I could say the same to you, but considering how stupid you seem to be, I doubt you'd know who I am even if I told you."
The next second, before Olivia even had time to take a breath, she was sprawled on the ground, her chair tipped over next to her. She lifted herself up into a sitting position and fixed her skirt over her legs. She surveyed the group of people who were standing around her and couldn't help but smile.
"How childish," she commented. "I was just making an observation, just like you all seem to be making outlandish ones about me."
"You insulted me," the strawberry blond female hissed through clenched teeth.
"Only because you insulted me."
The other strawberry blond glared at her, "How did we insult you?"
"Quite a few ways actually. But if you can't figure them out then I'm not going to tell you." She stood up slowly, "Insult me and I'll only insult you in turn. Bully me and I'll bully you in return; it's that simple."
"Alright class, please take your seats," the professor called as he walked into the room; he didn't even look at the group in the back.
Olivia up righted her chair and settled into it. A slight smile was on her face and she opened her notebook and uncapped her pen. The others stayed where they were only for a minute longer before taking their seats as the professor again called for them too. Her posture relaxed as the class started, but she didn't move to take notes. The class was going to be ridiculously easy for her. 'The Royal Families of the World'. She couldn't wait until they got to Andorra…maybe she could hold out with the bullying until then, whenever it would be.
By the time the day had ended, Olivia hadn't had any trouble with the popular gang; she really needed to come up with a better name for them. Her day, regardless of the awful morning, was pretty boring. She had seen her stepbrother in one of her classes; the one going towards her major of archeology, which was odd considering he was going to school for corporate law. The only classes she had with those popular kids, included her 'The Royal Families of the World' and a couple of her other anthropology classes. But they hadn't made a move towards her. Biding their time obviously.
"Olivia." She looked up as her stepbrother walked into the kitchen.
"How was soccer practice?" Olivia asked as she went back to cutting the chicken into strips.
He leaned back against the counter, beside her, and took a deep breath. "Umm, how was school today?"
"You should know," she answered, "you were there after all."
"I thought you said that everyone would like me; it definitely didn't look like that from where I was standing."
"I'm sorry, I should have stepped in and told them-"
She pointed the knife in his direction, "Don't you dare. I'm having fun with this whole situation. No need to make it worse which is bound to happen if you say something. This whole thing will change into a 'your mother is a gold-digger' type thing and the whole 'scholarship student' will turn into 'you are no better than a scholarship student'."
"You don't know that!"
"Well no, of course not. But I'd rather avoid that if possible. So right now just let me have my fun, and in a few weeks I will kindly let them know that I'm the princess of Andorra and my family is richer than anyone else at this school…well richer than most of the families at that school."
"No," he corrected absently, "you are richer than all the families at the school."
"Well that clears that up." She motioned towards a pot by the sink, "Could you fill that up please…with water? I need to start the pasta for dinner."
He sighed, "Livvie, promise me that if you need my help you'll as for it? I'm your brother I should be protecting you."
She snorted. "Stepbrother and if anyone is in the protector position it would be me, thanks to Adam who figured since I'm apt to leave my bodyguards in the dust it would be a good idea to learn some self defense."
"Adam would be? And one of my friends is a red belt in karate so there goes your 'I will able to protect myself' line."
"Oh! Adam is the 'Captain of the Guard' so to speak. He's the one who makes sure the palace guard are doing their jobs and assigns them to their positions; he's also my father's chief guard." She paused. "Your friend with a red belt should watch out. I'm a third degree belt in three types of martial arts. Adam wouldn't stop at just one. Hell, he also taught me how to use a knife and a gun! I'm forever grateful, but I highly doubt I'll need those skills."
"You never know, especially with being an archeologist major."
"Well," she mulled it over, "you have a point there. But who knows, I may not stick with archeology, I'm taking criminal law classes so who knows I could be a lawyer."
He laughed. "You a lawyer? That's something I'd pay to see. No offense Livvie, but your too naïve to be a criminal lawyer."
"I am not naïve," her voice was low.
"Keep telling yourself that, maybe you'll begin to believe it."
"Sure." She was incredibly sarcastic tone-wise. "By the way, I was being sarcastic about the lawyer part. If I were going to do anything involved with criminal law it would be the 'I'm going to arrest you' part."
"Ah, so that's why you're enjoying the bullying."
She laughed this time. "You're right on target with that one. Can you do me a huge favor though?"
"Anything," he didn't even hesitate.
"Don't get mad at me, but considering your part of that popular group, I think I may have to insult and bully you in return."
"Okay, just don't expect me to do that to you; they know I don't enjoy their bullying other people, but they may get incredibly mad if you bully me."
Olivia shrugged. "I'll avoid it if I can." She went back to the chicken. "Will you help me cook? I'm not used to an electric range."
She effectively ended that conversation.
The next day found Olivia back in the library before her morning classes. She had relocated to a section of armchairs in the balcony section of the library on the second floor and just as she was leaning down to pull a book out of her bag, she noticed someone sink into the chair nearest her. Slowly, she settled back into her chair and looked at the man next to her and recognition dawned almost immediately.
"Olivia," she corrected absently. "What are you doing here?"
He smirked, "I could say the same to you…Olivia."
"I go to school here now," she told him. "I'm going to assume, by that uniform, you go here as well."
"I do," he said with a wry smile. "I saw you yesterday when you were leaving."
"Why didn't you come say hello?"
He leaned forward, "You had a crowd of watchers and considering you hadn't told anyone your true background I figured it would be a bad idea for the son of the American Ambassador to Andorra, to talk to you."
"That makes no sense. You talking to me wouldn't key anyone in to my," she made the quotations sign in the air, "background."
"They would have asked me how I knew you and why I was calling you Andy when your name is Olivia."
"Well, Olivia is just one of my middle names, so all you had to do is claim that Andy…rather Andromeda is my middle name, cause it is," she told him.
"Semantics." He winked at her. "So, I should welcome you to this horrible place."
He nodded, "Now that they think you're here on a scholarship, they aren't going to think anything else. Your life is now essentially going to be hell."
"Well then I'll just have to give them hell back." She leaned towards him, "I don't assume to think that you will want to be involved in this amateur war." Her tongue flicked over her lips. "While it would be easier to get by with a friend by my side, I will not force you into this."
"Andy," he tilted his head to the left, "I hate those people, especially that Jason Phillips and his twin sister—they're the two with the strawberry blond hair. This upcoming 'amateur' war is just what the schools need to show those idiots that they aren't the greatest."
"If you say so…" She wasn't about to believe him.