Leo Zachary(POV)

I stared around in the center of the lobby in the boys' dormitory, jumping every time a student would accidently make contact with me as he scurried by, murmuring a distracted apology at my disgusted expression. I, for one, did not enjoy living under my father's roof, but it was still a semi-acceptable alternative to living in a building where there were always a bunch of guys running around with barely any clothes on-or none-at all.

This was, for some reason, consistent. Every time I paid Mason a visit or walked with him to class, it never seem to occur to these people that no one in here was interested in seeing their junk flying all around.

Most of them seemed oblivious of my presence, however-or were doing a very fine job of ignoring me. For that I was grateful. There were very few things in this world actually worse than earning the attention of a half-naked dude.

Derek Pierre, who was descending the steps from the dormitories and into the common room, looked very much amused by my apparent discomfort. He laughed heartily, his notebook and pen in one hand as I grudgingly sighed with relief once I saw that his uniform was covering all of him.

"Afraid of a little skin, are we? You're lucky you don't do any sports. One step in the locker room and you'd have a heart attack," he said arrogantly.

I glared, "Not everyone can be as comfortable as you in a locker room."

I'd meant that to at least make him feel a fraction of unease I was in, but he just laughed at me and continued down the steps, making me sulk even more.

He and I had known each other for so long I couldn't even remember a time that he wasn't actually annoying me. Since before we could talk, probably. We sort of stuck with each other since our families had been previously acquainted and it just sort of made sense to everyone that we would be friends. Growing up, we were in all the same clubs, schools and activities. I supposed at one point I did think of him as a friend. But recently I had realized the real reason we had never become true friends despite all those years spent together.

He was obsessed with trying to out-do me at everything. Academics, theatre- as if Hanover wasn't full of overly competitive rich kids as it was. He also loved to mention all the things he was good at that I wasn't, always looking for covert ways of challenging me. Even my social life has been permanently soured by his presence.

As of then I didn't particularly care for him. And I wasn't sure if he knew this or not, but he never showed signs that he did. So I settled for just pretending to be his friend, mostly because we hung around the same people, had the same classes and it was nearly impossible for me to avoid him. In short, he was really just a huge pain in the ass that I just barely tolerated on a day-to-day basis.

He began to pick at his teeth in a nearby mirror as I waited for our third companion to leave his room. If we left we would still be early, but enough procrastination could change that. Minutes later Mason opened one of the doors to the right and was slowly making his way down.

He was a good-natured guy, and probably one of the very few that I trusted. He and Derek were both big and bulky from being on a billion sports teams I never cared about, but while he had that whole Edward Cullen thing going on with the big hair and girly eyelashes, Derek's skin was dark, his face sculpted and his hooded and black.

Promptly making my way towards the exit, I absently called at Mason to hurry.

"He can't hear you," Derek replied, trailing behind. "Gabriela started texting him like half an hour ago."

I swiftly turned my head to look at him again. He was staring down at his phone with a big, goofy grin on his face.

I made an exasperated noise. "Can you not make yourself look like a lovesick idiot for two seconds?" I'd always tried to keep my less-than-loving sentiments towards Mason's girlfriend to a minimum in his presence, but I may have hinted once or twice in the past that she was a complete and utter, life-sucking demon-bitch.

Seriously, it was like the only time I ever even saw my friend was at school. I was sure that if Mason could see her the way I did-for how she really was-he'd get rid of her. And all I saw was a plain-faced, self-centered maniac with no brain cells to her name. Mason's constant adoration didn't help make her any more humble-yet another department in which she was seriously lacking. Come to think of it, her biggest talent was probably benchwarming at all of her volleyball games.

You know, aside from her ability to single-handedly annoy the shit out of everybody.

Nonetheless, Mason was absolutely crazy about her. It honestly disturbed me to the core to see him so out of it all the time. Especially for a girl that just wasn't good enough, in my opinion. It was like watching a train wreck minutes-seconds-before the full impact of the crash. I knew for a fact she didn't feel the same way. She didn't deserve a guy like him, to put it simply. There was a certain tentativeness in the way she looked at him that convinced me she could never return his feelings with appropriate fervor.

Yeah, I noticed that.

I also noticed the way she to hesitate to even touch him with too much affection whenever her gossipy friends were around. The only person who didn't seem to know this, or course, was Mason. He may disagree with me about her, but were I in his shoes I'd have wanted a friend like me to save me from some unnecessary female bullshit.

He'd thank me later-for sure.

Mason frowned at my comment, but his eyes remained glued to the screen as he typed. I knew he didn't appreciate my constant bad-mouthing her, and I was decent enough it to keep it to a minimum unless she was seriously asking for it. But I didn't doubt he'd stop speaking to me the second he figured I meant to ruin his relationship.

Which I did. But I suspected he just assumed I was being an asshole simply because I disliked like her-which I thought was a rather unreasonable assumption, since there are generally a variety of reasons as to why I would behave like an asshole.

"I'd rather be a lovesick idiot than a regular idiot," he replied, again not looking at me.

"That's because you're an idiot." I muttered

Suddenly he broke into another smile, as if in confirmation. He began typing even faster than before, and I knew I wouldn't be able to make conversation with him again until our next class together.

That left me with no else to talk to except for Derek, whom was currently striding along and stopping us every once and a while to greet his friends. We walked in silence for several moments. In fact, when he wasn't annoying me to death there nothing ever to really talk about.

But pretty soon I had to stop both he and Mason, beckoning for them to follow me.

Derek hesitated, "History's that way."

"We're making a short stop…relax, we still have at least ten minutes," I added when he didn't budge. At that point Mason was almost completely unsure of what was going on, tripping over his feet a couple times as I nudged him along.

I could feel Derek's curious gaze on my back as I lead them farther and farther away from the previous building. The silence dragged, but by the time we'd reached the courtyard yard his expression had completely transformed itself. There were a bunch of student council member selling tickets to sporting events. I caught a quick glimpse of who I'd been thinking about a lot lately. She had smiling at something one of her friends was saying.

"She's busy," Derek said flatly, suddenly beside me. "Let's go back."

I had expected him to jump to conclusions, but that didn't stop me from quickly getting irritated. "I'm not here for her. I want to get a couple of things."

"Yeah, right."

The only thing worse than paying visit to your recent ex-girlfriend was doing it with her nosy cousin.

I deliberated on arguing further, but then decided that I didn't actually care whether he believed me or not. In truth, I was here for her. In fact, I knew she would be here. But that was none of his business anyway.

Okay, it was.

But he sure as hell wasn't the boss of me. So I turned my back on him and marched straight to the table where she was serving.

I cleared my throat. "Excuse me. Currently seeking customer service. No, not you. Her," I said sweetly to girl who tried to approach me, before shooting me a dirty look.

Then she came to me, with those pretty, almond eyes. "Can I help you?" her coldness of her tone stung a little, but I pretended I didn't notice.

"Actually, yes. How much for the ticket?"

"Fifteen dollars."

I clicked my teeth together. "That sounds a bit overpriced. Tell you what? I'll pay for it, and I you can make it up to me by giving me five minutes. With you. Alone."

She started to walk away.

"Two minutes?"


"Please? I need to talk to you."

"There's nothing to talk about," she started to organize things on the table, refusing to look up at me.


Derek appeared out of nowhere, startling me again. "Everything all right here?"

I inhaled deeply, directing my eyes upward. He was so lucky my future ex-ex-girlfriend was still in ear shot.

"Don't you worry about us," she replied in an irritated voice, surprising me. "We're done here."

"Listen, if he's bothering you…" he began harshly. Renee and I both rolled our eyes.

"Wow. You really are an idiot," I said as a matter-of-factly.

"I think I told you to stay away from her," he said to me angrily.

"Listen," she cut in with a steely tone, preventing from responding. "If you guys plan on buying something, be my guest. If not, then kindly get yourselves out of my sight," she said scrunching up her nose and crossing her arms. If I wasn't so defeated I would have laughed. I always used to find it adorable when she would get angry with me and I would just melt at how funny it was. Then it would pass and all was forgiven-and then we would-you know.

I sighed. Thinking of the past had me depressed.

"Okay," I said in my pathetic attempt to please her.

Then the bell rang. I sighed again.

Mr. Hancock was a hard-ass. But I liked him for it. Most of the teachers at Hanover were too stuck up their own behinds to ever give a real shit about the students, but I'd always felt that Mr. Hancock cared about everyone-in his own way, of course. He didn't take didly squat from anyone-and that included the other teachers who secretly shared disdain for his "unorthodox" teaching methods. He had a tough outer shell, but deep down, I suspected that he was just a simple guy with a firm mind and an impressive sense of humor.

His class has been a sort of haven for me that year, to tell the truth. I could always count on it to get my mind off of…stuff. I had just felt so mentally overburdened at times with school, the play, graduation in mere months…female woes-somehow I could put all of them in the backburner for sixty minutes and just…be.

When we'd arrived, Derek didn't speak a word to me the whole time-unbeknownst to him that it was the greatest thing he'd ever done for me. Mason was forced to get off his phone, so whenever I got the chance I just socialized with him and other acquaintances I had in the class. I'd more-than-once caught Ms. Holier-than-thou shooting me furtive glances from the front of the room. I pretended I didn't see them, realizing with a tiny smirk that she was probably still shaken up from Friday. She looked so terrified that I even entertained the thought of apologizing for insulting her. But, of course, I decided against it. For one thing, she damn well deserved what she got. For another, it was for the best anyway. I was only really nasty to those that asked for it. I mean, I didn't like being an asshole.

Okay, maybe in her case I did.

But I figured if she got in the habit of anticipating that, she'd be less likely to be a pain. Especially in that class. Mr. Hancock was one of the few people whose opinion of me I cared about. I couldn't have him thinking I was some kind of bully, or worse-an attention-seeker-if I ever got into a public altercation with her over something stupid. And knowing her, that was exactly the kind of thing she'd get me to do.

I shook my head, wondering how someone could have such an amazing ability to bring out the worst in me. I forced myself to put it out of my mind and pay attention.

We were starting a new unit on ancient civilizations. Mr. Hancock was announcing a project to the class when a box landed on my desk. I examined the artifact inside, turning it around and even trying it on my finger.

"What an incredibly ugly ring," I said, eyeing it. It was a plain, faded bronze with tiny scriptures on it. There was absolutely nothing special or memorable about it all. I hadn't realized that Mr. Hancock had heard me and was standing nearby with his hands in pocket, amused.

"Fits like a glove, don't it, son?"

The class sang a chorus of OO's and chuckles. I smiled slightly at myself. "I'm going to pretend that wasn't an insult."

"Good. I'm going to pretend I didn't intend it that way."

I was still grinning when I put the ring back in and passed the box back around, silently admiring our shared appreciation of snide humor.

Mr. Hancock continued going over the details of the project, briefly mentioning that we would be working in groups of two. Just as Mason and I nodded at each other in mutual understanding, he announced that he would be pairing us himself. I slumped back in my seat.

"Hailey….Andrew. Mina…Bianca. April…Oliver. Derek…Vianna. Leo…Noah-"

What followed was a string of indignant protests from a burly kid in the front of the classroom with American Eagle plastered all over his clothing. Noah Evans was too idiotic to stop himself from loudly interrupting one of the strictest teachers in the school, but the feeling was very mutual.

I would have gladly worked with April instead for fuck's sake, if that was any indication of how intolerable he was. It was entirely his fault Renee and I were broken up. A few weeks ago, I wouldn't have even been able to keep my cool after knowing I'd have to work with him. A few weeks ago, I was an angry, miserable wreck who let some dickheaded Neanderthal get in between my girlfriend and I. But at that moment, I could only watch him as he expressed what I would describe as a tenth of the ire I held for him.

"Seriously, Mr. Hancock? Can't you just pair me with someone else?"

"Excuse me?" He didn't catch his tone.

"I just-I can't work with him. I'm sorry," he said in a way that reminded me of Leah. Inside, I wanted to tell him go to go fuck himself in the deepest, darkest pits of hell, but I held my tongue.

Mr. Hancock appraised him through the slightly withered eyes on his otherwise youthful appearance. "Is he carrying some sort of airborne disease you want to avoid?"

His silent response indicated that he realized what he had done. He shook his head, cautious of himself now.

"Okay then," Mr. Hancock moved on without another word, leaving me disappointed at the lack of response. He was highly intolerant of disrespect, and very generous with reprove. Why did he have to choose that day to reserve his wrath?

The project wasn't to be done in class, so the two of us didn't actually have to talk to each other that day. That prevented me from thinking about how I was possibly going to work with him for three months without bloodying his nose.

When the final bell rang, I felt sick with anticipation. I arrived at the theatre not long after, and everything seemed to be order. The theatre with busy both in the auditorium and backstage as people socialized or pretended to be setting and warming up if Miss A was around. I saw many familiar faces from the tech crew and the people who always got roles. There many new faces too. I took note of all of this as I made my way to the refreshment table at the foot of the stage. Then I saw something that looked completely out of place. It was Mason, and he gorging himself on a powder donut.

I raised a brow at him.

But he just nodded back when he saw me. "Sup."

"No offense, but why exactly are you here?"

"Relax, Mr. Big-fancy-director man," were what I believed to be his words as he continued to chomp on his food. "I'm part of the tech crew now…community service hours," he added when I looked even more confused.


He smiled a toothy grin in response. For a moment, I didn't really have much else to say. I had so much on my mind for some reason.

Mason interrupted my thoughts. "Hey, what're you so nervous about? You'll do fine."

"Thanks," I muttered, mentally making plans to do a better job of hiding my emotions in the future. I must've looked like a wreck if even Mason noticed.

Suddenly, a hand with demolished nail beds shot out and snatched a muffin. She seemed very concentrated as she was looking over something on her clipboard, nibbling delicately on her snack.

"Excuse me…this is a closed rehearsal," I said after a few seconds of stunned silence.

It was as if I hadn't spoken at all. She was still leaning casually on the concession table and looking over her clipboard.

"I know you don't really have any place to be, but lurking around in the drama club is a little extreme-even for you."

"If you haven't noticed already, I'm ignoring you."

Now I was annoyed-and partially confused. I didn't expect this from her. I mean, I always knew she was full of herself but never self-contradictory. Did she not, just last week, make it very clear how much she hated theatre? And now she had the nerve to even show her face there?

I cleared my throat. "I'm sure this isn't the first time you've heard this from someone, but please leave." I said, hoping it would sink in this time. Really. It was beginning to look ridiculous.

Finally, she huffed and slammed the clipboard down on the table. "You have a serious problem, you know that?"

"I have a problem?!" I gaped. This girl was seriously out of her mind. Like forreal.

"Stop harassing me."

"Then get the hell out of here!" I yelled, equally loud and angry.

"Dude, just leave her alone," Mason murmured when he realized how the busyness around us had stilled, and people were stopping and turning their heads to stare.

"I'm not going anywhere," she said calmly. For a moment I could only stare at her. Was she trying to provoke me so that I'd get myself kicked off the drama club forever? Was that her little plan of revenge? For some reason, it'd never occurred to me that she could be capable of this. Somehow, I'd allowed myself to think that she had no affinity for sadistic, obsessive pursuits like many girls did. But right then and there as I looked at her unfathomable expression, I realized just how capable she was.

"What's going on here? What's between you two? You know, you're not making a very good example for the rest of the club." Miss A had finally made an appearance. A wave of relief fell over me. I honestly wasn't sure if I would have kept my self-control much longer.

Her frown was so deep that her brow looked as if it was barely holding on.

I gestured with my hands, trying not let all my anger out at her. "Can you do something about this, please?"

"What are you talking about? Do something about what?"

I narrowed me eyes, "So you're just gonna let her come in and take whatever she wants?" I growled.

"Leo, what's happening with you? Why are acting like this?"

I squinted at her. Me? Me!?

"He just came out of nowhere and starting screaming at me," April cut in shrilly.

Miss A stared around the stage at the audience. "Everyone get back to work. We will be starting the audition in 5." She pulled us into a small room. "I need you two down in the auditorium. We're on a tight schedule," she said in a distant voice, still staring at me as if she couldn't figure out what she was looking at.

What the Hell?

"I am confused." I said through gritted teeth. She then exchanged glasses with April, who was playing the part of an innocent victim very well in indeed. It made me want to throw something at her.

She shrugged. "I guess he…doesn't know,"

"Doesn't Know what?"

"Didn't you two get in contact with each other over the weekend like I told you to?"

I made a face, the words barely even registering in my brain. "What?"

"That's what I was trying to tell you before," April continued in a maddeningly wounded tone. "He can be really…difficult to communicate with at times. I mean, this isn't exactly the first time we've had worked together," she said suggestively, causing Miss A to stare at me again. This time, I wasn't looking Miss A. I wasn't looking anything really. I was still mentally trying solving a puzzle that I didn't yet have all the pieces to.

Mrs. A exhaled. "Well, I have to say I'm disappointed in both of you. But this will have to wait for another time. Leo, you and April are co-directors and we need to get down to the auditorium right now."

"Of course," she said.

But just shook my head, as if that would somehow undo everything that had just happened. As I could unhear everything I'd just heard. "Stop. Just stop. Is this a joke? Please tell me this is joke."

"Leo-" Miss A started in an angrier tone.

"Are you punishing me for something? What did I do?"

"No, I'm not punishing you-"

"Then why are you doing this? Have you lost it? " I demanded, aware that I had finally lost control of myself. The words continued to tumble out, seemingly of their own accord.

"Leo, you need to stop this."

"No! It's my play. You told me I could direct it. I refuse to work with her! You are out of your mind if you think I will-"


"This is bullshit. Are you blind? She's just trying to get back at me because she didn't get to do her stupid play. Honestly! Am I insane or the only one with any goddamn sense in here?" I said, almost laughing at the sheer outrageousness of it all.

I realized at that point that whatever good opinion Miss A had had of me before was gone. Still, I could not bring myself to care. She had allowed this to happen.

What followed was a barely contained, steely retort. "Student-led production is a huge opportunity and privilege for my students that I have fought to have at this school. I want to make it clear to both of you that your cooperation is essential. I admit I should have informed you of this earlier myself, but I wasn't aware of this side of you. And I definitely didn't expect this-this disgusting behavior from you. Yes, it is your play. But what you need to understand is that plays are put on my teams, not individuals."

A tiny bit of shame started to creep into my stomach, on top of everything.
She sighed, "I thought that having you be in this position would be a good thing not just for you but for everyone. But if you won't stop this, then you need to go home, think about it, and come back with a different attitude, or don't come back at all."

There were so many emotions running through my veins-anger, confusion, bitterness, and loss-that I knew that if I didn't get away immediately I was going to do something I would really regret. I stretched my arms for the door and as they flew, I made my way out. I felt sick to my stomach. The very ground beneath my feet seemed no longer steady.

I couldn't sit still for bus to come for even a minute, so I walked all the way home. The air was nippy, but the heat of the anger in my gut kept me oblivious. All I could think about was her. I'd lost so much already-and all because of her. I had to find a way to make her pay. I had to.

AN: Thanks for reading until the end! Reviews are always appreciated XD