Sorry for the slow update and this annoying AN, but I was just wondering if people can give me some feedback on my story, because it's been losing followers and everything and I just want to know why to improve. Thankss


Chapter 4

"Great," I muttered, as I checked the time for the umpteenth time in a row. "Just great."

I was standing outside my front door, bag slung over my shoulder and my hair blown in my face by the wind, waiting with a small hope that Cassie would show up to give me a ride. As the time on my watch ticked 8:00, I could no longer pretend that Cassie was going to come. Setting off at a run, I made my way towards the bus stop.

Just as the bus stop came into my sight, the bus started pulling away.

"Hey!" I shouted, sprinting as fast I could, my bag thumping against my back. "Hey! Wait!"

The bus did not wait. It pulled out of the bus stop and disappeared around a corner. Giving up, I huffed and puffed, then cursed myself, before slowing to a walk. I would just have to walk to school. By the time I got there, the first lesson would be halfway over and I would surely receive another detention. Dragging my feet miserably, I stared at all the cars on the road, desperately hoping that someone I recognized would stop and let me hop in.

As if fate had heard my silent request, a black car suddenly pulled up beside me. The window rolled down and a body leaned across the shotgun seat to talk to me

"Hey, Leigh!" Richard called.

"Richard?" I asked in surprise.

Richard grinned at me. "You need a ride to school? I'll drive you the rest of the way," he asked.

"Thanks!" I said gratefully, pulling open the door and sliding in. I found myself sitting in a plush leather seat. Setting my bag down beside my feet, I added, "Seriously, I really appreciate this. I'm not really a fan of walking to school."

Speeding up and turning around a corner, he nodded and smiled, saying, "No problem. I thought Cassie usually drove you. Although you seem to be taking the bus more at the moment. She mad at you or something?"

I looked out the window, mulling the question over in my mind. "Oh…I don't know, she's probably just in a rush to get to school early. You know, to see you." I smiled weakly at him.

Richard's eyebrows rose. "Oh, I doubt Cassie would have chosen to come early to see me for a few extra minutes over you. Cassie and Leigh. Leigh and Cassie. You two are always together."

"Everyone doesn't understand why she's friends with me," I murmured softly.

"Who gives a damn about what everyone else thinks? Cassie sees you as her best friend and so you are," Richard said.

I looked at him, and saw that he was smiling. There was a certain softness in his voice and expression. His light brown hair was messy, and his blue eyes stood out on his tan face. I had to agree with Cassie; he was cute.

Noticing that I was observing him, he nervously brought a hand up and ruffled his hair. "Permission from the best friend to date Cassie?"

Grinning, I pretended to scrutinize him once more, before nodding, saying, "You'll do fine."

Richard sighed, leaning back into his seat, his eyes back on the road.

"You really like her, don't you?" I said suddenly, sounding more like a statement than a question.

Richard looked nervous again. "Yeah," he said. "I like her a lot."

I smiled, feeling very happy for my best friend.

"Don't tell her I said that," he said. He glanced over at me. "I'm really serious about our relationship and I don't want to scare her."

"Don't worry," I reassured him. "It can be our little secret."

Arriving in the parking lot of Silverlane High, the two of us got out of his car, with me thanking him again and him brushing it off. He waved goodbye to me and went off to find Cassie or his friends, I didn't know. Myself, I walked into my classroom twenty minutes early and went straight to back row which this time thankfully wasn't occupied by a bunch of giggling girls.

"Ashleigh Rivers," said a masculine voice from my left. "Back row bandit?"

Without turning to acknowledge the speaker, I replied, "Rylan Keagan. Still an aspiring heart breaker?"

"Um, ouch."

Laughing, I turned around to see the overly cute face of Rylan Keagan. Dirty blond hair and bright blue eyes, with a charming smile that always fooled the ladies.

"I heard you made out with both Lacey Thomas and Jenny Kang at the party last weekend?" I asked airily as I fished around in my bag for my pencil case.

Rylan shrugged. "Beautiful girls, can't resist. Anyway, I keep telling you, there's only one girl for me."

I snorted. "Yeah right. As if there really is only one girl for a player like you."

"Should I be offended?" Rylan asked thoughtfully. Then he shook his head, saying, "I can't stay mad at you."

I grinned, sticking out my tongue playfully.

"It's true though," Rylan said, looking serious all of a sudden. "There's only one girl for me. I'm just waiting for her to realize it."

He looked directly into my eyes and my heart gave a start. He couldn't be talking about me…? No, I thought. I didn't like him that way anyway.

"Well," I said, looking away, "you should go talk to her then."

"That's what I'm doing," he said.

My face felt hot. Lucky for me though, the bell rang and students fell silent as Mrs. Stanley entered the classroom. I turned back around, face still burning as I opened my book to take notes. Halfway through the class, I glanced sideways at Rylan and as though he knew I was looking at him, his eyes snapped up and he winked at me. I shifted my gaze away and heard a low chuckle from my right. I felt like a coward, purposely avoiding him. Something about the way he looked at me, like he expected something…It wasn't that I didn't like Rylan; I just didn't like him that way. It sounded like a strange thing to think—most girls would kill for a chance with a cute boy like Rylan or…Navid. Strangely, my thoughts always seemed to circle back around to Navid these days. As I remembered his dark gray eyes, my eyes moved against my will and looked at where he sat a few rows ahead of me in the classroom. I could only see the back of his dark head from where I sat.

Realizing with a start that I had stopped listening to Mrs. Stanley, I quickly scanned the board and copied down the few notes I had missed, telling myself that if I wanted to keep my straight A's I would have to stop zoning out every lesson.

The moment the bell rang, I was up and out of the door, to avoid awkward conversation with Rylan and to hopefully slip past Navid without him noticing me, because I was sure he would say something that would pitch me over the pit of embarrassment once more. It was what he seemed to have fun doing; embarrassing me in front of people. I hated him.

However, when I was almost down the corridor, a large and warm hand caught my shoulder. Heart sinking, I turned to face…speak of the devil. Navid Wayland, dressed in a casual hoodie with silver basketball shorts and flip flops and somehow still looking amazing, grinned down at me.

"Hey, Leigh."

I glared at him, the memory of the basketball training session bright and clear in my mind.

"Don't worry," he said, laughing at my expression. "I just wanted to ask you something."

I scanned his face cautiously, as though I expected something to jump out at me. "Yeah?"

"There's a swim meet just before the party on Thanksgiving," he began, his hand shooting up to rub the back of his neck. He actually looked slightly nervous, an emotion I didn't know he was capable of feeling.

I raised my eyebrow expectantly.

"And we're allowed to bring a friend, not to many, 'cause you know they don't like it when its too crowded—anyway I was just wondering if you wanted to come?" He said all this in a slightly rushed way, but as soon as it was over his face relaxed into a casual smile.

I just blinked, my anger forgotten. "You're inviting me to go to the swim meet as…your friend?" I asked slowly, sounding like I didn't understand.

"Yeah."

"As…your friend?" I repeated, not understanding the word when it came to Navid, who I was supposedly hating.

Navid smirked. "You know what, I don't think I want to invite someone this stupid."

"Well too bad, 'cause I'm already invited," I said cheekily.

"Whatever. Four o'clock at the swimming pool on Thanksgiving," he said. "I guess I'll see you there."

And with that, he pushed past me and walked around the corner, disappearing from sight. I sighed and pushed my hair out of my face. I was suddenly aware of all the jealous looks I was getting from girls in the school.

My next three classes, English, Physics, and History, passed by uneventfully, the most interesting thing being Alex drawing a mustache on her face and imitating Mr. Johns for the entertainment of the class, until he came in and gave everyone extra homework, not to mention two detentions for Alex.

"It was worth it," Alex said, nodding her head. "Only two detentions."

"But then you can't hang out with us this afternoon!" Cassie complained, pouting.

"I can't either," I cut in, remembering my detention from Mrs. Stanley for being late for the fifth time.

"You too?" Cassie glared at me. Then she turned to Jasmine. "It'll just be the good kids, you and me."

"I'm a good kid!" I said pointedly.

"Well, I'm not," Alex said with a roll of her eyes.

"Uh hello, good kids don't get detentions and ruin afternoons for their friends," Cassie said.

"Sorry, but you know Mrs. Stanley, she'll give you a detention for breathing too loudly, or something," I retorted.

Alex sat up. "Hey I actually got a detention for that once."

"Seriously?" Jasmine asked.

"Yeah, from Mr. Johns. He hates me for no reason." Alex popped a french fry into her mouth.

"For no reason my ass," I laughed while Cassie imitated Alex drawing a mustache and imitating Mr. Johns.

We were all too busy cracking up and arguing about stupid things to think about anything else, and the swim meet on Thanksgiving was pushed into the back of my mind.

The next day Cassie finally decided that my days taking the bus to school could be over. She arrived at my house with plenty of spare time and somehow ate most of the pancakes my mom made in less than five minutes, while my mom glowed with happiness. She loved it when someone else enjoyed eating food she prepared. It made her feel appreciated, she told me.

"But you're always appreciated," I would say. "Arielle and I, we can't appreciate you enough."

"That's sweet of you to say, Ashleigh," my mom would reply, but then she would turn away, sighing, and I knew she would be thinking about my dad again.

"These are amazing," Cassie said as she swallowed.

My mom beamed. "You can have some more, dear."

Cassie reached for the plate but I pushed it away. "No, she will not have some more."

Cassie glared at me before pouting. I shook my head. She puffed her lower lip out even more. "Nope," I said. "You have to keep fit. You're on the basketball team."

Cassie rolled her eyes, saying, "So what? I eat pizza at lunch." Before I could reply, she grabbed another pancake and stood up.

"Leaving?" My mom asked, sounding just a little sad.

I checked my watch. "Yep, we only have twenty minutes left."

"Alright then. Have fun at school, girls!"

We waved goodbye to my mother and left the house, heading towards Cassie's car, which looked like shining rubies in the bright sun. As Cassie pulled out of our driveway, we laughed and joked about little things that I would soon forget about. Chatting away happily with Cassie, I smiled. Life is so much less complicated when you can just push away your worries and talk about unimportant things about your best friend all day long. But…would that still be called life?