Another guy yelled out, “Girl fight!”
Kate wanted to scare me. She didn’t. I’d gone against the best of the beasts: my mother. As Jasmine took another step forward and raised her hand, I shifted so I was facing her head-on. She stopped in her tracks and surprise came over her. Her hand lowered.
“You think physical violence is going to do it?”
Tate started laughing now.
I ignored her. “Go ahead and touch me. I’m not scared to take a hit, but you’re only going to hurt yourself. One bruise and I can go to the principal. It’s not like there aren’t witnesses here.”
As those words left me, Kate grabbed Jasmine’s arm and shoved her back.
“Kate,” she protested.
“Not yet,” their leader barked. “Go to class. All of you.”
Parker gasped now. “You’re letting her win?”
“No.” Kate turned her back to me, but I heard the warning in her tone. “It’s not time.”
“Go, Parker. I won’t say it again.”
All three did nothing to hide their disgust with Kate as they left. Parker glowered at me for a full five seconds before she was dragged away by Natalie, the only one who hadn’t said a word. My gaze lingered on her and wondered what she was like. Parker and Jasmine seemed to be the hotheads of the group. They reacted the quickest, but Kate must’ve been their leader for a reason.
Kate rounded back to me. She took a deep breath and shook her head. “You’re not what I expected, Strattan.”
Tate snorted behind her. “You haven’t even scratched the surface, Kate.”
Kate glanced at her. “And you have?”
“I know that Mason Kade wouldn’t be in love with her if she were simple.”
Heather burst out then, “Go away. All of you.”
“I was trying to help.” Tate frowned as Kate followed after her friends.
For a second, the two former best friends stared at each for a second before Tate’s shoulders dropped. Her head lowered an inch and she lifted one shoulder in a halfhearted motion. “Fine.” She was swallowed up by the crowd that remained behind her. They were all still watching and as I scanned them, a sense of déjà vu came over me. It was like my last semester at my old school, but I didn’t know these people. I hadn’t gone to school with them since kindergarten. I didn’t know the embarrassing stories from middle school or all the cliques.
This wasn’t my school. This was foreign territory to me. That should’ve staggered me, but it didn’t. I had endured Analise. I could endure this.
Heather fell back against her locker with a groan. “I didn’t expect that.”
“I did.” I actually expected more.
She eyed me up and down. “I thought maybe they’d steal your clothes during gym class or something. Maybe write the word ‘whore’ on your locker.”
I grinned at her. “And on that note, I need to go to the office to get my combination. When I registered they didn’t have that for me.”
Heather tried to smile, but the corners of her lips went down instead of up. She glanced in the direction Tate had gone. “Why do you think she did that?”
Because she wants to be friends again. I didn’t say that, though. I said instead, “What boyfriend were they talking about?”
Pain flared over her face. “Channing.”
She lifted a shoulder and shrugged halfheartedly. She looked away. “Doesn’t matter. We’ve been broken up for a year anyway …”
“It couldn’t have been anyone else?”
Heather looked down now. “No. I’ve only been with him, and we were dating when Tate was my friend. It makes sense now …”
Score one for Kate.
“I’m sorry,” I said again, but I knew it wouldn’t help.
Kate won this round. She hurt my friend.
The first bell went off when I reached the office. The final bell went off when I was given my locker combination. I would officially be late to my first class, on my first day. Wonderful. When I asked where Coach Grath’s office was, the secretary informed me that he’d be gone all week. That dilemma was resolved. So with that new information, I headed back out and started my day as a new student.
When I got to my class, the teacher didn’t care that I was late. A worksheet was handed to me right away and the rest of the class went fast as I began working on it. There were no Tommy P.’s in there, but there were in the rest of my classes. Jasmine and Natalie were in my second period. Kate was in my third and Parker rounded out the fourth. My mornings were going to be glorious, but the one silver lining was that my locker was still clean when I headed to lunch. No ‘whore’ or ‘slut’ decorated it. Yet.
There was no sight of Mason or Logan when I went to the cafeteria, but Heather called me over to her table. There were a few others sitting with her. The guys were friendly or friendlier while the two girls gave me a cold reception. One, dressed in all black clothing, gave me a sneer and turned her back to me.
The other one, wearing a white sweatshirt emblazoned with a large rainbow, gave me a shy grin. She had the softest blue eyes and palest skin I’d ever seen on a person. After we ate, Heather explained on the way to our lockers that the shy one was an albino. I’d never met someone who looked like that, but she warned me not to expect anything nicer than the greeting I got. The shy one didn’t talk and Heather said that I was better off not knowing the other one’s name. I didn’t question it. She added that No Name Chick wasn’t a fan of anyone associated with the Kades. Both girls were routine targets by the Tommy Princesses and neither cared that Kate’s group was no longer supported by Mason or Logan anymore.