I walked in through the doors of my new school, the sounds of students chatting hitting my ears. I winced and wrinkled my nose as the smell of moldy, rotting cafeteria food filled my scent glands.
Keeping my head low, I glanced at my schedule, which was stuffed in the front cover of my binder. I had math for my first period, and I was already dreading it.
Stay calm, I reminded myself.
As I walked to room 409, which was where my Geometry class was, I ran the list of things I needed to know through my head. Remember what to say. You’re Kali Perez, and you’re fifteen years old. You’re sweet but sassy, and you’ve got a slight attitude. Your father is travelling for work, and your mother works late every day. You are single, and you don’t really want to be involved in a relationship. I nodded in satisfaction after reminding myself of what I had to do and gave myself a mental pat on the back.
Spotting the sign for room 409, I walked in with my head low. Remember, blend in. You can’t be found again.
Taking a seat in the back row, I tossed my bag under my desk and slouched in the seat, taking out my phone and pretending to be busy.
I ignored the group of guys walking towards me, and opened up my text messages. It was void of any contacts, and there were no random people texting me. I breathed out a silent sigh of relief. Good.
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the group of guys coming closer. Go away, go away, I willed them. Please, please, please. Just leave me alone and go flirt with the ugly cheerleaders.
They obviously hadn’t received my silent message, and they stopped in front of my desk after a few of the guys decided to break away from the group so that they could go flirt with some of the giggling girls who looked like they were dressed to go to a club and get drunk.
The guy who had been walking in the front of the group looked like he belonged to a gang. He had tousled jet-black hair and wore a simple white shirt with black jeans. The most stunning part of him were his eyes; twin chips of ice that seemed to pierce my soul. Behind him were two other boys, along with a girl. All of them looked pretty intimidating, but I knew that I could take on them if I needed to get out. All of my self-defense classes might come in handy at this school.
“What do you want?” I asked, pretending to be bored and uninterested before he even spoke. I opened up my Instagram, which actually belonged to my mom and had nothing on it. Scrolling through the photos that had been posted by other people, I looked up briefly. “If you want to stink up the air, then go somewhere where your odor is actually appreciated.” I motioned to the group of giggling girls, where the other guys were checking them out and sweet-talking. “I’m sure that they’d appreciate your company more than I would. So thank you, nice conversation, good-bye.” I waved my hand in a ‘go-away’ motion, signaling that I was done talking.
There was a small silence, and then a guy from behind black-hair boy stepped out to talk to me. He had sandy light-brown hair and light green eyes. He wore a white T-shirt, much like the black-haired boy’s, and wore a pair of shorts/ His skin was dark and tanned, almost like he had spent his whole summer break at the beach. He looked more friendly than everyone else that he had been walking with, and his dimpled smile told me that he didn’t want to fight with me. “Hey there, new girl,” he greeted me. “Just so you know, this sulking ******** is Asher.” He jerked his thumb towards the black-haired boy that I had been talking to. “I’m Finn, and these two are Julian and Ava.” He pointed to the other boy and the girl, each in turn. Julian had dark brown hair, almost black, and large brown eyes that looked like they belonged to a puppy. He wore an olive-green shirt with a simple pair of jeans. He had his arm around Ava, who was a girl with long black hair that went down to her waist, and had a face painted with almost goth-like makeup and beautiful almond-shaped eyes. She had a curvy figure, and wore a black T-shirt, ripped jeans, and black lace-up boots.
I laughed a little and smiled back at Finn. “I’m Kali, but if you become my friend, then you can call me Kal. If you become my friend. And that’s a pretty big if,” I added for emphasis. “But yeah, nice to meet you.” I nodded to Julian and Ava but deliberately ignored Asher for reasons that seemed to be pretty obvious.
Asher stepped in front of me as my stomach seized and I started cramping. I tried not to wince, I didn’t want to show weakness in front of this 6’3” giant. Now that I thought about it, both Finn and Julian were probably about 6’2”, and even Ava was tall next to my 5’5” tall figure. “What?” I asked him sweetly. “I kind of need to run to the bathroom, and you’re in my way.” Before he could respond, I kept talking. “Actually, I think you’re blocking my view of the board. I can’t help that I’m short, but you don’t need to rub it in that you’re a giant skyscraper compared to me. If you don’t mind, could you move? I need to go to the bathroom, and it’s an emergency.” I folded my arms over my chest when he didn’t move.
“Your period can wait,” Asher replied curtly. “You insulting me is a little more important, don’t you think?”
I frowned and stuck out my bottom lip. “C’mon, make it quick. Punch me, whatever. Just hurry so that I can go to the bathroom.” I actually didn’t have to go, but my stomach cramps were getting worse. “Please,” I begged, giving him my best poor-puppy-dog face.
Asher’s face remained stone cold. Then he lunged towards me and punched me in the gut hard, repeatedly. When he finally stopped delivering hell on my stomach, he stood back and glared at me with his piercing, icy blue eyes. “I hope that you’ve learned your lesson,” he muttered, his eyes flickering with anger. When I looked closer, I saw a trace of guilt swimming across his face.
I winced as a cramp seized my stomach. Pushing myself out of my seat and forcing myself not to grimace in pain, I glared up at Asher. “What the heck?” I gritted out. “I say a few insulting words to you, and you decide to just beat me up? What a gentleman,” I added sarcastically.
I stood up straighter and then looked him in the eye. “Thanks, Asher,” I said evenly. “Now I have a reason to stay at this school.” Then I walked out of the classroom just as the teacher walked in.
When I was alone in the empty hallway, I dashed for the bathrooms, which were at the front of the school. Ignoring the pain in my gut, I kept running until I reached an empty stall and locked it. Then I collapsed and lifted up my shirt. Yup, the bruise was still there, but it had gotten worse. Way worse, thanks to Asher.
Sighing, I stood up and realized I was crying and had messed up my mascara. Great, just what I needed. Another problem that I had to clean up.
I wiped off all of my makeup and started over. After twenty minutes, I finally looked normal again. I sniffled a few more times and took a few deep breaths before walking out and putting on a stony face.
On the way through the hallways, I caught a few people looking at me like I was crazy. I lifted my chin and glared at them in the eye until they looked away. Fight me, I willed them.