Going Under Page 8

I hoped Jessie wouldn’t turn around and say anything else to me because I didn’t need another reason to think about him. He left class without looking at me, and although it was what I wanted, I found myself foolishly disappointed.

Payton and I didn’t make it out of Buckley’s class before she had me cornered. “Now, tell me he’s not hot for you.”

“He’s not hot for me, Payton. He’s just having a little fun with the Princess. That’s all,” I said as I dodged around her to go to my locker.

I opened my locker and heard Payton whisper, “News flash, Claire…We just had this conversation an hour ago about what a terrible liar you are and it’s true; I can see it all over your face. He may call you Princess, but he doesn’t treat you like one and you like it.”

Her theory was unbelievable. “Why would I enjoy the way he treats me? He’s an ass to me, so that doesn’t even make sense.”

Payton looked at me like I was a dumbass. “Omigod, Claire, you can be so dense for someone so smart. I guess I’m going to be forced to spell it out for you. He can’t stand you because he thinks you’re a spoiled rotten little princess, but he can’t help but be hot for you. This is the first time you’ve ever met a guy that didn’t want to put you on a pedestal and you’re fascinated by it.”

“I’m sorry, I was unaware you began a career in psychological evaluations. Do you want me to tell my mom so she can see about getting you hired as a shrink?” I asked sarcastically.

“It’s all part of the game, Claire. Don’t get me wrong. I’m proud of your newfound sketchiness, but there’s one thing you have to remember. He’s the kind of guy you play with for a little bit of fun, not the kind you fall in love with.”

I slammed my locker door before heading off in the opposite direction to physics. I heard Payton call down the hall, “I’ve got a Benjamin in my purse right now that says I’m right.”

I practically ran to Physics to get away from Payton’s accusations and proposed bet because I didn’t want to consider the possibility of it’s accuracy. I took a seat at the back desk and put my head down on the table.

I felt a warm hand on the back of my neck and heard, “Hey, babe, is everything okay? You feel sick?”

The sound of Forbes voiced startled me and I raised my head to see him sitting at my table in the chair next to me. I forgot we had this class together.

“I don’t feel too great,” I lied.

What was up with me? I never lied, so why was I suddenly lying to my best friend and my boyfriend? I leaned back in my seat and watched the reason for my sudden ability to spout deception walk through the classroom door.

“Great, here comes the Collinsville skank,” Forbes said.

I looked up to see Jessie walking into class with Gretchen, better known as The Penivore, walking behind him. She followed in behind him like a lost puppy, then sat next to him at the table in front of us.

The hour consisted of her shameless flirting, which left little to the imagination, letting Jessie know he could have it any way he wanted it. It was disgusting.

During Mrs. Bishop’s lecture, my concentration altered between physics and the near dry humping escapade in front of me, all while my long term boyfriend sat unsuspectingly under my nose. Man, I was a sucky girlfriend.

I remembered the perfect plans Forbes and I had made and decided that this senseless interest had to stop. In the end, I would be with Forbes and Jessie would screw Gretchen, just like half of the guys at East Franklin had done before him and this temporary interest in Jessie Boone was only a minor technicality I would sweep neatly under the rug.

9 Fauxpology Not Accepted


Some things didn’t change, money or not; a whore was still a whore even if she was wearing designer clothes. I wasn’t interested in Gretchen, at least not today. I had been there and done that kind of girl before, but it was always nice to have a backup plan if I decided to become interested.

The rest of my classes were boring without having Claire to playfully taunt, so it felt like they would never end. When they finally did, I went down to the field house and dressed out for practice, then hit the field and warmed up while I waited on the rest of the team to show for practice.

I walked over to where Dane was warming up his kicking leg. “So, what did you think of your first day at East Franklin, man?” he asked while he stretched his leg.

What could I say? It was nice being in school and not running into the kids that showed up on my doorstep to buy drugs off my mom and her boyfriend, Wayne. I liked not being known as the kid with the mom that could hook you up with whatever kind of drug you wanted.

I was about to answer Dane’s question when I noticed the cheerleaders arriving on the field for practice. I saw Claire in the crowd and answered, “Definitely different from my old school, but the view here is much nicer.”

“I get that you want to mess with Forbes, but Claire’s a nice girl, so don’t do anything to hurt her.”

There it was. Another warning. “I’m not some kind of animal. Come on, I’m just messing with her to get Henderson riled up. You’ve seen some of the things he has done to me and you know firsthand what he has planned. There’s no harm to her by talking to her. What’s the deal? You into her or something?”

“Our parents are friends and I’ve known her a long time, but forget I said anything because you’re going to do whatever you want to anyway.”

Man, I didn’t want to fight with my only friend. Just as I was about to promise Dane I’d leave Claire out of my conflict with Henderson, the devil himself walked up and couldn’t resist starting in on me.

“Hey, Collinsville skank, do you spank the monkey ambidextrously?”

Unfortunately, I didn’t have much material for retaliation. I could keep my mouth shut and take the high road, but I didn’t because Jessie Boone hadn’t ever backed down a day in his life.

I grinned and said, “Your girlfriend wasn’t complaining last night about what I could do ambidextrously.”

Our group of teammates erupted into laughter and I heard, “Ooh, Henderson, you just got smoked.”

If there was one thing I learned early in my life, it was how to dodge a fist coming at my face. I leaned out of the reach of Forbes’ swinging fist and laughed as I said, “I do believe that was the slowest sucker punch I’ve ever seen.”

“Henderson! Boone! In my office now!” I heard Coach yell from the door of the field house and he didn’t sound happy about our little altercation.

I walked in Coach’s office and plopped down in one of the chairs with my arms crossed, fairly certain how this was going to play out.

“This stops now. I don’t want to hear an excuse or an explanation. I only need for there to be no more fighting, verbally or physically. I don’t want to suspend either of you from a game, but I will if I catch you two fighting again so consider this your last warning. Got it?”

We simultaneously answered, “Yes, Coach,” but we both knew this was not the end of this because Henderson wouldn’t let it be the end until he got his spot back.

“You two do not speak to each another unless it is required on the field concerning a play. And you can think about how to get along while each of you do an extra 10 laps when we’re done with practice today.”

That was going to suck.

When I got back on the field, Dane couldn’t keep from saying, “Just couldn’t resist, could you?”

“Nope. I’ve never been able to resist a challenge. It’s my one character flaw,” I admitted.

“Well, by the look on Claire’s face, you’ve got hell to pay. I hope she lets you have it good because you deserve it and I hope I’m around to see it when she does,” he laughed.

“Some friend you turned out to be.”

“When you’re defendable, I’ll defend you, but you don’t have a defense, big mouth.”

Coach worked us hard and I did not feel like running extra laps when we were finished with practice, but I did because I didn’t have a choice.

The cheerleaders finished practice and left the field before us and I was glad because I didn’t want to face Claire’s wrath in front of the guys or the cheerleading squad. I guess that made me a coward, but Dane was right. I was going to catch hell from her, but it wouldn’t be until tomorrow, so I had all night to dread it.

After I finishing my laps, I walked out to my truck and East Franklin’s perfect couple was standing in the parking lot, apparently discussing the recent altercation between us. Coach was in the parking lot too, so I took the opportunity to twist the knife a little by taunting Claire, knowing Forbes couldn’t say a word with Coach right there.

“You looked good in practice today, Claire.”

My words didn’t provoke a response from her, but Forbes was livid and I loved it. I didn’t want to overdo it today with the Princess, so I opened the door to my truck and said, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Claire.”

I couldn’t stop this game of getting to Forbes through Claire now because it was too easy and I wasn’t hurting her. Not really. Maybe making her a little mad, but at the end of the day, it was all innocent.

* * *

I reluctantly admit I laid awake worrying about Claire last night, but not her wrath. It was her feelings I had on my mind and I began to feel like the asshole she accused me of being.

I got to Humanities and she wasn’t in class yet, so I took the same seat as the previous day and waited anxiously to see what the Princess might have in store for me because I had already figured out just how sharp her tongue could be.

She entered the classroom and I felt my heart fall to my stomach as I realized I was even less prepared to see her than I thought. My anxiety level had me feeling ridiculously uneasy. I gathered my thoughts for the perfect apology, then watched her skip the seat next to me and ask Brad to swap with her, making him my partner for the day.

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