Home > The Reaping (The Fahllen #1)(8)

The Reaping (The Fahllen #1)(8)
Author: M. Leighton

Things took a turn for the worse in gym class. I kept noticing the other girls looking at me and whispering to one another. Then, as we were changing back into our school clothes, I heard some girls talking at their lockers the row behind mine.

“I guess she thought no one would notice, but come on! She looks totally different.”

“Yeah, she could at least try not to be so desperate. I mean, anybody can see she’s trying to look like Brianna Clark. Maybe she thinks she’ll have a chance with Stephen Fitchco now that they broke up. Because, like, everybody knows she has a crush on him.”

“I know. She stares at him all the time.”

I could feel my cheeks burn with embarrassment. I didn’t think anyone ever noticed the surreptitious glances that I gave Stephen, but apparently I was wrong. Very wrong.

I heard giggles then another voice chimed in.

“Some people will do anything to be popular, but it doesn’t mean that anybody will actually like them.”

I dressed as quickly as I could, unable to bear any more of their torment.

By the time I got to the lunch room, I was debating the merit of leaving school completely—until I saw Stephen Fitchco crossing the lunchroom, making a beeline for me.

Seniors were allowed to leave for lunch and Stephen and his throng of followers usually took advantage of that privilege. And yet, on this day, here he was, carrying his lunch tray to my table where I sat in the area not-so-fondly dubbed Lose-Air, the upper echelon’s attempt at wit, combining loser and Bel-Air. They were the pride of our school no doubt.

“Hey, Carson,” Stephen said, interrupting my internal musings and treating me to his award-winning smile. With no effort whatsoever, I provided the expected response by nearly swooning and quickly losing the aptitude for intelligent speech. He was like a surfer Greek god, all blond and muscular, and the prototypical jock, with his jeans and letterman’s jacket, all rolled into one. And right now his highly-coveted attentions were focused on me. And it felt great!

I’d never really had a crush until I’d seen him my second day of school here. I’d admired him from afar all this time, never daring to even try to get close to him. Until Friday, that is, when he almost killed me.

“You look good,” he said. “Feeling better?” He tossed first one leg then the other across the seat of the lunch table. His blue, blue eyes twinkled with something I had only seen in movies bar scenes where drunkards doled out cheesy come-ons like breath mints.

“I’m fine,” I said, anxious yet suspicious.

“I can see that,” he said, leering at me. Unfortunately, I’d already seen that same look several times today.

“H-how are you?”

“Feeling bad about what happened.”

“Don’t. It was an accident, nothing to worry about.”

“Well I’d like to make it up to you anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

“I’d like to do something with you.” That’s what his mouth said, but his eyes said what he really meant was he’d like to do something to me.

Baffled by the difference between the guy sitting in front of me and the one that had given me a ride home on Friday, I wondered if perhaps I was reading more into our exchange than was accurate.

“What did you have in mind?”

“How about I show you a better way to spend time on your back?”

Much to my dismay, my assessment of Stephen’s intent was correct. There was no mistaking the meaning behind those words. I couldn’t stop the keen disappointment that flooded me. I was crushed to discover that the guy who’d inhabited so many of my daydreams and fantasies was just a run-of-the-mill jerk.

Stunned and consequently mute, I simply stared at the handsome exterior that covered such a shallow interior, as I mourned the death of my dream date.

Stephen mistakenly assumed my silence was consent of some sort, which was apparently all the encouragement he needed. He leaned across the table and took a lock of my hair between his fingers. His knuckles brazenly grazed the swell of my breast and a satisfied smile slid across his lips. “Is that a yes?”

My upset tripled with his bold and embarrassing action. I was debating the merit of slinking right down under the table and never coming out when I saw Stephen glance over my left shoulder. I turned and saw a group of his jock friends watching us from against the wall on the other side of the cafeteria. They were laughing and pointing, some giving him two thumbs up. Then I got it. I realized what was going on. And I was mortified.

Humiliation washed over me in a cold, clammy wave. My mind scrambled for a way to escape, to evaporate and drift away in the air, never to return to school again. But today I wasn’t a wallflower. Today, there was no quiet, easy way out.

The sting of bitter tears burned at the backs of my eyes and I willed myself not to shed them.

For several seconds, we sat that way, Stephen’s knuckles continuing to brush my chest, my mouth agape in disbelief. His lips moved, but I heard no words; my ears rang with the sound of his friends’ laughter. The hundreds of eyes trained on me stabbed at my nerves like tiny needles.

Then the hair trigger on my temper tripped, completely eclipsing all other feelings, including embarrassment. Anger surged and swelled and built within me until it was a blinding rage. It burned away the unshed tears, bubbling along my veins and blazing across my cheeks. My fingers squeezed around the milk carton I held. I felt the liquid warm against my palm, my hand shaking with fury.

“I know you want me,” he whispered, his pupils dilating as his bravado increased. He was oblivious to the storm that was brewing inside me. “And I can make you feel so much better.”

The smell of scalding milk drifted to my nose as it began to boil inside the carton. I watched it happen as if it was in slow motion. Hot milk erupted from the carton, hitting Stephen square on the chin and splattering all over his face.


Stephen sputtered and squealed, finding his way back to his side of the table as he wiped hot milk droplets from his ever-reddening face. Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was hoping that the milk hadn’t been hot enough to blister his face, just his pride. But the majority of my attention was focused on the satisfaction I felt at seeing him squirm.

A hush had fallen across the cafeteria. The only sounds were Stephen’s indignant gasps and the shuffle of a few chairs sliding back as people stood to watch the scene unfold.

Too angry to process the ramifications of my actions, I stood, looking down on a furious Stephen. I grabbed my cookie from my tray and stepped out and away from the lunch table. “I thought you were different,” I spat then spun on my heel and stalked away.

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