Chapter 2 – Southern Belle Rule #14: Never Drink Alcohol
Jazmyn Langston stood in front of her mirror feeling defeated. Her auburn hair was braided to the side, but there were still loose strands. She wore ripped, faded skinny jeans and a tight fitting Paramore t-shirt that barely fit over her belly button with black combat boots. Nothing in her closet made her look as if she belonged. The immagini of the beautiful girl across the strada, via made her grit her teeth and change her outfit for the third time.
The girl across the strada, via wasn’t the only reason why she thought she didn’t belong in Brantley County. Everyone in the town dressed as if they were from a magazine. All the girls had perfect hair that wasn’t close to the frizzy disaster Jazmyn has to deal with every day. Their clothes were always neat and elegant. No one wore ragged skinny jeans and oversized graphic tees. When she walks down the street, she could feel scrutinizing eyes on her, judging her unkempt hair and sloppy outfits. It was awful being the odd ball from New York City.
Throwing her hands up in defeat, she settled for shorts and a low cut camiciola, camisole with a brown giacca that tickled to her knees when she walked. Her hair stayed in the braid because it would be too much work to redo it.
From the kitchen, she could her sister, Macy, humming while making breakfast. She smelled her sister’s signature mirtillo muffins from her room. Her stomach growled in impatience. Hurrying down the hallway, she saw her beautiful sister with the phone in between her shoulder and her ear while eating a muffin. Her reddish brown hair was pulled into a tight bun and she wore minimal amount of makeup. Jazmyn never bothered with makeup. It seemed like a hassle. She had chaotic mornings from simply brushing her hair. There was no reason to add più trouble to her mornings.
“No, I thought the money from the house was going to us. te didn’t say anything about relatives, Martin.” Macy was livid at the person on the other side of the phone. “Well, I don’t care what Uncle Tony says. He was never there for mom. Yeah, whatever. Goodbye.” Macy slapped her phone down on the table.
“Whoa, calm down before te break the screen,” detto Jazmyn. She sat on the counter successivo to the fridge.
Macy rolled her eyes. “As if I care,” she said. “Do te know what they want to do with mom and dad’s house? They want to give it to Uncle Tony. te know the guy from Missouri who we never met until mom and dad’s funeral.”
Jazmyn nodded her head. “Mom did leave most of her money to our uncle. She cared about him so I guess it isn’t too much of a surprise that she wanted Uncle Tony to have the profit from the house.”
It had been a couple of months since their parents died in a fire. Macy and Jazmyn were at a party and were spared from the flames. Their parents, however, were killed from the smoke in the air before the fuoco burnt their bodies to ash. They couldn’t tell if it was their parents. The firefighters found their parent’s oro wedding rings underneath all of their ash. Macy had cried for weeks while Jazmyn appeared unaffected. It disturbed Macy that her younger sister hadn’t shed a single tear when they heard the news. Jazmyn had wondered the same thing.
“Whatever, that scumbag isn’t getting a dime if I have anything to do with it.” Macy began dialing on her phone fiercely. She exited the room leaving Jazmyn alone with a plate full of muffins.
Hunter Henderson stood inside the principal’s office. The campana, bell for first period had run a couple of minuti before. He could see students scurrying to get to class before the final campana, bell rung. He remembered why he hated high school. Everyone was so desperate to fit in and to get good grades. No one cared for real issues. The things a person in Brantley County care about most is what everyone thinks of them. People here care about their image più than anything else.
He shook his head as Principal Stewart shoveled in his office. He was a round, tall man that loved donuts and kept a stash hidden away in his desk. He had a baldhead that was covered up with a Lincoln-like superiore, in alto hat. His wife, Justine Stewart, was a part of Women of the South committee, the ones that organize the debutante ball every year.
“I don’t want any trouble out of you, young man,” the principal detto as he handed Hunter his schedule. “You can’t act anyway te want in my school. Do one thing and I’ll kick your butt out of this school faster than a scoiattolo hopped up on caffeine.”
“Yessir,” Hunter detto mockingly. He snatched the paper out of his hand and swung the door open to the main office.
The door hit something solid and he heard a low moan when he stepped out. A redhead was lying on the ground with her hand on her head. He bent down to help her up and felt bad when he saw her eyes shut in pain.
“Are te okay?” he asked.
“No, te just rammed the door in to my head like a maniac,” she said. As he steadied her on her feet, he got a good look at her. She had a white camicia that was low cut and shorts that reached above her mid-thigh. She had painfully bright red hair that was not dyed like most women in the south. “Do te always do this to innocent da standers?”
A smile tugged at his lips when he realized that she was not from here. Any southern women would have brushed it off and smiled, as if everything was fine. Some were Ribelle - The Brave enough to flirt with him despite the head injury. “Sorry, I didn’t see te there.
“Ha, you’re telling me.” She gathered up her bag that she slung across her shoulder. Her raggedy old bag had buttons of various band names. “Next time, watch where you’re going.” She slipped da him and out the main office to the halls.
He stood their stunned for a moment, stunned that he met a person like that. He gathered his stuff and rushed out into the halls after her. “Hey,” he greeted when he caught up to her, “I didn’t catch your name.”
“I know, that’s because I didn’t give it to you,” she said.
“I’m Hunter, if te were wondering.”
“I wasn’t,” she detto adjusting the strap on her bag. He held back a laugh as they continued walking. “I’m sorry,” she detto after a couple of minuti of silence. “I’m just having a crappy day. My name is Jazmyn.”
“Crappy day, huh? unisciti the club. Every giorno in Brantley County is a crappy day,” he said.
She peered to the side to face him. He could see a smile form on her porcellana, in porcellana pale face. “And here I was thinking Brantley was a cool place.”
“Sure, if te like royal bitches and fried everything,” he detto with a smirk.
She stopped in front of him. Her hair was unloosing from the braid she had plaited. “I have to go.” She pointed with her thumb at a door labeled Physics. “See ya around.”
“Bye,” he whispered as she closed the door behind her. For a brief moment, he could hear students growing silent as she entered.
Cara tilted her head to right as she surveyed the cheerleading tryout posters hanging in the gym. “Darling, they’re crooked,” she barked as a petite girl with limp brown hair scurried successivo to Cara. Cara pointed to the poster in front of her. The girl rushed over to adjust the problem. “Better. Go see if Izzy needs any help.”
Cara smiled happily. She loved bossing the rising freshman cheerleaders. Since she was head cheerleader, they listened to every word she said. It didn’t hurt the fact that her family is known for building Brantley to the booming town it is today. She was grateful for not being a freshman. Everyone considers freshman of being the lowest in the high school social ladder. Even though she spent most of her first anno hanging out with the senior guys and making out with the handsome Biology teacher, it was still a miserable first year.
She flipped her brown curls behind her shoulder while walking towards Izzy. She held back an eye roll as she saw her best friend. It was obvious that Izzy was gaining weight. Her once thin hips were now about to burst from the ill-fitting skinny jeans she wore. She refrained from mentioning it. Cara knew how much Izzy hated the fact she was getting heavier. Like the good friend she was, she bit her tongue and smiled warmly as Izzy turned around holding a stapler and glue gun.
“Have te seen the new girl?” Izzy asked.
“More importantly, have te seen her hair, Izzy?” Cara giggled as she pictured Yankee wearing her messy hair in a braid with shorts the length of panties. It had taken all of her will power not to laugh in Yankee’s face. “Ugh, can te believe she is my neighbor now?”
Izzy smiled, “Your life must be so hard.”
Realizing Isabelle was being sarcastic, Cara gave her an amused eye roll. “Ha ha very--”
Isabelle tugged at her Cara’s arm harshly, wildly pointing at the gym entrance. “Look who it is,” Isabelle half-shrieked, half-whispered in Cara’s ear. A tall, slender boy with brown hair flopping around on his head entered the gym followed da five other boys in varsity jackets.
“Ugh, te still have that crush on Tanner Hughes?”
Tanner Hughes was a senior playing varsity football. He was every college’s dream student and every girl’s dream boyfriend. Isabelle has had a crush on him since freshman year. All the freshman girls had gushed over Tanner when the school anno began. He had pearly blue eyes and a dimpled smile. The freshman girls melted at the sight of him and some even Lost their virginity. Cara didn’t want Isabelle to end up like the ones losing their virginity. Tanner Hughes was not worth a girl’s first time.
“It is più than just a crush. I might be in love,” Isabelle detto dreamily.
“Spare me the Amore story, sugar,” spat Cara. “You need to get over this guy.”
“How? It isn’t as if I have offers banging at my door.” Isabelle fiddled with the bottom of her blue tank.
“You just let me handle that,” detto Cara with as much sincerity as she could muster. “Besides, guys should be breaking te house down trying to get to.” A loud campana, bell exploded in the gym. Sighs of relief rippled through the cheerleaders as they abandoned their jobs heading for the exit. “Time for lunch, Izzy.”
“You know what, te are so right about the guys,” detto Izzy as they exited the gym with Cara’s arm resting on Isabelle’s shoulder, the perks of being tall. “If Tanner Hughes can’t realize how perfect I am for him, then he doesn’t deserve me.”
Cara nodded along. “Who cares about Tanner? He is just another douchie guy sugar.”
“You’re right,” Isabelle agreed, swallowing hard. “Expect he has the most amazing smile te have ever seen.”
“Izzy,” warned Cara once they entered the cafeteria. Students moved everywhere like ants. They were bumping into others, laughing with friends, and chattering without a care in the world. “I thought we agreed there would be no più talk of te and Tanner together.”
They walked over to a booth against the wall. It was their usual tavolo since in the beginning of high school when the other tables were filled. Cara and Isabelle didn’t bother with school lunch. Cara was able to convince one of the cafeteria ladies to bring Cibo to their table. The woman would always cook a gourmet meal for them, which was a thousand times better than the dump they served.
Isabelle began chatting about her plans to travel once she turned 18. Cara was only half listening. Her attention was focused on Hunter Henderson who was strolling in with Yankee successivo to him. Hunter was the one reason she had wanted to become Friends with his little sister, Savannah. Hunter had intrigued her since middle school when she saw him sketching in the back of the school successivo to the flowers. He was so peacefully and reclusive in his corner. She watched him sketch, unaware of anything around him. He interested her più than she was willing to admit.
She whispered an excuse before walking over to Hunter’s table. He had sat at a round tavolo with Yankee. She was laughing at something he said. It disgusted Cara to witness Yankee’s lame attempts at flirting. Putting on a beaming smile, she pushed the annoyance down and sat with them.
Yankee took one look at her and recognized her. She smiled, “Hey, Cara, I didn’t think I would see te here.”
“Hello, Yankee,” Cara said, ignoring her anger. Yankee stared at her confused for a moment. Cara had already adverted her attention to Hunter. “I need to talk to you.”
Hunter held back a sigh. “Go ahead.”
Cara motioned with her eyes that she couldn’t say anything with Yankee there. He got the hint and told Yankee he would be right back. They walked in silence out the cafeteria and into the halls. Cara stood across from him with her arm folded. Hunter was leaning on a locker.
“So what do te want, Cara?”
She could feel her cuore quicken. For a confidence boost, she flipped her curls back. “Where is Savannah?”
“My sister,” he asked confused.
“Yeah, who else could I be talking about?”
“Sorry, I just didn’t know te knew my sister.”
“Oh, she didn’t tell you?”
Cara didn’t realize that she was pinned against a locker and Hunter centimeters away from her face. She could smell is usual mela, apple scent and deodorant that covered the aviator’s giacca he often wore. Her cuore sped up quickly as he leaned in closer and closer. She could feel her head leaning up towards him. Hunter had placed one hand on her hip and the other gently on her shoulder. She had her hands around his neck. It was funny how fast they had gotten into that position.
In seconds, their lips were smashed against each other, fighting for control. That is how it was with Hunter, Cara thought. He’s constantly fighting for something o someone. She pushed those thoughts aside as he melted in the warmness of his lips. She tried pulling him closer da grabbing at his shirt. He held her head.
The baciare ended as fast as it happened. He had pulled away. His pale blue eyes were wide and shining. He had light skin. The kind te get when te mama was white and te daddy was black. She had never seen blue eyes on someone with light brown skin. On him, it looked hot. Tendrils of dark brown hair bounced in his eyes. She carefully brushed it away.
“We can’t repeat last summer,” he whispered. He started to back away. “I am not letting te suck me in, again.”
“No,” Cara began. He was nearing the entrance of the cafeteria, “it won’t be like last summer, I swear.”
He shook his head as if he didn’t believe her entered the cafeteria letting the swinging doors swing wildly behind him. Cara stood their paralyzed in spot. She didn’t know what to think. She didn’t know to do. Not liking the feeling of cluelessness, she shook herself until the image of them subsided, but it never truly went away.
When the campana, bell signaling the end of the school giorno rung, Hunter climbed into his car and sat there. He ran his fingers through his brown curls and tried to focus. Going home was out of the question. He had accidently gotten Savannah drunk last night at the party. His parents were pissed beyond comprehension. It wasn’t his fault that he had Lost track of her. He had apologized a thousand times as he held Savannah’s hair while he threw up in the toilet. She had forgiven him and reassured him that it wasn’t his fault. He still felt bad.
He decided to drive around Brantley. Brantley didn’t offer much, which was good since he wanted to focus on his thoughts. The first week he got back, he had already gotten his little sister drunk and kissed Cara VanDere. He groaned at the thought of Cara. He remembered everything about her and that small week they had before he left. It was the most chaotic week of his life. During that first week of summer, he had loved Cara just as much as he had hated her. He most definitely did not want a repeat.
This was why he had wanted to stay away from Cara. She was a mess, but a beautiful mess that intoxicated him. If he was being honest with himself, he was a mess, too. That was why they had worked. They were both messes that were looking for a clutch. It had worked for a while before things turned ugly.
He shook his head. He didn’t want to think about Cara and him. He just wanted to drive away and leave his worries dangling on a cliff.