The fourth chapter of my YA romance novel, The Gossip Web
THE FOLLOWING MORNING IN HOMEROOM, I was sitting next to Heidi in our usual seats near the front of Mr. Acker’s class. His classroom was separated by status. I know it sounds weird, but it’s true. Heidi and I sat near the door, with the other misfits and randoms. The nerds sat in the center of the room, making sure they were parallel to the chalkboard. Camille, Lacey, Freddie, and Trace, took up the back row of desks. Only a popular was allowed to sit back there with them. It was law that only those whom Camille deemed worthy were accepted in the back row, but given that she was such a wicked person no one outside of her “clique” was.
Since Gloria wasn’t in our homeroom, Camille took over for her, kicking her bitchiness up a notch. I couldn’t go through one morning without her making some kind of rude remark about me. Except for today. She didn’t say one word to me when Heidi and I walked into class. Camille just looked up from her magazine, rolled her brown eyes, and completely ignored the fact that I was even there. It was fantastic.
I was studying for my chemistry test with Heidi when Sarah Dunder walked into the classroom, slamming the door loudly behind her while she talked on her cell. Sarah usually sat next to Heidi and me, but she rarely talked to us. It didn’t bother me though, because all she ever wanted to talk about was gymnastics, and once she got going she would never shut up. I think she has a three in conduct this period for talking, and I believe it was the same in every one of her classes. The girl had a serious chitchat addiction.
“Oh my God … he didn’t,” Sarah said into her phone, laughing softly as she took her seat.
I looked over at Heidi and we locked eyes. We both knew what was about to happen next. It always did.
“Please, God, no,” Heidi whispered, flashing me a wide smile.
After giggling at Heidi’s remark, I glanced back at my Chemistry notes, hoping that God would hear my friend’s prayers and shut Sarah up.
“Are you kidding me? Oh, tell me he didn’t!” Sarah’s voice grew louder.
She did this often, especially when I was trying to study. I hadn’t figured out if she was trying to irritate the hell out of me, or if she was just so disrespectful she didn’t care how loud her voice became. I sighed and cleared my throat, hoping Sarah would look over in my direction and take the hint. Of course she didn’t. She was in her own little world now.
I swear the class was dead silent. Not one person was talking, and the only audible sound was the slight tapping of someone’s pencil against their desk. All of a sudden, (like I knew she would) Sarah busted into hysterics and yelled, “He didn’t!”
“Ms. Dunder!” Mr. Acker boomed, sending her a death glare from behind the book he was reading. “Get off of that phone now or not only will you have detention this Saturday, but I will confiscate it and turn it over to Principal Waters!”
Sarah smiled sweetly at him and shut the phone, pocketing it quickly. “My bad,” she mumbled, biting one of her brown curls.
I rolled my eyes at Sarah’s bad manners before returning my attention back on my notes. As the entire class laughed around me, I tried to ignore their cruel cackles. I hated the sound of their laughter, even if this time it was at Sarah’s expense and not mine. Then, the morning announcements flickered on the television, distracting mostly every one in the classroom but me.
I rarely paid attention to West Havenbrook’s daily broadcast, because honestly it was just a bunch of populars trying to get some face time on the t.v. People like the beautiful Lana Mills and Ken-like Rodney Naples. Those two made the perfect on-air couple, but I heard that they couldn’t stand each other off camera. They rarely said anything important or of interest, but today was different. As soon as Lana said the words “winter formal”, everyone’s eyes were glued to the television — including mine.
After giving the camera one of her bright, cheery smiles, Lana continued. “You heard me right, West Haven High! In honor of the West Haven Rams victory over East Ridge, Principal Waters and the PTA have agreed to throw us a winter formal!”
The whole class cheered, and I too couldn’t pretend like this wasn’t good news. It was unusual for West Haven High to host dances, besides the typical: Homecoming and Prom. Since I didn’t attend Homecoming this year, (I got stood up by one of Heidi’s drama friends) I was sort of looking forward to this dance. I don’t know why, but I enjoyed dancing and dressing up like a princess. Maybe because for once people could see me in a completely different light, instead of the boring old Jade Cannon they laughed at and ignored in the hallways.
I must’ve been smiling because Heidi started snapping her fingers against my left ear, shattering my eardrum. I grimaced as I whispered, “Cut it out!”
“Why are you so happy, hmm?” She asked me with a smile.
Shrugging, I replied, “No reason.”
I felt an odd urge to glance at that the back of the class, where Trace and his friends sat. Before I knew what I was doing, my gaze flickered over my shoulder and I slyly peeked in Trace’s direction. I blushed when I found him staring at me, and I moved my eyes away and started fixing my hair to distract my concentration off of my pounding heart. I debated with the idea of glancing back over at him, but I decided against it. I didn’t want to seem like a stalker or anything.
The minutes passed by agonizingly slow, and when the bell for the next class rang, I quickly hurried out into the hall with the rest of my classmates. Heidi walked next to me, blabbing about Jason’s relationship with some girl in her drama class, but I wasn’t really hearing what she was saying. My thoughts were occupied by the news of the winter formal and by Trace as he walked in front of me down the hall. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t look away. Even his backside was lovely.
I watched him hang his bag nonchalantly over one shoulder as he talked with Freddie. Suddenly, as if Trace could feel my eyes on him, he turned his head around and stared in my direction. I bit my lip as we locked eyes, and I could feel tiny butterflies tickle the inside of my stomach. It seemed as if time stopped as we stared at each other, but then he smiled suddenly and turned back around, and our moment was over. I frowned, wishing he would’ve came over to say hello.
“I’ll catch you later, Jade,” Heidi said before walking off in the direction of the auditorium, where the drama class usually met. I stumbled to history, completely forgetting where I put the homework Ms. Heller had assigned the day before. All I could concentrate on was Trace and why he had looked at me the way he did earlier. It was a long shot but maybe, hopefully, he was thinking the same thing I was. Which was simply this: how much I wanted him to ask me to the dance.
Of course, it was just a stupid fantasy. He was never going to ask me to that dance. I had to give up all hope of us ever being together. After all, he was Trace Gibson and I was Jade Cannon. I knew my status and where I stood. No matter how much I wanted him, it was never going to happen.