Elite, p.6
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       Elite, p.6

         Part #1 of Eagle Elite series by Rachel Van Dyken
 
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  Great. Who the hell gave him the keys to the world?

  “Look, just get ready for school, and we’ll sort it out this afternoon, okay?” Monroe threw me a granola bar and started getting dressed. I could do this. I could face a whole bunch of my peers. What could they do? Stab me?

  Chapter Nine

  It was official. I hated college. It was bad enough walking into the classroom to everyone snickering in my direction. I slumped as low in my seat as I could without falling off my chair and flashing everyone my underwear, solidifying my reputation as a hussy.

  Nixon walked in. For the first time in two days I wanted him to pay attention to me. I wanted him to walk over to my desk and say our wager was stupid. I wanted that damn access card. In fact, I would kill for the one elevator ride a week, and I’d only been in school for five minutes.

  “Today we’re going to work in teams.” He began handing out sheets of paper. “I know many of you are familiar with Settlers of Catan. It’s a board game where you are in charge of your own country and you sell and trade with other countries. It’s more complicated than that, but today I want you to form your own countries. Each of you has something someone else needs, whether it be oil, wheat, or even land. You will barter with team members in order to build your own country. Come up with a flag and a team motto. You have the rest of the class period.”

  Sounded easy enough. He handed me the paper. I noticed there weren’t any names assigned on it.

  “I raised my hand.”

  “Yes, Farm Girl?”

  Rolling my eyes I asked as nicely as possible, “Aren’t the teams assigned?”

  People snickered as if I had just asked the dumbest question in the world.

  Nixon didn’t snicker, nor did he smile. “Nope, you work with groups. So pick a group and work with them.”

  “Any group?”

  “Any group,” he snapped.

  Okay, I grabbed my sheet of paper and approached the three people to my right. “Hey, can I work with—”

  “—We don’t work with whores.” The blonde girl flipped her hair and then gave me the bird. Lovely.

  I walked toward the back of the classroom where the guy who was drinking during class sat with his group. “Do you guys possibly have room for one more?”

  The guy opened his flask taking a big swig and then wiped his mouth with his jacket. “Yeah, we’re totally into threesomes, aren’t we?” He looked at the other girl in his group and high-fived her.

  Tears threatened again.

  I hated this school.

  I hated stupid Phoenix and Nixon and Chase and everyone!

  With a steadying breath I marched to the front of the room and politely waited for Nixon to notice me. He was reading some crazy long book in a different language. Boring.

  “What can I do for you, Trace?” His eyes didn’t leave the book.

  “The groups won’t take me.”

  “Then I guess you fail.”

  I gasped. “It’s not my fault...”

  “Ah, there’s the excuse I was looking for.” This time his eyes met mine. “This is the real world, Trace. You can’t just tattle on the mean kids in class. Nobody wants you to be in their group? Be in the group anyways. Make them notice you, make them pay attention. Now, run along.”

  Part of me was shocked at the truth of his statement, while the other part wanted to smack him on the head with that super large book and then burst into tears.

  I fisted the paper in my hand and marched toward the back of the room again. “The third part of the threesome is here. Let’s get started.”

  The students around me looked shocked and then, surprisingly, we began working on our project. I looked back at Nixon. He was watching me intently, and then he nodded just once and went back to his book.

  By the time class was finished some of my embarrassment had left me. I walked down the hall with a purpose, despite the mean stares and snickers around me. Monroe waved me over from one of the windows. I still had five minutes before history so I went over to her.

  “So, how was class?” Monroe took a long sip of coffee.

  “Bad. Then worse, then… surprisingly better.”

  She exhaled in relief. “Good. I was worried about you.”

  “Thanks.”

  “Sister,” Nixon said from behind us.

  “Lucifer,” she greeted coldly.

  I didn’t want to turn around, but my body made me. It was like I couldn’t help but ask for trouble.

  “Please tell, Farm Girl to stop looking at us,” Nixon said coldly. “Why was he pissed? I was the one who was taken advantage of! And all because he wanted to prove how important he was!”

  I quickly averted my eyes and bit my tongue to keep from saying something offensive.

  My eyes fell on all the students around us. They were watching and waiting, and I was getting sicker and sicker by the minute.

  “Thanks for… this,” Monroe said.

  “I’m doing it for you. Not for her,” came Nixon’s reply. “Wouldn’t want anyone uncomfortable.”

  I flinched.

  Monroe grabbed my hand and placed an access card in it. Somehow it didn’t feel right that she would be afraid of her own brother. But then again maybe this was just how things worked in her family.

  Within seconds all four pairs of shiny boots left my line of vision and marched down the hall. I gulped and looked at the access card.

  It was red.

  I flipped it over, but there was no bar code.

  “What is this?” I asked Monroe. She was putting on lip gloss and practically ignoring me, but then again she did have a short attention span.

  “It’s all I could do, Boots. I’m sorry. I didn’t want to tell him you lost yours, so I came up with another story to tell Tex and Phoenix. Nixon doesn’t like irresponsibility. He’s a control freak like that. At any rate, at least you can eat.” She patted my shoulder and walked off.

  I knew by then that in order to see what lunch you were, you had to type in the code on back into the school web program, but there was no code!

  Ugh. I decided to worry about it at lunch.

  By the time lunch came, I was so hungry I was ready to throw the card at Nixon’s head.

  I walked toward the lunch room, hoping my card would work. I swiped it through the door to the cafeteria, nothing.

  I swiped it again.

  And again nothing.

  I kept swiping until finally a little red alarm went off. Oh great.

  “Need help?” I looked up to see Chase’s blue eyes piercing into mine. I still wasn’t sure if I liked him or hated him.

  “You could say that.”

  “Here.” He held out his hand. I slapped the card into it and waited for him to swipe it. Instead he put it in his pocket and grabbed my arm leading me down the opposite hallway.

  A small door said The Red Room.

  “Is this hell?” I asked in a small voice. Because on the opposite end was that super fancy restaurant. I didn’t even want to know what was in here.

  “Not exactly.” Chase gave me a sad smile. “But it’s best to be seen and not heard in here, you get it?”

  Terrified, I could only nod as he swiped my card. The red light went off and the door clicked open. “Good luck, Trace. And for the record. It will get better.”

  “Right.” My chin trembled as I gathered my card and walked into the dark room.

  It didn’t look so bad. Until my eyes adjusted and I noticed something was very wrong about where I was.

  “Fresh meat,” a girl purred beside me. I jerked away and kept walking toward an empty table. I smelled food, but I didn’t see any food anywhere.

  People whispered in low voices but for the most part nobody paid attention to me. I sat at the table and looked at the menu.

  All the options were for vegans. Great. No meat. Damn you, Nixon.

  When the waiter came and took my order I nearly cried. Something about a tofu burger was just so wrong after b
eing brought up around cows.

  I checked my cell for messages. Nothing. Not even from Monroe.

  Lunch officially sucked. People were talking about me. I had no friends, and I couldn’t eat meat. To make matters worse the only free table was smack dab in the middle of the cafeteria, meaning I was on display for all to see.

  I waited for my meal.

  And waited.

  And waited.

  Finally the bell rang.

  The waiter arrived with a large platter and took the top off of the plate.

  No food. Only a note that said “Moo. Maybe if you ate less, Tim wouldn’t complain about how terrible you were in bed.”

  The tears came then. Full force. I was already the type of girl that got really moody when I couldn’t eat. The waiter had already disappeared.

  I was going to be late for class.

  The rest of the day slipped by. My only companion was the growling in my stomach. And yes I was aware how pathetic I was being. I was actually quite thrilled to be invisible considering the happenings of this morning.

  And then Lucifer decided to make an appearance. It was like he appeared out of thin air. I mean, I guess I was looking at the ground. But still, the minute my eyes snapped up, there he was — icy stare full of beautiful sin.

  I sighed and put my hand out on my jutted hip.

  “There were rumors you didn’t get lunch.”

  My eyebrow arched. “Rumors, huh? Well, alert the authorities. Oh wait, I forgot, you’re what? The judge, jury, and—”

  “—Stop.” He said it so low I almost didn’t hear the words. Nixon walked toward me. I had nowhere to go but backward down the hall, and really that just seemed like a waste of time, so I tried to sidestep him.

  His muscular arm popped out of nowhere, nearly bruising my windpipe in the process. “I’m speaking to you.”

  “And I’m leaving.”

  “Just…” He scratched his head and then did something totally out of character.

  Nixon smiled.

  My heart skipped a beat, or maybe seven. I lost track when I stopped breathing like a normal human being.

  Without me even realizing it, he had pulled me to the side of the hall and was pinning me against the tiny alcove in the wall. Great, nobody to witness my death.

  “Eat,” he urged.

  My mouth snapped open to say something snotty, but the minute it did, he forced a granola bar into it.

  My stomach growled with joy and my embarrassment skyrocketed as he looked down and smirked. “See? I knew you were hungry.”

  I took a bite and pulled the granola bar out of my mouth. “Of course I was hungry, you ass! I was in the Red Cafeteria! I half-expected to be eaten myself in that place, and they don’t serve meat. NO MEAT, Nixon! Some cow has to live another day because the people in there eat tofu! Do you even know what that stuff is made out of?”

  His eyes widened. He opened his mouth but I poked him in the chest. He flushed and then jolted away.

  “And let me tell you something else. I did not sleep with Tim! Well, I may have slept, but I definitely didn’t touch his— And, and… I—”

  His eyebrows rose as I lost my train of thought. He licked his lips and leaned forward. “Oh do continue. I love getting reprimanded. You gonna spank me later too?”

  I felt my nostrils flare, but of course my stomach hadn’t forgotten it was starving, which of course made Nixon laugh harder. “Good Lord, woman! Just eat the damn granola bar and say thank you!”

  Thank you? Did he want me to thank him for what just transpired over the past twenty-four hours?

  And suddenly I remembered. I hadn’t seen him last night. That was all Phoenix and a bit of Chase. Bastard.

  “Where were you last night?”

  Nixon’s smile froze on his face. “I gotta run.”

  “Wait.” I grabbed his arm. His muscles flexed beneath my fingers.

  I noticed as light tremble in his arm as he jerked away. “Please.” His eyes closed briefly. “Don’t touch me.”

  And then he was gone.

  Chapter Ten

  I wish I could say my days got easier. That after the granola bar incident everything was peachy. For the rest of the week the Red Cafeteria still served nothing but tofu and vegetarian options. By Friday the following week, I made a mental note to go grocery shopping for snacks that weekend the minute classes were over.

  Luckily, the notes had stopped.

  Well, actually it wasn’t necessarily lucky, because that meant I had to eat whatever was in front of me. I decided that tofu burgers weren’t so bad if you bathed them in ketchup, which I did every day. I even closed my eyes in hopes that God would sense my plight and turn my tofu into a giant cow.

  I was just finishing my burger on Friday when someone approached my table. Yes, I was still sitting alone.

  “Can I help you?” I asked sweetly.

  The girl leaned forward until her boobs almost spilled out of her white button up shirt. “Yes. I was told to give you this.” She thrust a note into my face and waited for me to take it.

  My fingers gripped the small white paper. Carefully I opened the note. It said, Meet me outside.

  Outside? As in outside by all the grass and trees or outside the cafeteria?

  The bell rang, signaling I had to leave anyway. Tossing the note onto the tray I picked up my bag and rushed out of the room.

  Kids were lining the halls. Weird.

  I kept my head down and gripped my backpack as I kept walking.

  “Slut, Slut, Slut,” they chanted as I made my way through the hall. Great. Trying to ignore your peers is about as easy as trying to ignore your own face in the mirror. You don’t want the words to affect you, but it’s impossible. Weight descended upon my chest making it hard to breathe.

  And then someone threw something at my head.

  I staggered and reached up to touch the liquid running down my face.

  Egg.

  Another one hit my messenger bag, which upset me more than when it hit my hair. That was the most expensive thing I owned, next to the boots Chase had gotten me. I didn’t count grandma’s vintage shoes, because those were passed down.

  I kept my gaze focused on the end of the hallway and kept walking.

  Eggs flew by my head. I had to close my eyes a few times in order to wipe the slime away from my line of vision. Once I reached the end of the hall, I turned to the left, and ran right into three strong boys. Each of them had a bucket.

  “Better get you clean. Elite doesn’t like dirty whores.” They lifted their buckets and dropped ice cold water all over my body.

  Ruined. Everything was ruined. My one and only uniform was ruined. My messenger bag, possibly my cell phone, and all the textbooks I was carrying with me that I knew I would have to replace.

  I choked on a sob and pushed through them. Passing my classroom, I began walking faster and faster, until finally, I broke into a run. I turned back to make sure they weren’t chasing me.

  They were.

  And everyone was laughing.

  The minute I turned forward, I tripped and fell, scraping my knee like a little first grader.

  People circled me, still chanting whore and slut as if I had done anything to deserve it.

  “You don’t belong here, Farm Girl!” one guy shouted.

  “Spend so much time on your back you’re gonna get sores!” a girl spat and then dropped a condom on top of me.

  It was at that point that I wasn’t sure if I wanted to close my eyes and wait for everyone to leave, or just cry and embarrass myself. Hell, I was already beyond embarrassment. I wasn’t that girl. I was a virgin for crying out loud! I’d kissed one boy in my entire life! Ruthless, they were ruthless. More condoms followed until I was literally covered in them, and then one of the girls from the Red Cafeteria walked up to me and pulled my hair toward her, nearly dragging my body along with her.

  “You are nothing. Do you understand?” she said in even cold tones. “You don’
t belong here. Say it.”

  I refused to say it.

  She pulled harder. I shrieked and tried to fight her. Damn, she was strong. “Say it!”

  “I—”

  Tears burned my vision again. How did this happen to me?

  I swallowed bravely and stared her down, even though I knew it was stupid and pointless. “I belong here.”

  People laughed behind her. Some gasped, and yes, I did see some people averting their eyes. So not everyone was heartless, but it didn’t matter. I had no protection, nothing.

  “Leave her alone,” a low voice said from behind the crowd.

  I didn’t realize I was trembling until I tried to rub my eyes to see better.

  “And who do you think—” The girls words died off. She jerked away from me as if I was diseased and then she was scrambling for words. “I did it for you, Nixon, for you! She can’t dismiss you like that. She can’t—”

  “—Stop speaking.” Nixon pushed her into a waiting Chase’s arms. “Take care of this, will you?”

  Chase smirked and grabbed the girl and somehow the rest of the crowd.

  “Are you hurt?” Nixon leaned down and touched my face. I slapped his hand away and then started bawling like a little kid.

  He cursed and tried to pick me up.

  I shied away.

  “Shit.” He pulled out a hanky from his back pocket. Did guys still carry hankies? “This wasn’t supposed to happen. I didn’t…” He bit his lip until it turned white, then he held out his hand.

  My brain was on overdrive. I didn’t want the devil’s protection, but then again, maybe I did. Because there was no way I could last another day of this. I couldn’t take it. What normal girl could? I thought he was kidding. I thought wrong.

  Reluctantly, I put my hand in his, but the minute I did, he used all his strength and pulled me into his arms and he carried me down the hall.

  Wasn’t this touching? Why was it different when it was him doing the touching and not me? I didn’t have time to think of such things as people slowly trickled out of the classrooms. I saw two professors then. They nodded at Nixon and took a sip of coffee as if this was a normal thing to face every day.

  I closed my eyes and leaned my wet head against his chest.

 
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