Perfect Chemistry

Brittany Fisher seems to have it all; wealthy parents, the perfect boyfriend and the "right" group of friends. But when Brittany is forced to become lad partners with Zayn Malik, a gang member from the wrong side of town, her perfect life starts to unravel.

Zayn is a bad boy, and he knows it, so when he makes a bet with his friends to lure Brittany into his life, he thinks nothing of it.

But as they grow closer, sparks begin to fly and they both realise that sometimes appearances can be deceptive. Will their emerging feelings be enough to keep them together when the world is determined to tear them apart?

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1. Chapter 1

                                                                                                         *Brittany*

Everyone knows I’m perfect. My life is perfect. My clothes are perfect. Even my family is perfect. And although it’ a complete lie, I’ve worked my butt off to keep up the appearance that I have it all. The truth, if it were to come out, would destroy my entire picture-perfect image.

Standing in front of my bathroom mirror while music blares from my speakers, I wipe away the third crooked line I’ve drawn beneath my eye. My hands are shaking, damn it. 

Starting second year of college and seeing my boyfriend after a summer apart shouldn’t be so nerve-racking, but I’ve gotten off to a disastrous start. First, my curlers sent up smoke signals and died. Then the button on my favourite shirt popped off. Now, my eyeliner decides it has a mind of its own. If I had any choice in the matter, I’d stay in my comfy bed and eat warm chocolate chip cookies all day.

“Brit, come down,” I faintly hear my mum yelling from the foyer

My first instinct is to ignore her, but that never gets me anything but arguments, headaches, and more yelling.

“I’ll be there in a sec” I call down, hoping I can get this eyeliner to go on straight and be done with it.

Finally getting it right, I toss the eyeliner tube on the counter, double and triple check myself in the mirror, turn off my stereo, and hurry down the hallway.

My mum is standing at the bottom of our grand staircase, scanning my outfit. I straighten. I know, I know. I’m eighteen and shouldn’t care what my mum thinks. But you haven’t lived in the Fisher house. My mum has anxiety. Not the kind easily controlled with little blue pills. And when she is stressed, everyone living with or near her suffers. I think that’s why my dad goes to work before she gets up in the morning, so he doesn’t have to deal with, well, her.

“Hate the pants, love the belt” Mum says, pointing her finger at each item and she speaks “and that noise you call music was giving me a headache. Thank goodness it’s off”

“Good morning to you too mother” I say before walking down the stairs and giving her a peck on the cheek. The smell of her perfume stings my nostrils the closer I get. She already looks like a million dollars in her Ralph Lauren Blue Label tennis dress. No one can point a finger and criticize her outfit, that’s for sure.

“I bought your favourite muffin for the first day of school” Mum says, pulling out a bag from behind her back.

“No thanks” I say, looking around for my sister “where’s Tasmin?”

“In the kitchen”

“Is her new caretaker here yet?”

“Her name is Brenda, and no. she’s coming in an hour”

“Did you tell her wool irritates Tasmin’s skin? And that she pulls hair?” Pulling hair is her new thing, and let’s just say it’s caused its fair share of disasters. Disasters in my house are about as pretty as a car wreck, so avoiding them is crucial.

“Yes and yes. I gave your sister an earful this morning, Brittany. If she keeps acting up, we’ll find ourselves out of another caretaker”

I walk into the kitchen, not wanting to hear my mother go on and on about her theories of why Tasmin lashes out. Taz is sitting at the table in her wheelchair, busily eating her specially blended food because even at the age of twenty, my sister doesn’t have the ability to chew and swallow like people without her physical limitations. As usual, the food has found its way onto her chin, lips and 
cheeks.

“Hey, Taz,” I say, leaning over her and wiping her face with a napkin “it’s the first day of school. Wish me luck”
Taz holds jerky arms out and gives me a lopsided smile. I love that smile

“You want me to give you a hug?” I ask her, knowing all too well that she does. The doctor always tell us the more interaction she gets, the better off she’ll be.

Tasmin nods. I fold myself in her arms, careful to keep her hands away from my hair. When I straighten, my mum gasps. “Brit you cannot go to school like that”

“Like what?”

She just shakes her head and sighs in frustration “Look at your shirt”

Glancing down, I see a large wet spot on the front of my Calvin Klein shirt. Whoops. Tasmin’s dribble. One look at my sister’s drawn face tells me what she can’t easily put into words – I’m sorry.

“It’s no biggie” I tell her, although in the back of my mind I know it screwed up my ‘perfect’ look.

Frowning, my mum wets a paper towel at the sink and dabs at the spot making me feel like an incapable two year old.
“Go upstairs and change”

“Mum, it was just peaches” I say, treading carefully so this doesn’t turn into a fully-blown yelling match. The last thing I want to do is make my sister feel bad.

“Peaches stain. You don’t want people thinking you don’t care about your appearance”

“Fine.” I wish this was one of my mums good days, the days she doesn’t bug me about stuff.

I give my sister a kiss on the top of her head, making she doesn’t think her dribble bothers me in the slightest 

“I’ll see ya after school to finish our chess tournament” I say, attempting to keep the morning cheerful.

I run back up the stairs, taking two steps at a time. When 
I get to my bedroom, I check my watch. Shit. It’s ten past seven. My best friend, Amber, is gonna freak out if I’m late picking her up. Grabbing a light blue scarf out of my closet, I pray it’ll work. Maybe nobody will notice the dribble spot if I tie it just right.

When I come back down the stairs, my mother is standing in the foyer, scanning my appearance again. “Love the scarf”
Phew.

As I pass her, she shoves the muffin into my hand. “Eat it on the way”

I take the muffin. Walking to my car, I absently bite into it. Unfortunately it isn’t blueberry, my favourite. It’s banana nut, and the bananas are overdone. It reminds me of myself – seemingly perfect on the outside, but the inside is all mush.

*Zayn*

“Get up Zayn”

I scowl at my brother and bury my head under my pillow. Since I share a room with my eleven and fifteen year old brothers, there’s no escape except the little privacy a lone pillow can give.

“Leave me alone Dean” I say roughly through the pillow “No can do”

“I’m not fuckin’ with you. Mama told me to wake you so you won’t be late for school”

Second year. I should be proud I’ll be the first family member in the Malik household to finish college. But after finishing, real life will start. Uni is just a dream. Second year for me is like a retirement party for a sixty-five year old. You know you can do no more, but everyone expects you to quit.

“I’m all dressed in my new clothes” Dean’s proud but muffled voice comes through the pillow “the chicas won’t be able to resist this”

“Good for you” I mumble

“Mama said I should pour this pan of water on you if you don’t get up”
Was privacy too much to ask for? I take my pillow and chuck it across the room. It’s a direct hit. The water splashes all over him.

“Fuck!” he screams at me “these are the only new clothes I got”

A fit of laughter is coming through the bedroom door. Elliott, my other brother, is laughing like a frickin’ hyena. That is, until Dean jumps at him. I watch the fight spiral out of control as my younger brothers punch and kick each other.

They’re good fighters, I think proudly as I watch them, but as the eldest in the house, it’s my duty to break it up. Grabbing the collar of Elliott’s shirt, I trip on Dean’s leg and land on the floor with them.

Before I can regain my balance, icy cold water is poured on my back. Turning quickly, I catch mama dousing us all, a bucket poised in her fist above us while she’s wearing her work uniform. She works as a checker for the local grocery store a couple blocks from our house. It doesn’t pay a lot, but we don’t need much.

“Get up” she orders, her fiery attitude out in full force

“Shit, ma” Elliot says, standing.

Mama takes what’s left in her bucket, sticks her fingers 
in the icy water and flicks it in Elliot’s face.
Dean laughs and before he knows it, he gets the same treatment too. Will they ever learn?

“Any more attitude Dean?” she asks

“No ma’am” Dean responds, standing straight as a soldier

“You have any more filthy words to come out of that mouth of yours, Elliott?” she dips her hand in the water as a warning

“No ma’am” echoes soldier number two

“And what about you Zayn?” Her eyes narrow into slits as she focuses on me

“What? I was trying to break it up” I say innocently, giving her my you-can’t-resist-me smile.

She flicks water in my face. “Well tat’s for not breaking it up sooner. Now get dressed, all of you, and come eat breakfast before school”

So much for my irresistible smile. “you know you love us!” I call after her as she leaves our room.

After a quick shower, I walk back to my bedroom with a towel wrapped around my waist. I catch sight of dean with one of my bandannas on his head and my gut instantly tightens. I yank it off him. “don’t ever, ever, touch this 
Dean”

“Why not?” he asks, his deep brown eyes all innocent.
You see, to Dean it’s a bandanna. To me? It’s a symbol of what is and will never be. How the hell am I supposed to explain it to an eleven year old boy? He knows what I am. 

It’s no secret the bandanna has the Latino Blood colours on it. Payback and revenge got me in and now there’s no way out. But I’ll die before I let one of my brothers get sucked in.

I ball the bandanna in my fist “Dean, don’t touch my shit. Especially my Blood stuff”

“I like red and black”

That’s the last thing I wanted to hear. “If I ever catch you wearing it again, you’ll be sporting black and blue. You hear me?”

“Yeah I got it”

As he leaves the room with a spring in his step, I wonder if he really does get it. I stop myself from thinking too hard about it as I grab a black t-shirt from my dresser and pull on worn and faded jeans, completed with the black and red bandanna tied around my wrist – the left one, as always.

I pull on my black leather jacket, needing to get out of here. I give mama a peck on the cheek with an apology for ruining her morning, then walk outside wondering how I’m going to keep Dean and Elliott away from my path while steering them toward a better one. Oh the fucking irony of it all.

On the street, guys in the same colour bandannas flag the Latino blood signal: right hand tapping twice on their left arm while their ring finger is bent. My veins fire up as I flag back before straddling my motorcycle. They want a tough as nails gang member, they got one. I put on a hell of a show to the outside world; sometimes I even surprise myself.

“Zayn wait up!” a familiar female voice calls out

Alexa Sanchez, my neighbour and ex-girlfriend, runs up to me

“Hey Alexa” I mutter

“How about giving me a ride to school?”

Her short black skirt shows off her incredible legs, and her shirt is tight, accentuating her small but perky boobs. Once I would have done anything for her, but that was before I caught her in another guy’s bed over the summer. Or car, as it was.

“Come on Zayn. I promise not to bite…unless you want me to”

Alexa is my home girl. Whether we’re a couple or not, we still have each other’s backs. It’s the code we live by, the unwritten rule if you will. “Get on then” I say.
She hops on my motorcycle and deliberately places her hands on my thighs while pressing against my backside. It doesn’t have the desired effect she was probably going for. What, does she think that I’ll forget the past? No way, history defines who I am.

I try to focus back onto starting my second year at Fairfield, the here and now. It’s damn difficult because, unluckily, after finishing my future will likely be as screwed up as my past.

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