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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4. Chapter 4

 

*Brittany*

After school I’m at my locker when my friends Morgan, Madison and Megan come up to me, Amber calls them the Fairfield M-Factor.  No guesses as to why.

Morgan hugs me “Oh my god are you okay?” she asks, pulling away and examining me.

“I heard Colin protected you. He’s amazing. You’re so lucky Brit,” Madison adds, her signature curls bouncing with each word

 “It wasn’t a big deal” I say, wondering what the rumour is in contrast to what actually happened.

“What exactly did Zayn say?” Megan asks “Caitlan took a picture of Zayn and Colin stood in the hallway on her phone but I couldn’t make out what was happening.”

“Hey you guys better not be late for practise!” Darlene yells from the end of the hallway, but just as quickly as she appeared next to us she has disappeared off.

Meg opens her locker, which is next to mine, and pulls out her kit “I hate the way Darlene kisses Mrs White’s butt” she says under her breath. I close my locker and we walk to the courts “I think she’s just trying to focus on Netball instead of obsessing about Tyler leaving for Uni”

Morgan rolls her eyes “Whatever, I don’t even have a boyfriend so she gets zero sympathy from me.”

 “Me either. I mean seriously, when is that girl not dating someone?” Madison asks but I just shrug, they don’t understand about relationships, but I guess they’re right in a way. That girl always has something or someone going on…

When we reach the courts, our entire team are sat in a circle waiting for Mrs White to turn up but at least we’re not late.

 “I still can’t believe you got stuck with Zayn Malik” Darlene says quietly to me as I find an empty spot next to her

 “Wanna switch partners?” I muse, even though Darlene would never go for it and Peterson wouldn’t agree to it. She had made that crystal clear. Darlene sticks her tongue out in full-gross mode and whispers

“No way. I never go slumming on the east side. Mixing with that crowd will get you nothing but trouble. Remember last year when Jen dated that one guy…what was his name?”

“Louis Tomlinson?” I say in a low voice. Despite the majority of the east siders being ridiculously attractive in a bad-boy sort of way, going there was just not the done thing. Darlene gives a little shiver

“In a matter of weeks Jen went from being cool to being an outcast. The east side girls hated her for taking one of their guys and she stopped hanging with us. The confused little couple was on an island all alone. Thank god she came to her senses and broke it off with him before anything else happened to her.”

Mrs White walks towards us with two sets of bibs, complaining about someone mixing them all up and that’s why she’s late. When she tells us all to go for a jog to warm up, Amber runs up to talk to me

“You are in trouble girl” Amber says

“Why?”

Amber has ‘super’ eyes and ears; she knows everything that’s going on at Fairfield as it’s happening. My best friend continues, “Rumour has it Alexa Sanchez is looking for you.” Bollocks. Alexa is Zayn’s ex-girlfriend. I’m trying not to freak out and think the worst, but Alexa is tough. From her red painted fingernails all the way down to her black heeled boots. Is she jealous I’m his partner or something? Because I think it’s in her – and my – best interest to know I wouldn’t go near that scum with a 5 metre barge pole with a knife on the end of it. Apart from, of course, when in chemistry. Maybe she thinks I reported him to the principal this morning?

The truth is it wasn’t me that reported him. I got called into Dr Fletcher’s office because someone who’d seen the parking incident and witnessed our confrontation on the steps this morning reported it. Which was ridiculous because nothing even happened? Fletcher didn’t believe me; of course. He thought I was too scared to tell him the truth. I wasn’t scared then.

But I am now.

Alexa Sanchez can kick my butt any day of the week. She probably practises using weapons, and the only weapon I know how to use is, well, a netball. Call me crazy but somehow I doubt a netball will scare off a girl like Alexa. Maybe in a word war I would make a good showing of her, but definitely not in a fistfight. Guys fight because of some primal, innate gene that makes them want to prove themselves physically. Maybe Alexa wants to prove something to me, but there is seriously no need. I’m no threat, but how do I even go about letting her know that? It’s not like I’m going to go up to her and say “Hey, Alexa, I’m not going to make a move on your boyfriend and I never reported him to Fletcher.” But then again, maybe I should…

No. I can’t. Most people think nothing bothers me. I’m not going to let them know something does. I’ve worked too long and hard to keep up this façade and I’m not about to lose it all because some gang member and his girlfriend are testing me.

“I’m not worrying about it” I tell Amber, as nonchalantly as humanly possible although I can feel a lump rising in my throat and my voice is becoming increasingly croaky.

“Bullshit Brit, I know you. You’re completely stressing” she whispers back.

Now that statement worries me more than the idea of Alexa looking for me. Because I try really hard to everyone at a distance…not really knowing what it’s truly like to be me or what it’s like to live at my house. But I’ve let Amber know more about me than everyone else. Sometimes I wonder if I should back off from our friendship sometimes, to make sure she’s kept at arm’s length.

Logically, I know I’m paranoid, of course. Amber is a true friend; she was even there when I cried last year about my mum’s nervous breakdown but never revealed the reason. She let me cry it out, even when I refused to give her details.

I don’t want to end up like my mum. That’s my biggest fear in life.

Mrs White has us get in position, then sets off the familiar whistle. Throughout the practise match I forget all about life. About Alexa, Zayn, my mum, Brenda and everything else. That’s why I love netball so much - it’s the one thing I actually feel good at. The one thing that I can do with ease and I barely ever screw up.

The match is over way too quickly, I still want to pass the ball around and continue to shoot but Mrs White has already called everyone over to her at the side-line.

“Brittany, you teach the basic rules and techniques to the new girls and then we’ll play again. Amber, you go set up some practise drills for the rest of the girls” I nod and walk off.

Isabel is in my group. She kneels down to take a drink from her water bottle “Don’t worry about Alexa” she says looking up at me “most of the time her bark is worse than her bite.”

“Thanks” I say.

Isabel looks tough, with her red Latino Blood bandanna, three eyebrow rings, nose piercing and hands always folded on her chest when she’s not playing netball or working. But she has kind eyes, and smiles a lot. Her smile softens her harsh appearance, although I bet if she had a bow in her hair rather than a bandanna she’d actually look quite girly.

“You’re in my chem class aren’t you?” I ask.

She nods.

“And you know Zayn Malik?”

She nods again.

“Are the rumours about him true?” I ask carefully, not knowing how she’s going to react to my prying. If I’m not careful, I’ll have a long list of people who are out to get me.

Isabel’s long brown hair moves in the slight breeze as she talks, “Depends on which ones you’re referring to.” Damn this girl was not going to let out any info was she?

As I’m about to rattle off the list of rumours outlining Zayn’s drug use and police arrests, Isabel stands. “Listen, Brittany,” she says “you and me, we’ll never be good friends. But I have to tell you. No matter how much of a jerk Zayn was to you today, he’s not as bad as the rumours. He’s not even as bad as he’d like to think he is.” She finishes with a smirk, she’s clearly fond of the bond. Why I’ll probably never know.

Before I can ask any more questions, Isabel is picking up a ball and trying to shoot.

A half our later, when we’re all exhausted and crabby and had enough, we’re dismissed. I make a point of walking over to a sweating Isabel and telling her what a good job she did today in practise.

“Really?” she asks, looking genuinely surprised.

“You’re a fast learner” I tell her. It’s true. For a girl who never tried out for netball through secondary school and the first year of college, she’s caught on relatively fast “That’s why we put you in the squad for next week”

While her mouth is open in shock, I wonder if she believes the rumours she’s heard about me. No, we’ll never be good friends. But I can tell we’ll never be enemies either.

After practise I walk to my car with Amber who’s busy texting her boyfriend, Doug, on her phone. A piece of paper is tucked under one of my windscreen wipers, I pull it off. It’s Zayn’s blue detention slip. Crumpling it up I shove it into my book bag

“What’s that?” she asks

“Nothing,” I say, hoping she gets the hint that I don’t want to talk about it.

“Guys, wait up!” Darlene yells, running up to us “I saw Colin on the rugby field. He said to wait for him.”

I look at my watch, it’s almost six already. I only want to go home and help Brenda make my sister’s dinner “I can’t.”

“Doug texted me back,” Amber says “he’s invited us for pizza at his house”

“I can come” Darlene says “I’ve been so bored now that Tyler is back at UCL and I probably won’t see him for weeks.”

“I thought you were gonna visit him next weekend?”

Darlene stands with her hands on her hips. “Well, that was until he called and said all the new football try outs had to sleep on the pitch all weekend for some stupid initiation thing. As long as Tyler’s penis is intact when it’s all over, I’m happy.”

At the mention of ‘penis’, I search for my keys in my purse. When Darlene gets talking about penises and sex, I suggest everyone retreats because she never stops. And since I’m not one to share my sexual experiences (or my lack of), I’m out of here. The perfect time to escape.

As I dangle my keys on my fingers, Amber tells me she’ll get a ride from Doug, so I’m alone during the drive home. I like being alone though, nobody to put an act on for; I can even blast the music if I want.

Enjoying the music is short-lived though when I feel my phone vibrate, I pull it out of my pocket to find a couple voice messages and text from Colin. Suppose I best call him back

“Where are you?” he immediately asks. Well, hello to you too

“On my way home”

“Come over to Doug’s”

“My sister has a new caretaker” I explain, “I have to help her out”

“Are you still pissed because I threatened you gangbanger chemistry partner?”

“I’m not pissed. I’m annoyed. I told you I could handle it and you totally ignored me. And you caused a whole scene in the hallway. You know I didn’t ask to be partners with him.”

“I know Brit, I just hate the guy. Don’t be mad.”

“I’m not” I totally am though “I just hate seeing you get all fired up for no reason”

“And I hated seeing that guy whispering in your ear.”

I feel a headache coming on, full throttle, I don’t need Colin to make a scene every single time a guy so much as talks to me. He’s never done that before and it left me open for more scrutiny and gossip, something I never want to happen “Let’s just forget it ever happened.”

“Fine by me Brit, call me tonight yeah?” he says “But if you can get out early and can come to Doug’s, I’ll be there.”

When I get home, Brenda is in Tasmin’s room on the first floor. She’s attempting to change her special leak-proof undergarments, but she has Taz in completely the wrong position. Her head is usually where her feet are, one leg is dangling off the bed…it’s a disaster and Brenda is huffing and puffing as if it’s the most difficult task she’s ever attempted. Did my mum even check her credentials?

“I’ll do it” I tell her, pushing her aside and taking over. I’ve changed my sister’s underwear since we were kids. It’s not fun doing it for someone who’s bigger and weighs more than you do, but if you do it right it doesn’t take long and it doesn’t become a massive ordeal.

My sister smiles when she sees me “Bwit!” She can’t enunciate her words properly, but she’s not far off and tries her hardest, or at least I think she does. Can’t say much on behalf of my parents though.

“Hey girlie, looking forward to dinner?” I ask as I pull wipes out from a container and try not to think about what I’m doing in great detail.

As I slip her fresh underwear on and slide her legs into a fresh pair of jeans, Brenda is still watching from the side lines. I try to explain what I’m doing while I’m doing it but I can tell she’s not even bothering to listen.

“Your mother said I could leave when you got home” Brenda says

“That’s fine” I say as I wash my hands, and before I know it she’s completely disappeared. I wheel Tasmin into the kitchen; our usually pristine kitchen is a disaster. Brenda hasn’t cleaned the dishes, which are now piled in the sink, and she didn’t do such a great job of wiping the floor after Tasmin’s earlier mess. I must remember to tell mum to train her later, but I know what the outcome will be. She’ll purse her lips, sigh, and not even comment. When she gets in she won’t even talk to Taz, shove something in the microwave for dinner and that’ll be that conversation over.

I hear the garage door open as I pull out the notebook paper Mrs Peterson gave me to write my ‘respect’ essay.

“Brit where are you?” my mum yells from the foyer

“Kitchen” I call out in response

My mum saunters into the kitchen with a Marc Jacobs bag on her arm. “Here, this is for you.” I reach in the bag and pull out a light blue knitted jumper

“Thanks” I mumble, trying not to make a big deal of it in front of Tasmin who had received nothing from mum’s shopping spree. Not that she cares, she’s too focused on the best and worst dressed pictures of celebrities and all their shiny jewellery.

“It’ll go well with those dark jeans I bought you last week.” She says as she pulls out frozen steaks from the freezer and starts defrosting them in the microwave. “So…how was everything with Brenda when you got here?”

“Not the best” I admit “You really need to train her” she didn’t respond.

What did I tell you?

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