The New Me

After a bad experience at her old school, Hayden Flack moves to Bradley Stoke determined to change everything about herself.
She knows how act, what to wear and from past experience, what to expect.
But on her very first day, seeing a long-lost childhood friend was something she definitely didn't see coming. Hayden quickly recognises Ellis but he can't even remember her... or does he? Why is Ellis acting so strangely, and why is he so different from what he used to be?
After a few months at her new school, Hayden seems to have settled in quite well and is living what appears to be a stereotypical popular girl's life. But not everything is going as 'well' as she thinks it is. Her 'friends' are acting weirdly suspicious, and when her long-lost brother suddenly comes in contact with her, she can't help but feel like there is something going on that she doesn't know about. How long will it take before she realizes what is going on beneath the surface? (PG-13)

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11. My Pleasant "Evening In"

Evelyn bawling at the bottom of the stairs after a pretty disastrous house party made it seem like my pleasant “evening in” couldn’t have gone any worse. I hadn’t even managed to get through one film... or at least finish my bowl of sweet and salty popcorn. My blanket had disappeared to God knows where and now Evelyn was wailing in my ear, demanding to know what happened.

Everyone turned to me at once, as if they were expecting me to come up with some magic solution to send Evelyn to bed, erase her memory and then tidy up my bombshell of a house.

My actual attempt was pitiful. Evelyn refused being tucked back into her bed claiming that she wasn’t tired; she ran around her room, threatening that she’d tell Mum about how naughty I had been.

“I’ll tell them about how naughty you’re being,” I threatened, grabbing her.

Thinking that it was a game, Evelyn wriggled around like a worm, giggling. “I’m telling Mum and Dad when they get back!” she repeated for the umpteenth time.

At that point, I was beyond caring about Mum and Dad finding out; I was in as much trouble as it was recently and it seemed that the two of them couldn’t be any angrier than they already were. I decided fretting about whether or not I was going to be caught would have to wait till later.

Evelyn had managed to struggle out of my grasp again, causing me to fall face first on the floor. “I don’t want to sleep!” Evelyn exclaimed.

“Evelyn please.” I groaned as I grabbed her feet.

She continued to wriggle around when I picked her up and carried her to her bed. Thankfully, she then snuggled under her covers.

But I knew that she was never going to be that easy.

“Read me a story.” She demanded just as I was getting up.

I frowned as I glanced towards the stairs, worrying what the others had got up to. But after seeing her saddened expression I gave in and seized the shortest book I could find. I read her a story about a small cat, or some small animal, either way I wasn’t really paying attention and I read the simple story in my monotone voice.

Thankfully, my dull tone must have bored her a little because only a few minutes later, she was snuggling into the pillow and closing her eyes.

“Thank God,” I muttered, before creeping out of the room carefully.

As I was walking downstairs I heard them mutter my name in a hasty, anxious tone. I froze. Feeling slightly curious about what they were talking about, I edged towards the door cautiously.

“So when are you going to tell her?” I heard Cole.

My stomach tightened.

“Well?”

“I don’t have to tell her anything.” Sophie snapped.

“Yes you do…”

“Shhhh!”

I remained outside the door, trying to steady my breathing. I blinked furiously to keep back my tears. Why were they talking about me? What did Sophie need to tell me?

I forced myself to relax, persuading myself that it was just something petty; perhaps she was responsible for the repugnant looking sick in the kitchen, or she broke one of Mum’s ornaments.

I exhaled deeply and entered the living room.

Sophie smiled at me. “Did you put her to bed?”

I nodded, digging my nails into my palms. “Yup, though she was a bit of a nightmare at first.”

“…So are we still staying over?” Aaron asked hopefully.

“I guess so,” I replied. “But only if we all tidy up a bit.”

Grudgingly, they helped me tidy the house with little effort or motivation. Until eventually Sophie flopped on the sofa, chucking a dustpan and brush across the room. I didn’t complain, even though I was still a bit peed off, not forgetting slightly queasy for being the one that had to clean up the sick in the kitchen - just the thought of it made me was to puke.

Half an hour later, the rest of us had given up and so instead we squashed onto the sofa and flicked through all the channels on TV, deciding on cleaning it all up the next morning.

Stupidly we allowed Morgan and Sophie to sit squashed up together and it only took a few minutes before another argument sprung up between the two of them.

“Morgan, give us the remote!” Sophie demanded.

Morgan rolled away sniggering. “Why? I thought you loved horror movies. Especially Saw. You  love the blood, don’t you? ...Look, that fat guy's cutting off his flab!”

"That's vile." Aaron grimaced.

“Change the channel before I throw up!” Sophie shrieked. She clawed at Morgan’s outstretched hand, in attempt to grab the remote.

I grinned; for some reason it surprised me that Sophie didn’t like horror. She always seemed like such a dare devil, yet here she was, literally screaming at the thought of watching it.

“We could just watch a film?” I suggested, trying not to laugh at Sophie’s sudden change in persona.

“Yeah let’s do that,” Sophie insisted.

“But we’re already watching a film,” Morgan smirked.

“Morgan I swear to God if you don’t change the channel now I'll punch you so hard in the face you won’t be able to see for weeks!”

Eventually, Aaron rolled his eyes, clearly fed up by their behaviour. He grabbed the remote off Morgan without much effort and chucked it back towards her.

“Thanks Aaron.” Sophie sighed, “At least some of us here are decent.”

“Hey!” Me and Cole protested together.

 We laughed at our timing.

Sophie muttered something under her breath about cute couples as she flicked on to the DVD channel. Then she smirked. Lion King was still paused and Simba was still staring up at Mufasa at the sky with a frantic, lost expression.

“Remember who you are!” Sophie giggled, “…There’s no way we’ll watching the rest of this.”

I forced a laugh. “So what do you wanna watch?”

The boys chose Fast and Furious 4 which Sophie seemed pretty pleased about because apparently she thought that one of the actors was hot. I zoned out after ten minutes of it, worrying whether or not I would have enough time in the morning to clean up all the mess.

 Mum and Dad hadn’t specifically told me what time they would be coming back. And for all I knew, Mum and Dad would return before any of us had even woken up. If they had seen how the room looked now I wouldn’t have been surprised if they extended my month’s grounding for a few more months. Perhaps forever.

I glanced towards Cole who was squashed up beside me, holding my hand in his own. How on earth was I so intimidated when I first was met him? Why did I even like him in the first place? Melissa was right that we weren’t friends; how exactly could we be friends if we never knew what to talk about to each other, and when we had absolutely zilch in common? Well aside from drinking. But I couldn’t even lie to myself about that anymore.

I frowned slightly and nibbled my lip.

After all the time I had spent at Bradley Stoke, I only really had one proper friend. And a boyfriend (…although I may as well not call him that).

I must have zoned out for a while because when my mind finally returned back to the film, I realised that just me, Aaron and Cole were sat on the sofa. Cole was leant forwards slightly, as he eagerly watched the cars whizz past on the screen, but Aaron wasn’t paying any attention and kept glancing towards the front door.

“Where’s Morgan and Sophie?” I puzzled.

They glanced towards me. “Outside.”

I frowned, partially because I wondered why on earth somebody would ever want to go out in such freezing weather, but also why Aaron’s voice seemed noticeably on edge. So I pulled myself up and headed towards the front door, grabbing Dad’s coat and shoes on the way out.

“Where you going?” Cole asked.

“To see them.” I replied, throwing open the door.

Immediately the cold night air attacked my skin and I shuddered, hugging myself for warmth. I scanned my dark, desolate surroundings and it didn’t take me too long to find their shadows, identical and unfamiliar in the moonlight.

“Guys?” I called out.
 No reply.

They were huddled together, whispering and giggling. I began to wonder whether I had mistaken them for somebody else, but then I recognised Sophie’s squeal of laughter.

“Guys?” I repeated.

“Shhh!”

I approached them, puzzled. They were still huddled together making it unmistakeably obvious that they were hiding something from me.

“What’s going on?” I asked, my voice stressed.

They glanced at each other. Eventually Morgan held out his small, grubby hands to show what he was hiding.

 “Want any?” He asked.

My eyes widened in shock.

I’ve lost count of the amount of lectures stern police officers had given us each time they visited schools. They often warned us what we should never try… and more importantly what to stay the hell away from. The more threatening drugs were the ones that usually dwelled in my mind afterwards.

They’d always shown us images of one particular substance; pictures of those unfortunate enough to do them, all with a pretty drastic change to their appearance.

But I had always assumed that I would never be the sort of person that would see it real life, or somebody do it. Or be offered it.

“…Well?” Morgan asked, probably raising an eyebrow at my strange lack of response.

“I… don’t know.” I mumbled eventually. I was very aware of my nervous body language - I couldn’t ignore the fact the two of them seemed to be acting… different.

“You okay, Hayden?”

I knew I was acting noticeably uncomfortable and awkward, but when I opened my mouth to speak, no words came out.

Thankfully I heard the sound of the front door opening, footsteps crunching against the gravel and Cole’s voice.
 “What the hell’s up with you guys? You’ve been out here for ages.” He yelled humorously, before resting his arm against my waist. Without thinking I brushed him off, but he was too distracted with Morgan and Sophie to care anyway.

“What the hell's wrong with you?” Cole repeated, but this time in a more irritated tone.

The pair of them glanced at each other uneasily and failed to come up with any sort of response.

“I can’t believe you two!” Cole exclaimed. “If you’re going to do things like this when we’re out just don’t bother hanging out with us anymore!”

What?” Morgan snorted, “Calm down Cole, you’re getting worked up about nothing.”

“Nothing?” Cole laughed sarcastically. “I know what you’re trying to do. But you’re just making yourself look stupid mate.”

“Stupid?” Morgan snorted, “I got a pretty decent deal with DJ. This stuff usually costs a hell of a lot more money than I had.”

Cole shook his head in disgust. “Just stop it okay? Both of you just go home, I’m sick to hell with the both of you.”

“Since when were you the one that told us what to do?" Morgan spat.

"Did I ever say that?" Cole tested him.

 "Just because you think you’re so god-damn attractive doesn’t mean everyone does what you say.” Morgan sneered. “I’ve seen you checking yourself out in the mirror so many times – vain prick!”

“I haven’t got time for this,” Cole sighed. He headed back inside. “See ya, idiots.”

“Whatever.” Morgan yelled, “I’m bored of hanging around here anyway!”

He stuck his middle finger up and stormed off, along with Sophie who hurriedly tried to keep up.
 
Cole slammed the door furiously and kicked off a shoe. Immediately, Aaron jumped up from the sofa.

“Do you mind not slamming my door like that?” I snapped, “This is my house you know?”

He sneered and kicked off his other shoe, sending it flying into the kitchen and splattering the tiles with fresh mud.

“What happened?” Aaron asked, clearly trying to his supress his curiosity. “Where’s Morgan and Sophie?”

“They left.”

“What did they do?”

“You know what.” Cole sat down at the stairs, massaging his temples. “I warned him. I warned him, but he never listens to me!”

“What did you warn him about?” I asked.

“What do you think?!” He snapped, but then he sighed heavily.

“You’re pretty slow on the uptake, aren’t you? …Morgan like Sophie. Loads. And he’s doing practically everything to impress her.”

“Morgan likes Sophie?” I repeated.

The idea at first seemed ridiculous, yet the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Morgan was clearly, very immature for his age and miles out of Sophie’s league, so was the fighting over the sofa earlier Morgan’s way of flirting? I recalled the all the things he had done just to get her attention; his teasing, like when he shoved her in the bushes when I first moved, not forgetting his ridiculous hedgehog hairstyle that must take him ages doing every day.

Suddenly Morgan no longer seemed as confident and bad-ass as I had thought before. His desperate attempts at making Sophie like him made him seem more like a child than ever.

How could he think he had a chance in hell with Sophie?

 

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