2. Friends

I sat hunched over on a bench, trying to hide away from everyone. 
       I just wanted to be invisible for a change. 
       It wasn’t going to work. Everyone kept on looking over towards me, wanting to know the new girl or to see what they could get out of me, making me feel intimidated and small. I saw a pair of feet appear in front of me, making me look up. Nathaniel stood there in his usual black dress code and attractive beauty. The look on his face told me that he didn’t want to be around me, but had no choice. 
       “Hello Brianna,” Nathaniel spoke and sat next to me.
       “I thought you don’t like new people or at least don’t talk to them and treat them like dirt?” I asked and looked over towards him. 
       He narrowed his eyes at me and took a few deep breaths. I could tell that he still wasn’t a fan of me, but why was he talking to me for? Did someone set him up to talk to me or did he have a change of heart? 
       “I thought that I better be nice to you for Hudson’s sake as I have no other intention to talk to you,” he said, making me get up.
       “Well, when you have the time and the energy to be nice to me on your own accord, let me know then because right now, I don’t want nothing to do with you,” I seethed and tried to leave but he grabbed my arm, stopping me.
       I ripped my arm out of his grip and started walking. My lack of sleep hadn’t put me in the best mood, and Nathaniel had made it that bit sourer. I heard Nathaniel call my name, but I didn’t respond back. I just wanted to be left alone and it seemed like I wasn’t going to get my wish today. I never got my wish on any day. 
       “Brianna, can we please just talk?” Nathaniel asked behind me, making me grind to a halt.
       I spun around and looked the pale skin, honey coloured hair, emerald green eyed god square in the eye. He took a step back when he saw I wasn’t playing friendly. “Why do you want to talk for Nathaniel? I have had enough already and I don’t need you adding to it, making it worse,” I said and waited for him to start speaking.
       “Look, I know that we haven’t got off to the best of terms and that my temper got the best of me yesterday twice and I am sorry for that, but you need to understand something,” he said and got close to me. 
       “And what’s that?” I asked.
       “You are getting to close to Hudson for my liking and I want you to back off because we know nothing about you and I don’t you hurting anyone in my circle, especially Hudson,” he hissed.
       “You actually think I am going to hurt her? What about the fact I am on Augusta’s wanted list of lives’ to ruin? What about the fact that I had no plans on getting close to anyone here to save myself from more hurt, and more pain that I am already going through? So if you think I am going to hurt Hudson or anyone for that fact, you are dead wrong as it is me that always ends up with the broken heart and being hurt without everyone realising that they are doing it, until it is too late for me to forgive them,” I said through clenched teeth. 
       Nathaniel looked blankly at me after I finished that. It seemed like he didn’t expect me to fire back at him. I shook my head and walked past him, leaving him standing there. I walked over to where Hudson was. She took one look over at me before running over. 
       “What happened?” she asked and pulled me in for a hug.
       I couldn’t answer her. If I opened my mouth, I would have started crying and I didn’t want that happening again. I didn’t want to be weak or seem like I was. I wanted to be strong like I had been raised my whole life. Hudson pulled back and looked at me and I couldn’t help the wave of emotions that came over me that time. I started crying softly, making her start to rub my back and try and calm me down.
       “Talk to me Brianna,” she whispered and led me over to where I previously sitting. “What happened?”
       I looked at her and turned my eyes onto Nathaniel, who was standing behind her with a cold look on his face. Hudson did the same and realised that he caused this. Her eyes narrowed and became hard towards him. 
       “Nathaniel said that I was getting to close to you and that I needed to back off because I haven’t told no one nothing about me and that I would hurt someone in his circle of friends,” I said, my voice breaking.
       “If he knew better and he usually does, he would have said nothing like that to you. I know for a fact that you won’t hurt me because I trust you and we are friends after all. I am more worried about saying something that will hurt you by mistake,” Hudson told me.
       “You know, I had thought that today would have been a better day, but it isn’t. In fact, it is a living nightmare that I didn’t want to happen,” I muttered and got up.
       Hudson did the same and looked back over to Nathaniel, who was talking to Brandon. “Stay here,” she told me and walked over to them.
       Sighing, I crossed my arms and slowly started to walk the other way so I could hopefully go into hiding. I made my way to the girls’ bathroom and pushed opened the door, seeing that I was alone. I caught my reflection in the mirror and saw that I looked like death. I should have just stayed home. The door opened and Hudson walked in. She looked at me, but didn’t say anything. 
       “What?” I asked.
       “Are you going to be able to go to class or are you going to ditch until you feel better?” she asked.
       “Hudson, you can go. I am just going to stay here until I calm down a bit more, but tell Mrs. Franklin that I will be late,” I said and turned around so I didn’t have to look at her.
       “What am I going to tell Nathaniel when he sees me? You do know that we sit together in class for the time being.”
       “Crap. I totally forgot about Alex. He is going to worry about me,” I said, remembering my cousin when she mentioned Nathaniel’s name.
       “I will talk to Alex about what happened. I still can’t get over that he is your cousin. Alex is going to be so angry once I tell him about what happened.”
       I turned around and looked at her. What did she mean by that Alex would be angry about what happened? Hudson had a smirk on her face, but didn’t say anything. “What do you mean Alex will be so angry for?” I asked.
       “Alexander and Nathaniel don’t get along. They haven’t like each other since the Pryor’s first moved here. Nathaniel thought Alex was a rebel, while Alex thought Nathaniel was a spoilt brat and they haven’t got along since.” 
       Would Nathaniel be treating me they way he was because of Alex? Did he really think that I was the same as my cousin? Hudson walked out of the bathroom, leaving me in my own thoughts. I screamed in frustration, before grabbing my school bag and walked out of the bathroom, stalking back towards the building. 
       Hudson wasn’t anywhere to be seen when I entered. I walked over to the classroom and opened the door. Mrs. Franklin looked up and relief shot across her face when she saw me standing there. I looked at Nathaniel and noticed that he wasn’t looking at me. He was looking at the table, gripping it with his bare hands. If he gripped it any harder, it looked like that he would have taken chunks out of it. 
       “You need to apologise to Brianna, Nathaniel. I don’t want to lose a friend because of you,” I heard Hudson whisper in an angry tone.
       “I apologised to her this morning, and look what happened,” Nathaniel hissed back.
       “Do you think I care? Brianna is my friend and I will be damned if you dare drive a wedge between us over you and your freaking temper tantrums. You need to fix this,” she hissed back. 
       “Since when do you run my life?”
       “Brianna isn’t like Alexander and what right to do you even have telling her to back off? You don’t even know her and you are ruining your chances of doing so.”
       I kept my eyes trained on the floor as I made my way to the table. Alex looked at me with questions in his eyes. 
       “Don’t ask,” I muttered and grabbed everything I needed. 
       “At least, can you please explain why Nathaniel and Hudson have been fighting since she walked into the classroom and passed me a note saying that she had something to tell me later?” Alex asked, not giving up. 
       I looked at cousin and puffed out my cheeks. I was getting frustrated and I knew it wouldn’t be long until I blew up and lost my temper. Alex dropped it once he knew that my temper was about to let go. Most of the lesson, I kept my eyes trained on Nathaniel’s back, burning holes into it. Hudson looked over her shoulder at me, before saying something to Nathaniel.
       “Mrs. Franklin, can be excused?” Nathaniel asked suddenly, his tone hard and not giving away much emotion. 
       “Of course, but don’t be too long,” Mrs. Franklin said, glancing at him.
       Nathaniel walked out of the classroom, but took one last glare at me. That was it. Grabbing my bag, I got up and walked over to Mrs. Franklin’s desk and looked at her. I placed my hand on a piece of paper, making her look up. 
       “Brianna, what can I help you with, my dear?” she asked, smiling up at me. 
       “Nathaniel is what you can help me with. Can I go see what his problem is, as he seemed upset when he left?” I asked.
       She sighed and didn’t say anything for a few seconds. “I don’t know if that is wise,” she finally said.
       “If he has a problem with me, don’t you think I have the right to know what it is so that we might be able to fix it?” I asked.
       “Honey, you don’t know Nathaniel like I do. When he is like this, he snaps at anyone who pesters him and it is better that he is left alone until he can calm down and wants to talk. His temper isn’t really the best and I don’t want you getting hurt because of him.” 
       We would make a good couple. With my temper and his cruelness, we would be a force to be reckoned with. 
       “If you want to risk it, you can,” Mrs. Franklin said.
       I nodded and walked out of the classroom, and towards the exit. When I got outside, Nathaniel was leaning against the bricks, looking straight ahead with a dead look on his face. I walked over to him and cleared my throat. 
       “What do you want?” he asked with his tone harsh and cold.
       “I want to know what your problem is with me. Have I done something to you that you don’t like or do you just like treating me like this for the fun of it?” I asked.
       “Did Mrs. Franklin send you to check on me?” he asked suddenly.
       “I sent myself with her permission and you still haven’t answered my question Nathaniel. I need to know what I have done wrong.” 
       He laughed, making me cross my arms and look up at him with anger in my eyes. He slowly started to walk away from where I was standing. There was no way in hell that he was getting out of this one. 
       “Where the hell do you think you are going?” I asked and followed him.
       “Away from you,” he replied.
       “Once you answer my question, maybe I will leave you alone,” I shot back.
       “You want to know what you have done to me?” he asked and I nodded. “You are Alexander’s cousin and you seem the same as he is.”
       I took a step back and laughed. How dare he think that I am the same as my cousin?  Did I say to him that he was nothing like James and he should start acting like him just to see how he liked it? 
       “For you information Nathaniel, I am nothing like my cousin and I would never will be even if anyone wanted me to.”
       “Then why do we know nothing about you?” he asked.
       “That’s for me to know and for Augusta to spread once she gets wind of me talking to you,” I snapped, regretting saying it straight away. 
       “What did you just say Brianna?” Nathaniel asked, taken aback. 
       “Do I need to repeat what I just said? Augusta plans on making my life here a living hell and I don’t even really know what she is capable of doing to me, but I do know that it won’t be pretty.”
       Nathaniel walked over to a bench and sat down, leaving room for me to do the same. He leaned forward and placed his face in his hands. I could tell something was bothering him since I snapped about Augusta. 
       “Is that what you meant yesterday about Augusta wanting to cause trouble?” he asked and looked at me. 
       “Would I make up something like that just for the fun of it?” I asked.
       “And I have cruel and cold for no reason thinking that you are just like every other girl here trying to get my attention when you haven’t,” he muttered.
       “Wow, who would have thought that Nathaniel Norwood-Pryor would realise that he was wrong?” 
       He glared at me, but I didn’t care. He needed to be told that he was wrong, but he didn’t seem like the types that like being told that.
       “I guess I have to say sorry.”
       “You guess?” I asked and got up. “You need to. For the past forty-eight hours, you have made my life a living hell and all I wanted was to be your friend Nathaniel. I couldn’t figure out how someone so cold, so selfish and so vain could make me only get two hours sleep from trying to figure out why you hated me and it was only because of Alex, which is stupid. You might have your opinion on Alex, but there is no way you can think I am the same because we are two completely different peoples who are only related by a blood bond.” 
       Nathaniel didn’t say anything during my rant. All he did was look at me with an emotion I couldn’t place. 
       “What are you looking at?” I asked.
       “You,” he replied and got up, walking over to me.
       “What about me?” I asked, taking a step back. 
       “I never noticed before, but you are a very beautiful girl. I have never seen a hair colour like that before,” he said and moved a piece of it from my face, tucking it behind my ear and his touch lingering. 
       When he did that, my heart rate decided to pick up. It was like he was trying to flatter me so he didn’t have to apologise. 
       “If you are trying to distract me from you apologising, you have another thing coming,” I said.
       “I’m not,” he whispered, coming back in closer to me 
       “We need to get back to class before they send a search party for us,” I said and stepped away from Nathaniel.
       Nathaniel’s jaw clenched before he nodded and started walking away. I didn’t know if he wanted me to walk with him or not, so I kept my distance. Suddenly, he stopped and turned to look at me. I picked up my pace and walked with him.
       “So where does this leave us?” he asked.
       “What do you mean?” I asked, confused.
       “Are we friends or not? And I am very sorry for being mean at the beginning. I won’t be like that anymore, I promise you.” 
       I sighed and placed my hand on the doorknob before looking at Nathaniel. He had a hopeful look on his face and I couldn’t find it in me to reject him.
       “Yes, we are friends, and you are forgiven for treating me the way you did but don’t even think about doing it again,” I said and opened the door. 
       “Scouts honour,” he said, making me laugh.
       As we walked back to our classroom, Augusta walked past in her usual revealing clothes get up, but froze when she saw that Nathaniel was walking close to me, and not avoiding me. I stopped, making him look behind before he noticed Augusta standing there.
       “You just couldn’t help yourself, could you?” she asked, her voice as hard as ice. 
       It was safe to say that she was filthy at me for making friends with Nathaniel. The murderous look on her face told me everything. 
       “Augusta, leave Brianna alone. You don’t have the right to tell her who she can be friends with,” Nathaniel said, sticking up for me.
       I wasn’t expecting him to do that. I shot him a smile of thanks before looking at Augusta. Her arms were crossed, but she wasn’t looking at me for a change. Her eyes were glued onto Nathaniel and it looked like she was up to something. 
       “Nathaniel, I told her to stay away from you since we could be together and Brianna could ruin that for us by stealing you and I don’t want that happening,” Augusta said, in her sickly sweet voice when she wanted someone or something. 
       “You have a boyfriend and also, if Brianna and I decide to start a relationship one day, you won’t be able to stop us from doing so do us both a favour and leave us alone,” Nathaniel said before grabbing my arm and dragging me away from Augusta.
       When Nathaniel mentioned the word ‘relationship’, my heart skipped a few beats. What was he doing to me? I felt like a school girl who had a crush, and I swore to myself that I did not have a crush on Nathaniel.  
       “I warned you Brianna. Stay away from everyone else or be ready for everyone to know about your secrets, including Nathaniel,” she said behind us, making the colour from my face drain.
       Nathaniel opened up the classroom door, making everyone look up. Mrs. Franklin walked over to us and placed a hand on Nathaniel’s arm. He looked at her and nodded before walking back to his seat and muttered something to Hudson.
       “What happened?” Alex asked when I sat back down. “Hudson told me what happened with Nathaniel when you left but as usual, she wouldn’t go into detail on anything.”
       “We just had a chat and he apologised. I am pretty sure that we are friends now but I don’t know how long for,” I said and looked at him.
       “If I was you, I wouldn’t have forgiven Nathaniel,” he said.
       “I know you don’t like him, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have to either. I try to see the best in people and you know that, Alexander,” I said and went back to completing my work.
       “What happens if he does the same thing again?” Alex asked.
       “Alex, stop trying to make me doubt myself,” I snapped.
       Throughout the lesson, Mrs. Franklin was looking between Nathaniel, Hudson, Alex and me and I didn’t know why. Hudson got up and walked over to me before getting down to my level. 
       “Nathaniel wants to meet up with you after school,” Hudson said.
       “What does he want?” I asked and looked at her.
       “He didn’t say,” she said and looked at Alex before going back to her table.
       I could feel Alex’s eyes burning a hole into the side of my head, but I didn’t look at him. He cleared his throat, trying to catch my attention, but I wasn’t going to cave. I didn’t feel like a lecture off Alex and he couldn’t tell me how to live my life. He wasn’t my guardian. Mrs. Franklin clapped her hands, catching everyone’s attention.
       “I know it’s not even only a week into the first term, but I have decided to change a few of the seating places around. Hudson, you will be sitting next to Alex while Brianna, I am going to place you with Nathaniel. That will give you a chance to work out a few issues that I don’t want to plague the class for the rest of the year,” she said. 
       “Mrs. Franklin, I am happy sitting next to Hudson and I don’t want to change,” Nathaniel said, trying to get out of the change.
       “I don’t care Nathaniel. This is going to happen if you like it or not,” Mrs. Franklin said. 
       Hudson grabbed her things and walked over to where I was and sat them on the table, before looking at me with amusement. 
       “Are you moving or staying here?” she asked. 
       “Give me time,” I said and got up.
       “What has made Mrs. Franklin decide to change spots?” Alex asked as I got up.
       “I don’t know. I can only think that she is trying to play match maker with Nathaniel and Brianna but I can’t be sure,” Hudson replied.
       I grabbed my things and walked over to where Nathaniel was. He glanced at me, but didn’t say anything. He wasn’t happy with this move. I could only hope that he didn’t decide to take it out on me. I was getting sick of being the brunt of people’s anger. His jaw locked and I heard him clench his teeth.
       “Nathaniel,” I said.
       “Brianna,” he replied and glared over at Mrs. Franklin.
       “Look, I know that you aren’t happy about this, but do you think that you might be able to hold your frustrations in?” I asked.
       “She is up to something. I’m sure of it,” Nathaniel said and grabbed his water bottle.
       “Whatever it is Nathaniel, I’m sure she will forget about it in time,” I replied.
       “You don’t know Mrs. Franklin like I do. When she puts her mind to something, she gets it. She is friends with my mother, Bethany so I know her very well and have lost count how many times she has got her way,” he told me
       “Do you always jump to conclusions?” I asked suddenly and looked at him.
       “Do you always ask so many questions?” he asked back.
       It was obvious that we weren’t going to get along anytime soon, so it seemed like we were going to be bickering for a while. I tried to ignore him, but I couldn’t do it. I could sense him sitting next to me, looking over at me all the time. This was going to be fun. I looked over at him to see that he had what looked like a smile starting to form. 
       “Hudson said something to me that I want to confirm so I don’t look a complete idiot later,” I said.
       “About me wanting to meet up with you after school, right?” he asked, making eye contact with me.
       “Yeah; why do you want to though? I don’t understand,” I whispered, having trouble finding my voice for some reason.
       “Well, we are friends so I thought that we could try and see what we have in common,” Nathaniel said and smirked at me. 
       I didn’t have a chance to respond as the bell rang. I got up and grabbed everything before walking out of the classroom. Nathaniel somehow caught up to me quickly. I looked at him with questions brewing in my mind, but didn’t get a chance to ask as a girl ran up to Nathaniel. She had light blonde hair, brown eyes and had a petite frame but she had beauty that Nathaniel and his whole family had. She was as thin as I was, but she didn’t look sickly like I did when I accidently lost a few kilos if mum couldn’t afford to get enough food in the house. 
       “Nate, can I have your keys?” she asked and looked at me.
       “Amylia, you have your own car so use that.”
       “I didn’t bring it. James wanted to come in his so I let him, and are you doing to introduce us Nathaniel?” Amylia asked, looking over at me before back to Nathaniel.
       “Amylia, I would like you to meet Brianna. Amylia is James fiancée and has been for five years,” Nathaniel said. 
       “Oh, so you are the Brianna that Jay was telling me about last night. He is right, you are very beautiful,” she said.
       “Thank you,” I replied.
       “And I have also heard that Jason has been hanging around you. Let me tell you this. Don’t hang around with him. He is bad news. 
       “He told me not hang around you for the same reason and that you lot only care about yourselves so I don’t know who to believe anymore.”
       It sounded like Nathaniel growled, but I couldn’t be sure. Amylia cleared her throat and looked towards Nathaniel.
       “Car keys,” she demanded and held out her hand. 
       “You crash it and you are buying me a new one,” Nathaniel threatened and gave her what she wanted.
       “Nathaniel, you have two cars,” she said and walked away.
       Jason started to walk towards me, and I decided to walk the other way, leaving Nathaniel standing there, looking clueless. I thought that I would have lost Jason, but I didn’t. Somehow, he managed to track me down with Daniel. What did they want now? 
       “I don’t have the time to talk,” I said and tried to walk away.
       “Of course you do. You have a free,” Jason said.
       Damn it, I thought. Daniel looked at Jason before grabbing my arm and led me over to the benches.
       “What do you want?” I asked.
       “Come down to basketball practice later on,” Jason said and grabbed my hand.
       “Why should I do that for?” I asked, narrowing my eyes at him and looking down at where he was holding my hand. 
       “It will be fun for you to do something different,” Daniel said and sat next to me. “It’s at three-thirty after school on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s.”
       “If I have time, I will,” I said and got up, yanking my hand out of Jason’s hand.
       “What do you have planned?” Jason asked.
       “I have plans that I don’t really want to break.”
       “You mean that you are going to spend time with Nathaniel?” Daniel said.
       I turned to look at him and raised an eyebrow at him. “Do you have a problem with that?” I asked.
       “He isn’t the type of person you should be hanging around with,” Jason said and grabbed both hands this time.
       “And you are? You are trying to turn me off someone that I want to know better. And anyway, I don’t know why I have to defend my case to you,” I said and yanked both hands away from Jason. 
       “Just come to the practice, please?”
       “If it will shut you up, then I will.”
       “Thank you,” Jason said and went into kiss me. 
       Quickly, I moved out of the way and looked at him. Just because I said I would go didn’t give him the right to move in on me. Hudson came over, and looked at both Daniel and Jason with a disgusted look on her face.
       “I was looking for you,” she told me.
       “Since when does she have to be glued to you, Hudson?” Jason asked, angrily towards her.
       “Brianna can make her own choices and she doesn’t need you breathing down her neck,” Daniel added.
       “Um, Brianna is standing right here and is slowly losing her temper towards both of you, Jason and Daniel,” I said and crossed my arms. 
       “We are only protecting you from Hudson and her friends,” Jason said.
       “I don’t need protecting from anyone so stop before I do something I will later regret,” I said and walked away, leaving all three of them standing there. 
       Nathaniel came up to me and demanded to know why I was with Jason and Daniel when everyone told me to stay away from them. People were getting on the wrong side of me today and I was about to lose my temper with someone, hopefully not Nathaniel. 
       “Why were you with them?” Nathaniel asked again when I didn’t reply 
       “Why don’t you just give me some bloody breathing space? You can’t control me Nathaniel so don’t you dare start trying to,” I yelled before taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have yelled, but I am just sick of people telling me what I can and can’t do.” 
       “It’s okay. I shouldn’t have asked you that,” he said. “I know that everyone is asking you a lot of questions and that you soon would have lost your temper, but I wasn’t expecting you to do so very quickly.” 
       “Well, I do have red hair and you know what they say,” I said, making him laugh. 
       “So what did Jason and Daniel want? You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” Nathaniel told me.
       “They asked me to go to basketball practice after school.” 
       “And what did you say?” 
       He wasn’t going to like my answer. “I had no choice but to say yes.” 
       “Brianna, you could have used the word no.” 
       “They weren’t going to give up. Jason follows me everywhere now. What was it going to be like if I said no? He is the type that would kidnap me if I said that and held me for a ransom that my mother couldn’t meet so he could keep me all to himself.” 
        Nathaniel took a deep breath and looked down at me. He nodded and walked away without saying anything. He was going to do something and I could only hope it didn’t end in tears or bloodshed of some sort.
       Amylia approached me with James. It looked like she wanted something, but I couldn’t be 100% sure. She lightly hit James on the arm, making him look at her.
       “What was wrong with Nathaniel?” Amylia asked me.
       “I don’t know what his problem was. He just nodded his head and walked away without saying anything.” 
       “Amy baby, look,” James said and pointed over towards the basketball courts.
       I turned around and gasped when I saw Nathaniel talking to the coach of the team and our sports teacher. 
       “Don’t tell me he is signing up for the basketball team,” Amylia said.
       “But why would he do that for? He has never showed any interest in sport before and now, he has,” James said.
       “Oh no,” I muttered.
       “What?” Amylia asked, but I didn’t answer her.
       I walked towards where Nathaniel was and tapped him on the shoulder, feeling the cold skin through his clothes. He turned around and looked at me but didn’t say a single word. 
       “What are you doing?”
       “Joining the basketball team; if Jason can do it, so can I,” he said and walked towards the change rooms.
       “But Amylia and James said that you were never really interested in sports and now you are joining a basketball team? This doesn’t seem like you Nathaniel,” I said, hoping that he would see my point.
       “I have had a change of heart.” 
       Jason caught my attention playing a game with Daniel and back to Nathaniel. I locked my jaw when I figured out that Nathaniel had only joined because of Jason and my agreement of watching him practice. 
       “You only joined because of Jason, didn’t you?” I asked, shaking my head at his stupidity. 
       “What makes you think that?” he asked. 
       “Well have fun Nathaniel. I will be watching this afternoon now,” I said and tried not to laugh.
       For a change, his smile reached his eyes, but when Amylia and James came over, that changed. The mask came over his features as he looked at them.
       “Joining the basketball team, I see?” James said and grabbed Nathaniel’s uniform.
       “Do you have a problem with that?” Nathaniel asked.
       “Nate, we never thought that you would do something like that and I have known you for a very long time. This isn’t your scene and it never will be,” Amylia said.
       Jason used that opportunity to come up and see what was going on. He wrapped an arm around my shoulder, making Nathaniel look even more murderous. Amylia placed her hand on his arm to calm him down, but I don’t think that was going to work. I grabbed Jason’s hand and moved his arm from my shoulders.
       “What is going on?” he asked.
       “Nathaniel is joining the basketball team,” I said.
       The colour from Jason’s face drained when I said that and Nathaniel used that chance to try on his uniform. Jason grabbed my arm and dragged me away out of the hearing range of Amylia and James.
       “Why is he joining for?” 
       “Look, all he told me was that he had a change of heart and decided to join the team. What do you want me to do? Take his car for ransom and demand him to tell me why he joined?” I asked. 
       “I guess the only bonus is that I will to see you more.”
       “Just because Nathaniel has joined doesn’t mean I will be here. I don’t have a reason to be and that’s that,” I said.
       “You will see my skills this afternoon in practice. We are working up for the big match towards the end of the year and I believe that you will be impressed by what I have to show,” Jason said but couldn’t add anymore since James came over.
       “Brianna, Nathaniel still wants to meet up with you after practice. I don’t know what he has planned but I am not going to start asking questions as we usually end up in a screaming match,” he told me and walked away.
       “Are you going to meet up with him?” Jason asked, disgust lacing his voice.
       “Yes I am going to meet with him. I planned on only staying at practice for only ten minutes before leaving, but now, I might actually stay a bit longer.” 
       “It’s like you have a crush on Nathaniel and you don’t even know the real him. He is sucking you into the web of lies to brainwash you into being something you aren’t!” he yelled.
       “And you wouldn’t? You seem like you are stalking me to begin with and now I am making friends with other people, you are going to try and ruin that for me. It’s like you don’t want me to be happy unless it is with you only and it never will be,” I argued back.
       “At least I don’t look like I have had plastic surgery to look like the way I do. It wouldn’t surprise me if you dyed your hair. I mean, your roots are black, not red.”
       “If you think that you can insult the Pryor’s, you have another thing coming. We don’t like it when people say things like that about us behind our back,” an unfamiliar male voice said behind me.
       I turned around and realised that he was related to the Pryor’s somehow. The wind was blowing his blonde hair everywhere and is eyes almost seemed black. He had the same paleness, beauty and was more muscular than James and Amylia. Jason was ready to have a comeback but the other’s, beside Nathaniel, joined him.
       “What has he been saying, Chase?” Amylia said asked.
       “That we have had plastic surgery to look the way we do. I think he is just jealous that we have beauty, brains and wealth all rolled into one,” Chase replied back and narrowed his eyes and Jason before glancing over at me. “And who is this?”
       “She happens to be my girlfriend,” Jason said and kissed me forcefully.
       I waved my hands around before pushing him off me and kicking him in the shin. There was no way I was going to date him. He wasn’t even attractive in my eyes. 
       “If Brianna was your girlfriend, why did she just do that for?” James asked and stood over the top of Jason.
       “She just doesn’t like the public displays of affection,” Jason said in pain.
       Nathaniel arrived onto the scene and thank god that he missed what Jason did and said. I don’t think none of us would have been able to stop Nathaniel from hurting him if he saw Jason kiss me. I couldn’t tell what Nathaniel’s feelings were and it confused me. Jason ran his hand down my back before I moved and stopped him from going any further.
       If he didn’t stop, I was going to cause him much more pain than a bruised shin. I would have killed him.
       “Do us all a favour and leave before we hurt you. Oh, and if you dare think about going near Brianna when one of us is around, think again. I will be sure to tell Dakota to keep an eye out and report back to us when she gets back,” Nathaniel said and grabbed my arm. 
       A spark ran through my arm and throughout the rest of my body. I looked at Nathaniel and saw that he had the same expression I had on my face; shock. Another thing I noticed was that his skin was a lot colder than James. James’s skin was cold, but Nathaniel’s was freezing and that if we ever got to the hugging stage of our friendship, I would shiver from his coldness.
       “Your skin is cold,” I said and looked up at him.
       “I know it is,” he said, defensively. “It’s the temperature that is doing it.”
       But it wasn’t a cold day. It was the third of February and over thirty degrees in heat, and he felt like it was the middle of winter. I wasn’t going to push the matter any further because of Nathaniel’s short fuse, but I did want to why he was so cold for. It didn’t seem normal. I thought people were meant to be warm, not cold.
       “Do you now understand why we don’t want you hanging around Jason for?”
       “He got me. And you know that I didn’t say hello to him on my first day here. He cornered me and started commenting on my eyes and hair. I mean, no one has ever said anything about them to me before.”
       “You do have nice hair and beautiful eyes. Your hair reminds me of blood as it is the same colour,” he said.
       “Gee thanks for making me want to put a colour in it now,” I replied and rolled my eyes. 
       “It does look like a blood rose and it smells like roses also. And your eyes look like lush green grass. You are a very beautiful girl and I am surprised that no one has stolen your heart yet.” 
       “Why Nathaniel, are you flirting with me?” I asked and smiled.
       “Maybe I am. Now come on, we are going to be late for lunch and I want to try and get to know your cousin better.”
       “What’s the urge?” 
       “Because maybe he might give me an insight on how your mind works if I can manage to become friends with him.”
       I started to laugh, but that turned into a shriek. I grabbed onto Nathaniel to stop me from falling as I looked at the person that pushed me. Augusta stood there with her arms crossed and fire burning into the pits of her eyes. She looked extremely mad and I knew it was at me. 
       “Nate, why are you still hanging around her for? I thought that you would have left her when Jason kissed her before,” she said.
       “He did what?” Nathaniel asked and turned to look at me with a look of hurt on his face.
       “Nathaniel,” I breathed, hoping to explain everything, but he took a couple of steps back from me. 
       “Didn’t you know? And it seemed like Brianna enjoyed it also,” Augusta added, with a satisfied look on her face from causing maximum damage. 
       “Excuse me,” Nathaniel said.
       “Where are you going?” I asked, but he ignored me and walked away.
       I called out his name a few times, but nothing. Augusta stepped out in front of me and crossed her arms and pouted. “I think you lost him, but keep in mind, you never had Nathaniel to begin with. You aren’t good enough for him and now, you have ruined that chance.” And she ran after him, trying to get her hooks into him.
       “You just aren’t happy unless you are ruining someone else’s life, are you?” I asked, watching her walk away.
       She stopped and looked at me, but continued on her way on finding Nathaniel. I needed to have a nice chat to Jason and set the record straight with him and I found him in my seeing range. As I walked up to him, I heard bragging to some of his basketball player friends about what happened.
       “After today, Brianna will only want me and no one else after what I show her on the basketball court and that kiss also,” he said, totally unaware I was standing behind him.
       I tapped him on the shoulder, before slapping clear across the face when he turned and looked at me. He held his cheek and looked at me in shock. “How dare you spread rumours about what happened when it isn’t true! I pushed you off me when you kissed me and now you are doing this? Is this some sort of revenge tactic or something?”
       “Baby, there was something there between us and you could feel it,” he said.
       “The only thing I felt was disgust and physically sick and now Augusta is using this to her advantage on making my life a living hell so thank you for making me want to hide under a rock for the rest of my time here.”
       “You’ll get over it and when you do, I will be here waiting for you,” Jason said, not getting my picture.
       “Then have fun waiting forever because the day I fall into your arms is the day hell freezes over,” I retorted and walked away.
       I looked everywhere for Nathaniel, but couldn’t find him anywhere. It was like he vanished into the thin air. He didn’t want to be found or he didn’t want to be found by me. I noticed Brandon was leaning against the building and he would be my best chance of finding and explaining what happened to Nathaniel. 
       “Have you seen Nathaniel anywhere because I can’t find him?” I asked as I walked up to him.
       “Yeah I saw him five minutes ago, but he didn’t say where he was going,” he told me. “Did something happen between the two of you?”
       “Jason kissed me and lucky Augusta had to see it. She told Nathaniel what happened and he fled, not giving me a chance to explain what happened or nothing,” I admitted. 
       “If I see him again, I will let you know,” he said.
       I left and continued looking for him. What made me freeze on the spot was that I couldn’t see Augusta anywhere. I got a bad feeling in my stomach. I decided to walk to the lunch room and find a table before everyone flocked into the room. When I opened the door, I saw Nathaniel there, sitting at a table and looking straight at the wall, his eyes dead. He looked up when I walked over to where he was and stood in front of him.
       “Do you know I have been looking everywhere for you?” I asked.
       “I don’t want to talk to you, so why don’t you go back to Jason and leave me alone,” Nathaniel said in a cold voice.
       “He kissed me forcefully and if you ask James and Amylia, they will say the same thing. I am not interested in Jason and never will be! He gives the creeps!” I cried. 
       “Then why does it seem that way?” he growled towards me. 
       “Because he is making it out to be; he knows that we are starting to become friends and he doesn’t like it, so the only way he can stop it is by doing this sort of stuff to make you hate me and that I will fall into his arms. He is sabotaging everything,” I said, deflated. 
       Nathaniel looked down at the table and didn’t say anything. I had lost this fight. Dejected, I slowly turned around and started walking away. My heart became heavy and I felt like screaming or breaking something.
       “Where are you going?” Nathaniel asked.
       “I can tell that you don’t want to speak to me, so I am going to leave you alone. Augusta got what she wanted, so this will make her happy,” I said when I turned around.
       “Brianna, I believe you. I should have given you a chance to explain what happened and not ran like I did.”
       “You should have,” I agreed. 
       Nathaniel got up from where he was sitting and slowly walked over to me and grabbed my hand. “I’m sorry, Brianna,” he whispered and pulled out a chair for me to sit in.
       “Did Augusta find you?” I asked and sat down. 
       “Yes she did, and she also tried to convince me to stay away from you. As you can see, it didn’t work,” he replied and sat in front of me.
       Augusta was going to work extremely hard to make my life a living hell. What would she be capable of if my friendship with Nathaniel grows? The devil herself decided to become known and walked up to where Nathaniel and I were sitting. 
       “Nate, I see that you are looking better,” she said and got right in his face.
       “No one calls me Nate unless I tell them to,” Nathaniel said in an angry tone. 
       “Is there a reason why you are here?” I asked, looking up at her.
       “I could ask you the same thing. I thought Nate would have made it clear that he didn’t want anything to do with you, since that’s what he told me,” Augusta said.
       I turned to Nathaniel with a shocked look on my face. There was no way I wanted to be lied to over something like that. 
       “That is a lie Augusta and you know that.” 
       She looked at Nathaniel and pouted, hoping to get him to change his tune on her, but it wasn’t going to work. Nathaniel got up from where he was sitting and looked towards me before turning his hard as stone stare back towards Augusta.
       “You know something Augusta,” Nathaniel started. “Brianna would never hurt anyone and if she did, it would only be by mistake. And then I look at you. You would hurt someone on purpose and not feel any regret. You don’t have a heart and if you do, it’s made out of stone. You are vain, selfish and are not happy unless things go your way. You crave for wealth and beauty and everyone can tell that you are wearing white powder on your skin.”
       “I have never heard you speak like that before,” Augusta said, her voice coming out in a whisper.
       “I am just stating what you are. You are trying to be someone you aren’t and it isn’t going to work. You’re a fake.”
       Augusta’s eyes narrowed at Nathaniel before she broke eye contact. If Nathaniel got out of this unharmed, I would be shocked.
       “What about Dakota? She is the same and in fact, I think she is trying to copy me. I was the ice queen and she stole that title from me!” Augusta yelled.
       It sounded like Augusta was bitter about Dakota. Was she as cold as Augusta says she is? Or is Augusta trying to make herself look the victim of something she is, and that she isn’t as bad as she’s giving on?
       “Dakota has been like that since the whole time I have known her. She doesn’t have the best past and she has a right to be the way she is, especially towards you as you tried to steal Chase from her,” Nathaniel spat and shoved past the both of us, walking out of the room.
       I shot a hateful glance at Augusta before running after him. I pushed open the doors and looked around for Nathaniel. I couldn’t see him anywhere and I only left five seconds after him. It was like he had vanished into thin air. 
       “Are you looking for someone Brianna?” Amylia asked, appearing next to me and making me scream.
       “Where did you come from Amylia?” I asked and placed a hand over my racing heart. 
       “That doesn’t really matter. Now, are you looking for Nathaniel?” 
       “How did you know?” I asked.
       Amylia’s laugh was like wind chimes in the breeze, but she stopped suddenly when Augusta walked out of the doors. 
       “What is all the laughing about?” Augusta asked.
       “Brianna, Nathaniel told me that he would meet you when the bell goes because he doesn’t think he is calm enough to be around you just yet, thanks to the witch standing next to me,” Amylia said, ignoring the fact that Augusta was there.
       “Nathaniel was fine until she moved here and now everything has changed for the worst,” Augusta said, stomping her foot on the ground.
       “The only thing that has changed is the fact Nathaniel is starting to become happier thanks to Brianna, even though they aren’t close. Making Nathaniel happy is something you wouldn’t be able to do!” 
       “And how do you know that? Nathaniel and I would be the perfect couple. I can just see it now; Diamonds and pearls when he does something wrong, being waited on hand and foot, designer clothes that cost more than Brianna’s and other poor people and all the other perks of being in a relationship with an extremely rich boy,” Augusta said with an look in her eye. 
       I heard someone clear there throat behind us. I turned around and saw a girl with green eyes that had glasses over them; blonde hair with brown roots and was taller than me.
       “Hello,” she said in a shy voice.
       “Well, if it isn’t the geek,” Augusta said.
       “Leave Christy alone,” Amylia said and smiled towards her. “Can I help you with something?” she asked.
       “Matt told me that Nathaniel has joined basketball and was told by our sports teacher that practice won’t start until three this afternoon,” she said, in a timid voice.
       “I will pass it along to Nathaniel when I see him. Have you met Brianna yet?” Amylia asked.
       Christy shook her head and looked at me, trying to see if I was like Augusta. When she saw that I wasn’t, she relaxed a little bit.
       “Hey,” I said.
       “Hi,” she replied back.
       “You said what you want, so you can go now,” Augusta said.
       I had enough of her attitude. Turning around, I looked Augusta up and down before opening my mouth. “The one that has to go is you! Nathaniel was right about everything he said about you in the lunch room. You are selfish and vain and only care about wealth. What you just said confirmed it! I can’t understand what the hell Daniel see’s in you! And it’s pretty obvious that you are trying to look like the Pryor’s with the white powder you have on you. You are disgusting and if you keep on acting like this, you will have nothing and no one and it will be your own goddamn fault,” I seethed and walked away, leaving her speechless.
       Amylia ran over to me and made me come to a stop when she stood in front of me.
       “I have never seen anymore stand up to Augusta,” Amylia said. “You have guts and you are feisty by the looks of things.”
       “I am just hoping that she won’t make my life a living hell now since I have done that,” I said and looked down at the ground.
       “Don’t worry about that. Once Nathaniel gets wind of what happened, he will be proud of what you said.”
       “What’s to be proud about? I told the ice queen to her face what she was and I am on her list of most hated, along with everyone else that isn’t rich. If she could, she would murder me.”
       Before she could reply, Christy came over with an upset look on her face.  Amylia walked over to her and placed a hand on her shoulder.
       “What happened?” she asked.
       “Augusta threatened me and said that she would steal Matt from me.” 
       “Don’t worry about her. Karma will come around and bite her one day. Isn’t that right, Brianna?” Amylia asked and looked at me.
       I opened my mouth to reply but the words vanished when Jason appeared in hearing range. He looked at me and smirked before slowly walking over to where I was. I had to get out of here before I said or did something I would regret.
       “Of course, and if you could excuse me, I have to go into hiding,” I replied.
       “Why do you have to do that for?” Amylia asked.
       “Jason just spotted me and is making his way to where we are. I don’t want to see him because of what he did.” 
       “He does do things that people don’t like. The whole time I have known him, he has done something that earned him a slap in the face,” Christy said, drying her eyes.
       “Ladies,” Jason said.
       “What do you want?” I asked.
       “I just wanted to see what was going for and too see if you wanted to have dinner with me over the weekend?” 
       Was he serious? I looked at him with disbelief and shook my head. There was no way I was going to have dinner with him over the weekend. Clenching my fists so I wouldn’t do anything, I took a few breaths in from my nose. 
       “I don’t think so. I promised my mum I would help her around the house this weekend while she is working,” I said, lying.
       “Even at night?” he pressed.
       “My grandparents are coming over to see me,” I lied, again.
       “Maybe another time then,” he said and walked away.
       I grabbed at my hair and pulled on it, almost ripping it out by the roots. He was never going to get the hint and it seemed about the right to get use to that fact. I looked down to my watch and saw that I still had four hours left of school. My stomach churned at that thought. I wanted to go home and sleep. I didn’t want to be here a second longer.
       “Are you okay?” Amylia asked.
       “I don’t feel well,” I muttered and walked over towards the office.
       “Maybe you need something to eat? That always helps me when I feel a bit unwell,” Amylia suggested.
       “What I need is sleep and some Panadol to knock me out,” I muttered.
       I opened the door and walked inside the room, getting a leave pass and walking out of the school grounds. I found the chemist that mum was working at and walked inside, catching her attention straight away.
       “Brianna, aren’t you meant to be at school?” she asked.
       “I would be, but I am not feeling well and I think I need to go home before I pass out,” I replied, glaring at the bright lights.
       Mum placed her hand on my forehead and looked concerned. I was starting to feel lightheaded and clammy. 
       “Wait right here,” she said and walked behind the counter. 
       I looked to see what she was doing and saw she was talking to someone. They walked over to me and that’s when it felt like all the breath had been knocked out of me. He was incredibly beautiful. He had light blue eyes, dark blonde hair and was tall. I thought Nathaniel was tall, but I was wrong. As he approached, I figured that he must have been related to the Pryor’s. 
       “Jack, this is my daughter Brianna,” mum said.
       “Nice to meet you,” I said.
       “So you’re the Brianna that my two sons’ were telling me about,” he said and smiled. “She doesn’t look well. The darkness around her eyes is a dead giveaway and the fact she has no colour in her face makes her look like she is the walking dead. Take her home to rest and if she isn’t better by tomorrow, I would take her to the doctor’s so she doesn’t get any worse.” 
       Mum nodded and went to get her bag, leaving me alone with jack. “Nathaniel told my wife and me about you last night, but he wouldn’t go into much detail. He did tell us that you were quiet thin and he is right. Are you eating enough?” 
       “Of course I am eating enough. I just have trouble putting on weight. Nathaniel and I didn’t start out on the best of terms, but now we are starting to become friends,” I said, smiling up at him. 
       “It’s good to see that Nathaniel didn’t fall into the clutches of Augusta. I was a bit worried for awhile there. Her mother works here, and she is the same as her daughter,” Jack told me.
       Mum came over and looked between Jack and me, but didn’t say anything. As we were walking out, I looked towards the counter and saw a woman glaring at me and my mother. The hair and face reminded me of Augusta and so did the icy glare. That must have been her mother. 
       I just wanted this day to end. Mum didn’t decide to make small talk with me on the way home and if she did, I didn’t have the strength to reply back. I must have fallen asleep as I felt a light touch on my arm. When I opened my eyes, I saw mum looking over and I realised that we were at home.
       “I suggest that you go to bed and spend the rest of the day there, sleeping,” mum said, looking over at me.
       “That’s if I can make it there awake,” I replied and opened the car door.
       I was feeling like death warmed up. I couldn’t remember getting sick of quickly in my whole life so this was a first and I was hoping that it would never happen again in a hurry. 
       “Why are you so tired for? The only time I have seen you like this was on your thirteenth birthday and you spent the whole night awake, hoping that you father would come and see you but he didn’t and I still remember the disappointment that was in your eyes for the whole day. Your young heart was broken,” mum asked, making me stop walking and freezing on the spot. 
       I placed my hand on the front door and closed my eyes. Images from that day played in my head over again. The day before my birthday, I happened to get a birthday card from my father and because I was so young, I believed that he would come and see me, as he was making contact with me. I spent the whole night looking out the window, watching the sun rise and crossing my fingers that he would come. He never did and I spent the whole day fighting back tears for the sake of everyone else and pretended to be happy when I clearly wasn’t.
       My eyes opened and a tear rolled down my cheek. All the pain and disappointment from that man entered my body, but I pushed it back. That was something I didn’t want to deal with. 
       I didn’t really want to tell her what the real problem was, but this my mother and she knows when something is wrong.
       “Mum, there is nothing to worry about. I just had trouble sleeping. If there was something else bothering me, I would tell you,” I said and walked inside. 
       That was the third lie of the day and I didn’t want to tell anymore for a very long time. I was only hoping that they didn’t come back and bite me. As soon as my head hit the pillow, I was out.


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