Amanda forced herself not to think about Holland, poor Holland who'd offered to go tell Victoria their news. She hated to watch her best friend face that witch - Victoria was bad news, always had been, and Amanda had never respected her values. Holland could just about match her personality, in strength, but Amanda knew that, in heart, Holland just wasn't there. Victoria's ice could never be split with Holland's bread knife - the task was impossible.
Amanda made a right turn towards Emma's house - one of five flats on the corner of Harvey Drive. Of course, she'd chosen her house with no intention of worrying about its appearance. With money and business far out of their hands, Emma had picked the smallest, eldest and most peculiar home of them all. Victoria, of course, had chosen the newly built mansion in the centre of town (in walking distance of the high-price shops). But Amanda and Holland, obviously the most mature and sensible of the girls, had chosen to live together in a two story house not far from school, conveniently in equal distance from both Victoria and Emma's homes, and with a secluded backyard in which they could train and be sane.
For Holland, Amanda was aware that it wasn't just about two friends living together with an equipped house. It was a lot about having a place with enough rooms for all four girls to stay if necessary. Holland believed that their home was a good enough place for all of them to let go for a while, to be themselves. Of course, Amanda understood that, but she'd much rather live with Holland than live alone.
'Hey!' someone called out. A boy with a funny accent. 'Amanda!'
She froze. Where was she? Had she taken a wrong turn? Was she not walking through the part of town specifically put aside for retirement villages and washed-up graffiti artists who grew weed to sell for a living?
So why was Bastien, the French boy, calling out to her?
She turned around, much more than curious. 'Bonjour...?'
'Hello,' he said with a friendly smile. 'You feeling better?'
She pulled a face. 'What?'
'You walked out of the test this morning,' he said. 'You were feeling sick.'
'Oh! Right,' she laughed uneasily, 'I remember. Erm, yes, I'm better, I think. Ate a bad egg for breakfast, I think.' Lie. She hadn't eaten. And she still felt sick.
Amanda smiled and turned around to keep walking, subsiding her suspicions of Bastien. Had he followed her? Had he slowly crept alongside the bushes when she'd been with Holland? Rubbish, she thought to herself. What would he be following her for? As far as he knew, she'd left during her French test because of a stomach complaint.
'Wait for me,' he said. 'I live around here. I can walk you to wherever you need to go.'
Before she realised it was happened, her hand slid over her handbag. Was she protecting it from him?
'No, thanks. I'm fine. I know just where to go.'
'Amanda,' he said, looking down at her. 'You look like you're about to retch. Is it because the test was too hard? If you want, I can help you.'
She stopped walking long enough to make him pause. 'My French is just fine, thank you.'
He scoffed. 'N'importe quoi! Qu'est-ce qu'il y a?'
Amanda paused slightly, waved him off and then started walking, trying to cover the fact that she didn't understand by smothering her face with an annoyed expression. She needed to get to Emma and while Bastien's concerns were flattering and his accent evidently dreamy, he wasn't about to take away what had happened to her test paper.
He was back at her side in an instant, using both hands to hold up the straps of his backpack on his shoulders.
'I know you didn't understand what I just said. Relax, French is really difficult.'
Amanda smiled sadly. 'Believe me, I know. Acing tests is kind of a habit of mine, and your stupid language really gets in the way.'
He chuckled. 'Will you accept my apology on behalf of the entire French nation?'
Amanda couldn't help but smile and look up at him. 'Yes, I accept your apology. Thank you.'
'De rien. Est-ce que je peux t'aider?'
She slapped his arm. 'Seriously,' she said, trying not to laugh. 'I don't understand anything.'
'Est-ce . . . que . . . je . . . peux . . .'
'Bastien,' she giggled. 'I'm not kidding.'
He laughed. 'Then let me help you. I'm pretty sure you know how much of a loner I am. At least let me tutor you.'
'Tutor?' Amanda had never even considered being tutored in her life. The idea seemed weird and pushy and dumb.
'Yeah, but its between friends so you don't have to pay me . . . unless you don't want to.'
She shook her head and looked across the road to Emma's block. 'Maybe my inability to succeed in French is just what I need.'
He shrugged, smirking down at her. 'Fair enough. See you around, Amanda.'