In Love and War

Truths were bitter. Truth. Sophie was dead. Truth. I was not going to be happy for a long time.
Truth. I was going to be sent far far away.

After losing her best friend, Charlotte moves away to forget her, to forget that the drama and the tension. Of course, she could never expect that the things waiting for her at the place she ran away to, would be far more painful.


6. Favor

Chapter Six


            Life after that was pretty monotonous. She went to school, sticking to Anna and a few other people that she’d managed to make friends with. She did her homework, read her books, and ignored the crazy looks from the physics teacher. Most people had ignored her, and she liked it that way.

            Two weeks later, she was called into the principal’s office again after school. She had done nothing wrong. She barely spoke to anyone. And she hated getting called into the office. Charlie mumbled out a hello to the receptionist, who she realized reminded her of Kathy Kinney.

            Walking into Mr. Schumacher’s office, she halted seeing the physics teacher. Her gut was telling her that whatever was coming, it wouldn’t be good. Mr. Schumacher smiled at her, in an overly sweet, frightening way.

            “Good afternoon, Charlie,” Mr. Schumacher said.

            “Hi,” she said cautiously, easing into the room and peeking occasionally at the physics teacher, who looked way too happy. She stood close enough to the door to be able to make a run for it. It wasn’t practical, but it made her feel a tiny bit safer.

            “You’re probably wondering why you were called here,” the principal said.

            She nodded.

            “Well, Mr. Unwin here,” Mr. Schumacher said, pointing to the physics teacher. “Tells me you’re doing exceptionally well in physics.”

            Exceptionally well? She thought. That’s an overstatement.

            “I try,” she answered.

            “Well, he was wondering if you were interested in tutoring,” Mr. Schumacher said.

            Charlotte paled. She didn’t want to spend time trying to get an unwilling teen to understand things that they would never need in real life. She had better things to do. She decided it was best to play dumb, very dumb.

            “But you said I was doing well,” she said. “Why would I need tutoring?”

            They looked stumped. It was what she was going for. If things got awkward enough they would let her go and she would be free. But Mr. Unwin looked determined.

            “Charlotte, we’re asking you to be the tutor,” Mr. Unwin explained.

            “Oh, I don’t think I’ll be good at that kind of stuff,” she said. She knew for a fact that she was. It was the sole reason Sophie never failed any of her classes. “So, sorry.”

            She headed towards the door. But Mr. Unwin asked to her to stop. There was a tone of, she wondered if it was desperation in his voice.

            “We could make it worth your while,” Mr. Unwin said.

            “Okay, this is weird,” Charlie commented. “I’m leaving. Sorry, but I really don’t want to do this.”

            “You were asking Mrs. Collins about a photography club.”

            She had, but it was a couple of days before. The school, despite having about four thousand students, didn’t have a photography club. She thought it was ridiculous.

            “There isn’t one,” Charlotte said.

            “There could be,” Mr. Unwin replied. “The school basically gives teachers the right to start clubs. If you’ll be a tutor to Lucas Shepherd, there’ll be a photography club.”

            She felt like she was missing out on something. But the prize they were offering. It was something to think about.

            “I’ll think about it,” she said. Before they could bribe her anymore she walked out of the room and to the front entrance where Anna was waiting for her.

            “What did they want?” Anna asked.

            “They wanted me to tutor somebody,” Charlotte explained. “And they seemed pretty desperate. Mr. Unwin said the school would start a photography club if I agreed.”

            “Okay, something’s wrong here,” her friend said. “Who’s the person you’re tutoring?”

            “Some guy named Lucas something,” she said.

            Anna squealed, and asked, “Not Lucas Shepherd?”

            “Yeah, that’s the one.”

            “Don’t do it. I’ll only say this once. Do not do it.”

            Margo walked out of the car, tired of waiting.

            “Don’t do what? It’s not drugs, is it lass?” she asked Anna.

            “No, tutoring,” Charlie answered.

            “Well, it’s good to help people,” Margo said. “You should try it.”

            “No, Charlie,” Anna said. “This is the guy that hit you with the volleyball.”

            Margo gave Anna a glare. “And why did no one tell me about this? Charlie, are you being bullied?”

            “No, Margo. It was an accident during gym. The guy said sorry.”

            “Oh, well then, you should help the lad out.”

            Anna’s ride pulled up just then.

            “I’ll tell you tomorrow,” Anna said. “Do not say yes to this.”

            Charlie nodded and waved a goodbye. She was silent the ride home, and pondered over her decision. A photography club was awfully tempting. She would finally get a chance to show her work to people. Anna was the only one who had seen her pictures, but friends were supposed to be supportive.

            She did her homework half-heartedly and fell asleep early, eager to go to school and find out what Anna wanted to tell her. The redhead was already pacing in front of the school, earning a few odd stares.

            “Hello Anna,” Charlotte said, snapping her friend out of her thoughts.

            “Good, you’re here,” Anna said. “Okay, we have twenty minutes. I’ll tell you all I know.”

            There was a small playground at the high school that no one really used. Charlotte and Anna took the two swings.

            “Okay, so our first day, I found it a bit weird that the blonde was so…”

            “Hostile?” Charlotte suggested.

            “Yeah. So I asked around a little about the guy. I know, I know, you don’t like that kind of stuff. But I was curious, okay? Anyway, I found that at this school, he’s basically the resident God. Girls love him, guys admire him. He’s captain of the basketball team, good at everything except school.”

            “And the problem is?”

            “The problem is he doesn’t do well with rejection, or physics,” Anna explained. “Apparently he’s an inch away from failing. And the school loves their basketball team. But he’s really stubborn. Guys don’t want to tutor him, because his team bullies most of the smart kids, or the normal kids, anyone that’s not popular really. Girls who do tutor him, end up dating him. And then he dumps them.”

            “That’s weird, he was nice enough when he talked to me.”

            “Well you’re cute. Not everybody likes that sort of thing, but you’ve got a little cute librarian thing going on.”

            Charlotte balked at her. “Seriously Anna? That guy was not interested in me.”

            “He’s interested in anything, Charlie,” she replied. “But I know you’d never fall for him or anything. So for revenge, he’ll get his little followers to make your life hell.”

            Anna stood up from the swing and took Charlotte by the shoulders.

            “Charlie, I know you love photography and everything,” she said. “But it isn’t worth it. You’re my best friend here. I don’t want to see you hurt.”

            Charlie breathed out, running her hand through her brown hair. The choice became so much more difficult now. Of course, Anna could be exaggerating. But it was unlikely.

            She didn’t pay much attention to the class, her choice seemed more important at the moment. She had barely gotten a chance to use Piper since she moved to New York, and especially since school started.

            Charlie silently sat at one of the tables near where the popular crowd sat. The noise they were making and the raucous laughter was annoying, but she needed to do reconnaissance. The guy she was supposed to tutor, Lucas, sat in the center, basking in the attention and obviously narcissistic.

            She admitted to herself that he was handsome. He had a nice face, with a strong nose and lively hazel eyes. He would make a good subject for her photography. She was staring directly at him, and no one had a clue. It was one of the advantages of having glasses and knowing how to use them.

            Her eyes scanned the table for the possessive girl from before, but she wasn’t there. Instead, a pretty brunette had her arm draped over the guy, feeding him. Charlie fought back the urge to gag. It was enough reconnaissance for one day. Not that she would need any more. Her decision was made.

            Mr. Unwin was on his laptop when she entered his room after school. He looked up at her with a hopeful smile across his wrinkled face. She hadn’t really observed him before, finding his interest in her to be slightly disturbing.

            He was a large man, but a little stooped with age, and pure white hair. His face had countless wrinkles, and laugh lines were present at the sides of his small brown eyes. He looked tired more than anything.

            “Yeah, I’ve considered what you asked,” she said. His eyes lit up. “And I’m sorry, but I can’t do it.”

            His eyes lost their sparkle, before he got up and walked over to her.

            There was a seriousness in his face, none of the hope from before. “May I ask why, Miss Grey?”

            “I couldn’t do it if I wanted to,” she answered. “I’ve seen the guy, okay. He’s not going to do a thing I say. And… I’ll end up a punching bag for his girlfriends.”

            He breathed deeply. His voice took on a louder tone, “That is the problem of this generation. They are so unwillingly to take risks. I think you are capable of this Charlotte. We wouldn’t have asked you if we didn’t think so.”

            “I’m the new girl, I have a total of three friends at this school, and only one that wouldn’t abandon me when times get tough,” she replied. “Don’t blame for not taking risks.”

            “Alright, maybe we can come to a compromise,” he suggested. Charlotte folded her arms defensively.

            “You’ll get your photography club, if you try,” he said. “Just one hour in the library. You can quit if it doesn’t work out. The club will still be there.”

            It was again, very tempting. Her decision was remade. Before she could let fear cloud her judgment and let her photography club slip away, she acted.

            “Okay, but I’m warning you. I will not be able to tutor that guy.”

            “Just try.”

            She stared at him blankly. He was starting to sound more and more like a motivational speaker by the second.

            “Just try,” she mimicked as she walked out of the room. She wouldn’t do that. One session, and maybe she would even leave in the middle. And even then, she was doing them a favor.

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