Rasul picked me up the next morning and smiled when I ran down the front steps to get in his car. I wore another of my new outfits; Jason’s hand-me-downs were now relegated to the clothes I would only wear doing chores around the house. Knowing that I was going to be backstage again, I was more casual with black capris and a blue and green paisley tank top. Aware of the running I would have to do backstage to get everyone ready, my shoes were my more sensible blue Tevas. I braided my hair into pigtails after putting my contacts in. Jason shook his head at me again that morning and I stuck my tongue out at him. I liked looking nice.
We pulled into the lot with enough time to socialize and get our stuff before class. I introduced Rasul to Amelia, Tara, and Holly, along with JB, Tray, and Alcide. Everyone but Alcide smiled when Rasul took my hand to walk me to my locker.
We talked more about our schedules as we maneuvered through the halls. He had the same lunch as Tara and JB, so I wouldn’t see him until we got ready for the afternoon matinee. He was a senior, so most of his classes were in a different building. He softly and sweetly kissed my cheek before going to get his things for class.
There were, unbelievably, more stares today than there were yesterday. Seriously, it’s like all those terrible teen movies: the pretty girl ditches the glasses and ponytail and everyone wants her all of a sudden. I knew that I could be pretty if I put forth an effort. Hell, the past few days have proven that. But for people that have known me forever to suddenly not recognize me. It’s kind of insulting, but flattering at the same time.
I got to my AP history class and noticed that jackass Bill Compton winking and smiling at me. Fuck that! His family lives next door to Gran and he had made it his duty since grade school to torment me. It took a minor ass-kicking from Jason to get him to leave me alone. Besides, he was too short for me. I want to be able to wear heels with a guy and not tower over him. As if his personality alone wasn’t enough to turn me off.
I met up with Amelia and Holly after class and we went to our usual patch of grass outside the Fine Arts building. Alcide and Tray were waiting for us there. The guys got kisses from their girls, Tray and Amelia went out to the Jeep, and I settled on the ground with Alcide and Holly. I pulled out my list of assignments from English and Journalism to catch up on what I missed during those classes since they were after lunch and I would be missing them all this week.
Holly asked how the shows were going and I amused them with the story of the bird attacking Dawn, the snobby bitch who got the lead in every single production. Alcide grumbled about Rasul just loud enough for me to hear and I frowned at him. I told them the plot of “Oliver!” and told them they should come see one of the weekend shows. Since I was part of the crew, I had a certain number of comp tickets that I could give to family and friends. Holly looked like she wanted to, but Alcide just shrugged. Fuck him.
Amelia and Tray returned and seemed receptive to coming by one of the weekend shows while I packed up my backpack to head into the auditorium. Rasul surprised me by meeting me, since he got out of class early to get to the show. He took my hand and walked me to the door backstage.
Oh God, she looked good. And what was that foreign fucker doing driving her to school? How did she even know him? That little tank top made her eyes glow and those pants… how had I never noticed that ass before? Really, pigtails? Schoolgirl fantasy, anyone? I was so fucked.
She met up with her friends and she walked into the halls holding that fucker’s hand. Why did I care? She was no. one. No one. Except one of the most fascinatingly complex girls I’d ever encountered. She was smart enough to ace AP classes and keep a position on the school paper, but able to go out and get stoned without a second thought. And now she was so fucking hot, the school was in danger of being flooded by the drool she induced. Yeah, gross image, I know, but so fucking true.
Bill met me at my car with Thalia and Felicia. I was so sick of these same faces over and over. The same mindless conversations. Bill followed my gaze and smirked. “I know, right? If I had known she was gonna look like that, I would have been a hell of a lot nicer to her when we were kids. All I saw was a gangly tomboy with skinned knees. No idea she looked like that under those baggy t-shirts,” he said and I resisted the urge to punch him. I knew what she looked like under the clothes and I was sick as hell about it.
We made our way to our lockers the way we did every morning, parting the crowds in the halls like the Red Sea. I was last person to look down on popularity. I fucking loved it. It made things a lot easier, socially. But it was so. Fucking. Repetitive. The same people. All the time. The same gossip. All the time. The fact that it was exclusive made it a pain in the ass. Mingling in different cliques was not permitted. But there were dabblers. Like Hadley and Sophie. Through their boyfriends, they got to the best parties, but they didn’t hang out with the people that went to them. Sookie seemed to hang out with the hippies and potheads by the Fine Arts building, but she also was involved with the drama geeks. And, again, with her connections through her cousins, she could go to any party she wanted to. She just didn’t seem to want it.
I passed the Hippie Hangout on the way to my locker to swap books and saw Sookie and the Spanish guy heading for the auditorium hand in fucking hand. Watching her walk in those tight little pants made my own feel tighter. Isabelle and Felicia walked by together and led me to my locker, lost in my distracted thoughts. I made it to chemistry, but damn if I could remember a single thing that we covered.
I started working on getting the middle school chorus ready again. They were either in the workhouse at the beginning or part of Fagin’s gang, so how “dirty” I had to make them look depended on what part they played. One girl, tall with long platinum blond hair, was not happy about the black powder I had to blow over her face. She was part of the gang of pickpockets and actually had a couple of lines. I asked how she liked being in the musical.
“Oh, except for the makeup and nasty costumes, I love it. For once, my parents will get to see something I do instead of going to my brother’s games.”
“Your brother is an athlete?” I asked, feeling stupid, but I was distracted by the dark eyes following me around back stage, making me a little giddy.
“Duh. He plays football and basketball. You probably know him; everyone else does. Eric Northman?” she said, her turquoise eyes clear and curious.
Fuck me. Seriously, his little sister? Damn it. “Yeah, I’ve met him.” I mumbled and I sent her on her way to work on another chorus member.
Once the kids were done, the other make-up girl Melanie and I started working on the leads. She did the girls and I did the guys. Rasul was the last in my chair and I smiled.
“Can I take you home again this afternoon?” he asked and I thought it was sweet that he would ask.
“Absolutely. And I’ll make it easier for you. If you want to give me a ride every afternoon, I’d accept,” I said before realizing how that sounded. Melanie and Dawn started cracking up as I turned red. “I mean… umm.. you know what I mean, right?”
He smiled, fortunately not realizing why what I’d said was so funny. “I do.” He leaned back with his eyes closed and let me do my thing, making him look like a charming rascal that just happened to be great at picking pockets. When I was done, he opened his eyes and looked at me directly. “I like you, Sookie. A lot.”
Yeah, that would be my pulse speeding up and heat in my cheeks as I blushed a deeper pink. “I like you, too. Break a leg,” I said, wishing him luck as I went to sit in the wings.
It was hot in the auditorium and especially in the wings from the lights and the lack of air conditioning. It was an old building. I went out into the hall at intermission to get some fresh air, leaning against the cool tiles of the wall. I heard a groan in front of me and there was Mr. Cocky Ass himself.
“Hi Sookie,” he said, his voice soft. What the hell was this?
“Hi Eric,” I said dryly. “Can I help you with something?”
“I just wanted to say… umm… hi,” he trailed off and tried for a smile, but it looked more like a grimace. Did I make him nervous?
“Well, you’ve said it. By the way, I met your little sister today.”
“Pam? Fuck, that’s right, she’s in the play. I forgot.”
“Nice brother,” I said, rolling my eyes. Jason had spoiled me; he was extremely attentive and supportive of his little sister. “I need to get back in for the second act. Later.”
He looked like he wanted to say something else, but the lights were blinking signaling that the second act was about to start. I closed the doors and made my way back to the wings to watch the rest of the show.
The rest of the show was a success, especially since no birds decided to attack our cast. I started getting things ready. I liked my backstage area orderly and organized. It made things so much easier if there was a time crunch. I made sure the makeup labels were clear and hangers for costumes were labeled. I got out the makeup remover since, in this heat, the stuff was miserable. I love putting it on people and the fun you could have with it, but wearing it was a whole different matter.
Rasul came to meet me after removing the makeup and changing back into his street clothes. When we got to my house, he accepted my invitation in and sat on the porch swing with me. He leaned in and kissed me so softly and sweetly. I wasn’t expecting that. His mouth was warm and molded to mine perfectly. His hands cupped my chin as he tilted my head for a better angle and lightly ran his tongue over my lips, asking for admittance. I opened my mouth for him and he deepened the kiss, massaging my tongue with his own. Holy cow, that was something.
But in the back of my mind, I couldn’t help thinking that it wasn’t knee-weakening like Eric’s was. Bad brain, no thinking about that asshole. Focus on the hot guy kissing you now.
We sat on the porch, just kissing, for a little while longer before he had to go. He said he’s be there in the morning at the same time to pick me up. I know I was walking around after he left with a goofy grin on my face that was not caused by smoking anything.
My mom noticed and asked me about the “nice boy” that drove me to school. At dinner, I told her and Daddy about Rasul and the play. Mom hopped on the fact that he had driven me home two days in a row and was planning on picking me up again tomorrow. You would think she was a teenager again by how giddy she was over my life. It was a little disturbing, but I was used to it.
I dressed with care again the next morning. I pulled out some khaki hiphuggers and a gray button down sleeveless shirt. It was another backstage day, so I dressed for comfort and coolness. I slid my sandals on and ran to the kitchen to grab some breakfast before Rasul picked me up.
I got a quick kiss on my cheek when he opened the door for me. We drove to school and he pulled into the same spot as yesterday He opened the door again for me and held out his hand to help me from the car. As he closed the door behind me he leaned in and whispered, “So beautiful, Sookie,” and kissed me.
I heard a door slam hard and looked around. I saw the red Camero rocking and the form of Eric leaning against the car. He wasn’t looking in our direction. Hmm… wonder what put him in a mood that he would potentially ding his baby.
I told Pam good luck before leaving that day and she squeaked like I hold told her I had kicked a puppy. Apparently, it’s bad luck to say “good luck” to someone on stage. You said “break a leg”. Well, that was just stupid. I mumbled it as I walked out to my car. At least I was trying.
As I pulled into the lot, I saw the blue Taurus behind me. They parked on the other end of the lot from me. As I got out I glanced in their direction and saw him kissing her. Kissing? And not just a peck either. I slammed my door with more force than I had intended but the cracking echo it made across the rapidly filling parking lot caused heads to turn. I turned away, not wanting to draw anymore attention to myself than I already had.
What the fuck was wrong with me?