CHAPTER 1: Anne
I push my ear phones into my ears and skim through the choices on my ipod looking for the play list I want. Dropping my bag on the floor, I follow it, resting my back against the wall of the school hall and sit cross legged. The time on my phone reads 3.30, an hour and a half to wait for Lizzie. As if reading my thoughts, I catch her scowling at me. She hates this. Hates me if I'm totally honest. I can't really blame her, what teenager wants to have to drive their little sisters around? But that was the deal. She got the car, but had to play chauffeur to me and Mary. If I want dropping off at the cinema later to meet Harriet, or picking up from Choir practice on Thursday, every Tuesday I have to sit and watch her rehearse.
Street dance has suddenly took off due to all the hype created by the talent shows on TV. 'The Crew' only has room for the best. Amazing good looks, that rival the stars of Hollywood, but who also, surprisingly, have the talent to dance. I mean seriously, they have everything. Being a gorgeous group of the most popular kids at school, my big sister Lizzie was obviously a shoe in. The main dancer; tall, athletic body, long blonde hair and big blue eyes. All the boys want to go out with her and all the girls want to be her. Shame all her beauty is definitely on the outside. Next to her is Louisa, equally gorgeous with the long blonde hair and blue eyes that seem to shine as if she already has every spotlight in the world centred on her. It doesn't help that they are the only girls in 'The Crew'.
They both share a mutual hatred of me and love nothing more than showing me. They're sat there now, supposedly helping The Captain do the schedule for this terms rehearsals, but they are both looking at me, whispering and grinning. Probably discussing my choice of jeans or the way I have my hair. I shouldn't let it get to me but sometimes I couldn't block it out and today was one of those days. I had had a really crappy day at school and wanted nothing more than to curl up on my bed, pj's on and listen to some cheesy romantic music to make me forget how shitty my life was. I turn the volume up on my ipod a little more and close my eyes. Trying not to let my mind wander to a pair of gorgeous blue eyes, that were currently ten feet away from me, staring at Lizzie and Louisa.
The rest of the Crew is made up of the hunky seniors, that make most girls – and their mums- go weak in the knees. The Captain being one Fred-swoon-Wentworth. Thick dark hair that you just want to run your hands through, bottomless blue green eyes, and lush lips you could never get tired of kissing. Add onto that the body of one of the cast of '300' and you have the reason most girls at our school cant even look him in the eye without fainting! He's also, intelligent, nice, polite and even has a wink and smile for the nerdy, awkward shy little sister of his team mate, crouched down at the back constantly humming along to her ipod, in other words, me.
Fred's best mates James Benwick, Harry Harville and a few others make up the rest of 'The Crew.' James, being just as tall, but with a leaner body, thick black curly hair you want to scrunch and thick black rimmed designer glasses that just magnify his blue eyes. Harry, the complete opposite, big built like a rugby player with broad shoulders and strong arms. He had the ruggedly handsome thing nailed. Big brown friendly eyes and unruly brown hair that was always getting in his, usually black, eyes. He was always getting into scrapes, today he was sporting a limp, from a fall or something.
Suddenly, I am pulled from my day dreams by a shooting pain in my side and a weight on top of my legs. I open my eyes and am horrified to find the colossal form of Harry Harville spread over my crossed legs. God he was heavy. I couldn't move. He was laughing and as I removed my ear buds I could hear others joining in. Particularly the loud squeals of Louisa. Lizzie was red faced and looked at me furious. Shit, what have I done now? Little sister in the way again. Surely she can't think this was my fault? Harry was grunting some sort of an apology trying to pick himself up. Saying something about not even noticing I was there. Yeah that's me, little Anne Elliot invisible to the rest of the world. Suddenly the pain inside my chest was a lot more than the soreness creeping in from the bruises forming on my legs. I jumped up clutching my bag, damn I must have hit my head because it hurts. I shift myself into the corner next to the storage cupboard, hoping here is far away enough to not piss Lizzie off and also so the rest of the crew forget me long enough to stop laughing.
As I sit trying to concentrate on my sister rehearse, and not on Fred's body moving across the floor, Miss Russell, rushes into the hall carrying a large pile of brightly coloured flyers.
Miss Russell: mid fifties, hair just starting to grey but still manages to pull off glamorous, effortlessly. Impeccably made up and attired. She was the epitome of 'Old Hollywood Actress' graceful. So it was startling to see her so harassed as she made her way across the hall, ignoring the faces my sister was throwing her way.
Lizzie couldn't understand Miss Russell favouring me. In her book, that made her 'weird.' But to me she was more than a teacher. Always had her door open ready to talk and offer me the advice I nearly always needed and took! She was especially kind to me when my mum passed. I felt I could go to her with anything.
A leaflet flutters to the floor, I catch it and my heart stops.
Miss Russell looks around obviously trying to locate the owner of the little squeak that had just escaped my lips. As I straighten myself up and put my bag on my back storing my ipod away in my pocket. She sees me and smiles.
"Yes Anne, it seems another American craze has caught on," gesturing to 'The Crew.' She was never very fond of this side of the arts. She appreciated acting and music much more. "We're going to be running one." Miss Russell answered, pinning one on the notice board.
"We? Do you mean you will be running it miss?"
A sudden surge of excitement ran through me. Glee club, like the TV show? Lots of social misfits coming together and singing. Sounds like this could definitely be my thing.
Miss Russell was the music teacher, and an amazing singer, she had been putting me through my paces for a couple of years, ever since I was unexpectedly picked for a solo in the school choir and she realised my 'potential'.
"Yes. And in answer to your next question, no, you will not need to audition. You are already officially my first member and team captain, and your first job is to help me with said auditions."
I stand there, mouth open and am reminded of 'Mary Popping's' words, "We are not a codfish" and promptly close it again.
The excitement leaves me nearly as fast as it arrived, and fear takes over. On the TV show, the team captain led the others and did most of the solo's. That was so far from my comfort zone I wasn't sure I could even put it into words. But I needed to try. There was no way I was a leader. I wasn't Lizzie.
"Mm-me? Sing, like on my own, in front of people! I don't think I could do that miss."
I don't think?
There's no way on this earth I could that! It one thing to be hidden away at the back of a twenty strong choir, only having to put up with the occasional spot light on me for the few seconds I sing solo. But this…
As if reading my thoughts miss Russell tips her head to one side and looks at me.
"Anne, I'm a teacher, I'm paid to bring out the best in my pupils and I am telling you, yes you could!"
The next thing I know 'The Crew' are all around us reading the notice. I feel a warm sensation on the small of my back and realise someone has their hand there, not being too familiar with this sensation I shudder and look to see who is being so familiar. I turn slowly and come face to face with the oceanic eyes of Fred Wentworth. He smiles at me. As if on auto pilot, my mouth immediately smiles back.
"Do you mind?" He pants.
He's short of breath from rehearsing and has beads of sweat all over him, and all I can think of is yum.
"Do I mind?" I ask, not sure if the words have actually left my mouth.
"Do you mind moving over, I can't see the notice?" He smiles again, I blush at my obvious awkwardness, that has arisen from the fact HE has spoken to me. I'm still stood there frozen to the spot, when he says "please?"
Suddenly realising my embarrassment, and the fact we are not alone, I quickly shuffle out of the way and out of the hall as fast as my legs can carry me.