Sighing, Caleb Danvers shrugged out of his school blazer and draped it over the back of his chair before sinking into it. Every year, Winter Break seemed to get shorter and shorter. It seemed like just yesterday he was sitting in this same seat in the same classroom, looking around at the same familiar, bored faces of his peers.
Spotting his friends Pogue Parry and Tyler Sims enter the classroom, Caleb's face took on a look of acknowledgement and he lifted a hand and waved. Both boys gave half-hearted nods back at him, even less excited than he was to be back in school.
Tyler made his way to an empty seat a couple across the isle from the one Caleb was sitting at, and a few rows back in the tiered-fashioned room, and Pogue plopped down next to Caleb. The same seats they always sat in, day after day, even without assigned seats.
Reid Garwin, another brother from the Covenant, slipped into the classroom just as the bell was ringing, beating the teacher by a few seconds. He took the steps two at a time and slammed down in the seat next to Tyler, groaning his frustration.
"That break was a good five minutes." Pogue complained to Caleb.
"Try five seconds." He corrected, chuckling slightly.
Pogue smiled and shook his head. Caleb had to admit, though, it was almost good to get back into the regular routine. After his father's death from willing his Power over to Caleb, his alcoholic mother had taken a turn for the better. It was her, Caleb later learned, that convinced his father to do the deed in the first place. She had been going to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings ever since that night that Caleb almost died himself in the old Putnam Barn, fighting someone who threatened not only him, but his family, friends, girlfriend and the three-hundred-year-old secret that kept him and his friends alive.
Ever since they were kids, Caleb had been the closest to Pogue in their little group. He didn't know what it was that separated the group into two separate sections, but it had always been that way. Mostly, it was due to the fact that Caleb and Reid didn't get along for the most part. When it came down to what really mattered, they always had each other's back no matter what. But during the times when it didn't really matter, they were near enemies.
Caleb didn't like the way Reid walked around as if he owned the world, treating his Power like there were no consequences. Reid didn't like the way Caleb took control, saying his wasn't his job to be the boss of them all. But Caleb knew that if he wasn't around to knock some sense into his friend every once in a while, Reid would go over the edge. He was already teetering there, on the brink of addiction.
In a way, Pogue and Tyler were like the middlemen—the only things standing in between Reid and Caleb tearing each other's heads off at times. Pogue kept Caleb's anger and fatherly-like attitude towards Reid in check; telling him when to chill out and sometimes having to use force to get him to back off.
Tyler balanced out Reid's strong personality; if Reid was hard-headed and stubborn, Tyler was a loveable push-over and complete gentleman. While Tyler kept to himself and his close friends most of the time, a little shy around the ladies, Reid was the exact opposite—going after anyone and everyone who caught his eye.
Caleb was caught glancing up at Reid, who shot him a glare before dropping his chin onto his folded arms on the tabletop, flicking his eyes to the board. Sighing, Caleb faced forward again; another fight had occurred between the two of them last night. Another stupid, pointless fight that both of them refused to back down from.
The teacher—Mr. Logan—slammed the classroom door closed, announcing the beginning of class and the detention sentence for anyone who hadn't made it to class before the door was closed. Almost everyone in the class knew from experience that if Mr. Logan's door was closed when you reached the classroom, you were better off not showing up at all, and instead making up the time you missed in detention after school.
Even Reid had learned after several detentions that it was just better to run through the halls, even though it was practically the crack of dawn and he was still half-asleep.
As Mr. Logan started droning on about the Revolutionary War, most of the class dazed off. Caleb started doodling on the margins of his notebook, at least attempting to make it look like he was paying attention, Pogue began texting his girlfriend Kate on his cell phone under the table, Reid had fallen asleep almost immediately, and his mouth hung open as his head lolled to the side, and Tyler was actually scribbling down bits of what Mr. Logan was saying, in case any of it was going to be on his deadly final.
There was a loud noise at the door, and as most of the class glanced over, dark hair was seen flying past the small thin window. Everyone sat up a little straighter as the dark head reappeared in the window, falling over the owner's face, and a knock was heard against the wood.
Mr. Logan sighed loudly and looked over at the door before walking over and yanking the door open. "You're late."
"I know," the girl panted, her face slightly flushed from the mad dash she had obviously just taken. "I got lost…I'm new here?" Her comment was posed more as a question, as if she was unsure of this little fact.
Mr. Logan stared at her through his intimidating gray eyes, but she didn't seem all that affected by his cold glare. "What's your name?" He demanded.
"Arianna Dalton." The girl said, readjusting her books against her hip.
Her dark hair was a wild mess, her disheveled curls tossed all over the place. She sported a white long-sleeved T-shirt under the uniform blue sweater vest and her plaid blue skirt was twisted, the side zipper in front.
"Ah, yes, I remember." Mr. Logan said, giving in. "Take a seat, please. And next time…don't be late."
Arianna nodded dutifully and then scanned the room with her eyes, entirely aware of the twenty pairs of eyes all set on her. Finally, she started up the stairs, causing Reid to jolt and sit up as she walked past him and took a seat in the chair behind Tyler.
Reid shook his head in annoyance at being disturbed and then settled his chin back against his arms, his eyelids drooping for several moments before falling closed completely.
"Dude," Pogue said to Caleb, turning his head back to his friend and away from the new classmate.
Caleb didn't need to hear anymore to know what Pogue's thoughts on the girl were; it was obvious that she was attractive. "I know," he said, nodding.
Pogue might have had wandering eyes, but the second his cell phone vibrated in his hand, alerting him that he had a new message from Kate, his thoughts were instantly turned back to her; he was a good boyfriend, even if he liked to check other girls out every once in awhile.
Caleb was a little different. Sure, he wasn't so blinded by his own girlfriend's beauty that he didn't see the beauty that lay in other girls, but he accepted it and moved on. If Caleb wanted to be able to check out other girls, he wouldn't be with Sarah anymore. He was happy—no, more than happy—with what he had and he wouldn't do anything to jeopardize that.
When the bell rang at the end of class, it didn't take long for the students to leap up and bolt out of the classroom, eager to get to a more enticing class, at the least. The four friends met up at the doorway and strolled through the halls together, taking up their usual routine.
"Dude, that class is so boring." Reid complained, tugging at his blond hair.
Caleb smirked. "You weren't awake for more than five minutes, Reid." He said in amusement.
Reid rolled his eyes. "Five minutes too long." He said, his eyes following a girl a year younger than them with breasts way too big for her small body as she walked shyly past him, her books held close to her disproportionate body. Then, turning back to his friends, Reid's sharp blue eyes fell on Pogue's fingers as they flew across the keypad on his phone.
The only way Pogue wasn't running into people by his lack of attention, was because they all darted out of his way just in time. Pogue was the type of guy that could intimidate almost anyone—even in school uniform.
"You are so whipped, man." Reid said, laughing.
Pogue glanced up, his eyes flashing a warning at Reid. "Not whipped," he argued, "it's called being in love."
Reid gave a visible shudder at the word, shaking his head. "Sorry, that word isn't in my vocabulary." He said, making Tyler laugh and Caleb smile in amusement.
"Reid only knows about lust." Caleb stated, watching as his friend checked out another girl. "How's that working out for you, by the way? The whole badass, serial dater thing? Going well?"
Reid shot a look at his taunting friend. "Going fine, thanks. Great, actually. Probably getting more ass than you." He scoffed, sliding his hands into his pockets, slouching as he walked.
Caleb shook his head. Reid never quit. "Hey, Ty, we have Ceramics now, right?" He asked, changing the subject.
Tyler nodded, lifting his eyes from the fresh schedule he had on the front of his book. The new semester classes were throwing him off of his usual track. Some of their classes stayed the same, because they were year-long, but the electives changed by semester.
"Oh, hey, me too!" Reid said suddenly, pulling his crumpled schedule out of his back pocket. Pogue tossed a goodbye over his shoulder as he went off to find Kate at her locker and walk her to her next class, and the rest of the brothers continued on down the hall to the Ceramics classroom.
Caleb noticed when they first walked in that the girl from their AP U.S. History class was sitting on a stool at a table, her head bent over a notebook as she scribbled something down.
"Reid!" Ms. Daughltry—the young, pretty Ceramics teacher—called, wiping her clay-covered hands on her apron and walking away from the bowl she had been shaping. "Nice to see you again."
Reid grinned, loving the attention from the teacher that had all the boys talking. "Good to see you too, Ms. Daughltry; how was your break?"
Caleb and Tyler exchanged disbelieving looks—was there anyone Reid wouldn't flirt with?—and then took seats at the table next to Arianna. She glanced up when they sat down, and then did a double take before dropping her pen on her notebook and sitting straight on her stool.
After several moments of silence, where the two boys watched their friend interact with the blushing teacher, Arianna spoke up in a smooth, surprisingly confident voice.
"Is that your friend?" She asked, and when Tyler and Caleb looked at her, she nodded in Reid's direction.
Caleb chuckled. "Depends what day." He said, causing her eyebrows to raise.
"Reid's a handful sometimes." Tyler clarified and Arianna nodded, a shadow of a smile appearing on her face.
"I'm guessing he'll be getting an A in this class." She said and both boys laughed.
"He probably won't even need to show up—which is most likely his plan." Caleb said.
Arianna shrugged, picking her notebook up and closing the cover over the writing. "If it works, why not go for it?"
Tyler studied the girl, trying to decipher her unusual accent. It was European, but very faint. If he hadn't been paying attention, he probably wouldn't have picked up on it at all. He couldn't help but be impressed by her indifference towards Reid. Most girls fell all over the guy, barely even noticing the way he would make fun of them, or make fools out of them. As long as he smiled while he did it, he would still be their Golden Boy.
"That's Reid's motto," Caleb said with a chuckle. He remembered harshly that sometimes this motto didn't work out according to Reid's plan, not that he cared all that much anyway.
"We haven't even met and you're already talking about me?" Reid smirked at the girl, sliding onto a stool across the table from her.
Arianna gave him a close-lipped smile, the corners of her mouth just barely curving up. "Just observing you charm the teacher—nice work, by the way. She's blushing."
Reid glanced over his shoulder at Ms. Daughltry, who was marking something in her grade book. Sure enough, her pale cheeks were covered in a soft pink glow. Reid shrugged, turning back to Arianna. "Every woman needs a little special attention sometimes." He said with a half-smile.
Arianna raised her eyebrows and nodded. "I guess you're right…but not all women need that special attention from someone like you."
Reid didn't have time to respond, because Ms. Daughltry started speaking at that moment, and after a few minutes, Reid glanced over at Arianna to continue their bantering despite the fact that the teacher was talking, but she was staring straight at the teacher, not even noticing that he was watching her.
At the end of the class, Arianna bolted out of the classroom as quickly as possible, bumping her shoulder on the doorframe on her way out. Reid fell into step with his brothers as they exited the classroom at a leisurely pace and scratched his chin.
"So…who is she?" He asked.
"Arianna…she was in our History class as well." Tyler informed him, searching for his math homework in his notebook.
Reid groaned in annoyance. "I hate how the hot girls always have to have all the attitude." He complained and Caleb snorted.
"And how the guys like you have all the ego?" He suggested in amusement.
Reid puffed up his chest. "There are no guys like me; I'm one-of-a-good-looking kind."
Caleb rolled his eyes. "You wish, Garwin."
Arianna slammed the stall door closed and sat down on the closed toilet lid. Her first encounter with the boys and her heart was already beating twice as fast as it usually did. It was easy thinking of them less as people and more as a mission when she wasn't face-to-face with them. Caleb and Tyler seemed so kind and open. Reid seemed so…well, it didn't really matter how Reid seemed. Arianna had already decided she was going to have to go after Tyler.
She took a deep breath and pressed her fingers into her closed eyes. It would be so much easier if they weren't nice. If they were assholes then Arianna would have no problem completing the task. Douche-bags weren't worth a hesitation when it came to her own life. But Arianna found it hard to be selfish when it came to nice guys.
She needed to talk to her brother. He had a way of making her hate everyone.