Tip. Tap. Tip. Tap. I drummed my pencil against my desk, staring at the mass of black two rows up and two seats to the left. Percy Jackson, the guy I'd been in love with since the eighth grade. Somehow Mr. Boring-No joke, that really was our teachers name!- introducing us to his "little friend", Miss Pronoun, (Gotta love tenth grade English.) just didn't compare. But back to Percy.
He was smart, cute, athletic, and kind. He never judged others and was always there when you needed him. He-
"Huh? What! Where!" Snickers flitted throughout the class at my outburst and I realized that while I'd been drooling over the Greek God a few seats up, Mr. Boring had asked me a question.
"Can you uh repeat the question?" I asked weakly. He sighed, turned his back toward me and began to march towards the front of the room. "Annabeth, Annabeth, Annabeth. You are a bright child, but only if you," at this moment he spun around and jabbed his pointer in my direction, scaring me half to death, "apply yourself!" More chortles, most not as discreet as before, if you can call them discreet at all.
Suddenly, Mr. Boring rounded on him, making him jump. A few giggles, but not mean like they were for me, more like that's-our-friend-over-there-he's-all-uncomfortable-glad-it's-not-me-poor-him! He's just like that.
"Mr. Jackson, since Miss Chase could not give us the answer, perhaps you know whether or not Romeo killed Tybalt, Juliet's cousin." Oh. We must have finished the lesson on pronouns and moved onto the Shakespeare play while I was on Planet Percy.
"Uh…well…you see…" The boy in question stalled, obviously not knowing the answer. Titters flew through the room and even I had to smile. He looked so dang cute when he was concentrating. Percy opened his mouth, but right at that moment the bell rang, causing a relieved expression to take over his features. Instantly, (A/N: Why doesn't this ever happen in real life? You see it all the time in movies. But then again Hollywood isn't life. Oh well.) the Populars, jocks, and preps leapt out of their seats and sped through the door, leaving behind myself and a few other stragglers.
I reached over my chair and slung my bag over my shoulder. Only it didn't go that way. My bag ripped as I swung it through the air and my books and notes (I like to design buildings in my spare time; I plan on being an architect.) went everywhere. Hhhhhhhh. (I have no idea how to write a sigh. Suggestions would be welcome.) Welcome to my life.
Chapter 2: An Odious Offer
"Annabeth, I think Conner's looking at you!" I glanced over my shoulder to see that Silena Beauregard, my best friend, was right. She giggled again before adding, "What are still over here for? Go see what he wants!" Then Silena bent down conspiratorially and scanned the perimeter as if to make sure what she was going to say was not in danger of being overheard.
Her effort was wasted as, because we were changing classes, the halls were filled with the sound of stomping, laughing, yelling, and chitchat.
"Maybe he wants to ask you to Prom!" This oh so important exclamation was followed by a snort from moi. "Hey! I'm totally serious! Conner Stoll could be trying to ask you to Prom!"
"Yeah cause everyone knows that by making eye contact with them is the same as asking them to Prom!" My friend punched me lightly on the arm. "You know that's not what I meant!"
"But besides, why would Conner ask me to Prom? I mean-"
"He's walking over here!"
"Wha-" I couldn't finish talking because at that moment I felt someone put their hand on my shoulder. Turning around, I wasn't surprised. Conner.
"Chase. Annabeth Chase." Conner announced once we were in an empty classroom. Now if somebody like Conner Stoll ambushes you in the hall and says he wants to talk, the best thing to do is run away. You see, Conner and his brother Travis are notorious for the pranks they play and for their all around spitefulness. So have one of them asking to speak with you? Bad news.
But, unfortunately, I hadn't run so, I was in an empty classroom-8th Grade Bio- waiting for Conner to spit out whatever unpleasant garbage he had to say. I thought he was just going to ask me to the Prom and if I agreed stand me up, but it turned out to be much, much worse.
"Annabeth Chase," he repeated again. I sighed. "Spit it out."
"Excuse me?" I checked my watch. "I said 'Spit it out;' I don't have all day." He laughed and, surprisingly pliant, replied, "Okay!"
He reached into his book bag and pulled out a crumpled sheet of graph paper. With a jolt I recognized one of my buildings on the back. If he was going to tease me about my architecture stuff…
But, instead he just smirked at the paper a moment before laying it down on a desk. Then my heart took a nose-dive through my rib cage and into my stomach. My face and neck lit up like they had never before because on the front of the graph paper was not a building blue-print as I'd expected but a…
Suddenly, Conner snatched up the paper and began to read:
"Dear Percy, You may not know me, but my name is Annabeth Chase. Maybe you do; after all, we used to play together when we were younger. Things were a lot simpler than. But we grew up and everything became complicated…"
"STOP!" I couldn't believe this. Conner Stoll had some how managed to get a hold of my letter. The letter I'd written to Percy.
About a week ago, Percy and I were paired up for a lab in science class. It was them that I realized I had to tell him. And after much contemplation, I decided that the best way to do this was a letter. So, all week I wrote draft after draft. And now Conner had one of them.
Shaking with mirth, he managed to choke out, "I gotta say Chase, I never woulda guessed! You seem the kind of girl who go after someone nerdy like Malcolm, not someone like….well like Percy! (I know in the books Malcolm's her half brother, but he's not in this story.) Oh this is rich!" He snorted again. "The two of you…I gotta figure out how to best use this info to my advantage."
"ADVANTAGE!" A moment passed before he replied.
"Oh I know! When he gets crowned Prom King- and you know he will-I'll go up to give a speech and read this letter aloud for the whole school to hear! And then everyone will know that you are in love with Percy Jackson!"
Oh. My. Gosh. This was so not happening. Somebody pinch me please.
As Conner got up to leave it finally sunk in: He was serious. He really was going to read my letter to the whole school. And then what? What would happen after that? What would Percy do? Would he be shocked? Embarrassed? Or possibly…relieved? That I liked him? Maybe he liked me! Oh my gosh if he…
Then, I realized that having my letter read to the entire school was not a good way to find out if Percy liked me. I had to do something to stop Conner.
"Wait!" His hand resting on the doorknob, my new enemy turned around to face me. "Yes?"
"Is there….could you….I mean…"
"Spit it out! I don't have all day!" He was clearly relishing using my words against me.
I tried to find the words, but they wouldn't come. Conner started to the turn the door knob but I screamed, "WAIT! Please! I'll…" I suddenly realized the enormity of what I was promising. But then I thought of my letter and what would happen if I didn't somehow stop Conner.
"I'll do anything."
For a second, I thought he was going to whip open that door and run off, but, thankfully, he stepped away from and it and began to stroke his chin thoughtfully. "Anything, eh? I gotta say, Annabeth, you sure do know how to make a man rethink his actions. Well let's see you can't prank Travis-he's vacationing with a friend, Michael Yew,- and I've already given my best prank to someone else…and I can't exactly have you…wait! Now there's an idea!"
Conner looked at me with excitement taking dancing in his eyes. One word popped into my mind: uh-oh.
I was right. After thoroughly explaining what he wanted me to do, Conner added, "And if you mess up, your little letter go's public." And then he was gone, leaving me alone with my thoughts and a rising feeling of dread.Chapter 3: Punch With Kick
Prom: You get all dressed up in fancy clothes, meet up with the person of your dreams, maybe ride in a limo (If you're lucky.), and dance the night away. In a few words: The Night That Teens Live For.
So why was I, dateless Annabeth, sneaking in the backdoor a half-hour early? Simple: Percy. I didn't want him via the Conner-route to find out that I liked him. I wanted to be the one to tell him. So if he had to tell me he didn't feel the same way, it would be much less embarrassing for the both of us. Besides, I wasn't going to let that stupid Stoll beat me.
And, I'd spent all of last night writing and rewriting the note; I'd decided to give it to Percy after the dance. Then, I would take whatever came be it joyously wonderful or despondently awful.
Getting in was no problem. The door was unlocked which was strange because our school is really tight on security. Oh well; I'm not complaining. Once I was in, I crept along the dark corridor until I reached the cafeteria/gym/make-shift auditorium. (Our school has a low budget.) One word: WOW.
Pushed against the left wall were about five tables all draped in dark green table cloths and festooned with golden streamers and sparkles. A disco ball hung from the ceiling and gold and dark green streams were strung between the supports on the ceiling. Balloons were everywhere: the ceiling, the floor, taped to the wall. All dark green and gold of course; it seemed this was our school's chosen color palate.
I stood there for a moment, letting the magic of Prom sink in. But then I snapped out of it; I hadn't come here early just to ogle. Striding across the room, I reached the punchbowl in no time.
It looked like some sort of concoction straight out of a witch's cauldron. I did a 360 and, seeing that no one was around, gingerly dipped my finger into it. I brought the finger to my lips. Mmmm. Lime. To bad I had to spoil it.
Once I'd again made sure no one was around, I slipped my hand into my purse and retrieved a bottle. Ipecac. I unscrewed the lid and was about to drip a few drops in when a voice suddenly spoke. "Annabeth?"
I spun around faster than twister to see Percy staring at me with a weird expression. Then his eyes flew to the bottle. I saw them widen slightly. "I-I ca-"
Just then the gym door flew open causing both of us to jump. Framed in the doorway was one of the lunch ladies. She was holding the legendary Prom cake. See, if Prom were a crown the cake would be the crowning jewel.
Luckily though, the lunch lady hadn't seen us, so without a second thought, I grabbed Percy's hand-his hand!- and dragged him under the table. From there we crawled, the enormous table cloth-heaven bless the designer- concealing us, until we reached the other doors. After we quietly slipped out them, I grabbed Percy's hand again and dragged him into the first room I saw. Which just happened to be the girls' locker room.Chapter 4: If Lockers Had Ears
"Well, this stinks." I glanced over at Percy. "Yeah, with a capital 'S'." He nodded.
About a minute after our escape, some school worker, probably a custodian, swung by and locked the locker room door, saying, "That'll keep them rascals from sneakin' off!" Of course he didn't know Percy and I were in here. So, for the last few minutes we'd sat in silence. Percy looked lost in his own little world so I didn't try to talk. Besides, what do you say to the guy you're totally in love with when you got him locked in a girls' locker on Prom Night?
Suddenly he sighed and piped up, "This is all Conner Stoll's fault." Nothing could have spiked my attention more. "Really?"
Percy studied me intently before announcing, "I think I can trust you." I blushed and nodded so he continued. "You see, Conner got a hold of something I'd written…" Now it was his turn to blush. I wondered what Percy had written that would make him go red.
"Something you'd written?" I prompted when he didn't go on. "Oh. Yeah. Well, I'd written something that I didn't want anyone reading and somehow Conner got it and he told me he'd read it to the entire school tonight if I didn't…" At this he fell silent again. I waited a minute and then took action.
"If you didn't…?" He sighed again. "If I didn't sabotage the cake." A gasp flew form my lips. "THE Cake?!?!" Percy hung his head in shame. "Yeah, 'The Cake'. I was going to do it too, that's why I was here early. But then I heard you and went to investigate."
Then it seemed to dawn on Percy that I too had been here early. "Hey, Annabeth, what were you doing here early?" Now it was my turn to avoid talking. But Percy was able to probe the answers out of me the way I was able to do to him.
"Hey, I spilled my beans; you have to do yours."
"I don't have to do anything!" That was the wrong thing to say. Percy backed off and I immediately regretted snapping at him. "Sorry, It's just that…Conner got me too. And that's why I was here early; he wanted me to spike the punch with ipecac." I pulled out the bottle to show him. Percy inspected it and handed it back to me.
"No, prob." Then the weirdest thing happened: Percy started to laugh. I shot him a strange glance. "What's so funny?"
"Nothing really," he got out in between his chortles. "It's just that here we are trying to sabotage Prom, the biggest night of our school career, and in any minute our classmates are going to arrive and soon after that Conner Stoll will spill our utmost secrets to the whole school and all while we're locked in the girls' locker room."
I couldn't help it. Soon Percy and I were both clutching our sides and laughing-he on the ground, having fallen off the bench, and I still on the slab of wood-so boisterously it's a wonder the janitor didn't come and find us "rascals."
But that all ended when we heard the voice. Conner's voice to be precise, coming from the gym. He was using the mic so his voice filled the entire room plus the hallway and the locker room.
"Guys, girls…my classmates, I want to welcome you all to Prom!" There was the thunder of applause and I realized that while Percy and I had been talking, our classmates had filed in.
Percy shot me a look that clearly read, He's going to do it, Annabeth! For my reply, I simply winced and nodded. Then suddenly I had an idea. "Wait, Percy!" I said grabbing his shoulder. "Maybe he hasn't noticed that we haven't done our pranks! If we could just get out…" I trailed off when I realized that my "brilliant idea" wasn't so brilliant after all.
"And if we did, what would do? It's not like I could exactly ruin The Cake and you spike the punch in front of everybody. Besides, I bet he came a few minutes early to make sure we actually did the pranks."
"Oh. Yeah, I just don't want my letter read aloud."
"Yeah. I wrote a letter to…someone and that's what Conner's using for blackmail."
"Ahhh. Who's it for?" At this I flushed scarlet. "None of your beeswax."
"That's okay; I wrote a letter to someone too."
"You did? Who?"
"You tell me and I tell you." Here it was, the moment I needed. Looking into Percy's deep, sea green eyes I realized I would never have chance like this again. I opened my mouth to speak…
"…and now that we have that taken care of, I'd like to read you something special." Percy and I both gasped simultaneously; we had kind of/sort of forgotten Conner, as weird as that sounds.
"Ugghh!" Percy sank onto the bench, his head in his hands. I immediately sat down next to him. "What is it, Percy? What's wrong?" Looking up at me, he replied, "I just didn't want you to find out this way."
"Percy, what are yo-"My query was drowned out by Conner, who had begun his reading.
"Dear Annabeth," Everything froze. I turned to look at Percy, but he was staring at the ground, not meeting my eye.
"I'm going to be pretty straightforward: I like you. A lot."
Oh. My. Gosh.
"You're confident, smart…" I think it was then that it finally hit home. Percy Jackson like me, Annabeth Chase.
"…and a lot of great things. Which are some of the reasons I love you." My heart, right along with my classmates sighed "Awwww!"
"So," Conner proceeded after that, "If you feel the same way for me, meet me at the southeast corner of central park after school." Percy finally met my steady gaze.
"And now, ladies and gentlemen, do you want to hear who this charming letter to Annabeth came from?" The crowd had one answer: They roared "YES!"
Percy's face was beet red. "Look, Annabeth, I didn't tell you sooner-" He didn't get to finish because I put my hand over his mouth. Then I reached into my purse and pulled out the second copy of my letter. Hands shaking, I opened it up and all sounds-the crowd's shocked silence (Sometimes silence can be louder than screaming.), the on-going drip-drip-drip of some pipe…-all faded as I began to read.
"Dear Percy, do you remember that little girl you used to play with at preschool? That girl was me and I've never forgotten you. Because, you, Percy, are pretty hard to forget. Believe me; for the past two years I've tried to forget about you." I felt tempted to look up at Percy, see what his reaction was. But I plowed on.
"But, obviously it didn't work, because here I am writing this letter to you. This letter to tell you that…" My eyes flitted to Percy's to see that he was gazing at me with an intensity I had never seen before. I dropped my eyes to my letter, staring at what I had written. Then I looked back up at the boy I had loved since the eighth grade and said three words: I love you.
Which was the right thing to say because the next instant, Percy's lips were on mine.
Chapter 5: Ice Cream Seals the Deal
After the janitor "busted us rascals", Percy and I went back to Prom. Of course there were stares, and whispers, and giggles, but I didn't care and I don't think he did either.
We danced, ate and drank the non-sabotaged cake and punch, and even kissed, cue the blushing, a couple of times. (Two, in case you're wondering!) In short: It was one of the best nights ever.
There was one thing that made it better though. Towards the end, Percy and I, arm in arm, sidled up to Conner who was leaning up against the far wall, an expression of almost-anger residing on his face. He'd been like this since Percy and I had come back from the locker room a couple.
I guess having the people he pranked look really happy and nonchalant about what he did really bugged him. Oh well. That's his problem.
"What do you want?" Conner snarled as we approached him. "I already made you into a couple!"
"That's exactly why we're here," Percy replied smoothly. "to thank you for that." Then I handed Conner the extra glass of punch I had in my hand. He looked at it dubiously, but had to drink it when Percy raised his hand and toasted, "To you Conner, may you always be…healthy." He looked at me and winked and I almost gave everything away right then. Luckily, I was able to swallow my yummy lime drink without laughing and spraying Percy and my enemy, too bad.
Conner threw us a weird glance but downed his punch. He must have been really thirsty, because it only took one gulp.
As Percy and I ambled off, we could here the sounds of someone gagging over and over again.
"So," Percy asked as we stood in the school parking lot waiting for our parents to pick us up. (Neither one of us had a car.) "So?" I answered back.
He laughed. "So, I was thinking-"
Suddenly, my dad's car sped around the bend and screeched to halt right in front of us. Percy started to say something, but my dad rolled down the window and yelled, "Annabeth, come on!"
So, I leaned over, gave Percy a quick peck, and told him, "I know a great place where we can get ice cream. It's called The Ice Cream Scoop and it's on Fifth Avenue. Let's get together after school and go there. Cool beans?"
"Cool beans!" He agreed laughing. Then it was his turn to give me a quick kiss. But then my dad honked again, so I hopped in car and he sped off. Leaning out the open window I waved and yelled, "Tomorrow after school! Don't forget!" Percy cupped his hand and answered, "How could I!" And then we turned the corner and he was gone.
"So, who was that?" My dad asked after a few moments of silence. "What? Oh just some kid at a school."
"Just 'some kid'?" In answer, he got a light punch on the arm. "I think you should tell me about this boy, Annabeth. So, I can make sure he's worthy of you."
I rolled my eyes, but decided to comply; my dad would pester me endlessly until I did. "Well, I guess it started when you enrolled me in Miss Tia's preschool…