The Kissing Dilemma
Three Months Earlier
The one thing I do not expect to see walking early into English class is Mr. Morgenstern kissing my mother. Wrapped in each other's arms, they're oblivious to the world, engaged in a locked lip battle, almost falling out of the chair he's sitting in.
Oh. My. Motherfu – oh, God. Even saying mother makes me nauseous.
I swear I'm going to puke my guts out any second.
The door slams shut behind me, and lightning jabs them asunder, my mom pushing herself off my teacher, who scoots as far back as he can.
They both whirl around to see me.
My mother flushes a deep shade of tomato. "H-honey," she manages. "Why, I…"
Finding nothing to say, she looks at Mr. Morgenstern. He is an even darker shade of red that she is. Edging on purple, even.
"You're early," he mumbles, addressing everything in the room but me.
"That's right," my mom says, latching onto something reasonable. "I thought we had a few more minutes to…ourselves."
My breakfast almost comes up right then and there.
"I mean, I thought students tended to arrive after the bell!"
And here she's the one who taught me that the early bird gets the worm.
The urge to throw up grows even stronger, and I realize with horror that it isn't my mind deceiving me. I literally feel my breakfast roaring up my esophagus. Madly dashing for the door, I try to hold it in, rerunning the school map in my head, searching for the nearest bathroom.
Instead, my mouth opens against my will and my breakfast flies out – and lands all over someone's chest.
I look up, and this time, it's my turn to turn red. Golden eyes, silky blond hair, perfect lips, high cheekbones. Out of all days to be early, he just has to choose today.
"Jace." The surprise is evident in Mr. Morgenstern's voice. "Why are you here?"
The guy takes in Mr. Morgenstern and my mother's matching tomato-painted faces, obviously realizing something is going on. Then his eyes flick down to me, and the disgust is obvious. He wrinkles his nose at the smell and pulls gingerly at his shirt.
"You told me yesterday to come in early," he grimaces. "But I think I need a change of clothing now."
Lesson learned: Never go to English class early. Ever.
I am still at my locker when the bell rings, which isn't a surprise; this happens every day.
People rush by me, worry plastered on their faces as they thud down the halls. It is kind of stupid in my opinion. If you're already late, why bother, right?
I grab my Holt Literature textbook, slam my locker close, and head toward English class. A hundred feet from the door are the popular skanks and jocks, jostling to the door, laughing and kissing.
My eyes narrow down to one guy. Jace. He has that lazy look on his face as usual, but it doesn't fool anyone. Off on the track, he is anything but laidback. He's the quarterback of the varsity football team, the star midfielder of the varsity soccer team, the anchor of the relay team, varsity tennis player… The list stretches for miles.
He is also the guy I threw up on, which is why I always stare at him. It's definitely not because he's mouthwatering hot, with those heavy-lidded gold-colored eyes (seriously, who has golden eyes?), the shock of blond hair, and those sculpted cheekbones. Not to mention the strong jaw and the broad shoulders.
Afraid he'd catch me staring, I force my eyes to wander over to one girl and watch her take one last drag of her cigarette, then stomp on it, and follow the rest of the crowd in.
I count silently to forty before heading in, slinking to my seat on the side of the classroom. Our teacher, Mr. Morgenstern, has already begun class.
He slides a sideways look at me but doesn't say anything.
I arrive late every day, yet he never marks me tardy, never tells my mother. He owes me, after all, ever since the incident. However, instead of apologizing and breaking up, my mom and he have become more open with their relationship. Now I constantly get unneeded glimpses of their fun times sharing spit. On top of everything, he also forces me to call him Valentine. Or Val.
I have absolutely no interest in calling him anything, especially no nicknames.
His monotone voice drones on and on about some Shakespeare shit. Bored, I open my notebook, doodling, stopping only when my ears pick up the words Romeo and Juliet, my favorite in-class book by far.
Something about a play…
"As the project for this semester, we're going to put on a play of Romeo and Juliet." Valentine smiles. "It's not finalized yet, but there's a possibility we'll be preforming it for the whole school. If not, we'll definitely be doing it for the freshmen."
"Wait," Jonathan, this clueless blonde who sits diagonal behind me, interrupts. He holds up his hand. Which is useless, if he had had the brains to think about it, since he's already interrupted. "Isn't Romeo and Juliet for freshmen?"
Thank you, Captain Obvious. For repeating exactly what Valentine had just said.
"Yes," Val explains patiently. "But the facility thinks that freshmen are too immature to act out such a serious piece of literature, so they've left it on us not to botch it up.
A look of understanding passes through half of the class. I almost laugh at the juniors. The rumors about them being all smart alecks for their SATs? Bull. They can't even read between the lines: screwed up teacher gets bored with his own pathetic life and wants to mess ours up even more.
Unfortunately, it seems like me, the only sophomore in the class, can see it. And maybe Jace…currently asleep with his head on the desk.
Sadly, the reason I'm in honors 11th grade English is because my mom had declared me "precocious for my age" and forced them to put me a grade higher. It's not hard to guess how I got accepted into Valentine's English class. And why for every other subject, I have regular sophomore curriculum.
Valentine walks around the room with a basket, and everyone pulls out a piece of paper. I pray for something along the lines of "bush." Or if I'm lucky, "backstage artist." At least I could do something I like.
He stops in front of me, and, fingers crossed, I thrust my hand in, digging long and hard for the tiniest piece. He walks away, and I watch as he wacks Jace on the head, drawing several giggles from the class.
If that's me, it'd probably be snickers. Jace pulls a paper lazily out with such grace that I can't help but do what 99% of the other girls are doing: staring. The 1% who isn't is Isabelle Lightwood, his stepsister. So…duh, she isn't drooling. Unless she's interested in incest or something.
I open my paper, and then shut it quickly, groaning loudly and swearing profusely. Valentine raises an eyebrow. "Okay there, Ms. Fray? Disappointed you didn't get the lead?"
"Worse," I mumble. "I did."
Laughter bursts out outrageously from the back where the popular jocks and sluts sit. The jocks nudge each other. I feel my ears burn with embarrassment, and I sit lower in the seat.
"Eager to find out which gentleman will be Romeo?" Valentine's eyes glitter.
"I wouldn't want to be him," a nasty voice coughs. I turn around and flip Jonathan off. Bastard.
"Who's Romeo?" Valentine calls out. No one answers, and I sit taller, turning in my seat to look around the room. Everyone's head is turned, staring at Jace's upraised hand.
So that's why they were laughing. Hot, popular Jace with loser, freak me.
Jace catches my eye and grins, and the image of me puking all over him fills my vision again. I scowl back, trying to disappear in my seat. He's probably remembering and laughing at me.
"Why do we even have to put on a play anyway?" I complain, not afraid to glare at Valentine.
"Calm down, Clary," he says. "It's only a class play. It's not like it's the school play."
My mom chose a stupid man to love. "Uh, yeah, but we're putting it on for the whole school."
"Do you want your 4.0 GPA or not?"
That shuts me up pretty fast.
And I hate him even more when the juniors all start laughing.
I am really starting to hate being "precocious."
Precocious my ass.
Valentine drops me off in front of my house at six. One of the perks of having your parent date your teacher: you get a free ride home. But as usual, a pro comes with a con: staying at school until he's done with his work.
After thanking him stiffly, I stalk up the path to the house, bang open the front door, and storm to my room, letting my heavy backpack hit the hardwood floor with a thud.
"Clary! The floor!" Mom screeches from the kitchen.
"Oops!" I yell back.
"Yeah, right!" She retorts. What a high maturity level. "Come help me set the table."
I trudge to the kitchen and grab two plates. She scoops out a portion of the rice, and Chinese-style chicken and vegetables onto each while I pour water for myself and red wine for my mom.
"So how was school?" She asks to make conversation.
A concerned look. "How so? Your grades are still all A's right?"
I stuff a forkful of chicken in my mouth. "Our friend Valentine threatened me."
Mom had been reaching for her wine, and now it freezes halfway to her lips. "Clary!" She admonishs.
"He did! We were assigned parts to a play that I didn't want to do, and he threatened to fail me."
"At least that's more reasonable." Mom sips the red wine. "What play?"
I stab the beans. "Romeo and Juliet."
"Honey, that's great!" She smiles. At least someone's happy. "Who are you?"
"Juliet." I focus on releasing my anger through chewing.
Mom's eyes twinkle. "And Mr. Romeo is…?"
Only the hottest guy in our school.
I drink a long gulp of water, uselessly trying to delay answering. "No one special."
Abruptly, I stand, ending our conversation, and dump my dishes in the sink. Discussing Jace or Romeo and Juliet is the last thing on my list.
In fact, it lands right next to cleaning the bathroom.
The writing style's a bit different from what I normally write…don't know if I like it or not, thought. Characters have obviously different personalities than Cassandra Clare's, except maybe a few…like Jace. :D Because we all love Jace exactly as he is.
Clary's sarcastic in this story!