"And then you'd just leave them there." Laura finished, gesturing wildly.
Audrey looked up from her pre-cal textbook to give her friend a strange look. "Laura that is honestly –"
She stopped. Just over her friend's shoulder, a dark sharp was walking over the crest of Wallingford's slight hill. Audrey knew from the jaunty stride and raven-black hair who it was. Cassel Sharpe- her heart skipped a beat as his name drawled in her mind, just like the way it had when he had first introduced himself. The red head could remember that math class quiet well. There had been more than a few sighs that had escaped the lips of the girls and at least two from Audrey's circle of friends. Audrey had just shaken her head in bafflement at their immediate infatuation. Then the notes had begun to be passed. It seemed that the girls of her pre-cal class found that fact that "He's so tan! Do you think he's foreign?" And "His eye's are so dark! I bet he get's into lots of trouble!" too interesting to wait until break.
By the time the bell rang Audrey was leaning towards who and what she thought this Cassel was, but tried her best to reserve her judgment: maybe he wasn't so bad.
Audrey tore her eyes from the boy and looked back at her friend. How long had she paused for? "Th-that's a horrible idea. Geez Laura." Audrey shook her head like she had meant to stop in the middle of her sentence. Laura, although quite use to her ideas getting shot down, still looked slightly crestfallen and turned to look at her phone. Audrey took the opportunity to glance back at Cassel. He was now surrounded by a group of sophomore jocks. While Cassel seemed to be doing nothing suspicious, every few second, one of the jocks who wasn't talking would scan the area. It made the whole affair seem like the group was doing an arms deal.
No, it wasn't until the end of the second class that Audrey decided what Cassel was- a player. Girls, chatting them all up with that drawl of his, surrounded him as long as they could before their teacher started to teach. He would flash his crooked smile whenever he caught one of them looking at him and the girls would giggle like he just told a joke. And by the end of that class of watching him pull his moves, and although she had firmly decided he wasn't much more than a low-life player, she also realized that she had not evaded his net of attraction.
"Hey, aren't you done yet?" Laura demanded suddenly, eyes still glued to her Blackberry.
"What?" The redhead asked, feeling as if she had just missed something. Her attention was still mostly on Cassel and the jocks- he had just accepted an envelope. The jocks were making it like a drug deal was gong down, but Cassel looked like tucking an envelop into his jacket's inner pocket was the most natural thing in the world.
"Your homework." Laura spoke slowly, teasing her friend. "Are you. Almost. Done?"
"Oh right." Audrey glanced down into her lap. She had forgotten about her text and her pencil had rolled off the page.
"We were suppose to meet Cassie and them in the dinning hall like, five minutes ago." Laura tapped her friend's homework. "Come on."
Audrey looked back at Cassel, who was alone and. Her heart quickened as he started down the hill her in direction. "I've got three questions left. You go ahead." She murmured. Wait; did he just smile at her? Audrey quickly lowered her head.
"But you can finish it later." Laura replied, confused. "You'll have a ton of time after dinner."
Audrey, her gaze still lowered, shook her head. "I've got to finish the chem review, plus there's the French verb work sheet." She forced herself not to look up.
"As if those won't take you five minutes." Laura grumbled.
Audrey couldn't resist any longer. She looked up again, but this time she caught Laura's expression. Her blond friend was grinning like a fool.
"Never mind." Laura snickered gleefully. "I get why you don't wanna leave." She stood and threw a glance over her shoulder. "Looks like he's coming this way. See ya later!"
With a giggle, Laura took off towards the dinning hall leaving Audrey who was beginning to panic.
"Okay, don't look up." She muttered to herself. "Keep calm, do your math."
The red head refocused her eyes on the problem. Draw the parabola for the equation –x21/6x+2. Well, if there's a –x2, then-
"Hey, is that the math homework that's due tomorrow?"
Audrey felt like she was going to puke. Or pass out. Maybe both.
He-hey Cassel. And yeah, it is." Her mind, usually capable of maintaining small talk for hours was strangely blank.
"I'm glad you remembered my name Audrey." He grinned as he returned the courtesy. Butterflies started flapping about in the red head's stomach.
Two gears finally clicked in her head and Audrey formed a question. "Are you done yet?"
"Not even close." He laughed. "I'm kinda stuck on a question. You?"
"Um, yeah, I'm nearly finished." She stammered. Get a hald of yourself Audrey! She mentally scolded. He probably does this to every girl. But she couldn't help it. The way he was holding her gaze, the way the light danced across his skin, the way his voice was lighter then usually.- a part of her was screaming that this was only for her. "Do you want some help?" She asked after a few seconds of waffling back and forth.
"I thought you'd never ask." He flopped down beside, grinning that crooked grin.
The breeze lifted then, messing his hair slightly. Audrey caught the scent of something sweet, but spicy and it made her slightly lightheaded.
"So, um, which one are you having trouble with?" Aubrey breathed, trying not to show how flustered she was.
Cassel scooted closer and leaned over, making their shoulders almost touch. Audrey could make out the darker lines of his skin beneath his white dress shirt. Maybe there was something to his foreign-ness.
"Let's see…" He murmured as he pushed up his sleeves. "It's this one." He tapped one of the questions Audrey had finished a few minutes ago. She quickly re-read the question.
"Okay, so it's asking you to find the equation of the parabola using these two points." She pointed to the small graph. "So first you gotta find the slope."
"Wait, would I use that 'Y2-Y1 over X2-X1' thing?" He asked.
She nodded. "Exactly."
"Oh okay." He pulled the edge of the book towards him, brushing her leg slightly. Audrey felt as if her leg had just been shocked. "Then I'd use an X and a Y to isolate for b?"
"That's right!" Audrey smiled at him. 'See, you didn't really need my help." She watched his intense stare as he worked out the question in his head. Abruptly, he turned, stopping just as their faces were only inches apart.
"Or maybe," he suggested, "You're just a really good teacher"
Audrey's mind went blanker than it ever had before. All she could see, Cassel's fathomless eyes and their piercing gaze, blocked out any other thought. His eyes flickered down to her lips before raking slowly back up to her eyes.
"Maybe you're just a good student." She choked out, hoping her voice wasn't as uneven as she heard it.
He chuckled and leaned back, letting the fog in Audrey's mind clear. She breathed a quite sigh of relief.
"Hey, if I go grab my book, think you could help me with the rest of the questions?" He asked casually. "I'll make you a mocha latte. I can make a mean mocha latte." He added as if that was the deal-clincher. He flashed his crooked smile and raised an eyebrow.
"Actually, I have to go." Audrey shook her head, feeling buzzed. "I'm already late."
The smile dropped slightly with disappointment, but quickly recovered. "Oops, didn't mean to keep you. Where are you going? I'll walk you there." He offered.
Audrey's butterflies were replaced by something warm and fuzzy. "It's not a problem. And yeah, I'd like an escort. I'm going to the dinning hall."
"Great." Cassel jumped to his feet, taking her book bag with him. "Need a hand?" He held out this other hand chivalrously.
"Thanks." Audrey smiled again and took it. He pulled her up easily and she wondered exactly how much muscle was contained under his skin. The brief contract left her hands tingling under her glove. Audrey could have sworn he hadn't wanted to let go.
They walked a few steps before the wind came up again, blowing about their hair. Cassel reached out and wrapped a loose strand around his finger.
"So is this real?" He asked, seeming to be only half joking.
"Oh come on!" Audrey laughed and pulled her head so the lock slid from his grasp. "Do you see any roots?"
Cassel, who Audrey hadn't noticed was slightly taller than she was, took a quick look. "Not that I can tell." He grinned. "Maybe you really are a part of the dying ginger breed."
"I prefer to think of it was auburn." She said with a toss of her head. "So what were you doing with those jocks? They don't seem like your type."
"You're right, I usually go for the skinny science geeks." He agreed without a hint of a smile.
Audrey bumped him with her hip. "Come one, I'm being serious!'
"Alright, alright. It's just an extracurricular activity I'm doing." He paused. "Wait, now it's sounds like I'm running a brothel."
"A little yeah."
"I swear that's not it." He frowned. Audrey noticed that somehow, even his frown was crooked. "That might be something worth looking into though."
At Audrey's gasp, he quickly retracted his statement. "That was a joke. This school seems to be taking away everyone's sense of humor." He added the last part under his breath. Then he cleared his throat. "No, it's just a little something I do for extra cash. Pardon me if I can't thread my shoes with hundred dollar bills."
Audrey frowned. She wasn't anywhere close to being one of the richest families, but neither was she among the poorest. Solidly middle class at Wallingford, though anywhere else, the words "Rich princess" had followed her. "It's not like we can do that." She murmured, hoping it didn't make her sound like a brat.
"Aw, did Daddy not let you use his Platinum card this weekend?" Cassel cooed. Audrey knew he meant it as a joke, but it still stung. She hated being "One of the rich kids" as much as that was petty. She frowned again and turned away from her now confused escort.
"Hey, I didn't mean it." Cassel apologized from over her shoulder. "I'm sorry, I just figured that with your leather bag and matching shoes…" He trailed off, realizing he probably wasn't making it any better.
Audrey sighed and turned back to him. "It's okay. I just don't like to talk about that sort of thing. It's not my choice to be rich, you know?"
Cassel nodded slightly. They had reach the doors for the hall and Audrey didn't want to go.
"I can take my stuff from here. Thanks for carrying it." She smiled reluctantly.
"No problem." He grinned again. This time though, it seemed more genuine than usual, shooing away any hurt feelings his previous comment had made. "So about that mocha latte…" His voice was boyishly hopeful.
"Yeah, I think I can do that." Audrey matched his tone. "I'll see you later Cassel."
"Yeah, see ya." He gave her one last winning smile before pushing open the heavy doors for her.
The mess hall was an explosion of noise after the quiet of outside. Audrey spotted her friends right away and bee lined over to their table.
"OMG, was that Cassel Sharpe, THE Cassel Sharpe?" Brooke, Audrey most girly friend, gushed when she arrived at the table.
"Yeah." Audrey muttered. It had started, and she wasn't even sitting yet. She dumped her stuff beside her, remembering just then how obsessed her friend was.
"You're almost as red as your hair." Laura commented sassily, as if Audrey's hair was the only point of comparison in the large hall. "What happened after I left?"
A chorus of "What?!" and "Excuse me?!" circled the table.
'Nothing happened." Audrey replied, just as feisty. "For something to happen, there would have had to be a date first, and for the guy to be single."
The whole table went quiet. For a moment, Audrey wondered if she had gone too far. Then Cassie pulled an ice cube from her drink and handed it to Laura.
"Need some ice for that burn?" She asked quietly.
The table erupted in laughter, but to Audrey's ears, something was missing. Cassel's laugh, she realized. She glanced over at the door, but they had long since shut. The red head wondered if he was still standing there, watching her through the doors with the strange, piercing gaze he had, She didn't mind being watched in it was Cassel who was doing the watching.