Title: Alive [Chapter Three]
Summary: Sage Alvi’s whole world turned upside-down when she lost her mother to cancer. Now forced to live with a father she never knew, she’s trying to navigate her way through a new school. To make things worse, her half-siblings hate her and she’s being bullied by the cool crowd.
They say high school is hard, but this is just ridiculous.
“I heard Cat’s throwing a party Friday night. Can we come?”
As Angela joined them at the table, Sage shrugged her shoulders in response. Out of the loop as it was, she hadn’t heard any mentions of a party until now. “Why? It’s going to be full of snobs.”
“It might be fun.”
“I don’t think so.”
David reached over to grab a fry from Sage’s plate. “Forget the party, it sounds lame. Let’s go to the bar Chris keeps talking about.”
“Did your boyfriend suddenly forget we’re underage?” Sage asked.
“No, smart-ass. Chris is friends with the bouncer, he’ll let us in.”
“That does sound like more fun. Let’s do that.”
Angela rolled her eyes in exasperation. “Oh please. He could have said let’s hang out at a graveyard and you would have been all for it. Anything to avoid Cat and her friends.”
“Forget the graveyard. I’d rather sit through a root canal, gouge out my eyes-”
“Yeah, yeah, I get it,” Angela giggled. “You think they suck.”
“If you had to deal with them as much as I do, you’d think it too.”
“Can we stop talking about them and gossip about my hot boyfriend instead?” David whined.
The conversation turned to David’s latest boyfriend, giving Sage a free moment to glimpse over at Aidan. He was sitting with Cat and friends, laughing, acting like his usual carefree self – complete opposite of his tense demeanor during their last encounter. Since last week he had ignored her, probably worried any heated exchange between them would make her spill his secret to everyone. She had no intention of doing that, but she wasn’t about to tell him that anytime soon. .
At that moment their eyes locked on one another, two rivals staring each other down to see who would fold first. Eyebrow cocked, smugness evident in his eyes, he tried to gauge for any signs of weakness. She returned his disdainful glare before shifting her attention back to David. Jackass.
For the remainder of lunch she avoided looking at Aidan, until the bell rang and he caught her gaze once again. He was still watching her,a steady expression etched on his face, and she was strangely unsettled at being the center of his focus.
Later that day Sage was on route to one of her classes when Cat and Tish, her sister’s best friend, purposely crashed into her. Her books dropped to the floor. She shot both girls a menacing glare.
“Watch where you’re going,” Cat bit out.
Tish’s lips pursed into a cruel sneer. “Great, now I have to get my clothes cleaned. You know how dirty ragheads are. Too busy bombing, not enough showering.”
“Don’t forget to clean that nasty mouth of yours while you’re at it,” Sage fired back.
Tish followed behind Cat, both girls snickering as they passed by her. “Later, bitch.”
Sage knelt on the floor to collect her books when Aidan’s voice captured her attention.
“That went well.” Leaning against a nearby locker, hand nestled in his pocket,he studied her with a lazy smirk. “Pissing them off isn’t a smart move on your part.”
“Let me guess. You think I should lie down and make it easy for you guys to walk all over me.”
“Probably, but that’s not your style.”
“Wow, you’re not as stupid as I thought.”
“And you wonder why they call you a bitch.”
“Actually, I don’t. And you should really talk to your friends about toning down the racist comments. One of these days they’ll get their asses kicked.”
“Is that a threat?”
“No. A promise.”
The smirk transformed into an amused smile. “You know, I have no pull over what Cat and her minions say or do.”
“And here I thought you were their puppet master. How disappointing.”
Sage stood up straight, and started walking down the hallway when he fell into place beside her.
“You need to stop gawking at me,” he announced.
“You’re kidding me, right?”
“I have my reputation to think of. You crushing on me isn’t exactly flattering.”
“Just because I’m looking in your general direction doesn’t mean I’m watching you. And it sure as hell doesn’t mean I’m crushing on you.”
“The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
“Been reading Hamlet for Dummies?”
“Not just a pretty face now, am I?”
“Not sure you’re pretty at all, actually.”
“You’re so full of yourself.”
“Why shouldn’t I be?”
“I’m surprised you can keep your head up with that massive ego.”
“If you think that’s massive, you should check out my-”
“Ew. Stop.” Scrunching up her face in disgust, she looked at him only to realise there was a mischievous twinkle in his eyes; he was deliberately teasing her. Huh.
“And try not to check out my ass,” he said, sauntering past her. “If you can.”
She stared after him, a little shocked that not only was he amusing but their conversation had actually seemed to border on the friendly.
Sage heard the music blaring from the house as David turned his car into the Woods property. Earlier that day her father and Stacey had left for Aspen, leaving strict instructions not to throw any kind of party whilst they were gone. An hour later, the kegs had started to roll in on Cat’s orders. Now the lawn was full of people, most of them not even from their school, and the path leading to the house was crowded with parked cars.
“Still buzzing?” David asked, bringing the car to a stop.
She leaned back in the passenger seat. “I’m fine. I think.” Maybe she should have stopped on her fifth glass of rum and coke – but it had tasted so good.
“Need me to walk you in?”
She gave him a breezy smile. “Nah, I’ll be fine.”
“You had a good time, didn’t you?”
“A great time.”
“Think I should have told Angela it was a gay bar?”
Sage started giggling. “She was really excited about hooking up with an older guy tonight.”
“I doubt she’ll go with us again.”
She opened the car door and managed to slide out without much difficulty. “Thanks for driving, David.”
“You sure you okay?”
Her response was a thumbs-up sign.
Chances were Cat and her friends were inside and, as Sage wasn’t in the mood to deal with them, she bypassed the house and took the long way around. Circling the building, she came upon a huge crowd gathered near the pool area. There were tons of people smoking up, guys doing body shots off of girls, and Aidan (of course) was in the center of it all. With friends cheering him on, he chugged a shot back before some girl she didn’t recognise started giving him a lap dance. If Sage hadn’t already felt like throwing up, that definitely would have done it.
Happy to escape, Sage walked to the pool house only to discover one of the cheerleaders from her school making out with a guy on her bed. “What the hell? Get the fuck out!”
“Chill out, you freak!” the guy said, scrambling to get on his feet. He zipped up his pants haphazardly while the cheerleader, one of Cat’s friends, straightened her clothes and shot her a haughty expression – as if Sage had done the unthinkable in interrupting her stupid make-out session.
They weren’t moving fast enough for her liking,and Sage continued to yell until they finally rushed past her.
“Try stoning the lovebirds next time. I’m sure that’ll get rid of them faster.”
Recognizing Aidan’s sardonic tone coming from behind, she turned around. The swift motion made her light-headed causing her to almost drop to the floor but he gripped her by the waist and cushioned the fall. Feeling disoriented, she lay in his arms, at first so the room would stop spinning and then because she found herself transfixed in place by his gaze.
How had she never noticed how beautiful his eyes were before? An unusual blend of hazel and green, they were warm, bright, shining with mischief. Just like his smile.
“You’re wasted,” he teased.
“Liar. I can smell it on your breath.”
Angela often talked about how hot Aidan was but Sage usually just rolled her eyes at her friend’s comments. His good looks were overshadowed by his conceited personality and she’d never really found him attractive – until now.
“Shouldn’t you be thanking me for saving your life?” he asked.
“I wasn’t about to die, you fool.”
“That’s an interesting way of showing gratitude.”
He was right. “Shukran.”
“What does that mean?”
“Thanks for helping me. I hope you don’t expect anything in return.”
“That one little word meant all that?”
“More or less.”
“You know, when there’s a girl on my lap she’s usually naked.” He winked down at her. “Or about to be.”
His words brought her crashing back to reality. “Ugh, you’re disgusting.” Despite trying to stand on her own she still felt woozy, and reluctantly accepted his help in leading her to the bed. Noting his cocky smile, she worried he would try something obnoxious. Instead, he helped her sit down and then sauntered over to the couch.
“Where did you get trashed?” he asked, plopping down on the sofa.
“At a bar.”
“A real bar?”
“No, an imaginary one.”
He smirked. “You don’t seem the type.”
“Shows how much you know.”
“How did you even get in?”
“I have friends,” she bragged.
“Of the sleazy variety, apparently.”
“No, there’s plenty of sleaze to go around.”
“I know. I just saw one of them giving you a lap dance.”
“Now who’s jealous?”
She stuck out her tongue at him, which he responded to with a soft chuckle. Still feeling sick, she lay down and closed her eyes. “Can I ask you something?”
“No, I will not go out with you.”
“Never going to happen, cowboy.”
“Because you’re not my type, sweetheart,” he retorted, mimicking her tone.
“So what did you want to ask me?”
“Do you think Cat will ever stop hating me?”
At first there was only silence, making her wonder if she’d made a mistake. Maybe it was foolish of her to try and gain insight into her sister through Aidan but it’s not like she had many options available to her.
“I didn’t think you cared.”
“Of course I do. She’s my sister.” The words slipped out before she could stop herself. Shit. Shit. Shit. She totally forgot that Aidan wasn’t aware of her parentage. As far as he was concerned, she was just a charity case staying with the Woods. “You know I’m fucking with you, right?” she added quickly, feigning non-chalance.
“Relax. I already know.”
Sage balanced herself up on her elbows and met his gaze. “Really?”
“Cat’s horrible at keeping secrets.”
“She acts like it’s my fault Thomas cheated.”
“Well, it’s easier for her to take it out on you than him.”
“Do you think she would have liked me if I wasn’t…” she paused, wondering what the hell she was doing. This was Aidan. Aidan, of all people. And she was about to indirectly reveal one of her vulnerabilities to him.
“You might as well tell me. I’ll get it out of you one way or another.”
Finding it difficult to hold his stare, she focused her attention straight ahead and exhaled a heavy sigh. “If I was white, she wouldn’t be as embarrassed of me.”
“Don’t kid yourself. She would hate you no matter what you were.”
Sage mulled over his words. She didn’t believe him.
“Hey, look at me.”
Compelled by his earnest tone, she locked eyes with him.
“There’s no point in wishing you were different. You are who you are, Sage, and Cat will just have to find a way to deal with it.”
The intensity of his gaze left her feeling defenseless in front of him, as if he was trying to break through the walls and discover all her insecurities. A small part of her wondered if he would exploit her fears or assuage them, but as soon as the thought crossed her mind she realised how ridiculous it was. After all, Aidan wasn’t a friend, he was one of them.
He was the first one to look away, a blank expression masking his face as he rose to his feet. “Anyway, I gotta go. I’ll talk to you later.” Not waiting for a response, he quickly made his exit.
Alone once again, she breathed a sigh of relief. There was something about Aidan that always set her emotions on edge. Whether it was anger, irritation, or reeling with confusion as she was now, it was impossible for her to be calm around him. Frankly, it was just easier when she didn’t have to deal with him at all.
She kicked off her shoes and closed her eyes, telling herself she would wash off her makeup in five minutes. Instead, she fell asleep.
To be continued…
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A/N – If all goes according to plan, this will be the second novel I publish 🙂 I wrote this five years ago and I think a lot of the problems Sage faces, unfortunately, is very relevant today. Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to drop me a comment.