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She told him she loved him in high school; he laughed in her face. And, ever since then, Lucia Brielle Renaud had vowed never to fall in love again. Ten years and a successful career later, Lucia's first love... or is it her mortal enemy, Dylan Thomas is back in her life with one sole task; to claim the one position Lucia has ever dreamed of taking on: Vice president of Retro Corp! Oh, another cool fact... he doesn't remember her. At all. Lucia is determined to do everything... even go the extra mile to ensure that she gets that position, and possibly her lost pound of flesh while she's at it, but how far will she go? Dylan Thomas returns to his father's company after so many years also vying for the position of vice president. Little does anyone know that he comes with his own ulterior motives and personal agendas. He meets Lucia, otherwise known to him as Brielle, and the level of attraction he has for her is maddening and almost instantaneous. With lust, feelings and physical attractions getting in the way, who will emerge victorious in this battle for power?
Chapter 1- Prologue
“Gosh, look at him go. The hunk, the jock, the stud-"
“Are you quoting Daffy Duck again, Lucia?” My best friend Silvie asked with a laugh. I grinned sheepishly. “Touché.”
Well what could I say, Daffy was my favourite cartoon character of all time, hell I'd totally marry him for his wit and sarcasm if I had a chance.
“You know, you should go talk to him if you like him that much.” She said with a shrug as she dug into her fries. I stared at her like she had grown a second head. She was speaking like someone who didn't know the rules of Serenity High; the rules that had probably been drawn up before the dawn of time;
Know where you belong on the popularity ladder.
Don't even dream of climbing up that ladder.
The jocks belong to the cheerleaders, or the rich kids so back off, nerd!
Nah, the last one wasn't really part of the rules, but... let's just say I've added it to mine. It kept me, uhm grounded for lack of a better word.
There was a little problem though.
I didn't just like Dylan Thomas, I was completely and utterly in love with him. I don't know when it started, but probably somewhere around the first time I met him, when he had gallantly opened a door for me, because my hands were so full of books to do so myself. When he had smiled and even bowed slightly, his messy curls getting in his face. He had run his fingers through to brush his hair away from his eyes and I had felt a clench in my stomach at the yummy sight. Back then, I had hopes that we could have had a chance. To be you know, friends or maybe something more even, but then Amanda Richfield, head cheerleader and most popular girl in Serenity High had interrupted us, sank her claws in his flesh - figuratively and literally - and staked her claim.
And, I had lost my chance.
We were in senior year now, and Dylan was now a complete popular, captain of the football team, quarterback, boyfriend of head cheerleader. There was basically no hope for me.
“Lucia, are you even listening to me?”
I snapped back to my senses. “Huh? Oh yeah, you were saying?”
Silvie rolled her eyes, but continued anyway. “I said if you like Dylan that much, then you should probably go talk to him.”
I laughed. A dry humourless one. “I can't do that Syl. I mean, look at me.” I gestured at my glasses, my braces and outfit, but Silvie was undeterred. Her eyebrows lifted significantly. “What about you, Lu?”
I groaned. “Ugh, don't make me say it Syl.”
“I'm a fat nerd with braces and glasses for crying out loud!” I whisper shouted for her to hear because saying that out loud would have been... well embarrassing.
I glanced over at the popular table where Dylan sat laughing at something his best friend Marin had said in all his handsome glory. Amanda sat beside him if I could even describe it that way. She was almost on him, it was ridiculous. We were in a cafeteria, not some strip club for god sake. Even then, she looked nothing short of perfect as usual.
“I honestly can't compete with that Silvie.” I whispered sadly, like admitting that had drained me of every bit of strength I had left. She threw her arm around me and drew me close to her in a comforting hug since we sat side by side.
“Oh Lucia, you silly girl! You're completely beautiful inside and out. So what if you wear glasses? So what if you wear braces? And, what are you referring to as fat? Cos all I see is curves, girl. Real curves that would give celebrities a run for their money if only you learnt to own it.”
A tear rolled down my face even as I laughed with Silvie. That was another thing I hated about myself, my ability to quickly summon tears even for the most non relevant of issues.
“You think I'm beautiful?” I asked, hope seeping into my tone.
“I don't think it, you doofus. I know it, and I’m not saying this because I'm your best friend only, but because it's the truth.”
She scooped another fry into her mouth. “One thing though... we've really got to get you out of those clothes; now those are the only things completely hideous about you.”
“Hey!” She laughed when I tried to smack her and missed. “Take that back Syl. My clothes are amazing.”
The girl had the nerve to wheeze. “They totally suck and you know it.” I glared at her for a second and then joined her in laughter, hell she was right. My clothes were hideous, but incredibly comfortable. And just like that, the gloomy moment passed.
We ate in silence for a while until Silvie looked up so suddenly, I almost gasped out loud in shock. “We should give you like a total makeover!” She squealed in delight, clapping her hands like an excited Episodes character. I shook my head assertively. “Nope. Not a good idea.” I brushed her off.
“Think about it Lu... you’ll get new clothes that show off your figure and tell the world how confident you are... hell you may probably find the confidence to finally tell Dylan how you feel.”
I chewed on the thought for a while and then quickly thwarted the hope blooming in my chest. My amply bosomed chest. “He has a girlfriend, or have you forgotten?” I reminded Silvie. And myself.
“Pshaw, we all know that relationship is as fake as these leather tights I have on. Dylan, though popular is a very nice guy, and I think he'll listen to you if you muster enough courage to talk to him.”
I bit my lip uncertainly. Silvie was so damn convincing sometimes. Wait who was I kidding? All the time!
I really didn't want to do it, but a part of me kind of sort of wanted to.
“I can't do it Syl.”
Her face fell. “Why the hell not? You seemed to be buying into the idea a while ago, what changed?”
“I have an over-protective dad, and five even more over-protective brothers, remember?”
She was supposed to have thought of this... she had a crush on one of them after all. The glint in her green eyes didn't die out like I'd thought it would after the reminder though. Instead, all I saw was hard-core determination. “Lucia, will you do the makeover if I manage to convince them to allow you to?”
“Uh... yeah, I guess. But good luck convincing them.” I said smugly.
There was no way in hell she was going to be able to achieve such a feat.
“So how long does she have to dress like this, Silvie?”
“Just for about a week, sir.” I heard my best friend answer demurely as I watched the scene unfold, mouth opened slightly. I honestly didn't even think she'd make it this far.
“And you're saying it's for a school project?”
“Yes, Mr. Renaud.”
He assessed my outfit critically. I must say Silvie really knew her stuff. I was an almost different person I didn't even recognize myself. The only way I could tell I was still me was by my glasses. Oh, and my braces; I unfortunately had about six months left to take them off.
“Well, she looks different, but still modest enough, I guess she can help you with your project.” I heard my dad say, snapping me out of my thoughts.
Wait, he said yes?
He said yes!
Silvie and I squealed as we hugged each other in excitement.
We charged up the stairs and headed for my room still chattering in elation and ignoring the disgusted and surprised looks on the faces of my four out of five brothers; Matt, Ryan, Jordan and Cedrick as we made our way past.
We met the last one, Nick coming out of his room right when we were about to enter mine, and he was bare chested.
Silvie's face turned crimson and I would have laughed if Nick hadn't spoken up. He was the second oldest and in college, and was otherwise known as Silvie's crush. It really was funny and sad to see how she always got tongue-tied and shy whenever he was around her.
“What are you wearing, Lu?” he asked in confusion.
I rolled my eyes and groaned. “Why did you have to even talk to me? Just pass by, I'm a hallucination, I'm not even here.”
His eyes narrowed. “Are you going to be dressing like this from now on?”
“Like hell you are.”
“I don't know what your problem is, dad said it's fine, so suck it.” I pulled a frozen Silvie into my room and banged the door shut.
“We did it, Syl!”
She laughed with me as she shook of her Nick-in-the-vicinity-induced confusion.
I was a bundle of nerves the first time I arrived at school in my new look but by the third day, the initial shock had worn off. I had even managed to make a few new friends... wait not friends exactly, acquaintances, yep that's more like it, and it was all thanks to my new found slowly growing confidence.
“Someone is glowing.” Silvie teased as we headed for our economics class. I smiled. “Well, it's all thanks to you, you know. I finally feel ready.”
She stopped, a quizzical look on her pretty face. “Ready? Ready for what?”
“Ready to talk to Dylan Thomas and tell him how I feel.”
She looked at me in horror. “No!”
I looked at her in confusion. “But you said to go talk to him.”
“Yeah, I mean no, ugh I didn't really mean it. I honestly don't think it's a very good idea.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Why the hell not?”
She sighed deeply, pinching the bridge of her nose between her fingers. “Look Lu, I know you and how you easily get hurt emotion-wise. Exactly how are you thinking this confession is going to go?”
I shrugged uneasily. Now, I wasn't so sure anymore. “Well, I'm uh... hoping we'll hopefully be maybe friends or preferably a couple after that, but hey... what's the worst that can happen? He'll just say no, right?”
“And can you handle that if it should happen?”
I really didn't know but I had to at least try.
Coming out of my shell with regards to my clothes had given me a sense of bravery that... that made me feel like I could take on the world. I made my thoughts known to Silvie. She opened her mouth to say more but the bell cut her short. “Come on Lucia, let's get to class. Don't wanna be late. We can talk about this at lunch.”
I had one class; Contemporary Art alone.
Silvie had chosen Fashion Designing, so we always went our separate ways after Economics and regrouped at the cafeteria for lunch. Today's class had been awesome, but then which class wasn't for me?
What can I say, I loved learning new things. Pretty weird, I know... but hey, no judging.
I bumped into someone unexpectedly and watched in horror as my books tumbled to the ground. I bent down to pick them up, but whoever that was apparently had the same plans too.
Our heads bumped so hard I just had to cry out in pain. “Ouch!”
“Oh, shit... that was- I didn't mean to, I'm so sorry.”
I looked up at the sound of the deep fascinating voice. Of course, I'd recognize that voice anywhere.
I stood up slowly, still in a stupefied daze and watched as he knelt down and collected all my books off the ground.
It was a stupid thought, but a part of me wanted to scream;
Yes! Yes I'll marry you, Dylan!
What? I didn't ask him to kneel down... he could have literally done anything else instead. The whole scene looked too romantic for my poor aching heart.
He stood up and handed my books over to me with a sheepish smile. “Sorry once again. Lucia, right?”
Oh fuck, he knew my name!
He knew my naaaaammmmmeee!
Somebody, just kill me now, at least I'd die knowing the love of my life knew I existed.
“We didn't bump heads that hard for you to go all mute on me, did we?” I vaguely heard him say with a chuckle. I snapped out of my senses and laughed with him, my voice so high and flirty, I barely believed it was mine. “Yeah, yeah. I'm Lucia. You must be Dylan Thomas. Oh wait, why did I say it like that? You're so famous, I'm sure the rats here at Serenity High even know who you are.”
God, Lucia! Rats? You are such a disgrace.
Dylan laughed. “You're too cute.”
Cute, people.... cute.
I mean, he didn't call me beautiful or sexy, but I'll take it.
I love you so much it hurts, Dylan Thomas. You fine specimen!
Dylan looked at me wide eyed and that's when I realised how bad I'd fucked up.
I cringed even as I felt the blood rush into my cheeks. “Please tell me I didn't say that out loud.” I said... more like prayed with my eyes shut.
Dylan burst into laughter. “I wish I could say no, but you absofuckinglutely did!”
I squared my shoulders and lifted my chin, desperately gathering the last shreds of dignity I had left in me. “Okay, so I said that. What do you think?”
The damn boy looked at me like I had a third eye, and he just couldn't stop fucking laughing. “What... what do I think?”
He doubled over in laughter, clutching his sides in pain. Everyone was looking at us. I desperately wanted to run away and hide, but a part of me wanted to hear what he thought and so I still stood there, calm on the outside, but breaking down slowly inside.
He was still laughing. A few people were laughing too, and I doubted they had heard my confession. “I think... I think this is the most hilarious thing I've ever heard!” He tried to bring his laughter down, but to no avail. “How... how’s that even possible? How can you be in love with me? I don't even know you.”
By now, everyone who hadn't gotten the gist of what was going on probably understood now thanks to his outburst. I had never felt so humiliated in my entire life!
I could feel the tears begin to form in my eyes, I quickly brushed past him and made a dash for the restrooms, my heart breaking as my mind replayed the scene over and over and over again.
Gosh, I was so stupid!
What was I hoping to achieve with that confession? True, I hadn't really meant to spill it out like that but, I could have told a lie when he had asked, or I don't know, completely evaded the question entirely...
I could have done something else other than that!
And the people... they just laughed at me, with him. They had no idea how difficult it was for girls to admit their feelings for someone. Or even worse, to admit those feelings only to have their love interests not return it back... and they just laughed. Some even took pictures and videos.
I was never going to fall in love again.
If this was how love hurt, then I didn't want it.
What was the use anyway? I mean you got the love sometimes, but fate somehow always found a way to destroy it for you; if not by slowly growing resentment, then by sickness, loss of interest, or even worse, death. I know this first hand because that was what had happened between my mum and dad. She died three years ago.
Love was... weird, and definitely not for me.
I found an empty stall in the washroom, crashed in there with all my stuff, sat on the closed seat and cried. I cried for minutes, hours maybe, and then I felt the stall open. My eyes welled up again as I saw Silvie stand there, a distressed look on her face.
“Oh, Lucia... I'm so so sorry.” She knelt down and wrapped her arms around me as my body wracked with sobs.
“I'm never falling in love again, Syl. Never again."
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