The Bad Boy Neighbor
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Ever lost everything that makes you popular in one night? Well, I have. Hi, I'm Madison O'Brien, Eastfall High's newest 'from grace to grass' story. At the beginning of senior year, all I want to do is graduate and disappear as fast as possible from this town, with zero drama. Great plan, if I say so myself, until he enters the picture. Lucas Elordi. Mysterious. Nonchalant. Ridiculously hot. A first class Bad boy. Luke has trouble written all over him and I'm so done with high school drama. I want to avoid him. He feels the same way. But it's easier said than done, because this bad boy lives next door.
"The time is 7:10am. The time is 7:10am. Good morning."
I turn and stuff my face into a pillow, groaning at the sickly sweet voice of Gia, my clock.
The last thing I want to do is open my eyes right now.
"It is now 7:20am. Snooze enabled for ten minutes"
Aw, come on. Ten minutes can't have gone that fast.
The rays of sunlight currently bathing me on my bed begs to differ.
The truth is, I'm not a morning person.
Sitting up groggily, I stretch out my hand to turn Gia off.
It's way better to hear a voice pester you to wake up than the damn annoying sound of a clock every bloody time.
My hands go through my thick ginger curls and I play with a few strands, still not fully aware of my surroundings, that is, until my hand touches the loose strands of hair currently falling just above the point where my bra should be and it all comes rushing back to me.
Today is the first day of school; the beginning of senior year and I don't think anyone's going to notice that I'm not there. Not that anyone cares anyway.
I'm Madison O'Brien, Eastfall High School's newest laughing stock.
An outcast. To think I used to even feel pity for those who'd been termed outcasts and watch them get picked on by other kids. How the tables have turned.
My life totally changed exactly one week ago. At a classmate's birthday party.
Before then, I was everything you'd dreamt of being. Scratch that, I was living the life.
Head of Eastfall High's cheerleading team; the Sirens, Girlfriend to Drew Parker, gorgeous Mr Popular and Eastfall High's Football Team Captain. My best friend Nina and I were the real example of friendship goals. I didn't even care about it but deep down I knew I was popular. People cared to know what happened in my life. That was the major problem; people cared about what happened in my life too much.
So when I caught Nina, more like found her right on top of my boyfriend doing the dirty deed in his parent's getaway cabin, everyone found out about it.
I couldn't even bat an eyelid without having people constantly seeking details about how I'd caught Drew cheating.
Drew Parker. My boyfriend since sophomore year.
The boy that made me think love truly existed in the world. The boy I gave myself to without a second thought.
He'd slept with my best friend and as if that wasn't enough, they just had to add icing to the cake.
Till today, I regret attending Melanie's birthday party.
I should've stayed at home after that humiliation but I wanted to show them that they didn't break me, that they couldn't. Biggest mistake ever.
They came together, looking like newlyweds, Nina's hands all over him like a leech and his body so willing to be touched. Then she saw me and till today, I can remember the cold empty look she gave me before she kissed him hard in front of me. Right there.
I should have walked away, taken the remnants of my dignity with me, but the betrayed girl in me wanted to know why.
Why her best friend was doing this to her. Why the boy she thought she knew so much was doing this to her.
Why the two most precious people to her were hurting her so much.
So I walked up to them and slapped Nina squarely on the face, my hand stained with makeup and an imprint on my fingers on her cheek. I yelled for them to give me a reason, to explain why, to just tell me why.
And then Nina had burst out laughing. Sometimes, if the vicinity is quiet enough, I can still hear her laughter.
"Look me in the eye, Nina and explain why this is happening. How could you do something like this? Why would you even?... With Drew? My best friend and boyfriend. Please say something. Any...
Nina raised her hand, shutting me off and I stared as if in a haze, still waiting for someone to pinch me and say that this was all a bad dream. Still waiting for Drew to look me in the eye and say it was some prank that they'd made up even though I knew better.
Even though I'd seen them together with my own eyes.
I was desperate. To understand why I was being abandoned by two people who meant the world to me.
The crowd, however was eating the entire show up.
"You're the boyfriend stealer, Mads. Everyone here thinks you're such a pretty little saint, perfect but you're the one that tried to take him from me and because I was a good friend, I let you think you've won."
"What the hell are you talking about, Nina?"
"Drew broke up with this piece of shit a long time ago, fellas but being a gentleman, he never let the masses know because he cares too damn much about people. We've been dating since the beginning of junior year, Maddie sweetheart."
The tears came and I couldn't even fight them that night because Drew stood there, quiet as Nina slandered me, told lies about me and then revealed their backstabbing relationship.
The first time I met Nina, we were five. There I was, sitting at the extreme end of the class and she'd walked up to me, said she loved my hair and would like to be friends. I didn't understand what was going on. I didn't understand where it had gone so wrong.
They say it is the person you least expect to do something nice that ends up saving your life.
That night might have been the worst day of my life but I found someone I could count on, even when the entire world seemed to be against me.
Our school's student board vice president and press club president.
We'd only chatted a few times when she interviewed me on different issues but Ana was the one that dragged me out of that hell hole and drove me home.
She was the one that stayed with me the entire night while I sobbed till there were
no tears left.
She was the one that came the next day and the day after that, constantly to check on me. She was the one that forced me to go to school and sit for my exams.
Three weeks later, a letter was sent to me that I needed to start attending the post exam rehearsals or risk losing the position temporarily as Captain of the cheerleading team to my co-captain, Nina. It was clear what my choice was. I resigned and left the team. Nina became team captain, of course.
A life I thought I was living to the fullest was destroyed in barely two nights.
Yet no one called, no one bothered to worry about me, not even my teammates.
I'd moved from being the most popular girl at school to a nobody. An outcast.
Funny, isn't it? How loved you think you are until you are just...not.
Three months later and here I am, my waist length auburn hair now a darker shade and remarkably shorter, my emerald eyes staring at my form in the full length mirror even as I mentally arrange an outfit for the day.
I'm very much aware that people might basically ignore me or try to bully me now that they think I'm a nobody, which if we're talking about how high school works, is true.
I'm very much aware that I might have to watch Drew and Nina walk hand in hand to school.
Senior year is going to be hell but right now as I look between my bed and the door to my bedroom, I don't care about anything at all.
Except two things.
How to graduate and move far far away from this place.
How to repay Ana for her support by probably dragging her away from this mess of a town.
I sigh as I look at the big board with the inscription
'Welcome to Eastfall High.'
"You could always resume tomorrow, you know" I'm sitting beside Ana in her car, in one of the school's parking spaces and I roll my eyes for the millionth time even though I'm gripping my bag tight enough to ruin the poor thing, my body taut with anxiety at having to walk the school halls after what happened the last time I was here.
"If you ask me that one more time, Ana-"
"Okay, okay, Maddie. I quit but you know you don't need to start today, right? There are so many days in a week, take for example Thursday..." The glare I send her proves to be enough because she doesn't finish her statement, using her hand to zip her mouth closed and jumps out of the car.
When she does, I take in a deep breath and do the same, waiting for her to walk over to the other side to join me. That's when my eyes catch the pointed edge of her black heels.
Ana's a shortie, don't tell her I said that because with her heels, she's my height and I'm on sneakers, but height hardly matters to someone who looks like Ariana Gomez. She is one of the most attractive girls at school with her long voluptuous dark hair and brown eyes paired with those amazing curves that make most of the guys turn twice to look. She doesn't even look like a high school student, not with the bold red lipstick she's sporting today and black pantsuit and did I mention those heels that look like a death trap? They're like her second skin.
I remember asking her what the fuzz was about every Monday when she showed up dressed corporately and she'd responded with an 'Are you serious' look and a statement along the lines of 'It's etiquette. Monday is the first day of the week'
I still believe Sunday is the first day of the week.
Don't tell Ana I said that either.
It's when I hear people whispering that I realise we've entered the hallway and by the strong grip Ana has on my hand, she knows I've noticed and is probably trying to stop me from running away. Not that I had any plans to.
Liar Liar, pants on fire, Madison.
"Ignore them. I still have that samurai sword of mine stashed in the car, so if anyone, I mean anyone, messes with you, you run and grab that sword if you cannot find me." She places a set of keys that I realise are the spare keys to her car in my hands.
Without meaning to, my eyes well up with tears at the love Ana continues to shower on me, knowing full well that I don't deserve it. I mean, if the two people that knew everything about me and I'd trusted more than life itself had left, why was Ana still hanging around?
I open my mouth to voice my thoughts when she shakes her head subtly.
"Don't you dare cry, I know it's tears of joy, love, but we don't want news headlines on your first day, do we?" She whispers and I shake my head. People were staring and whispering, just like I'd anticipated. Some didn't even bother to hide that they were talking about me. Apparently three months were not enough for people to forget that I'd been dumped in the most public way known to high school students.
Blinking back tears, I nod slowly in agreement with her question. That is definitely one thing I don't ever want to experience again in my entire life.
If it was possible to be invisible for the rest of the school year, I'd take it.
"I'll go get our schedules, you'll be okay by yourself, right? You haven't said a word since we walked into the premises, Maddie. You can always go home, sweetheart. You don't-"
"Need to start today" I finish for her, a knowing smile on my face at the fact that she'd said those words again in only a matter of minutes.
"I'll be fine." I reply, making sure my smile is big enough to convince her that I'm not seconds away from sprinting out of the hallway and calling it a day. No one ever died from missing school especially if it was the first day, right?
"In fact, I need to pay a visit to my locker. It's been a while with my dear old Locky." I add. My answer seems to satisfy her because she throws her head back and laughs at the crazy nickname I'd given my locker.
It's a Maddie thing, you see. I love naming inanimate objects. Take for example, my clock; Gia, my bags; Mia, Karen and Tria.
The first time Ana had seen me talking to my bag, she'd thrown such a feat and uttered enough curse words in Spanish, thinking I was hallucinating and needed medical or spiritual attention immediately. Apparently, speaking to inanimate objects meant someone was possessed according to her grandma.
It was the first time since the breakup that I'd laughed heartily.
"I'll never get used to that weird habit of yours, Maddie. See you in ten" Ana waves and walks away to get our schedules.
Returning her wave, I shove my hands into the pocket of my jeans and walk towards my locker, trying to not make eye contact with anyone.
Why couldn't I have met you sooner, Ana?
Maybe my greatest worry now would have been getting fat from eating too much beef ribs.
"Hello Locky" I whisper the moment I reach my locker and open it to see most of my stuff still intact. Ana had been the one to visit my locker after the horrific incident to retrieve most of my books in preparation for exams. Safe to say that I was an absentee for a long period of time after junior prom.
That's when I see it. A picture of Nina and I that was taken when we joined the Dance team freshman year. I look behind it and there are three other pictures of the both of us at different occasions. Drew is even in one of the pictures. My chest tightens and I feel the need to slam my locker shut and cry my eyes out, but I don't do it. Instead I remove the pictures and every other thing that reminds me of Nina and Drew and throw them into my bag, Karen.
Ana appears just as I slam the locker shut and gives me a piece of paper. My schedule of classes for senior year.
"Ready for senior year?" She asks and I shrug.
I wasn't ready for anything but I did need to graduate if I wanted to leave this place behind. It was time to see how well I could put the events of the last three months behind me and start afresh.
Time to wipe the slate clean, Maddie.
Time to wipe it without a trace.
My first day turned out to be not as bad as I'd anticipated. No one talked to me, except Ana of course and the teachers. It felt so strange, because I couldn't remember the last time I'd gone a day without being spoken to.
I guess that was what being an outcast meant.
I'd spent most of the day zoning in and out of class, looking at the clock and counting the minutes until each class was over.
Lunch had been the most awkward part of returning to school because I hadn't sat anywhere but with the jocks since I became Drew's girlfriend in Sophomore year. Ana had invited me to sit with her and some of her press club friends though and I'd picked at my food lazily, too anxious to make conversation.
Majority of the teachers were ecstatic that I'd resumed early because of the wayy I'd ended last term. It was no news that the teachers liked me, another reason to be hated, I
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