“Hey, Rachel. Been looking after my girl for me?” he asked politely with a smile. She just carried on staring at him as if he hadn’t spoken. “O…. Kay,” he mused, chuckling.
“You obviously have an effect on the girls at this school. They all seem to hate me,” I whispered to him.
“They don’t hate you. You’re being paranoid,” he replied, giving me a reassuring squeeze.
“Really? Paranoid, huh?” I answered, turning slightly and nodding my head around.
Clay looked around and took in all the girls giving me hateful and jealous looks, but all of them smiling at him as soon as his eyes went in their direction. “Oh! Okay, maybe I shouldn’t hug you anymore then,” he suggested, stepping away and grinning at me.
“Get your butt over here now!” I hissed, pointing at my side and smiling at him. He chuckled wickedly as he threw his arm around my shoulder before loading two plates of chilli fries onto my tray and pushing me up to the cash register. I reached into my schoolbag for my purse but he had already handed over the money and picked up the tray for me.
“So, Rachel, would you and Riley like to come sit with us?” he asked, nodding to the biggest table at the end of the cafeteria. It was filled with all the hottest people in the school, guys and girls alike.
“Sure,” Rachel replied, wide eyed. She looked so excited that she was probably fighting to urge to jump up and down.
Clay led us to the table. “Shift down, guys. Make room for my girl and her friend,” he ordered, waving his hand. Immediately, everyone moved up to make room for two extras.
Wow, he really was like alpha male, he says jump and everyone asks how high! I rolled my eyes at him, but he wasn’t one to abuse his power, he was too kind and sweet, but he liked to give off a macho image.
“Hey, Riley. I’m looking forward to next period,” one boy said, giving me a sly wink.
I chewed on the inside of my lip as I looked at him. He was hot again, brown hair sweeping over his forehead and dazzling blue eyes.
Jeez, did they put something in the water in this school? And why the hell hadn’t I seen any of these guys around? Oh yeah, probably because my mom insisted I go to a stupid private school three towns over. But that was okay, I was happy at that school, I had a lot of friends and everyone knew me. But no, Brian had convinced my mom that sending me to private school was a waste of money. Hence, I was now at the local public school and the money they would have spent on my education was invested ready for my twenty-first birthday. It wasn’t too bad; at least I would get to see Clay a lot more, which was definitely a good thing.
“What have you got next period?” Rachel asked.
I grimaced. “Gym,” I moaned, turning my nose up. Clay chuckled wickedly as he started munching on his fries. I was terrible at sports. The only thing I liked to do was running; I went for a run every morning with Clay before we went to school.
“Let’s see your schedule again,” Rachel said, holding out her hand expectantly for it. I dug it out of my bag and put it in her outstretched hand. She scanned it over. “Hey I have French and English Lit with you too!”
“Oh I have Gym next period too. Maybe we could be partners,” another boy suggested, waggling his eyebrows and giving me a smirk.
“Enough! Leave her alone. I’ve already told you guys!” Clay barked, looking at them all in turn with an angry expression.
I turned to look at Clay. Was he serious? He’d warned people to stay away from me? “Clay, what? I can look after myself you know,” I stated, frowning.
He looked at me and his face softened. “I’m just looking out for you, Riley Bear. You don’t want anything to do with these jackoffs,” he explained, waving his hand around the table at his friends.
“These jackoffs are your friends, Clay,” I countered, shaking my head at him.
“Exactly, I know how they think. So stay away,” he said venomously. Before I could stop myself I kicked him under the table, my foot connecting with his shin. “Ouch! What was that for?” he accused, leaning down and rubbing his leg, scowling at me.
“For being an ass. I can talk to whoever I want, okay? Please don’t start with this whole thing again,” I begged, giving him my puppy dog face that I knew he couldn’t resist.
He snorted and shook his head. “Fine! Talk to whoever you want. Date whoever you want. Just don’t come crying to me when it all goes wrong,” he snapped, shoving his plate of food away from him angrily and getting up from the table, stalking off in the direction of the exit.
Wait, he was angry with me? What the hell did I do? He was the one that was being all super possessive and protective!
I looked at his retreating back confused as to what had just happened. But I knew I couldn’t let him be mad at me, I loved that stupid boy with everything I had. Instinctively I jumped out of my chair and ran after him. When I got close enough I jumped on his back, wrapping my arms and legs tightly around him, catching him by surprise and almost knocking him over. I bent my head and kissed the side of his neck which made him laugh quietly. I smiled against his neck because I already knew that all was forgiven and forgotten. A wicked plan formed in my head as I opened my mouth and sucked hard on the soft skin of his neck, giving him a hickey.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be all ungrateful. I know you’re looking out for me,” I told him.
His body seemed to relax under mine. “No, I’m sorry, Riley Bear, I shouldn’t have done that. You can talk to whoever you want; I was just trying to look out for you, honestly. These guys here aren’t good enough for you,” he said, shaking his head a little sadly.
I sighed and kissed my hickey on his neck as my stomach growled hungrily. “Can we go back and finish lunch now?” I asked. He nodded and turned around, wrapping his arms around my thighs so I didn’t have to hold on as much. When we got back to the table, he plopped me back into my chair. Everyone was staring at us again. I rolled my eyes as Clay kissed the top of my head making the girls gasp and glare at me even more.
Clay sat back down opposite me and immediately Ben’s eyes went wide. “Holy shit! You let her brand you?” Ben shouted, pointing at Clay’s neck.
“Brand me?” Clay repeated, confused, rubbing his hand on his neck.
“Yeah she gave you a freaking hickey!” Ben stated, laughing.
Clay shot his eyes to me. “You didn’t!” he accused, with a smile.
I nodded in response, trying not to laugh again. He just rolled his eyes and pulled the collar of his shirt up to cover it. He was always doing that to me so this was payback. Since I was ten years old, when he first learnt how to do them, he’d pinned me down and given me a hickey almost every week. He always says that he’s marking his territory like a cat marks with scent.
“Paybacks a bitch, huh?” I teased, with a sly smile.
In Gym we were running track which was great for me. I loved to run and at least I wasn’t stuck in some stupid hall playing dodge ball or something. That would really suck. The only trouble was I didn’t have any gym kit yet because as I had been away for a month. Rachel had leant me her shorts, but because I was a lot taller than her, they were actually really short shorts. I didn’t even have a shirt to wear. I grabbed my cell phone and text Clay asking if he had a spare one. A couple of seconds later he text back that he would wait for me outside the girls locker room. Everyone was ready so they all made their way out. As I stepped tentatively out of the door in my red shirt, I saw Clay leaning there waiting for me.
“Here.” He threw a huge white T-shirt at me.
“Hurry up, or it will be fifty push-ups for both of you!” the teacher shouted turning to walk out of the door.
I quickly stripped off my shirt and replaced it with his T-shirt, then turned back to the locker rooms and threw my top in the pile of my stuff. When I turned back to face Clay, I saw him standing there with a pained look on his face.
“What’s up?” I asked, tying a knot in the back of his shirt to make it fit a bit better. He just shook his head but didn’t answer. Realisation hit me what was wrong with him. I’d just taken my shirt off in front of him. Crap, great job, Riley! But it wasn’t really that big of a deal though, he’d seen me in bikinis a lot so it was just the same really. So why was he looking at me like that? I turned and ran for the field, dismissing his obvious unease. “Race ya!” I shouted over my shoulder because he was still standing stock still outside the locker room.
We were supposed to be running a mile, which was five laps of the circuit. I ran as fast as I could. I needed a head start because jeez that boy was a fast runner. After about a minute I heard him catching up behind me.
As he ran past, he slapped my ass making me squeal from the shock and slight sting. “Keep up, slow coach, or you’ll have to buy dinner tonight.” He laughed.
I took a deep breath and pushed my legs faster. I caught him up but I actually think he let me, there’s no way I could catch him if he wanted to go. We ran alongside each other, sending teasing insults back and forth, the same as every morning when we ran.
We were on our last lap now and I silently thanked God because I was completely worn out already. “How about we make a bet?” Clay suggested, grinning.
Oh crap, I always lose his bets! “What sort of bet?” I asked hesitantly. I could feel the sweat running down my back because of the effort. We were completely alone because no one else was taking this seriously; they were all just walking and chatting or having a leisurely jog.
“Okay well, if I beat you, you have to kiss someone of my choice. And if you beat me, then I’ll kiss someone of your choice. A proper kiss though, with tongues,” he suggested, smiling at me.
I looked at the end of the track wondering if I could actually run any faster than I already was, because I knew he could. We were nearing the hundred meter mark now. I quickly weighed my options. I didn’t really want to kiss someone, but if I won the bet and Clay had to kiss Rachel, she would owe me forever. The challenge of it won me over.