LESSON IN LOVE 101
SYNOPSIS of Lesson in love : A teenager girl moved with her family to a new city after the death of her half brother to begin a new life but little did she expect the past to still trail after them or the new lifestyle of the rich she was thrown into, even her love life was thrown in the mix as if her family isn’t having enough and what’s with the extremely handsome but mysterious Zach Gellar? and why is the attractive wealthy school hottie, Nathan Wellington bent on her cause?
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Chapter 1: Far Away
“We’re moving to Linbury” Dad had announced, three weeks after my half-brother Neil died and our world fell apart. “We need a fresh start.” I had agreed my life was a mess: my family didn’t stop fighting, my friends and my boyfriend didn’t know what to do or say around me anymore, and my stepmother was like a little child who’d lost a favorite toy. But I didn’t think Linbury was the ideal place for a fresh start. My boyfriend Curtis had once described it as the Beverly Hills of New Jersey: a small town with nothing but gigantic houses, spoilt rich kids, Mercedes convertibles, and fancy private schools for miles. It was worlds apart from Manhattan, the big city I’d been born and brought up in. It had enormous white mansions atop rolling hills, antiseptic gardens that were cleaned and pruned within an inch of their lives, perfect-looking residents, and greenery that was so lush and so fresh that it made me feel like a dirty old tramp.
But it was the place my father’s hospital had transferred him to, and it was where we moved a week after Dad’s announcement before I had a chance to talk to Curtis or my best friend Rachael. Although I doubted we’d have been able to talk properly anyway because they’d begun to treat me like a stranger. They’d never in their lives experienced anything but normality, and by then, I had.
The day everything started, I was at Big Happy Family, the bakery in Linbury Airport I’d taken up a job waitressing at to pay for my books and clothes and Beethoven CDs. I’d taken a bus to the airport, walked inside the bakery, slipped into the staff toilets, and stopped in front of the sinks. The walls of the toilet were a dull green, but Jazz, my eighteen-year-old coworker, had dyed her hair neon yellow and the color brightened up the room.
“Hey,” Jazz said. “You’re late, Sum. What’s the excuse? Vicious dogs chasing you in Romania?”
I smiled. Jazz didn’t know much about me, which was what I liked most about her.
“Something like that,” I said, slipping on my apron over my denim shorts. “Nice tongue stud” I added, as Jazz made faces in the mirror.
“Hey, gotta have something new for the guys at Linbury Public, “Jazz said, shrugging. “They expect that.”She rubbed her hands together gleefully. “Senior year! Can you believe it? One more year with the locker graffiti and teachers who use too much hair gel, and then I’m out. Florida, baby!”
I eyed Jazz. She was wearing a hideous multicolored poncho that clashed heavily with her sweatpants and her frizzy yellow hair, and a sign on her back that said ‘Mary-Jane Cohen’. Where the nickname Jazz came from, I didn’t know. Sometimes Jazz reminded me of my Hadley but without the attitude and the drinking that had been customary for my stepsister ever since we’d lost Neil.
“What do you think?” Jazz flourished her arms. “The poncho’s cool, isn’t it? It makes me look like the scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz.”
“You’re weird, “I couldn’t resist saying. “Yeah, but I’m still cool, right?”Jazz smiled brightly. “Okay, kid, get out there and serve people their food. There are millions starving outside while we admire ourselves.”
Not exactly. Big Happy Family was almost deserted – there was just a family with a small girl by the counter and a guy with his head bent over a book at a table at the back of the room. Andrich, the other waiter, had supplied the family with cakes and lemonade. I headed for the guy.
“Hey,” I said, flashing my professional Big Happy Family smile.
He raised his head. He was, I noted distantly, extremely hot and attractive – long lanky body in tight black jeans that went on forever over long legs, a black leather jacket over a white t-shirt that showed off tight abs, messy dark hair that fell into dark eyes with the longest eyelashes I’d ever seen on a guy. And a scowl that was even more prominent than the rest of his lean face.
I sneaked a glance at the book he was bent over, reading. The cover told me that it was Jhumpa Lahiri’s Interpreter of Maladies. And I’d thought I was the only teenager in America to have read that.
“What?” he snarled, annoyance written all over his features.
I took a step back, startled by the venom in his tone. There were things about my job I liked – Jazz, being at the airport, the fact that the bakery was deserted enough for us to have plenty of free time. But among the things I didn’t like, rude customers who thought they were always right was at the top of the list, with the fact that we had to be nice to them coming a close second.
“What can I get you?”I said evenly, refusing to display offense at his tone.
He looked me up and down, the scowl giving way to a smirk.”A hotter waitress would be a good start.”
I felt my eyebrows rise involuntarily. The jackass.The rude, arrogant jackass.
Except I didn’t really care. My life had been torn apart a few months ago. An arrogant jackass taking out his bad mood on me wasn’t going to be able to break my heart.
“I’m really sorry,” I said lightly, offering a professional high-wattage smile to hide my thoughts. “We’re out of stock for that. We do have cakes, though. And sandwiches.And coffee. Maybe you want some of that?”
His eyes dropped back down to his book.”A big fat coffee with all the milk and sugar you have.”Funny, he seemed like the type to eschew milk and sugar and go for the blackest of black coffees.
“One tall regular with milk and sugar coming right up.” My cheery tone sounded too fake, probably because it was. I walked back to the counter. Jazz was standing behind it, her gaze fixed on the rude customer, a strange expression on her round, open face.
“What’s up?” I asked, adding sugar to the coffee I’d poured out.
“That guy’s a fucking son of a bitch,” Jazz said under her breath.
I looked at her, surprised that she felt so strongly about some random guy with a stick up his ass.”He’s just a jerk,” I said carefully.
“Zach Gellar isn’t just anything.”Jazz turned away abruptly. When she spoke again, her voice was as cheerful as usual. “Hey, you want to get that old dude who just came in? He looks like he could use some lemonade.”
I bit my lip. There was a mystery here. I didn’t want to probe into whatever it was that Jazz didn’t want to talk about, but I couldn’t help wanting to know more. I’d always been a sucker for secrets.
“Zach Gellar, “I said cautiously.”That’s his name?”
Jazz looked at me and let out a sigh. “You’re going to start at Thornton Academy in September, right?”
“Yeah…”I wiped my hands on the rag by the counter. I had applied to Thornton, which was a private school ten minutes away from my new house, and to Lincoln Central, which was over in the next town. Both had accepted me, thanks to my grades and carefully-chosen extracurricular activities in Woodhouse High, but Thornton had offered me a scholarship that covered three-fourths of my tuition.”Registration is this afternoon.”
“Well, be careful there, “Jazz said quietly.
I glanced up sharply.”What do you mean?”
“I mean, be careful,” said Jazz, arranging sandwiches on a plate.”Everything’s going to seem just perfect there at first, okay? Beautiful and nice and tidy and well-ordered. But it isn’t. At all.”
How did she know? What was she hiding? I wanted to know, but I wasn’t sure if I could ask. I wasn’t Rachael, the girl who’d been my best friend back in the city. I didn’t know how to intrude on people’s privacy without offending them.
“I still don’t get what you mean, “I said instead.
Jazz fixed me with a gaze that was unusually serious for a bubbly, warm-hearted girl with dyed neon-yellow hair.”Just be careful.”She paused for a long time.”And you’ll see what I mean when you get there.”
Decidedly ominous. But I was sure that whatever happened, I could handle it.