“So you’re gay now,” Daniel asked, smirking at me later that day when I was walking past our kitchen.
“Shut up…” I said in a hushed voice so no one else could hear us. “I have to win, and in order to do so, I had to do something before people started asking questions.”
“Whatever you say, big brother,” Daniel said, still smirking.
“Just don’t let Mom or Dad hear about it, all right? When this is over, everything goes back to normal again,” I said.
“Do you really think they’re not going to hear about it?”
“I sure hope so.”
“How are you a straight-A student, and still be such an idiot?” He chuckled, grabbed an apple, and joined me in the hallway. “Everyone knows about it. And their mothers. The rumors will travel fast around here, not just at school.”
“If they do hear about it, I’ll just… I’ll just tell them it’s a mean lie about me,” I said, starting to feel a bit anxious.
“Good luck with that. There’s a whole Facebook page about your newly found sexuality and everything,” Daniel told me. “It’s going to be hard to convince them.”
“But it is a lie! It just happens to be me who started it,” I exclaimed.
“You know how Dad is,” he only said and made his way to the staircase. “He’s going to get really mad about it.”
I sneered at his back and entered the kitchen. I was hungry just a minute ago, but now I couldn’t even think about eating. I left the kitchen, but instead of returning to my room, I found myself sitting down in my car. I needed fresh air. I needed to get far away from that place.
I called Jessica before I started driving. I was a bit surprised that she answered my call, though I could tell she was still mad at me. Again, she surprised me by saying yes when I asked if she wanted to go for a drive with me.
“I’ll be there in a second,” I said.
Five minutes later, she sat down next to me without saying a word. I watched her as she put the seatbelt on. She stayed quiet when I started driving.
“Just spit it out,” I said with a sigh.
“What the hell is wrong with you! Why did you think it was a good idea to make everyone believe you’re gay?!”
She fell silent, staring at me angrily.
“I had to do something,” I said with a shrug. “It’s really hard to get Jax’s attention, so I figured this way he’d at least notice me.”
“Yeah, well, he did notice you. He noticed you hard,” she said with a huff. “What the hell were you thinking? How are you going to convince everyone that you’re not gay after this whole bet is over?”
“I’ll figure something out…” I muttered, driving past the gates of our neighborhood.
“You’ll figure something out?” she repeated. “Accepting this stupid challenge was bad enough, but you are taking this way too far!”
“Why are you so mad about it? It’s not like I’m actually gay,” I said.
“That’s the problem! There is no way you will ever be able to convince people you aren’t actually gay, and if you do manage to do so, guess how they’ll react! You’re pretending to be gay just to win a stupid bet, for crying out loud! There’s going to be a lot of people who are not going to be happy about it!”
“And why would I care?” I asked her.
“You really aren’t too smart right now,” she said, shaking her head. “Fine, do what you want, but if you get rejected from college just because of this stupid bet, you will be screwed.”
“They wouldn’t do that,” I said.
“Yeah, let’s pretend you’re right,” she only said.
“Can we just let this go? Please? I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want to think about any of it,” I said.
I glanced at her and saw her watching me closely. Her expression was turning softer.
“I’ve been thinking about what you said the other day,” she began slowly. “About not wanting to act how everyone wants you to act.”
“What about it?”
“Are you sure you want to be a lawyer?”
“Of course I want to! That’s my dream!” I told her sternly.
“Yours? Or your father’s?”
“All right,” she said slowly. “Just saying, it would be easy to ruin your reputation with this bet…”
“I’m not ruining anything. I just want to prove to everyone that I can seduce anyone,” I said. “It’s just for fun, Jessica.”
“Sure,” she said. “So. Did the Snake break your bones?”
“No, though my stomach still hurts,” I said, rubbing the spot Jax had hit me.
“I’m not saying you deserved that, but…” she trailed off.
“Well, if it makes you feel any better, I think this won’t be the last time I’ll get my ass kicked by him,” I said, hoping to bring up the mood a bit.
At least she laughed.
That fucking Gabriel. What the actual fuck? What the actual
fuck?! I couldn’t stop thinking about what he said, not even when I woke up the
“I like you.”
What the fuck?!
Nicholas Gabriel said he liked me. I knew exactly what he meant by that, since the entire school kept whispering that he was gay. Gay. Nicholas Gabriel was fucking gay, and he fucking liked me.
No. No, no, no, no, no, no. There was no fucking way he was gay. And there was no fucking way in hell that he liked me. A week ago, he hardly even knew I existed. This was a prank. That had to be a prank. There was no other way in hell it wasn’t a prank.
He must’ve learned I was gay. I mean, it wasn’t really a secret. There had to be people who still remembered that fact about me, so he must’ve heard about it somewhere. He probably thought it was funny to pretend he was gay as well.
But… To be honest, no matter how much I hated the Gabriels, I always thought Nic was the good one – if there was such a thing as a good Gabriel. He was the golden child, after all. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t remember an occasion when he’d been mean to someone on purpose. He treated girls like trash, but he never pulled pranks on anyone or anything.
Now there was a thought. He did treat girls like trash… Well, not like trash, but everyone knew Nic didn’t care about the girls. He’d just get what he wanted and move on.
I mean, maybe…? No! Absolutely not. There was no way he was gay, and even if he was, he would never like me!
It had to be just a stupid prank.
I’d managed to stay the fuck away from Nic at school. Once it was over, I headed to Shirley’s shop to help out.
And I was still thinking about Nic. He really was messing with my head. Whatever he was planning, whatever prank he was trying to pull, he was already succeeding at fucking me up. Like he was an annoying song, I couldn’t get him out of my head.
“I like you…”
“Shut the fuck up…” I muttered to myself while I was restocking the shelves.
I hadn’t noticed a middle-aged man approaching me. He stopped to stare at me with a shocked expression on his face.
“Not you. The voices in my head,” I told him with a sweet smile on my face.
I laughed as I watched him run out of the shop without buying anything. But even that didn’t keep me amused for too long. I let out a heavy sigh and turned my attention back to the shelves.
At least I didn’t have to see him.
At that very moment, the bell above the door rang, letting us know someone had just stepped in. I paid no attention to it as I grabbed the next empty box and replaced it with a full one. I should’ve.
Oh, hell no. Oh hell no!
I sprung around and lo-and-behold! It was fucking Nic standing behind me, staring at me with wide eyes! That was just my freaking luck!
I just stood there with nowhere to hide. As if I could even hide anymore! I was suddenly well aware of the fact that I was wearing the unicorn shit my aunt kept calling a uniform. And he stared at it. He took a good, long look at it.
And he burst into laughter.
“Oh my God! You look so adorable!”
No one had ever called me that before, and I was sure no one ever would. I wanted to strangle him on the spot, but I was so unbelievably mad and shocked that I still could only stand there like an idiot and stare at him.
Nic looked away for a moment and tried to stop laughing, but the second he turned his attention back to me, he only laughed harder. I was regaining my composure, and I seriously considered murdering him on the spot, but I saw Shirley watching me behind the registers with a warning look on her face. I knew she would kill me if I ever harmed a customer.
“Why don’t you fuck off, Nic?” I murmured angrily.
He finally stopped laughing, but he didn’t wipe the annoying smirk off his face.
“Are you serious?” He chuckled. “You’re selling c-candy?!”
He lost it again. I was about to lose it too as I watched him gasp for air as he laughed to his heart’s content.
“Jax is selling candy…!” He gasped and laughed, leaning on his knees as he tried to stay on his feet. “I can’t believe this…”
“Why don’t you just fuck off?” I hissed at him.
“I’m sorry… I’m sorry…” he said, again trying to get a hold of himself. “I know I shouldn’t laugh, but damn, you look cute in that costume!”
Hear that Shirley? It’s a freaking costume!
“Who in their right mind let you sell candy?” Nic asked when he finally stopped laughing at me. “I mean the Snake himself is selling goddamn candy! That’s just wrong. That’s just so wrong.”
I glared at him as he took another look at my clothes, still clearly amused.
“You know…” he said with a small smile on his lips, stepping closer to me. “You do look edible in those clothes,” he continued in a low voice.
Is he fucking serious?
He stepped right in front of me. I froze. I froze completely. I had no idea what had gotten into me. He glanced around to make sure no one saw us, and then lifted his hand to touch my cheek. He was a bit taller than me so I had to look up to see his narrowed eyes. I hated how small I felt next to him. I hated how weak he made me feel. He brushed a lock of my hair from my eyes. I still couldn’t fucking move when he leaned closer to me, resting his hand on my side.
“Don’t worry,” he whispered in my ear with a smug smile on his face. “I won’t tell anyone about this.”
I felt his lips brushing my skin. I heard the small sound when he kissed my cheek. His scent was all around me. It was a familiar scent. His hand on my side felt heavy as he held me still. Like he needed to do that. My whole body was still in complete lockdown. I couldn’t move an inch, no matter how hard I wanted to. I had to move away or at least push him off me, but no. I still just stood there. This was way too familiar… They were brothers, after all.
And just like his brother once had, Nic was playing with me. I knew it. There was no doubt in my mind, and yet, I didn’t move, and I didn’t push him away.
“Fuck off,” I whispered.
At least my mouth was working.
He snorted in amusement, but held his hand in its place for a moment longer just to show me he wasn’t afraid of me and he had little respect for my boundaries. When he finally let go of me, his smile was arrogant and somehow victorious.
“See you at school,” he murmured, grabbed a couple of random chocolate bars from the shelf and went to pay for them.
I stood still and followed him with my gaze. After he paid for the chocolate, he left the store without even looking in my direction. He still had that arrogant smile on his face when he walked past the windows and vanished.
“So… I’m assuming that was one of the Gabriels,” Shirly spoke to me when she joined me by the shelves.
“That was Nic, yes,” I said without looking at her, pulling on my sleeve.
I was pretty sure she hadn’t seen Nic holding me… She would’ve strangled Nic herself if she’d seen it.
“He’s still harassing you?” she asked with a dark voice.
“No, it’s fine. He was just… He was just laughing at my costume. He found it hilarious.”
“Well that was rude of him. It’s a uniform, not a costume…”
“He called it a costume.”
She shook her head, then glanced at me. “Do you need me to do something about him? I can ban him from my store if you want.”
Why did I shake my head?
“It’s fine. I can deal with him,” I said and continued doing my job.
It was just a stupid prank or something, after all, and I was not about to ruin my reputation by letting my aunt deal with him instead of dealing with him myself. But I was impressed that Nic dared to do that to me after I’d turned his insides into soup only a day before.
The guy had balls, even I had to admit that.