Read Dead Silence Online

Authors: Kimberly Derting

Tags: #Romance Speculative Fiction

Dead Silence (4 page)

BOOK: Dead Silence
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Violet was about to say that Chelsea was wrong, that she didn’t know anything about a new kid in school, when her breath caught in her throat. She saw, then, who Chelsea was talking about. The “hottie” in question stood out like a sore thumb in his worn blue jeans and black leather jacket, especially amid the sea of freshly purchased mall clothes, some of which probably still had the tags on them, tucked conveniently inside the collars and waistbands.

“Jesus,” Violet heard Jay breathe beside her, and she felt his arm stiffen around her neck as they watched Rafe approach. “You’re kidding me, right? What the hell is he doing here? Tell me you didn’t know about this.”

“I—I didn’t know about this,” Violet tried to say, but she was sure that no sound had actually escaped her lips, that her words had gotten stuck, lodged against the stone blocking her throat. Because that was when she recognized who Rafe was with, the flawless blonde girl walking beside him.

It was Gemma—looking as out of place as Rafe did, but in an entirely different way. Even from the front, Violet knew the other girl’s jeans were designer, and cost more than Violet’s entire wardrobe. The heels on her boots were at least five inches tall, yet she walked as if she were wearing flats. Effortlessly. Gracefully. Her trendy bag was too big to be a purse, and Violet’s throat tightened even more when she realized it was meant to carry books.

Rafe and Gemma stopped right in front of Violet and Chelsea and Jay. Violet was still speechless, unable to push her voice past the clog in her throat.

Chelsea had no such dilemma.
“Sooo
. . .

she said, looking from Violet to Rafe and back again. “This is sorta awkward.” But there was nothing in her tone to indicate she was the slightest bit uncomfortable. She wrinkled her nose. “Well, since Violet seems a little . . . tongue-tied, let me be the first to welcome you. I’m Chelsea.” She held out her hand, her grin extending to Rafe—and only Rafe—as if Gemma weren’t standing there at all.

He cast an uncertain glance down at her hand, which wasn’t held out for a handshake, but was palm up instead. Rafe turned to Violet, frowning.

Chelsea’s brows rose impatiently. “Your phone,” she explained, extending her hand even farther as she waited for him to hand it over.

An amused expression crossed his face, but he reached into his back pocket and dropped his cell phone into her awaiting hand. Her fingers moved quickly as she unlocked the screen and opened his Contacts list, deftly adding her name and number before handing it back to him with a satisfied grin. “There. That’s better,” she stated, as if he’d
asked
for her phone number. “Now I just need to know your name and we’ll be all set.”

“Rafe,” he answered, a sly grin finding its way back to Chelsea, and something uneasy settled in the pit of Violet’s stomach. The last thing she’d wanted was for these two worlds to collide, she thought, as she stood there in the hallway of her school and watched that very thing happening.

“So, Rafe,” Chelsea drawled, making his name sound practically pornographic coming from her lips. “What made you decide to come to White River High?”

“He’s not,” Violet finally managed to choke out, but she wasn’t really talking to Chelsea. She was glaring at Rafe now, her gaze intense and unwavering. “You can’t just drop in and wander the halls of my school whenever you feel like it, Rafe. There are rules. You have to check in at the office first. You have to show ID and get a visitor’s pass.”

But Rafe just stood there, grinning back at her. It was Gemma, her eyes locked solely on Jay, who responded to Violet. “Mmm, actually, we can,” she countered, raising her perfectly tweezed brows. “Your little friend’s right. We’re students here now. We can come and go as we please.” She puckered her lush red lips as she shot a satisfied smirk in Violet’s direction.

Fire crackled through Violet’s veins as she scowled at the other girl, and then at Rafe, trying to decide who she was angrier at: Gemma for being such an ice princess, or Rafe for just standing there pretending to look utterly innocent in the matter. Violet knew better—Rafe was anything but innocent.

“And you are . . . ?” Chelsea cocked her head, appraising Gemma, in the same way a snake might appraise a baby mouse. “His sister?”

Gemma’s lips curled and she glanced at Rafe, his black hair almost as far from her pale blonde as was possible. “Yeah,” she agreed abrasively. “Something like that.”

Violet looked at the two of them and wondered if there was a person alive who would buy that they shared a single strand of DNA. Chelsea appraised them suspiciously.

At the moment, though, Violet couldn’t care less about that. “What is she talking about?” she demanded, ignoring both Chelsea and Gemma as she turned to glare at Rafe. “Why are you here . . .
really
?”

Rafe just shrugged, and Violet felt her blood simmer. “Gemma’s right,” he admitted, and then he pulled out a rumpled class schedule from his pocket and held it up, as if confirming Gemma’s statement. “We’re students. This is
our
first day too.”

Violet grabbed his schedule and looked it over. She felt her stomach drop when she recognized four of the six classes. They were identical to hers. How the heck did Rafe—Rafe who Violet was pretty sure hadn’t even
attended
school last year—get into AP Lit?

“Is this some kinda joke?” Jay asked, and Violet wondered if he’d noticed the same thing she had—the similarities between the class schedules—or if he was just referring to the fact that Gemma and Rafe were actually planning to attend White River High.

Gemma looked dejected as she held out her schedule, not rumpled at all, toward Jay. “Look, we have classes together too,” she said in a voice that Violet had never heard her use before. A soft voice. Almost a
nice
voice. She pouted, and Violet couldn’t tell if it was calculated or genuine. “I thought you’d be happier to see us.”

Jay hesitated, probably as taken aback by the switch he’d seen in her as Violet was—although probably not nearly as suspicious of it. And then his brows creased. “How did you know we had classes together?” he asked.

Gemma plucked the slip of paper from his fingers and tucked it into the pocket of her shiny patent leather book bag. She did a complete 180 then, her disposition changing from dejected to aloof in a matter of seconds. “You have your ways, I have mine.” And then she wriggled her fingers at them in a wave that showed off her nails, which were flawless and glossy and as perfectly manicured as everything else about her. “I wouldn’t want to be late on my first day!” she exclaimed before strutting away on her too-high-for-high-school heels, looking as if she were walking a Paris runway. Every male head in the hallway except for Rafe’s and Jay’s turned to watch her go. They were too busy having a good old-fashioned stare-down to notice anyone else.

“I hate her,” Chelsea declared solemnly, and somehow Violet managed to stop herself before she could agree.

Mostly because she didn’t hate Gemma, even though she wanted to in that moment. But that didn’t mean she didn’t have every intention of finding out what she and Rafe were up to. Why they were suddenly enrolled at her high school.

“Come on, V. We should probably get going too.” It was Rafe now, looking at her with smug confidence as he tapped his watch.

Violet’s jaw clenched. “I’ll be right there,” she ground out, emphasizing each word, enunciating every syllable.

He shrugged once more and she watched as he sauntered through the classroom door, throwing the strap of his backpack carelessly over his shoulder.

Jay waited until he was gone and then he looked down at her. “You didn’t know, did you?”

“I swear I didn’t,” Violet assured him, shaking her head. “Of course I didn’t.”

 

Inside the classroom, everyone had already taken a seat. Above the music box that no one else could hear, whispers filled the room as Violet stepped through the doorway, crowding the air and replacing the first-day exuberance.

There was a new kid in school.

Without meaning to, she found herself seeking him out the moment she stepped inside. He wasn’t hard to spot though. He sat by himself in the back of the classroom, and all eyes were either already on him or were intermittently darting in his direction. Beside him, there was an empty desk with a backpack perched upon its chair.

He was saving her a seat.

Self-consciously, Violet searched for another opening before realizing that the one next to Rafe was the only one left. She’d lingered for too long in the hallway.

Rafe didn’t seem to care that he’d managed to trap her, and that she had no other choice but to sit beside him. He only grinned when she rolled her eyes as she reluctantly made her way down the aisle toward him, listening to the barrage of whispered comments as she passed.

“. . . did you see his hot sister . . .”

“. . . different last names . . . must be adopted . . .”

“. . . heard he was in juvie . . .”

“. . . does Violet Ambrose
know him
. . . ?”

Violet ignored them all, keeping her gaze averted. She even managed to avoid looking at Rafe when she shoved his backpack onto the floor. It made a satisfying
thunk
, causing everyone in the class to turn and look at her as she took her seat. But instead of giving them the satisfaction of a response, she trained her eyes on the whiteboard at the front of the room, wishing their teacher, Mr. LeCompte, would stop dawdling in the staff lounge and get here already.

Mr. LeCompte was notorious for being late, she remembered that much from taking American Lit with him the previous year. But today, of all days, Violet wanted nothing more than for class to get started already.

She felt something tap against her elbow and saw Rafe from the corner of her eye, stretched all the way across the aisle, as he held something out to her. She jerked her arm away from him, and concentrated even harder on
not
looking at him.

“Psst.” She heard it, almost unnoticeably at first. And then louder, so that everyone in the rows ahead of them could hear it too.
“Psst!”

She turned then, concentrating on glaring daggers at him now.
“What!”
she whispered back.

He held out a piece of folded paper in her direction.

Her stern expression cracked as she bit back a smile.
Was he actually passing her a note in class?

Swallowing her amusement so it wouldn’t show, she snatched the paper from his hand and slipped it beneath her desk just as Mr. LeCompte wandered into the classroom.

“Happy first day of school, class, and welcome to AP Literature.” The way he said “literature” made it sound distinctly like he had a British accent, despite the fact that everyone knew he’d only spent one year abroad during a teacher-exchange program. He dropped his crumbling leather satchel on his desk as he walked to the whiteboard to write his name with red dry erase marker. Below that he started itemizing their first-quarter reading list.

Violet glanced as surreptitiously as she could at Rafe when she realized that she’d seen those same books on the shelves in his bedroom. She remembered them all,
Catcher in the Rye, Heart of Darkness, The Handmaid’s Tale
. His confident grin confirmed that he thought this class would be a piece of cake.

She, on the other hand, had only read one of the books on the list,
Lord of the Flies
, and that had been back in the eighth grade, so she probably wouldn’t get away with skipping it this quarter.

Ignoring her impending workload, she unfolded the note hidden in her hand.

Don’t be mad
, was all it said in his blocky, boy handwriting.

Violet glanced over at Rafe, her head cocked challengingly. Why shouldn’t she be mad at him? He should’ve at least called to warn her that he and Gemma were going to be there today. She deserved that much, didn’t she?

She crumpled the note into a tight ball and shoved it into her backpack, which was on the floor by her feet.

Rafe shifted toward her, hanging from the side of his desk as he leaned all the way across the aisle. “Don’t be like that,” he insisted quietly. “It’s not my fault, V.”

She grimaced. “Stop calling me that.”

“What?
V
?” Now he was the one who was confused. “Fine. Whatever.” He shrugged. “Then stop acting like I did something wrong.”

“Ms. Ambrose? Mr. . . . ?” Mr. LeCompte interrupted them, and she could hear the warning in his fake-British drawl.

Rafe’s eyes darted forward, but he didn’t sit up. He stayed where he was, stretched across the aisle, practically sitting in Violet’s desk. “Priest,” Rafe answered. “Rafe Priest.”

“Mr. Priest
,

Mr. LeCompte continued. “Since you two have already started getting to know each other, you can go first.” Violet felt her cheeks growing warm as she realized she had no idea what their teacher was talking about. Then, to the entire class, he explained, “Everyone will pair up, and you’ll have five minutes to get to know your partner. After your five minutes is up, you’ll each take turns introducing your partner to the rest of us.”

There was a collective moan, and Violet sagged into her chair, not in the mood for this little getting-to-know-you exercise. But Rafe didn’t seem nearly as reluctant as she was, and he dragged his desk closer, making Violet cringe against the screeching sound the legs made across the industrial tile flooring.

“Okay . . . go,” Rafe said eagerly, watching her expectantly.

“Go?
Go what?

“Go . . . start telling me about yourself.”

She half smiled. “How about
you
tell me what you meant when you said it wasn’t your fault that you’re here? Whose fault is it then? What the hell are you doing at White River, Rafe?”

He grinned back at her, a stupid grin. One that made her wonder what really went on inside that head of his. “Fine. Be that way, V, but this is gonna make for one awkward introduction. Consider yourself warned.”

BOOK: Dead Silence
3.61Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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