The Pull of Destiny

BOOK: The Pull of Destiny
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The Pull of Destiny

 

 

Cheri
‘hotcheri’ Pye

Copyright ©
2013 Cheri ‘hotcheri’ Pye

All rights
reserved

ISBN:
1481957317

ISBN-13:
978-1481957311

 

DEDICATION

 

 

This
novel is dedicated to my faithful fictionpress readers and reviewers. Without
you guys,

I
never would have had the courage to self-publish this novel. Thanks, my
wonderful fp familia.

 

Love
you guys.

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

knock you down.

 

 

 

 

Watching
Dalton School’s newest and most lovey-dovey couple exchange spit while I sat
opposite them in the booth at Denny’s and wished I was somewhere else wasn’t
the way I wanted to spend my Monday afternoon. I don’t have anything against
PDA, but being the third wheel sucks. Unfortunately, every time my BFF Robyn
Miller gets a new boyfriend
(which happens more often than you would
believe)
, a third wheel is exactly what I become. Just the annoying
tagger-on who wants to go home but can’t because her best friend doesn’t want
her first date with her ‘Mr. Right’ to be awkward. Yeah right. Robyn throws all
her morals out of the front door when she hooks up with a new guy. Most of the
time, she’s so busy with ‘Mr. Right’ that she doesn’t even remember that I’m
there, glancing at my watch every five seconds and wolfing down cold fries,
cold pizza or cold burgers (depending on where we’re eating that day). And feel
free to disagree with me, but if I want to see two hot teens make out in New
York City, I’ll go home and watch Gossip Girl.

 

 So
that’s why when my House Advisor, Mrs. Williams, asked me to deliver homework
to a kid who hadn’t bothered to turn up for school today, I jumped at the
chance. 

She
approached me as I was being buffeted out of my last class of the day by
students who apparently just couldn’t wait to rush out into the cold, her arms
filled with a sheaf of files.

“Celsiana,
may I have a word?” she asked, her long skirt swirling around her ankles as she
stopped in front of me.

“Sure,”
I replied with trepidation, my eyes sweeping the hall for an escape route. When
Mrs. Williams wanted a word, it usually meant that a lecture was at hand.
Unfortunately, all I saw was Robyn and my other best friend, Shazia El Hamed,
lurking behind a pillar. Robyn was frowning at me.

 
Uh
oh. I’m making her late for her tête-à-tête with flavor of the week.

I
shrugged slightly in Robyn’s direction, hoping that Mrs. Williams didn’t see.
It wasn’t my fault!

“Okay,
these are all homework files of students who didn’t show up today,” Mrs.
Williams said as she rested her back against the wall, holding up the files.

Wondering
what that had to do with me I said, “Oh.”
I
had showed up today, hadn’t
I?

 

Behind
Mrs. Williams, Robyn was tapping her watch, looking increasingly irritated. 
Hiding a smile, Shazia hugged her and took off. The daughter of a Saudi Arabian
oil merchant, Shazia’s chauffeured limo came to pick her up at precisely 2.55
pm. The plus side was she didn’t have to walk in the rain, but she had never
been on the subway in her entire life! Every New York City resident should go
on the subway at least once, no matter how rich they were.
Just my opinion
.
Since Mrs. Williams was busy leafing through her files, I found a chance to tap
my
watch and hold up 5 fingers.

“Five
seconds,” I mouthed, knowing full well it wouldn’t be five seconds. Mrs.
Williams took forever to get to the point, and Robyn knew it. Still, anything
that put off the inevitable (in this case, trying not to watch Robyn and her
boyfriend have a fun time while trying not to feel like the loser I was) was a
bonus, in my book.

 

Five
seconds turned into a minute and Mrs. Williams
still
hadn’t said
anything to indicate why she was making me stand here, attracting weird looks
from my classmates as they filled the hall. In fact, she hadn’t said anything
at all, still engrossed in her files. I shifted from one foot to another, scratching
the back of my neck with my free hand.

 
This
is getting stupid.

“Uh,
Mrs. Williams, I need to-,” I started hesitantly, not exactly sure what I had
to do but knowing that if she didn’t get to the point soon, I would have to
leave. Just up and leave without saying anything. She probably wouldn’t even
notice my absence.

“Here
it is,” she exclaimed loudly, whipping out a blue file with our school logo
emblazoned on the front. She looked up at me, a strand of her graying hair
falling into her face. “Celsiana, can you do me a favor?”

“Um,
sure,” I replied, slightly nervously. 

“This
is Lucas Astor’s homework file.” She squinted at me. “You do know Lucas Astor,
don’t you?”

I
nodded, resisting the strong urge to roll my eyes to the ceiling. Of course I knew
Luke Astor. There wasn’t a single person who went to this school, from
kindergarten to senior year, who didn’t know who Luke Astor was. He was one of
the richest, most popular students around.

“Yes,
Mrs. Williams, I know Lucas,” I said, marveling at my poker face.

Mrs.
Williams sighed theatrically, fanning her face with Luke’s file. I understood
her relief (I think) but that was a little overdramatic for my taste. “Thank
goodness. That makes it so much easier.” I was just about to ask ‘makes
what
so much easier’ when she told me. My heart sank down to my boots as she spoke.
“I’d like you to deliver Lucas’s homework.”
Ugh. Out of all the friends Luke
has, why me? I barely even talk to the guy!
“Joanna Winthrop was supposed
to deliver it to him-apparently they still have a little something something
going on.”

She
stopped and looked at me expectantly after imparting this little nugget of
information.  I was still trying to get over her saying ‘a little something
something going on’ so I just looked as curious as I could and said “Really?”

“Lucas
called to ask for Joanna specifically but she didn’t show at my office,” Mrs.
Williams continued. “You don’t mind doing this, do you?”

My
mind raced. Spend the afternoon watching Robyn make out or drop off the homework
and rush home?
Easy choice.

“Sure,
I’ll do it,” I said, taking care to put an eager smile on my face.

At
least now I had a valid excuse to blow off Robyn without feeling bad.

Mrs.
Williams smiled so widely I almost heard her cheekbone’s creak. “Excellent!
You’re a life saver, Celsiana!”

Funny.
The way my cousin told it, I was a waste of space. Oh, well, each to his or her
own, I guess. I smiled back at her, banishing those dark thoughts to the back
of my mind. Plenty of time to deal with
that
when I got home. School and
work were my sanctuaries; at least when I was there, I could pretend like
everything was alright. I didn’t want that to change, because when I got home,
it was another story.

“You
were my first choice because you’re responsible and also, you sit near Lucas in
Science, don’t you?” Mrs. Williams went on.

I
nodded yet again, starting to feel like a bobble head doll.

 

Not
like sitting near to Luke meant anything. Heirs of old money like Luke Astor
didn’t talk to commoners on financial aid like me. Not to sound bitter or
anything, but I bet if the shoe was on the other foot, Luke probably wouldn’t
even know who I was, let alone agree to drop off my homework at home. And him being
a typical Upper East Side resident, he’d probably get lost or worse in my East
Harlem neighborhood. But my grandmother used to say, ‘God rewards you for all
your good deeds’ and she was rarely wrong about anything. I wondered what my
reward for doing this good deed would be, feeling slightly guilty for doing it
but unable to stop myself. Maybe a cup of tea in the Astor house. That would be
a sweet reward, it was cold outside. This reminded me-.

“Where
does Luke live?”

 

Just
asking that question made me feel supremely stupid and I stared down at my
white boots, not daring to look up at Mrs. Williams. She had to be laughing at
me. As a female member of the student body, it was my duty to know where Luke
lived. All the girls at Dalton adored Luke because he was pretty adorable, I
guess, even though he was a bit of a jerk. He was cute, rich and your typical
party animal and skirt chaser. He mostly dated smoking hot blondes and spent
his lunch breaks hanging out under the bleachers with his crew or playing the
bass guitar in the music studio. Unfortunately, he played quite well, which was
only more ammo for his flock of fawning fan girls. They thought the fact that
the guy played a bit of bass guitar put him on the level of Jimi Hendrix.
Sample of an overheard conversation about him: “OMG, he’s like, super hawt! And
he like totally used to be in a band, y’know!”

Yeah,
our school isn’t exempt from its share of valley girls. Pretty weird, since
we’re in NYC, but whatever.

“He
lives on Park Avenue.”

Of
course.
Where else could a moneyed descendant of an importantly famous family live in
Manhattan?
Duh, Celsi.

Fishing
in her skirt pocket, Mrs. Williams pulled out a piece of paper and handed it to
me. Scribbled on it was an address. “Here’s the address,” she said. “It’s on
your way home, so that should be convenient.”

“Yeah,
well, kind off,” I said, stuffing the paper into my parka pocket. I was feeling
impatient now. This conversation shouldn’t be taking this long! It should have
been over ages ago.

“How
are you doing at home?”

Mrs.
Williams had a concerned look on her face and I tried my best not to sigh
.
Not this question again
.

 

A
couple of months ago, I had come into school with a bruise on my chin. Even
after I told her that I ran into a door, she wouldn’t believe me and contacted
my aunt to hold a meeting with her. My aunt spilled her guts, telling her about
how rough my cousin Nathan could be, especially when he had been drinking
(which was constantly). Mrs. Williams automatically assumed that Nathan had hit
me (not true. He threw a book at me, but that’s okay. I’m used to it) and
decided to make herself my confidant.

“Good,”
I replied, hoping that she wasn’t going to press me. “My cousin got a job, so
that’s been better.”

She
smiled again and I immediately felt my heart tighten with guilt. There I was,
feeling defensive when she was asking me, but she was doing it for my own
benefit. Still, there were some things I felt like I had to keep to myself,
like how Nathan went on a drunken rampage through the apartment every once in a
while, breaking things and cursing everyone out. When that happened, I took
refuge in my room, my iPod turned up high so that I didn’t have to hear my aunt
cry. Mrs. Williams didn’t need to know that. ‘Brush your shoulders off’ was the
motto that I lived by. I was strong. I had to be, to get through every night.

“That’s
good.” To my gratitude, she didn’t continue on the subject, instead handing me
(finally!) Luke’s file. “Okay, here’s the file and tell Lucas he’d better come
in tomorrow unless he’s dying. And if he’s dying, I want a note from his
doctor.”

I
took the file, holding it under my arm. “Did he say what was wrong?” I asked
curiously.

“No,”
Mrs. Williams said, her voice slightly bitter. “He’s an Astor. He doesn’t need
an excuse not to show up at school.”

I
shrugged. Made sense. His dad was on the school board, after all. Luke was
always causing disruptions in the school, but he got so much leeway it was like
he owned the place.

Mrs.
Williams’s thin lips pursed. “I’m sure he just has a hangover. And that
homework ought to sober him right up.”

Well
said.

 

***

 

Robyn
wasn’t impressed that I was ditching her to go deliver Luke’s homework.

“No,
you have to come with me,” she pleaded, clutching on to my arm as we walked to
the station, trying not to slip on the frosty sidewalk. “I’m gonna be so
nervous alone with him!”

I
had to laugh at her. “Rob, you guys have been alone before! I wasn’t there when
he asked you out!” I reminded her. She turned to me, her cheeks reddened by the
cold, pouting at me.

“And
you should have seen how awkward that was,” she said, sighing. “I need you,
Celsi! You give off a positive vibe!”

She
bumped her hip against mine, making me giggle. “Why, thank you! And here I was
thinking my vibe was kinda creepy, in a stalkerish way.”

I
thought that was pretty funny (which just goes to show that my sense of humor
is garbage) but Robyn didn’t crack a smile, clutching my arm so tight I had
pins and needles.

“Ha-ha.
Seriously though, when you’re around, my dates go smoother,” she said, twirling
a lock of her blonde hair around her gloved finger. “And my relationships last
longer.”

I
shook my head before she’d even finished her sentence. “Rob, none of your
relationships last! The longest you’ve had a boyfriend for is a month,” I told
her, trying to jog her memory. “You’re a serial dater.”

Robyn
gave me a superior look. “Actually, it was a month and two days,” she said. I
shrugged.
Same difference
.

BOOK: The Pull of Destiny
3.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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