So… How is everyone’s novel going? Mine is going pretty well. I’m behind the word goal, but my books always come to me in chunks so I’m not worried about it. I’ve written books longer than 50,000 and in shorter time periods than 30 days.
Anyway, here’s a continuation of the post I put up last time. here’s the other one if you want to read that first.
Please remember that this was hacked out a few days ago, and is still very un-edited ;)
(Read chapter 1 here.)
I dragged myself through each class that morning, tapping my feet to keep myself awake. I counted my breaths. I wrote notes. Anything to stay awake. I even asked my English teacher if I could stand up in the back of the room. She nodded, knowing that it was probably going to end with me collapsing on the floor anyway.
I’d had to explain to my teachers—in a staff meeting, none the less—about my sleeping problems. I hadn’t slept through the night in over four months, I tossed and turned all night long, getting one or two hours in at the most. At first I’d been fine, but when I started falling asleep in every class (and I had been an honor student until it had started happening) I was forced to explain everything to all of them. It had been one of the most embarrassing moments of my life.
One of the most embarrassing moments of my life. But this one paled in comparison to the worst.
They all tried to help, between recommending exercise, diets, special drinks, even sleep pills. Nothing worked, not even the pills.
By Choir, I had made up my mind. I would stick it out until after class and then call my mom to pick me up, if I had to text her from the girl’s bathroom and sneak out the window to do it.
Richard Elton greeted me with a smile. He gestured toward my seat and I dropped my things and slumped down into my chair.
“I’m surprised to see you here, Olivia.” He said softly. His voice was always so quiet and soft. Except when he sang, of course. Then you could hear the voice of the Archangel from across town. Richard Elton had been an opera singer and a Broadway performer for years before his scoliosis kept him from standing up straight. No longer able to act, he was forced into another field. He often told us his adventures onstage, his short career in recording his love songs he wrote for his wife, and about how he used to give private lessons to some of the more famous vocalists of our day and age. “And now I’m here with you guys. And I will make singers out of each of you.” He would say.
“Yeah, well…” I trailed off. He knew I was the only one who knew the harmony.
A soft smile crept over his aged face, and I remembered why I always felt so good around him. Mr. Elton had a very warm inviting face, with gray hair and wrinkled skin and brown eyes, and very large hands. He was the sort of person who made you feel safe and protected, but he wasn’t intimidating at all.
Class began and was smooth through warm-ups and exercises, but when it got to rehearsing our song, it all fell apart. I sat in my chair, willing myself to stay awake while Mr. Elton plucked out the harmony on the piano again.
“Olivia,” he said finally, “Please stand up.”
I stood, opening my eyes, as they had drifted closed.
“Please, while I sing the melody, please sing the harmony.”
I opened my mouth to protest, but he held up his hand. “I know you can, don’t tell me you can’t.”
I hated singing solos. I had my reasons, nobody at this school knew what they were, but I had told Mr. Elton time and time again (after rejecting offer after offer) that I would not sing solos.
I took a deep breath, mentally preparing myself. I was going to sound terrible. I was going to embarrass myself. I’d do something stupid—
Think positive. You can do this.
The words jumped into my head as if someone had placed them there. It was like this morning all over again.
I shook my head to rid it of the echo, and nodded to Mr. Elton. He sang softy, so that I could hear the melody in my head, but find the harmony with my voice.
I started to sing, remembering to breathe the way he’d taught me and to do it at the right times. It was hard to remember the words when everyone was staring at me. These were the times I wished Cam had taken music—I would have been fine if he were here for me to focus on, pretend I was singing to him only, and maybe even hold his hand while I sang. Then I would have been fine. I wouldn’t have been nervous. I wouldn’t have noticed Blake sitting in the back row of the alto group, staring smugly but curiously at me. my voice wouldn’t have broken.
When I heard the crack, I panicked. I almost stopped singing, but forced myself to keep going. I was low on air, and started hyperventilating.
Breathe. Forget about it. just keep going.
I focused on the words of the song to get the strange foreign voice out of my head.
I snapped back into focus, vowing to redeem myself as the strange voice had prompted. I held the end note longer than normal, hitting it on perfect pitch. I saw Mr. Elton close his eyes when I held it. Susanna, the girl who sat next to me, grinned. Blake continued to stare, but then dropped his gaze. I could have sworn I saw a tear on his cheek, though.
I ended the song and everyone clapped. I sat, trying not to blush or feel embarrassed. Now I had an energy rush—the adrenalin had woke me up. Maybe that was the key? Sing a solo in front of an audience every morning, and I was guaranteed to stay awake in school? I hoped not, because I never wanted to go through that again.
“Now do you guys know the harmony? Please say you know the harmony.” Mr. Elton pleaded.
After class I dashed from the room, still embarrassed from when my voice had broken. Again I thought. I sighed. I’d never forget the day I’d made a fool of myself in front of the entire town, swearing I’d never sing another solo again.
When I got into the cafeteria I looked for Cam. I couldn’t see him or any of his classmates, so I assumed he wasn’t out yet. But I did see someone coming towards me, and it wasn’t my boyfriend. It was Blake.
“Yo,” he said as he stopped in front of me.
I started to walk away, still pretending to look for Cam.
“ignoring me, beautiful?”
“Don’t call me names.” I muttered. This time as I started to walk away he stepped in front of me, blocking my path. We were about two feet away, him standing casually in front of me, sneering down at me. He was tall—probably a little under six feet. His dark hair was tousled and for a fleeting moment I wondered what it would be like to run my fingers through it—
Then I checked myself. Hello, I thought. I have a boyfriend, and I love him until the day I die and probably after. I don’t need to be fantasizing about this stupid jerk.
Well the stupid jerk is hotter than the boyfriend, that annoying little voice came back.
“What?” Blake asked. I realized I’d said it out loud.
“Nothing.” I muttered. “go away.”
“I need to talk to you.”
“And I need you to leave her alone before I—“ I heard Cam’s voice behind me. Blake cut him off.
“Sure, man. Sure. I’d like to see you try to do anything to me. And live to tell about it.” his face contorted to a smug sneer. It was a bad look for him.
Cam took a step towards him, and I gasped. He was really going to make a scene here in the cafeteria.
“Cam,” I whispered, my voice harsh. “Don’t. Let’s just go.”
He ignored me, and got about eight or ten inches away from Blake. I saw the huge differences between them, since they were standing so close together. Cam was just a little shorter than Blake, and thinner. He was sort of gangly when I thought about it. He had tan skin and light blue eyes that were fierce right now. That look in his eyes made me feel safe, however frightening his opponent looked. And Blake looked rather frightening right now. Actually, he always did.
Blake’s arms and chest were very obviously muscled up. He probably could lift me with one arm. He probably could have thrown Cam across the room. His dark eyes were brooding and sent shivers down my spine.
“Cam, I’m tired and I want to go home. Please,”
“Listen dude,” Cam ignored me, which infuriated me, and started to lecture Blake. “You stay away from my girl or—“
“I’m tired of your threats, little girl.” Blake blinked as he spoke the insult softly. Cam’s eyebrows shot up about a foot. “And you can’t make me stay away from anyone. For one thing, it’s America, I can talk to who I want. For another thing, you have no manpower whatsoever.” He poked Cam in the chest with one finger. The way he held himself looked like he was getting ready to blow him to the ground with a gust of breath.
“Cam, please.” I begged.
“I can have you arrested for harassing and suspended from school. I can get you in a bad fight, and it’ll be on your record and you’ll never get a job as long as you live. I can get you sent to jail for sexual harassment if you so much as lay a finger—no, I take that back. If you so much as look at her the wrong way—I’ll have you put in jail. That’s my threat... And don’t call me a girl.” He added weakly at the end.
“Ooh, I’m scarred now,” Blake spat back, smirking. He looked at me. “your boyfriend is real creative, cutie.” He looked back at Cam. “And what are you, her father?”
I felt like the air had been knocked out of me, and I gasped and took a step back, tears flooding my eyes. Cam’s forehead creased and he didn’t answer. He just looked at Blake, who was looking at me. Cam watched Blake’s response to the tears rolling down my face that I didn’t have any control over, and my hyperventilating. Cam’s face was angry, Blake looked horrified.
People were beginning to look at us, now. My face was hot with embarrassment and my nose was dripping a little, and I was making a puddle of tears at my feet. I dropped my head, trying to hide my face. It wasn’t working and I knew it, but I tried anyway. This was the third time today I’d made a fool of myself, and all three were because of Blake. I was beginning to dislike him quite a bit.
“You think you’re such a tough guy, don’t you Blake?” Cam spat. “What kind of man makes a girl cry?”
Blake didn’t answer, and he didn’t look at Cam. He looked at me. His black eyes locked onto mine, and the adrenalin in my veins from earlier returned, making me cry harder and hyperventilate more. I was getting dizzy. I could hear the sharp hard footsteps of someone, probably a teacher, coming towards us, probably to break up whatever fight they thought we’d started.
“Blake, please come with me.” I heard Mr. Elton say. He was standing beside Cam in the doorway. The entire cafeteria was silent except for my sobs, which were uncontrollable now.
Blake turned his back to follow Mr. Elton, and just as he did—
I wasn’t sure who’d thought it: the stupid little voice, or me.
On the way home, Cam and I were both quiet.
Cam had taken my hand and dragged me out of the cafeteria and into his car, where he’d held me and rocked me back and forth for a few minutes while I cried. When I’d slowed down he’d wiped off my face with his shirt (which had probably ruined it) and kissed my forehead.
It wasn’t his fault, I kept thinking. He didn’t know. Nobody, not even Cam, knew about it. I had refused to talk about it.
I blocked the scene out of my head before I started crying again.
When we stopped in my driveway, I knew my mom wasn’t there. The car was gone, and it was lunch time. She was probably at the office still.
Cam stroked my hair, then unbuckled and scooted over into the middle seat. He put his arm around my shoulders and stroked my hair softly.
“Hey,” he whispered. I didn’t answer. “Are you asleep?”
“If I say yes, will you carry me in?”
He laughed and got out of the car, then came around to my side and lifted me into his arms. He may not have looked as huge as Blake, but he was stronger than most boys his age and could lift little old me like a ten-pound barbell. Sometimes he called me that—his warm-up barbell. I was about five feet and two inches, and weighed almost 100 pounds.
He kicked the back door open and carried me upstairs to my room and laid me on my bed. I lay there and watched him smiling at me wistfully.
“Olivia, when are you going to open up to me?” he said after a few moments.
I closed my eyes. “I’m asleep. Don’t talk to me.”
I felt him lay down next to me, then felt his finger on my cheek. “Olive,” he whispered his other pet name for me. “Open your eyes.”
I sighed and opened my eyes again. “hm?”
“I… I don’t know, Cam. I’m sorry, it just…” I bit my lip, feeling the tears well up in my eyes again.
“Oh please don’t cry, babe.” He kissed my eyelids. “Hey, never mind. You tell me what you feel like telling me when you’re ready to do it. For now, just get some sleep.”
I regained my composure, or what was left of it, and was able to stop the second great flood from breaking loose.
“Hey, I heard you sang like an angel today in music. I wish I’d been there.”
“I wish you’d been there, too. I got nervous and messed up and made a fool of myself.”
“What happened?” he asked, worried about more tears.
“My voice broke in the middle of a whole note.”
“uh… I don’t know what a whole note is, but I’m sorry your voice broke. Do you want me to kiss it and make it better?”
My mouth twitched as I tried to smile. “mmmm,” was about all I could say.
He kissed my nose, then pressed his lips firmly into my neck. He pulled away and stroked my cheek with his fingertips. “I love you too.”
Those were the last words I heard as I drifted off to sleep.