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The Fall of a Teen Queen

Chapter 5: 'Playing With Fire'

Chapter 5: 'Playing With Fire'

January 08, 2008|By SARA MARTENS / Pulse Correspondent

Back in school after Christmas break, Nicky weaved her way through the crowded halls until she reached her locker. Several of her old friends stood nearby, surrounding Claire and Zach as they discussed their holiday.

Nicky's face turned slightly crimson as she saw how easily they had forgotten her. Zach especially. She had once believed they were in love, but now she could see the truth of the matter. Zach simply clung to whomever he believed was the most popular girl, and thus he maintained his own popularity.

Nicky found herself wondering what she had ever seen in him.

Claire suddenly noticed Nicky. Immediately, Claire raised her voice so that Nicky could hear all about the fabulous party she attended during Christmas break. She pulled Zach closer, flaunting what she had stolen from her ex-best friend.

Nicky simply rolled her eyes as she closed her locker. She began to walk to her first class. Suddenly, Claire's little followers fanned out to block her path.

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"So Nicky, I didn't see you at any of the parties over break," Claire said with a sniff of superiority. "I suppose you spent the entire holiday holed up in your room. So pathetic. But that's all a cheater like you deserves."

"Actually my holiday was rather incredible," Nicky said with a smile. "But I can see how someone like you would believe the only good way to spend free time is partying, so I'll let that little comment slide. Now, I really have to go. People to see and all that." Nicky pushed past the crowd.

Claire began to move forward.

"Someone like me?" she said angrily. "What the heck is that supposed to mean?"

Another girl grabbed Claire's arm, holding her back.

Nicky glanced back as she saw the girl whisper something into Claire's ear. Claire froze immediately. Then the girl's eyes met Nicky's and what Nicky saw was not hatred or pity but rather kindness. Nicky gave a slight nod of thanks and walked away to find Jay.

Once she did, she quickly filled him in on the most recent exchange between Claire and herself as they walked down the hall, his arm around her. Looking up, Nicky noticed the looks people were giving them.

"Why is everyone giving us such dirty looks?" she finally asked Jay as they neared their class.

"Everyone seems to think we're a mistake," he said, a hint of sourness in his voice. "Like you said: the teen queen and the nobody. It's not exactly the most accepted relationship in your average high school."

"Ex-teen queen," Nicky corrected him, "and you are not a nobody. Besides, why should we care what they think? We're happy, and once they see that, surely they'll understand. Right?"

"Perhaps," Jay said. "Don't think about it." He kissed Nicky softly and they went their sep-arate directions to their first-period class.

Classes dragged by that morning. At last, it was lunch time. Nicky hurried to the lunchroom, eager to see Jay. She took her usual seat at their table and was surprised to find that Jay wasn't there before her, as usual.

Where could he be? she found herself wondering as she began to eat without him, passing the time.

She felt a hard shove from behind. Looking up, Nicky saw Claire walking away. The extra-hard push probably resulted from their encounter that morning. Nicky sighed heavily as she turned her attention back to her tray.

To her surprise, there was a small piece of folded notebook paper on the tray. She glanced after Claire and saw the same girl from this morning walking behind her.

Nicky quickly opened the note and its contents left her speechless.

"We need to talk. Meet me after school by the cafeteria. - Melody"

What was so important? Nicky would have to wait and see.

This is Chapter 5 of a holiday-themed romance story. Chapter 6 will be published next week in Pulse. To read previous chapters, go to HMPulse.com and click on the newspaper on the floor.

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