Chapter One (hook here)
I hate this school. I tugged at the lame plaid tie that was about three millimeters from cutting off my air supply and changed my mind. I hate this tie. Then I remembered the name tag the chubby advisor with too much lipstick had slapped onto my chest. HI! MY NAME IS JEFF, and changed my mind again. I hate the name tag the most, the tie second, and I still hate this school.
Then I saw the bubblegum. One of those huge bubbles that you know is gong to pop and cover the girl's face. Then she'll shriek and yell and whine that her make-up's ruined, blah, blah, blah. But the bubble didn't pop. She did that thing where you suck all the air back into your mouth and the bubble deflates into a little pink heap.
She was lying on the floor.
In the middle of the hallway.
I tilted my head sideways. She had nice legs. Then some guy came tearing around the corner with someone's backpack. Bullies. Of course. I gripped the straps of my own backpack a little tighter. He pushed a couple of people out of his way, laughing like hyena. On speed.
"Watch it, jerk!"
Jerk looked back to smirk at whoever he'd shoved. Now he was running straight at the girl on the floor with his eyes focused backwards. "Hey!" I yelled, attempting to stop the inevitable.
The girl's eyes rolled up and she pulled her arm out of the way just before his Eckos pounded down right beside her head. "Look out, asshole," she said, without moving another inch. Jerk didn't even glance back.
I dropped to one knee. "Are you okay?"
She looked up at me with wide, surprised eyes. "Are you talking to me?"
Right. Forgot my place for a minute. Any girl who could look that hot in a knee-length black skirt and plaid vest and had the guts to lie in the middle of the hallway was not going to tolerate being talked to by a nobody like me. Especially a brand-new nobody like me. "Forget it. My mistake," I muttered and turned to start looking for my assigned locker again. This place was freaking maze.
I stopped walking but didn't turn around.
"Were you talking to me?"
I turned and gave her my best punk look. My I-don't-care-that-you're-rich-popular-and-gorgeous look. I admit, I haven't had much practice.
She sat up; her eyes never left mine. "You can see me?"
This was too much. "You think you're invisible? You got problems." People were staring at me now. I must be way out of my league to get dirty looks for just talking to this girl.
She walked over and looked me up and down from my scuffed Docs to my slightly fluffy hair that my mom was always trying to get me to put gel in. "If you can see me then what color is my shirt?"
"Okay, this is ridiculous."
"Answer the question, freak."
"I'm a freak? You're lying in the middle of the floor pretending to be invisible, and I'm the freak?"
She gasped and made that little squeal that make girls look cute and guys, well, look like girls. "You can see me. This is great. You are my new best friend."
"This is the best day I've had in almost year. I thought I was going to be stuck on that stupid floor forever. But now you're here. You're here . . . um," she glanced at my name tag, "Jeff." She scrunched up her nose. "Jeff? Eww." When I rolled my eyes she waved her hands in front of her face. "I take it back. Jeff's fine. I don't care what you call yourself. That's not important. But can I call you Jeffrey at least? That is your whole name, right?"
"Can I call you that anyway?"
"Fine, we'll work on the name later. I have so many things to do and you're gonna help me."
"Stop!" I held up both hands. This girl hadn't even taken a breath. "Who are you?"
She gestured to herself like she was a celebrity I should know instantly. Maybe she was—this was Santa Monica after all. "Kimberlee Schaffer? The Kimberlee Schaffer?"
well, to quote myself on the hook: yes yes yes yes.
What works: no backstory, you just plop right there into the hallway.
No explanation. We pick up what's going on from what's said and how it's said.
The pacing is good. The voice is clever without being stupid.
I'd ask for pages on this for sure.