I walk into class. I'm late. Try calling an Uber for the commute that I had to make in the morning. I was still having issues with my dad so I didn't want to ask him.
"Excuse me do you have the right class?"
"It's me, Mrs. Applewood. Yogi."
Stares. All of these stares. You ever walk into a room and feel like people were just talking about you? That's the only way I can really describe this. It just feels like people were literally just talking about me.
"Mr. Luthor, nice of you to show up," Mrs. Applewood states in AP History class, "Have a seat."
Her tone is trying to make it seem like she feels normal but I can feel Mrs. Applewood staring at me. She hardly even recognized me. I walk to the back of the class. Marisol told me I would get used to this. Maybe she was on to something. By the time I sit down at the back of the class I have this smile on my face.
As soon as I sit I realize Bates and David Mitchell nearly break his neck to turn around and speak to me.
David Mitchell shakes his head, "You been hitting the gym, kid?"
"Something like that."
These were guys. Dumb guys at that. They probably thought I just miraculously changed. Maybe they just didn't fucking care or something. It was all the same to them. Plastic was real when it came to people in Lionsdale.
"Looking good," Bates says before adding, "No homo."
He says it as if dumb David Mitchell would have been smart enough to catch on if he was flirting with me or not. David had to be the biggest idiot in school. Bates licks his lips. There was a time that would have done something for me. I would have been falling all over myself about it.
Today wasn't that time.
I sigh with boredom, "Thanks."
All of a sudden Bates just seems normal. His look wasn't all that spectacular. He was just a normal cute guy with the attitude of a follower.
"I saw you at the party, I waved. You must not have seen me or..."
I shrug, "Must not have."
"No big deal," Bates states.
"No big deal, everyone's been talking about you guys..." David responds, "The only person I recognized was Kordell. Who was the girl in the black dress? She was hot. Can you hook me up? Was that Candice with him? Or..."
David is going a mile a minute. Bates can tell it's annoying me because somehow he manages to kick David's chair.
"Jump off his dick David..." Bates tells him.
David turns around a little bit embarrassed. That's when I see Bates take out a piece of paper out of his notebook, write something and then throw it on the floor. It lands right at my feet.
I think about picking it up. This isn't the first time Bates had written me a secret note. I'm sure it's something juicy knowing Bates. And then for some reason I think about him telling Braden what I said about him in the locker room a while ago. I remember how betrayed I felt.
"Hey, Bates...you dropped something!" I say out loud.
Real loud. Loud enough for everyone to hear it. Braden hustles to pick up the piece of paper but Mrs. Applewood is standing over Bates with an open hand at that moment.
"Hand it over..."
"Hand. It. Over."
"That wasn't mine," Bates lies.
"You sure?" I ask Bates, "I could have sworn you wrote it. I could have sworn you tried to give it to me a few seconds ago."
Bates looks over at me. He is devastated. It's past devastation.
Bates does just that taking the paper and handing it to the teacher. The teacher opens up the paper at that moment. I know Mrs. Applewood. She was petty for no reason. I assumed she just didn't get enough dick at home but you never really knew what her issue was.
"Baby..." Mrs. Applewood starts to read out loud.
"Please don't," Bates begs.
"Baby," Mrs. Applewood ignores his pleads, "You don't know what I would do to bend you over and...oh my..."
Mrs. Applewood is even flushed at that moment. The entire crowd breaks out into laughter reading Bates note.
What's even worse is the gay undertone to it all. People are whispering about Bates. People are asking who he was writing this to. People were wondering if it was me. And the truth is I didn't give a damn. My smile gets wider as I see Bates sink into his palms trying to hide his face. I'm eating every last part of this up.
I swear the temperature of the room drops a little bit. Revenge is best served cold.
"You're a dick, you know that?" Candice tells me.
"I think it was genius," Marisol interrupts her at my locker, "Bates deserves it. He is one of the biggest ass kissers in the school."
Marisol grabs Richard's phone to show me her twitter feed. I don't know what made my locker the destination for everyone to show up between classes. I think it's because word had spread so quickly about what happened. Somewhere between Abraham Lincoln's speech and the battle of Gettysburg, Bates had his double life blasted to the entire class and twitter was on fire about it.
"So does that mean Bates is..." Richard asks.
"It didn't come from me."
"You know this for a fact?"
I'd never been the type to hide my sexuality but why hide it now. I had a feeling these guys weren't going to run around the school and tell everyone about it. I didn't know if I considered these people my friends yet but we spent a lot of time bonding while we were recovering. Even if we weren't friends the transformation of our lives seemed to link us. I'm not sure why. I'm not sure what it meant, but I knew that things just seemed...different now.
"So that means that you are..." Richard starts.
"Richard, you didn't know?" Marisol asks.
"I had no idea."
"Bless your heart. Thank god your beautiful now," Marisol states, "Just hold my books and be quiet."
"No seriously. I thought it was weird you weren't matched up but I just assumed it's because Thorn thought you were going to be getting MAD pussy," Richard states before turning to Kordell, "Did you know Kordell?"
"Nah," Kordell states, "Just assumed Yogi was a little bit more...private."
He stresses the word private. He puts emphasis on it. I wonder if there is some double meaning he's trying to get across but I can't figure out what it could possibly be.
"Things are changing," I realize out loud.
"Who you telling?" Kordell states, "Natalie Hall DM'd me during Algebra this morning. Sent me a picture in her bra and panties."
"Big Butt Natalie?" Richard gets excited.
"That's the one."
Kordell starts showing Richard the pictures Natalie Hall sent him when Candice snatches the phone away. The look on her face doesn't show someone who is just interested in Kordell because he was assigned to her.
"You tell her you were interested in someone else?" Candice asks.
Kordell looks over at me surprisingly in that moment, "Yeah, girl. I did."
There it was again. Kordell doing his backwards bullshit. I watch as he smiles it off as though it's nothing staring at me while talking to Candice. Even when Candice grabs his hand in that moment he's still looking my way.
I shake the look off at that moment. I turn my head. At first I'm just trying to avoid Kordell but instead something else catches my attention.
"C`mon bro," Richard is telling me, "We got gym. And I need to ask you questions about this lifestyle of yours..."
"Don't be ignorant, Richard."
Richard shakes his head, "Who doesn't like pussy? I mean honestly. I need to know these things. My young mind needs answers."
He's dead serious. I sort of assumed people would react like this. He is only half joking which is the sad part. Normally I would roll my eyes at something like that and argue back and forth with him but at this moment I'm completely distracted.
"I'll answer all your questions in a minute. I got something I have to take care of."
I start to walk away as fast as I can. I make my way to the end of the hallway. My mind is going faster than I could imagine. I have these thoughts in my head. I get to the hallway and see that my dad is in the main office. He's talking to the secretary.
When I walk in I don't hesitate to grab him away, holding onto his arm as I do that.
"What are you doing here?" I ask him.
"You know what I'm doing here."
"No the hell I don't."
"I gave you the option," he states, "Didn't I? I gave you the option to let me know who paid for all your changes but instead of you being honest you want to go behind my back huh? You want to just pretend like everything is cool..."
"So why are you here?"
"I'm pulling you from school."
"No. Enjoy your last day of school Yogi. I'm withdrawing you."
"Mr. Luthor...we're ready for you," someone calls out in the front.
My father just walks away without allowing me to say anything else. He doesn't want me to plead my case. It's almost as though he could care less that I'm not miserable anymore. The first time I had friends who weren't afraid to claim me in public. I had people paying attention to me and wanting to know more about me.
For the first time ever things were starting to change around and on the brink of that, he wanted to take everything away from me.
I'm in the bathroom. I am about to punch the glass in the bathroom. I don't care if I shatter my hand. Luckily Thorn comes in the bathroom before I'm able to do that, sees what I'm about to do and then stops me.
"You don't want to ruin all that work, now do you?" Thorn asks, "You are going to need your hands. I need you to join the theater department as a stagehand."
"Why?" I ask.
"It's part of the plan."
"Adonis is in the new play, isn't he?" I ask.
Thorn nods, "Westside Story. He's playing Tony. Serena is playing Maria."
Adonis playing the lead in the school production wasn't a major thing. Of course, he would have the best part. I'm not even close to being surprised by any of this. Serena playing Maria was a problem. If I was going to join the theater department that meant I had to be around Serena. That was something that I was not looking forward to. Not even a little bit.
"This thing with Adonis, does it have to do with his father running for president?"
"So you know."
"I know my mother is engaged to Adonis's father. Yes. I'm aware."
"We can't let that happen."
Thorn was revealing himself. He is just doing it a little bit. He's barely letting me see the true meaning underneath. The pieces have not been put together but he is starting to lay them out on the table. I slowly start to scatter them on the table wondering which fits where.
"My mother abandons her family, goes to live with the O'Neils who disowned her and now she's getting married to a guy running for president."
"A guy who is going to win," Thorn states.
If it was anyone else saying this I would have thought they were lying, but knowing Thorn I don't see any doubt in his eyes. My stomach rattles in this bathroom.
"She didn't even have the decency to tell me," I state.
She didn't even tell my dad. He probably would have been in a whole different mood if he knew. No, he had no idea. My mother kept it from us. She was pretending as though I didn't even exist.
"You should want to get even with your mother. She's abandoned you," Thorn states, "She literally walked away from you to marry someone else. And when she is First Lady of the United States of America, it will be as though you never even existed."
That was what my mother was doing. That was what Aunt Carolina was helping my mother do. They were going to completely smudge me out.
"Over my dead body," I state, "If me getting closer to Adonis will stop my mother's plan then I'll do it."
Thorn is quiet. He doesn't react but in his silence, I think this is what he wants to hear. I think this is what this all was getting at. The plan. I don't know how. I couldn't even start imagining how this would work, but I knew I had to get with Adonis. I knew I had to stop my mother from marrying into the Fallon Empire.
"Wait...I can't," I stop him, "We have a problem."
He has that mysterious Thorn smile on his face. I'd text him not too long ago to meet me in the bathroom. He was the only one I knew who I could talk to right now.
"We have an issue."
Just at that moment, someone walks into the bathroom. I think the kid's name is Timothy or Tommy or something like that. He hangs with David sometimes.
Thorn gives the kid a look and damn near barks, "OUT!"
I'm shocked when the kid listens to him and damn near jogs out of the bathroom not looking back. Thorn could be intimidating if he wanted to be. He definitely was not Fat Matt anymore. As soon as the guy leaves, that ferocious nature is settled almost immediately. He's back to being that normal guy. I watch as he turns back to me and puts a hand on my shoulder.
"My father wants me to leave the school," I state, "He wants to know who paid for all of this. Maybe he wants to press charges or something...I don't know. Knowing my dad he probably just wants to beat someone up."
"This is an annoyance,' Thorn responds crossing his arms.
"Annoyance. Aren't you listening to me? He's taking me out of school," I respond, "You said that there was someone who paid for my work. Just tell me who it is. I can tell my dad and beg him to let me stay."
"I can't give away the Benefactor," Thorn responds, "That's not part of the plan."
Benefactor? That's who Thorn was calling this person.
I look at Thorn, "This isn't a spy game, Thorn. What's with all the secrecy?"
Thorn shakes his head, "Give me until the end of the school day."
Thorn being dismissive is just his natural state. Him being mysterious and secretive just come with the territory. He's halfway out of the bathroom before I grab him and stop him.
"What does that mean?"
"It means go to Theater and let me handle it. I'll handle it by the end of the day."
I don't know what Thorn is going to do but I think this is something that not even Thorn was capable of. I had seen my father's face. I had seen how pissed he was. My father was stubborn if anything. He was the kind of guy who never backed down once he made up his mind. He was a fucking mule...except when it came to my Aunt Caroline. All of a sudden, then, he was a quiet mouse.
It's going on the last period and I have a free period. I know that this was when most of the theater people gathered for the upcoming show. Auditions had taken place while I was away from the school doing my `changes'. I had missed them.
I had no illusions about being in the play though, nor did I want to be in the play. I was here for one reason and one reason only.
"Great job Adonis!"
A girl at the back of the auditorium right in front of me is praising his performance on stage. Sure enough, Adonis is on stage with an open white shirt on looking like a midnight snack or something. God knows if he could act, sing or dance. It didn't matter. The camera fucking loved him. Adonis could be doing the Riverdance all through that stage and no one would give a fuck because he was so goddam fine when he was doing it.
"What's my motivation?" I hear Serena barking orders at the Theater director, "I need more feedback too. I need more direction."
She was being the drama queen everyone knew she was. I watch a bunch of people go pamper the princess. I'm standing all the way in the back. I don't want to make a scene. Here she was storming up and down the stage as though this was opening night for a Broadway show instead of a goddam high school theater production.
I could care less what Serena was doing though. My eyes were on Adonis, as Tony especially when they pick back-up the scene. Serena, as Maria meets Adonis center stage.
Tony: "You're not thinking I'm someone else?"
Maria: "I know you are not."
Tony: "Or that we've met before?"
Maria: "I know we have not."
Tony: "I felt, I knew something never before was going to happen, had to happen. But this is so much more."
Adonis is good. He's really good. I'm shocked actually. I thought Adonis was just one of those guys who was overrated. I mean, Thorn had told me how he'd been basically designed to be the basketball star in the school. But the acting thing...was...deep. It was real. He was good at it. Really good. He outshined Serena so much. When Adonis delivers the lines he stares out into the crowd. I think he's trying to make a connection and it works.
Our eyes meet. He gets quiet all of a sudden. Real quiet. I think he's surprised to see me in the back.
Maria: "My hands are cold...eh erm. Adonis. I said my hands are cold."
Adonis curses saying, Oh shit, before finally breaking eye contact with me and grabbing onto Serena's hands.
Maria: "Yours too."
Adonis moves Serena's hands to his face.
Maria: "So warm."
She moves his hands to her face.
Tony: "So beautiful."
He turns at that moment and is looking at me and it seems at that moment I feel something that I probably shouldn't be feeling. This quick thrust to my chest. Our eyes connect and it's almost as though the entire stage goes dark. For that moment I feel like it's not Adonis and Serena. It's not even Tony and Maria. It's Adonis and Yogi standing on that stage.
It feels as though he's speaking to me.
It feels as though he's connecting into my soul and I'm connecting into his.
It feels like this is all meant to be.
"OK break," the stage director calls out, "Great job Adonis. We need that kind of emotion in your eyes every time."
When they break Adonis starts heading my way. I think he realizes just how forward he's being because he stops, pulls out his phone out of nowhere and pretends to be on it. I can tell he's not really on his phone. I can see the reflection in his beautiful eyes that he keeps scrolling the same thing over and over. He saunters to around where I am and I can see he looks like he is trying too hard.
Could this be?
Had I made THE Adonis Fallon a little nervous?
"Oh shit..." he states when he gets close enough to me and lifts his head out of the phone, "I didn't even know it was you, Yogi. How have you been, man? You ran off at the party like Cinderella. We were having a good ass conversation."
Really it wasn't a conversation. I had listened to Adonis vent the whole night. He talked about his family. He talked about his dad. He talked about how his dad had divorced his mother and she died of cancer shortly after. He talked about how much of a playboy his dad was. He spoke about how embarrassing his dad was. He said his dad was some `fake conservative' who had given money to everyone in Hollywood but knew there was no way liberals would support his candidacy so he was going to run as a conservative.
And then Adonis spoke about my mother. The gold digging bitch. And I enjoyed every moment of it.
"I learned a lot about you."
He smiles, "Not used to anyone listening."
"All the friends you got? That doesn't sound right..." I laugh.
Adonis isn't laughing with me, "No, it doesn't sound right, does it? It's the truth though. When I talk to people they have this glossed overlook. I could be talking about the meaning of the universe or my hangover the night before and it would make no difference to them. They'd still pretend like they cared. It's so..."
"Yeah. Keep thinking how it was nice to just be seen for once?"
"Everyone sees you, Adonis. You're the most popular kid in school."
"Everyone looks at me, no one sees me," He responds.
At that moment I feel this real deep sadness in Adonis. I had heard it when he was talking to me the night of the party in Micah's room. We'd spent hours in there and at points, he almost seemed out of it. He almost seemed depressed.
"They don't know what they are missing," I state.
Adonis smiles. A full smile. All his white teeth. I don't think he means to smile that hard because he quickly looks away as though catching himself and when he turns back to me he has on that sexy smile that I've seen on his face before. It's the cool smile. He's mastered that look. He has these lines on his cheeks that aren't quite dimples but seem to go just as deep. They are so fucking perfect. I watch how his eyes squint as he smiles as well in this ridiculously sexy way.
"Oh yeah, the show I mean."
"Yeah, the show. That's what we're talking about. Of course."
"You were great," I state, "I was actually considering volunteering as a stagehand if you guys need the extra help."
"Of course we..."
"Don't," another voice states.
It's Serena's. She is there in no time. I guess it's because I'm talking to Adonis in the back of the auditorium. The girl approaches us and when she looks at me I can tell she can see the changes in my face. I see how she examines me up and down. She was drunk at the party but now she is fully aware of what I've become. I wonder what is running through her mind.
I soon find out.
"Is there a problem?" Adonis asks her.
"I don't think he needs to be working around us," Serena explains.
"Why not?" Adonis asks.
Serena just stands there. She stands there and she just looks...stupid. There's no other way to describe it, "Because..."
I can't help but sneer. That's the only way to describe it. A sneer. Serena was always prone to bullying but it was always more calculated. Right now it just pure hatred that is driving her and it is clearer now than I've ever seen her before that she was bothered.
"What is the issue you have with him?" Adonis asks, "You're always trashing
him behind his back?"
"I don't talk about HIM. Oh please. I have better shit to do."
"You spent all lunch talking about how he was self-hating because he contoured his nose surgically. Meanwhile, your nose is a quarter of what it was in middle school."
I'm shocked Adonis is calling her out right now. I'm shocked that he's sticking up for me.
"Whose side are you on?" she asks immediately.
"I'm on the side of common sense. If you have an issue with someone say what the issue is or it's just jealousy at that point."
"Jealous? Adonis, have you lost your fucking mind?" Serena asks, "Do you know who I am?"
Serena is just as shocked as I was. No one back talked Serena, not even Adonis. At this point, I don't think it had everything to do with me. I'd seen it before. I'd seen the annoyance building in Adonis. He wanted a reason to have this moment right now. He wanted a reason to tell Serena about herself. There was definitely cracks in the dollhouse and this was coming about with just me coming here.
It was definitely either a big coincidence or maybe Thorn knew this might all just go down in this way.
"If you are who you are and confident in that, then why you worried about Yogi?"
"Is this really what you want to do? I should have figured."
"You two are gay together..."
I'm shocked when Serena makes that insinuation. The BITCH is bold. She smiles when she says it too. She must have heard the rumors about the Bates thing. The truth was I was ready for everyone else in the school to know I was gay except Adonis. I don't know why. He's the one guy who I actually had a crush on but he was the one guy who I didn't want to know about my sexuality. It didn't make an ounce of sense.
"Don't play with me," Adonis responds, "You reaching for anything. Just because we are cool with each other does not mean either one of us are gay."
"Look at him. I know him...he's gay. Ask him."
"I don't have to ask him shit. It's not true," Adonis states, before turning to me, "Right Yogi?"
For someone who didn't have to ask me anything, he turns all of a sudden with a sense of real curiosity. I can't lie to him. I stand there. One second passes. One minute passes. It's the most awkward in the world. The only thing that breaks the awkwardness is Serena's laughter at that moment.
"Adonis now it all makes sense why your dick never got hard when I was dancing with you," Serena states.
I watch Serena as she walks away. She has this smile on her face. This triumphant smile. Adonis just lets her walk away.
"She's going to start telling everyone we are gay together. Like we are dating or something," I tell her.
Adonis seems fully aware of this. He looks bothered. He looks irritated. I'm not sure though when he turns to me whether he's irritated with Serena or whether he's irritated with me.
"I need to go."
"Maybe with the issues that you and Serena are having it's best if you not work the stage."
With that, he turns and walks away. I am so pissed. Serena has gotten in his head. She's literally turned him against me by questioning his own sexuality and I can just see how uncomfortable Adonis is when he walks back to the stage. It's clear he doesn't want to be there anymore. It's clear Serena has succeeded in making him rethink even being friendly towards me.
I watch the rest of the performance. As everyone leaves, I call out to Adonis, "Hey Adonis! HEY!"
Adonis ignores me. I'm not imagining it. He ignores me. He literally just walks away as though he doesn't hear me. I watch as he meets up with Braden and Micah. I see him do this extra manly fist bump. He's trying to prove to himself that shit is normal.
"Give him his face back, please?" Thorn states coming out of nowhere.
"You need to stop sneaking up on me."
"What? Santa Clause sneaks. And he brings gifts too," he states handing me an envelope, "Give this to your dad. Don't open it. Don't read it."
I look at the envelope.
I'm beyond confused.
"Why? What is it?"
"It's leverage," he states at that moment, "Leverage against your father. Leverage that gives you back your power. He won't want the information out. Won't want to piss off his meal ticket."
I'm scared at that moment.
"What could be that important?"
"Your father was having an affair with your Aunt Carolina when she was married. He'd done it the whole time. In there are blood tests. Micah's father is your Uncle Brett, but Serena's father is another story."
Everything changed at this point.
"Serena is your cousin AND your sister and she has no idea."
To read the next chapter go to www.crushedcrown.com