New Girl: Chapter Twenty-Six

Lucita sat curled up in bed, waiting for the sun to rise. She hadn’t been able to sleep a wink the night before. Instead, she had stayed up all night reading and eventually finishing her book. The book had been so good, sending her mind on an adventure and making her heart race with anticipation, but the ending came, and it broke her heart.

Bittersweet endings always did that to her. They felt more real than any happy ending ever would. That made her love the book more because it was more real than most of the things she read. At the end of the day, she realized that even she needed something real, and the book she had just read delivered it to her. Lucita wondered if her life would end grandly and fake or truthfully tragic. Either way, she promised herself that she would make the best of it . . . even with the day she had before her.

Her alarm rang, and she slammed her hand over the snooze button before she turned it off.

“Happy April Fools’ Day,” she muttered to herself as she lifted her blue sheets off of her. Stripping off her jamjams, she put on her favorite pair of jeans. They were slightly baggy now, which only meant she had lost more weight. Not a good sign. Sighing, she grabbed her only pink t-shirt, the only one she would ever wear, with a bunny and a caption that said, “Cute but Psycho, Things Even Out.” Seemed accurate enough to her, even if she found the color appalling.

Lucita brushed her teeth, trying hard not to look at herself. She felt horrible, slightly, for tricking Blake. She felt even worse when she considered what Lucas would do to him. “Too late now,” she mumbled to herself.

On the car ride, Lucita re-read the ending of her book. In part because it was beautifully sad, but also because she didn’t want her mother playfully giving her a hard time on how fast she read. She always told her books were wasted on her. She always said it with an eye roll and a smile, so Luci knew she wasn’t being mean, just poking fun. When it came to reading, Luci knew her mother was proud of how well she read, especially given how hard it had been for her to learn.

“Have a horrible day at school, mija,” joked her mother. Lucita smiled despite her mood, hugging her mom before getting out of the car. She wished she could change her mind. She wished this was just another day. But it wasn’t. She made her choice . . . and it sucked.

Making her way through the crowd, she avoided their touches as much as possible. No brushing of shoulders, no skin contact. She hated skin contact, and her mood made her hate it all the more. She needed to find Rebecca and Silvia. Unfortunately, they were not alone. Holding hands, the new couple, Elizabeth and Jason, stood alongside them. Elizabeth gave her a disgusted look, eyebrows pinched together, mouth twisted to the side.

“You’re wearing pink.”

“I’m aware. Happy Bunny here says I’m cute but psycho, and things even out.”

“Amazing,” joked Jason smiling at her.

“Oh haha. So how was your weekend,” she said, eying Jason, Silvia, and Rebecca in particular.

“Everything went well,” answered Jason.

“Vague much,” joked Lucita catching the hint.

“Well, not much happened. Hung out with Blake at the skate park mostly.”

“Don’t forget our date,” said Elizabeth looking a little angry.

“Oh yeah, sorry. I took Liz to Longhorn.”

Lucita licked her lips in delight. “I love that place.”

“It was awesome.”

“I’m glad.” Lucita’s smile tightened as she saw Jason’s tired, lackluster look. Something was wrong, and it was starting to bug her. Since that fight between Lucas and Blake, Jason had been looking at her in a new way. One she was not accustomed to. It confused her, and she found his light green eyes unnerving.

“So Lu, how was your weekend?” asked Rebecca, ripping her gaze away from Lucas.

“It was okay. Matthew kept texting me, so I began to toy with him. He’s a loser.”

“Does Cyrus at least know that you’re toying with him?”

Lucita nodded. “Yeah. He’s going along with it. He says I’m doing a good job.” Lucita laughed. “At least that’s what he tells me.”

“I say good too. Hell, that guy is wacked. Who the hell does he think he is saying the shit he says and acting the way he does. It’s just stupid and well—”

“Wacked,” finished Rebecca, snickering. Lucita joined in and looked at Elizabeth and Jason. They were in their own little world, devoid of the reality surrounding them. Looking around, she wondered where Lucas was.

“Hey, where’s Lucas.” Her heart began to quicken. If he wasn’t at school, then everything would fall apart. He hadn’t been there to embrace her, and at first, she hadn’t noticed, but now she was worried.

“He’s around, don’t worry,” commented Jason calmly, giving her a reassuring look. “His friends were bugging him this morning for spending so much time with you.”

“Oh, all right then.” Her heart began to slow, and the worry began to disappear. Now all she had to do was hope for a smooth running day.

Lucita waited between classes for Silvia, Becca, and Jason. Luckily, right now, all their classes were in the same hallway. For a strange reason, though, she felt uneasy, like someone was watching her.

“Chill out, Lu,” said Silvia sensing her anxiety. She needed Lucita to be calm like usual, or else Blake would suspect.

“Look, let’s just go over this one more time.” Rebecca gently touched her shoulder. Lucita nodded and swallowed back the bile rising up.

“I’ll be in the stairwell waiting for Becca and act coy and offish.”

Silvia nodded. “Good. Rebecca and I will wait three minutes to pass from the moment he enters the stairwell and then runs after Lucas and tell him what we just saw.”

“I’ll be waiting to pull the fight apart and shut Blake up so he doesn’t screw up your life.”

Lucita smiled at him, but it quickly faded. Silvia turned around to see what had made Lucita’s face grow pale. What she saw made her stomach turn. Tiffany had just walked by, a wicked smile on her face.

“Crap,” swore Jason.

“You don’t think she overheard, do you?” asked Rebecca.

“Let’s hope not,” commented Jason, “or else we’re all busted.”

“I hate her.”

“Calm down, Lu, and get to class. If you fight her, you’ll get caught, and considering the last meeting with the principal, you’ll most likely get suspended.”

Lucita smiled. “It’s amazing.”

“What is,” asked Rebecca, confused, noting the far-off look in Lucita’s eye.

Lucita simply looked at her and smiled at her sadly. “Life.” Lucita sighed and walked past them, waving goodbye.

Rebecca made her way to the courtyard, Lucita had asked Lucas to skip class today, and he had obliged. There he was, sitting in the circle courtyard, waiting. She caught sight of Silvia far off to her right, seemingly waiting and watching for Blake. Rebecca felt bad. She still liked Blake, despite the things he had done. But to her, this seemed like the only thing to help Lucita, and she had promised Cyrus that she would help look after her.

For some reason, he thought her fragile and broken. She had seen the way he looked at her, the way he had spoken that day in the stairwell. Rebecca wondered why he thought that way. To her, Lucita seemed more than capable. Then again, she had secretly seen Luci at her weakest, at her most broken. And then there was Matthew. Something within Lucita had changed as though she were fighting something.

Her thoughts broke apart as Blake made his way to the stairwell. Rebecca doubled back so that Lucas, who had skipped his fourth period at Luci’s behest, would see her across the courtyard as she made her way to Silvia, who was staring at her watch unwavering.

“Do you think she’ll be safe?”

“I hope so. Jason is keeping watch, so if anything happens before three minutes are up, he’s gonna call, and we’ve got to run.”

“Lucita’s more than capable, right?”

“I hope so.”

“How much time left.” Rebecca looked toward the stairwell, concerned, her foot twitching beneath her. She may like Blake, but something was off about him. A bit of her blamed Silvia, but much of her blamed Tiffany.

“One minute left.”

“It feels like it’s taking forever.”

“Tell me about—shit, Jason’s calling.”

Silvia broke off into a run, and Rebecca followed promptly.

“Lucas!” called out Silvia as she ran. She knew Blake. She knew what he was capable of.

“Hey, Silv—what’s wrong?”

“Jason . . . h-he just called to tell me that Blake . . . he’s harassing Lucita in that stairwell.”

Lucas broke off into a run, dropping his bag. Rebecca picked it up quickly as she ran off after the pair. By the time she reached the stairwell, Lucas had Blake pinned to the ground, beating him to a pulp. Jason was making his way down the stairs. No crowd had come. No one would know. Rebecca looked at Lucita, huddled on the ground, lip bleeding, mindlessly watching. Rebecca made her way to her to help her up. Jason pulled Lucas off and shoved him away. Rebecca watched him make brief eye contact with Lucita before turning to Blake.

“Crap,” she heard Silvia mutter. Rebecca turned to look and saw Tiffany, who appeared out of nowhere, helping Blake stand up. Her gaze, though, never left Lucita.

Rebecca looked back at Lucita, the blood she had seen on her lip was gone.

“Lu, are you okay,” said Lucas taking her in his arms.

Lucita nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine. You got here just in time.”

“You can thank Jason for that.”

“I bet.” Rebecca watching Lucita, met Jason’s gaze again. Neither of them smiled, and she wondered if they would tell her what exactly had happened.

“Don’t ever let him come near her again.”

“I’ll do my best.”

Lucita stood at a bathroom sink and examined her busted lip. Blake had hit her pretty hard.

Lucita sat down and wondered what would happen next. She just wanted the school year to end already. She wanted to spend her days sleeping under the covers of her bed and forget that drama existed.

“Stupid society,” she muttered as she thought about how Blake reacted.

“How about stupid you,” uttered a voice. Lucita looked up to see Tiffany standing above her, eyes livid.

“I don’t deny I’m a bit stupid, Tiff, but so are you. As is the society in which we live.”

“You think you’re so smart, don’t you.”

Lucita smiled. “I’m freaking brilliant, you’re point?”

“I know what you did, and I’m going to tell Lucas and Blake.”

“Go ahead, I dare you.”

“Stay the hell away from Blake, break up with Lucas, or I will beat your skinny flat ass.”

Laughing, Luci stood up, wiping her hands on her jeans. “Bring it on. Come on, hit me. Let’s see how empty those threats are.”

Tiffany’s gaze didn’t flicker. “They’re not. You’re a bitch for what you did, manipulating both of them. I will ruin you.”

“Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?” Lucita turned her back and left the porcelain bleach-smelling bathroom behind. Her thoughts were swimming, and deep within herself, she was frightened.

Purchase New Girl here. Happy reading!

New Girl (Memoirs of the Third Floor #1)

Lucita is starting at a new school. Silvia is keeping a secret. Rebecca is struggling with herself. Three girls and their friends have entered high school, and for each of them, it’s hard enough without having to deal with friends, betrayal, and their insecurities. High School is tough enough without having to be the new girl.

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