Vanessa Danté flicked her long dark hair back over her bare shoulder and shuffled across the bed closer to the body that lay there under the sheets with her. It was Tuesday morning, but fortunately no school, due to the fact it was the ANZAC Day public holiday. She ran her finger down the cheek of her bed partner and down, across the top half of the chest to where the sheets covered everything else. ‘Ooh la la. That was mind-blowing.’
‘As good as Rex?’
‘No one can ever be as good as Rex and I’m afraid you’re missing some vital equipment, Maggs.’
‘Are you sure he won’t mind?’ Maggie Matthew’s bright brown eyes stared at her.
‘Of course he won’t. I’ve told him about the other times.’
‘Yeah huh! I tell him everything and he tells me everything.’
‘Even when he sees other girls?’
‘Especially when he sees other girls. I just have to hear every little juicy detail.’
‘You are so lucky, Nessa,’ Maggie said. ‘My boyfriend would be horrified if he knew about us. He’d probably dump me on the spot.’
‘Then he can’t be much of a boyfriend, then. I mean, what’s the big deal really? We’re two lesbian lovers… well you’re bi, I’m lesbian, but that’s all, right. We’re just having fun. Enjoying what we’ve got.’
‘Yeah, I know, but he’s really homophobic. Even when it comes to women.’
‘That’s so unusual for a guy. Normally it turns them on thinking about it.’
‘Not, Shawn. He’d be appalled if he knew about all the times we’ve skinny dipped together and made out.’
Vanessa sighed. ‘Yeah, there are some really insecure guys out there. My dad for instance. He dumped my mum, just like that, when he found out she preferred women to men. And he couldn’t accept me for the same reason.’
‘That’s so sad.’
‘I know. Are you sure Shawn’s like that?’
‘Yes. Definitely. I can never tell him about you and me. He’d see it as cheating for a start. We don’t have an open relationship like you and Rex do.’
‘One of these days you’re going to have to introduce us all to him. Pity he lives over in New Plymouth. Although a group of us will be over there this weekend at the Aquatic Centre. Why don’t you ask him to come?’
‘I guess. He may be nervous about not knowing any of us though.’
‘Well he has to get to know us all sooner or later.’
Vanessa ran her fingers through Maggie’s long ginger hair. ‘It’s neat that I got to be your first girl-on-girl encounter.’
Maggie smiled, her cheeks displaying her deliciously kissable dimples. ‘I wish I could have been your first.’
‘Way too late for that now.’
‘Well I guess it’s cool you’re experienced. It means you know what to do.’
‘Would you do this with Holly?’
Vanessa pictured Holly’s face in her mind. The rounded chin, the big brown eyes, soft cheeks and shoulder length brown here. She couldn’t help but smile.
‘Have you? With her?’
‘I wish,’ Vanessa said. ‘She’s gorgeous.’
‘Do you think she’s prettier than me?’
Vanessa examined Maggie’s face. Her eyes seemed worried. ‘I can’t compare you two. You’re both unique. You’re both gorgeous.’
‘So you would sleep with her?’
Vanessa would have eagerly done so, but the look on Maggie’s face sent alarm bells. ‘She’s not like that. She’s straight.’
‘But would you make love to her if you could?’
‘I don’t know.’ She didn’t like to lie, even to make someone feel better. ‘Probably.’ That was an under exaggeration, but she had to tread carefully. She knew what it was like to have girlfriends jealous of each other. The last thing she wanted was bad blood between Maggie and Holly.
‘Oh.’ Maggie’s face dropped.
‘Maggs…’ Vanessa said. ‘Remember, I’m dedicated to Rex. You realise that, right? And I’m not the type just to have one girlfriend either.’
‘No, that’s ok,’ Maggie said quickly. ‘Honest. Besides, I’m dedicated to Shawn.’
‘That’s right,’ Vanessa said. ‘You have to be able to keep your emotions in check, otherwise it’s all gonna mess with your mind. Take it from someone who knows from experience. Remember, we’re great friends first and foremost. We’re lovers second, but only on the odd occasion. Only when it’s the right time and place.’
‘Ok. I got it.’ Maggie smiled, showing her dimples again. ‘Hey, speaking of hot chicks, when do you do your first modelling shoot?’
‘Not sure yet. I have to go into New Plymouth next week to talk to Anne Summers and sign a contract.’
‘That is so exciting. You’re really going to do it?’
‘Yeah. It’ll be fun.’
‘Well you have the looks and the body for it. I can’t believe you got approached on the street by the owner of a modelling agency.’
‘I know,’ Vanessa said. ‘At first I thought she was some kind of a nut, saying “Wow, you are so incredibly gorgeous! You have a unique look and you are just the sort person we’re looking for. Hey, darling, ever thought of doing modelling?” But she turned out to be the real deal.’
‘Is it a very big company?’
‘Yeah, it’s huge. One of the biggest in New Zealand. I got to take a look around on Saturday. Even got to meet some of the models. They were shooting a layout for Urban magazine. They had a whole group of girls there.’
‘Are there guys too?’
‘Of course. I met a couple who were there. One of them tried to hit on me.’
‘And you rejected him.’
‘Nicely of course.’
‘Does it annoy you? Being hit on by guys all the time.’
‘Hell yeah. Sometimes I consider wearing a T shirt or a hat that says something like ‘I’m gay, so don’t bother.”’
Maggie glanced over at the clock beside her bed and jerked up. ‘Oh, my God, Mum and Dad will be back soon. We better get cleaned up.’
There came a distant knocking.
Ohhhhh. You stay in here. I’ll go out and see who it is.’
Maggie quickly pulled on a pair of jeans and slung on a T shirt, leaving her underwear on the floor where it lay. She left the room.
Vanessa covered herself up with the sheets and relaxed for a few seconds. She glanced around the walls, looking at the posters of various rock groups, mainly metal. She didn’t mind metal, in fact some of it she quite enjoyed, but she was more into mainstream music. Retro was really her thing, which was great because Rex was the same. They loved the same music.
Maggie burst back through the door. ‘Oh my God,’ she hissed. ‘It’s Shawn! You have to get dressed. He’s downstairs right now.’
‘Hey, Maggs, wait up!’ A male voice came from further down the hallway.
‘I said wait!’ Maggie called back. ‘I’ll be there in a minute!’
‘Hey, your parents aren’t back yet. Let’s go to your room for a bit.’
‘No!’ Maggie stepped back into the hallway and closed the door shut. ‘The room’s a mess and I don’t want Mum and Dad catching us doing anything. They’ll kill me.’
Vanessa quickly climbed out of bed and slung on some clothes. The last thing she wanted was him to come in and find her in Maggie’s bed.
‘Ah come on, just for a few minutes,’ came Shawn’s reply. ‘Hey, what gives? Why won’t you let me in? What’s going on in there?’
‘Is someone else in there?’
‘There’s a guy in there, isn’t there?’
‘Then let me see! Come on!’
Vanessa hauled on her jeans, now fully dressed and plonked herself down at Maggie’s computer, shifting the mouse so that the screen saver disappeared. She quickly opened up a card game and started to play.
The door opened behind her and she turned to see a curly, brown-haired male peer through. ‘Huh? I thought you said no one was in here.’
Vanessa turned around from the card game. ‘Hi.’
Shawn entered the room with Maggie behind looking slightly pale.
‘Who are you?’
‘I’m Vanessa. Just here hanging out. You must be the Shawn I’ve been hearing all about.’
Shawn peered around the room and down at the floor where Maggie’s underwear lay. Unfortunately it stuck out like a sore thumb because the floor was otherwise spotless. ‘I thought you said the room was messy?’
‘Well it is!’ Maggie stepped forward and picked up her gear, throwing them into a basket near the door. ‘My stuff is still lying around and my bed’s a mess.’ She went over and pulled the sheets and blankets over. ‘Now are you satisfied there’s no guy here?’
‘Yeah… Sorry.’ He stared at Vanessa and his brown eyes sparkled. It was one of those gazes Vanessa had seen many times from guys when they saw her for the first time. She’d gotten used to it, but it made her a little uncomfortable this time, considering he was Maggie’s boyfriend.
‘Vanessa was just saying before you got here…’ Maggie said, still looking a little flustered. ‘You should join us this weekend at the Aquatic Centre. A group of us are going.’
‘Yeah?’ Shawn continued to gaze at Vanessa.
‘Yes. Vanessa’s boyfriend will be there and a whole lot of others from school. It’s going to be great.’
‘Ah… yeah…’ His face dropped a little. He scanned the room some more, then turned to Maggie. ‘Why did you tell me no one was in here?’
Maggie opened her mouth to speak, but it was a couple of seconds before any words came out. ‘She was… she’s…’
‘Not supposed to be here,’ Vanessa stepped in. ‘Maggie’s mother wanted her to do her overdue book report before she had any friends over.’
Maggie’s face lit up. ‘That’s right.’
‘Yeah, but I wouldn’t tell your mother,’ Shawn said.
‘I told her not to tell anyone I was in here,’ Vanessa said. ‘I didn’t want her risking getting into trouble.’
‘Yeah,’ Maggie said. ‘I was just doing what she told me.’
‘Ah, ok.’ Shawn walked across the room and picked up a pile of CDs that sat on a chest of drawers. He fingered through them. ‘Hey, you’ve got Miss Googoo’s latest.’
‘Yeah, I bought it last week.’
‘I hear she’s doing a concert in Auckland next month.’
‘I’ve already got my ticket,’ Vanessa said.
Shawn turned his head and smiled at her. ‘Cool! You’re going?’
‘That’s why we bought the tickets.’
‘Rex and I.’
‘He’s your boyfriend?’
‘Yeah huh.’ She decided to tag something extra onto the end just to make sure he knew where he stood. ‘The only guy for me. My dollbaby.’
‘Dollbaby?’ Shawn snickered.
‘The perfect model of a male.’
‘If you say so.’
‘Hey, Maggie. We should go. I’ll get us tickets.’
‘Sorry,’ Vanessa said. ‘But you’re too late. They’re already sold out.’
Vanessa would have had serious doubts about double dating Shawn and Maggie, because she felt uneasy about his intentions. She had to tell herself though, that Shawn was just reacting the way any male would when they met her for the first time, but was loyal to Maggie and his desire to go to the concert had nothing to do with Vanessa being there.
‘Pity,’ Maggie said. ‘It would have been neat, hanging out with my three most favourite people in the world.’
‘Huh?’ Shawn swung his head around to face her. ‘Three most favourite?’
‘Yeah,’ Maggie said, concern coming over her face. ‘Vanessa… and Rex are two of my best friends.’
‘Oh… ok. I guess that’s ok. You never told me you were friends with a guy though.’
‘I have lots of friends that are guys.’
‘Yeah, but best friends?’
‘Well, you know, we all hang out. There’s other guys that we hang out with too, but they’re…’ Maggie hesitated.
Shawn peered at her again, one eyebrow raised.
Vanessa once again came to the rescue to prevent Maggie from having to come up with a reason that would not make Shawn jealous. ‘Because he’s my boyfriend and we’re always together. That’s the thing when you’re my friend… Sexy Rexy comes with the territory.’
‘I guess so,’ Shawn said in a monotone voice.
‘Let’s go downstairs,’ Maggie said. ‘We can get a drink. I’m parched.’
Vanessa thought about their little charade and decided it best to continue going along with it, even if Maggie had forgotten about it. ‘But if your parents come, they’ll see me.’
‘Oh… right, yeah.’
‘And you’re supposed to be doing your book report, right?’
‘What’s the book report on?’ Shawn asked.
‘Ummmm,’ Maggie said. The fact is there was no book report. The last book report they had to do was handed in a over a week ago.
‘Animal Farm,’ Vanessa said.
‘Oh, we did that one last term. Can I see what you’ve done?’
Maggie froze and stared at Vanessa.
Vanessa laughed and deliberately tried to sound scornful, but just enough to make it sound like she was doing it light-heartedly. ‘What, you’ve come here to see Maggie and you want to look at some school book report? Your teachers must love you and your dedication to learning.’
‘Huh, what?’ Shawn stood straight. ‘Hell no, I do what I have to do and that’s it. Won’t see me pandering to no teacher. Ah, forget the book report anyway. That story was a load of bull.’
Maggie smiled warmly at Vanessa from over Shawn’s shoulder.
‘I should go,’ Vanessa said.
‘No, don’t, stay for a drink,’ Shawn said. ‘We’ll keep an eye out for Maggie’s parents.’
‘No, I have to go. I promised I’d go around to Rex’s before dinner.’ She hadn’t, but felt uncomfortable with the way Shawn continued to gaze at her.
‘Oh… Well I’ll come along to the Aquatic Centre with Maggs. I’ll see you then.’
Shawn smiled and delivered her a wink.
Alarm bells went off again inside Vanessa’s head, even louder than previously. She couldn’t help but wonder just what sort of a guy Shawn was and whether he would ultimately end up hurting Maggie.
Rex Cassidy arrived at the doorstep of Vanessa’s house. He’d been hanging out with Will Ullman and Pete Cook in town and needed to stop by at Vanessa’s place to drop off a catalogue he’d picked up from a tattooist friend.
‘Rex, come on in!’ Grace Bishop, Vanessa’s very youthful mother greeted him. She had long dark glistening hair like Vanessa, plus the voluptuous hour-glass figure. She had the rounded chin, the glossy, full lips and the sapphire blue eyes. If it wasn’t for the fact that she was Vanessa’s mother he would have put on the charm, despite the fact she was in her mid thirties and gay. ‘Take a seat, I’ll get you a drink.’
‘Thanks.’ Rex sat down on the couch. ‘Is Vanessa around?’
‘No, she hasn’t got back yet, but I’ll be expecting her soon.’
About a minute later she came back in with a glass of wine and another of orange juice. She handed him the orange juice. ‘I’d love to offer you wine, but then I wouldn’t want to be deemed guilty of giving alcohol to a minor.’
‘No worries. Juice is great.’
Grace sat right down on the couch next to him, almost touching him. She turned sideways, crossing her long smooth legs. She wore a short skirt, so it was hard for Rex not to look. Her low cut top was also very revealing. ‘It’s cool that I’ve got you alone for a little. We’ve never really had a chance to talk since we moved here. Vanessa has always been nearby.’ He touched his hand with her own. ‘I am glad you’re here. I haven’t seen Nessie this happy since Taukauri.’
Taukauri was where Rex and Vanessa had met a few years earlier. They had become inseparable until Vanessa and her mother left.
‘Nessie suffered so much when we left Taukauri.’ She sighed. ‘We had to do what we did. We had to try to get her to move on and the only way to do that was for you to cut all ties with her. You understood that, didn’t you?’
‘Yeah, I know, Grace. It was the hardest thing I ever did.’
‘I know.’ She patted his hand and smiled, her eyes focussed on his. ‘And then she fooled me, found out where you lived and tricked me into moving here.’ She ran her fingers through her long dark hair and twirled a bit at the end with her finger. ‘I’ve gotta give her props, she can be very cunning when she wants to be. Very smart.’ She smiled warmly. ‘But then I don’t blame her for trying to get back to you.’ She touched his hand again. ‘If I had a boyfriend like you, I’d do everything to keep hold of him.’
Rex gazed down at her hand, which still rested on his. He raised his eyes back to hers. For the first time, Rex began to feel a little uncomfortable.
‘I think you’re a really wonderful guy, Rex, the way you care about her and look out for her. I realise now I can never try to separate the two of you again and I won’t.’
Rex took an extra big mouthful of his drink, deciding that it might be better if he left as soon as he could. Her whole manner, including her body language disturbed him. It would have delighted him if it had been any other woman of her quality, but this was his girlfriend’s mother. He glanced at her glass of wine which was now almost empty. He’d hardly noticed her drink it. Perhaps it wasn’t the first glass she’d consumed that evening.
She continued, ‘Not only are you caring, you’re also very cute.’ She moved her hand to his leg.
‘Ah… Grace.’ Next thing he knew, her lips pressed up against his and her arms wrapped around him. He could smell the wine on her breath. As much as he hated to do it, he had to pull himself free. ‘No, Grace, you can’t!’ He pulled her hands from him and stared at her. ‘I’m your daughter’s boyfriend.’
‘She won’t mind,’ Grace said.
‘Are you kidding?’ Rex rose to his feet. ‘Look, I better go. Thanks for the drink, Grace.’
Grace flinched. ‘Oh God, I’m sorry.’ She rose to her feet too. ‘I got carried away. I should never have done that. I think I’ve had too many of these.’ She held up her almost empty glass of wine. ‘Rex, you must be totally freaked out having your girlfriend’s mother come onto you like that. You must be appalled and disgusted.’
‘Not disgusted. No way. I mean for a mother, you’re pretty hot. You would be even if you weren’t, but this is just too messed up for me.’
‘I know. I guess whatever Vanessa sees in you I can’t help but see it too. You know me and her have a very similar genetic makeup when it comes to who we find attractive.’
‘I know. Hey, I’m not gonna make an issue of this. I’m just gonna put this down to the alcohol and forget about it, ok?’
‘Rex, you’re just so sweet. No wonder Vanessa thinks you’re so wonderful.’
Her smile was magnetic. It was very much like Vanessa’s. In fact there was so much of Vanessa in her features, he found it hard not to admire her. If Vanessa looked that good in her mid thirties, he’d be very happy. ‘I better go. You’ll give her this for me?’ He picked up the catalogue from the coffee table and handed it to her.’
‘What? A tattoo catalogue?’
‘Yeah, she wants to get an ankle tatt.’
‘And she needs a catalogue for that?’ Grace said. ‘I would have thought she would have just got a little heart with the name Rex in it.’
‘Nah, the last thing I’d want is for her to ruin her beautifully skin by tattooing my name on it. She’s gonna get something more classy, like a little butterfly or something like that.’
‘Cute. Hey, I hear you’re about to get your first car.’
‘Yep. Going in this weekend to buy one.’
‘What are you going to get? I know it has to be something sporty… something that a guy like you should have. Like a Porsche or a Ferrari. I bet you parents can afford one too.’
Rex chuckled. ‘You know me well.’
‘I should. Vanessa can never stop talking about you. Well you take care now, Rex.’
Rex departed, feeling like he had managed to escape an awkward situation. As he walked along the road in the direction of home, he wondered what he should tell Vanessa. She was definitely not the jealous type and even encouraged him to spend time with his other female friends, but how would she react to find out that her own mother had hit on him? He didn’t like to keep secrets from Vanessa, but on this occasion he might have to, just to save her relationship with her mother.
A shout came from further along the street. ‘Leave me alone!’ It was the voice of a female, one he didn’t recognise, but he could see two leather clad men on either side of her. She had to only be about fifteen years old, but the two men were unmistakably gang members, belonging to a gang named the Wild Dogs. Rex had had dealings with the gang in the past, including having them gatecrash his sixteenth birthday party where he managed to defeat their leader, Hone in a fight. More recently he had been responsible for bringing down a P supplier who belonged to the gang. He didn’t particularly want to rile up the gang any further, but he refused to stand by while they bullied an innocent pedestrian.
He quickened his pace and as he drew closer he recognised the girl from school. Her name was Jaspy, but that was all he knew about her. She wasn’t the type he normally took an interest in, because she wasn’t slender or voluptuous, she didn’t have model like features like the rounded chin, full lips, healthy hair and alluring eyes. She was very plain and even a little overweight. Nevertheless, Rex didn’t pick or choose who he helped out and right now she needed help.
‘Please go away!’ she pleaded. ‘I need to get home.’ She tried to walk around one of the gangsters, but he blocked her path.
‘Hey little girl, you sure you ain’t got five bucks? That’s all we need.’
‘Yeah, you get pocket money don’t you?’
‘I don’t have any.’
‘Well how about we frisk you down and find out?’
Rex stepped up. ‘How about I shove my fist into your butt-ugly face, eejit!’
The two gang members spun around as he barged in and shoved one of them back with his hand. They were both in their late teens, possibly early twenties, but that didn’t concern Rex.
Jaspy’s pimply face lit up when she saw him. ‘Rex!’
Both gang members faces turned pale.
‘You!’ the first one said.’
‘Rex Cassidy!’ the other blurted.
‘You beat up Hone.’
‘That’s right, douchebag, I did,’ Rex snarled. ‘And anyone who’d pick on a teenaged girl, bullying her for money, deserves to get an even worse beating.’
The two backed away.
‘It’s cool, bro.’
Rex sent them an evil glare as they turned and trotted away. He continued to watch them as they reached the end of the street. One of them turned and shouted. ‘You just wait, Cassidy! You’re dead! The Wild Dogs are coming for you. You better watch your back!’
Then they ran.
Rex pondered on their threat for a few seconds. He had expected he might get some backlash from the Dogs for the trouble he had caused them. Many of them who had gate crashed his party a couple of months earlier had been arrested. The recent P supplier had been locked up. The Dogs had even been investigated for manufacturing P, although as far as Rex was aware, nothing had been uncovered at their base of operation. There was talk that the supplier, although a member of the Wild Dogs, was operating independently from them. Even so, with another member of the gang gone, thanks to Rex, it seemed inevitable that the Wild Dogs would want to teach him a lesson.
He considered the safety of his friends, particularly Vanessa. If these two Dogs were willing to molest a girl on the street just to get a few dollars, then what might they do to his own friends? He’d thought about such things before, but had not seen any gang members in Te Arawa apart from that one drug deal he busted. Why were they around now?
‘Rex!’ Jaspy threw her arms around him and squeezed him tight. ‘You saved my life!’
Rex laughed. ‘I didn’t save your life. I just scared away a couple of thugs.’
‘They might have killed me.’
‘I doubt it. Not in the middle of the street. The Wild Dogs are a pack of criminal assclowns, but they’re not murderers.’
‘They might have beat me up really bad.’
Rex doubted that too, but patted her on the back. ‘You’re fine.’
‘Thanks to you.’ Jaspy peered up at him a starry eyed smile on her face. ‘You are so brave. They were petrified of you.’
‘Well you better go on home.’
She shuddered and peered down the street to where the two gang members had gone.
‘What if they come back? What if there’s more of them?’
‘They don’t normally come into Te Arawa. There’s nothing for them here. I don’t think you’ll have any more trouble from them.’
‘Can you walk me home? I’m scared.’
‘Sure,’ Rex said. ‘Where do you live?’
‘Let’s go then.’
Jaspy turned her head regularly towards him, as they walked down the street, a huge smile on her face. ‘You are such a hero, Rex.’
‘Nah, I just saw someone who needed help, so I helped.’
‘How can I ever thank you?’
‘But I have to! I know, I’ll buy you lunch. At school. No, wait, I’ll take you to the Green Lady diner for lunch one day.’
As pleasant as Jaspy was, Rex didn’t really feel inclined to spend any social time with her. He had way too many people who demanded his attention, people he’d much rather spend his limited hours with. ‘Jaspy, it’s ok, you don’t owe me anything.’
‘But I do. You saved me.’
‘No, Jaspy, really. You don’t owe me anything.’
‘But Rex, I… I…’
Rex flinched. He could sense what was coming; he’d had experience in such situations before. Not so much when it came to being a hero, but when it came to some girl who had a crush on him wanting to tell him how she felt. There had been so many of them… girls who were sweet, but who he didn’t fancy. He hated to have to break their hearts and hated to crush their fantasies, nevertheless he was not the type to lead a girl on. Up front and honest, was his motto.
‘I love you, Rex.’
Rex kept walking. ‘No, Jaspy. You don’t. You’re just letting your emotions carry you away.’
‘I do! And it’s not just because you saved my life. I’ve loved you for so long now.’
Rex came to a halt and sighed. Obviously this was going to take more than just a few contrary statements to get her to back off. He turned and smiled at her. ‘Jaspy, I’m flattered that you feel that way, but I think you’re confusing a crush for love, that’s all. You hardly know me at all.’
‘But I do. I know everything about you and I see you every day.’
‘Maybe, but you haven’t spent time with me personally. I don’t think we’ve even exchanged a word up until now.’
‘But I see you… every day.’
‘I’m sorry, Jaspy, but your feelings are something I don’t have for you. I don’t even know you. Only by sight.’
‘You can get to know me.’
Rex patted her on the shoulder and smiled. ‘I’m sorry, Jaspy. But I can’t offer you that friendship.’
‘There’s only so many people I can give quality time to.’
‘You hang out with Maggie. And she’s new.’
‘Well Maggie kind of has an advantage. For one thing, she’s in a lot of my classes and another is she’s part of my social group… you know… friends with my friends. You understand that, right?’
‘Can’t I be in your group?’
‘It doesn’t work that way. It’s not like some club where you have membership. It’s a social networking thing.’
‘Well it’s like you have a friend who has another friend and the other friend sort of becomes your friend because of it.’
‘So if I became a friend of one of your friends, I can get in the group?’
Rex chuckled. ‘It’s more complicated than that.’
‘Sounds simple to me.’
Rex sighed and shook his head. ‘Come on, let’s get you home.’
They continued the rest of the walk in silence. Rex hoped that Jaspy would give up any notion of trying to get alongside of him. Hopefully she’d realise, that trying to be part of an in-crowd of seniors was going to be more hassle than it was worth.
Jaspy came to a halt outside a white house with a hedged fence line. ‘This is my place here.’
‘Cool,’ Rex said. ‘Maybe I’ll see you around.’
‘Am I too young for you?’
Rex paused and flinched. ‘Jaspy, that’s not the…’
‘Destiny Donaldson. She’s in my classes. She hung out with you guys for a bit last year. She tells us about stuff you did. You liked her, right?’
‘I still like her and still hang out with her from time to time, but she realised she was better off spending the majority of her time with her own friends in her own age group. Perhaps you should do the same?’
‘No,’ Jaspy said. She smiled broadly. ‘I’m going to be part of your group. I want to be your friend.’
Rex paused for a moment, considering being tough on her and telling her to forget about it, however, he couldn’t bring himself to be so harsh with her. ‘Well… good luck with that.’ He forced a smile and walked away.
Tucker Pyles was supposed to be out the back of the pub stacking empty bottles in crates. It was part of the many jobs he had to do while working part time at the local tavern. In some ways it had its advantages because he was also able to enter the bottle store, which meant he could help himself to the odd hip flask of spirits. He’d already gained a nice stash of alcohol hidden away in the bushes out the back of his house, although he hadn’t had the guts to drink any more than a few sips of it yet, but he’d get around to it.
Recently he had discovered the Internet and the joys of the social networking website FaceLink, so it became increasingly difficult to get motivated to do anything else but sit in front of the PC in the staffroom and interact with his new virtual world. This meant that his job of stacking bottles had been put on the backburner.
If he had been at home, he’d hopefully be able to get on his mother’s new computer, if she wasn’t hogging it. At school he could even use the Internet lab at lunch time to get on, but at work he had to sneak on there when nobody else was around… at least in between breaks anyway.
He’d set up a user ID and named himself StudMuffin. He’d found a picture of a male model about his age and put it in his profile. He added others too, of the same guy to his gallery, including one of him with his shirt off, showing off his washboard abs. ‘Man, I’m hot, even if I say so myself.’
He made up details of himself, making him sound like a sporty sort of a guy who was good at just about everything you could imagine. He attended a school in New Plymouth and was a dancer in his spare time, doing all sorts of stuff from Disco to Latin. The dancing was a great touch. If that didn’t impress the goddess, then nothing would.
And that’s what this was all about… Impressing the goddess… getting to know her on-line, charming her and making her fall in love with him. Then once she had fallen in love with him on-line, they could finally meet and the fantasy would become reality, after all, it had worked for many other online couples.
The words his friend Ash said echoed in his mind. ‘But she’ll be expecting this StudMuffin guy. When you turn up she’ll scream and run for the hills.’
‘Oh ye of little faith,’ Tucker had said. ‘It won’t matter. She’ll be so in love with me by then, it won’t matter what I look like.’
‘That’s all very well,’ Ash said. ‘But the person she’d be falling in love with wouldn’t be you either. It’s you pretending to be someone you’re not.’
‘But that’s only to begin with… before we get to the instant messaging. Once there, she’ll be talking to the real me and I can bring out that old Pyles charm that the girls love so much. Ash, Ash, Ash, you’ve got to realise here, that you’re dealing with a genius mind here. I have this thing completely sussed out.’
‘Well no, you don’t,’ his other friend, Hew, said. ‘There’s one vital piece of data that you’ve completely failed to take into account.’
‘Vanessa’s gay. She’s not even gonna look twice at your profile, you moron.’
‘That’s right,’ Ash said. ‘What you really need to do is make up a profile of a woman. Then you might get somewhere.’
‘Oh, right,’ Tucker snorted. ‘And then what? When we meet, I turn up in drag or something? Get real. No way I’m dressing up as a woman.’
‘Well it’s gotta be better than dressing up as Tucker Pyles!’
Both Ash and Hew burst out laughing.
‘Urrrrrrrbbarrrrrrr. Ye doubting Thomases,’ Tucker growled. ‘Just you wait and see. My genius plan is gonna work and then you’ll be laughing at the other sides of your faces. You’ll see!’
StudMuffin’s account had been set up and Tucker had sent a friendship request to Vanessa the night before. He thought his message was perfect and it was neat that he had a spell checker, because it actually made everything read properly for a change…
Hi Vanessa. My name’s StudMuffin. You probably know me as Roger. Well actually you may not remember me, but I remember seeing you dance at the New Plymouth Latin Dance Spectacular. You were fantastic. I was also a dancer there. I thought seeing as you and me both like dancing, you might accept me as a friend. My friend Jacqui Donaldson mentioned you were on here as BootyGirl. By the way, where did you get that name from?
Tucker had to congratulate himself on using Jacqui as a referral. If Vanessa thought he really was one of her friend’s friends, then she’d be more likely to accept a stranger. He eagerly went to his inbox, seeing that he had an incoming message. His eyes lit up when he saw it was from BootyGirl. ‘Praise the daughter of Aphrodite! It’s her!’
He opened up the message. It read…
Hi StudMuffin. Wow, is that really your user name? You must think very highly of yourself. So you’re a dancer too, huh? That’s great. My username is an old nickname my girlfriends gave me. It’s a duel meaning. One because they say I have a great ass and the other because I love great asses. However your ass is not the type I go for. So I’m going to decline your invitation. I don’t know you and have no desire to have guys hitting on me, not even online. So long, StudMuffin.
‘UUuuuuBBAAA!’ Tucker couldn’t help but let the cry explode from his lungs. ‘That’s not fair.’ He sighed deeply. Perhaps Ash was right. Perhaps choosing a male profile wasn’t the way to go after all?
‘Tucker, what the hell’s all that yelling about?’ The owner of the tavern, Rita entered the room.
Tucker jumped and sat upright. ‘I was just… I was…’
‘Are you mucking around on that computer again? I knew it was a bad idea putting one in here. Have you finished stacking those crates yet?’
‘I was just going to. Just finishing up my break.’
‘Your break finished ten minutes ago.’
‘Sorry.’ Tucker closed out of FaceLink and got up.
‘I’m warning you, Tucker. I’m tired of your skiving off. It’s happening a lot lately. I gave you this job in good faith and just because Rod Williams tricked me into firing you and just because I rehired you when I found out the truth, does not mean I am going to let you get away with doing anything you like. You’re still walking on thin ice with me.’
Tucker thought back to Rod Williams, trickery and nearly scowled. Rod had deliberately made him late to work, when Tucker was on his final warning. In fact his scheme had left Tucker stranded in New Plymouth without a way of getting back to Te Arawa. However a miracle occurred and what Tucker could only conclude was an angel, managed to get the truth to Rita, which resulted in him getting his job back.
Rita huffed. ‘Come on, move it!’
Tucker decided it best to do what she said and went back to work.
He didn’t get a chance to get on FaceLink again until he got home that night. Fortunately his mother was in bed, so he had a chance to get back online.
Tucker had a new plan. He deleted his old profile and created a brand new one. This time he would create a profile of a girl. A very sexy girl, one that Vanessa would not be able to resist. She would be a hot blonde, with a curvy derrière. Her name would be Cheeky Cherry and she would be gay and a fan of frilly silk underwear.
‘You’re a genius, Tucker Pyles,’ he said to himself. ‘An absolute genius. She is going to love you and then she’ll be begging to meet you.’
Now all he had to do was find a model and he knew a great website to visit, a New Zealand modelling agency named Tanners. He enjoyed visiting it to view the beautiful models in their finery.
As he browsed through some eye popping photographs, a hand clamped down on his shoulder. ‘What on earth are you looking at?’
Tucker nearly leapt through the roof and he spun his head around to see his mother standing there, open mouthed.
‘What is this filth? This is porn. You’re looking at porn!’
‘No, Mum, she’s got underwear on.’
‘That’s filthy disgusting porn and I’m not having you look at that sort of stuff on my computer!’
‘But I need it, for my profile.’
‘What? What are you talking about? Get off that computer right now, you dirty, filthy sod!’
Tucker quickly rose to his feet and knocked his chair over in his haste. There was no way he was going to argue with his mother.
She thumped him hard on the shoulder and shouted, ‘Now look what you done! Knocking over the furniture and waking up the entire household!’
There was only his Dad there in the house and with her shouting, it seemed to Tucker that he would be awake now for certain.
‘I oughta get my belt and give you a good strapping! I’ve a good mind to do that, but the last time I did, you made me break the buckle.’
‘That wasn’t my fault.’
She slapped him hard around his flabby face. ‘Don’t be so darn cheeky! You’re getting too fond of being cheeky! If you hadn’t caused me to have to give you the strap in the first place, I wouldn’t have broken the buckle. I thought getting this computer and hooking up the Internet was a bad decision. I should have known you’d start looking at smut on the Internet. You’re a dirty, disgusting boy! You can go to bed right now and don’t expect any supper!’
‘Don’t argue with me. Just get to bed, you pervert!’
UUBBAAaaaaaaaaa,’ groaned Tucker. He shut down the computer, realising he’d have to try again tomorrow. At least he’d partially created the profile.
His mother delivered him a hard kick to the rear to get him moving. He let out a yelp and quickened his pace, rubbing his butt as he walked. ‘Bitch,’ he hissed under his voice.
‘What did you say?’ his mother boomed.
‘Itch!’ Tucker said, scratching himself where she kicked him. ‘I’ve got an itch.’
‘That better be what you said, you cheeky sod. No darn respect, that’s your problem!’
Tucker retired to his room, but wasn’t about to go to bed yet until he’d done one last thing. Compose a note that he could type later as a friend request. With pen and paper he set to work and about half an hour later had something he could be pleased with.
Hi Vanessa. You probably don’t know me, but I’ve heard a lot about you through a friend who goes to your school in Te Arawa. You should know that I am sixteen years old and gay. It’s really hard because I’m afraid to tell people about it because they might think I’m a pervert and I’m scared to try to approach other girls in case they hate my guts. Maybe you’ll be able to give me some good advice? Can we be friends?
Tucker chuckled to himself as he read his note one last time and wrote one last line as an afterthought…
By the way, I love curvy butts.
‘You’re an ubbing genius, Tucks. When she sees this and my pictures, she’s gonna jump at the chance to be my friend.’
Mr Sanders was new to Te Arawa College. So far his stay had not been a particularly pleasant one and he had very much needed the day off yesterday. However, now it was back to the daily grind having to deal with fellow teachers who hadn’t warmed to him and students who loved to make his life a misery. He had even been threatened by one student in particular.
He shuddered at the thought of the huge youth who was close to six feet tall, loftier than he was… very well built, far stronger and athletic than he. Of course Sanders was going to be intimidated, it was only natural. If only, if only he hadn’t upset the boy’s girlfriend.
He paused for a moment, picturing her in his mind, admiring her beauty. Her long dark hair, her flawless skin, full lips and rounded chin. If there was ever proof that God’s creations were perfect, that was it. He imagined that Eve would have looked very similar. The perfect woman. Oh what a pity that this one was only seventeen years old.
‘You know you shouldn’t look at her the way you do. You know. It’s wrong,’ he told himself as he sat on his own in his biology lab, shortly before morning class. ‘She’s your student. Drive out those sinful thoughts, Sanders, drive them out. The devil is tempting you.’
He knew he had to make his mind submit. He was a professional. He had been unprofessional in his conduct towards her before, he realised that. It had all started with just wanting to have her around, to admire her. He had definitely gone too far when he exchanged her biology papers with someone else, so that he could fail her, to teach her a lesson for not being more friendly towards him. ‘God, please forgive me. I did not know what I was doing.’
He shuddered when he thought of the girl’s boyfriend. He recalled the horrible memory of when the boy came in to his biology lab looking to make him pay for his improprieties.
‘Sanders! I want a word with you!’
Sanders jumped. Terror welled up inside him as the huge senior strode towards him, his eyes blazing and a scowl on his face. He stepped right up to his desk and slapped his hand down on the bench causing a loud bang. ‘What the hell are you playing at? Vanessa’s biology assignment. Where is it?’
Sanders shivered and his voice wavered. ‘I handed it back to her, Rex, she…’
Rex slammed his hand down on the bench again. ‘Don’t give me that, crap, eejit! You know damn well that was not her paper. You switched it with someone else’s. She worked hard on that assignment and you’re trying to screw her over. Don’t try to deny it.’
The imposing stature of the school’s top athlete was enough to make Sanders nerves jitter like crazy. He attempted to sound as assertive as he could, trying to fight back all signs of fear. ‘That was the paper she handed in. It was…’
Rex reached over and grabbed him by the shirt, pulling him partly over the desk. He was so strong and Sanders what not an athletic man, so there was no escaping his iron like grip. ‘I said… don’t give me crap, you lying douchebag. Look. I can make it easy for you. You can go back, get Vanessa’s assignment, mark it fairly and hand it back to her with an apology, or I’ll slam that head of yours down on this bench and then take the matter higher. And Flanders, you better believe that I’ll do that!’
Sander’s entire body felt weak. ‘I… I… Perhaps… perhaps I made a mistake.’
Rex released his hold causing him to fall back down on his stool. ‘Damn right you did, eejit. You will never know just how important Vanessa is to me and if anyone hurts her, I can promise you now they will suffer tenfold and that includes any teacher that tries to screw her over, you got that? Now where’s her real paper.’
‘Wait…’ He shuddered. ‘Let me check. It could be that I may have mixed up the papers inadvertently.’
Sanders knew where the paper was. He hadn’t disposed of it yet. It sat in the bottom of his draw along with some other assignments he had not yet marked. He made an act of searching through his drawers. He peeked up at Rex every few seconds, but had to look back down again, because the piercing glare was still on his face. He reached the correct pile and flicked through them, his hands shaking. ‘Oh my…’ He pulled it out. ‘It seems I did make a mistake. It seems her assignment is here after all. I’m not sure how it is her name got on the wrong one.’
‘Whatever. You take that. You give it the mark it deserves and then you hand it back.’ Rex rose to his feet, but turned one last time. ‘And don’t you ever, ever harass her again, you got that, douchebag?’
‘I won’t! I wouldn’t! I promise!’
Sanders watched with baited breath as Rex reached the exit and left.
He breathed easy, although his body still tingled from the strain. He wiped sweat from his brow with his handkerchief, took a pen and wrote “Merit” on Vanessa’s paper.
For a few moments, Sanders frowned deeply as he thought about the incident. He should have reported it, even at the risk of his own misconduct being exposed. To have a student threaten and intimidate him could not be tolerated. He could have made some excuses about his improprieties and claimed it all to be a big misunderstanding.
Nevertheless, he knew that Rex had not been himself during that period. His memory had been affected from a knock on the head he had received. There was no way anyone would hold him accountable, although he had heard rumours it had all been an act. Could he take those rumours seriously?
The bell rang for class and he tried to clear the thoughts from his mind. Still, it was hard and the thoughts of Rex’s treatment of him irked him. ‘Lord, he had no right to treat me like that,’ he thought to himself. ‘He can’t be allowed to get away with it. There must be something I can do.’
The first few students trickled in. Ah, there she was. Vanessa Danté. A picture of gorgeousness and perfection. It was alright to just admire her beauty, surely? There was nothing sinful about that, nothing inappropriate. He watched as she sat down at the back and flicked her long dark hair over her shoulders. Her sapphire blue eyes sparkled as she chatted with her friends.
The pleasure of watching God’s most beautiful female creation evaporated when Rex came in and sat at the desk next to her. The good feelings turned to anxiety and distaste. Over the last week he had did his best to avoid even talking to him for fear of unleashing Rex’s wrath. However, from what he understood Rex was back to his normal self, whatever that was, so perhaps there was no need to fear him anymore. Perhaps Sanders could dare start to impose his authority over him again. He had to be careful though, the boy was a smooth talker and very smart. He’d already caused Sanders to question his own beliefs, particularly about creation and how it came about.
He had to be careful not to listen to the devil’s lies. The devil was clearly manipulating this boy. ‘Forget the arguments he gave,’ Sanders told himself. ‘Faith is all that matters. Don’t question the bible. Believe and trust that even those things you don’t understand or can’t explain, have rational explanations. No need to even wonder what those rational explanations could possibly be.’
Soon the class was full, but they continued to natter as he stood there in front of them. This would not do. He had to establish his authority even if he did still feel intimated by that one particular student. ‘Ok, quiet please.’
The noise continued.
‘Quiet now!’ he shouted. ‘Or I will issue detentions. Pete Cook! Detention. Will Ullman, Dennis O’Grady, Rhonda Mathers. You will all be on detention at lunch time too!’
Suddenly all went quiet. For a few moments nobody stirred, until Pete raised his hand.
‘I’m already on detentions for smoking, Mr Sanders. Still a week to go.’
‘Damn it, I’ve had enough!’ Mr Sanders snarled. ‘I have put up with disrespect and misbehaviour long enough and I’m no longer going to tolerate it. Do I make myself clear?’ He turned his eyes to Rex, but quickly jerked them away again. It was just too hard to look him in the eye. What if he angered him? No, he had to be strong. He turned his eyes back to Rex, who eyed him expressionless. ‘That goes for everyone!’ he said, his eyes still honed on Rex. ‘I will not be badgered, I will not be intimidated. I have a job to do.’
Rex’s expression remained the same. Sanders breathed easier. Perhaps what they said was true and Rex was not the intimidating, threatening individual he had believed him to be. Perhaps now Rex was in complete control of his emotions? ‘As many of you know…’ he continued. ‘I am a god-fearing man, but don’t let that make you think you can take advantage of me. My patience only lasts for so long. However, I’m going to take a leaf out of the book of God and agree to forgive you all for your past conduct in my classes. I mean if God can forgive us, then I must forgive you too.’
Rex raised his hand.
Sanders froze and his eyes widened. Rex still had that poker-face and for a split second, Sanders saw malevolence in his eyes. No, he had to give him the benefit of the doubt. He had to believe that Rex’s ire was no longer on him. ‘Yes, Rex?’
‘Will we need to make a sacrifice, Mr S?’ His voice seemed very calm and in fact quite reasonable.
‘A blood sacrifice. Will we need to brutally slaughter a lamb or something like that?’
‘What do you mean? Why would I want you to do that?’
‘Well if you’re going to take a leaf out of God’s book, then that’s going to be necessary, isn’t it? For us to be forgiven a blood sacrifice is necessary.’
Mr Sanders breathed easy again; glad that Rex’s manner was friendly. ‘Ah, but you see, we no longer need to make blood sacrifices, because Jesus Christ was the ultimate blood sacrifice for our sins. We can be forgiven, thanks to that and there is no need for any more innocent blood to be spilt.’
‘But why was it even necessary in the first place?’
‘Because innocent blood must be spilt for atonement of sin. It’s the blood that cleanses our souls.’
‘Really? So in what way does innocent blood cleanse the soul?’
Sanders paused for a moment. ‘Ummmm.’
‘In fact…’ Rex leaned back in his chair. ‘Isn’t a blood sacrifice simply a symbolic act?’
‘So how does a symbolic act accomplish anything?’
‘Well, it’s an act of worship to God. It pleases him.’
‘Ah, I see. So really then, it’s not the blood that cleanses us from sin, but God himself?’
‘What’s really important is the act of worship and the sincerity behind it. The repentance side of it.’
‘Yes. That would be right.’ Sanders smiled.
‘So the blood alone can’t accomplish anything. Therefore the sacrifice is really irrelevant to the whole process.’
‘Yes… wait no!’ Sanders jerked his body straight. ‘Jesus had to die on the cross to save us. He had to be the blood sacrifice.’
‘Clearly not. As you’ve admitted yourself, the act itself is symbolic and it’s what’s behind the act that’s more important. God can cleanse us of our sins without the need for the sacrifice. It’s just that the sacrifice somehow appeases his horrible wrath.’
‘The sacrifice is the pivotal reason that sin can be forgiven!’ Sanders felt annoyance welling up inside him.
‘God is all powerful, right?’
‘Well in that case he clearly doesn’t need any blood to help him cleanse us or forgive us. Therefore the only other reason a sacrifice is needed is because he likes that kind of thing.’
‘Clearly your God enjoys these primitive and barbaric rituals.’
Sanders’ body tightened. He could feel the righteous anger bubble up inside. ‘How dare you refer to my God as that? That is insulting to God!’
‘Insulting to God or insulting to you? Personally I can’t see why an all-powerful, perfect being would take offence at any insults directed at him. That would show a God with a fragile ego.’
Sanders had to hold himself back, he had to calm himself down. Even though Rex maintained the cool exterior, Sanders couldn’t risk upsetting him. The thoughts of Rex threatening to ram his head into the table calmed him quickly. ‘But you see, Rex… if the sacrifice was not necessary, then Jesus died for nothing.’
‘So it seems,’ Rex said. ‘At most he died to appease God… which apparently is just him anyway, so really he died to appease his own wrath. Seems kind of screwed up to me… having yourself killed so that you wouldn’t feel the need to unleash your wrath on your creations.’
‘Nonsense. You’re distorting it all.’
‘Actually no, I’m just applying some logic to the whole scenario. I’m cutting to the chase here.’
‘You’re being misled!’
‘Seems the only one trying to mislead me, was you Reverend Flanders.’
‘The devil is deceiving you. You lack understanding!’
‘Whatever you say, Reverend, but I don’t see you giving any sensible answers. If thinking things through rationally and logically is of the devil, then I guess I’ll continue to remain my evil, satanic self.’
Sanders cast his eye around the classroom. Some smiled, others giggled and laughed. He suddenly felt very exposed. He also felt very silly, allowing Rex to trip him up and make him look weak. He could feel the anger welling up inside him and realised he needed to calm himself down again. ‘Turn to page 254 in the text books. I want you to read the first section and answer the questions. Then we’ll discuss some of this.’
He walked over to his stool and sat down. Further angry thoughts buzzed around in his head. How dare that boy use logic to attempt to refute his beliefs? How dare he ask questions that couldn’t be answered? Nevertheless his arguments bothered him, just as they had the last time too. He had to remind himself that faith was the most important thing. It didn’t matter whether things made sense. He just had to have faith.
He glared over at Rex who seemed more interested in one of the girls across the room than his schoolwork. That boy would not get away with his blasphemy. Sanders could just feel God nudging him, telling him he needed to take action and deal with this evil sinner on his behalf. He would take action. God would teach that boy the lesson of his life.
Maggie couldn’t concentrate on her biology work. It was hard enough at the best of times because she found it all so confusing. All she could think about right now was Vanessa and what they had shared the previous afternoon. It confused her that her feelings for her should be so strong. She watched as Vanessa whispered messages to Holly Robinson at the desk behind her.
Reverend Flanders sent evil glares their way every now and then, but said nothing. Perhaps he wanted to avoid another run in with Rex, which he’d no doubt get if he hassled Vanessa. Maggie couldn’t help but marvel at how adeptly Rex had handled their teacher and left him bamboozled with questions he couldn’t answer. Perhaps it would teach him a lesson and he would stick to teaching biology in the future, rather than trying to preach. She wished she could give the same sort of arguments to her parents, who were extremely religious, but she just wasn’t that smart or knowledgeable.
Her feelings twisted up inside of her. She fancied Rex big time, in fact she’d had a crush on him from the moment she met him. They’d even shared some private time together, but although she knew Rex really liked her, she was realistic enough to know that Rex’s priorities lay elsewhere. Besides she deeply loved her boyfriend Shawn. That was where the stable relationship was. That was the one with the future.
Her eyes returned to Holly and Vanessa. Maggie envied Holly. She had the gorgeous big brown eyes, unblemished skin, wavy shoulder length brown hair and killer body. The only thing she didn’t have going for her was height. She’d never be a model, but she still had many of the guys in the school going gaga over her. It was too bad that she and her boyfriend, Rick Maverick had split. They had had one of those relationships that seemed like a dream, but perhaps had been doomed to failure right from the beginning. They still both hung out in the same social circle, but there was still tension between them. They tried to hide it but those around them could see that the hurt was still there. It would be a while before they could be friends again.
It bothered Maggie the way Vanessa looked at Holly. She hardly ever broke her gaze the entire time they whispered. That was the other thing that Maggie envied. The way they were so close, the way they shared everything with each other. Maggie was certain she and Vanessa did not have that, even though they shared things in other ways.
When class ended and interval began, Holly and Vanessa left the classroom, leaving Maggie a few feet behind them. They didn’t even glance at her. She decided to catch up with them, but one of her male classmates pulled up alongside of her. It was a boy Maggie didn’t particularly care for.
‘Hey, babe,’ Dwayne Davidson said.
‘My name’s Maggie.’
‘Yeah, Maggs, I know. You and Vanessa seem to have become good friends.’
Maggie tried to remain civil. ‘Yeah, we are. She’s into the same things I am.’
‘Hey, I didn’t know you were gay.’
‘That’s cool. You had me worried there for a minutes.’
‘I have a boyfriend.’
‘What? I’ve never seen you going around with anyone.’
‘He lives in New Plymouth.’
‘You probably hardly ever see him then.’
‘I see him heaps. He was over last night.’
‘I’ve gotta catch up to Vanessa. Bye.’
She quickened her pace and glanced back with relief when she saw Dwayne had not followed. She caught up with Vanessa and Holly under the trees outside E block where their friends usually congregated. A few others were there and they were talking about the upcoming school camp.
‘I hear Mr Harris has been put in charge of organising the activities,’ said Holly.
‘Oh no, you can just imagine what it’s going to be like then,’ grumbled Pete Cook. ‘It’s gonna be Boot Camp revisited. I don’t think I want to go.’
Maggie thought back to the previous term, when Mr Harris was acting principal and turned the entire school into a kind of military academy. She was glad that Mr Luxton was back again and had returned everything to normal.
The burly Will Ullman, alias Wal replied, ‘Yeah nah, come on, they can’t have him in charge. He’s still in trouble over that whole fiasco. They’re surely not going to let him control this.’
Maggie stepped up beside Vanessa. ‘Hey, Ness. You wanna come over tonight?’
‘Ah, I’m sorry, Maggs. I’m going to Holly’s to show her how to use FaceLink.’
Maggie couldn’t help but feel a twinge of jealousy. ‘Can I come?’
‘Sure, why not?’
That made her feel a little better. It also allowed her to allay some fears that maybe Holly and Vanessa were going to do a lot more than just create a FaceLink profile.
Vanessa turned back and started talking to Holly again, leaving Maggie standing there alone.
‘Get out of the way, Cook, you’re taking up space!’
Maggie flinched when Dwayne Davidson stepped up and shoved Pete out of the way, sending him landing on one of the benches near the trees.
‘Geeze, Cook, watch what you’re doing. You’re an idiot.’
That was exactly one of the reasons why Maggie disliked Dwayne. As far as she was concerned he was a complete jerk and there was no way she’d ever want to be friends with him.
Dwayne smiled at her and was about to speak when someone else arrived on the scene.
‘Get out of the way, Davidson, you’re taking up space!’ Rex stepped up and shoved Dwayne violently sending him crashing into the tree trunk face first. Dwayne cried out and crashed to the ground with a thump.
‘Geeze, Davidson, watch what you’re doing. You’re an eejit.’
Those watching on laughed as Dwayne, with his face screwed up from pain, pulled himself to his feet.
Rex turned his back to him and faced the girls. ‘Hey, I just wanted to warn you. There were a couple of Wild Dogs in town last night…’
Maggie noticed Dwayne standing behind him, his face dark with a scowl on it, but in the end he turned and left the scene.
Rex continued, ‘Might pay just to take care when going around the place. I doubt anyone has anything to worry about, but they may still be a little sore at some of the things that have gone down over the last few months. Just keep your eyes open, ok?’
‘We should call the cops,’ Maggie said, thinking back to the scary night at Rex’s party when the Dogs gate crashed. She shuddered. ‘They should be arrested.’
‘Well, the cops are keeping their eyes out for them. They’ll move them on if they see any in town.’
Vanessa stepped over to Rex, a look of concern on her face. ‘Do you think they may be after you?’
‘I don’t know. The last thing we should do is get all worried about it, but we should take extra care.’
Maggie didn’t feel very reassured. In fact she felt a horrible sensation in her gut and it made her anxious about even venturing out onto the streets. It was a good thing she was going to be leaving with Vanessa and Holly.
Maggie’s next class of the day was Home Economics and she got to do some cooking.
Maggie turned from her bench to see Tucker stick his fingers in his chocolate cake mixture.
‘Tucker, stop that!’ scolded Miss Mortimer. ‘How many times to I have to tell you? It’s unhygienic and there won’t be enough mixture for your cake.’
Her pleadings fell on deaf ears and by the end all Tucker had was enough for a cupcake. He couldn’t keep it in the oven long enough either, the temptation to eat it was just too great. Maggie couldn’t help but laugh to see him wolf down the half cooked cupcake.
As more cakes came out of the oven, Tucker started to do the rounds, begging people to give him a slice. The girls told him to get lost. The boys in the class were more intimidated and if it wasn’t for Miss Mortimer intervening, Tucker would have eaten most of their cakes himself.
The dreaded moment arrived and Tucker finally made his way around to her bench. It happened to be just at the moment she had taken it out of the oven. His mere presence made her skin crawl.
‘Hi Baby!’ he smiled, masticating on a piece of chocolate cake he had managed to score from one of the other boys. He opened his mouth as he chewed, causing her to flinch.
‘You’re not having any,’ Maggie said in a gruff voice.
‘Hey, Babe, how about a slice of that cake, gorgeous?’
‘I said you’re not having any!’
‘You’re a great cook. That cake looks really ubbery.’
‘Well you can rack off.’ She didn’t like sounding so rude, but when it came to Tucker it seemed like the only effective method.
‘Fresh off the rack, just the way I like them. You know, if you were my girl friend, you could have all the chocolate cake you wanted.’
‘I’ll pass. Can you leave?’
‘You know, I can cook a mean chocolate cake…’
‘I saw your cake and it was totally pathetic.’
‘I come up with some of the most sensational edibles you’ve ever seen. Wanna come to my place for a snack after school?’
‘I’ll be washing my hair.’
‘After dinner then?’
‘I’ll be washing my hair then too.’
‘What about a midnight snack? I can sneak in through your bedroom window.’
Just the thought of it made her want to puke. ‘No way!’
‘I’ll be washing my hair then too. You know I have to keep my ginger colour looking ginger.’
‘How long does it take you to wash your hair?’
‘I wash my hair every day!’
‘Oh…’ Tucker lowered his head. Suddenly he jerked it up again. ‘Hey, are you and Andrew Jones, brother and sister?’
Maggie peered at him in disbelief. ‘Of course not!’
‘He’s got ginger hair too.’
‘So what? Plenty of people have ginger hair. My surname is different to his and he’s been in this town all his life, I only just moved into this town.’
‘Oh, yeah, true. Hey, you’re on FaceLink aren’t you?’
‘I’m on there now… I mean I know this girl who’s on there and she’s looking for friends. She’s really hot.’
‘Can I tell her she can look you up and add you as a friend?’
‘But she doesn’t even know me.’
‘But she just wants online friends and contacts.’
Maggie shuddered to think what a female friend of Tucker’s might be like. ‘I think I’ll pass. I only add people I know AND like.’
‘Oh… ok…’ He scratched his head. ‘So ah… Want to hang out with me at lunch time?’
‘No! I’m not interested in you, ok? You’re a fat creep and I don’t like you, all right?’
‘Oh…’ He hung his head once again and turned to go, but at the last moment pointed to the cake. ‘Can I have a slice of cake then?’
‘UBBAAaaaaaa, Well… I’ll meet you after school then for that snack.’ He trundled away.
She kind of felt guilty about being so harsh, but then figured there was nothing else she could have done and if he dared try harassing her again after school to join him for food, she’d damn well slap him one.
Another class member stepped up to her bench. She flinched when she saw who it was. Dwayne Davidson again. She pretended he wasn’t there and moved her cake to the side, covering it with a tea towel.
‘Hey Ginger, how’s the hottest babe in school.’
Maggie hated being called Ginger, or any name that related to her hair colour. ‘Leave me alone, Dwayne.’
‘Hey, Babe, what sort of thing is that to say to your man?’
She stared at him in horror. ‘You are not my man! I already have a man.’
‘Yah, why waste your time with some guy who lives so far away. You can be my girl. I’ll be your guy. Davidson vs Matthews. That has an appealing ring to it, don’t you thing, Babe?’
Te Arawa College had a little tradition. Every second Friday afternoon there would be school sports. Each house would play another house in a particular game. The lists of which house played which house was always posted at the beginning of the week. It would read something like:
Green vs Blue Non stop cricket
Red vs Orange Soft Ball
Yellow vs Black Rounders
As a result of this, students had started their own tradition. Whenever a couple of students decided that they were ‘going round together’, their names were always paired together like those of two opposing houses. It was common to find graffiti on toilet walls and desks with names paired in that manner. Quite often the pairings were false; either malicious or wishful thinking. She had seen her own name paired with various boys. Her friends were also targets for that type of graffiti. One thing was for sure and that was if “Davidson vs Matthews” was ever written anywhere, it had not been by her hand and would never ever become reality.
‘I’ll pass, Dwayne. You and I are never going to become a couple.’
‘Never say never, Babe. You need a decent guy. Not like that loser boyfriend of yours from NP.’
‘He’s not a loser!’ She felt anger building up inside her.
‘And then there’s Rex. You seem to be into him too. Don’t know why you bother with him. He’s not interested in you. He treats you like dirt.’
She felt something snap within her and she delivered Dwayne her most volatile glare. ‘How dare you say that? You don’t know him! He’s the nicest guy I know. He cares and he likes to make people happy. Is there anything wrong with that? You could never measure up to Rex in a million years. You’re nothing compared to him!’
Dwayne glared at her, fury in his eyes. She almost thought that he was going to slap her one. If they had not been in class, perhaps he might have.
All eyes peered in their direction now and Miss Mortimer called out to them. ‘Is everything alright over there?’
Dwayne moved away. Finally, maybe now she could have a break from unwanted pests. She couldn’t help but feel though, that the pests had not been eradicated just yet.
‘Ok, Dollbaby, I’ve narrowed it down to two.’ Vanessa sat down beside Rex on the grass by the rugby fields. A group of students prepared to play a casual game of cricket during their lunch break. Vanessa had no clue how to play, in fact she found it boring to watch, but with Rex around it was bound to be fun. She placed her tattoo catalogue down in front of him. ‘I want either that butterfly there or a dolphin. What do you think?’
She kept her eyes locked on his as he glanced down at the catalogue. If she could, she’d stare into his magnetic deep blue eyes all day long. She wanted to grab him and start kissing him right there and then, but knew if she did, he wouldn’t be able to tear himself away and his friends would have to play cricket without him. She didn’t like to monopolise him when the others were around. She’d promised herself she never would, because she didn’t want to be seen as the girl who took Rex away from them.
‘They’re both neat.’ Rex’s eyes returned to meet hers. ‘Of course, me being a guy, the dolphin appeals to me more, but then the butterfly is definitely more feminine, which would suit you, seeing as you are femininity and beauty personified.’
Vanessa gazed into his eyes, wanting now to kiss him even more. ‘Maybe I should just go for a Playboy bunny?’
‘Mmmmm. I like that.’ He smiled. His voice became quieter and his eyes remained locked with hers. ‘Are you sure you should get one at all? Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to discourage you, but the modelling agency might prefer you didn’t have one.’ His face moved closer to hers.
She lowered her voice too. ‘Stuff the modelling agency. If they don’t like it, I don’t care.’ She moved her face nearer.
‘You are so hot.’
‘And I just want to melt into you.’
‘Go for the butterfly.’
‘I think I will.’
Their lips locked together. Next thing they knew they were lying on the grass, embraced in each other’s arms, kissing passionately.
Vanessa only heard one last voice before the outside world became completely shut off from her mind. ‘Oh, no… I guess that’s them out. We’ll have to play the game without them.’
Nearly three quarters of an hour later they were rudely interrupted from their temporary utopia and forced to attend English classes. Vanessa wanted to stay there on the side of the field with him, but knew that she would just have to wait till later for more.
‘You go on ahead,’ Rex said. ‘My mouth is dry after all that. I’ll get us a Coke from the dairy, seeing as the canteen will be shut now.’
‘Ok, Dollbaby. Don’t take too long.’ Vanessa planted one last kiss on his mouth. ‘I’ll miss you like crazy.’
Rex grinned and jogged away.
She joined the others and three minutes later, sat in class, waiting for their teacher, Ms Cann, to arrive. The classroom was almost full. She didn’t bother saving a desk for Rex. He rarely ever sat at his own desk, choosing instead to grab a chair and share with any girl he felt like sitting with. Most teachers had gotten used to it.
‘I can’t believe those juniors,’ Jacqui grumbled from two desks away. ‘The way they stood around gawking at Vanessa and Rex. It made me sick. You’d think they’d never seen a couple make out before.’
‘Well they are only juniors,’ Holly said. ‘Maybe they haven’t?’
‘Hey, look, what’s Mr Franklin doing here?’
Mr Franklin, for most of Vanessa’s classmates had been their English teacher the year before. He was an aging gent, normally quite popular with the students. Certainly a lot more liked than the cantankerous Ms Cann.
‘Afternoon!’ he said cheerfully. ‘Ms Cann’s ill, so I’ll be standing in today.’ He made his way to the desk, rummaged through a draw and pulled out the roll book. ‘Best do a quick roll call to see who we have here. Adams!’
They all knew the drill. Mr Franklin was the old-fashioned sort, the type who liked to be addressed formally.
Mr Franklins delivered Frank Aitcheson a dirty look, but continued. ‘Ashley.’
‘Cassidy…’ He paused momentarily to look around the class. ‘Late as usual. I wonder where he is.’
Vanessa said nothing. She would leave it to Rex to make that revelation when he finally arrived. She was sure that he would handle it in a more humorous and clever manner than her.
‘Present, Sergeant Major, Sir!’
‘That’s enough! This is not Mr Harris’s PE class, it’s English. The next person who says anything silly will be in serious trouble, is that clear?’
He continued to read the roll and those he called continued to reply in the appropriate manner. Vanessa sighed and peered over at Maggie. She was already gazing in her direction and delivered Vanessa a radiant smile. She was a real sweetie, there was no doubt s about that, but Vanessa couldn’t help but worry about her boyfriend, Shawn and whether he was as loyal to her as she seemed to think.
‘Hi de ho, good neighbour.’
Vanessa tried not to laugh, as did most of the others in the class.
‘Look!’ Franklin glared at Mav. ‘This is the last warning. I mean it! The next one who doesn’t respond to their name in the appropriate manner will be put on detention.’
‘Mmm mm mm mm mm mm mmmm,’ Mav said. ‘You didn’t say that sir.’
‘Well I’m saying it now!’
‘Well, you know, Mr Franklin, don’t forget what the great philosopher Alfred E Neuman used to say – “After all is said and done, there’s a lot more said than done.” Oh wait… That may have been Confucius.’
‘Confucius said that?’ Franklin eyed Mav dubiously.
Vanessa couldn’t help but speak up. ‘Most of the truly inane ones were his, Mr Franklin.’
Franklin smirked. ‘Hmm. Well anyway, on with the roll. ‘O’Grady.’
‘That’s my name, don’t wear it out!’
‘Right! That does it. Pyles, detention at lunchtime!’
‘UubbAA! But I’m all ready on detention!’
‘Well tomorrow then.’
‘I’m on detention tomorrow too!’
‘Well when aren’t you on detention?’
‘I’m on for another two weeks.’
‘Three weeks? What did you do? Never mind. In that case you can have some extra homework. An essay… two pages on why students should listen to their teachers. Is that clear, Tucker?’
‘But I was only quoting Confucius.’
‘I happen to know that Confucius did not come up with that particular expression you used.’
‘Well Alfred E Neuman then!’
‘The detention stands!’
Vanessa couldn’t help but snicker at Tucker’s ill fortune as Mr Franklin resumed his reading of the roll. ‘Radovich,’
For a moment Wal just smirked and Vanessa was sure he was going to make a smart ass reply like he usually did, but all credit to him this time he refrained. ‘Present sir.’
Strange looks from the students.
‘Absent sir,’ called out one of the boys from the back, one whose name had already been called.
‘Ah, at least someone gets the joke. Someone’s read the story or seen the movie. I suppose it’s just as well that Ms Cann has chosen that play for us to begin studying today.’
‘What play?’ someone asked.
‘Unman, Wittering and… never mind.’ He returned to his roll, this time reading out the girls’ names.
He was halfway through when Rex bowled on in with a bottle of Coke in each hand.
‘Cassidy!’ Mr Franklin growled. ‘Where have you been?’
‘Down at the dairy.’
‘Don’t you know that it’s against school rules to leave the school grounds without permission?’
‘I think I might have heard a rumour that was the case,’ Rex said, taking a swig from his bottle. ‘You’ll have to give me a list of the school rules so that I’ll remember them, but they’ll have to be specific because I often find ways around them. I take it you decided to make an appearance in one of Ms Cann’s classes just to remind me of this apparent rule?’
‘You know damn well about that rule. I… as well as many other teachers have told you about it many times before and I’m sure you are well aware that I’m just acting as a reliever, otherwise Ms Cann would be here.’
Rex smirked, grabbed a seat from a vacant desk, planted it down at Vanessa’s desk and sat. He handed her, her bottle and she delivered him a radiant smile.
Mr Franklin continued, ‘You also know from last year that I don’t appreciate people coming in late. It disrupts the class.’
‘Well, I figured I had a few minutes. Ms Cann usually takes about fifteen minutes to read the roll anyway and if last year is anything to go by, I had even more time when it comes to you. About half an hour by my reckoning.’
‘Well it wouldn’t take half an hour if people answered correctly and students didn’t turn up late, interrupting my reading of it!’
‘I’m sorry Mr F. I really must apologise.’
‘I should think so.’
‘Absolutely thoughtless of me. It was an impropriety on my account, not realising that the roll was the most important part of the English curriculum. I overlooked the fact that the reading of it was intended to improve my listening skills. I neglected to realise that the rest of the period was to be void of educational value.’
‘Very amusing, Mr Cassidy. Despite your sarcasm, you continually amaze me at your grasp of the English language. You adequately expressed three different ways of telling me you had made a mistake. I hope that the rest of the class were listening and picked them up.’
‘You know what, Mr F? There’s one thing that really bugs me about you.’
‘What’s that, Mr Cassidy?’
‘The irritating way you use me as an educational tool. Sometimes I think that you actually end up getting the better of me at times.’
Mr Franklin grinned. ‘I’ll take that as a compliment.’
In some ways Vanessa hoped Rex would hassle Mr Franklin further, but she realised he had a lot of respect for the man so would never take things as far as he did with others like Mr Sanders. He didn’t get the chance anyway, because a knock came at the door
Miss Towcher, the senior mistress entered, along with a stunning brunette Vanessa had never seen before. There was something about her though that seemed familiar, but she couldn’t pinpoint it.
‘Ah, Mr Franklin. I’d like you to meet a new student starting tomorrow, Nadia Harrison. I’m just showing her around the school. This will be your English classroom, Nadia.’
‘Hello, Nadia,’ Mr Franklin said.
‘Hi everyone.’ Nadia smiled and waved to everyone in the class. Her eyes stopped when they came across Rex and her smile became broader.
She had full lips and ivory white teeth. It was certainly a spectacular smile and Vanessa couldn’t help but admire it. But still, something in the back of her mind niggled at her. There was just something so familiar about her, but she didn’t recognise the name at all.
Miss Towcher led Nadia back out, although she hesitated at first, as if she wanted to say something. Nadia’s eyes darted from Rex to Vanessa and remained fixed on her for a few seconds.
Vanessa admired her shapely figure as she walked out. ‘Ooh la la.’
‘Wow,’ Rex said. ‘She’s hot.’
‘I know,’ Vanessa turned to him. ‘I’m sure you’ll have fun getting to know her.’ She delivered him a cheeky smile.
‘There’s something about her…’ Rex said. ‘But I just can’t put my finger on it. Wait… yes…’ He frowned.
‘Yeah, I get the feeling I know her from somewhere too.’
‘She kind of reminds me someone.’
Rex paused and studied Vanessa carefully for a few seconds before speaking again. ‘You.’
Vanessa didn’t really give the comparison Rex had made a lot of thought, but it certainly intrigued her, wondering who this mysterious Nadia was.
Rex wasn’t the only one who drew a comparison to her. Holly did too. ‘Reminds me of you when you first came to the school.’ School had finished for the day and the two of them, along with Maggie, sat at Holly’s computer in her bedroom. ‘You were a real enigma to all of us. We worked it out you were Rex’s ex, but there was all this… you know… mystery about you and why you and Rex split. Mandy reckons Rex was kind of… you know… freaked out when you showed up.’
‘Were we freaked out earlier when that Nadia girl turned up?’ Vanessa laughed.
‘Well no, but… you know… she turned a lot of heads like you. The boys were all asking questions about her later on and now you’re saying that Rex and you think she’s kind of familiar.’
‘I think so too,’ Maggie said. ‘It’s her smile and her eyes.’
‘Maybe,’ Holly said. ‘Maybe she’s been on TV or something. I guess we’ll find out tomorrow.’
Vanessa sat at the keyboard and logged into her Facelink profile and began to issue Holly instructions, ‘You’ll see that you can create groups of friends, so that you can restrict them from seeing certain stuff in your profile. So you can set up photo galleries and only allow certain groups access. I have a special gallery that I only allow my most trusted friends to access.’
Maggie’s eyes widened. ‘Nude stuff?’
‘Nah ah. I’m not that silly. Stuff like that would soon get printed out and distributed around. I’m not that trusting, you know!’
‘But trusted friends wouldn’t do that.’
‘I hope not, but I don’t take any chances. Sometimes friends don’t remain friends; you know what I’m saying? Some people in this world can get pretty vindictive when they want to. Anyway, you know I’m not that much of an exhibitionist. My private gallery is mainly just bikini shots and sexy outfit photographs. My friends see me in stuff like that all the time. Oh, hello, more friend requests. Half of them are from people I don’t even know. If I don’t recognise their faces or names, I just delete them. Of course if they’re really hot…’ She opened one and admired the photograph. ‘…like this one…’
‘Cheeky Cherry?’ Maggie asked. ‘Who calls themselves Cheeky Cherry?’
‘It’s just a handle like mine… BootyGirl. Mmmmm, says her real name is Cherry Archibald, but I don’t know the name, although she looks vaguely familiar to me.’
‘Another familiar face?’ Holly asked. ‘We’re getting a lot of those lately.’
‘Yeah, but this one I’ve seen somewhere before, just recently too.’
‘It says she’s gay and likes butts. Sweet! Sounds like your type, Nessa.’
‘Yeah huh!’ Vanessa laughed. ‘Says she’s knows about me from someone at school. Maybe I met her once. I guess it can’t hurt to add her as a friend. At least to my ultra-restricted group where I place people who I don’t know very well or don’t entirely trust and let see only limited stuff in my profile.’
She clicked on a button to accept Cheeky Cherry as her friend and typed in a message:
Who at school are you friends with? I’m sure I’ve seen you before somewhere.
She checked out Cherry’s profile and examined some of her photographs.
‘Wow,’ Maggie said. ‘She’s beautiful. Those photographs looks so professional.’
‘I know.’ Vanessa checked out her profile information. ‘Likes dancing, working out at the gym, partying and going out to fine restaurants…’
‘Sounds like you two are… you know… very compatible,’ Holly said.
Vanessa delivered her a cheeky smile. ‘You think?’
‘Anyway, let’s get you set up with a profile. What’s your handle going to be?’ She logged out of her profile and clicked on “Join up”.
‘Mmmm. I’ve been doing a little martial arts lately to learn some self defence. I think I’ll call myself Samurai Sweetie.’
‘Sounds good to me.’
Before Vanessa could do anything else, her cell phone rang. She answered it. ‘Vanessa,’ he mother’s voice said. ‘You need to come home as quickly as you can.’
‘Why, what’s wrong?’
‘We have a visitor.’
‘You’re never going to believe this. She claims to be your half sister!’
Tucker sat in front of the work computer with a broad smile on his face. ‘You, little beauty! Tucker, you’re a genius. Of course, I already knew that.’
He gazed at Vanessa’s profile. Finally, the Promised Land. A virtual banquet of everything Vanessa. A smorgasbord of material to view and read, all pertaining to the goddess herself.
He’d already spent half an hour browsing through some of her photo albums. It was like walking through an art gallery of the world’s finest masterpieces. In each one, Vanessa looked absolutely fabulous… heavenly… divine… even in her casual shots. Each photograph warranted at least a minute’s indulgence to admire every curve and every feature.
Nevertheless, many of them brought a frown to his face, but only because many of them showed her with friends. It made him jealous, wishing he could be amongst them. The ones with Rex in, annoyed him the most. She even had an entire gallery of pictures, dedicated to Rex, where the two of them were together, cuddling, sitting, standing and even lying together in various locations. The worst ones were the kissing pics.
He didn’t spend too much time in that particular gallery.
The album he most desperately wanted to see was restricted and even he couldn’t get into it. “Trusted Friends only” was the reason. He was determined right then and there that he would do anything he could to become one of Vanessa’s top friends.
‘Tucker?’ Rita poked her head into the staffroom. ‘Your break is over. Better get back to work.’
She disappeared again.
Tucker groaned. He hadn’t realised just how long he had been browsing the galleries. There was still so much to see. She had blogs to read, applications to view, opinions and comments to take a look at. Too much delicious information about the goddess to possibly put aside till later. What were her favourite movies? Which Harry Potter character was she? What causes had she signed up to support? Who were her favourite musical artists? There was so much yet to learn.
He allowed himself a few more minutes to view her main profile information. Under relationships it said: “In love with the hottest, most amazing guy in the world – Rex”.
“Urrrrrrbbarrrrrrr!’ Tucker growled. ‘That should be my name there and it will be. Rex, just you wait, you’ll be yesterday’s news by the time I’ve finished charming the goddess.’
Under favourite pastimes it said: Dancing, partying, outdoor pursuits, hanging out with my wonderful friends, especially my dollbaby, Rex.’
‘Dollbaby?’ Tucker scoffed. ‘Wow, that’s really macho. Rex the dollbaby.’ He chuckled. ‘I’d expect a much manlier nickname than that!’ He scowled at the fact she just had to make special mention of him there. ‘Not for long, ubbhead. Very soon her favourite pastime will be chatting with me on IM!’
She had a status update she’d made two days ago:
Oh God, Rexy is the most dreamiest guy ever and I love him so much. Last night was awesome and he never ceases to rock my world.
A lot of people had clicked on “like” and made comments. Most of the comments were from other girls agreeing how dreamy he was. Oh how Tucker wished there was a “dislike” button to press. He’d click on the status and all those comments too.
He scowled at a reply made by Wal:
It’s good to know that it’s not just me you girls dream about.
He couldn’t understand why Wal was on her friends list. Why add an ubbhead like him? He did get a chuckle though at some of the derogatory comments made afterwards, one being from the goddess herself:
Last time you featured in mine, Wal, you were a decaying zombie and I kicked your head clean off your shoulders. That was one cool dream!
A lot of people had clicked on “like” for that one.
He read her main statement on her profile:
Hi, before anyone bothers, yes I am gay. So any guys looking to hook up with me can just forget it. I don’t swing that way. Yes, I am in love with a guy, but that’s something special. He’s something special. No, guys, YOU’RE not as special as you like to think you are, so don’t even think it. :) Girls, this message doesn’t apply to you. ;)
Once again, Tucker couldn’t help but feel miffed. Again she mentioned Rex, even though she didn’t use his name this time. ‘I can’t believe you’re so obsessed with that guy! Nobody should be that obsessed with anyone.’
He couldn’t resist returning to her photograph albums. He eyed the colour printer on the desk next to the computer and an idea came to mind. His wall was in need of some decent pictures and what better pictures to have hanging all around a wall than stunningly gorgeous shots of the goddess.
He started to print one of Vanessa on her own posing on a rock beside a river, wearing a short skirt and buttoned shirt. It was a slow job, frustratingly slow and he tapped his fingers irritably, casting a regular glance at the door hoping desperately that Rita would not return. Even if he could just get a few pictures tonight, he’d be happy. He could print some more out tomorrow.
He decided to compose a message to Vanessa to reply to her questions she’d asked, but this time without the spellchecker. For one thing it took too long and his time was short. For another thing, he knew he wouldn’t be able to use the spell checker when it came to instant messaging.
My frend at your skool is a junyerr by the name of Ted Dover…
He’d deal with Ted later and make sure that if Vanessa ever questioned him, he’d have a good answer to give her. He glanced at the last part of Vanessa’s message. He couldn’t help but smile. Vanessa thought he looked familiar. That was great. Perfect in fact, because it meant that Vanessa was more open to getting to know him and it may have been a big reason why she accepted him as a friend. He’d definitely exploit that for all it was worth.
U may have sene me at the interskool athletiks. I sore u and couldn’t get ova how beyutiful u were and how I’d luv to get to no u. U are a goddess. I hope u dont mind me saying that. I just think u r really…
He was about to write “ubbery” but then realised what a serious error that would be. It would most likely blow his cover.
… amaizing and I luv your fotografs. Id luv to c the privit wuns to. I hope u dont mind me being so bold. I get really shy normilly, but on-line its a lot eezier. I hope u will get to look at my profile and find out all about me. Maybe u will like me and we can exchange some messiges on IM?
Pleased with his message, he hit “send”.
‘Tucker!’ Rita’s voice boomed from the doorway, causing him to leap from his chair. She stormed in. ‘I told you to get back to work! What are you doing?’
Tucker quickly swept up the photographs from the printer. ‘I… I just had to print some emergency stuff out.’
‘Photographs? You’re wasting printer ink on photographs?’ She faced the computer screen. ‘FaceLink?’ She sighed and delivered Tucker a piercing stare. ‘Look, I would have had no problem with you using the computer for personal reasons if it was during your break, but it’s not. And I don’t appreciate you printing out full colour photographs either. Coloured ink is bloody expensive. Who is that girl anyway? Isn’t that Vanessa Dante?’
‘Yes.’ His eyes lit up as he had an idea. ‘She’s my girlfriend.’
‘What?’ Rita scoffed. ‘You’re girlfriend? Somehow I doubt that very much. A class act like that wouldn’t be caught dead with a…’ Her voice trailed off and her face turned red. ‘Never mind. Look Tucker, I’ve had it. From now on this computer is off limits to you. Even during breaks. You’ll stay right away from it, you hear?’
‘UUuBBAAA! Not even at breaks?’
‘No, because you have shown me that you can’t be trusted with it and you abuse the privilege of having it. I won’t have you wasting time and money when you should be working. If I see you on it again, you’re fired. No second chances. Enough’s enough. Now if you don’t want me to give you the sack right now, you had better get back to work!’
Tucker grumbled to himself as he walked over to his bag to deposit the pictures inside. He took one last glance at the three he had printed. As well as the riverside shot, there was one of her sitting cross legged on a chair wearing a skirt, fishnet stockings and a bare-shouldered top. Her neck looked so kissable. ‘Mmmmmmm.’ The final one was a close up of her gorgeous face, presenting one of her trademark, radiant smiles. It was the biggest, most detailed shot of her he now had in his possession and he knew he’d be spending countless hours gazing at it.
Still, although the shots of her were sexy, none of them showed the sort of cleavage Tucker really desired. He hoped that in the restricted album that he would soon have access to, there would be many such shots.
He got to work stacking glasses in the dishwasher. The whole plan of wooing Vanessa online was great and he was confident that by the end, Vanessa would be so in love with him, she’d be willing to accept him for who he really was once he revealed the truth. However, the issue of Rex still had to be resolved. Tucker somehow had to remove him from the picture so that Vanessa would not be so obsessed with him. Somehow, he had to drive a wedge between them, so that Vanessa would be angry with him and dump him. But how did he achieve that? An idea came to mind, something he could do while online. He’d have to wait until he got home for that though and hope that his mother was in bed once again.
He never would have dreamed of the opportunity to execute his plan, which came his way as he walked home that night. He passed by a patch of trees and who should he see sitting with Rex underneath them, but Chelsea Brown, one of the hot girls from school. Not only were they sitting there, but they were cuddled up and kissing each other.
Tucker fumbled for his cell phone. They were too busy kissing to even notice him over there. Even as he prepared to take a photograph with his phone, the view of them together there riled him up. ‘How dare he be unfaithful to the goddess? How dare he?’
He held the phone up and took a shot… then another… and finally a third one. Each one had enough detail in it to prove the identities of the couple. Feeling smug, Tucker continued on his way. ‘Oh, Rex, you are in deep shit now. Ha ha ha ha ha ha.’
When Vanessa got home she swung open the door and bowled inside. The girl was there, sitting on the couch with her mother and smiled on Vanessa’s entry. ‘Hi Vanessa. I saw you at school today.’
Vanessa gaped at her. It was the same girl – Nadia Harrison.
‘Come and sit down,’ her mother said. ‘This is all quite a shock. It seems your father wasn’t the loyal, faithful husband he made himself out to be.’
Vanessa walked slowly to one of the chairs and sat down, her eyes not moving from Nadia. ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’
‘No, it’s true.’ She handed over a birth certificate as well as some medical papers.
Looking at the birth certificate, it showed her birth date as her being nearly a year younger than her. Nadia’s father as unknown. The medical papers showed the results of a recent paternity test and that her dad was indeed Nadia’s father.
‘So… so how is it that we’ve found out this now?’
Nadia replied. ‘Dad tracked me down. He’d been searching for a long time. We met for the first time last year.’
‘What?’ Vanessa said. ‘He never told me that.’
‘Obviously not. At the time I didn’t know whether I wanted anything to do with him. But then we became quite close. He told me all about you and more recently, how he’d tried to patch things up with you a couple of months back. Mom didn’t like it when I started communicating with him. We had a huge falling out and then Dad offered to take me in. He said he was moving here… well New Plymouth exactly and he wanted for me to be able to attend Te Arawa College so I could get to know you.’
Vanessa saw red right away. ‘This is a trick. This is Dad trying to get back in my good books, isn’t it? He’s trying to re-establish contact with me after all those lies he fed me about dying of cancer. Well you can tell him to forget it.’
‘It’s not a trick, Nessie,’ her mother said. ‘Your father was here with a lawyer. These papers are official. She is your half sister.’
Vanessa stared at her again. No wonder she looked so familiar. No wonder Rex said Nadia reminded her so much of her. No, this wasn’t a joke. It was real. She could feel it.
‘I haven’t upset you, have I?’ Nadia asked. ‘I… I didn’t realise you were so angry with Dad.’
Vanessa sighed. ‘Oh, it’s not so much that. I guess it just comes as a shock that’s all. I can’t believe I have a sister. So you’re coming to my school?’
‘Yes. Is that ok?’
Vanessa smiled. ‘Of course.’ She rose to her feet. So did Nadia. ‘I’ve really got a sister?’
The two embraced. It still seemed unbelievable to Vanessa that she had just gone from being an only child to having a sister nearly one year younger than her. ‘So is Dad coming to pick you up?’
‘In about three hours.’
‘Then we have some time to get to know each other?’
‘Alright. Then let’s do that.’ She turned to her mother whose face was expressionless. For a moment Vanessa paused, wondering what must be going through her mind. ‘Are you ok, Mum?’
‘Of course.’ She delivered a weak smile and rose to her feet. ‘I guess it’s all just a bit of a shock to me, that’s all. It’s going to take some getting used to.’
Vanessa reached over and hugged her mother. For a few minutes they held each other and then stepped back.
‘You take Nadia up to your room for a bit,’ her mother said. ‘Show her some of your stuff. Let her get to know you. I’ll be down here. I think you two have a lot to talk about.’
It seemed they really were sisters, because Vanessa felt right at home with Nadia. After the initial shock, she found her very easy to talk to. Next thing they were talking about their interests and their friends. Of course one of the first topics Vanessa had to bring up was Rex.
‘Would you believe he has a half sister too? Her name’s Skylar and she’s freaking gorgeous. She lives in Wellington with her mother. I’ve met her a couple of times.’
‘So what’s he like this Rex?’
‘He’s spectacular and the most wonderful guy ever. I know he’ll really like you too.’
‘Doesn’t that worry you?’
Vanessa laughed. ‘Not at all. We have this really amazing relationship. We trust each other implicitly. We have this really incredible connection, it’s like something you just can’t break.’
‘He was the guy you were sitting with in class right?’
‘Yes. Here, let me show you some photographs.’ She pulled an album off the shelf and proudly displayed it to her, showing pictures of Rex on his own and also with her.
‘Wow,’ Nadia said. ‘He is so hot.’
‘He’s drop dead gorgeous. His eyes… wow…’
‘Once you lock onto them, you just can’t break the gaze.’
‘You are so lucky.’ Nadia spent several minutes flicking through the albums, her eyes wide. Vanessa was quite happy to sit there with her and tell her about the shots.
‘That there was at the beach during summer. It’s not far from here. We love it because of the rocks.’
‘Wow, look at his chest. So muscular. Washboard abs. Mmmmmm. Oh God, I’m sorry, I shouldn’t be drooling over him like this.’
‘Don’t worry about it. Drool as much as you like, everyone does.’
Nadia turned and smiled. ‘You are so cool. Most girls I know would be growling at me, telling me to keep my eyes off him.’
‘I’m not most girls. Besides, we’re sisters, right?’
‘Yeah!’ She paused to peer around at the room. ‘I like those groups you have up on the wall. I guess we have the same taste in music. Miss Googoo. She’s great.’
‘She is. I love her.’
‘Sexy shot too. You have a lot of actresses and female pop stars up on your wall.’
‘Yes, I do.’ Vanessa could already imagine the questions that might be going on in her mind.
‘What about actors? You’ve got none. I’d expect to see a picture of Robert Pattinson or someone like that with no shirt on.’
‘No, I’m more of a Kirsten Stewart type of girl. Ooh la la. But so far I haven’t been able to find a poster with her topless.’ She delivered a cheeky grin, which she realised might make Nadia think she was joking, but she liked to do that sometimes just for fun. Keep them guessing whether she was serious or not.
Nadia cast her a sideways glance. ‘Huh?’
She decided to come clean and be done with it. ‘I’m gay, Nadia.’
Nadia’s eyes widened.
‘Didn’t dad tell you?’
‘Is there a problem with that?’
‘Of course not. I was just surprised, that’s all. I would have thought you were totally straight. I mean, you’ve got a boyfriend. You’re in love with him, right?’
‘Yeah huh. Don’t try to figure that out, I can’t either. It’s just the way it is.’
Nadia paused for a few seconds, looking far away. ‘I guess.’ Suddenly her eyes flicked over to her PC. ‘What’s on your computer?’
‘Apart from lots of pictures of Rex and sexy female models?’
‘Well I’ll gladly look at more pictures of Rex.’
‘I have hundreds.’
‘Cool. Do you also have the Internet?’
‘Of course. Let’s hop on for a bit.’
They soon had the computer powered up and Vanessa showed her more things of interest, including folders of photographs.
‘Do you have any real sexy shots of him?’
‘Of course. But if we start looking at those, we’ll be here all night. Perhaps another time? Give you something to look forward to.’
‘Hey, I just wanna check my FaceLink messages. See who’s been on. Maybe one of my friends is on line now.’
Vanessa logged in and went to her messages page. ‘Cheeky Cherry has left me some messages.’
‘Some girl who says she knows me.’
‘She’s very pretty.’
‘I know. I reckon I’ve seen her before, which I guess is possible, because she’s from a school in New Plymouth.’
‘Or so she claims. That might not even be her. She might look like a complete hag in real life.’
‘Could be. But I’m not stupid. I’m not just gonna believe everything she tells me.’
‘If she’s even a she.’
‘Yeah, well that’s always a good question isn’t it?’ Vanessa laughed. ‘I wouldn’t put it beyond some guys I know to set up a fake profile and pretend to be a girl.’
She read Cherry’s message while Nadia peered over her shoulder and snorted, ‘God, she’s illiterate.’
‘Yeah… her first messages were great. Guess she used the spell checker then and has gotten lazy.’
‘So she’s gay too?’
‘So she says.’
‘Are you going to IM her?’
‘But what if she’s not who she says she is?’
‘Well I’ll hopefully find out that by chatting with her. Hello. She must be on line right now, another message has just come through from her.
Vanessa opened it up. It read:
Hi Vanessa. This is difficult for me, but I hav something you need to c. I sore your boyfrend, the wun u hav pitchers of in your albim, the wun called Rex. I rekognised him when I sore him erlier this evening here in New Plymouth. He was with this girl. I could’nt beleeve it. She was kissing him and evrything. They were really going at it. I just thort u should no about this, becuse I beleeve he is being unfaythful to u. Chek out the fotografs I took.
‘Whoa!’ Nadia said. ‘Is she for real?’
‘Rex was in New Plymouth today?’ Vanessa frowned. ‘He never said he was going there.’ It only bothered her slightly. No doubt he would mention it to her later.
‘Well, if he was seeing someone behind your back, he wouldn’t tell you.’
‘Yes he would.’
‘What, when he’s seeing other girls?’
‘Oh, you don’t mean in that way though, do you? You mean like in hanging out as friends.’
Vanessa didn’t reply. For the moment she really didn’t want to have to explain the nature of their relationship. She opened up the first photograph and viewed it. ‘It’s Rex alright. With Chelsea.’
‘One of our friends. You saw her in some of my photographs.’
Vanessa checked the other two photographs as well, both showing a similar scene. She shrugged, not particularly concerned, and deleted all three. ‘No big deal.’
‘What?’ Nadia stared at her. ‘No big deal?’
‘It’s only Chelsea. She’s one of our best friends.’
‘So? She’s making out with your guy!’
‘So what? Oh my God, Nessa, you must be joking!’
Vanessa couldn’t help but burst out laughing when she saw the horrified look on Nadia’s face. ‘Relax! Chelsea and Rex have been close for ages. Why would I get jealous over that?’
‘Because he’s messing around with her. Being unfaithful to you.’
Vanessa laughed some more. She realised now she’d have to offer her sister further explanation. ‘Chill out, Nadia. He sees other girls, so do I. No biggie. It’s the way things are with us.’
‘You don’t mind?’
‘Nuh uh. Haven’t you ever heard of compersion?’
‘It’s when you get pleasure from a loved one gaining pleasure from someone else.’
‘I have a lot of girlfriends like that.’
‘So it’s a lesbian thing?’
Nadia stared at her horrified. ‘I couldn’t handle that. I’d be worried he might decide he likes the other girl better.’
‘I know where I stand with him. I know that ultimately I’m his girl and he’s my guy. I know it seems crazy, but that’s the way it is with us. I wouldn’t want it any other way.’
Nadia continued to stare at her. ‘If you say so.’
‘Yeah huh. I do.’
Vanessa wrote a reply to Cheeky Cherry:
I’m surprised you saw him in New Plymouth and recognised him. Don’t worry about it. I’m ok with it. If you want to send me your IM address I’ll be happy to chat with you for a bit.
‘You’re going to chat with this girl? But you don’t even know if she’s who she claims to be.’
‘Hopefully by chatting a little I might find out. People tend to trip up and make mistakes. I’ll soon expose her… or him as a fraud if she is. But she did get those photographs, so she must at least be living somewhere around this part of the country.’
She logged into her instant messaging service and waited to see if Cheeky Cherry would come online.
‘Vanessa…’ Nadia said. ‘How can you be so sure Rex would never fall for one of his other girls and decide to dump you?’
‘There are some things you can be so confident of, like a new day is going to dawn or that some time in the next two weeks it’s going to piss down with rain here in Te Arawa. I’m perfect for him and he knows it. He’ll never find another person he is so completely and absolutely in synch with.’ She turned to look Nadia in the eye. ‘I guess you’ll never understand. I don’t think everyone is lucky enough to find their perfect match.’
Nadia fell silent. Vanessa checked out a few places on her profile for updates. She could feel Nadia’s eyes upon her as if trying to figure her out, as if trying to work out whether she was for real.
Cheeky Cherry came up on her Instant Messaging.
Hi their! Its me cheeky cheery. is so kool i can tork to u on instint massaging. i kant beleeve u arnt upset about yorr boy fiend kissing that girl. If I waz u and if I waz strate, i wood be relly pissed of! I theenk he iz beeing unfaythfull to u.
‘Good God,’ Nadia said. ‘Her spelling and grammar is atrocious.’
‘You’re not kidding. Pity IM doesn’t have auto correction.’
‘I don’t know if even auto correction would help this girl.’
‘I think you’re right. But still, if that really is her in her photograph, who cares about her spelling.’
I’m fine with it. I’m not worried, so neither should you be. So what school do you go to in New Plymouth?
The next few minutes she messaged backwards and forwards, mainly small talk. It took a long time for Cherry to compose her messages and it was hard to decipher her words at times, with her atrocious spelling and grammar, but Vanessa managed.
‘I really hope we can continue to chat for a while,’ Cherrry said in her IM. ‘I don’t mean right now, but over the next few days. I’m so lonely because I have no one who I can talk to who’s like me. It’s really hard.’
Vanessa felt compassion for Cherry. It was still hard to judge whether Cherry was sincere. It seemed from many of her replies that maybe she was perhaps mentally challenged. She certainly didn’t look it in her photographs, but it was hard not to escape that conclusion.
Vanessa replied, ‘It can be hard. For me, I always took it in my stride. I’m not ashamed of who I am and I’m just not the type of person who cares what other people think. If they don’t like me, that’s tough for them. But I know what it’s like for others I’ve gotten to know.’
‘Wish I could meet you. But I want to IM first.’
‘That’s fine. But you know, if you’re interested me and a group of friends are going to be at the Aquatic Centre on Saturday afternoon. Maybe if you’re there we can say hi.’
‘Possibly. I’m not sure I have the guts though. And I don’t mean that in a fat unattractive way.’
‘It’s funny that you’re in love with a guy. Does that mean you might fall in love with another guy?’
‘I very much doubt it. He’s the only guy I’ve ever met who I’ve ever been attracted to.’
Nadia spoke up at the moment. ‘Really? Is that true?’
Vanessa turned her head to her. ‘Yes. The God’s honest truth.’
‘Wow that’s just so bizarre.’
Vanessa turned back to the monitor to see Cherry’s next reply. ‘Well it’s just as well I’m a girl then.’
‘Yeah huh.’ Vanessa typed.
‘Do you think you would like me?’
‘Well if you are who you say you are and those are really your pictures, then I’m sure I will. Anyway. Have to go. My sister is here and I should spend some more time with her before it gets too late.’
‘But you don‘t have a sister!’
‘How do you know?’
There was a very long pause this time, before Cherry replied, ‘It doesn’t say you have one in your profile.’
‘Is there a rule that says I have to put that information on my profile?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘Well there you go.’
‘Can we chat some more another night?’
‘Maybe. It depends whether I’m on line and feel like chatting.’
‘Cool. I’ll see you.’
Vanessa turned her head to face Nadia again. ‘Strange girl.’
‘You’re telling me.’
‘But she is really hot.’
‘Well I don’t know, I don’t look at girls in the way.’
Vanessa smiled. ‘I guess you don’t.’
‘So… ah… Vanessa.’
‘You really are that confident that you and Rex are so rock solid?’
‘Yeah huh. Absolutely.’
‘And you don’t mind other girls chasing after him, making the moves on him?’
‘Not at all. Girls do it all the time. I don’t get threatened by that sort of thing.’
‘So then if I chased him, you wouldn’t mind?’
Vanessa reeled. ‘What?’
‘If I chased after him, you’d be ok with it?’
She found it hard to believe, that Nadia, having only just walked into her life, would already be suggesting trying to move in on her guy. In fact, for a moment she felt threatened. Nadia was very beautiful and she had Vanessa’s blood. What if there was even the slightest chance that Nadia had that same something that Rex saw in her?
It was a thought she tried to force back. She smiled. ‘No problems. Good luck.’
Nadia smiled. ‘You may live to regret those well wishes.’
Rex arrived at school the following morning and made his way to the usual assembly point out front of E Block where he normally met up with his friends.
It surprised him to see Jaspy there talking to Holly and Maggie. ‘I was so scared. I was really sure those guys were going to hurt me.’
‘Wow,’ Holly said. ‘Now it’s got me worried.’
‘If it wasn’t for Rex coming along, I think they would have.’
‘Yes. Oh, he was so wonderful. Those guys were so scared of him.’
‘Did he punch them out?’ Maggie asked. ‘I love it when he punches out some creep.’
‘No, they just took off. They were petrified, but they shouted out stuff once they were far enough away.’
‘That they were going to teach him a lesson.’
Rex stepped up. ‘No need to worry about it.’
‘Rex!’ Jaspy blurted. Her eyes lit up and a broad smile appeared on her face. ‘It’s my hero.’
Rex chuckled. ‘No, I wasn’t your hero. I just stuck up for you, that’s all.’
‘Sounds like you were a hero to me,’ said Holly, a twinkle in her eye.
‘Modest as usual.’
‘That is so cool what you did,’ Maggie said. ‘I would have loved to have seen their faces.’
Jaspy continued to beam. ‘Rex is the most wonderful guy.’
‘We know,’ Holly said.
Rex cringed. ‘Will you girls stop?’ He forced an embarrassed smile.
Jaspy bounced over to him and looped her arm through his. ‘I want the whole school to know just how wonderful you are.’
Rex took hold of her arm gently and lowered it back down. ‘No, I don’t want the whole school to know. Besides, its better you don’t get people all worried. The last thing people need is to be all paranoid about roaming the streets. This was obviously an isolated incident, so let’s not spread a lot of fear around.’ It was a valid excuse, even though it was an excuse. He really didn’t want everyone putting him up on a pedestal, even though many of them did that already. He certainly didn’t want Jaspy singing his praises and hovering around him all day.
‘Rex, are we all still on for the aquatic centre on Saturday?’ Maggie asked.
‘I’m bringing my boyfriend, Shawn.’
‘Great, we’ll finally get to meet him.’
‘Wow, can I come?’ Jaspy asked.
Rex didn’t want her there, but didn’t want to refuse her. He hoped that maybe at least Holly might object, but she said nothing.
‘You could, but I’m not sure how you’d get there,’ Rex said.
‘We can pick you up,’ Holly said. ‘My mother is going to drop me off in town.’
‘It’s going to be mainly seniors,’ Rex said. ‘Some may not appreciate you around.’
‘I won’t be a pain. Honestly. Besides if my parents take me, I’ll be there anyway.’
Rex said nothing. He didn’t want to be seen as trying to make excuses. Perhaps it would do no harm. It seemed to Rex unlikely she would gain any close friendship with any of his friends anyway. She’d soon give up.
Relief came in the form of Vanessa. No longer did he have to bask in the adoration of Jaspy. He pricked up an eyebrow when he saw Nadia walking along side of her. Vanessa had rung him last night to tell him and it still blew his mind that she had a sister nobody knew about.
‘Hey!’ Vanessa reached Rex and planted a kiss on his lips. ‘Hi everyone. This is Nadia. You’ll never believe it, but she’s my half sister!’
Eyes widened and jaws dropped.
All except for Rex. ‘Now I get it. Similar facial features… yeah.’
‘Absolutely,’ Vanessa replied. ‘I can’t believe all this time I’ve had a sister I didn’t know about. We spent some time last night getting to know each other.’
Nadia stepped up to Rex and her eyes sparkled. ‘She told me all about you.’
‘I sure did.’
Rex couldn’t help but admire her. She had that same gorgeous figure, the same flawless skin, the same dark wavy hair.
‘I’ve really been looking forward to meeting you,’ Nadia stepped up so close to him that her ample breasts nearly touched his. ‘I hope you can show me around the school.’
Rex had trouble breaking his gaze from her magnetic green eyes. ‘Sure, why not. Nessa, why don’t we take her on a tour?’
‘I’ll come too!’ Jaspy volunteered.
Rex tried his best not to cringe. Something in his expression must have alerted Vanessa, because she eyed him for a few seconds, then turned and faced Jaspy. ‘No, Jaspy. This is senior business. Sorry. Besides… four’s a crowd.’
Jaspy’s face dropped.
Vanessa stepped up beside him and looped her arm through his. Nadia did the same on the opposite side. The three of them departed. Rex felt relieved that he no longer had to deal with the besotted fourteen-year-old.
‘Thanks Nessie,’ Rex said once out of hearing range. ‘She’s becoming a real pest.’
‘Unwanted attention, huh?’ asked Nadia. ‘I know what that’s like.’
‘She’s decided she’s in love with me or something, after I scared off those two gang members who were harassing her for money.’
Nadia’s eyes widened. ‘You scared off two gang members?’
‘Yeah. Wild Dogs.’
‘Wow! Vanessa, you never told me he was so brave. I think you’re keeping secrets from me.’
‘Oh, I can tell you plenty of stories about how heroic Rexy is.’
‘Please don’t, you’ll make my head balloon out,’ Rex said.
‘Well we can’t have that,’ Nadia said. ‘Your head is deliciously perfect just the way it is.’
‘Thanks.’ Rex smiled wryly. ‘Ok, over here is F Block. This is where most of the practical options are done. Woodwork, Engineering and stuff like that.’
‘Yes, I was shown here yesterday. You have some really nice technology. Much better than my old school.’
‘So you’ve already had a tour around the school then?’
‘Yes, but you make the tour so much more interesting. Adds more attractive… scenery to the place.’
Rex had to admit, she was definitely a charmer. She reminded him a lot of Vanessa when they first started to get to know each other. Never shy and never afraid to say what was on her mind. It was one of the things he liked so much about her. ‘Well let’s continue then. We’ve still got ten minutes before class starts.’
They made their way around the block, past the bike sheds and to the back field. There they stopped for a few moments.
‘We spend a lot of time out here,’ Rex said. ‘Mainly just hanging out, but sometimes playing games.’
‘Games, huh?’ Nadia moved right in close again. ‘What sort of games?’ She smiled cheekily.
‘That’s right.’ Vanessa slipped in beside him and put her arm around his waist. Nadia did the same from her side.
Both girls’ faces only inches from him. He put one arm around each. ‘Wow, this must be my lucky day. Two extremely hot sisters, both so close.’
‘We can get closer,’ Vanessa said.
‘I like the sounds of that.’
Rex, Vanessa and Nadia arrived at Maths class late. In fact it was half over and it just so happened, a relieving teacher was in charge. It was one Rex had never seen before. She was in her early twenties and Rex had to say that she was hot. She wore a figure hugging outfit, showing off her voluptuous curves and Rex could see that most of the male population were enamoured by her, due to their lovesick stares. She had long blonde hair, full lips and light green eyes. She wore glasses that made her look like the sexy secretary type. Rex thought they actually suited her.
‘Well, well,’ she said. ‘Latecomers. I guess you must be Rex Cassidy. I guess, these other two must be Vanessa Dante… and, yes, the new girl Nadia Harrison. Nadia, isn’t this your first day? Do you really want to get off to a bad start by being late to the first class of the day?’
‘I kind of got distracted,’ Nadia said. ‘And the distractions are just so great in this school.’ She glanced at Rex and winked.
‘So I can see,’ the teacher replied. ‘I’ve heard that young Rex here can be a real distraction to the girls in the class. I can see I’m going to have to watch him.’ She smiled. There was something in the smile that Rex couldn’t help but notice… something that told him she thought he was indeed an alluring distraction. Rex didn’t mind. A hot teacher like her was welcome to smile at him in that manner. ‘Please, sit. My name is Ms Grainger by the way.’
All the desks were separated. Rex sat down at one, while Vanessa and Nadia went to separate desks. Both took their chair, carried them back to Rex’s desk and sat either side of him. Rex couldn’t help but feel pleased with the seating arrangements.
‘Ummm, excuse me,’ Ms Grainger said on seeing them all sharing one table. ‘You can hardly do any work all sharing the same desk.’
‘That’s fine,’ Rex said. ‘I’ll just watch.’
‘Oh really? You’ll just watch?’ She frowned at first, but then smiled. ‘Very cute. Well as long as you don’t talk and you don’t mind being cramped between two girls that’s ok.’
‘Oh, I don’t mind. In fact I’m really enjoying it.’
She began to show the class some examples on the whiteboard. Vanessa leaned to his ear and said softly. ‘So have you sorted out transport for Saturday?’
‘Yeah. I’m heading over there in the morning with my parents to buy a car. Then I’ll come back and pick you and Maggie up. We can take Nadia too.’
‘I can’t wait. Finally you’re going to have your own set of wheels. It will be awesome sitting there with you driving along. Maybe somewhere romantic, just the two of us.’
‘Maybe the three of us?’ Nadia said softly.
Vanessa grinned. ‘Might be fun.’ She nuzzled into him. ‘I hear there are some major road works going on along the main road at the moment. You’ll get your new car all dirty. Unless they’ve finished them. Have they finished yet?’
‘I don’t know.’
‘You don’t?’ Vanessa asked. ‘When was the last time you went into New Plymouth?’
‘Over a week ago.’
Rex couldn’t help but notice a change in her expression. Her eyes seemed a little glazed. ‘You ok?’
‘Yeah huh.’ She smiled. ‘I’m fine.’
‘Ok,’ Ms Grainger said in an extra loud voice. ‘I want you to turn to page 143 in your text books and there are some problems there similar to the ones I’ve just gone through. I want you all to have a go at doing them. Oh and Rex, I want you over here at the front in this desk.’ She pointed to a vacant one right in front of hers. ‘I told you not to talk, but I see you aren’t willing to listen.’
Rex considered being difficult, but she was just so damn cute he didn’t want to cause her any trouble. As much as he hated leaving his position between Vanessa and Nadia, he decided to obey. He rose to his feet and strolled across the room, being sure to keep his eyes locked on their new teacher. He sat down, folded his arms and smiled.
Ms Grainger studied him for a few seconds. ‘Didn’t you bring your text book?’
‘No. I seem to have misplaced it. I don’t normally have much use for them.’
‘But it’s used all the time in class, isn’t it?’
‘Your point being?’
The side of her mouth curled up into a distorted smile, but she said nothing. She stepped over to her desk, sat down, and opened up a log book of some kind. Rex leaned back in his chair and glanced around the room. Most of his fellow students had already got to work. Vanessa had gone to a separate desk now and peered over in his direction. She winked and smiled. He turned his eyes to Nadia who licked her lips suggestively.
‘Rex!’ Ms Grainger said. ‘Stop distracting the girls. Here. Read something.’ She handed him a maths text book. ‘Yes, I realise that might not be your preferred reading material, but it will have to do.’
Rex took the book from her and flicked it open. He browsed through some of it, seeing nothing there that he didn’t already have a handle on. It was then that he felt a foot gently rubbing his leg.
He jerked his eyes up to Ms Grainger whose eyes were locked on his. She smiled, still rubbing her foot against him. Rex’s reaction was to smile back. In fact he couldn’t even stop himself; after all she really was a babe.
Ms Grainger’s eyes lowered and her foot stopped rubbing his. Nevertheless, she definitely had his attention now. He continued to watch her, waiting for her to resume eye contact. She did. She glanced quickly around then smiled and winked. Immediately her foot began to caress his leg again. She looked down at her book with a smile on her face. Rex couldn’t resist but play footsies back with her. This continued for a few minutes until Ms Grainger rose to her feet.
‘Ok, that’s enough time. I’d like to get a few of you to write some of the answers up on the board for us.’ She walked over and wrote one of them up. ‘Rex.’ She turned around. ‘How would you like to be the first? Seeing as you seem to think you know all this stuff because you don’t feel the need to do the exercises.’
‘No problems.’ Rex rose to his feet. She held out the pen to him, her eyes not breaking their gaze from him. Rex smirked, took the pen, walked over to the board and wrote the answer in. He handed the pen back to her and then strolled back to his desk.
Ms Grainger’s eyes widened when she saw it.
A hand rose in the front row.
‘Umm…. yes… you are?’
‘That one’s not in the book.’
‘Ummm. Yes, I know. It’s one from the year 13 text book. A much much harder one.’ She turned and stared at Rex. ‘And he got it right.’
Rex crossed his arms and eyed her without giving away any emotions.
‘I’m impressed. Very impressed indeed.’ She smiled. ‘Ok, who’s next?’
Near the end of the class, Ms Grainger came around with a worksheet for homework. She stopped by Rex’s desk first. ‘Well obviously you don’t need to do this as you seem to know it all, but I’ll give you one anyway.’ She handed him the worksheet.
Rex started to fold it up to put in his pocket, but noticed something written on the back.
Call me. 893 2323
Rex smiled, finished folding it and put it into his pocket.
‘Mr Harris! Right on the dot. Take a seat.’
The crazy Englishman sat down in front of Mr Luxton’ desk. Luxton had no intentions on wasting time with niceties and intended on getting straight down to business. ‘Two things I wanted to discuss, Mr Harris… I’ll get the more unpleasant stuff over and done with first, because the sooner the matter’s dealt with, the happier I’ll be.’
‘Whose complained about him this time?’ Mr Harris asked.
‘I assume you mean Rex Cassidy?’
‘Well, I’ve had complaints right across the board, but it’s been Mr Sanders who’s made a big issue.’
‘Ah Reverend Flanders. What’s his problem?’
‘Well that for one thing… that nickname. Rex calls him that all the time.’
‘I know.’ Mr Harris chuckled. ‘He’s even got me calling him that now.’
‘Mr Harris, the teachers in this school have enough trouble with Rex, especially when it comes to him calling them nicknames, without you encouraging him.’ Mr Luxton tapped his desk rapidly with his pen. It was bad enough having to deal with a rebel teenager, without having to deal with a rebel teacher too. He could see this meeting was going to really try his patience.
‘I’m not encouraging him. It just sort of caught on.’
‘Well it’s disrespect and we can’t have our students disrespecting the staff, can we now, Mr Harris?’
‘Give the lad a break; he’s just having a bit of fun.’
‘At a teacher’s expense? Mr Harris, when Rex Cassidy came to this school, you were asked by the former principal to keep an eye on the lad to make sure he toed the line. You’re responsible for trying to set him on the right track. You were given that role, because he thought that with your military background you could instil some discipline into this boy. I’m beginning to wonder whether he made the right decision. According to other teachers in this school, you encourage his behaviour, not dissuade it.’
‘Well, to be honest I don’t see what the problem is. Some teachers in this school are just a little over sensitive, that’s all.’
‘Look, I know the guy is a likable kid, in fact I can’t help but like him myself. He has a lot of charm and he’s basically a really great guy, but we can’t just stand by and allow him to get away with everything he wants to. He disrupts classes, has no respect, doesn’t do as he’s told, and never turns up for detentions. If it wasn’t for the bribe his parents pay to keep him here, he wouldn’t even be at this school, he would have been expelled ages ago.’
‘What can you do?’ Mr Harris smirked.
‘Well the question really is what are you going to do? Are you actually doing anything to try to and get this lad to conform?’
‘So that’s what it’s all about is it? Conformity?’
‘You want this boy to conform to some antiquated convention of what a student should or shouldn’t be? Are we living in Japan or China or some country like that? Mr Luxton, is there no room in this school for individuality, freedom of speech or revelry? If you really want a school full of robots why don’t you go climb aboard a space ship and take a trip to the Delta Quadrant. I’m sure the Borg can teach you a thing or two.’
‘Now come on, Mr Harris, I think you’re getting a little carried away there. I don’t think we’re asking too much for the students of this school to give us a little respect and to behave themselves while they’re here. As far as I’m concerned, they can do what they like outside the school ground, but while they’re here they abide by the school rules. We have school rules for a reason.’
‘Well I still don’t see what the big deal is. I never have any trouble with Rex. In fact if I have anything to say about it, I’d say he was a model student. He’s a great athlete, superb fitness, great attitude to team sports, willing to rise to any challenge…’
‘That’s beside the point! His education doesn’t revolve around physical education, you know.’
‘The problem as I see it is the faculty itself. Sure, most of the teachers in this school know what they’re talking about. They know their subjects, but when it comes to discipline, they know absolutely nothing. On top of that, they have no idea how to relate with students at all, they’re totally out of touch. If they could see things from the student’s point of view, maybe they’d get along with them better.’
‘You’re not exactly the most popular teacher in this school either, you know. Students are always complaining about your extreme methods.’
‘The students in this school are soft!’
‘Maybe, but I don’t think that you’re in any position to talk about how teachers should relate to their students.’
‘Well it doesn’t make any difference. That’s still the problem as far as I can see. Normal discipline isn’t going to work on Rex Cassidy.’
‘So we let him get away with everything, do we?’
‘He’s not that bad. So a few teachers can’t handle him? Big deal.’
‘He has been here a year now and everyone is telling me that your methods have achieved nothing. He is still just as bad.’
‘Oh, come on, they’re exaggerating. I’ve seen marked improvements in his behaviour. Most of those teachers he had last year don’t even have him now. Miss Tantic doesn’t. In fact if you talk to her, she’ll tell you that her impressions of Rex have changed radically and as for Bronson, he’s dead, but he was the main one who campaigned to have Rex expelled last year… along with the old principal who’s in jail for murdering Bronson because he was such an unreasonable stuck up prat. Now you have Ms Cann who used to complain about Rex all the time too. Now all she can do is sing his praises. Are you still trying to insist he’s just as bad now? How would you know for sure, when you weren’t even here a year ago?’
Mr Luxton sighed in frustration and shook his head. ‘Alright. I guess you’re right. I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt on this one and trust that your methods will continue to bear fruit.’
‘What I’d like to see is you do something about old Neddy Flanders. He’s completely unprofessional.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well… the fact that he preaches to his students. He will unashamedly stand up there in front of the class telling them how they need Christ in their lives and all that. Do you condone that?’
‘No… That’s not right at all. He has no business doing that here in this school. Look, I’m seeing him soon so I’ll have a word with him then, but I want you to continue to give him the respect he’s due. He’s new to this school and he’s having a little trouble fitting in.’
‘I’m not surprised. He’s a bible thumping bigot and a bloody hypocrite to boot.’
‘Well let’s give him a chance. Hopefully he’ll realise that there is certain standards we expect of him both in class and out of class. You can go now.’
Mr Luxton shuffled some papers around on his desk and Mr Harris left. No sooner had he gone when a knock came at the door and Ms Cann entered. ‘Can I have a word please?’
‘Make it short, Ms Cann, I have another appointment in five minutes. By the way, how are you feeling?’
‘Much better thank you. I definitely needed that day off, but I’m fully recuperated now.’
‘What can I do for you?’
‘I wish to make a complaint.’
‘Oh, no. What’s wrong this time?’
‘It’s that horrid girl. She even has a sister here now.’
‘Wait. Horrid girl? Do you mean Vanessa Dante?’ Mr Luxton’s mind immediately thought of her mother, Grace and he nearly smiled at the vision in his mind. There was one extremely gorgeous woman that he would give anything to have sitting with him in his office right now.
‘Of course I mean her! Now she has a sister here who is just as immoral as she is.’
‘What? Oh, you mean, Nadia Harrison? From what I understand she’s straight.’
‘What do you mean?’
‘She likes boys.’
‘Well I don’t know about that, but I saw the both of them with Rex Cassidy this morning. They were supposed to be in class, but they were out the back of the school, involved in a…. in an orgy!’
‘They were there behind the trees, kissing and touching, all three of them together!’
‘Were they naked?’
‘No, but he had his shirt unbuttoned with their hands all over his chest and he was touching them… you know, touching them where he shouldn’t! It was despicable! Two girls and one boy like that and those two are sisters! That makes it doubly as immoral!’
‘Did you say anything?’
‘I saw them, when I was doing my rounds. I saw them!’
‘And you didn’t say anything?’
‘Of course I did. I told them to get to class right now.’
‘What did they say?’
‘That horrible girl, Vanessa. Ooooh, she makes my skin crawl. She said… she said, “Care to join us Ms Cann?”’
Mr Luxton nearly let out a burst of laughter, but managed to hold most if it in.
‘What’s so funny? How can you just laugh at that? It’s disgusting! It’s perverted!’
‘I think she was just trying to get a rise out of you, Ms Cann. I don’t believe she really wanted you to join them. Did they stop after you told them to?’
‘No! They kept on going. They completely ignored me. I couldn’t stay around there. I had to go. They’re probably still there right now, committing their perverted acts. Remember last term, you said if I caught them doing something like that you would expel them! I demand you expel Vanessa Dante right now.’
‘Whoa, hold on, hold on. Apart from skipping class, she really hasn’t done anything that serious. Besides, why pick on her? Rex and Nadia were also there.’
‘She’s the ring leader. She’s the one that gets them to do all those disgraceful acts.’
‘I don’t think so, Ms Cann. From what I understand, Rex himself is often the instigator. As for Nadia, I don’t know enough about her to judge her.’
‘Nadia should be kept away from her. If she’s not careful Vanessa might turn her into… one of those!’
‘Ms Cann, it doesn’t work that way. You don’t get turned into things like that. You either are or you aren’t. Let’s not get carried away here. The only problem I can see here is that the three of them were not in class when they should have been. Yes, what they were doing does appear to be very inappropriate, but there is no reason to expel anyone, let alone Vanessa specifically. In fact it’s beginning to look to me like you have it in for this girl.’
‘No, I don’t, I just don’t like the way she behaves.’
‘It used to be the same with Rex, but after he stuck up for you against those gang members at his birthday party, you seem to have changed your opinion of him.’
‘Well, I realised just what a nice boy he was.’
‘But yet according to you he’s still indulging in perverted and immoral acts. So why single out Vanessa? Because she’s gay?’
Ms Cann’s eyes narrowed, but she didn’t reply.
‘That’s all I can see here. It’s you taking a disliking to her because of her sexual preferences. That’s discrimination, Ms Cann and we can’t be seen to be supporting that.’
‘But she… but she…’
‘I’m sorry Ms Cann. But I think we should just leave it.’
‘Are you even going to put them on detention?’
‘I see no point. I’ll get someone to take a walk out back and see if they’re still there. If they’re still not in class, we’ll take it further. Alright?’
‘Alright,’ grumbled the elderly teacher. ‘But this isn’t the end of this. I’m not going to give up. We can’t have this sort of behaviour going on in this school, we just can’t!’
Mr Luxton sighed and watched her leave. ‘Never ending drama,’ he said to himself after she’d gone.
He heard some chatter going on outside the door. It sounded like Ms Cann had stopped to talk to someone and he could make out the muffled voice as belonging to Mr Sanders, his next appointment. For nearly two minutes, he sat there, unable to make out what they were saying, but he became agitated. He walked over to the door and swung it open. It was indeed the two teachers he thought them to be. ‘Mr Sanders. I believe we have an appointment.’
‘Oh yes, sorry, Mr Luxton. Ms Cann, I’ll talk to you later. We may indeed be able to be of service to each other.’
Soon Mr Sanders say in the office opposite him. He looked grim. ‘I wish to raise a further complaint against Rex Cassidy.’
Luxton sighed. ‘What’s he done this time?’
‘Yesterday, in class he made a fool out of me in front of my students.’
‘In what way?’
‘He tried to twist the words that I said. He tried to manipulate the word of God to portray his owned warped view of it.’
‘So how is that making a fool out of you?’
‘I… well he said things I couldn’t come up with good answers to.’
‘Yes, he’s good at that. Still, I don’t see what the problem is. If you were unable to answer his questions, then how is that an offence on his part? If he made your views look foolish, how is that wrong?’
‘He didn’t make my views look foolish! He doesn’t understand faith and he expects to look at the things of God rationally. You just can’t do that.’
‘This is a school, Mr Sanders and because it is a school, we expect our students to look at things rationally. We encourage them to be critical in their thinking and to be able to judge something based on its logical merits.’
‘But you can’t expect to understand God by using logic.’
‘Well I would say you can’t understand any abstract idea by using logic, but hold on a minute here, Mr Luxton. These children are not at school to learn about God. This is not the time and the place.’
‘But if they don’t hear it here, they may never hear it.’
‘That’s none of our concern as a school. We have a curriculum to adhere to here. It is not your place to preach about your religious beliefs.’
‘But it’s truth. We should be learning about it.’
‘It’s truth in your mind, however not in the mind of the board of education. I’ve got no problems with you starting a religious group outside of class hours or even during lunch time, but I want to make one thing very clear… preaching will not be permitted in classes. You have material to teach them. I ask that you teach them that material.’
‘But I do, Mr Luxton. It’s just that sometimes topics go a bit off track and everything I say always ties in some way with the lesson. Is it wrong to use examples?’
‘If it’s unsupported, yes. We deal in facts here, Mr Sanders, not opinion, conjecture and wishful thinking.’
Mr Sander’s eyes became piercing. ‘None of what I say is unsupported, opinion, conjecture or wishful thinking! What I say is from God’s word itself!’
‘Which can be taken many different ways depending on your perspective. Sorry, Mr Sanders, but the bible is not considered educational literature here. You have no evidence to support that your religious book is the word of any God. Would you expect us to start teaching from the Quran or the Baghavad Gita perhaps? No, you wouldn’t, in fact I’m sure you’d be horrified and up in arms about it, so please don’t try to push your religious beliefs onto me or our students. I will not have that.’
Mr Sanders steamed and continued to eye him coldly. ‘So you’re not going to do anything about the humiliation that boy has put me through?’
‘Frankly, Mr Sanders, if you start preaching in class, then you get what’s coming to you. I have no sympathy. If your beliefs are so feeble that they cannot stand up to logical scrutiny, then don’t try to force them down your student’s throats.’
‘My beliefs are not feeble!’
‘Keep them out of the classroom, otherwise you may find it’s not just one student giving you grief but a lot of parents, unhappy with you trying to convert their children. Not only that, but you’ll have me to deal with. Do I make myself clear?’
Mr Sanders snorted and nodded his head.
‘If Rex does anything else, anything that is disrespectful or out of line, come and see me and we’ll talk.’
Mr Sanders grumbled something inaudible, rose to his feet and left the room without another word.
Luxton sighed once again. ‘Why did I ever agree to take up this job?’
Mr Sanders met up with Ms Cann in the staffroom and sat in the corner of the room with a cup of tea each. ‘I can’t believe this school,’ he said. ‘Luxton’s incompetent. Not only does he not know how to maintain discipline in this school, not only does he let his students humiliate and disrespect his teachers, he allows them to blaspheme. Goodness me, I believe he is no better than some of his students. He has no respect for God or his teachings.’
Ms Cann nodded. ‘I’m afraid a lot of the staff here are like that. This place is full of atheists and agnostics and they just don’t care. It’s no wonder this world is becoming so immoral. It’s no wonder we have girls here going around this school encouraging other girls to do perverted and disgusting acts with them.’
‘Really?’ Mr Sanders turned to her fascinated by what she had just said. ‘What sort of perverted and disgusting acts?’
‘Lesbian things. Why I saw two girls today doing stuff… Ooooh, it appals me.’
Sanders couldn’t resist but ask. ‘What sort of things? I… I mean if this sort of stuff is going on in school it needs to be exposed and we should deal with the perpetrators.’
‘Two of them together,’ muttered Ms Cann.
‘All over one boy.’
‘Ohhhhhh.’ The mental picture Sanders so longed to see in his mind, quickly vanished. ‘So it was two girls making out with one boy. Not a girl doing stuff with another girl?’
‘Yes! They were touching each other…’
‘What the girls were?’
‘No, they were touching the boy and he was touching them. In private places! Places he should not be touching!’
‘Oh… I see…’
‘Errrr, yes…’ Sanders gazed off in the distance, but quickly pulled himself together. ‘Yes. Absolutely appalling. We can’t have that at all.’
‘No we can’t. That Vanessa. She is the worst. She sickens me!’
‘Why? I think she’s lovely.’
Ms Cann stared at him in horror. ‘She’s despicable! She’s immoral and flaunts her sexuality. Do you know what she is?’
Mr Sanders nodded. ‘Yeah, I know and it’s wrong, I agree, but… are you saying it was her with this other girl and boy?’
‘Yes! Her and her half sister… that Nadia. I don’t like her at all. She’s new to this school and already she’s cavorting with Vanessa, involving herself in sordid activities.’
‘Was the boy Rex?’
‘Well you see? There’s your problem. He misleads them. The devil is in that boy, I tell you. Satan manipulates him to take advantage of the fairer sex. Satan influences his mind and makes him twist God’s word.’
‘But Rex is a nice boy. Sure, his morality leaves a lot to be desired, but I really don’t think he can be blamed for the way Vanessa Dante is. If anyone has the devil in her, it’s that girl. She’s got his hooks into him. She’s a temptress…a Jezebel. She uses her sexuality to get him to do whatever she wants.’
‘You really think so?’
‘I know so!’
‘But that Rex. You should hear him, the way he mocks God and puts down the bible. He clearly works for the devil.’
‘No, I can’t believe that.’
‘It’s true! He tries to look at the things of God with a rational mind and with logic. How evil is that?’
‘Really?’ Ms Cann’s eyes saddened. ‘Is that what he does?’
‘Yes! Now you tell me he doesn’t have the devil in him.’
Ms Cann said nothing and gazed down at the table.
‘So I say Rex is following the devil and you claim Vanessa is too… and well, the way she looks down her nose at me makes me think you might just be right. I believe she’s just as irreverent to God as that boy and certainly, judging by her chosen lifestyle, it’s hard to argue that they are not just two peas in the same pod. You say she has him under his control and that may be true too. He threatened violence towards me a few weeks ago, all because I didn’t give Vanessa a merit on her assignment.’
‘What?’ Ms Cann stared. ‘Are you for real? I… I just can’t imagine Rex would do that. But… but then again… he has used violence in the past. He is very dangerous. You should have seen the way he dealt with that gang leader…he could have killed him with his martial arts moves…’
‘Which is also more evidence that the devil is in him. Karate, Kung Fu and all those other forms of martial arts are satanic and open up people to the spirit of violence and witchcraft.’
Ms Cann’s eyes widened. ‘And witches… most of them are lesbian!’
‘Exactly! So there you go… obviously both Rex and Vanessa need to go.’
‘Yes… I think you’re right.’
‘And it’s up to you and me to try to make sure this happens.’
‘But how? How do we achieve that?’
‘I’m not sure. But I think I might have an idea or two…’
Maggie marvelled at the sleek black car that sat in her driveway ready to take her to the Aquatic Centre in New Plymouth. ‘Wow. Like I’m saying, Wow!’
Vanessa stood next to her. ‘Ooh la la!’
‘Not bad, huh?’ asked Rex.
‘What sort of car is it?’ asked Maggie
Vanessa replied, ‘A Lamborghini Estoque. Is it brand new?’
‘No,’ Rex said. ‘Second-hand. But still, pretty damn fantastic.’
‘Oh man, I just can’t wait to ride in it.’
Nadia, who had stayed over at Vanessa’s place the night before, shook her head. ‘My God. You just get better all the time, Rex. Not only are you sweltering hot and drop dead gorgeous… not only do you scare away gang members, but you’re rich too?’
Rex just grinned.
‘Maggs, check out my tattoo I had done last night,’ Vanessa said. She lifted up her leg to show her bare ankle, revealing a small butterfly tattoo. ‘I love it.’
‘Wow, that’s so sexy.’
‘Tell me about it,’ Rex said. ‘Hey, we need to get some shots of you girls posing on the car. You can show off that tattoo, Ness.’
Rex pressed a button on his key ring and immediately all four doors tilted upwards and opened.
‘Wow,’ Maggie stared. ‘That is sooo cool!’
Rex reached into the glove box and pulled out a digital camera. All three girls had fun posing on, in and around the car, sometimes one of them at a time, sometimes two at a time and sometimes all three.
‘Wow, this would make a great magazine spread,’ Rex said. ‘Perhaps for the next school magazine?’
‘Rex,’ Vanessa said as she sat on the bonnet with Maggie. ‘I know you want to get some shots of this.’ She grabbed Maggie, pulled her close and began to kiss her on the mouth. Maggie froze for a second, shocked by Vanessa’s brazen display out in the open, but it felt so good, so she allowed it to happen, while Rex clicked away on his camera.
‘Oh, God,’ Nadia said after close to a minute. ‘Will you girls please stop?’
Vanessa finally let Maggie go, turned and smiled. ‘How was that Rexy?’
Rex had a broad smile on his face. ‘Bloody awesome.’
‘Please don’t let anyone see those,’ Maggie begged. ‘Don’t have them printed in the school magazine. I’d die.’
‘Don’t worry.’ Rex laughed. ‘Nobody else will see them, I promise.’
‘Oh we have to put them in our restrict galleries on Facelink, we have to!’ Vanessa said.
‘Noooooooo,’ Maggie pleaded.
‘Oh come on, it will only be our trusted friends who get to see them.’
Maggie wanted to please both Rex and Vanessa so reluctantly agreed. ‘Ok… I guess.’
Vanessa jumped down from the bonnet of the car. ‘Let’s ride, Dollbaby.’
Maggie couldn’t help but feel a thrill at being in such a car. She sat in the back seat with Nadia and peered out onto the road as they drove by, turning almost every head.
‘You sure know how to get noticed, Rex,’ Nadia said.
‘I’m not worried about that. I just wanted to have a really cool car.’
‘I’ll be lucky if my mum buys me a Toyota.’
‘My mum would probably never buy me a car at all,’ Maggie said. ‘She’d be worried I might crash it. Hey, Holly’s coming, right?’
‘Yep,’ Rex said.
‘That’s gonna be awkward,’ Vanessa said.
‘Why is that?’ asked Nadia.
‘They used to be a couple, but they split up. This will be the first activity we’ve done as a group that will have them both there.’
‘Oh no, is there bad blood between them?’
‘No. Not really. Just a lot of pain.’
‘Yeah. Amazing they still hang out in the same circle of friends.’
‘Just as well Chelsea isn’t going to be there,’ Maggie said. ‘Otherwise that would be triple the awkwardness.’
‘Why,’ asked Nadia. ‘How does she fit in?’
‘She kind of had an affair with Mav.’
‘No wonder they split then. If I was her I’d be furious with him. I wouldn’t want to ever see his face again.’
‘Why isn’t Chelsea coming, Rex?’ Vanessa asked.
‘For that very reason. She doesn’t want to have to see the both of them.’
‘She hasn’t even been hanging out with us at school,’ Maggie said.
‘Yeah, she’s feeling so bad about it all and feels that if she’s around she’ll just cause more troubles for Mav and Holly.’
‘I don’t know,’ Nadia said. ‘Maybe if they learnt to share, right Vanessa?’
Vanessa laughed. ‘Yeah huh, maybe.’
Around half an hour later they arrived at the Aquatic Centre in New Plymouth. It was a huge domed building with indoor and outdoor pools. The outdoor pools and hydro slides were closed at this time of the year, but the heated indoor wave pool was always popular throughout the entire year. Maggie was very pleased as it would mean she’d get to see Rex in a swimsuit again and she loved that. As far as she was concerned, he was an Adonis.
She pushed thoughts of Rex’s muscular hairy chest out of the way though when she saw Shawn awaiting them, along with a group of their friends. All eyes popped out of their heads when they saw Rex’s new car. Maggie ignored all the questions that came flying at Rex and ran over to Shawn and hugged him.
Shawn didn’t stay in the hug long because he too seemed keen to get a closer look at the car. ‘Whoa, baby! That’s nice.’
Maggie came up beside him, eager to introduce him to her friends. ‘Hey, everybody, this is Shawn.’
Shawn stepped up to Vanessa and smiled. ‘Hello again. This is some car.’
‘Yeah huh, it belongs to Rex. Rexy, say hi to Maggie’s boyfriend, Shawn.’
Rex stepped over and extended his hand. Shawn hesitated at first and eyed him coldly, but then shook.
‘Ready to hit the indoor surf?’ Rex asked.
‘Yeah. It’ll be cool.’ His eyes didn’t meet Rex’s though as they were transfixed on Vanessa.
‘Not that the waves ever get big enough in there.’
‘Yeah,’ Mav said. ‘You’d also have problems with people stealing your waves and risk conking a lot of heads with your surfboard.’
‘Did someone bring their surfboard?’ Maggie asked.
‘Yeah, me. Should be cool.’
‘Mav! Are you serious?’
She laughed. ‘You’re nuts, you know that?’
‘Well, they do say you are what you eat… All though I hate peanuts, so I guess that saying is about as rational as a cricketing batsman taking a sweep shot at a bouncer.’ He chuckled. ‘Actually no, I was only joking about the surfboard. I brought a jet ski instead.’
Maggie introduced Shawn around to a few more people. ‘This is Jacqui. She’s the one who helped me get settled in to Te Arawa College.’
‘Helped you?’ the tall brunette said. ‘As far as I can remember, Margaret, you were hanging around pestering me all the time, thanks to Ms Groucher the senior mistress. Oh, no, look who’s here. Pete Cook. Why did that loser have to come?’
Pete stepped up to some of the guys with a smile on his face and started talking to them.
‘Ah, he’s not so bad,’ Maggie said.
‘He’s an idiot! He cramps our style whenever he’s around.’
‘You should be used to him by now.’ Holly stepped up with Jaspy beside her.
‘I’ll never get used to him.’
‘He’s a hard case,’ Maggie said.
‘He’s a total dork!’ Jacqui growled. ‘There must be something wrong if you can’t see that. Holly, he’s a dork, isn’t he?’
‘He is a bit of a Wally I guess.’
‘You bet your bottom dollar he is.’
Holly laughed. ‘Ah, the things we have to put up with just to be around Rex, eh?’
‘It’s worth it though.’
‘Hey girls, talking about me?’ Wal stepped up, with another couple of guys beside them. One of them was Rog Shepherd, better known as Sheep.
‘Now why would he think that?’ Holly asked. ‘Oh, of course, we were all laughing. He’s… you know… obviously getting used to being a laughing stock. You’re becoming observant in your old age, Wal.’
‘Well it’s nice to know that you’re all obsessed with me anyway.’ Wal winked. ‘You obviously can’t get me out of your minds.’
‘Dream on, Ullman!’ scowled Jacqui. ‘The only time we think about you is when we’re fantasising about wringing your neck!’
‘Or any other lethal form of torture,’ Holly added.
Maggie turned her head to Shawn. His body was turned and he gazed in the direction of the car.
‘Sure is something, isn’t she?’ Maggie asked.
‘Huh? What?’ He spun his head around. ‘Who?’
‘Oh, yeah. Right. The car. Yep, she’s a beauty alright. I just can’t believe how hot she is.’ He smirked.
‘I know. I can’t believe I’ve just been for a drive in it.’
‘Oh yeah, I’d like to drive that baby myself.’
‘Hey guys!’ Pete said, wandering up to their group. ‘We’re all here!’
Sheep snickered. ‘Give the guy a knighthood for his spectacular powers of observation.’
‘No, don’t do that,’ Mav intervened. ‘That wouldn’t mean a thing. Any old Joe Bloggs can get a knighthood these days.’
‘Of course. Modern society has completely forgotten what being a knight is all about. A knight is supposed to be someone who goes out to battle to fight for his king and country. He was knighted for acts of heroism and great deeds in battle. To call some of our modern day knights, knights is a complete insult to those from medieval times. There used to be certain standards. In them days, knights were usually young and in their prime, but now it’s generally a prerequisite that they be old and of no further use to society. Bards would never have even been considered for a knighthood back then, but now they’re giving them to pop stars. Sir Mark Todd might have been up there with the best of them when it came to equestrian skills, but then again he’s never had an enemy charging at him with a lance, has he? And Sir Richard Hadlee might have been pretty handy with a cricket bat in his hand, but how long would he last if it was replaced by a sword? Funnily enough, knights today have to act cultured and live up to a certain image. Sir Richard once said that if he went into a pub he was expected to order a G & T rather than a beer. Somehow I couldn’t imagine that olden day’s knights would have drunk anything but ale and it wouldn’t have been in a crystal wineglass. As much as I respect Sir Richard, I think this knighthood thing has become a complete farce.’
‘Gee, who cares?’ Jacqui said in an irritable manner. ‘We’re not going to stand around here all day talking about the Knights of the Round Table are we? Let’s go have some fun.’
‘Hey, I could do a whole stand up routine on that subject if you like.’
‘I’ll give that a miss.’
‘Yeah, well, it would probably be about as much fun as pulling out your own teeth with a pair of pliers.’
Jacqui rolled her eyes. ‘Someone should use pliers to remove your brain, that’s what they should do. And replace it with a new one.
‘No that’s already been tried I’m afraid. Unfortunately the new one was worse than the first.’
They all headed into the pools and soon after Maggie swam around in the warm water. She managed to get hold of a floating mat and paddled over to where some of her friends were. ‘Anyone seen Shawn?’
‘Yeah, he’s over there talking to Rex, Vanessa and Nadia.’ Holly pointed to them. They were in the deep end holding onto some ropes. Jaspy hovered a few meters away watching them intently. Maggie couldn’t help but laugh. The poor girl was besotted with Rex, but then again it seemed that was the state of most of the girls in school.
‘Oh, my God!’ Jacqui said. ‘Look who’s here. Ruddy Tucker Pyles.’
‘Oh great,’ Holly said. ‘As if we don’t see enough of him at school.’
‘Just our luck he had to be here the day we were,’ added Maggie.
‘Makes me wonder whether he found out somehow,’ Holly said. ‘He has a habit of… you know… turning up uninvited to our social events.’
‘I’m going over to Shawn,’ announced Maggie and paddled over to them. ‘Hey Shawn! Wanna share a mat with me?’
‘Nah, it’s ok,’ Shawn said. ‘Happy just to stay here for a while.’ He turned back to Vanessa. ‘So how long have you been living in Te Arawa?’
‘Only since the beginning of the year.’
Nadia cuddled up into Rex. Maggie couldn’t help but notice that Vanessa kept glancing at them. Perhaps it bothered her that her sister was so friendly with Rex? Maggie knew that if she was in Vanessa’s situation she would be.
‘Are you sure you don’t want to come out on the mat with me?’ Maggie asked, thinking it might be best to take Shawn away so that Vanessa could go back to her man.
‘No!’ Shawn snapped. ‘I’m happy here at the moment, just talking.’
Maggie was taken back by his harsh reply. It had never been like that with him before as he was normally eager to spend time with her. She began to wonder if perhaps she had said something to annoy him.
Vanessa glanced back at Nadia and Rex again. Nadia was nibbling on his ear.
‘I thought he was your boyfriend,’ Shawn said.
‘He is,’ Vanessa replied.
‘You don’t mind your sister doing that do him?’
Vanessa hesitated for a moment before replying. ‘Just as long as I get to do it later.’ She smiled.
Shawn laughed. ‘You like to share, do you?’
‘It depends who I’m sharing with.’
He laughed again and shook his head. ‘Man, Maggie, your friend is alright.’
‘Oh yes,’ Maggie thought. ‘If only you know just how alright she was.’
Vanessa couldn’t help but feel irked at the way Nadia was trying to monopolise Rex’s time. She didn’t know why it bothered her so much, because she really did have total confidence in hers and Rex’s relationship. Nevertheless, there was something about Nadia. Maybe it had something to do with her being a family member. There was always that concern that maybe Nadia had that same special something she herself had and that maybe Rex might not be able to resist it.
She couldn’t help but continue to glance at Nadia as she nibbled on Rex’s ear. Vanessa really wanted to get away from Shawn. It was so obvious to her and probably Rex and Nadia that he was hitting on her. Maggie however was too naïve to realise it. Vanessa wanted her to know, but she didn’t know whether she had the heart or the guts to tell her. What if she was simply misreading Shawn?
Not only did Vanessa want to escape Shawn, she also wanted to get Rex away from Nadia for a bit, just to show her that he was her guy foremost and also to send a clear message to Shawn that she wasn’t interested in him. It bothered her that Nadia was so intent on competing against her. For a long lost sister to do that seemed wrong to Vanessa, even though she hadn’t discouraged Nadia in anyway.
‘Maggie. Do you mind if I take your mat?’ She asked.
‘No, go ahead.’ Maggie slid off it and pushed it over to her.
‘Rex, wanna come for a float?’ Vanessa asked.
‘Sure.’ Rex turned and smiled at Nadia. ‘Bye for now.’
Vanessa noticed Nadia’s eyes narrow as Rex propelled himself towards the mat. It was wide enough for them both to lean over the top and kick off along the water.
‘Do you think we can both lie on this at the same time?’ she asked.
‘I guess we could try.’
For the next few minutes they had fun seeing if they could both lie together lengthways on the mat, most of the time falling into the water together, in each other’s arms. Finally after many failed attempts and much laughter, they manage to position themselves with Rex underneath and her lying half on top of him. The mat was very buoyant and it easily held their combined weight.
‘Now this, I like,’ Rex said, staring up into her eyes.
‘So do I,’ Vanessa said and she began to kiss him. Out of the corner of her eye she could see both Nadia and Shawn watching. Neither of them looked impressed.
It wasn’t long before the waves started up, so they both had to slip back down into the water and ride widthways, side by side. As the undulating waves lifted them up and down Vanessa finally had a chance to talk to him. ‘I’m worried about Shawn.’
‘Yeah. Me too. Well actually I’m more worried about Maggs. She obviously has no clue that Shawn is hitting on you.’
‘Exactly. I just want to grab that idiot and shake him. He’s got a girlfriend like Maggie… a real hottie and he’s after me, a girl who he knows has a boyfriend. What’s with everyone at the moment? We’ve got Mav and Holly split up because of Chelsea, we’ve got a teacher after you, although I must admit she is hot. I had a male teacher who had his eye on me and he’s a creep. You have a girl who won’t get the message that you’re not interested and now I’ve got this guy here. I really think I will have to get a T-shirt or something made up that says something like “I’m gay. If you’re a guy don’t bother!”’
Rex chuckled and then peered off into the distance. ‘Hello, hello, is that Tucker I see over there?’
Vanessa peered over to the shallow waters where Tucker waded through the waves.
‘So it is. I guess they need people like him here to generate the waves. Perhaps it’s his new calling in life? Something he can be good at.’
‘It may very well be.’ Rex laughed. ‘No sign of your Internet hottie yet?’
‘Nuh uh, not yet. I guess she didn’t have the courage to show up.’
‘Well you never know. She could be here somewhere in this building, but as her real self, not the one she’s pretending to be.’
‘Well I hope she’s for real. She seems sincere.’
‘Well I hope she’s not some adult pretending to be a teenaged girl.’
‘Don’t worry. If this girl is really an adult, then she’s a really retarded one. By the way, I see Jaspy over there is watching you like a hawk.’
Rex glanced over to see her paddling about ten metres away. He sighed. ‘I wish Holly hadn’t volunteered to give her a lift here.’
‘Oh well,’ Vanessa said. ‘I guess Holly just doesn’t know your type like I do.’
Nadia swam up to them and took hold of the side of the mat. ‘Hey, Rex. What was the name of that gang you’ve had trouble with?’
‘The Wild Dogs.’
‘Well I was just at the café having a drink and looked down the road to check out your car. There’s a couple of gang members there looking over your car. Look like they had pictures of dogs on the back of their leather jackets.’
‘Oh, no,’ Vanessa said, noticing the wide-eyed look on Rex’s face. ‘I hope they don’t realise that’s your car.’
Rex’s eyes narrowed. ‘Well they’re not gonna touch my car. I’m going out there.’
‘Wait!’ Vanessa said. ‘I’ll come too.’
‘Oh no,’ Rex said. ‘I don’t want you anywhere near those guys. I’ll deal with them.’
‘He’s right,’ Nadia said. ‘We should stay.’
Rex slipped off the mat, swam to the side of the pool and leapt out.
‘I can’t just stay here,’ Vanessa said. ‘We should at least watch form the distance. Make sure he’s alright. Some of those guys carry knives.’
‘Yeah, ok. Come on.’ The two of them swam to the side and climbed out. ‘Hold on.’ Nadia grabbed her towel first and rummaged through her gear. Seconds later she joined Vanessa and they hurried out to the café, but just as they reached the entrance, Shawn intercepted them. ‘It’s ok, the Dogs have gone.’
‘Where’s Rex?’ Vanessa asked.
‘He’s down there checking on his car. Don’t worry. You had better stay in here. If you come back, the café manager may think you’re trying to get in here without paying.
‘Are you sure they’re gone?’
‘Yeah, they left just as Nadia went in looking for you.’
Nadia walked through into the cafeteria. Vanessa tried to walk in after her, but Shawn clutched her arm. ‘Wait.’
‘It’s ok, honestly. Actually I wanted to catch you alone for a minute.’
Vanessa’s eyes narrowed. She began to wonder whether this was some kind of a setup to get her away from Rex for a few minutes.
‘What do you want, Shawn? Why don’t you go find Maggie? She was really looking forward to seeing you today and hanging out with you.’
‘Oh, there’s plenty of time for that.’ His voice softened. ‘I was kinda hoping you and I might be able to spend some time together.’
The alarm bells inside her head almost deafened her. This was a set up. He did want her alone and probably right now, Nadia was out there with Rex taking advantage of the fact that she wasn’t around. ‘Shawn. I need to fill you in on a very important detail, ok? I’m not actually into you at all. In fact, I am so far from in-to-you that you might as well say I’m orbiting the earth’s atmosphere preparing to make the jump to hyperspace. You’re the boyfriend of one of my best friends and actually it bothers me that you’re not giving her the respect she deserves.’
‘Huh? Hey, wait a minute, I haven’t made any promises to Maggie. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a fantastic girl and we have a lot of fun together, but it’s not like we’re going steady or anything.’
‘You’re not? Well that’s sort of funny, because she thinks you are.’
‘Ah geez, look, the last thing I want to do is hurt her, but I just can’t see us two lasting the distance. I need someone more with-it, you know? Someone who isn’t so naïve. Man, you are just so gorgeous and smart. A guy would have to be crazy to not try to take their opportunities when they get one.’
‘Shawn, you may not realise this, but you don’t have any opportunities. This is not even a remote possibility. In fact, your chances are actually in negative figures, that’s how utterly incredibly doomed to failure your effort is in this matter. You have to know, I am totally dedicated to Rex, alright?’
‘Ah, come on. You’re dedicated to him? So what’s with Nadia all over him like a rash then, huh? You didn’t seem to mind that. Seems like maybe he’s not all that into you.’
Vanessa did her best to hold back her ever-building ire. ‘Shawn, you don’t seem to be getting the message. Give up while you’re ahead. Focus on Maggie, or leave both of us alone.’
‘Hey, babe, I’m not just gonna give up. The first moment I saw you I felt something, and I think you felt it too.’
She stared at him in disbelief. ‘My, God… And here was me thinking Tucker Pyles was living in a world of delusion.’
‘Who’s Tucker Pyles?’
‘It doesn’t matter.’ She sighed. She didn’t really want to have to tell him this, simply because Maggie feared his reaction, but she felt she had no choice. ‘Ok, here’s another little bit of information that may shake you out of your fantasy world. I’m a lesbian. I’m into girls not guys.’
Shawn burst out laughing. ‘Ho, boy. This is great. You’re getting desperate. Trying to tell me that you’re gay?’ Vanessa stared at him as he continued to laugh. ‘Quite clearly you’re not. Otherwise you wouldn’t be all over Rex.’
‘Now I know that you’re into me. You’re playing hard to get.’
‘No, Shawn. I don’t play games like that. What you’re mistaking for a game is actually me being completely serious.’
Shawn continued to laugh. ‘You’re good. You’re really good. But I’m not buying it, babe. Ah, come on, don’t worry about Maggie. She’ll be fine. We’ve got a pretty casual relationship really. She’s not gonna get pissed if you and I see each other from time to time.’
Vanessa found it very difficult now to control her temper. ‘I’ve had enough of this.’ She went to walk past him to go into the café, but Shawn grabbed her arm again.
‘Wait, babe, wait.’
‘No!’ Vanessa snapped. ‘Get your hand of me now or I’ll go right out there now and tell Maggie all about this conversation. Is that what you want?’
Shawn released her and shrunk back. ‘No way. Hey, I was only kidding around. No need to tell her. You’ll only upset her.’
‘Really? A moment ago you were saying she wouldn’t mind. Goodbye.’ She walked towards the café again, ready this time in case he tried to grab her arm again. He didn’t.
Once in the café she saw no sign of either Rex or Nadia. She peered through the windows down the road to the Lamborghini, but there was no sign of anyone apart from a couple of young kids admiring it. She considered the fact that maybe they had both re-entered the pools through them main entrance, so headed back inside to see if they were there. They were nowhere to be seen.
‘Damn it,’ hissed Vanessa. ‘That Nadia. She’s lured him away somewhere.’
When Rex reached the café he saw no sign of any gang members near where his car was parked. Shawn stepped up beside him. ‘I saw them down there. You better go check your car.’
It was hard to know whether Shawn was telling the truth or not, but he’d didn’t want to take any chances, especially considering his car was so expensive. No doubt if any major damage had been done, the car alarm would have gone off, but that might not necessarily be the case if it was just a few scratches or tagging.
He opened the café door and hurried down the road to where his car was parked. He made sure to keep an eye out for anyone that might be nearby. On closer inspection, he saw that his car was fine. If anyone had been there, nobody had damaged it.
He turned to go back up to the pools and came face to face with Nadia.
‘Hey,’ he said. ‘You should have stayed in there.’
‘No way. If there’s gang members here, I couldn’t bear the thought of you being here on your own against them. I at least wanted to be sure you were ok. Hey, down there!’
She pointed to a bank which led down to the rocky shore of the harbour. She rushed down it, waving for him to follow. Rex wondered what she had seen so decided to follow, just in case it was the alleged gang members.
Once at the bottom of the bank, Nadia turned and smiled. ‘It’s ok. I thought I saw some one.’
Rex began to suspect that it was all a ruse just to get him down there. He even considered the possibility that there were no gang members at all in the vicinity. Ordinarily he wouldn’t have minded, because Nadia was indeed extremely hot, but Vanessa would no doubt be worried about him, wondering if he had run into trouble. He couldn’t stay there. ‘Well, we better head back up.’
‘No wait.’ She stepped up to him so that her breasts almost touched him. Her voice became soft. ‘Don’t go. Stay here with me for a bit.’
All Rex could think about was Vanessa being worried about where he was. He hated that thought.
‘It’s ok,’ she assured him. Vanessa saw there was no one down here. She said I could come down and spend some time alone with you.’
‘Really?’ Rex considered it might be possible, but at the same time he had trouble reading whether Nadia was sincere or not. He was normally pretty good at picking up on a lie, but if this was one he had no idea.
She battered her eyelids and spoke in the voice of a little girl. ‘You do trust me, don’t you?’
She had a similar magnetism to her like Vanessa. Nowhere near as strong, but it was definitely there and something very hard to resist. He could feel his willpower melt as she pressed herself up against him and moved her face closer to his.
‘I don’t know if I can trust you,’ Rex said. ‘I’ve only known you one day… which is virtually not at all. Even Vanessa doesn’t know you.’
‘She likes to share right? You know she’s happy about me being here too. She won’t be jealous, right?’
‘I guess not.’ If Nadia was telling the truth, Vanessa would most likely be back in the pool now fooling around with the rest of their friends. However, if Nadia was lying, then she may be standing at the cafe window wondering where he had disappeared to. She might even be coming to look for him. He peered up the bank wondering if she would appear.
‘Hey!’ Nadia, placed her hand on his cheek and turned his head so his eyes met hers. ‘Let’s just go for a walk along the beach. Just for a few minutes. It’s not that cold. In fact it’s quite warm. Then we’ll come back.’
Rex stared into her eyes. ‘I guess ten minutes won’t hurt.’
‘Of course it won’t.’ She took him by the hand. ‘Come on, before someone really does come looking for us.’
Nadia clutched his hand and they walked for five minutes along the rocky shore. It was more of an exercise of skipping from rock to rock rather than walking. They came to a sandy spot amongst some large rock. ‘This looks like a nice place to stop for a bit,’ she said.
Rex didn’t argue. It was very private and obscured the rest of the beach from vision. It couldn’t hurt to take advantage of that just for a few minutes.
‘Perfect,’ Nadia said. ‘No one will see us here. I doubt anyone will even come down here at all.’ She turned and smiled. ‘I’ve got something here.’ She reached down the front of her bikini top and pulled out a small, flat and square plastic package. ‘How about it, Sexy Rexy?’
Rex paused for a moment and his thoughts went back to Vanessa. The question of whether she had helped orchestrate this little ruse was still there in his mind. If it wasn’t for the fact that Vanessa had been behind similar schemes like this in the past, he would have distrusted Nadia right away.
‘Come on, Rex,’ Nadia said. ‘You don’t strike me as the type of guy to back away from a hot chick offering you one of these and herself to go along with it.’
‘Then I take it you’re going to accept my gift and the benefits that come with it?’ She smiled.
‘That’s what I wanted to hear.’
Back at the pool, Vanessa continued to stare out the window. She considered going down the road to look for them, but if Rex and Nadia were down there somewhere alone, it would make her look like the jealous suspicious girlfriend and she had made a promise to herself that she would never be that. If they were getting it on somewhere, then that was ok. Rex would be back in her arms again and she would be his number one, just like always.
Still, the thought of Nadia with Rex bothered her. It never bothered her when it was any other girl, but her half-sister was different.’
‘Hi, Vanessa,’ an annoyingly familiar voice came from behind her. Turning, she saw Tucker standing there with an ice cream in his hand and a broad smile on his face.
‘Oh, it’s you. Shouldn’t you be at work? Or at the very least be in the pool generating waves for everybody?’
‘No, I’m not starting until later on this afternoon.’
‘Oh,’ she said in a pleasant voice. ‘What a pity.’
‘Want a lick?’ Tucker offered her up his ice cream that looked as though it had already been smoothed over by his tongue.
‘Err… nuh uh. I’ll pass.’
‘Wanna go down the road to a better café than this?’
‘Well you see the problem with that idea is that there’s no wave pool there and the wave pool just happens to be the main reason that we’ve all come here today. For you that might not be the case, for you eating may indeed take priority, but I’m afraid that’s just not the case for me.’
‘Well we can stay here in this café then.’
‘Err no. I’m about to go back to the pool.’ It seemed like the best option to her. Rex and Nadia would return in good time, she was confident of that. He wouldn’t go off with her for the rest of the afternoon. She knew he wasn’t that thoughtless, although she couldn’t help but wonder just what persuasive powers Nadia might have.
‘I’ll come with you.’
‘No, Tucker. You need to stay right here. You see there are a lot of comestibles there at the counter and they really shouldn’t be left there for too long without being eaten, should they?’
‘You think so?’ Tucker asked, his eyes roaming the glass cabinet.
‘Yeah huh. In fact I’m quite confident that you realise this terrible reality and that you will make it your duty to spend the next three hours sitting here consuming those said comestibles.’
Tucker’s eyes widened. ‘You’re right!’
‘You think? You know it is an inescapable conclusion that I am right. That shall then be your mission Agent Tucker.’
Vanessa began to walk away.
‘Hey wait!’ Tucker said.
Vanessa sighed and turned to face him. ‘What?’
‘If… If I was a girl… would you go to the café with me?’
‘Hmmmmm,’ Vanessa mockingly put her hand to her chin and peered up as in thoughtful contemplation. ‘Well, Tucker, for one thing, if you were a girl, you would make a completely hideous looking one, which I would not find attractive at all. Secondly, if you were a girl, then that would just drive me straight. So, my answer would have to be a resounding, Nuh uh!’
‘Oh….’ Tucker turned his eyes down at the floor.
‘I’d prefer it if you just stayed the same annoying Tucker Pyles.’
Tucker’s head lifted up and so did his eyes. ‘You would?’
‘Well… in theory yes… but… Ah, I don’t know. See ya.’ She headed back to the pool.
‘Wow!’ Nadia said as she clipped back on her bikini top. ‘That was fantastic. Now I really know why Vanessa loves you so much.’
Rex had gotten so caught up in their activities that he’d lost track of the time. ‘It’s surely been about half an hour. We should get back. Ness will be getting worried.’
‘Oh, relax,’ Nadia said. ‘Let her wait a little longer.’ Nadia jumped suddenly and stared out over the rocks. ‘Hey! Who’s that! You come out from behind there.’
Rex peered over and his eyes widened when Jaspy stepped around from behind the rock.
‘Were you watching us?’ Nadia asked.
‘No… I just got here.’
‘You were watching us!’
‘No, honestly, I wasn’t!’
‘You little perv.’
Rex, annoyed by her intrusion could see guilt all over her face, but decided it best not to dwell on it. However, he certainly wasn’t going to just let her get away with tailing them. ‘Jaspy, what are you doing down here?’
‘I was looking for you guys. I saw you come down here.’
‘Oh right,’ Nadia said. ‘And from the time you saw us come down here it took you half an hour to find us?’
‘I didn’t know where you had gone.’
‘But you decided to follow us anyway, knowing that we probably wanted to be alone.’
‘I was worried.’
‘Yeah, whatever.’ Nadia climbed up and dusted sand from her body. Rex did the same. Nadia grabbed his hand, led him past Jaspy and back along the beach in the direction of the Aquatic Centre.
Jaspy ran up beside Rex. ‘Go for a walk with me now?’
Rex flinched on the inside. ‘No, Jaspy.’
Nadia stopped, turned and eyed Jaspy coldly. ‘What do you want?’ Her voice sounded quite caustic.
Jaspy paled. ‘I just wanted to hang out.’
‘Well beat it. Rex is with me.’
‘What about Vanessa?’
‘We’re going back to see her now.’
‘I’m coming too. I’ve got to get back to the pool.’
Nadia exchanged annoyed glances with Rex, but they had no choice but to let her tag along. Rex was kind of glad that Nadia had been the one to be gruff with her. It meant he didn’t have to. Jaspy started talking about school and about some of her teachers. Rex just tolerated her, barely acknowledging her at all. Nadia did the same.
Back at the pool, Rex had to explain to the front desk that they had only stepped out for a bit and that their gear was still inside. Fortunately the woman at the counter was around 19 years of age, so Rex was easily able to charm his way back in.
On reaching poolside, Vanessa came trotting up. ‘You guys have been gone for ages!’
‘Sorry,’ Rex said. ‘We kind of got distracted.’
Vanessa smiled. ‘Ooh la la. Obviously Nadia has discovered just how easy it is to do that to you. She’s definitely my sister, no doubts about that.’
Rex wanted to make up for the time he’d been away. ‘Come on Nessa, wanna hit the Steam Room?’
‘Haven’t you already got steamed up enough for one afternoon?’ She smiled cheekily.
‘Not with you I haven’t.’
‘Then let’s go get steamed up.’
‘I’ll come too,’ Nadia said.
Rex really wanted to dedicate some time to Vanessa, but after what had happened down at the beach, he couldn’t very well tell her no.
If Vanessa minded, she didn’t give anything away. ‘Let’s go then.’
‘Can I come?’ Jaspy stepped up.
‘Sorry Jaspy,’ Vanessa said. ‘Remember what I said last time? Four’s a crowd.’
‘I thought three was a crowd?’
‘Senior business,’ Nadia added. ‘Sorry.’
‘But we’re not at school.’
‘It’s gonna be R rated.’
The three of them arrived at the steam room, which was empty. Rex sat down and both girls moved in close on either side of them and their bodies pressed up against him.
‘Wow, it’s so hard to breathe in here,’ Nadia said.
Rex really wanted to question Vanessa about whether she was in on Nadia’s ruse earlier, but didn’t want to cause friction between the two sisters, not right there and then anyway. However, Vanessa brought the topic up herself. ‘Nice work Nadia, fooling us into thinking Rex’s car was about to be vandalised by Wild Dogs. You didn’t need to go to all the trouble though.’
Nadia’s face reddened. Her eyes met Rex’s and she cringed. ‘I know, I know, I lied to you and said Vanessa was ok with it.’
Rex sighed and shook his head. ‘I had my suspicions. I should have known that Vanessa would have said something herself.’
‘I figured it was the only way,’ Nadia said.
Vanessa turned her eyes to her half-sister. ‘Maybe as you get to know me better, Nadia you will know that you don’t need to do that sort of thing behind my back. Rex is always honest with me. I hope you can learn to be too.’ She turned her head away, but as she did, Rex noticed a look in her eye that he very rarely ever saw. Despite her cheerful and seemingly unaffected façade, a crack had appeared. She was pissed. In fact, it seemed to Rex that she was downright livid.
Tucker wallowed in the wave pool wondering how he could possibly get the attention of the goddess. She had disappeared somewhere, but where he had no idea. All that he knew was that Rex and Nadia were still missing. He hoped they would stay away.
He peered over at Maggie who swam around in the water with some guy he’d never seen before.
‘Huh,’ Tucker said aloud. ‘Given up on chasing Rex have you? Too much competition?’ Fortunately they were too far away to hear him.
A few minutes later the unknown guy swam over to Tucker. ‘Hey. You Tucker?’
‘Yeah,’ Tucker said, puffing his chest out. ‘That’s my name, don’t wear it out.’
‘Maggie says you go to the same school as her.’
‘I hear you don’t really like Rex Cassidy.’
‘He’s an ubbhead.’
Shawn snickered. ‘Whatever. But man, that Vanessa, she is just so darn hot. I mean what a total babe.’
‘She’s a goddess.’
‘Yeah… Yeah, that’s exactly what she is.’
‘She’s my girl.’
‘You heard. Well at least she will be mine before too much longer.’
‘Huh. Oh yeah? You got some fairy godmother hidden away in a bottle somewhere?’
‘No. But I’ve got a mastermind brain.’ He tapped his own skull a few times.
Shawn laughed. ‘Whatever you say, but, hey, it seems you and I have something in common. We both think Vanessa is the hottest babe in the entire universe, right?’
‘Exactly. And we both agree that Rex Cassidy is a right royal pain in the butt who’s just preventing Vanessa from seeing guys like us and how hot and studly we are right?’
Tucker’s eyes widened and he stared at Shawn, amazed that someone else saw things the way he did. ‘Yes! That’s right.’
‘See that’s the problem with guys like him. Rich guys like him with flash cars and money to splash around snap up all the hot chicks. All the girls can see is the dolleros, bro. Guys like you me don’t even get a look in.’
‘Are we gonna accept that, bro? Are we just gonna stand by and let that happen?’
‘Damn right we’re not. So it’s up to you and me to try to get this guy out of the picture. To make the babe see that he’s not worth it.’
‘Yeah. That’s what I’ve been trying to do, but it never seems to do any good.’
‘Maybe you just haven’t come up with a decent plan.’
‘But what can we do? He’s around her all the time.’
‘Well he wasn’t a short while ago. I got him away from Vanessa for a bit. Problem is she wouldn’t talk to me. Kept playing hard to get. I know she likes me, but she’s too obsessed with him.’
Tucker didn’t particularly like his claim, even though his comment about her obsession with Rex was 100 percent accurate. ‘How do you know she likes you?’
‘I know man. I can sense these things.’
Tucker very much doubted it, but decided it best to keep his thoughts to himself. If this guy could be a potential ally, he didn’t want to blow it with him.
‘Nadia’s gonna help us,’ Shawn said.
‘Vanessa’s half sister. Because she wants Rex. What we need to do is come up with a plan that makes Vanessa so angry at Rex that she refuses to have anything more to do with him.’
‘Well I think we’ve already achieved something already, but that’s only the beginning. What we want to do is continue to show Rex to be a lying, cheating jerk. I can’t do a lot because I don’t go to your school, but you, you could probably help out quite a bit.’
‘Anything, I can do, just call on me. They call me Mr Fixit when it comes to getting the job done.’
‘That’s what I like to hear. I’ll grab your phone number before we leave here, so we can talk some more about what Nadia and I have in mind…’
‘Hey look.’ Tucker pointed to the end of the building. Rex had just stepped out of the steam room, wiped steam and sweat from his brow and walked in the direction of the changing rooms.
‘The girls must be in there,’ Shawn said. ‘We should go in there.’
The two waded to the nearest ladder. It took a great deal of effort for Tucker to haul himself out. On reaching the door to the steam room, Shawn reached for the door handle but paused. He then turned to Tucker and put his finger to his mouth.
Tucker listened and could hear just hear Vanessa and Nadia talking.
‘You did use protection, right?’ Vanessa’s voice said.
‘Nessa. Come on. Get real. We had both been in the pool and we were both in our swimsuits. Where were we going to get a condom from?’
Shawn’s eyes widened, he stared at Tucker and a smile appeared on his face.
‘He promised he’d always use protection when having sex with anyone else, so that he and I wouldn’t need to.’
‘Sorry. What can I say Nessa? He was like an animal down there. Virtually dragged me into a private spot… of course I was willingly dragged.’ She laughed. ‘Pretty much tore my top off. He obviously wasn’t thinking about taking any precautions, I can tell you that much.’
‘Are you serious?’
‘Why don’t you ask him? I’m sure he’ll give you all the details, right?’
Vanessa didn’t reply.
‘Relax! I’m clean. I promise you I don’t have any diseases or anything like that. Last time I went to the doctor I was given a clean bill of health. And contrary to what you might think of me, I don’t sleep around. I’m very particular about who I get with.’
Vanessa sighed. ‘I’m sure you’re fine, but…’ She paused.
‘What? You’re upset because he went back on his word to you?’
Vanessa said nothing again.
‘He’s a guy, Nessa. Guy’s get carried away in the moment. Heck, I did too, but he’s just impossible to resist. I just couldn’t say no. I didn’t want to say no. You understand, right?’
‘Of course,’ Vanessa said after a few seconds. ‘No girl could say no. But if what you’re saying is true…’
Nadia sighed. ‘I know. It means that you can’t necessarily trust Rex with other girls. He’s made a promise to you and on this occasion he broke it. How can you know just how many other times he’s betrayed your trust in that way?’
This time silence remained. Shawn turned his head back to Tucker and smiled again. He then turned the handle of the door and entered. Tucker followed.
‘Hi girls,’ Shawn said. ‘Mind if we join you?’
‘Sure,’ Nadia said. ‘Take a seat.’
The intense heat and humidity hit Tucker right away and it was a struggle to breathe in there, but he was willing to endure any type of discomfort to get to hang out with the goddess and her extremely yummy sister.
‘Wow, you girls sure look hot, all sweaty and steamy,’ Shawn said.
‘Well yes,’ Vanessa said. ‘When one is sweaty and steamy it usually means one is hot.’
‘I didn’t mean it that way.’
The door to the steam room opened and Rex stepped inside. Vanessa suddenly leapt to her feet, reached him and grabbed his hand. ‘Come on, Dollbaby. I’ve had enough of this steam room. Let’s go back to the pool.’
‘Ok. Whatever you want.’
They both turned and exited the room.
Nadia scowled. ‘She’s very fast. Stealing him away like that.’
‘She should be pissed at him,’ Shawn said.
‘Maybe… I’ve learnt pretty quickly that what you see on the outside is not necessarily what’s going on underneath. For her to suddenly snatch him away like that shows me she’s bothered by everything. I think we’ve successfully planted seeds of distrust and doubt in her mind.’
Nadia peered at Tucker. ‘Are you sure we can trust him?’
‘He hates Rex.’
‘Because he’s an ubbhead,’ Tucker said.
‘An ubbhead! He’s brought me nothing but misery since I’ve known him.’
Nadia snorted. ‘If he doesn’t like you there must be a darn good reason… but it doesn’t matter. All I care about is removing Vanessa from the picture so that I can have him to myself.’
‘And I want Vanessa,’ Tucker said.
Nadia burst out laughing. ‘You have got to be kidding!’
Shawn smirked. ‘Well once we get Rex out of the picture, both Tucker and I can compete, but until then we’re working together on this, ok?’
Tucker nodded, feeling miffed at Nadia’s manner. However, she was just too cute to have a go at. ‘I’ve already got her chatting with me online. She even asked me here today.’
‘She asked you here?’ Shawn scoffed. ‘You are kidding, right?’
‘She really likes me.’
‘Give me a break!’
‘She does. I chatted with her a couple of nights ago, actually.’
‘Wait, I was with her almost the entire evening two nights ago,’ Nadia said. ‘She never chatted with you. She chatted with some chick called Cherry, but that’s all.’
Tucker decided it was safe to reveal the truth to these two. It would also show them that he had indeed accomplished what he’d claimed. ‘That was me.’
Nadia’s eyes widened. ‘You’re Cheeky Cherry?’
‘Yep.’ Tucker beamed. ‘I knew she wouldn’t chat with me if she thought it was me, so I pretended to be someone else. Someone she wouldn’t think was trying to trick her.’
Nadia smiled and laughter broke forth. ‘Wow, Tucker, I’m really impressed. Vanessa seems to think you’re the real thing.’
Nadia turned her eyes to Shawn. ‘We could use this.’
She turned back to Tucker. ‘Tucker, you managed to get a photograph of Rex with some girl… what was her name?’
‘Was that for real?’
‘Yes. I snapped them both together, but it was in Te Arawa though, not here in New Plymouth.’
‘She thinks Rex really was in New Plymouth. Rex pretty much said he didn’t go there that night and Vanessa didn’t push the issue. It means Rex has not told her about that rendezvous with Chelsea and according to her, he tells her everything. It works in our favour because once again seeds of doubt and distrust have been planted. All we need to do is build on it.’
Shawn nodded. ‘But how do you know she hasn’t talked to Rex about all that?’
‘I’ve been around all the time. Never given them a moment alone.’
‘But they may be talking right now.’
‘No, the others will be around.’
‘And what about after this? Are you going to be around them tonight?’
‘No, I have to go back home. Vanessa’s staying at Rex’s overnight.’
‘Well then she’ll find out everything then, won’t she?’
‘I don’t think so.’ Nadia smirked. ‘She won’t question him.’
‘What makes you so sure?’
‘Because she doesn’t want him to think she doesn’t trust him. She has this idea in her head that Rex will tell her when the time is right for him, but because she now has these seeds of doubt, if I know girls like her, she’s gonna stew on it and hope that Rex proves himself to her in some way.’
Shawn grinned. ‘So we need to make sure that she only has more doubt and distrust, somehow.’
‘Yes. And I think I know how we can do that. For one thing, tomorrow, I am going to meet Cheeky Cherry for the first time.’
Vanessa tried to push her worried thoughts aside as she and Rex rinsed themselves down under the shower before returning to the pool. She wanted to question Rex and find out for sure that things had happened as Nadia said. She could pretend to be eager to hear all the details like she normally did. However this time it would only be an act and she knew that Rex would pick up on it straight away. He’d want to know what was wrong and then she’d have to tell him what Nadia had said. Sure, Nadia might have been lying, but what if she wasn’t?
Then she thought about the photographs Cheeky Cherry had sent her of Rex being with Chelsea in New Plymouth. It seemed that he was trying to keep a secret from her there because he’d said he hadn’t been to New Plymouth in over a week. She kept telling herself that there was a good reason for the secret. Perhaps Chelsea had even told him not to tell anyone. Chelsea was going through a tough time at the moment, still distraught over the breakup of Mav and Holly. Rex could have been trying to help her overcome the grief. He’d tell Vanessa when the time was right.
Still… somehow her confidence began to wane.
Rex took her in his arms in the water. ‘Drokk, you look so hot in that bikini. Someone like you around here is dangerous. People are libel to become distracted and find themselves drowning in the deep water.’
Vanessa pushed her troubled thoughts to the back of her mind. Moments alone with Rex had become far and few between that day. Sure she’d have him to herself later, but she wasn’t about to let this moment pass by. ‘I’m more worried about all the girls seeing your magnificent sweaty body gleaming from the steam room and swooning. Ooh la la.’
‘Well that’s fine, I’ll be happy to help with the mouth to mouth resuscitation.’
‘Knowing you, you probably would!’ Vanessa laughed and immediately felt better.
From there she chose to forget about all the things Nadia had said and enjoy herself. For the next hour she frolicked around with Rex and some of her friends. Then it was time to go.
An hour later she was at Rex’s place. At last she would have him to herself without any interruptions. No Tucker Pyles or Shawn Harrisons to annoy her. No other girls like Nadia wanting a piece of Rex’s time. Just her and him.
On his bed, when it went beyond just making out, she blocked thoughts of him being with Nadia completely from her mind.
The phone rang. It had been almost an hour and the two of them lay together on Rex’s bed cuddling, Vanessa’s head nestled into his chest. She could just lie there for hours like that with him, just having him there with her.
She groaned. ‘I thought I’d switched that off.’ She rolled over and picked up the phone. It was Nadia. She really wasn’t in the mood to talk to her and she actually considered that her half sister was simply ringing just to interrupt her time alone with Rex. She answered it anyway. ‘Hi.’
‘Vanessa. You’re never going to believe this!’
‘Cheeky Cheery. She was at the pools. She turned up about twenty minutes after you left.’
‘No joke. I recognised her immediately from her FaceLink profile. I went up to her and said, “Hi”. Told her I was your sister and that I’d seen you two IMing. She told me she had decided to come to see you and was disappointed that she missed you. Boy, Vanessa, she is even hotter in person than in her photographs. You would have loved her.’
Vanessa was actually delighted to hear the news and her bitterness towards her half-sister took a back seat. ‘It’s great she showed up. Is she really as retarded as she seems like on IM?’
‘Oh no, she seemed kind of normal actually. I guess she just never did that well at school. All beauty, no brains. She told me she would have come earlier, but was too scared to meet you.’
‘Well she shouldn’t have been. I am so glad she’s turned out to be the real thing and not some fat ugly messed-up jerk pretending to be a teenage girl.’
‘Oh, she’s the real thing alright,’ Nadia said. ‘She’s gonna E Mail you again. Hey, is Rex there with you?’
‘Can I talk to him?’
‘Sorry. I’m going to be selfish tonight.’
‘I don’t blame you. I would be.’
‘Well I’ve gotta go,’ Vanessa said. ‘My dollbaby needs me.’
Vanessa disconnected then switched off the phone and couldn’t help but feel a little smug at her refusal to let Nadia talk to Rex. ‘There. No more interruptions tonight.’
Vanessa spent all of Sunday morning with Rex and not once did she bring up the topic of Nadia or Chelsea. She just wanted to focus completely on him and not worry about those other things. After lunch though, she had to let him go, because he’d promised to go Eeling with Pete that afternoon.
She intended on going over to see Holly, but stopped off at home first to drop off her gear.
‘Hi Nessie,’ her mother greeted her. ‘Did you have a great night?’
‘Yeah huh. I was with Rex.’
‘Silly question, huh?’ Her mother dried a glass with a tea towel. ‘Of course it’s going to be a great night if you were with him. How did it go at the pools?’
‘Oh, fine,’ she replied, not wanting to be reminded of certain aspects of that afternoon.
‘How are you and your new sister getting along?’
‘Well, most of the time she’s great. But the rest of the time…’
Her mother put her tea towel down and faced her. ‘What’s wrong?’
‘Oh, I don’t know…’ Vanessa sighed. ‘It’s just that I don’t know if I trust her.’
‘She’s trying to move in on Rex.’
‘Oh…’ Her mother stepped up and placed her hand on her shoulder. ‘Why don’t you just tell her to back off?’
‘I can’t do that, Mum. I vowed I would never be possessive of Rex like that.’
‘It seems that maybe Nadia is taking advantage of your non-possessive nature.’
‘I think she is.’
‘I think I should have a word with her.’
‘Nuh uh, Mum, don’t. She’ll think I can’t fight my own battles.’
‘It’s not right what’s she’s doing. You just don’t do that sort of thing to your sister. I may not be her mother, but I’ll damn well put the hard word on her, you can be sure of that.’
‘Mum, don’t ok? I can handle her. And I trust Rex.’
Her mother sighed. ‘I know Rex is a wonderful guy and he really loves you and he treats you like a princess, I can see that. He also seems to me to be very dedicated to you, but he is a teenage boy and if you are going to allow him to run riot in the candy store, one day he may just find a sweet that he likes the taste of better than the type you give him.’
‘Nuh uh, Mum, that will never happen.’
‘How can you be so sure?’
‘Because I’m sure about us. I just know it.’
‘Like I knew it when it came to your father?’
‘Rex is nothing like Dad!’
‘He’s a guy, Nessa. They’re always on the lookout for the next best thing.’
‘Nuh uh. Not Rex. He’s not looking.’
‘Maybe not, but what if that something finds him?’
‘I’m telling you, it’ll never happen.’
‘There you go again in your little fantasy world thinking that Rex is righteous and can do no wrong, thinking that you are going to have him forever. Life’s not like that.’
‘It is for me.’ Vanessa said it firmly, but for the first time her faith wavered just that little bit. Her thoughts of Nadia and of Chelsea kept niggling at her, chipping away that solid foundation she was certain she had.
Her mother sighed. ‘I worry about you so much, Nessie. I shudder to think what will happen when the day comes when he shatters your little world apart and totally crushes your heart.’
‘He won’t!’ But she knew her voice lacked the assurance she had so often projected. ‘He’d never do that.’
Her mother reached for her tea towel and shook her head. ‘I guess we all have to learn the hard way…’
Vanessa arrived at Holly’s place and realised that she still had her cell phone switched off. She found there was one message. From Maggie.
‘Hi, Nessa. It’s me, Maggie. I just wanted to make sure we were still on for Squash this afternoon. Your cell phone’s been switched off all morning. Give me a ring.’
Vanessa flinched. ‘Oh, no, I forgot all about it.’ She felt like kicking herself.
She quick dialled Maggie’s number. It was answered immediately. ‘Hi, Vanessa.’
‘We were supposed to go half an hour ago. Where are you?’
‘I am so sorry, Maggs. I forgot all about it.’
‘Well it’s not too late. We can meet there in half an hour.’
‘I’m so sorry, I can’t. I’m at Holly’s place. I promised I’d help her with her Chemistry assignment. It’s due in on Wednesday.’
‘But you promised you’d play Squash with me.’
‘I know. I’m such an idiot double booking myself like this. Hey, we can meet tonight instead.’
‘I can’t, Shawn’s coming over for dinner. I was so looking forward to hanging out with you.’
‘I was looking forward to hanging out with you too.’
Maggie made no reply.
‘You’d rather do a Chemistry assignment with Holly?’
‘I’m not into chemistry assignments, no, but Holly really needed my help.’
Vanessa could hear the hurt in her voice and even a bit of anger. ‘I’m really, really sorry and I’ll make it up to you, I promise.’
‘I’ll see you tomorrow at school.’
‘Bye.’ Vanessa hung up. She closed her eyes for a few seconds, sighed and then knocked on Holly’s door.
Maggie lay on her bed staring at the wall. She felt abandoned. Vanessa had completely ignored her the whole time at the pools. Well she hadn’t exactly ignored her, but she had been too busy with others to hang out with her. Vanessa had managed to spend about ten minutes chatting with Holly though. She’d found time for her. Now she was at her place helping her out with a stupid assignment when she should have been at the Squash courts with Maggie.
‘I needed you today,’ she said as she stared out the window. She thought back to the last afternoon she had spent with Vanessa. Perhaps something about that had put Nessa off. Maybe it had been a big mistake. But no, she couldn’t see it like that. In fact she longed for it to happen again and had hoped it might happen that afternoon.
She thought about Holly and Vanessa together at Holly’s place. It irked her and then she realised what it was she was feeling. Jealousy.
‘It’s silly,’ she told herself. ‘It’s not like that with them. Holly’s straight.’
However, it still bothered her.
‘Why does it bother me so much? I love Shawn. He’s my guy.’
Although, he hadn’t acted like it the previous afternoon. All he seemed to want to do was hang out with her friends and talk to them.
‘I just really like your friends,’ he had said the previous day. ‘If they’re your friends, I should get to know them, right?’
She had agreed. Nevertheless, it would have been nice if he had paid her a little more attention. At least she’d get his undivided attention tonight. There would be no one else around to distract him.
Her cell phone rang and it was an unknown number. ‘Maggs here.’
‘Ah, Hi Maggs. How you doing?’ She didn’t recognise the voice, but there was something familiar about it.
‘It’s me, Dwayne. From school.’
Maggie started. ‘How the heck did you get my phone number?’
‘I saw it written down on one of your friend’s stuff.’
‘What do you want?’
‘I just wanted to chat.’
‘Well I don’t want to chat with you.’
‘Ah, come on. Don’t be like that. I’m a nice guy once you get to know me.’
‘But you’re not a nice guy. You’re a creep.’
‘Hey, hey, no need to start getting nasty.’
‘Well you won’t get the message. I’m not interested in you. I have a boyfriend.’
‘Oh right. Yeah, I heard about that guy.’
‘Ran into old loudmouth Pete Cook this morning. He was telling me all about how that guy was trying to make the moves on Vanessa the whole time he was there.’
‘He was not!’
‘Said he was too busy chasing after her to spend any time with you.’
Maggie felt like letting the creep have it right there and then, but then the horrible thought came across her mind. What if it was true? What if Shawn really had been interested in Vanessa? One thing was for sure, he’d spent a lot of time talking to her.
She decided to deny it anyway. ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about!’
‘I’m just repeating what Pete Cook told me. Maybe Cook was feeding me a load of bull, huh? But I doubt it, knowing how guys go gaga over Vanessa.’ He laughed.
Maggie realised Dwayne had made a very valid point. Shawn was a red-blooded male. It would be unnatural if he hadn’t noticed just how awesome Vanessa was. Nevertheless, Maggie felt confident he was dedicated to her. ‘Shawn’s loyal to me. So you can forget about it.’
‘Yeah, whatever, babe. You keep telling yourself that, but just remember that old Dwayne is here in the bleachers waiting to be a shoulder to cry on when you need it.’
‘You’ll be the last shoulder I’d ever cry on!’
‘Ah, don’t be like that. I’m just trying to be nice.’
‘Well I don’t want you being nice to me, so you can just get lost. And don’t ring me again!’ Maggie switched off her cell phone and threw it onto her bed. ‘Creep!’
Despite trying to reassure herself, she still couldn’t help but feel disturbed by the things Dwayne had said.
Shawn arrived as scheduled, shortly before dinner and seemed to be in a cheerful mood. Afterwards, they went for a walk. Maggie didn’t mention anything about the trip to the aquatic centre and neither did he. For a while it was just like it always was for the two of them and Maggie was happy.
An hour later they arrived back at the house and it was then that Shawn made an unusual request. ‘Hey, do you mind if we hop online?’
‘There’s something I want you to see.’
‘Ok.’ Curiosity took a firm grip on her. Up in her room, Shawn took control of the computer and logged into FaceLink. ‘You know, when I first met Rex yesterday, I was sure I’d seen him before.’
‘Yeah, well he’s a top sportsman. Plays rugby and is fantastic at athletics and swimming. He tends to get noticed, especially at interschool events.’
‘That’s why I figured at first, but then it occurred to me that I’d seen him on FaceLink.’
‘Pictures of him in one of my classmate’s profiles. She writes blogs and she mentions him all the time.’
‘Oh, he knows lots of girls who don’t go to our school.’ So far Maggie couldn’t see anything startling in his revelations. Still, she couldn’t help but wonder who the girl was.
He brought up the profile of a girl whose handle was Carolisa. Maggie had never seen the girl before, but she was very pretty. Shawn clicked on one of her albums entitled “friends”. There were a few of Rex in there. Underneath one of him standing on the beach dressed only in togs, it said, “My sexy darling”. Another one of him said, “The man I am going to marry one day”. Other similar tags came with the other photographs as well, but Rex’s name was never used.
‘Ooookay,’ Maggie said.
‘Yeah, no big deal, right?’ Shawn grinned. ‘Probably just some chick who’s obsessed with him and wishes he was her boyfriend.’
‘Yes. There are a lot of girls like that.’
‘But wait until you read her blog. Check out this one here…’
He clicked on one entitled, “My Secret Lover”.
No one can ever know about my secret love. We see each other sometimes, but not as often as I wish we could. You see he has a girlfriend already. Her name is Vanessa. They are very much in love, but he says he loves me too and can’t live without me. He cannot tell her about me, because she would never understand. So he comes to see me whenever he can and when we see each other we make beautiful love together. She must never know. Nobody must ever know. It must continue to remain a secret. I will keep his secret, because I love him. As long as I can continue to see him. His name is Rex. But no one must ever know who he is.
Maggie stared at the screen for almost twenty seconds before finally finding something to say. ‘Well… it’s not really a secret anymore then, is it?’
Shawn snickered. ‘What? Is that all you can say. This girl is obviously seeing Rex behind Vanessa’s back. She obviously has no idea.’
‘Rex wouldn’t do that. He’d tell her.’
‘Well why don’t you ring her then? Find out whether she does know.’
‘She won’t be home. She’ll be at Holly’s place most likely.’
‘Call her on the cell phone.’
She spoke with bitterness in her voice. ‘No. She’ll probably be too busy to talk to me.’
‘Well next time you speak to her ask her if she knows.’
‘But for hell’s sake, don’t tell her I showed you this. I don’t want my friend finding out that I dobbed her in.’
‘I won’t say anything. I’ll just say I found it myself.’
‘Yeah. Good idea. Tell her you were checking out friends of friends or something.’
‘So what’s the matter with you and Vanessa then? You sound pissed at her.’
‘Oh, it’s nothing.’
‘Come on, you can tell me, I’m your boyfriend.’
It was pretty much impossible to explain why she was upset without letting him know the truth about her relationship with Vanessa. There was no way she was going to let him in on that dirty little secret.
‘Hey, she might be online now. Can you access her profile?’
‘Then let’s see.’
‘OK.’ Maggie logged in and brought up Vanessa’s profile.
‘She has a lot of photo galleries. Hey, what’s that one… restricted?’
‘Yes, only her close friends can get access.’
‘Then let’s see.’
‘No, it’s private.’
‘Ah come on, she doesn’t have to know.’
‘Why do you have to see it for?’
‘Just out of curiosity.’
Maggie paused and studied the expression on his face. Why was he so keen? The horrible thought occurred to her that maybe Dwayne had been telling the truth all along. ‘No! They’re sexy shots and you shouldn’t be looking at them. I’m your girlfriend.’
Shawn sighed. ‘Yeah, ok. Man, what’s with all the sexy graphics all over her home page? Scantily clad chicks…’ His voice trailed off.
Maggie opened her mouth to tell him she was gay, but then quickly clamped it shut. She didn’t want him to know that fact. She clicked back to her own home page.
‘Hey wait. Go back.’
‘She’s not online.’
‘I don’t care. Go back.’
‘What was that she said on her profile statement?’
‘No, I said go back! I want to read it.’
He pushed Maggie’s hands aside, gripped hold of the mouse and clicked “return”. Maggie sighed and gave up trying to fight him.
When Shawn read her statement, his eyes widened. ‘This is a joke, right?’
Maggie said nothing.
‘Yes, I am gay… I don’t swing that way… She’s joking, right? She just says she’s gay on here so guys won’t keep bothering her.’
‘Of course!’ Maggie’s eyes lit up, seeing a way out of a potentially awkward topic. ‘It’s just a joke.’
Shawn eyed her suspiciously then turned his head back to Vanessa’s profile. He quickly clicked on the restricted gallery. Before Maggie had even realised what he had done, thumbnails came up showing Vanessa posing in a swimsuit and some other sexy and revealing outfits. There were also a couple of shots of her embracing and open mouth kissing an unknown girl.
‘Shawn!’ she snapped. ‘Close that now!’
‘Oh my God. She is gay, isn’t she? Look at her and that chick.’
Maggie grabbed the mouse and clicked return so that he could no longer see the pictures. For a moment she had been terrified that the pictures of Vanessa kissing her on the bonnet of the Lamborghini might be there, but thankfully they weren’t.
Shawn leaned back in his chair and stared at Maggie. ‘Why didn’t you tell me she was gay?’
‘Does it matter?’
‘You should have told me.’
‘Why? What difference does it make? Why would you even care…? Unless… unless you’re into her.’
‘What?’ Shawn shrunk back. ‘No way, it’s not that at all, but… Hell, I don’t get it. If she’s gay, why is she in love with him?’
‘You read her statement didn’t you? He’s special.’
Shawn turned back to face the monitor. ‘That’s screwed up man, really screwed up, but I guess she’s more bi-sexual than lesbian if she’s into a guy.’
Shawn snickered, but then his brow furrowed. ‘Wait a minute… She was alone with you in your bedroom the other night.’
Maggie froze for a moment. ‘She was on the computer.’
‘Yeah, but she was alone with you in your bedroom and then you didn’t want me to go into the room and your underwear was lying on the floor…’ He turned to her and horror appeared in his face. ‘You two were doing it, weren’t you?’
‘No!’ Maggie gasped, desperate to remove any suspicions he had. ‘We’re just good friends. It’s not like that. We don’t do that sort of stuff.’
‘You two were doing kinky shit.’
‘No! Look, just because she’s gay and I’m her friend doesn’t mean I’m gay too!’
‘Seems strange to me.’
‘What, that I should have a friend over in my room. Don’t you have guys in your room some time? Does that make you gay?’
‘Don’t be stupid!’
‘It doesn’t make me gay either. You should know I’m straight.’
‘How do I know? Sometimes you do act a little bit gay.’
‘I do not!’ Maggie stared, mortified.
‘I just took it as being girly, but now I’m not so sure. You kiss other girls all the time.’
‘Not in that way! Come on, Shawn, don’t be a prick. I’m telling you the truth. Vanessa is just my friend, that’s all.’
Shawn snorted and stared at the monitor again. ‘Ok,’ he finally said. ‘But now you’ve got me worried.’
‘Hanging out with her. She might try to trick you into doing stuff.’
‘She’s not like that. She knows I’m straight and she’s not into me like that. She’s just a…’
‘Yeah, yeah, a friend, I got it.’ A gleam appeared in his eyes. ‘So ah… does she fancy this Holly chick?’
Maggie hated to even think about that, but Vanessa had made no secret of the fact she thought Holly was hot. ‘I don’t know… maybe.’
‘What?’ Maggie expected him to act disgusted because he had always put down gays before, whether they were female or male.
‘It’s kind of hot.’
‘You’re kidding, right? One moment you’re accusing me of being gay and talking like it’s all some disgusting perverted thing and then you’re saying it’s cool?’
Shawn shrugged. ‘It’s different. You’re my girl. If you were even bi-sexual it would be an insult to me. It would make me look bad.’ He burst out laughing. ‘Hell, that Rex Cassidy must be one hell of a lousy lover if she needs this Holly chick to satisfy her as well.’
‘What? How would you know?’
‘Because…’ She froze for a second, thinking about the odd time she and Rex had been together before Shawn and her had become an official couple. ‘Vanessa says so!’
‘Yeah, whatever.’ He continued to laugh. ‘But if he was anything special, she wouldn’t even look at other girls.’
Maggie decided not to argue. She didn’t want to have to discuss the topic anymore. She just hoped like hell that he would never find out about things between her and Vanessa.
‘Rex. So glad you could stop by.’ Ms Grainger stood at the doorstep of her house wearing a very short skirt and a light low cut top.
‘I’ve never had a teacher give me her phone number before, but yours was one I couldn’t resist.’
‘Great. Come on in.’
Her house was quite homely and it even had some religious artefacts around the main lounge. One thing Rex noticed was a little strange was the absence of photographs.
‘Come and sit down,’ she invited him.
She took his hand and led him to the couch. They both sat down and she moved in close to him. ‘This is the first time I’ve ever done anything like this too, but there is just something about you. I had to try my luck. Of course you do realise that this is not going to lead anywhere, right?’
‘And no one can know.’
‘Someone already does.’
She shrunk back a little. ‘Who? You didn’t report me, did you?’
Rex laughed. ‘No. Of course not. I wouldn’t do that.’
‘Then who did you tell? Your friends? I wouldn’t want rumours going around.’
‘I told one person who I trust completely. My girlfriend, Vanessa. She knows I was coming here tonight.’
‘You told your girlfriend? I can hardly believe that. Which one was she? I take it she was one of the girls I pulled you away from in class last week. Was it the extremely beautiful one or the absolutely stunning one?’
‘The absolutely stunning one.’
‘I should have guessed. And you’re telling me she’s fine with this?’
‘As right as rain,’ Rex said. ‘Just as long as I don’t keep anything secret from her.’
‘Wow. You must have a strange relationship.’
‘Well it’s certainly not normal.’
‘That’s good.’ She smiled. ‘Normal’s boring anyway. I believe in unusual relationships myself.’
‘So ah…’ Rex said. ‘You live here alone?’
She smiled. ‘No need for talk. We should get straight down to business. Want to come and join me in the hot tub?’
‘Sounds good to me.’
At first Rex was a little uneasy, thinking that perhaps she was up to something, but he soon found that was not the case. She was genuine in her desire for him and Rex enjoyed himself so much he was shocked when he discovered that two hours had flown by. He lay with her on her bed. She ran her finger up and down his chest.
‘You are definitely something special. Here was me thinking I would take the teacher role and you the student, but it seems the roles were reversed. You definitely know what you’re doing.’
For the first time Rex was able to take a good look around the room. It was spotlessly clean, but there were a lot of drawers for just one woman. Even in other parts of the house there were signs that she did not live alone. Nevertheless he was willing to go with her wishes and not ask questions.
‘I’d like you to come back again from time to time.’
‘I’m sure I can manage that.’
She smiled. ‘Awesome.’
‘It’s great to have such a hot teacher as you Ms Grainger.’
‘Please… call me Katy.’
‘But not at school.’
‘Of course not.’
‘I…’ Suddenly she sat bolt upright. ‘Oh my God, he’s back already!’
Rex heard a door open in another part of the house and immediately realised the situation they were in. ‘It’s your husband isn’t it? Or your boyfriend.’
‘My husband. Oh God.’ She pulled the blankets over them. ‘Get down.’
Rex didn’t see how hiding under the blankets could do any good at all, but he heard footsteps coming up the hallway. There was no place else to hide, so he covered himself over and lay as flat as he could. She leaned partially over him. He heard the door open and somebody entered.
A familiar voice spoke. ‘Katy, why have you taken down our photographs… Good lord! Someone’s under the covers with you!’
Rex flinched and braced himself for what was to come.
‘Katy…’ the man’s voice whined. ‘Why? You promised me…’
‘I’m sorry, Ed. But I needed this.’
‘What? I thought we were fine. I thought you were happy.’
‘I am, Ed, it’s just that I need a little something extra from time to time, you know?’
‘Who is he?’
‘Do you really need to know? Can’t you just leave the room for a minute, I’ll get him out of here and then you won’t have to see him.’
‘Not see him? I want to know who he is right now! Right now Katy!’
Katy sighed. ‘It’s ok, Rex. He won’t hurt you.’
Rex pushed the blankets down off his head and when he saw who it was standing in the room, red faced and wide-eyed, his jaw dropped. It was Reverend Flanders, his middle-aged biology teacher.
‘Oh. Hi, Mr Sanders,’ Rex said, trying to sound as casual as possible, which was difficult, especially considering that his first name was Ed. If it wasn’t for the precariousness of the situation, Rex probably would have laughed. ‘I had no idea she was married.’
‘He’s one of our students!’ Sanders gasped. ‘Katy! I can’t believe this! Do you realise how much trouble you could get into? You could lose your job. I might even lose mine!’
‘Ed, you’re over reacting, you’re not going to lose your job.’
‘And him too! Why him?’
‘Because he’s young… athletic… and…’
‘How can you do this to me? I know I’m so much older than you and I’m not good looking and I’m not athletic, but I thought I could trust you. And you…’ He pointed an accusing finger at Rex. ‘You have a girlfriend!’
‘I know, Mr Sanders. I have a lot of them. You’re not telling me anything I’m unaware of. Look, I’m sorry. If I had known, I would never have come.’
‘You shouldn’t have, anyway! She’s a teacher!’ His face reddened still more and his body quivered. ‘I want you out of here!’ He pointed at Rex again. ‘Go!’
‘Ah… mind if you step out the door for a minute?’
‘What, so you can mess around with my wife some more?’
‘No, so I can get my clothes on.’
Sanders eyes narrowed, but he left the room. Both Rex and Katy quickly got dressed.
‘I’m sorry,’ Katy whispered. ‘I really am.’
‘It’s ok. Are you going to be alright? Is he violent?’
‘No. I’ll be fine. Don’t worry.’
‘Hurry up!’ came Sander’s voice.
Rex opened the door where he came face to face with his irate biology teacher. Sanders blocked his path, a glare on his face. Rex refused to be intimidated and met him eye to eye, keeping a straight face.
Sanders backed down first. Rex knew he would, as he knew that deep down Sanders was terrified of him, especially after the incident involving Vanessa. The biology teacher pulled to the side to let him pass, the glare gone from his face. Rex stepped by him and turned to face him one last time. ‘Honestly. I had no idea.’
Once outside, he breathed a sigh of relief. It would have been nice just to walk away and forget the entire incident had ever taken place, but Rex knew that he hadn’t heard the last of it. Sanders seemed like the type of guy that held a grudge and on this occasion it was Rex in the wrong, not him.
Rex pulled his cell phone from his jacket and speed dialled Vanessa’s number. He continued to walk.
‘Dollbaby!’ Vanessa’s welcome voice radiated from the microphone. ‘How did it go? Did you enjoy getting hot for the teacher?’
‘It was…. an education.’
‘Don’t tell me she had you doing school work.’ Vanessa laughed. ‘Was it some new kind of detention where the student goes to the teacher’s home on Sunday night for their punishment?’
‘If it was, I might make it a policy to actually turn up to detentions.’
‘So what happened? You have to tell me everything. Don’t leave out any detail.’
‘I’ll give you the most shocking details if you like.’
‘Ooh la la, I like the sounds of that.’
‘She’s a married woman.’
‘Oh, oh. There was always that danger.’
‘You’ll never believe who she’s married too.’
‘Come on, Dollbaby, spit it out!’
Vanessa gasped. ‘No way!’
‘I don’t believe it. There’s no way a teacher that young and hot is married to a stuffy middle-aged religious bigot like Flanders.’
‘That’s why she reckoned she needed someone like me. But hey, that’s not the only shocking detail. Flanders arrived home early.’
‘Oh my God. Please tell me you got out unseen.’
‘Nope. We were busted.’
‘Nothing holy about it. I think he was more freaked out than either me or Ms Grainger was. Katy, that’s her first name, took it very calmly, like it was something that old Flanders just had to live with.’
‘Oh man… Flanders is gonna be so pissed. He’s not gonna just let that go.’
Rex turned to walk down his street, his house only 400 metres further down the road. ‘I know, but he’s gonna have to be careful. I don’t think he wants his Mrs to lose her job.’
‘But after this, he may dump her anyway. He may not care.’
‘Nah. I don’t think Flanders is that stupid. A guy like him is not gonna find anyone of her quality that easy. I get the impression he may even be used to her infidelities.’
‘You took precautions, right?’
‘Of course. I always do.’
Vanessa didn’t reply right away, but then finally spoke. ‘I trust you.’
‘I would never abuse that trust.’
She was silent again.
‘You ok?’ Rex asked.
‘Sure. I was just wondering…’
‘Ah, nothing. It’s ok.’
Rex was about to probe some more when movement ahead caught his eye. Two burly figures advanced in his direction. As they drew closer Rex could make them out from the light of the streetlamp that they wore gang jackets.
‘Coming up towards me. Stay quiet. I’ll leave the phone connected just in case.’ He slipped the phone into his pocket and turned to look for a clear way around them. He wasn’t in the mood for having to deal with gang members.
It was then that he noticed movement from behind. He considered running across the street, but yet another gang member emerged from the gloom. Rex spun around to meet his rear attacker and noticed a glint of something metallic.
He grabbed his attacker’s arm just in time and wrenched it around causing the gang member to cry out and release his weapon. The other gang members picked up their pace to a run. Rex twisted his attacker’s arm around and thrust him down onto the footpath. He pinned him down with his knee while grabbing the knife and holding it to the back of his head.
‘Hold it!’ Rex shouted at the other three gang members as they reached the spot and pulled to a halt in front of him. ‘Don’t even think about it if you don’t want your douchebag pal here to lose an ear.’
Rex recognised one of the Wild Dogs. He’d seen him briefly before, probably when they gate crashed his birthday party a few months earlier. He spoke, ‘We want you to come with us.’
‘Well you can go to Hell.’
‘Hone wants to talk to you.’
Hone was the leader of the Wild Dogs; the man Rex had defeated in a fight when they gate crashed the party. Rex had no desire to see the man again. ‘Well I don’t want to talk to him.’
‘You better come,’ said the Dog. ‘Hone doesn’t like it when people don’t obey his orders.’
‘I’m not in his gang!’
‘He just wants to talk.’
‘What, so he sends his heavies, with weapons to beat me up and carry me over there?’
‘We weren’t going to beat you up. We just wanted to take you over there to see him.’
‘He wants to talk.’
‘Yeah, you told me that, asswipe, but I want to know why.’
‘It was just his orders.’
‘Well that’s great isn’t it? I’m expected just to hand myself over to you eejits, put myself at your mercy, let you take me to a gang hideout and then trust that I’m gonna walk out of there unharmed?’
The leader shrugged. ‘Just following orders.’
‘Well how about you take an order from me? Go back to your leader and tell him if he wants to talk to me to come and see me himself. You got that?’
The gangster’s eyes narrowed, but then he nodded. ‘Alright. I’ll tell him. But he’s gonna be pissed with you. And you don’t want that.’
‘Then let him be pissed. I don’t give a shit.’ Rex released his assailants arm, but pushed his knee deeper into his kidneys causing him to cry out. ‘Don’t move.’
With the knife still held at the Dog’s ear, he reached for his cell phone with his free hand.
‘Rex, are you alright? Shall I call the cops?’
‘It’s ok.’ Rex looked up at the Dogs. ‘I’m gonna let your pal go in a second, but not until you eejits are long gone and I’m gonna have the person on the end of this line call the cops if anything happens to me. You got that?’
‘Yeah, I got it,’ the leader said.
‘Then piss off.’
The leader turned and walked. So did his two buddies. Once they had reached the far end of the street, Rex released his hold on the final gang member and climbed up. The final Dog clambered to his feet and hurried in the direction of his pals.
Rex sighed and spoke into his phone. ‘It’s ok Nessie. They’re gone. I’m almost home. It’ll be ok now.’
‘Rex, I’m worried about you. They’ll be back. You need to call the police.’
‘I will. Don’t worry. I’ll deal with these guys.’
Tucker itched to get on the work computer. Rita had been around all evening and there was no way he could risk getting online while she was in the building. He desperately wanted to chat with the goddess and continue the good work he had already done.
Nadia had been great, telling Vanessa she had met with him, Cheeky Cherry, at the pools. He so much wanted to take advantage of that, having Vanessa believe he was the real thing. He also wanted to check out Nadia’s new FaceLink profile, the one she had made up especially to fool Vanessa – Carolisa. Tucker though it pure genius, creating a secret girlfriend for Rex who saw him behind Vanessa’s back.
Tucker had been given tasks of his own to do. He had to continue to plant doubt in the mind of Vanessa over whether Rex could be trusted. He also had a note that Nadia had typed up that he was to leave lying around at school where Vanessa would find it. He pulled it out of his pocket, just having to read it again.
I am finding it very hard to keep our relationship a secret from Vanessa. I have to make up a lot of excuses to get time to myself to come and see you. At least now with the Lamborghini, it will be a lot easier. Vanessa thinks that I’m seeing others of my friends, when really I’m seeing you. Most of my friends even go along with it by talking about stuff that never happened, just to make her believe I was with them.
Still, I don’t know how much longer I can keep up this charade. It was great to spend time with you the other night, but I had to make up another story to Vanessa about where I was. I think I need to tell her the truth. Tell her that my feelings for you are stronger than my feelings for her, but I don’t know if I can hurt her like that. I don’t think she’d be able to handle the rejection. So I guess we have to keep going like this for now. I think the best I can do is to gradually try to lose her trust by not being completely honest with her about things. Hopefully she will start to lose faith in our love and be the one to end things. Let her be the one in control, that’s what I have to do and then I won’t feel so bad when it’s over and I reveal my love for you. I love you Carol. I really do.
Tucker chuckled maniacally to himself. He pocketed the note and continued his job of mopping the glasswork on the outside of one of the bar fridges, with a cloth. ‘That is so good. Vanessa is bound to accuse him of seeing this girl and he’ll deny it outright.’
He had photographs of an unknown girl. That girl was to be Carol and he would make sure that photographs turned up in Rex’s possession at the opportune times.
Rita entered the bar. ‘Tucker, I’m finishing up. I just want to warn you that just because I’m gone does not mean you can skive off and jump on the computer. I mean it.’
‘No worries, Rita. I’ve had enough of that computer anyway. Computers are for geeks.’
As soon as she had gone, Tucker chuckled. ‘Now it’s time.’
He hurried into the staff room, took a quick look around and then jumped onto the computer. He logged into FaceLink and was delighted to see that Vanessa was online.
He sent her an IM. ‘Hi Vanessa. Sorry I missed you yesterday.’
‘So am I. I wish you had come earlier. You didn’t need to be so shy.’
‘I can’t help it.’
‘You’re so beautiful. You have no reason to be shy, but I guess I understand. It’s a situation you’ve probably never been in before. It’s not like I’m a guy.’
Tucker typed, ‘I’m glad you’re not.’
‘Me too. So you got to talk to my sister?’
‘She’s very nice. Not as beautiful as you though.’
‘You think so?’
‘I think I love you.’
There was a long pause from Vanessa before a message came through. ‘What? You don’t even know me!’
Tucker flinched, realising he might have made a mistake by saying that. ‘Just seems like I’ve known you for ages.’
There was another long pause before Vanessa replied again. ‘Cherry, we’ve never even met face to face. We’ve only ever chatted a little bit. Don’t go expecting too much from me.’
There was yet another pause. Tucker took the opportunity to cast a glance to the main doorways leading into the staff room in case another staff member appeared.
‘I would like to meet you,’ Vanessa said.
It was music too Tucker’s ears. Well in this case, beauty for Tucker to behold on screen. But it was not the right time yet. He had to have Vanessa fall in love with him online before they met, otherwise she would freak once she realised Cherry was really him. ‘I don’t know. I think I’m still afraid.’
It was time to put the next step of the plan into action. ‘Can we talk on the phone and continue to chat too for a while, so we can get to know each other better?’
‘I guess so.’
‘Will you give me your cell phone number?’
There was a pause before Vanessa replied again. ‘Ok. Do you have one?’
‘No. And I often don’t have access to a phone. I’ll ring you.’
‘OK, but don’t be upset if you ring and I can’t speak to you.’
‘029-323 4903. Why don’t you ring me now?’
Tucker froze. It was an offer too tempting to resist, but it was just not on the cards. He had agreed to give the phone number to Nadia so that she could ring Vanessa and pretend to be Cherry.
‘Can’t right now. Mum’s using it. Can we chat for a bit more here?’
Tucker breathed a sigh of relief. He wrote the number down and pocketed it. Now came the next step to further their plans. He had to fill Vanessa’s head with more doubts about Rex. ‘Nadia told me something.’
‘Don’t know if I should tell you.’
‘She’s going to be seeing your boyfriend Rex. Alone.’
‘When?’ Came the almost immediate reply.
‘I’m not sure. Tomorrow night. Or the night after. They’ve organised to meet.’
‘Rex never told me that.’
There was a pause then, ‘Of course.’
‘Well that’s what Nadia said.’
‘Why would she tell you that? I don’t get it.’
Tucker had to think fast on that one. ‘I think she wanted me to think I had a chance with you.’
For close to thirty seconds Tucker sat there waiting for her to say something else, but she didn’t. Perhaps he had achieved what he had set out to do. He typed something else. ‘I don’t think you can trust him.’
He held his breath hoping that she wouldn’t type something angry in reply, but she typed nothing.
Tucker wondered if she was even still there, so typed in another message. ‘You still there?’
Tucker felt anxiety creep upon him now. Had he angered her so much she no longer wanted to chat with him.
‘Did I upset you?’
‘Not your fault.’
‘You angry with Rex?’
‘I’m angry with Nadia.’
‘But Rex is to blame too, right?’
‘No, she’s manipulating him.’
‘Why would she do that?’
‘She wants him for herself.’
‘But she can’t make him do anything he doesn’t want to do.’ Tucker felt very impressed with himself for sounding so logical.’ Vanessa didn’t reply again so Tucker continued. ‘Seems to me like Rex is doing what Rex wants to do and he doesn’t care about you.’
‘You don’t know him!’ An angry smiley came up next to the words.
Tucker flinched. He figured he’d better back off before he really burnt his bridges. ‘I’m sorry. You’re right. You know him better than anyone.’
‘I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.’
‘You can trust him.’
‘You’re lucky to have someone so loyal.’
‘Yes, I am.’
‘Nadia was probably making stuff up.’
‘Yeah. Maybe. But it doesn’t matter, because Rex tells me everything.’
‘Did he tell you about that girl he was with? The one in the photographs I sent you?’
There was yet another long pause before she replied, ‘Don’t worry about that.’
‘He’s loyal to you. He must have. Never mind. Forget I asked.’ Tucker snickered and spoke aloud, ‘He hasn’t told you, has he? You’re in denial.’
He jumped suddenly as the door to the staff room opened and Rita bowled in. ‘Tucker! I don’t believe this! After I told you not to too!’
Tucker cringed. He quickly typed in one last message. ‘Gotta go. Mum.’ He quickly closed down his web browser.
‘That does it,’ Rita snapped. ‘It seems no matter how many chances I give you, you don’t give a stuff. Tucker, get your stuff together. It’s over.’
Tucker started. ‘What?’
‘It’s over. As of this moment you’re fired. You no longer have a job here at the Te Arawa Tavern.’
As Tucker neared the doorstep of home, the butterflies in his stomach went crazy. His body tensed up and his breathing accelerated. The terrible moment had arrived, the moment he’d have to tell his mother he had been fired. He hoped desperately that maybe she’d gone to bed extra early and that he could delay telling her until the next day. One thing he’d decided he wasn’t going to do was pretend he hadn’t been fired. He’d done that before and the stress was just too great. Even though he would have hell to pay when his mother learnt the truth, at least it would be a torture that was only temporary. At least he hoped.
Unfortunately, his mother had not gone to bed and when he entered the house, she greeted him. ‘You’re back early. I was hoping… I mean I thought I wouldn’t see you again until the morning!’
‘I was doing such a good job, they let me go home early,’ he said, but then flinched. He’d told himself he wouldn’t make up a story, but it had just automatically come out. ‘No, that’s not true.’
‘You mean you just told me a lie?’ Her mother stepped up to him, an evil expression on her face.
‘Sorry,’ he whined.
She slapped him hard across the shoulder. ‘I’m getting sick of your lies. You’re getting too darn fond of lying! It’s about time you started to learn to tell the truth!’
‘I got fired, Mum.’
‘And I’m getting sick of you getting fired too. You’re too darn fond of getting fir… What did you just say?’
‘I said I got fired. Rita fired me. It wasn’t fair. She was just being an ubbhead. I didn’t do anything wrong.’
‘You got fired?’ Her jaw dropped and eyes widened. ‘YOU GOT FIRED?’
She exploded, ‘OHHHHH, that’s just great, that is! That’s just maaarrvelous that is. Are you completely and utterly useless? Why can you never hold down a job? Why can’t you ever do anything right for once?’
‘I’m sorry. But all I did was hop on the Internet and it was during my break too.’
‘The Internet? You were on the Internet? What were you looking at? Oh, you don’t need to tell me, I can work it out. You were looking at pornography, weren’t you? Weren’t you?’
‘No, Mum, honestly I wasn’t. I was just looking at some training on how to do cleaning better so I could do a better jo…’
‘Don’t lie to me, you disgusting little pervert! You were looking at pictures of naked women, weren’t you? Sex, sex, sex, that’s all you ever think about. You’re getting too darn fond of thinking about sex!’
‘I wasn’t, honestly!’
‘What are we going to do, huh? What are we going to do? We need your extra income coming in otherwise this darn family doesn’t survive!’
‘I’ll get another job, Mum. I promise!’
‘Damn right you’ll get another job. I’m not putting up with some lazy freeloader living in this house. You’re too darn fond of freeloading! I’ll darn well make sure you get a new job and I’ll be there at the job interviews to make sure you don’t screw it up! By curry, I oughta get that strap and give you a good thrashing! You’re a useless as a glob of spit in a fire fight, you are! Damn it. You can go to bed right now. No supper. I don’t think I can handle seeing your stupid fat face again tonight. Go on, scram!’
Tucker hurried to his room. He couldn’t believe he was getting off so lightly. He’d take the narrow escape, but he had a horrible feeling he wasn’t out of the woods yet.
Edward Sanders arrived at school the following morning infuriated.
‘I can’t believe it!’ he grumbled to himself as he parked his car in the staff car park. ‘She doesn’t even care. No guilt whatsoever. I can’t believe she even hid all our family pictures, including our wedding portrait.’
He climbed out of the car with his briefcase and locked it. He peered around the school grounds. They were still almost empty. That boy, Rex Cassidy has a lot to answer for. The devil has put that boy in this school, I know it. Just to cause me grief. Because I am a faithful man of God, that’s why! Well Ed isn’t about to let the devil win this one, no way.
That’s who he had to see now. He made his way to the office block intending on visiting the Phys Ed teacher right away. I should have listened to my mother. Always get involved with nice Christian girls. Don’t be unequally yoked, the bible says. But Katy was just so beautiful and so sweet.
He was 37 at the time he met her. She was nineteen at the time and they married a year later. That was four years ago. He had never been lucky in love before that. She had seemed to be attracted to his piety. She had always told him how much she admired him for his morals and religious zeal. She said she felt secure and safe with him, unlike other guys she’d been involved with in the past. She even seemed happy to go to church with him and be the good submissive Christian wife.
After only six months, she started to have affairs, but she had always been so sorry for them, even telling him of the first one voluntarily. The other two he found out about by chance. The last one he knew about had been a year ago. After four years of marriage he thought at last their relationship was in a happy solid state. But he had been wrong.
Mr Harris was in his office and glanced up when Sanders entered, then lowered his head back down to write on some papers in front of him. ‘Hey Flanders.’
‘Sanders is the name.’
‘It’s Ed! Edward Sanders. Please at least try to get it right.’
Sanders sat down with a sigh. ‘I want to talk about Rex Cassidy.’
Mr Harris placed his pen down on the table and raised his eyes to focus on him. ‘Don’t tell me, you’re another one of those deadbeat teachers who don’t know how to handle the guy?’
‘All you need to do is treat your students with a bit of respect and don’t look down your noses at them just because they don’t know as much as you or because you think they’re somehow beneath you.’
Sanders attempted to remain calm, knowing that if he lost his cool with this particular teacher, things would escalate out of control as Harris was a very aggressive individual. One offhand word and the devil would manifest itself within him. ‘The boy intimidates me. And he knows he intimidates me.’
‘Is that his fault or yours?’
‘He deliberately goes out of his way to make sure I’m uncomfortable. I never know what to say around him, I’m afraid at any moment he’s going to lash out at me. He’s a nasty piece of work.’
Mr Harris eyes narrowed. ‘What right have you to put down one of our top students in that manner?’
Sanders jerked back in his seat and stared at the wild-eyed PE teacher. He hadn’t expected such a hostile reply, after all he had spoken calmly, or at least thought he had. Perhaps the devil within him felt threatened at the holiness within his own heart. He saw Ed Sanders as a threat. ‘But Mr Harris! You know his reputation. You’re the one that’s been put in charge of keeping him in line.’
‘I will not have you come in here and talk about Rex like that. He’s a fine lad… one of the best in this school. If this school was full of boys like him, we’d be blessed.’
‘Blessed?’ Sanders could hardly just sit there and accept that opinion. The Holy Spirit within him urged him to honour the truth and speak up against such unfounded claims. ‘I hardly call the way he acts a blessing to any of us. He’s nothing but trouble. Do you realise that he threatened me with abuse? He threatened to smash my head down on a bench.’
‘Really? And you never thought to report this at all?’
Harris leant forward and delivered him a piercing glare. ‘Don’t think I don’t know what all that was about. Rex told me.’
Sander’s heart skipped a beat at the thought that another staff member might know about his proprieties, but there was no way he was going to let on that he was guilty. ‘Oh, and I suppose he gave you some cock n bull story about me harassing Vanessa Dante?’
‘He told me exactly what happened, about your inappropriate behaviour towards her and how you switched her assignment papers with someone else so that you could fail her for resisting your advances.’
Sander’s heart beat faster and his body tensed up. So he did know! Somehow Sanders had to turn this around. He couldn’t have his fellow staff members knowing what he had done, not if he wanted to keep his job. ‘It’s a lie! A dirty lie.’
‘Please, don’t try to feed me a pile of shit, insisting its chocolate mud cake, Flanders. If I had my way, I’d report you to Luxton for what you did. Vanessa is a wonderful young woman and doesn’t deserve to have every perverted, lecherous old bastard drooling over her and trying to lure her into their classrooms alone. In fact, it took me all my willpower not to come marching into your damn biology lab and punch the living daylights out of you! It was only because Rex requested me not to take action that I did nothing. He tells me you learnt your lesson and won’t pull another one like that again. Frankly, I’m beginning to wonder whether I shouldn’t have agreed to do nothing.’
Sander’s body quivered and he could barely maintain his composure. The expression on Mr Harris’s face was one of pure malice. ‘I… I…’
‘From what I can see every threat he issued to you, you damn well deserved. He was a lot more gentle than I would have been. Gordon Bennett, you better realise, Flanders, that when it comes to Vanessa’s wellbeing, Rex has done a lot worse than make a few threats and for far lesser offences too.’
Sanders quivered some more. ‘Please, Mr Harris, I know I screwed up, but what he’s done recently is inexcusable.’
‘And what’s that?’
‘My…my… my niece…’
‘What about your niece?’
‘He deflowered her. In my own home too!
‘How old is your niece.’
‘Err… thirteen years old.’
‘What?’ Harris stared at him.
‘I… yes. I came in and I caught him with her.’
Harris’s left eyebrow rose. ‘I’m finding this very hard to believe.’ He’s face darkened. ‘You’re feeding me more of that chocolate mud cake, aren’t you?’
‘No, I… alright, alright, she wasn’t that young. But she was a good Christian girl and he spoiled her.’
Harris rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair. ‘Spoiled her? Gordon Bennett, kids are having sex at this age, there’s not a lot you can do about it. It’s been going on for many years now and the human race is doing fine. They’re just giving into their natural urges. There’s nothing evil or immoral about that.’
‘I beg to differ.’
‘You can grovel and differ all you like, but what you think means jack shit. Unless the girl was under-aged, I don’t see what the problem is.’
Sanders could feel the Holy Spirit stirring within him again. ‘God expects certain standards.’
‘Well God can damn well come down here and make an issue of it if he wants to, but from the school’s position there’s nothing we can do, unless it happened inside the school grounds, during school hours. Did it?’
‘Then tough shit.’
‘But it’s my… my niece!’
‘Well I’m assuming your niece was a willing participant in this. In fact I’ll bet a million bucks she was, because girls tend to throw themselves at the guy…’
‘Not my niece. She’s a good Christian.’
‘Really? So being a Christian makes her less likely to give into her natural instincts does it? Do you want to bring her in here and I’ll ask her myself?’
Sanders flinched and shook his head. ‘No.’
‘Well, Neddy boy, it seems we have nothing to talk about. I say if Rex and your niece got it together, good on them. Love’s gotta be better than hate, right?’
Sanders felt the righteous indignation well up inside of him now and he could no longer hold it in. When the Holy Spirit demanded you to speak, you spoke. ‘You can’t be serious! You’re encouraging that type of behaviour?’
‘Whatever works to promote goodwill between the sexes, I say go for it.’
Sanders squinted through his eyes. ‘You are no better than Rex himself! No morals whatsoever!’
‘I’d watch what you say, Sanders. I’m just looking for an excuse to throw you out of my damn office. Just give me one!’
Sanders backed right down. Just looking at the crazed PE teacher in his green camo pants and shirt was enough to scare anyone. His UZI 9mm paintball gun also rested at the edge of his desk and Sanders didn’t feel much like the sting of dye pellets against his body. He rose to his feet shakily. Saying no more, he left the office.
Feeling shaken and frustrated, Sanders made his way to the staff room. It was infuriating to not be taken seriously. Nevertheless part of the problem was that he couldn’t reveal the full truth of anything to anyone. Certainly not about the threats made to him by Rex over Vanessa and he certainly couldn’t risk exposing his wife.
He came to a halt.
Exposing his wife.
She’d lose her job for sure, but what would happen to Rex? Would it be enough to get him into serious trouble too?
He arrived at the staffroom and cast his eye around the room in search of Ms Cann. Seeing that she wasn’t there, he headed to her classroom. Sure enough, she was there, marking some papers.
‘Ms Cann.’ He entered the room and smiled.
‘Ah, Mr Sanders. What can I do for you on this fine morning?’
‘I need to talk to you about something.’
‘Have you thought of a way we can get rid of our problems?’
‘I think I have.’
‘Very good. Take a seat.’
Sanders took one of the student’s chairs and sat down at the elderly English teacher’s desk. ‘Tell me, Ms Cann. If a student was exposed as having had consensual sexual relations with a teacher, what would happen to that student?’
‘Mmmmm,’ Ms Cann said, rubbing her chin with her index finger. ‘I would say it would be grounds for expulsion.’
‘Really? Do you think it would be guaranteed, even in this day and age?’
‘I should think so. The teacher would lose his or her job of course. At the very least, both of them would suffer terrible humiliation and their reputations would be shot. The student may have that stigma for a long time to come.’
‘Yes.’ Then an even greater idea came to his mind. ‘But imagine what might happen if it were revealed that the student actually forced himself onto the teacher.’
‘Well of course that would be rape. He’d be up on charges.’
Sanders leaned back in the chair and stared out the window of the classroom thoughtfully. The whole idea brought with it huge possibilities. It seemed like a way to allow his wife to keep her job while at the same time ridding the school of Rex Cassidy for good. Would his wife agree to lie for him? Surely she would. After all, he was the head of the household and she certainly wouldn’t want to lose her career. Not only that, but she would be lying for God too. God wanted Rex dealt with, so if God wanted it, certain sacrifices had to be made for the good of everyone.
‘Why are you asking this?’ Ms Cann asked.
‘It seems we have a way to rid us of the cancer that is Rex Cassidy.’
‘And Vanessa Dante?’
‘Well no, we still need to work on her, but Rex, yes.’
‘What? Are you saying he raped someone? A teacher?’
‘Ms Cann, this is very traumatic for me and I’d like you to keep this quiet until such time as is appropriate, but yes, Rex has committed such an act. He forced himself onto my wife, Katy Grainger.’
Vanessa hadn’t slept well the night before. She’d spoken to Rex for about twenty minutes on the phone after the incident with the Wild Dogs. She couldn’t help but worry that his life was in serious danger. On top of that, the worrying thoughts that maybe he wasn’t being honest with her about his relationships with other girls, concerned her even more. The most difficult thing to deal with was the phone call she got from Maggie a few minutes after speaking to Rex.
‘You need to check out this profile, Vanessa,’ Maggie had said. ‘Her name’s Carolisa. I believe her real name is Carol and Lisa may be her middle name. She has a public profile. You can view her photographs and her blog. You really need to check her out. Read her blog, “My secret Lover”.’
‘Just read it ok?’
Vanessa logged into her computer and brought up FaceLink. She typed the name into the search engine and a profile came up.
‘I’ve got it.’
‘Look at her photograph album.’
Vanessa viewed the graphics and gasped when she saw the pictures of Rex, with the labels underneath. ‘Oh my God. Who is she? Rex has never mentioned her. Ah, must be just someone who likes him and got some photographs of him.’
‘That’s what I thought, but read that blog entry I mentioned.’
When Vanessa read the blog her body tensed up and a sickening feeling came over her. ‘No way… This can’t be. How did you find this?’
‘I was bored. I was just checking profiles of friends of friends to see if I knew them. I came across that one and she has all her stuff set to public.’
Vanessa still couldn’t believe what she had just read. She felt weak. All her strength seemed to sap from her. ‘No. This can’t be real. Someone’s pulling a fast one on us.’
‘You sure you just found this one by pure chance?’
‘Oh God, this is sick.’
‘Are you ok?’
‘Do you want me to come over?’
‘Nuh uh. I need to think through this. I need to get my head straight. I’ll… I’ll see you tomorrow afternoon at school ok?’
‘Oh, right, you have that appointment with the modelling agency in the city.’
‘Ok, I’ll see you tomorrow.’
The next morning Vanessa felt like staying in bed to wallow in her misery, thinking about all the things she had heard and seen over the last few days. Chelsea and Rex kissing… Nadia possibly agreeing to see Rex behind her back… now this Carolisa girl, a secret lover of Rex’s? One that he had never told her about?
Nevertheless, she knew that wallowing would do her no good. She could use the trip into town with her mother as a distraction. She hauled herself out and went to the bathroom. Even though she had little sleep, it hadn’t made her look any worse, so she showered and got to work on making herself look her best.
She hardly said anything to her mother on the way there.
‘Don’t be nervous, Hon,’ her mother said. ‘You’re going to create a great impression. You always do.’
On arrival at the Tanner’s Modelling Agency, Vanessa forced all her worries aside. Pondering on them now would only distract her from the task at hand. They took the elevator up to the main office and ten minutes later sat opposite Anne Summers.
Vanessa couldn’t help but marvel at how upmarket it all was. It contained comfortable, ergonomically designed office chairs, colourful plants, shelves of awards and plaques and photographs of models lined the wall. It was all so clean.
Anne had Vanessa’s new modelling profile in front of her and gazed at the various photographs of her she’d had professionally done just recently. ‘I love these! My God, you are dazzling in these. You’re dazzling in real life too, but it’s amazing how photogenic you are. Some beautiful women just don’t take great photographs, but you… wow!’
Vanessa beamed. She was used to being told how beautiful and photogenic she was but to hear it from a professional was something that little bit special.
‘You are going to be snapped up, young lady. You are going to be in huge demand. I’m just glad that we have the opportunity to sign a contract before anyone else does. As it happens, I already have three companies wanting to use you based on the few photographs we took of you last time you were in. I have one wanting you in a TV commercial advertising a new soft drink brand, another to be a hair model and another to model girl’s underwear for a catalogue.’
Vanessa didn’t like the sound of the last job. Even thought she considered herself an extrovert and liked to wear sexy clothing, she was no exhibitionist. ‘Ummmm. That’s great, Anne, but I’ll pass on the underwear modelling. That’s not my thing.’
Anne frowned. ‘Vanessa, you have to realise that if you get into this industry you may have to put aside some of your inhibitions.’
‘Sorry, but I won’t. And I won’t do anything that involves getting my clothes off in front of a camera crew, even if it’s partial nudity.’
‘Really? You do realise that this would inhibit your chances of getting a contract anywhere. We and other companies like us only employ those who a flexible. I’m not saying that you’ll be asked to do anything distasteful or anything pornographic, my word no. We are a professional agency and you are still only seventeen years old, but when you are eighteen more may be required of you. There may be times where you may have to advertise something where you need to be partially clothed, or where you need to be nude with your body parts obscured for the camera. And with your curvaceous figure you may get more jobs like that than some of our more petite and skinnier models.’
Vanessa was not moved. ‘I’ll pass on those jobs.’
‘Are you sure? Being difficult and overly modest about such things may affect you getting this contract.’
‘Then I won’t get it,’ Vanessa said. ‘It doesn’t worry me at all.’
Anne sighed. ‘Are you sure you won’t budge on this issue.’
‘Absolutely. No nudity. I have no desire to be on TV or magazines nude or in underwear. I have enough trouble with guys hitting on me as it is. I don’t want to give them more reason to.’
‘I do understand, I do.’ She sighed again. ‘Alright, we’ll adjust that clause on your contract. We don’t normally do that, but in your case we’ll make an acceptation. We really want you on board.’
She took some papers and made some crosses and wrote down some things on it. ‘This is the contract. You’ll see here that I’ve added in a no nudity clause. This will cover any situation where you may be requested to be nude or in underwear, however it doesn’t exclude swimsuit modelling. Are you ok with that?’
He pushed the papers across the desk to Vanessa. ‘You’ll see several sections there, but the most important details are that this contract is for five years minimum. You agree not to negotiate with any other agency in that time. The contract will be up for renewal after that time. You will agree to any jobs we send your way, provided of course they meet the criteria of the contract. Note that anything like body piercings and tattoos cannot be done at any time during the period of the contract. Your current nose stud is fine, but…’
‘I just got a tattoo the other day.’
‘What?’ Anne stared. ‘Where?’
‘On my ankle. See?’ She rose her foot up to the desk so that Anne could see the butterfly she had tattooed on it.
‘Why didn’t you tell me you were going to get this?’
‘It never crossed my mind. I wanted one, so I got it.’
‘Are you intending on getting anymore?’
‘No. I just wanted one there. Thought it would be hot.’
Anne flinched. ‘Vanessa, I wish you hadn’t done that. We have a policy of no tattoos when it comes to our models.’
‘Sorry. But I’ve got it now and I’m not having it removed.’
‘Are you going to be this stubborn all the time?’
‘I won’t get anymore. I promise.’
Anne sighed again. ‘You’re making this very difficult, but alright, I’m determined I’m not going to let you get away. Now, I’ll let you and your mother look over the contract for a bit. If you want to take it away for a solicitor to look at then, that’s fine, but the sooner we get your signature the sooner we can send you out on jobs. I promise you, you will be in big demand. Girl, I think you have a huge career ahead of you.’
‘Wow…’ Vanessa said, not sure how to react to that. ‘You really think so?’
‘Oh yes. I really think so.’
Vanessa and her mother spent some time looking over the contract.
‘I’m glad you made a stand about the no nudity,’ her mother said. ‘It would have left you open to be taken advantage of.’
‘That’s one of the reasons I refused it. I know what guys are like, Mom. I can imagine lots of horny cameramen, producers and directors wanting me to get it off in front of them. I don’t want or need that attention.’
‘Good on you. You do realise that you are something special? Your beauty is quite profound and I’m not just saying that because I’m your mother. This is why Anne wants you so badly. It’s why she’s willing to be flexible for you.’
‘So I’m starting to realise. I’ve been finding that out over the last couple of years.’
Her mother touched her arm. ‘Don’t ever give up on your principles. Never. Don’t ever be forced into doing something you don’t want to do.’
‘I won’t, Mum.’
The two smiled at each other.
Half an hour later the contract was signed. Vanessa and her mother left Anne’s office and arrived at the foyer. Just as they entered, Vanessa saw another girl about her age disappear down the corridor. She blinked just to be sure it was who she thought it was. There was no doubt about it. It was Cheeky Cherry, the girl from the Internet.
‘What’s she doing…?’ Her voice trailed off and she turned to the reception desk. ‘Excuse me, who was that girl that just went down there?’
The receptionist glanced up. ‘Oh, that was Tina Rogers, one of our models.’
Vanessa reeled. ‘Tina? What her name’s not Cherry?’
‘Can I see her for a minute?’
‘Just follow her down there. I’m sure you can catch her.’
Vanessa didn’t even wait to acknowledge her mother. She hurried down the hallway, a horrible feeling coming over her. Was it really the same girl? Was it possible that she was only using a false name with her, for fear of her true identity being known on the Internet? Or was there something more sinister going on?
She found Tina in a kitchen area pouring herself a cup of coffee.
The girl turned. It was indeed the same girl from the Internet, however Tina’s face remained straight, showing no signs of recognition. ‘Hi. Can I help you?’
Vanessa didn’t quite know what to say. She blinked a couple of times. ‘Your name’s not Cherry?’
‘No.’ She laughed.
‘You don’t know me then?’
‘Never seen you before in my life.’
‘You don’t have a FaceLink profile by the name of Cheeky Cherry?’
‘I don’t have a FaceLink profile at all.’
The truth dawned on Vanessa. It was like turning on the TV and recognising the program that’s on. ‘I’m sorry. I guess I made a mistake. You’re not who I thought you were.’
‘No worries.’ Tina smiled and sat down at a nearby table, not giving Vanessa another glance.
Vanessa turned and slowly walked from the room, thoughts running a marathon through her mind again. ‘Nadia,’ she thought. ‘She said she met Cherry at the pools!’ She stopped in her tracks. No, it couldn’t be her pretending to be Cherry, because Nadia had been sitting in the room with her when Vanessa had been communicating with Cherry. But why would Nadia say she had met Cherry at the pools? Was it possible Nadia had some connection with the person pretending to be Cherry and was involved in the charade?
On arrival home, she convinced her mother to allow her to spend a little time on the Internet before returning to school. She looked up Cheeky Cherry’s profile and searched through everything, determined to get a clue as to who this person really was, but not a lot of information was included. Cherry had loaded very few applications into her profile to give her a clue about what her favourite things were. If Vanessa had some information about that she might be able to put two and two together. That’s if any of the information was accurate about the person pretending to be Cherry.
The best she could determine was that Cherry was someone she knew, possibly someone from school. For them to have got a picture of Rex with Chelsea, it seemed like the obvious thing. It made her wonder just how old the picture of Rex and Chelsea might be. Perhaps Rex had never been with her recently at all?
She scowled and sent Cherry a message.
I know you’re not who you say you are, you lying sack. Who are you really? I met the real Cherry today and she has a different name. I’m going to find out who you are. Where did you get that photograph of Rex and Chelsea? I bet it’s from ages ago!
She shut down the computer, grabbed her things and headed off for school.
Vanessa fumed as she entered the school grounds. She wanted to speak to Nadia. Find out what her game was. She also wanted to talk to Rex, tell him about Cherry and hopefully find out just how old that photograph of him and Chelsea was. It was lunch time and she went in search of her friends. She found a group of them out on the field, hanging out, but there was no sign of Rex or Nadia.
‘Vanessa, how did the contract signing go?’ Maggie greeted her.
‘It went great. I got the contract.’
Everyone congratulated her. Chelsea was there too so Vanessa moved over to talk to her. ‘Chelsea…’
‘I need to talk to you.’
‘I’ve got to know something. Did you meet up with Rex last week? In New Plymouth?’
Chelsea’s eyes widened. ‘New Plymouth? No.’
‘So you didn’t see him.’
Vanessa’s world stood still momentarily. The horrible thoughts all came flooding back. The photograph was for real. It wasn’t taken in New Plymouth, but it was still a recent event and one Rex had not told her about.
Chelsea gazed at her. ‘Didn’t he tell you?’
‘I was really down. He helped.’
Vanessa tried to pretend it didn’t bother her. It wouldn’t have if Rex had told her about it. ‘I guess he cheered you up a bit.’ She forced a smile.
‘That’s the main thing.’
She tried to tell herself it was harmless. Perhaps Rex had wanted to keep it confidential, for Chelsea’s sake. Nevertheless it still bothered her that he hadn’t even just mentioned that he had gone to see her. ‘Where is Rex, anyway?’
‘He went off somewhere with Nadia.’
Vanessa once again had to hide her true feelings. She wondered what dirty trick Nadia had up her sleeve to steal Rex away this time.
The bell rang to end the lunch break and she hoped that Rex would be there when she got to class, but he wasn’t. People trickled into the room, but still no Rex and Nadia.
Tucker walked over to her desk and held out a text book. ‘I found this computer text book sitting on the bench over there.’ He pointed to the side of the classroom. It’s Rex’s. Can you pass it on?’
She reached out for the text book, but it slipped from Tucker’s hand and fell down onto the floor.
‘Oops.’ Tucker bent down to pick it up and a sheet of paper and a photograph fell out of it. He grabbed them and the book and placed them back on her desk. With that he moved back to his desk.
Vanessa couldn’t help but stare at the photograph before her eyes. It was of Carolisa, the girl from the Internet.
‘Oh my God,’ she muttered. The sheet of paper with something typed on it lay before her. She couldn’t help but notice the first line.
“Dear Carol, I am finding it very hard to keep our relationship a secret from Vanessa.”
That was all she could bear to read. She threw the sheet of paper on the desk and rose to her feet. She felt her world tear apart, just like her mother had warned her it would. The weight of it crushed down upon her, seeming to squeeze the life out of her heart. She could feel the tears welling up inside her.
‘Vanessa, are you ok?’ Holly stepped up beside her and rested her hand on her shoulder.
‘No,’ Vanessa shuddered. ‘I… I have to go.’
‘I just have to go.’ She grabbed her bag and made for the exit, not looking back. She’d taken only a few steps from the classroom when Jaspy came running up to her.
‘Hi, Vanessa. Glad I caught you. I…’
‘Stop!’ Vanessa commanded. She grabbed her by the shirt and delivered her a piercing glare. She had had enough of everything, including the love sick fourteen-year-old. She spoke with venom in her voice. ‘Leave Rex alone. He’s mine, ok? And he doesn’t want you hanging around him. He doesn’t care about you and I’m getting sick of you bugging me and my friends just so you can try to get into his pants. If I see you hanging around him or any of my friends again, you’re dead. Ok?’
Jaspy shuddered and her face paled. ‘Ok! Ok, I’m sorry. I…’
‘I mean it Jaspy! I’m not playing around with you. Back off!’
‘Ok! I will, I promise!’
Vanessa set her eyes on the main gates and stormed away.
Rex rifled through his locker, searching for his computer text book which he would need for the last class of the day. It was one of the few subjects he actually took seriously as he had never considered himself a computer whiz. ‘Damn. It’s gone.’
‘Don’t worry about it.’ Nadia stood beside him. ‘You’ll cope without it.’
‘I guess. Could have sworn I didn’t leave it anywhere else.’
‘Come on. We’ve only got about fifteen minutes of the lunch break left. I still haven’t got you somewhere private yet.’
As much as Rex would have loved to have spent time with Nadia alone somewhere, it was Vanessa he really wanted to see. He needed to make sure everything was ok with her as he had sensed something wasn’t right. He figured that Nadia had something to do with it and if spending time with her half sister bothered her, he needed to know. The last thing he wanted to do was upset her in anyway. ‘Vanessa should be back by now.’
Nadia turned his head to face her. ‘Forget about Vanessa.’
‘Sorry, Nadia. I can’t do that.’
‘Yes you can. For fifteen minutes. She can wait a little longer.’
Rex smiled. ‘Is that really what you want? Us to make out somewhere and have me thinking about her the whole time?’
Nadia’s eyes narrowed briefly, but then opened again. ‘You’re going to make this as hard for me as possible, aren’t you?’
‘I’m not trying to make anything hard for anybody.’
‘You know I want you and I know you want me, but I’m not the type who likes to share.’
‘Sorry, but I think you have the wrong idea.’
‘Yes. I think you are extremely hot, Nadia, but Vanessa is the one I love and I’ll never do anything to hurt her. The only reason I’m with you now is because I believed Vanessa was ok with it, but now I’m not sure that she really is.’
‘It doesn’t matter if she’s ok with it or not. You can do whatever you like. She does whatever she likes. Do you really think she cares about how you feel?’
‘She’s never done anything to hurt my feelings.’
‘It’s only because its girls she sees. Do you really think that if she was straight, she’d be loyal to you?’
‘Then you’re naive.’
Rex didn’t much like the tone in her voice, but tried to ignore it. ‘I know her better than you. You don’t give her enough credit.’
‘Are you going to come with me now or not?’
‘No. I’m not going anywhere with you at the moment, nor any other time for that matter’
Nadia’s eyes narrowed and this time they stayed narrow. ‘You’re joking right? After what we shared on the beach, you’re telling me you no longer want any more of that?’
‘Not if it hurts Vanessa, no.’
‘I don’t believe this! You’re just going to cast me aside like last week’s rubbish?’
‘It’s not like that. It just seems to me that you have no concern for anyone but yourself. Do you even care about your own sister’s feelings?’
‘She’s only my half sister! It’s not like we’re full blooded sisters, anyway, whatever happened to compersion?’
Rex could feel his own emotions starting to well up now. She had seemed so sweet to him before, but now he could see her for the conniving manipulator she really was and he didn’t like what he saw. ‘You underestimate just how much I care about Vanessa. Perhaps it’s partially my fault for fooling around with you, but nevertheless… anyone who would deliberately try to hurt her is someone I won’t tolerate. I’ll protect her anyway I can. You’d better think carefully about what you’re doing, Nadia.’
Nadia’s eyes widened. Then she scowled. ‘I can’t believe you! I mean, God, she’s mentally screwed up. She’s ill. She thinks she’s gay, but yet she loves you? Doesn’t that bother you at all? Wouldn’t you rather have someone who has it together in the head?’
Rex did his best to hold back his ire. ‘Vanessa is the most incredible person I’ve ever met in my entire life! I love her for who she is. I’d quit now, while you’re ahead Nadia. Right now you don’t strike me as the type of person I want anything to do with at all.’
‘Fine!’ Nadia snapped. ‘You’re throwing away the best thing that will ever happen to you!’
‘I don’t think so. I’m keeping hold of the best thing that ever happened to me. That’s Vanessa.’
‘Huh! We’ll see just how long she’s willing to keep hold of you.’
Rex hesitated. ‘What do you mean by that?’
‘You think she’s really as loyal to you as you think? Well we’ll see. Maybe when she dumps your ass, you’ll think differently.’
‘Maybe I will, but I can assure you, I won’t be coming to you for a shoulder to cry on.’
Nadia huffed. ‘You’re gonna be sorry!’ She turned and marched out of the locker bay.
Rex sighed and collected some more of his gear. The bell would ring soon, so he headed out to see if he could find Vanessa.
He hadn’t gone far when Ms Grainger intercepted him. ‘Rex. We need to talk privately for a second.’ Her hair was a mess and she breathed heavily. ‘Over here.’ She pointed to one of the prefab classes rooms. The door was open and the room was empty, so they entered. She turned to face him. ‘My husband is being an ass. In fact it’s worse than that; he’s going way too far.’ She flinched. ‘He’s reported us to the school principal. But it’s not just that, he’s lying about what happened and he’s insisting that I lie too, but what he’s asking will have you up on serious charges.’
Rex stared. ‘What?’
‘He’s telling them that you raped me and he expects me to back him up.’
‘Drokk!’ Rex flinched.
‘Of course I’m refusing to go along with it. I would never lie about something like that. But If I don’t, I’m going to lose my job.’
‘Rex, honestly, I won’t tell them you attacked me. I’ll insist that it was consensual and that I was the instigator, but if I lose my job, I’ll never get another teaching job every again. What am I going to do?’
‘I can’t believe your husband would put you through all this.’
‘He has a vendetta against you and he’s willing to use me to do it. I… I guess I can’t blame him in one way. He’s angry at me too, so maybe he no longer cares. Our marriage is over. It won’t survive this.’
‘I’m so sorry.’
‘It’s not your fault. I was dishonest with you and lured you into it. I’m more worried about you than myself really. You may get expelled because of this.’
Rex sighed and stepped over to the window of the classroom. ‘There must be a way to fix this.’
‘I don’t see how there can be any way.’
‘There’s always a way. We just have to think one up.’
‘Mr Luxton is looking for you. He wants both of us at the office, but I don’t think I can face him over this.’
Rex turned around and faced her. ‘We deny it.’
‘We tell him that your husband is lying. It’s his word against ours. He has a vendetta against me, right?’
‘Yes, but we have to be able to do more than just deny it. We need alibis, which we don’t have.’
Rex pondered on the matter. It seemed hopeless to try to come up with a plan at such short notice. ‘I think I need to get out of here for a bit.’
‘Where will you go?’
‘I don’t know, but I need to think.’
The bell rang.
Rex sighed. ‘Ok, I’ll go now, while the big rush to class is on.’
‘Good idea. I think I’ll go too. I can’t face this today. We can’t be seen together though. I’ll leave via the side entrance.’
Rex headed out to join the crowds of students heading to class. The whole situation perplexed him and it seemed there was no obvious solution to the problem. He arrived in view of the front entrance and was just in time to see Vanessa dash out the gates. He paused for a moment, wondering where she was going in such a hurry. She had her bag too. He quickened his pace, exited the grounds and peered down the road. He could see her down the end of the road and she turned a corner and disappeared from sight. Rex considered running after her, but decided there was no hurry. She’d be heading home. He pulled his cell phone from his bag intending on calling her, but then discovered to his disgust it had run out of juice. There was no other option. He would meet up with her at her house.
He walked briskly down the hill, hoping that everything was ok. Ten minutes later he arrived on the doorstep of her house and knocked. It took quite a while before someone answered it. Grace appeared, her hair dripping wet, dressed only in a towel. Her eyes lit up when she saw him. ‘Rex! Come on in. What are you doing out of school?’
‘Is Vanessa here?’
‘No, she should be at school.’
‘I saw her leave the grounds. She was in a hurry.’
‘That’s strange. Come in for a bit. Maybe she’s not far away.’
Rex decided it a reasonable course of action, so entered the house.
‘Excuse me,’ Grace said. ‘I was just in the shower. I took the day off work, so I could take her to the modelling studio. Can I get you a drink?’
‘No, it’s ok, I’ll just wait in here.’ He pointed to the lounge. ‘Mind if I use the phone? I’ll call her on her cell.’
‘Sure. I’ll just finish my shower.’ She hesitated for a moment and then walked back down the corridor.
Rex entered the lounge and picked up the phone, which sat on a side table. He rang her number, only to have it go to her voice mail. ‘Hey, Ness, it’s Rex. I’m at your mother’s place. Are you ok? I see you leaving the grounds. My phone is out of juice, so I couldn’t text. Hope you’re ok.’ With that he hung up, wandered over to the couch and sat down. He wondered where she had gone. Perhaps she was going somewhere else not home, or perhaps she stopped in at a shop or some other location on the way.
Grace re-entered the room. She still only wore the towel and stood next to the door. ‘You know… I was just thinking something…’ She let the towel fall to the floor. Rex’s jaw dropped as she stood before him in all her glory. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from her finally sculptured body. She moved towards him, sensuously, and sat down beside him on the couch. She placed her hand on his shoulder. ‘Seeing as Vanessa’s not here yet…’
Rex came to his senses and tore his eyes away from her body. ‘No.’ He shuffled aside. ‘Are you crazy? Vanessa may be here any minute.’
‘She won’t mind.’
‘I can’t do that. Not with her own mother.’
‘I’m telling you, she’ll be ok.’
‘Well I’m not.’ Rex rose to his feet. ‘Drokk, Grace, it’s so very tempting, it really is. You don’t know how tempting it is, but it’s a definite no.’
Grace sighed and leaned back in the chair. She smiled. ‘Vanessa is right. You are very dedicated to her. She is very lucky.’
‘I’m gonna go. I’m gonna see if I can find her. I think something’s wrong.’
‘Really? You think so?’
‘Maybe… She was very quiet today when I took her into the city. I think there are some things bothering her.’
‘Has she said anything to you?’
‘Only that she’s been upset with Nadia making the moves on you.’
Rex flinched. ‘I didn’t know.’
‘She doesn’t trust her at all.’
‘I should have seen it. Damn, I’m slipping.’
‘It’s not so easy with Vanessa. She hides pain well. Nadia is up to no good, Rex, at least that’s what Vanessa tells me.’
‘Yeah. I can understand that. Nadia showed her true colours today. Any way…’ He continued to fight the urge to ogle Grace’s naked body. ‘I really have to go. Otherwise… otherwise I might not be able to.’ He cast her a smile, turned and left the house.
He stepped outside, breathed a sigh of relief and then debated where to search for Vanessa first. He figured she might have gone to the Domain or the bushes alongside the domain, so headed that way. He hadn’t gone far when he heard the sudden whoop of a police car siren from behind. He turned to see it pull up alongside of him. Rex’s favourite police officer climbed out, Constable Gloria Melrose. She didn’t smile like she normally did, in fact she looked grim.
‘Hey Gloria. What’s new?’
‘Rex. I’m afraid some serious allegations have been made about you and I need you to come to the police station for questioning.’
Rex sighed. ‘It’s that damn Ed Sanders right? Telling lies about me?’
She frowned. ‘Who? No, I’ve never heard of the guy. The complainant is a teenage girl by the name of Nadia Harrison. She has just accused you of sexually assaulting her in New Plymouth on Saturday afternoon.’
School finished for the day and Maggie returned home. She passed by a small play area surrounded by trees and was surprised when Vanessa stepped out to greet her.
‘Maggs. I need to talk to you.’
‘Vanessa!’ Maggie gushed. ‘We’ve been so worried about you. A bunch of us found that photograph and that note you left. Oh, Nessa, it’s awful. I can’t believe Rex would do that to you.’
Vanessa’s eyes were red and her hair was a mess. ‘Does Rex know that I saw that note?’
‘No, nobody’s seen him either. Both him and Nadia took off somewhere and haven’t been seen all afternoon.’
Vanessa flinched. ‘Oh God, what’s he doing, Maggie? I can’t believe he’s letting her manipulate him. Can’t he see what she is? She’s bad news, Maggs.’
‘Nessa, that’s not all, there’s rumours flying around the school about Rex and Ms Grainger. People are saying that he forced himself on her.’
Vanessa’s eyes widened. ‘No, that’s gotta be a sick joke.’
‘I don’t know, but it’s got me worried too. You want to come home with me?’
‘Yes. I need some company.’
A few minutes later, they sat up in Maggie’s room together.
‘I’m surprised you didn’t go to Holly’s,’ Maggie said. ‘I kind of thought she was the one you went to, to confide in.’
Vanessa peered into her eyes for a few seconds, a sadness in her own eyes. ‘Why are you so down on Holly?’
Maggie didn’t want to say anything right then, but the bitterness she harboured over Vanessa and Holly’s friendship had been niggling her for days now. ‘It… it just seems that you like her better than me.’
‘Maggs, she’s just a friend.’
‘But you see more of her than me.’
‘I don’t mean it to be that way.’
‘You like her don’t you? I mean, really like her. Like in you want to be with her, you know… sexually.’
Vanessa sighed. ‘Maggs, I don’t need this right now.’
‘It’s true isn’t it? You want her, more than you want me!’
‘It’s true. I can see it! The way you look at her.’
‘Please, Maggie, not now!’
‘Why don’t you go and see her now then? You obviously don’t want to be with me!’
Vanessa’s brow furrowed. ‘Is that what you really want? Me to leave and go to Holly’s? Because if you do, I will. I came here because I wanted to talk to you!’
Maggie paused and realised she had been too harsh, but she still couldn’t put aside the jealousy she was feeling. ‘It’s just that… I feel like you don’t want me anymore. After that evening, it’s been different.’
‘Maggie…’ Vanessa placed her hand on her arm. ‘That evening was very special and I haven’t forgotten it. I still very much want you and to have more evenings like it. But we talked about this. We’ve both got guys and it’s not going to be anything more than what it is right now. We both agreed on that, right?’
‘I know we did. It’s just that I can’t get it out of my head and I hate the thought of you being with Holly.’
‘Nothing has happened between me and Holly, as much as I might like it too. She’s straight. And even if something did happened, I’m not going to apologise for that. I see who I want to and I’ll get with anyone I want to. You were ok with that when we talked about it, weren’t you?’
‘I was. But it’s hard.’
‘I know. It was like that for me when I first had crushes. I used to get jealous too.’
‘You did?’ Maggie looked her in the eyes.
‘Yeah huh! Of course. It’s natural.’
‘So why don’t you get jealous with Rex?’
‘It’s different with him. Maybe because he’s a guy, I guess. Don’t ask me to try to explain myself. Even I can’t understand me sometimes. I just accept that’s who I am, but my main priority is Rex. No one, not even you are going to come close to him. Not even Holly.’
‘And you don’t want that either, do you? You want a guy. Someone you can trust and who loves you and treats you like a princess.’
Vanessa paused. ‘Nuh uh, not like Shawn. I don’t think he treats you like a princess at all.’
‘Oh, he normally does. I don’t know what’s been wrong with him lately.’
‘You need to be careful. You may not be able to trust him.’
‘Why do you say that?’
‘I don’t know. Maggs, I have to ask, did you really find that profile on Carolisa just by browsing?’
Maggie turned her eyes away from Vanessa and sighed. She couldn’t lie to her, not when she had asked for a confirmation like that. ‘No. Shawn found it.’
Vanessa nodded. ‘I wondered.’
‘He didn’t want me to tell you because he didn’t want people to know he had exposed a friend’s secret.’
‘I think it might be a fake profile.’
‘Because even though I’ve been hiding out around town all afternoon, crying my eyes out, I just can’t believe that Rex would keep a secret like this from me. I just have to believe that he’s being set up and that someone is trying to trick me. It’s already happened once. Someone pretending to be someone they’re not on the Internet. Maybe this is the same. At least I hope it is.’
‘But, I don’t get it. Shawn knows her though.’
‘Does he really?’
‘He told me!’
Vanessa didn’t reply.
‘I don’t know.’
‘So it must be for real then.’
Vanessa’s eyes met hers. They seemed pained and she still didn’t say anything.
Maggie decided not to say anymore. Vanessa was there with her now and she needed cheering up. It was time to forget about all the sad and painful stuff and think about something fun. ‘Hey. Rex emailed me some pictures this morning. The pictures of us kissing on the bonnet of the Lamborghini. They are so hot. Have you seen them yet?’
‘Nuh uh. Haven’t checked my email today.’
‘Wanna see them?’
Maggie felt happier now that the heaviness of the atmosphere had gone. Seconds later they had the sexy pics up on the screen, admiring them.
‘Rex is a great photographer,’ Vanessa said.
‘Is there anything he’s not good at?’
‘I haven’t found that thing yet.’
‘That was so nice…’ Maggie said gazing at the next one of her and Vanessa locked in passionate embrace. She turned her head to face her. ‘Can we do it again? Here? Now?’
They began to kiss each other, pulling each other closer. Maggie’s head span and the excitement of forbidden passion welled up inside her. The longing to be with Vanessa increased tenfold and next thing they were down on the floor, rolling around with each other. Vanessa’s hands roamed up and down her body and caused Maggie to become more excited, but then suddenly their session ended abruptly when a voice exclaimed, ‘Oh my God!’
At first, Maggie thought it was her father, but the voice was wrong. She spun around and stared up to see Shawn standing there, his mouth agape.
‘Shawn!’ Maggie sat bolt upright. ‘What are you doing walking in like this?’
‘I knocked on the front door, but nobody answered. What the hell are you doing? Oh my God, Maggie!’
Maggie wanted to disappear into thin air and couldn’t even look him in the eye. ‘I wish you hadn’t seen that.’
His eyes turned to the computer monitor where the photograph Maggie had been admiring still appeared.
‘Oh God! You were making out on Rex’s Lamborghini too?’
‘It was just a bit of fun, that’s all.’ Maggie climbed to her feet and brushed herself down. Vanessa did the same.
‘I can’t believe it!’ Shawn cringed. ‘My girl… a lezzy?’
‘No, I’m not. Honestly. It’s just that…’
‘You are! So what am I even doing with you then? Am I some kind of a game?’
‘No! Shawn, I love you. You’re everything to me, it’s just that… I love guys… it’s just that I like girls too.’
‘Oh my God!’ Shawn scrunched up his face even more. ‘I don’t bloody believe this! Why did you never tell me? Why didn’t you warn me?’
‘I don’t know… I didn’t think it mattered.’
‘Does it really? I still love you. I still want you.’
‘Well, I don’t think I want you. Not after this. Do you realise how this makes me feel?’
Vanessa stepped forward. ‘No, Maggie, don’t be sorry!’ She spoke in a forceful voice. ‘You have nothing to be sorry about. Shawn, it’s you that should be sorry. What difference does any of this make? She’s still the same person she always has been. You just have to get over yourself, you have to realise that this is who she is.’
‘You stay out of this.’
‘Nuh uh! I’m sick of the way you’re treating her. She deserves better.’
‘Well that’s fine! She can have you. Seeing as you don’t seem to want any decent guy yourself.’
‘Hey!’ Maggie snapped, beginning to feel the anger bubbling up herself. ‘Rex is a fantastic guy.’
‘Oh, that’s just great, that is! So you want him as well too, huh? Great! Forget about your boyfriend then. Why don’t you hook up with them, then, huh?’
‘Maybe I will!’
Shawn glared at her, his eyes bugging even more than before. ‘I don’t believe this. How can you treat me like this?’
‘Oh puleeeeese!’ Vanessa growled. ‘You’re a fine one to talk. Ever since I’ve met you, all you’ve tried to do is hit on me. You don’t realise just how special Maggie is!’
Maggie stared at Vanessa and tried to come to grips with what she had just said. ‘What?’
Vanessa’s voice sounded pained. ‘Come on, Maggie… can’t you see it? At the pools all he wanted to do was talk to me. He wasn’t even interested in spending time with you.’
‘Give me a break!’ Shawn snarled. ‘That’s bullshit.’
‘It’s the truth!’ Vanessa said. ‘Come on Maggie, you can see it. Surely?’
For the first time, serious doubt plagued Maggie’s mind. She gazed at Shawn with pain stabbing at her heart. ‘Is it true, Shawn?’
‘Naaaaah!’ scoffed Shawn and laughed. ‘She’s dreaming. I’m not gonna go after some lezbo. What’s the point anyway?’
Maggie thought back to that day and how Shawn had treated her like she was some kind of a pest, she began to realise the truth and the pain stabbed deeper. ‘It’s true.’
‘Of course it’s not bloody true!’
‘I was just like some kind of irritation to you that day. All you wanted to do was talk to Vanessa!’
Shawn rolled his eyes. ‘I can’t win.’ He pointed an accusing finger at Vanessa. ‘She’s against me!
‘I’m against you? Get real! In fact if there’s any conspiracy here, it involves you and Nadia.’
‘Me and Nadia?’
‘You’re trying to split Rex and I up. You’re both in on it together.’
Maggie reeled at that accusation. What was Vanessa playing at? Did she really believe that?
Shawn snorted. ‘Oh, ok, now I know you are well and truly deluded. That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard. I don’t even know her.’
‘Yeah, whatever. You had a chance to get to know her at the pools. Since then you’ve been working together to break us up. You and her created that ridiculous Carolisa profile on FaceLink to make me think Rex was seeing someone behind my back.’
Shawn’s jaw dropped. ‘What?’
‘That’s ridiculous!’ He turned his eyes to Maggie. ‘Do you believe this crap?’
Maggie turned to Vanessa, still puzzled by the accusation. ‘But Shawn doesn’t go to our school. How did that stuff get in Rex’s text book?’
Vanessa paused for a moment and then replied. ‘Nadia. She put it there.’
‘When? She was with Rex all the time. Never left his side all morning.’
‘She must have had an opportunity. Before school or something.’
Maggie still couldn’t see how it was possible. ‘But it was an accident you finding that stuff. If they wanted you to see it, why put it in his book? Rex would have most likely found it himself.’
Vanessa frowned and became silent.
‘You see?’ Shawn laughed. ‘You still think I’m involved in some conspiracy to split the two of them up? Get real. She’s deluded! I guess it must be a lesbian thing, thinking that everyone is out to get you or something. Ah, shit, I’ve had enough. I’m outta here.’
‘Shawn, wait!’ Maggie didn’t want him to go. She wanted everything to be alright. Perhaps Vanessa was wrong and Shawn’s motives had been harmless all along.
‘No, forget it! You want her? You can have her. I’m going back home.’
And with that he left.
For a few moments Maggie and Vanessa didn’t speak, but then Vanessa placed her hand on Maggie’s shoulder. ‘You’re better off without him.’
‘But I love him.’ Maggie began to feel the tears well up inside her.
‘He doesn’t deserve your love. He’s as guilty as sin, Maggs, you can see it a mile off. He and Nadia are in on the whole charade, I know it.’
‘But it makes no sense.’
‘I know, but somehow they masterminded the whole thing. I just haven’t quite put all the pieces together that’s all.’
‘Are you sure, you just don’t want to admit that Rex is seeing this Carol girl behind her back?’
‘You’re right. I don’t want to admit it and I can’t. I’d rather live in a delusion than face that maybe it’s true, but as long as there’s a chance it is all a scam I’m going to hold onto it as tight as I possibly can.’ Vanessa sat down. ‘I need to ring Rex. I can’t handle this anymore.’ She pulled her cell phone from her pocket and powered it on. ‘Oh… Rex has tried to call me. If only I’d thought to switch my phone back on after I left the school grounds.’ She held the phone up to her ear and listened for a few seconds. ‘Mmmm… He saw me leave school. He’s at Moms… and there’s a message from Mum too…’ She paused as she listened to that message and her eyes widened. ‘Oh God!’
‘Oh my God! Mum says Rex is at the police station.’ She stared up at Maggie, her eyes wide. ‘Nadia’s accused him of raping her!’
Rex sat in the police station, awaiting the return of Constable Gloria Melrose. He hadn’t been arrested so still had his cell phone and made some calls. One had been to Mr Harris, another to his parents, another to Katy Grainger and another to Vanessa’s mother. According to Grace, Vanessa had still not returned home, nor had she left any messages. He was really starting to worry now, afraid that something might have happened to her. What if the Wild Dogs were in the area? That was an even more horrifying thought.
Gloria entered the room, a cup of coffee in her hand. She placed it down on the table for him. ‘I’m so sorry about this Rex. We have Nadia being questioned by another officer. I don’t buy a word she’s saying, because I know you, but this all has to go by the book and I’m afraid it’s gonna go further unless she tells the truth.’
‘And that’s not all. Mr Edward Sanders is here laying an official complaint himself about you. He’s saying you attacked his wife. We have managed to track down his wife and she is on her way in now as we speak to give a statement. Rex, you have to tell me, where were you on Sunday night?’
Rex hated to have to lie, but for things to be put right he had to fight fire with fire. He had been prepared for the matter to end up in police hands, which was why he rang Katy and Mr Harris as soon as he could. He had to go through with it now, or a lot of people would be in trouble. ‘I was on my own that night. Taking my new car for a spin.’
‘Are you sure?’
‘Yes, Maam. I probably shouldn’t be telling you this, seeing as you’re a police officer, but I wanted to get it out on the open road and see what sort of speed it could reach.’
‘I hope you’re kidding me about that!’ She smiled wryly. ‘A Lamborghini can reach some awfully high speeds.’
‘That’s why I better not say anything more about it.’
‘You’d better not.’ She sighed. ‘I’m worried, Rex, if Ed Sander’s wife backs up his story, you are going to have real trouble with that alibi.’
‘I guess we’ll have to see what she says.’
Vanessa approached the police station when her cell phone began to ring. She picked it up and saw the name “Cherry” on the screen. She scowled and answered. ‘Hello… Cherry.’
A female voice replied. ‘Hi, Vanessa. It’s me.’
So there was a girl behind the voice.
‘Nice to hear from you, Cherry.’
‘I thought it was time to give you a ring. Your voice is so sexy.’
‘Well I’m glad to hear that you don’t sound as retarded on the phone as you do when you type instant messages.’
‘What? Oh… well my spelling isn’t very good, I know.’
‘So Cherry. How was the modelling shoot this morning?’
‘At the agency.’
‘I’m not a model.’
‘That’s interesting, because I met you there today and you were most definitely a model.’
There was silence for almost five seconds before the girl claiming to be Cherry replied, ‘You must have me mixed up with someone else.’
Vanessa came to a halt outside the station itching to go inside but she had to expose this girl and find out who she really was. ‘Oh, I think you are the one mixed up Cherry… if that’s your real name. You know, I find it really strange actually that you met my half sister at the pools on Saturday. I think what we have here is a case of a split personality, wouldn’t you say, Nadia?’
The girl on the other end hung up immediately. Vanessa smiled to herself, pocketed her phone and entered the station.
She found herself in the reception area and got quite a shock when she saw Nadia sitting there, staring at the cell phone in her hand. She peered up to see Vanessa and her eyes bugged. The expression would have made Vanessa laugh if it wasn’t for the rage she felt bubbling up inside her at the sight of her conniving sister.
Vanessa barged towards her. ‘You lying, back stabbing bitch! How can you do this to me? How can you do this to Rex?’
Nadia leapt to her feet and met her with a staunch look on his face. ‘Get away from me, or I’ll scream!’
‘Go ahead. Scream. I don’t care. You set us both up. You pretend to be some girl on the Internet called Cherry and steal some pictures from a website, which just happens to belong to the company I signed a modelling contract for. But that’s not the worst of it. You accuse Rex of raping you?’
‘He forced me!’
‘He did not and you know it!’
‘I told you, didn’t I?’
‘You said you went willingly!’ Vanessa glanced over at the enquiries counter, but nobody was there. She glared back at Nadia. ‘Tell me, why? I know he didn’t rape you. I thought you wanted him? I thought you really liked him?’
Nadia smirked, glanced at the counter and then spoke in a quieter tone. ‘He’s a fool. Seems he’d rather have you than me.’
Vanessa nearly smiled. It was a statement she would have dreamed to hear coming from Nadia’s mouth only an hour or so earlier. ‘So this is what this is all about? You’re pissed because he rejected you?’
‘Oh, no, he didn’t reject me, I rejected him!’
‘You just said he’d rather be with me!’
Nadia snickered. ‘I got sick of him talking about you. Vanessa this, Vanessa that. I want to go see her. Bla bla bla bla. It makes me sick. So I dumped him.’
‘Dumped him?’ Vanessa almost laughed.
‘I’m pregnant Vanessa.’
‘What?’ Vanessa reeled.
‘He got me pregnant. We didn’t use protection, remember?’
Vanessa paused to let the shock of the claim ease off. ‘You’re funny, Nadia. It was two days ago. You can’t know that yet.’
Nadia scowled. ‘You think you’re so smart, don’t you? Straight A student… screwing a rich boyfriend who buys you everything you want. Living with a mum who loves you, but still lets you do whatever you like.’ The bitterness echoed through every word. ‘You have it all, don’t you? Meanwhile, me, your only sister who has a mother who doesn’t give a stuff and a father who didn’t even know she existed until recently. I’ve got nothing. You got it all!’
Vanessa allowed herself another pause as she realised what all this was about. For a second she even felt a little compassion for Nadia, but when she thought again of the claims her half-sister had made, her anger prevailed. ‘I get it now. You want what I have. You see me with all this stuff and you see me with a dream guy and you want it too. But you couldn’t have it. I get it.’
‘What do you know? You didn’t even know your boyfriend was seeing another girl behind your back. What was her name now, Carol?’
‘I don’t know, you tell me. What’s her name? Who is she? What does she like? What are her dreams and aspirations? You know her better than anyone, don’t you? After all, you created her too, just like you created Cheeky Cherry.’
‘I did not create Cheeky Cherry.’
‘Then who did. Shawn?’
‘Tucker bloody Pyles!’
Vanessa’s jaw dropped. ‘Tucker?’
‘Yeah, he was trying to make friends with you. He had some crazy idea he could get you to fall in love with him if he pretended to be a girl. He thought that once you fell in love with him online, you’d get over the fact that he was really a fat gormless dickhead called Tucker.’
The truth became clear to Vanessa now and she kicked herself for not having thought about it earlier. ‘So that’s why he typed like such a retard.’
‘And you fell for it! So what does that say about you?’
Vanessa smiled. ‘So Tucker was in on the whole charade? It was him who planted the photograph and the letter in Rex’s text book and he dropped it so that the stuff would fall out and I’d see it. You’ve all been working together.’
Nadia snorted. ‘As if! Looks like you’re just looking for a conspiracy. You’re so determined to believe that Rex is all sweet and innocent. Well you’re kidding yourself. He’s a dirty disgusting rapist.’
‘He is not!’ Vanessa grabbed Nadia and tried to hurl her to the ground. Nadia managed to keep her balance and grappled with her. The two crashed into the wall of the waiting room, each trying to gain control over the other.
A police officer burst in and pulled the two of them apart. ‘Quit that! This is a bloody police station! What the hell has gotten into you two?’
Vanessa steamed. ‘She’s a liar! She’s lying about Rex!’
‘I am not!’
‘She is!’ A voice came from the entrance way. Mr Harris, the PE teacher stepped in. ‘I heard the whole thing. That girl…’ he pointed to Nadia, ‘…admitted she was setting him up. She was a willing participant in the whole thing.’
The officer turned his head to stare at Nadia.
‘That’s a lie!’ Nadia screamed. ‘It’s a dirty lie!’ She thrashed out at Vanessa, but the officer grabbed her arm and pulled her back.
‘Calm down now or I’ll have to restrain you.’
Nadia swung her arms about, trying to break free from the policeman, but he held her firm. ‘Ok, that’s it. Out the back!’
He had to drag her out as she kicked and screamed. ‘I’ll get you Vanessa! I’ll get you!’
Vanessa felt weak at the knees and had to sit down. Mr Harris stepped up and sat beside her. ‘I heard everything you two said. And I’ll swear to it under oath.’
Vanessa forced a smile. ‘Thanks, Mr H.’
Ed Sanders sat with his wife in one of the interview rooms, staring at her, in total disbelief at what she had just said only a few seconds earlier. ‘This is a joke, right, Katy? Please, tell the officer the truth. He was there. The kid was there with you in our bed. He forced you. Are you going to deny it was him?’
‘Of course I am!’ Katy said and turned to the officer. ‘I don’t know why my husband is making up this ridiculous story for. I was not raped. The sex was purely consensual and it was not Rex Cassidy. All I can think of is that he hates the boy so much, because of all the trouble he has with him at school. He talks about him all the time and how he wants to teach him a lesson. Sure, the boy is a very good looking kid, but I’m a professional. I would never make advances on my students. One thing’s for sure, I wouldn’t try to lure one of them into my classroom after class just to be alone with him.’ Katy sent a piercing stare to her husband.
‘What? What are you talking about,’ muttered Ed, trying his best to cast her a warning with his eyes. The last thing he wanted was for his dirty laundry to be aired in front of the police. In fact he was horrified that Katy even knew about that. Perhaps Rex had told her about it.
Katy continued, with the glare still on her face. ‘You wouldn’t see me deliberately failing a student just because he or she rejected my advances.’
‘I don’t know what you’re talking about,’ Sanders said.
‘Please, can you stick to the main details please?’ the interviewing officer asked. ‘Ms Grainger, are you telling us that you were not raped?’
‘I was not raped!’
‘And none of this involved your student Rex Cassidy?’
‘Not at all. He’s never even been in our house.’
‘That’s a lie!’ Sanders snarled.
‘No it’s not and you know it’s not.’
Sanders stared at her exasperated, unable to believe she was blatantly lying to the police. Before he could retaliate though, the officer spoke again, ‘So are you saying that you didn’t have anyone in your bed that evening?’
Katy shook her head. ‘I’m not saying that. I most definitely did have someone there. I’m not proud of it and it was someone from the school.’
Sander’s eyes widened. This was all becoming too much for him and he wanted to scream at her and shake the truth out of her, but he couldn’t as long as the officer was there.
‘Who was it?’ the officer asked.
‘The PE teacher. Dave Harris.’
Sanders gasped. ‘You have got to be kidding me. Why, Katy, why are you doing this to me? Why are you lying? Do you not realise that by saying this stuff you are putting me in a terrible position?’
‘No more terrible than what you were trying to put me in by trying to get me to make false allegations against one of our students. It’s not me that’s doing the lying.’
Sanders swung his head to face the officer. ‘Mr Harris. Bring him in. Question him. You’ll see that she’s lying!’
‘He’s already on his way,’ Katy said.
‘What?’ Sanders stared. He turned to the officer. ‘What about Ms Cann? Has she given her statement? She will support me on just how despicable this lad is!’
‘She has given her statement and everything she has said about Rex Cassidy is positive.’
‘What?’ Sanders recoiled.
‘She said only good things about him. Nothing that would suggest he is capable of rape.’
Sanders clamped his eyes shut in despair. The one ally he thought he had, had stabbed him in the back and done the exact opposite of what they had agreed.
‘In fact, Ms Cann corroborates your wife’s story that you have a vendetta against this lad. Seems to believe you are trying to set him up for a crime he hasn’t committed.’
The door to the interview room entered and Gloria appeared. ‘Mr Harris is here from the school. He’d like to say something.’
‘Fantastic!’ Sanders beamed as Mr Harris entered. ‘Now we’ll see who’s telling the truth.’
Katy rose to her feet. ‘Dave!’
Mr Harris smiled broadly and he strode in and took her in his arms. Much to Sander’s horror he delivered her a long sensuous kiss on the lips.
‘Well,’ the officer said as they continued to kiss. ‘Seems that settles that then…’
Vanessa melted into Rex’s arms. It felt so good to be held by him. It always felt good, but this time it was extra special. ‘I’m so glad this is over.’
They were still in the police station, in one of the interview rooms, but Rex had been given permission to leave.
‘All the charges have been dropped,’ Rex said. ‘Nadia made a confession. Said she made it all up.’
‘Oh God, I am so relieved!’
Rex sat down on the chair and she fell into his lap, wrapping her arms around his shoulders and gazing into his eyes. ‘I can’t believe she would be so vindictive.’
‘Who would have thought?’
‘You would never do anything like she said.’
‘You’d never need to. You can have any girl you want. Even adult women want you.’
‘You’re not kidding.’
‘Do you think Reverend Flanders will be fired?’
‘I don’t know. From what I understand, he changed his story and now he’s just accusing his wife of sleeping with me. But Mr Harris and Katy have successfully convinced the cops that it was them two in her bed on Sunday night.’
‘Good old Mr H.’
‘Yep, he always comes through for us when we need him.’
‘And vice versa.’
‘True. In fact I think Mr Harris is really enjoying himself. Apparently he got to kiss Katy.’
‘Oh, he’d love that!’ She kissed Rex a few times, softly on the lips.
After a few seconds, Rex spoke, ‘I’m sorry about Nadia. I should have picked up on her from the word go.’
‘You can’t have known. She seemed so cool.’
‘But very devious. I should have seen what she was like back at the aquatic centre when she lured me out to the car park and then down to the beach. She even had a condom tucked in her bikini top. She planned it all, every step.’
Vanessa widened her eyes. ‘You did use protection?’
‘Of course! I would never betray your trust like that. You and I don’t use them. I’m not gonna put our lives at risk by taking chances, especially with a girl neither of us hardly even knew.’
Vanessa felt a tremendous release at that bit of knowledge. She even felt silly for ever doubting him. She should never have taken Nadia seriously, never. She planted another long kiss on his lips. ‘I love you so much!’
‘Rex, I’ve had a crazy couple of days. Everything’s been so messed up.’
‘Is that why you left school in such a hurry today?’
‘Yeah huh. I needed to be alone. Especially after I saw the stuff Nadia had Tucker put in your computer text book.’
‘A picture of some girl called Carol.’
‘I don’t know who she was really, but they wanted me to think you had some secret love behind my back. Tucker, Nadia and I’m pretty sure Shawn, were all behind it.’
Rex’s raised his left eyebrow. ‘They were trying to convince you I was seeing someone behind your back?’
‘Yeah huh. Can you believe that?’
‘Drokk! Why didn’t you tell me about all this?’
Vanessa felt so small. ‘I don’t know. I guess I was afraid. Afraid that maybe it was true.’
Rex placed his hand on her face. ‘It would never be true. I could never do that to you and would never want to. You’re the most amazing woman I’ve ever met and no one could ever take your place. Besides, I tell you about everyone I see.’ His eyes stared past her and for a moment seemed distant.’
Suddenly his eyes flicked back to her. ‘Drokk!’
‘I forgot all about Chelsea.’
‘Huh?’ Vanessa’s mind automatically viewed the photograph Tucker had sent her in her mind. How Tucker had managed to get that photograph, she still hadn’t worked out, but she guessed he had snapped it with his mobile phone somewhere there in Te Arawa.
‘I saw Chelsea last week for about half an hour not far from her place. She was really depressed over this business with Holly and Mav. I comforted her a bit and well… it kind of went beyond just comforting her with words, if you get my drift. She needed it. Damn, I am so sorry, I fully intended telling you all about it.’
The horrible feelings immediately evaporated. Once again, Vanessa felt uplifted as yet another one of her doubts vanished. ‘It’s ok.’ She smiled broadly. ‘I know you wouldn’t deliberately keep anything like that a secret from me.’ She wanted to kiss him again, but had to be careful not to make it look as though she really had had such doubts.
‘You sure it’s ok? It honestly slipped my mind completely. I feel like such a jerk.’
Vanessa ran her fingers through his hair. ‘It’s ok.’
His eyes appeared troubled and he was silent for a few seconds and then spoke again, ‘There’s something else you should know. Something I haven’t told you and something that I should.’
The horrible feelings suddenly filled her body again. She tensed up, expecting the worst. She racked her brains trying to think of something it could possibly be, but she couldn’t come up with any scenario.
‘I don’t want to cause any trouble here,’ Rex said. ‘It’s the only reason I haven’t said anything at all, but it’s about your mother.’
‘Yeah. Ummmm, Two times in the last week, she err… kind of came on to me.’ He stared her in the eye, a worried expression on his face. ‘One of those happened when I went to your place earlier to find you.’
Vanessa stared at Rex for a moment, wondering if she’d heard right. ‘Mum… has come on to you?’
‘In what way?’
‘Well she kind of started kissing me the first time and this afternoon when I came to see you she kind of deliberately accidentally dropped the towel she was wearing, sat down next to me and propositioned me. I got out of there both times. Honestly.’
Vanessa froze for a moment as the images appeared in her head then she burst forth with laughter.
Vanessa continued to laugh hysterically, especially at the expression on his face. ‘Oh, Rex…’ she continued to laugh as she talked. ‘My mum is so silly.’
‘You’re not upset?’
‘No… hell, my mum and I talk about how hot you are all the time. She’s always telling me how she’d love to have a piece of you. She’s even asked me if it would be alright.’
‘And what did you say?’
‘I said, if she had the guts to go right ahead!’
‘Nuh uh. I’m serious.’
Rex’s jaw dropped and he gazed at her.
Vanessa couldn’t help but laugh some more at his reaction. ‘Have I shocked you?’
‘Great! At least I can still do some things to take you by surprise.’
‘Oh yeah,’ Rex said. ‘You are still very unpredictable.’
They cuddled each other a little longer then decided it was time to move to somewhere more comfortable and private.
‘We’ll go to your place,’ Vanessa said.
‘Anything the lady desires.’
They stepped out of the police station but came to a grinding halt when they came across four Wild Dog members standing near the entrance. One of them was Hone, the leader of the Dogs and when he saw Rex his eyes widened and he marched over towards him.
Vanessa was horrified, but at the same time thought there was surely nothing the Dogs would dare do being right outside the police station.
Rex, stepped in front of Vanessa to face Hone straight on. The other Dogs followed in behind Hone, staunch looks on their faces. Vanessa turned her eyes towards the entrance of the station, considering dashing inside to shout for the police, but Hone raised his hand in the air. ‘Hey, chill. No trouble.’ He pointed to Rex. ‘I wanna talk.’
Vanessa slipped her hand under Rex’s arm and moved up nearer to him. She hoped he would get the message that she didn’t want him to go. Rex turned his head and she gave him a worried look.
‘We’ll talk here,’ Rex said.
Hone paused then nodded. He turned to his friends. ‘Piss off for a few minutes.’
His men turned and walked away with out argument. Hone peered at Vanessa.
‘I’m not going anywhere,’ Vanessa said, tightening her grip on Rex’s arm.
Hone’s expression didn’t change. He switched his eyes to Rex. ‘You’ve been giving my bros grief.’
‘Hassling them on the streets. Threatening them.’
‘What? You mean those eejits who were hassling a fourteen-year-old girl for money?’
Hone’s expression changed and a puzzled frown came over his face. ‘What?’
‘Hassling a kid?’
‘Yes. So I just stepped in and told them to rack off.’
‘They never told me that.’
‘Well it’s the truth.’
Hone studied his expression for a few seconds then nodded. ‘Then my bros have been feeding me bullshit.’
‘Bro. Looks like I have no problem with you then.’
Vanessa clasped her fingers through Rex’s, feeling relief sweep through her body.
‘You sure?’ Rex asked. ‘What about those guys that got busted in your gang for dealing P?’
‘They weren’t acting under my domain. I had no knowledge of that. My gang doesn’t deal drugs. Anyone who deals drugs in my mob has to deal with me.’
Vanessa studied Hone’s face. His face showed no emotion and it seemed to Vanessa that he was telling the truth.
‘So then we have no problem then?’ Rex asked.
‘No problem,’ Hone said. ‘The Wild Dogs have no gripe with Rex Cassidy.’
‘Glad to hear it.’
Hone nodded. He turned and walked away.
Two days later and Maggie arrived at school feeling heavy hearted, but at the same time some relief. When she met Vanessa though, she couldn’t help but feel a lot better at seeing her glorious smile.
‘Maggs, how you doing?’
‘Great, now that I’ve seen you.’
Vanessa laughed. ‘Hey, Maggs, something’s wrong isn’t it? You seemed fine when I spoke to you on the phone last night.’
‘Shawn turned up again after that.’
‘Said he was sorry.’
‘Well that’s good, right?’
‘At first I thought so.’ Maggie sighed. ‘Then he started going on about how hot it was, what you and I were doing when he walked in on us.’
‘Wow, that’s a turnabout.’
‘I told him to get lost.’
‘He’s two-faced. That’s what he is. I figure that the main reason he thought it was so hot was because you were involved. I told him we were finished.’
‘Alright, Maggie!’ Vanessa slapped her on the back. ‘You so did the right thing.’
‘You think so?’
‘Yeah huh. He’s a creep. You can do so much better than that jerk.’
‘Yeah…’ Maggie laughed. ‘He was a jerk, wasn’t he?’
The two made their way to the locker block and met up with Holly. Maggie definitely felt better now, having a friend’s seal approval on her dumping of Shawn. It actually made her smile.
‘Hey, Holly, guess what,’ Vanessa said. ‘Maggie’s dumped Shawn.’
‘Sweet! Good for her.’
‘I can go on the prowl, now,’ Maggie said. ‘Hunt for a new guy.’
‘Ooh la la!’ Vanessa said.
‘Who shall I chase, Ness?’
‘Pete?’ suggested Holly.
‘Ummmm, nah, I’ll pass.’
‘Ginge!’ said Vanessa.
‘Jacqui already hates me enough as it is. She’ll hate me even more if I go after him. Hey, I know, maybe I won’t look for a guy. Maybe I’ll look for a girl.’
‘Why not? That’s what I’d be doing.’
‘I know. Hey, would you be interested? I’d love to be able to write Matthews vs Danté on desks and toilet walls.’ She burst out laughing. ‘Only kidding.’
‘Tempting offer though.’
‘Hey, what’s this all about?’ Holly gave both of them a questioning glance. ‘Am I missing something here?’
‘Don’t worry about it.’ Vanessa laughed.
Holly’s eyes appeared glazed. ‘If you say so.’
‘No,’ Maggie said. ‘If I’m hunting for a new love, it’s definitely gotta be a guy.’
‘Hey, babe!’ Dwayne Davidson sidled up next to her. ‘If you’re looking for a new guy, I’m your man.’
Maggie pulled to a halt, spun around and faced him. ‘Don’t you ever give up? You are unbelievable! When you are going to get it through your thick head that I’m not interested?’
‘Yah, come on babe, you know you want me.’
Vanessa stepped up to him and jabbed her finger into his chest. ‘Davidson! I’ve heard all about how you’ve been hassling Maggie recently.’ Her face darkened. ‘She’s told you already to lay off! Now I’m telling you as Maggie’s friend that if you don’t get your annoying ugly face out of her sight and stay the hell out of it, you’re gonna have to deal with me. You got that?’
Maggie figured that Dwayne would just laugh the threat off, but was quite surprised to see Dwayne’s face pale and his eyes widen. ‘Sorry,’ he muttered.
‘Don’t apologise to me. Apologise to Maggie. She should never have to put up with such a jerk bugging her all the time, don’t you agree?’
Dwayne turned his eyes to Maggie. ‘S…sorry Maggie.’
‘Now kiss her shoes!’ Vanessa ordered.
Maggie laughed. ‘What?’ She thought here was no way that Dwayne would ever obey that command, however he quickly got down on the ground and kissed her shoe. Maggie could only stare, flabbergasted.
‘Oh my gosh!’ Holly stared.
‘Now sod off,’ Vanessa said.
Dwayne leapt to his feet and hurried away.
‘My God…’ Maggie stared. ‘I can’t believe that. He’s terrified of you.’
Vanessa laughed. ‘Nuh uh. He’s not terrified of me. He’s terrified of Rex. Rexy nearly cracked his skull a couple of months back after he started spreading false stories about himself getting it on with me. Now he’s afraid to even talk to me in case he riles up Rex.’
‘Sweet!’ Holly said.
Maggie shook her head and laughed. ‘That is so cool. That’s one way to keep annoying jerks off your back I suppose. Have a boyfriend who scares the bejesus out of people.’
‘It definitely has its advantages, that’s for sure. He won’t be bothering you again.’
‘Speaking of Sexy Rexy, here he comes.’ Maggie pointed him out as he made his way over to them.
‘Dollbaby,’ Vanessa greeted him by jumping on him, wrapping her arms around him and kissing him on the lips. ‘How is the hunkiest guy in the world this morning?’
‘I don’t know, I don’t believe I’ve ever met him.’
She laughed. ‘Too modest. So I hear Reverend Flanders is back?’
‘Unfortunately yes. Good thing he changed his story, otherwise he probably wouldn’t be. Katy has left him.’
‘Good for her,’ Vanessa said. ‘Hey, I notice that Jaspy hasn’t been hanging around anymore.’
‘No, she hasn’t. I guess she gave up.’
Vanessa ran her fingers through her hair and smiled.
‘Ah, now I know that look,’ Rex said. ‘What did you do?’
‘Well… It was that day I left the school upset. I kind of let her have it and told her to stay away from you or else. I feel really awful because I was really harsh.’
Rex grinned. ‘Well it seemed to do the trick. So thanks.’
Her eyes sparkled. ‘You’re welcome.’
‘Ha ha. I love it,’ Holly said. ‘Rex scares the creeps for Vanessa and Vanessa scares the stalker chicks for Rex.’
‘That’s one of the million reasons we’re so perfect for each other.’ Vanessa beamed.
Maggie spoke up, ‘Seems like we’ve sorted out a lot of people this week. I think the best thing is that Nadia’s no longer with us.’
Vanessa sighed. ‘That’s the one thing that bugs me out of all this. A sister I never knew I had, turns up out of the blue. She was so cool at first, but then she did what she did. But still, I kind of feel sorry for her because she was never as fortunate as me.’
‘Now she’s gone back to live with he mother, right?’ Holly asked.
‘Yes. I don’t expect I’ll be seeing her again.’
‘Probably a good thing. Now all you have to do is teach Tucker Pyles a lesson, right?’
Vanessa smirked. ‘Already have. Last night.’
‘I set Tucker up on a mystery date.’
‘What sort of mystery date?’
‘I invited Cheeky Cherry to dinner in New Plymouth. He went there last night and Rex and I got some great pictures of him with his dream date. As we speak, we’ve got Wal going around the school pinning them up around the locker blocks. Tucker is going to be so humiliated, he’ll never ever dream of pretending to be someone he’s not, ever again.’
Holly giggled. ‘I’ve gotta see one of those pictures.’
Tucker sat before his mother’s computer, gazing at the message to Cheeky Cheery on the monitor. It was a dream come true. Finally, the promised virtual land was to be the promised actual land. The message read:
I’m sorry I was so rude to you in my last message. I didn’t realise it was you Tucker, until just the other day. I know now that you were simply trying to give me the chance to get to know you better and after those few brief chats, I realise that I really like you. It doesn’t matter to me that you were pretending to be a girl. I know that the person behind the messages was genuine in his feelings, even though he was pretending to be someone he wasn’t. I want to meet with you. But not in Te Arawa. There is a special private restaurant I love in New Plymouth called “Candy Hearts”. It’s really romantic. Rex takes me there all the time. I’d like you to meet me there on Thursday night at 6:30 pm. Can you make it? Please tell me you can. I really want to spend some time with you alone. When you get there ask for the Dante table.
Tucker examined the money in his wallet. He had enough to get him there by bus, but he wasn’t sure he’d have enough to buy restaurant food, but Vanessa had money, so he hoped she was shouting.
He shivered with excitement when the time came to leave the house. His knees felt weak and his stomach churned, but this was a dream come true and he wasn’t going to let it pass him by. All the way there on the bus he fantasized about how the dinner would go. Fancy it, sitting across the table from the most heavenly creature ever created by God. He almost felt like getting up and dancing around the aisle of the bus, but he didn’t think his legs would hold out on him.
As he approached the Candy Hearts Restaurant he found it difficult to breathe. His heart raced and he almost felt like he was going to pass out. He only just managed to reach the reception and leaned on the counter to maintain his balance.
‘Hi,’ he said. ‘My name’s Tucker. I have a date at the Dante table.’
The man at the counter delivered him a funny look. ‘A date, huh?’
‘Yeah. My darling is waiting for me.’
‘Ahha. Yeah. You’ll find your darling already there waiting.’ He handed him a card with a table number on it. ‘Just wait there at the door to be seated.’
Tucker strolled over to the entrance of the restaurant and peered inside. He’d never been in a restaurant like it. The light was low, a band played slow music and there was a dance floor where a few couples danced. Each table had its own little wall in a half circle around the sides of it for privacy. Only tables for two, many of which had people sitting at them.
‘Oh man,’ Tucker muttered to himself. ‘This is unbelievable.’
A waiter arrived. He spoke in an effeminate voice, ‘Good evening, my name is Fabian and I’ll be your waiter today. Your card please? Ah, Mr Pyles. Your date awaits.’ His eyes gleamed and he gave him a suggestive wink.
Tucker shrunk back in alarm.
‘Ooooh, we have a special table for you, right at the window overlooking the gardens. I just know you’ll love it.’
Tucker peered around at the couples. They were all male and female, so he relaxed, confident that he hadn’t just walked into some gay restaurant. The waiter, Fabian was obviously a little fruity, but then you got people like that wherever you went.
Fabian led him to a table and when Tucker got there he was horrified to see that the person waiting for him was not Vanessa at all, but Shawn.
‘Please, take a seat.’ Fabian pulled a chair out for him.
‘But…’ Tucker gasped. ‘Where’s Vanessa?’
Shawn stared up at him with eyes wide. ‘What are you doing here?’
‘Please,’ Fabian said. ‘The lovely and adorable Vanessa will be along shortly.’
For a few seconds longer, all Tucker could do was stand there in disbelief. ‘You’re supposed to be Vanessa!’
‘So are you!’
‘Please, sit,’ urged Fabian. ‘We have a fine menu for you to select from and you can have whatever you like at the expense of Miss Dante.’
‘Huh? Anything?’ Tucker eagerly took his seat, visions of all the mouth watering food he would get to partake of.
‘Please, choose from the menu.’
Shawn spoke up. ‘She’s gonna be here, right? Vanessa?’
‘Of course.’ Fabian smiled. ‘In fact I can assure you, she is not far away. Please, peruse the menu. Enjoy the view of the gardens. Feel free to dance. Can I get you two lovebirds a drink?’
Rex and Vanessa crouched outside the restaurant behind a flax bush. Rex had his digital camera and took snaps of Tucker and Shawn through the window as they sat together with their menus open, glancing every now and then at the main entrance for the appearance of Vanessa, which was never going to come.
‘These are great.’ Rex paused and flicked through the ones they had. ‘Fabian got us the perfect table to photograph them.’
Vanessa laughed. ‘I knew we could rely on him. Look at them in there. It’s too funny. They really think I’m gonna turn up. It serves them right. They both deserve the humiliation. What will really be interesting is to see how long they hang around in there together. Who knows? Maybe a new romance will blossom?’
Rex laughed. ‘That would be a very warped ending to the story.’
‘It would. Hey, we’ve got plenty of time. We can hang around here for a bit. Make out a little… maybe a lot. What do you say?’
‘Sounds bloody good to me.’ He glanced back over the flax to see Tucker and Shawn still sitting there, shifting around in their seats, trying not to look at each other and gazing over the entrance every few seconds. ‘I’m amazed they both came. Well no, actually I’m not. A chance to have dinner with the goddess is enough to make any guy throw aside reason and common sense.’ He turned and gazed into her amazing eyes, gradually pulling her body close to his. Being close to her like this, always stirred his emotions and always made his body tingle. ‘I’m so lucky that I get to be with the goddess whenever I want to.’
‘Nuh uh. It’s nothing to do with luck.’ Vanessa gazed back. ‘It’s a matter of destiny. Of divine intervention.’
‘Oh yeah…You’re absolutely right.’
Vanessa Dante's friendship with Maggie Matthews has taken a forbidden step. How will that affect Maggie's relationship with her boyfriend? How will Vanessa deal with the fact that this boy seems to want her more than he does Maggie? And how will she deal with her half sister, Nadia who has turned up out of the blue and has her sights set on Rex Cassidy. Rex is also the recipient of dubious advances when he finds a teacher and Vanessa's mother has taken a fancy to him. Meanwhile Tucker Pyles discovers the joys of the Internet and realises that pretending to be a girl on line, may get him a chance to woo the goddess, Vanessa.