Wicked Charm(3)By: Amber Hart
“Mind moving over a couple of seats for the new student?” I whisper to the girl next to me. Rachel or Raquel or something similar.
Rachel-Raquel begins to laugh, thinking I’m joking, but stops when she sees the serious look in my eyes. Quickly, she swipes up her book and moves to the other chair, forcing Willow to sit in the only available seat—next to me.
“Hello,” I say again, flashing a grin.
Mr. Dull is talking too loudly to hear me.
With a small laugh, Grant whispers, “Here we go.”
“Hi,” she says, opening her book.
“Willow.” I say her name, testing it in my mouth.
Her dark hair brushes her desk and hides part of her face. But I already know she’s beautiful.
“What’s your last name, Willow? Is it Bell? Are you related to Old Lady Bell?”
She is, and I know it. And she knows it. I just want to show her that I realize who she is, I suppose.
“That’s none of your damn business,” she says with a small smile.
They’re definitely related.
“Didn’t your mom teach you it’s impolite to curse?” I tease.
“Didn’t your mom teach you to read a Bible?” she fires back. “From what I hear, you need that and more with your black soul.”
I can’t help it. I laugh.
“Is that what Old Lady Bell is saying these days?” The woman never has liked my family much. Hasn’t had any reason to.
“What’s your name?” Willow asks.
People are staring, but I don’t care.
“Beau Cadwell. Grandson of Parker Cadwell next door. The evilest family in all the swamp.”
Or so people say.
Willow bites down on her pencil eraser, and I find my eyes drawn to her lips.
“Well, Beau,” she says in a sweet tone. “I don’t think we’re supposed to be friends.”
“I suppose not.”
Her eyes are darker than anything I’ve ever seen. They’re the type of dark that takes over the swamp after the sun falls from the sky.
“You might be trouble for me,” I say, joking. “And I am not nice,” I add, not joking.
“Everyone is part good, part bad,” she replies.
I don’t think she realizes just how offset those parts of me are.
“Even so, you should probably not associate with me,” she says. “My gran would hate it.”
“Would you hate it?” I ask.
Willow twists the metal-clothed eraser between her teeth for a moment before speaking. She holds my stare like she holds her breath. “I’m still trying to decide, Beau Cadwell.”
I like my name on her lips. I like her tongue on her lips. I’d probably like my tongue on her lips, too.
“You are trouble, after all, I hear.” But she doesn’t say it like she’s scared of trouble.
“Then we definitely shouldn’t be friends.” I don’t mean a word of it.
“Okay.” Her eyes leave mine. She looks around the dingy classroom, like she’s just now taking it in, walls buried behind history posters and a chalkboard covered in something that is supposed to pass as legible handwriting.
Half the class is staring at her. Some of the guys look like they want to order her up for dinner. Some of the girls look like they want to burn her alive for talking to me. Just because things ended badly between most of the girls and me doesn’t mean they need to hold a grudge. What does it take to get girls to move on around here?
“Do you want to be friends anyway?” I ask.
She lets her eyes find their way back to me. “Okay.”
And just like that I have an in with the new girl, Willow Bell.
Grant fist-bumps me when Willow isn’t looking.
From across the room, near the front of the class, my twin sister is watching. She sends a razor-sharp smile my way, knowing that I’ll probably do to Willow what I do to all the girls here, which is break her perfect little heart into so many pieces that nothing can fix it.
“Hi, I’m Jorie,” says the girl who plops down next to me on the concrete bench.
Around us, people talk, most rehashing the details of the day as they wait for the bus home. I catch bits and pieces of conversations—a football pep rally, a bake sale, an opening on the school debate team.