Josh...Joshua Greyson...is a king.
My mind flickers in an attempt to wrap around the idea of knowing a king.
I never knew Josh is royalty.
Wait, that makes absolutely no sense.
“The king of Pandora Academy is talking to her,” someone whispers.
Ah, yes. That makes more sense.
Hold on a second. I’m certain someone made that comment earlier.
Josh continues to stare down at me. I open my mouth, but not a single word exit. Everyone looks at us with heightened intensity; it’s disturbing. They stood there and waited for the play to unfold.
I wish I were one of them, merely standing there - perhaps with a bucket of popcorn and a bottle of soda.
Gosh, I miss soda.
My eyes linger around, analyzing the situation. If Josh is a king and Madison is the queen. Then, Mason being Madison’s twin, does that make him a king too?
Can there be two kings at one school?
What about Crystal? She is Josh’s cousin, and her step-father is equally important compared to Josh’s father. Does that mean she is royalty too?
If they are all royalty-ish, from the point of one of the students, I am a commoner who happens to gain a king’s attention?
Why are they all so quiet?
Why isn’t the class bell ringing?
Why aren’t people going to their classes?
Why am I thinking of all these things?
There were too many questions leaping into my mind causing me to stare intensely at Josh.
“Hey! What’s going on over-” the crowd made way for Ahmend, who had a lollipop between his smirking lips. He stood beside Josh, then crossed his arms. His eyes flicker towards Josh before it laid back to me. “Josh-” he bit his lower lips, holding a fist over his mouth. Ahmend snorts slightly, a chuckle of amusement escaping his lips. “Wait, allow me to get into character first,” he whispers loud enough for only Josh and me to hear, causing our brows to scrunch.
I’m still on the floor.
I don’t know why.
After a few seconds, Ahmend whips his head up. “Josh, do you know this girl?”
I straighten out my skirt. “What are you saying, Ahmend?” I asked.
Josh tuck his lips over his teeth, eyes scrunching with pure amusement. He held a fist over his twitching lips, then cleared his throat a few times before responding: “No, I don’t.”
I open my mouth, wanting to know why Josh would say something like that. He knows me!
“Then, why did you call her HayBug earlier?” Madison jumps in before I can respond.
His eyes flicker towards her. “She-” he looks at me, then tilts his head. “She looks like a ladybug laying on the ground,” he said after a few seconds, then nodded as if that excuse made sense.
Everyone stared at me from head to toe then nodded in agreement.
“I do not look like a ladybug!” I scream, then stomp my foot.
“But you call her HayBug," Madison rebuttal.
“She looks like a Bug and-” he took a step towards me and rushed his fingers through my hair. That, itself, caused my chest to beat rigorously, mainly when he pulls me inward, “her hair is yellow like Hay. Hence, I call her HayBug," he said firmly, then smiled.
The whispers around us increased in volume as Josh’s hand ran from my hair down towards my waist. Everyone’s eyes follow his movement, including mine. I tried to push away from Josh, who held me closer to him.
He glances at Madison. “Any more questions, Mad?” His tone sounded slightly irritated.
She lifts a finger and points at us. “She is trying to get away from you,” she said bluntly, and I nod in agreement. “And you’re holding a stranger a bit too close, aren’t you? That’s fucking weird.”
“It’s not weird,” he replies, then slaps my butt, causing the whole hallway to gasp, including me.
I leap back and cover my bum as my knuckles slam against the lockers. “What are you doing, Josh? Why did you slap my butt in front of everyone?”
He grins, “Because I’m claiming you as mine.”
The gasping sound increases.
Josh’s smile disappeared, then he held my hands. He got down on one knee. “I don’t know who you are, but I fell in love at first sight with you, HayBug,” he pauses, then closes his eyes dramatically before exhaling a deep breath, “Please, be my girlfriend.”
My mouth drops on the floor as Ahmend pounds his knuckle onto the lockers with a peal of silent laughter exiting his throat. His face turns a deep shade of red, sounding as if he was hyperventilating. The heat rash from my neck towards my face and I knew I looked like a tomato.
“Josh!” Crystal made her way towards us. Her high heels slammed against the tiles and hit the back of Josh’s head. “Leave Hailey alone! Stop teasing her in front of the whole student body!”
Josh dropped one of my hands and stood up, still holding the other one. “She dared to ask me to treat her like a stranger. So, I’m treating her like one.”
That is not my intention.
Josh points a finger at Crystal. “You’re the one who exposes her.” He wiggles his finger then glances at me. “Look, she exposes you.” He points at Crystal.
“You all know each other?” Madison asks, twirling a single finger in the air.
Josh drapes an arm over me and smiles proudly. “Hailey Vaughn. My childhood best friend and number one girl,” he declares in front of the whole school.
I slap a hand over my face.
So much for trying to make friends on my own.
“So, what? She’s your girl?” Madison continues questioning, eyes glaring at me menacingly.
Josh kept a smile on his face as he gave my arm a rash. “Yup! She is my girl.”
I glance up at Josh, pushing him back lightly. “Woah...I am not your girl.” I glance around, seeing a bunch of skeptical and burning jealous eyes. “I am not his girlfriend!” I clarify.