“I mean it Caroline. Ethan is not a good guy.”
“What do you mean not a good guy?”
“I mean I know his type. A low life, guitar playing, marijuana hippie.”
“Well not hippie like 70’s Californian hippie but hippie like smells like green.”
Caroline glanced across the hall, at the stallion himself. A 17 year boy with dark hair and blazing, smoking eyes. His features were sharp and reminiscent of James Dean. He wasn’t the most buff looking guy but he had muscles. He wore a black t-shirt and ripped jeans and a battered up book bag to match. He always had a bored and scary look on his face. A green and hot flame snake tattoo peaked out from his shirt-line on his neck.
”Well I think maybe he will be civil at least, Miranda” Caroline said slamming her locker. Caroline let down her blonde hair and shook it out.
Miranda shook her head. “Trust me honey, Ethan Perez is anything but civil. I saw him break Eric Timberlake’s nose in half freshman year…and it was the first day of school.”
“Well I guess he’ll have to be nice to you since you are going to be working on the English project together.” Miranda worked out as they walked down the halls together.
“Yeah,” Caroline frowned, “I guess.”
Caroline thought about Ethan Perez all throughout 2nd and 3rd period. She thought about how she heard stories about him, getting into knife fights in carcass clubs, hooking up with girls in school bathroom, getting tattoos on risky street corners. How was she suppose to get through The Great Gasby with that fool. She was better off just doing it by herself. He would for sure fail them, and straight A Caroline just couldn’t take a B grade, she just couldn’t.
After having a mini-panic attack in the bathroom, she made her legs walk out to the parking lot, where she knew she’d find him. There he was, standing by his motorcycle with a helmet on, talking to some brunette girl or should Caroline say flirting, judging by the girl’s blush and Ethan’s infamous smirk.
Caroline felt her heart speed up and a feeling of dread arose in her. She hated herself right now, why did she even try to talk to him when he was in the zone?
Ethan’s looked away from the girl and his dark eyes meet hers. Caroline has never wanted to sink herself into the ground more than she did now. “Yeah?”
Caroline flipped back her hair and stood up a little taller. “I’m here to talk to you about our project.”
Ethan furrowed his brows. “Project?”
“Yes, for Mrs. Jefferson class,” Caroline glanced at the annoyed expression in the girl’s face and back at Ethan’s confused face, “never mind, forget it.”
Caroline turned back around.
Ethan looked back at the other girl. “See you later, Sally.”
Sally looked offended.
“It’s Cecilia.” Cecilia walked away.
Ethan examined Caroline from head to toe and she felt herself grow even more self-conscious if possible.
“So we can’t meet at my house because my dad’s out of town and there is no boys allowed when he’s gone but I was thinking maybe we could meet at your house.”
Ethan’s face hardened. “No, I don’t think that’s a good idea.”
Caroline sunk. “Okay so maybe we can go to a coffee house or something…but then again I don’t really study well with loud noises.”
Ethan shifted on his bike and Caroline couldn’t help notice how it made the muscles in his hands pop out even more. “I know a place but you might not like it. Nobody will bother us there though.”
Caroline thought about it. She knew as a woman she should never take rides from strangers but they really did need to get started on their project which was due at the end of the week and she couldn’t take Ethan to her house and he obviously didn’t want her to come to his. Besides if he tried anything, she had a can of pepper spray and a pocket knife just waiting for him in her book-bag.
“Alright.” She said.
Ethan smirked and handed her an extra helmet. “Hope on.”
Caroline grimaced and put the helmet on anyways, raising one leg around the motorcycle and then clung to him tightly. She heard the engine roar and then they were off. The whole motorcycle ride, all she could think about was the way Ethan smelled and the way it felt to wrap her arms around his body. He was actually a pretty descent driver and he obeyed the rules of the law, to which Caroline was grateful. He took one last turn and they finally arrived at their destination. Caroline took a look around.
It was a field of flowers and it smelled fresh like Summertime and rain.
Caroline hopped off the bike and took of the helmet. “This is where you took me. Where are we?”
Ethan smirked and got off the bike, running his hand through his dark hair. “We’re at a meadow, just five minutes out of town.”
Caroline turned to face him. “You didn’t take me out here to kill me, did you?”
Something flashed into Ethan’s eyes. Amusement…maybe? “What kind of a person do you take me as?”
Caroline crossed her arms. “I don’t know a guy that likes to get into fights and is highly anti-social. That’s psychopathic behavior.”
Ethan shrugged, reaching over into his bike’s basket and taking out a blanket, and his book-pack and spreading it out into an open spot. “You got on with me, besides I’m not much of a talker.” Ethan sat down and patted to an open space beside him.
Caroline smiled and sat down next to him, pulling out her Great Gasby book. She was surprised at how there was almost no bugs around. “Well, you should talk to people. They’d think you were less scary.”
Ethan smirked. “And why would I want them to think that I wasn’t scary.”
Caroline mumbled. “Well maybe you’d have more friends.”
Ethan chuckled. “I have friends. They just… don’t go to school. Besides, we can’t all be like you. Student body council, teacher’s pet, town’s famous DA’s daughter, social butterfly. Caroline Gilbert.”
Caroline raised her eyebrow. “You know who my father is?”
Ethan nodded. “Yeah that’s how I know your name. Everyone knows who your dad is, he has more wealth than anyone in this small town combined. People talk. Must be fun to have a bunch of money.”
“Money doesn’t solve everything, trust me.” Caroline said thinking about the arguments her parents have been having lately.
Ethan shrugged. “Maybe not, but it’s sure of a hell of a lot better than being a poor ass like me.”
Caroline frowned. “You can’t help that your poor. If anything I’m a nepotism baby. Mom’s a doctor and father’s a lawyer and I‘m just a little privileged little rich girl that gets to reap the benefits of both of their 6 figure jobs.”
Ethan looked at her funny and it made heat rise up into Caroline’s cheeks. “What?”
And then….he smiled, an actual smile. Not a smirk he gives when he’s being rebellious against teachers, or picking up girls. A genuine smile.
“It’s just…you’re a lot more than I thought you were Caroline.”
Caroline felt stunned and a feeling of surreal passed over her. “Yeah right Ethan…c’mon we have to finish our project.”
They did their project and Caroline was amazed at how much Ethan knew about The Great Gasby, how smart he was. They came out with a good outline for their presentation and made great progress but what shocked Caroline the most was that after they finished their project, Ethan and her talked,and talked, and talked. About random things. Turns out Ethan’s favorite genre was rock, same as hers. he loved bands like Oasis and The Beatles, while she liked Billy Joel and Queen. He always said that his biggest dream was to be a great guitarist like Brian May and play sell out concerts. Caroline shared with him that her biggest dream was to become a fashion designer, unlike her parents dream of hers to become a lawyer or doctor. They talked about their favorite meal; Ethan liked spaghetti and Caroline like tortillas. (“My abuela actually taught me how to made tortillas and taught me Spanish.”) Caroline told Ethan how awful she was in Spanish and he offered to help her. After a while, she started to feel different about Ethan, different than she felt this morning. Maybe he’s not as crazy as everyone makes him to seem.
Afterwards he had drove her home. They made an agreement to meet back up at the meadow tomorrow, Ethan promising to bring tortillas and rock music while they studied. She had went to bed that night, dreaming of dark hair, and the smell of lilac flowers in the summertime.
When she went to school the next day in the hallway where Miranda was currently trying to discuss what theme they should do for prom this year, she glanced over to the tall, tattered up boy leaning against his locker, and smiled. His dark eyes meet hers.
And he smiled back.
Caroline felt her head rush and her heart felt fluttery. She didn’t know what her and Ethan Perez was and she didn’t know what she wanted them to be, but for now she was just happy being his friend.