Authors: Sara Wolf
I reach out for his hand, my own trembling. His fingers look so long and slender, and gentle. They feel smooth, and warm. I take hold of a few of them, like they’re a lifeline. A raft in the sea.
A rope in a deep hole.
“You smell good,” I say. “And you’re fun to pick on. And I like your mom. You’re smart. Kind of dumb, but also kind of smart. I had fun. With the war. And the kiss. And the date. And you called me beautiful and it was nice. So even if we never battle again, even if you hate me forever for saying I like you, thank you. Thank you a lot -”
I never get to finish.
Jack leans down, his lips on mine, and I roll over and push myself up, and he pushes back, and
I’m against the pillows and headboard and he’s kissing me.
A novel by Sara Wolf
Book 1 of the Lovely Vicious Series
For my mother, D, and for every girl who’s faced the monsters. I love you. Keep going.
Copyright ©2013 by Sara Wolf
All rights reserved. This work or any portion thereof may not be utilized or reproduced in any way, with exception of review purposes, without the written consent of the author.
This is a work of fiction. Any resemblances to real persons, events, names, or locations are coincidental and a product of the author’s imagination.
For questions, concerns, or comments, please contact the author at
When I was six, Dad told me something really true; everyone has a to-do list.
It took me another eleven years to actually make one, but thanks to a certain asshole in my life, my list is finished;
1. Don’t talk about love
2. Don’t think about love.
3. Thinking and talking about love leads to Love, which is the enemy. Do not consort with the enemy. Even if those hot-ass actors in the movies make it look cuddly and nice and tempting, don’t fall for it. It’s the biggest bad in the world, the worst villain ever created by hormone-pumped pubescent morons. It’s the Joker, Lex Luthor, that one overweight guy who’s always messing with the Scooby-Doo gang. It’s the final boss in the massive joke of a video game you call your life.
Everyone at Avery Brighton’s party right now has their own to-do list, and most of them look identical to the following;
1. Get drunk
2. Get more drunk
3. Try not to vomit on anyone cute
4. Try to score with the cute person you tried your best not to vomit on
It’s a foolproof list that’s easy for even idiots to follow. It ensures you’re drunk enough to think everyone is cute, so that you don’t throw up on
, and so you try to score with
. It’s basically a how-to for people who watch too much MTV and think having fun is getting blind drunk and making out with someone they don’t remember. It makes everyone here intolerable. Especially the boys. One of them slings their arms around my shoulders, red in the face and murmuring suggestively about going somewhere quieter. I wrinkle my lip and push him off before I hurry into the kitchen. People are too busy boozing up here to bother hitting on girls. Not that I get hit on a lot. Getting hit on is still a new thing, a weird thing, because boys don’t generally hit on fat girls and that’s what I used to be. The fat girl.
I pull my Florence and the Machine t-shirt lower to make sure it covers everything. Flaunting your stretch marks to the entire ‘cool’ populace of East Summit High probably isn’t the best way to make influential friends. Or friends, period. I’d settle for either. Hell, I’d settle for an enemy at this rate. Without an anchor, the sea of high school is the shittiest ride in the world.
“Isis!” A drunk girl sloshes up to me, black hair plastered to her face with sweat. “Hiiiii! How are…what…you’re doing in here?”
“Uh, yes?” I try. She giggles.
“I’m Kayla. We met in history of the….planet.”
“World History,” I offer.
“Yeah!” She claps and points at me. “Wow. You are
“I’ll be really wet if you don’t stop that.” I gently position her hand upright, her red cup of beer precariously dripping on the floor and my jeans.
“Oh, will you be wet?” She closes both her eyes really hard and smiles. When I don’t react, she does it again.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“Where I come from, that’s called drunk.”
“Drunk?” She buzzes her lips in a laugh, spraying a bit of beer-spit over me. “Not little a even!”
“Look, you’re really - ” I pause as Kayla burps. “ - great and thanks for talking to the weird new girl, but I think you need to go lie down. Or possibly go back in time. Before the invention of liquor.”
“You’re so funny! Who invited you?”
“Ohhh, she’s doing that thing again,” Kayla laughs. “Don’t drink the punch!”
“She invites alllll the new kids to a party. If they stay the entire night without crying or wetting themselves, they’re cool in our book.”
Great. Seven hours of binge drinking crappy beer bought by someone’s older brother is the proving ground for who’s cool and who’s not. I should’ve expected that from a boring, sterile little Ohio suburb like this one.
“What’s in the punch?” I ask, looking over my shoulder at the giant plastic bowl filled with ruby liquid.
“Powdered lax…laxa…pooping powder!” Kayla concludes. A few boys circle around her like sharks, just waiting for the moment she passes the threshold from drunk to too-drunk-to-protest. I glower at them over her shoulder, pull her by the hand upstairs, and go to the second landing, where it’s quiet and not full of horny vultures. We lean on the banister and watch the chaos below.
“So where are you from again?” Kayla asks. Now that she isn’t swaying crazily, I can get a good look at her. Her dark hair and eyes make her one of the few non-white people in the school. Her skin’s amber, the color of honeycomb. She’s really pretty. Better than most of the girls here, anyway, and definitely way better than me.
“I’m from Florida,” I say. “Good Falls. Tiny, boring place. Lots of mosquitos and football jocks.”
“Sounds a lot like here,” she giggles, chugging the rest of her beer. Someone downstairs opens a can of cocktail wieners and starts throwing them around. Girls shriek and duck and pick them out of their hair and boys chuck them at each other and try to get them down girls’ shirts. A wiener flies up and gets stuck in the chandelier, and Kayla ‘ooohs’.
“Avery’s mom isn’t gonna like that,” she says.
“Her parents are probably loaded snobs.”
“How did you know? They’re VEO’s or something.”
“Yeah! I guess it’s a really important job, but then I thought about it really hard and how can it be so important if it’s only three letters?”
“You may be on to something. Something very drunk, but definitely something.”
She beams at me, and reaches over to touch a piece of my hair. “I like that color.”
“Violet Madness,” I say. “That’s what the box called it.”
“Oh, you dyed it yourself? Cool!”
It was part of my pact with myself; lose weight, dye my hair, get clothes that actually fit. Become a better person. Become the person a certain someone would want to date. But I don’t tell her that, because that was the old me – the one who thought love wasn’t stupid. The one who’d do anything for a boy, even lose eighty-five pounds dieting and sweating like a pig. The one who’d go to dirty clubs to drink and smoke just to hang out with his friends. Not even him. His
. I tried to get accepted by them, like it’d make him like me more.
But that’s not me anymore. I’m not in Good Falls. I’m in Northplains, Ohio. No one knows the old me, so I won’t drag her into the limelight just to embarrass the new me. I’m desperate for friends, not socially suicidal. There’s a fine, pathetic line between the two and I’m toeing it like a ballet dancer at her first recital.
“Oh shit,” Kayla hisses suddenly. “I didn’t know
I look to where her eyes are riveted. It’s unmistakable who she’s talking about. Amid the chaos of the wiener throwing and drunk flail-dancing to the Black Eyed Peas is a single island of still calm. He’s gotta be six feet at least. His shoulders are broad, and everything about him is lean – his waist, his long legs, his ridiculously sharp cheekbones. His messy hair isn’t quite blonde, but isn’t quite brown either - more like a tumbleweed color. Next to me, Kayla is ogling him with all she’s got, and she isn’t the only one. Girls froze when he walked in, and guys are throwing him stink eye. Whoever he is, I can already tell he’s one of those people who are popular in all the wrong ways.
He walks further into the party, keeping to himself. Normally you nod at people as you walk in, or look for someone you know in the sea of the crowd. But not this guy. He just walks. He doesn’t have to push or shove his way through – people part naturally. It’s like he’s got an invisible shield around him. He wears a permanent bored expression, like everything around him is completely uninteresting.
“That’s Jack. Jack Hunter,” Kayla whispers. “He never comes to parties like this. They’re way beneath him.”
? He’s in high school, Kayla, not the royal goddamn court.”
“He’s got a nickname around here; Ice Prince. So he sort of is royalty.”
I laugh. When Kayla’s face remains serious, I stop.
“Wait, you’re not kidding? You guys actually call him that?”
She flushes. “Well, yeah! Just like we call Carlos the Mexican quarterback Hot Tortilla and the creepy guy with too many knives who likes to hang around the library Creeper McJeepers. Jack is Ice Prince because that’s what he is!”
I splutter another laugh, and this one must be too loud, because it makes Jack look up. Now that he’s closer I can see his face well. The bored expression does nothing for him. Kayla’s whispering ‘he’s cute’ to me, but that’s not it at all. He’s
baby-faced cute in the way girls giggle about during sleepovers and between classes. He’s handsome; the kind of lion-eyed, sharp-nosed, broad-lipped handsome you see in Italian suit ads. I can see why they call him Ice Prince. Aside from the thick fog of pretentiousness that follows him, his eyes are the color of a lake frozen through – a blue so light it looks almost translucent. And they’re looking right at me. Kayla makes a noise disturbingly similar to a small monkey and hides behind my shoulder.
“He’s looking at us!” She hisses.
“Why are you hiding?”
Kayla mumbles something into my shirt. I roll my eyes.
“You like him.”
“Not so loud!” She pinches my neck and pulls.
! You can’t have my vertebrae, I need those!”
“Then don’t say dumb things like that so loud!”
She twists, and I yelp. Our din is doing nothing to avert Jack’s eyes - or anyone else’s. I manage to pry her fingers off the part of my nervous system that makes sure I keep breathing and duck into the bathroom to pee. The toilet’s a mess, and I pat it in sympathy on my way out. Stay strong, buddy. One way or another, this will all be over soon. Either we’ll all drop dead of alcohol poisoning, or your bowl will erode from the acidity of the gallons of vomit you’ve been subjected to. Do they give you retirement benefits? No? They should. We should protest. Picket. Toilet Union United.
When I’m done talking to the toilet in a completely sane manner, I walk out to the exact thing I didn’t want to see; Kayla, downstairs again. But the boys are leaving her alone. All except one. Or rather, it’s one boy
not leaving alone.
“I don’t u-usually see you at these kinds of parties,” Kayla stammers to none other than Jack himself. He scoffs.
“No. I don’t particularly enjoy rolling in mud. Tonight’s an exception.” He looks around the room, his lip curling. “But you do, I’m guessing.”
“W-What? No, I mean, I’m just Avery’s friend. She makes me come. I don’t even really like these parties –”
“Your speech is slurred and you’re stumbling. You can barely control your own body. If you have to get this drunk to stand the parties your friends make you go to, you’re an idiot who’s made the wrong friends.”
Kayla’s expression stiffens, like she’s been slapped, and then her eyes start watering. My blood begins to boil – who the hell does he think he is?
“That’s n-not what I meant –” Kayla starts.
“And you look exactly like the type of girl to stay with friends she hates. They probably hate you, too. It must be easy, hiding it behind all that booze and all those name brands.”
Kayla’s tears overflow onto her cheeks. Jack sighs.
“You’re so spineless you collapse into tears the second anyone says the truth?”
My heart’s thumping in my chest. My fists squeeze so tight I can’t feel my fingers. I shove the red-faced boy who tries to hit on me again aside and launch myself through the crowd. Kayla isn’t my friend. No one here is. But she’s been four seconds of nice to me - true nice, not Avery’s sugary poison of inviting-me-to-the-weird-test-party nice. And four seconds is more than I ever thought I’d get. It’s the most I’ve had in a long time. Jack’s lip quirks up in a sneer. Say it. Say one more thing, pretty boy. I dare you to.
That’s the first time I punch Jack Hunter’s face. And as my knuckles connect with his stupid high cheekbones and he staggers back with a furious blizzard brewing in his icy eyes, I somehow get the feeling it won’t be the last.
“Apologize to Kayla,” I demand, and the entire house goes quiet. It starts like a ripple, the people next to me and Kayla and Jack falling silent. And then it moves, jumping like a flea, like a disease, silent and ominous and spreading faster than a cat picture on Facebook. It’s like the entire party has stopped, slowed down just to see what Jack will do. They want a show. They’re a pack of ruthless little hyenas and I just bit the lion. Maybe Jack can sense that, because once he gets over his shock he glances around carefully, like he’s plotting his next move, and then fixes me with a glare so frigid it could probably freeze lava.
“Judging by your expression –” I cross my arms and glower. “Getting punched for being an ass is something new.”