Gen 3 Ch 7: High School and Petty Drama

Irene’s POV

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“Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, all’s good, Mom.”

My son was going through something, that much I could tell, but he was loathe to tell me. And I couldn’t help but feel like I was failing him in some way.

The fact of the matter was, for weeks now, Phoenix was withdrawn and upset. While he was normally always with someone, talking and making plans (something David and I marveled at), now he was constantly staying alone in his room. And it was summer vacation – normally, he would’ve been out of the house all of the time. This was unlike him and we were worried.

After asking Millie if she knew anything, I still had no results. And with a small child on my hands, I didn’t have the ability to start snooping around properly.

This was how I found myself at Gerald’s house. He was a father of two teenagers himself and he was usually level-headed enough to figure his way through such problems.

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“So, how have you been, sis? Is Felicity letting you and David sleep through the night?” Gerald smiled.

“Felicity is fine. At least I think she is, even though sometimes she is really fussy. So far, her biggest concerns are sleeping, eating, and having a clean diaper on. I wish it were that easy with Phoenix,” I sighed.

“Ah, the terrible teenage years! It wasn’t so long ago that we were thinking about prom, dates and bringing down Collier Enterprises. Funny how things turned out, isn’t it?” Gerald chuckled. “But I do know what you mean. Our kind of drama was much different from that of our children. Who knew good old Phoenix was going to be the cause of such passions, huh?”

“His breakup was messy, I admit. He always seemed so mature as a kid– I never thought he’d screw up like this in a relationship!”

“From what I gather, his girlfriend caught him red-handed with someone of a questionable reputation,” Gerald informed me.

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“That Morgan girl?” I frowned upon remembering her. I’ve only seen her a couple of times, but she did not make a stellar impression on me. Something was just off – I couldn’t really explain it. But Phoenix seemed smitten, so there must’ve been something good about her.

“The very same. According to Tiff, Rashida was absolutely heart-broken to find them making out at that nightclub.”

“Tell me about it! I was there. David and I arrived at the nightclub just as she was leaving. I was rather shocked to hear some of those expletives coming out of her mouth. Rashida has always seemed like a very pleasant person. Although, I must admit, I do wonder …” I was still going over the situation, wondering where my son went wrong.

“If Phoenix was not as much in the wrong as she made it sound?” Gerald finished my sentence. “I agree. From what I gathered from overhearing my daughters, it seems like both of them were at fault. Phoenix absolutely should not have gone out with someone else the day they decided to take a break-“

“Wait, they were on a break? Then how is it cheating!” I didn’t know that part.

“You didn’t know, did you? Figures. But of course that girl spun everything to make the boyfriend the bad guy. She’s one of those girls,” Gerald declared.

“She isn’t…. I had my doubts about her when my son started dating my ex’s daughter, but she’s a good kid,” I defended the girl. I’ve been in her shoes, sort of.

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“I’m not saying she isn’t. But I’ve seen her and Phoenix together a few times and she seemed to me to be a little clingy. You know, Katie and I had a similar problem at one point. It was before we even decided to marry. She was constantly messaging me, concerned about me… mind you, it was still in the days we were chasing after Lionel, so I was busy a lot of the time.”

“Really? You’ve never told me.” I couldn’t believe my brother’s relationship has ever been anything less than perfect.

“There was nothing to tell! We’ve worked things out. Katie and I actually dedicated an entire date night to this. We stayed up super late talking about everything, I promised I’d try to keep in touch more, she admitted she was pushing things a bit too far with her overprotectiveness, we’ve set some boundaries – things went much smoother after that and we’ve never fought about this again. Perhaps Phoenix and Rashida could’ve benefited from the same kind of a conversation,” Gerald offered, wise as usual.

“I can’t believe he didn’t try to,” I frowned. My son wasn’t the kind of person to have communication problems.

“Are you talking about Phoenix?” Tiffani huffed, coming back home with Jeanne. “He screwed up, end of the story.”

“I don’t know, Tiff,” Jeanne shook her head. “Maybe we’ve been too quick to take Rashida’s side. After all, he is our cousin. I kind of feel bad about yelling at him.”

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“But he still cheated,” Tiffani tried to argue, but Jeanne quickly shook her head.

“No he didn’t. He may have moved on super-fast, but he didn’t cheat. Rashida even admitted they were on break. She did make the situation seem worse than it was.”

“So, you’re saying we should start talking to him again?” Tiffani made a face.

“Probably. I mean, we were kind of harsh on him. I know I was,” Jeanne shrugged. “Besides, the last few times I’ve seen him, he wasn’t with Morgan. I think she’s with some other guy now, so it’s not like we have to be in her company.”

I couldn’t believe my ears. It sounded like Phoenix’s social situation has been messed up for a while now. Did he and Morgan break up too? That would explain why I didn’t see her with him at all these days…

All of this made me even sadder. I was his mother – didn’t he feel comfortable enough to share things with me?

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As of reading my mind, Gerald hurried to reassure me, “It’s not you, Irene. Boys, especially at that age, wouldn’t share these things with their mothers. He wouldn’t want you to judge him.”

“I wouldn’t judge. But it sounds like he’s had another breakup and I couldn’t even comfort him. I just wish I could help him somehow.”

“You know, maybe we can. What helped you when you and Micah broke up?”

“I pushed myself into work and finding more intel on Collier Enterprises,” I remembered.

“In other words, you got busy. Which is exactly what he needs to do. I have the perfect idea. Didn’t you say Phoenix is a really good writer?” Gerald asked, an excited gleam in his eyes.

“His English teacher did. And from what I’ve read of his essays, it’s true.”

Gerald leaned back with a smile. “Good. You see, our newspaper is starting a rubric for young writers. Perhaps, we can get Phoenix interested? I know for a fact that having published work will look good on his college application. You know what? I will talk to him after your birthday.”

“Will you? Thanks. I will really appreciate it.” If I couldn’t help my son at the moment, then perhaps, his uncle could.

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Phoenix’s POV

After my parent’s birthdays passed, I got a call from Uncle Gerald, inviting me over to his place after school. Much as I liked Uncle Gerald, I had to admit, I was a bit scared to show up at his place. Who knew what my cousins would do? They weren’t my biggest fans these days…

Nevertheless, here I was. Luckily, Uncle Gerald was home and I didn’t have to wait for him.

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“Phoenix! Come in, come in. How’s life? How’s school? Have you been working on university applications yet?” he barraged me with questions.

“Uh, not really. I tried researching schools and majors but nothing seems quite right, you know,” I shrugged. I knew my parents wanted me to go to a university, but I didn’t want to go and just waste tuition money.

“Well, you’ve still got time, don’t worry about it. Come upstairs, I have a business proposition for you,” he urged.

Confused, I followed. As soon as he changed into comfortable clothes, Uncle Gerald started up his computer.

“Our newspaper is starting up a rubric for young writers. Now, it’s going to take some time to find enough people to really get it going, but all of us at the office are looking for people who can write well. And I instantly thought about you.”

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“Me? I’m not that good, really,” I protested. I wrote when I had an assignment, sure. My English teachers always gave me praise, but I strongly believed anyone could write those essays well, provided they didn’t half-ass the assignment. Most people just didn’t care enough about the grade to put much effort into their writing.

“Phoenix, I appreciate your modesty, but I’ve read your essays. Hidden Springs Daily could really benefit from someone like you writing for us. And you can write about any topic of your choice. We want to keep things interesting.”

“Alright… When would I have to start?” I was willing to give it a try. It wasn’t like I had anything better to do.

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“No better time than now! Seriously, that’s why I’m having you use my computer. You can take as long as you want. Write down even a few paragraphs – I want to send them to the head editor when you’re done. If they like what they read, you can consider yourself writer for the Hidden Springs Daily.”

“Uh, it sounds a little like nepotism, Uncle Gerald. Wouldn’t they certainly publish whatever I write because I’m your nephew?” I voiced my concern.

“Is this what worries you? In that case, I can keep your name off the writing until it is approved for publishing and just tell them it’s from an anonymous source. Would you like that?” he proposed.

That did sound like a plan. After all, I was sure Hidden Springs daily wouldn’t really want my writing.

“Just a few paragraphs,” he reminded me before leaving the room.

“Alright, here we go. Just a few paragraphs…” What could I write about?

An hour later I found myself looking at nearly five pages examining the culture and traditions of Egypt from an outsider’s perspective. It was way more than a few paragraphs, but what could I say? Foreign traditions always fascinated me.

Saving the document to my uncle’s desktop, I headed downstairs to look for him. Instead I found Tiffani, who was busy making hot dogs.

I haven’t seen her since she graduated high school, but before, whenever we saw each other at school, things were icy between us.

My attempt to quietly leave failed.

“Phoenix? You’re here? Hey…” she didn’t look pleased to see me.

“I was just leaving. Is Uncle Gerald not here anymore?”

“He left to buy some groceries; he’ll be back soon enough.” She paused before adding, “You should stay and eat, you’re probably hungry now.”

“I don’t think that’s a good idea-“

“I insist. Seriously, I’m not going to poison you or something. You are my younger cousin, after all.”

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Dinner with Tiffani was awkward, to say the least. Until she finally asked:

“What was the fight about?”

“Huh?”

“Between you and Rashida. I know you had a fight before you broke up. I’m just curious about what brought it on,” she explained.

“A bit of everything, really. She got jealous over me helping Quiang’s sister with her essay and I got angry over her constant need to keep tabs on me. We both kind of said some explosive things and she said we should take a break. I wanted to talk to her, but you know how things went….” I found myself spilling everything.

“Is that so…” Tiffani drifted off, a peculiar expression on her face. At that time Jeanne and a classmate of ours, Julia, came in.

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“Well, look at you two, getting along! Told you, he wasn’t completely at fault,” Jeanne stated.

“Yeah, it seems good old Rashi really did blow some things out of proportion,” Tiffani admitted. “I still don’t like what you did, Phoenix, but I think I see what happened, sort of.”

“I should’ve listened to your side of the story as well before making assumptions about this whole situation,” Jeanne added. “But there was just a lot of weirdness with everything.”

“Yeah, like Sergio and Rashida getting together?” Julia mentioned, joining the conversation.

“Yeah, that.” My cousins both nodded in agreement.

“They did get together?” I asked incredulously.

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“Oh, you don’t know yet?” Tiff chuckled. “They’ve been sucking face all over the school. It’s kind of over the top, really. But then again, you’ve been busy too, huh? Morgan?”

“Yeah, that’s no longer a thing,” I admitted.

“Wanna talk about it?” Tiffani offered.

“Honestly, not really. Perhaps, another time. I should go now.”

“Take care, cuz. We’ll see you around.”

I left their house feeling lighter than I had in the last two months. Perhaps, breaking up with Rashida was the best decision I’ve made. I probably should’ve made it sooner – maybe both of us could’ve ended things on better terms. As for Morgan, she was a good lesson: just because someone sweet-talks you, they don’t necessarily mean well.


When fall came, I was officially one of Hidden Springs Daily’s new youth correspondents. Uncle Gerald submitted my work anonymously at first (I believed him, he wasn’t the type to lie) and the editors loved it. In fact, they wanted more, much more. So, on top of my already impressive schoolwork, I now had to do extra research for newspaper topics.

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But that was completely fine with me – the thrill of seeing my articles in the daily paper was well worth the extra work!

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As a result, I now spent much more time at the city library, looking up facts, combing through archives, finding new information to write about. After the first article, I enjoyed the positive outpour of views and comments on the paper’s website. It was really something – I was educating others about something! I wanted to make sure all of my subsequent articles were just as good or better.

Leaving the library one evening, I spotted a familiar face out in the square – Jeanine. Trust her to study outdoors when it is already almost too dark to see.

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“Hey, long time no see!” I called.

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“Phoenix? Hey!!!” She closed up her book and placed it in the pile behind her, rubbing her eyes. “What’s up?”

“Just researching stuff at the library,” I explained.

“Of course! You’re the big correspondent now! Congrats, I’ve always thought you’d make a good writer. How do you even know all that international stuff?” She marveled.

“It’s a hobby, I guess. What about you? All these books?” I gestured to the piles.

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She sighed. “Stupid schools with their stupid regulations. Like, it’s not enough that I’m on the soccer team, no, I also need to have a high GPA. And my GPA is already high, but they want to make sure I’m not just getting in due to athletics… They’re idiots is what I’m saying. So, now I’m studying like crazy to make sure I don’t mess up on any of the upcoming class tests, which could potentially lower my scores…”

That sounded like Jeanine, alright. Although, she was already smart, she didn’t need to prove anything. I wondered if there was something else going on.

“So, how have you been? I’m sorry I kind of fell of the face of the earth again. It’s just been like this,” she pointed to the books again. “I’ve been an awful friend to many, lately.”

“Hey, you’re not a bad friend! I haven’t really been around much either, to be honest. Sorry about that…” I admitted.

“It’s alright, between your girlfriend and the new job, you’ve had your hands full. I don’t know how you manage it, really. I don’t even have work but I already feel swamped,” she lamented.

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“Well, just work, now. Morgan and I have been over for a couple of months now,” I let her know. It was kind of strange – with how information traveled around our school, I thought she already knew.

“Oh, no! What happened?” she looked legitimately surprised.

I found myself spilling everything that happened, how I ended up dating Morgan, how the guys exposed her, how my cousins were still kind of cool with me for some reason, even though they knew I wasn’t really at fault.

She smiled sadly. “Sorry about Morgan. I had no idea she was like that. And wow, she was stringing my brother along too? Yikes. As for your cousins…” she bit her lip.

“What is it?” Were they angry at her too for some reason? Why? What could Jeanine have done?

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“Well, you know how Jeanne and I have always been super tight? Well, she’s been kind of distant with me lately. And honestly, I think Tiffani is responsible. She’s always been the ring-leader of the group, so to say. Well, she and you. But after everyone got angry at you over Rashida, it’s just been her. She’s is a bit of a queen bee. I think she was mostly calling the shots around the school, before she graduated. Her and …” she drifted off again.

“Ok, what happened between you and my cousins? You were good friends before.” None of this made sense.

“Taylor and I broke up and they took his side. There,” she let out.

“Wait, why? Why would they take his side?” this made even less sense.

“Not all of them. Just Tiffani and Rashida did. I think Jeanne and Trevor are sort of the voices of reason for them, but they’re outnumbered,” Jeanine explained patiently.

“What did he tell them?” I was becoming more and more disappointed with my family.

“More like, he didn’t correct his story. His mom couldn’t find her expensive diamond earrings and he accused me of stealing them.”

“Diamond earrings? I’m pretty sure I saw his sister wear them, the flower shaped ones, right?”

“The very same. It all came out eventually; Julia even admitted she took them. So Taylor came to apologize to me, but let’s just say, he didn’t sound sincere enough – I told him to take a hike. He was really pissed. Anyways, I guess he stuck to his original story with the rest of the school- that I stole from his family.”

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“Ok, ok, your relationship fiasco definitely takes the cake,” I sympathized. Yikes. And I thought I dated the wrong people.

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“It’s alright, I’m glad I know what kind of a person he is now. How could I even like him, right?” she laughed.

“Well, he has nice hair, I suppose,” I chuckled.

“That’s kind of a shitty reason to keep dating someone who doesn’t even trust you, though,” she stated. “You know, I have to admit, I owe you an apology.”

“What for?” Her words surprised me.

“I kind of thought Rashida’s behavior for the last couple of years wasn’t very good towards you, the clinginess, the possessiveness, the rest. But I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to make the situation worse, you know. Have you noticed we didn’t hang out much while the two of you dated?”

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“I suppose. But you were with Taylor and we were all busy.”

“True. But I’ve noticed she didn’t like you hanging out with any females not related to you. That included me. I guess she thought I could try to seduce you away from her, imagine that?” she laughed. “But also, I felt bad because Jeanne and I kind of created this whole situation when we told you she had a crush on you. So, we were kind of responsible. I know Jeanne feels the same way.”

“This is ridiculous,” I chuckled. “You told me, yes, but eventually, she and I would’ve coupled up without your help too. We did like each other a lot. Besides, you’re not responsible for her behavior. We’re still friends.”

“That’s good to know,” she smiled. “So, Rashida and Sergio, huh? Who would’ve thought…?”

“Not me, that’s for sure.” Seeing them making out at a local diner the other day was weird enough.”

“Well, this year is going to go better, anyways. Tiffani is out of school now, Rashida is always with Sergio, and Jeanne and Trevor have common sense, so they’ll figure out we were never in the wrong to begin with! And there will be senior prom and we’ll all be able to relax for once.”

“Ugh, I’m not going,” I shuddered. The atmosphere at school, even without my older cousin there, was still going to be weird.

“Um, yes you are! You can’t just not go, Phoenix, you’ll regret it. Besides, if you don’t go, the assholes win,” she stated.

“I take it you’re going?”

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“Of course! I already bought an expensive dress, I’m not wasting it just because some idiots decided to mess with my reputation,” she challenged.

“Alright, then. I’ll go to. At least, I know I won’t be alone in enemy territory.”

“That’s the spirit. And before we know it, senior year is done and we’re off to uni, hopefully leaving all the bullshit in the past,” Jeanine smiled.

She was right. We weren’t going to let the idiots win.

“Well, I really have to go home now, I promised I’ll help Sonja with her school work,” Jeanine got up and started gathering her books.

“Schoolwork? School hasn’t started yet.”

“She wasn’t doing too well in her previous year and she has to retake her math class in summer school. She still doesn’t really get the material though, so it’s time for her big sister to come to the rescue!” she explained.

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“I guess this will be my job when Felicity is older,” I realized.

“Oh, absolutely. So, you better study up for your future job as big brother/teacher/hero!” she laughed. “Well, take care. I’ll text you soon, promise.”

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After she left, I pondered the situation with our schoolmates. It was kind of sad that our classmates and friends had such a petty side. But then, who didn’t?

At least I had one friend who had her head on properly. Unfortunately, she was dealing with something she totally didn’t deserve.

And now I’ve basically promised to go to prom. I just hoped it will go off without any weirdness, although I had a feeling this was wishful thinking.

 

 

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Gen 3 Ch 6: Word Spreads Fast

Author’s Note: Just as I promised, I’m publishing a chapter in October! There’s cursing, mention of teen sex, and other stuff. So, if you don’t like that, please don’t read.


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Being grounded was weird. This was pretty much the first time ever that I found myself in that kind of trouble with my folks, and they didn’t really seem to know how to punish me properly. I think they were mostly confused by the whole situation.

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How in the world did they know I was at the club in the first place? Well, as it turned out, Tamsen, the girl who used to babysit me when she younger, was now working as the bartender at the Chill Out. And while I didn’t notice her, with my attention mostly on Morgan, she certainly noticed and recognized me. And she didn’t waste any time calling Mom and informing her I was at the club.

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I don’t know if that was the moment my folks flipped out at me or the moment they arrived at the club to find a furious Rashida heading out. When they stopped her to ask what was going on, she told them exactly what she thought of me and why I warranted such an opinion.

Yeah, I think that later part was what tipped the scales against me. And when Dad stormed in to find me getting cozy with Morgan, he only got angrier.

As it was, I was supposed to come home straight from school and from now on, I couldn’t go to any of my friends’ houses or out with them, and I would have extra chores around the house.

I didn’t get my electronics taken away, though. Which really could’ve been just another part of the punishment.

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My phone rang nonstop with angry texts and calls from my cousins and after the fifth time of getting yelled at by them, I honestly just stopped picking up their calls. The texts kept on coming though and I was considering smashing the little apparatus against the wall.

Apparently, another person I didn’t notice at the club was Rashida’s younger sister Clara, and she also didn’t waste any time calling her older sister over to the “crime scene.” As it was, at the moment Rashida received her call, Tiffani was over at the Sheppard household, since she was both her friend and her older brother Kane’s girlfriend. After our fight at school, Rashida was already in a shitty mood and my cousin and her brother were the ones calming her down. After she received Clara’s phone call, stormed out of the house, and came back in hysterics… well, I was pretty much a complete monster in my cousins’ eyes.

The lack of communication from the guys was an indicator that they were also pissed at me. Usually Sergio would call every once in a while to chat and even the quieter Trevor would text once in a while to see if we were up for getting food at the dinner. Now – no texts or calls.

I was really not looking forward to school on Monday.

I knew I messed up with Rashida. I knew I should’ve ended things with her when our relationship began to bother me. But as she was my friend first, I really didn’t want to call that shot. And now, I’ve just made things so much worse.

I just hoped I’d be able to patch things up with my friends.

Which, didn’t prove to be in the cards, as it turned out.

Morning classes went by without incident. The only person in them who could’ve made trouble was Trevor and he nodded to me when he saw me, so I figured the situation wasn’t as bad as I thought.

But by the time lunch rolled around… I didn’t even make it to the cafeteria before I was met with the stony faces of the rest of our friend group.

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“How could you! How fucking could you, Phoenix?!” Sergio blew up at me. “How could you betray Rashida like this?!”

“Seriously, Phoenix?” Jeanne shook her head. “You of all people should’ve known what your actions would do to Rashi. She was red eyed this morning – she’s still really upset.”

“I just can’t believe you went with Morgan after we’ve warned you about her, man,” Trevor shook his head. “Seriously, that chick is bad news.”

“It doesn’t matter who he went after!” Sergio exploded again. “How could he cheat on Rashida? She’s been into him for so long. Do you know how much she cares about you, Phoenix? Well, do you?”

“Woah, man!” I tried to defend myself. “I know she’s great. I know I’ve messed up. But honestly, our relationship wasn’t going so great lately. In fact, on Friday, we’ve decided to take a break.”

I really had no idea why Sergio of all the people was giving me the hardest time over this. He was there all of those times when Rashida was at her clingiest. Surely, he had to see my side of the story at least a little, right? And why was he so confrontational all of a sudden? This was so unlike him.

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“You’ve decided to take a break? And the first thing you do is party it up with some cheap slut who isn’t worth one hair on Rashida’s head?! She’s freaking perfect man and you’ve hurt her!” he was practically out of breath with all of this shouting.

“Hey, you should cool it before we all get sent to detention for causing a scene,” Jeanine piped in quietly. She’s been silent this whole time, watching the situation with worry written all over her face.

“No I shouldn’t,” Sergio spit back. “He’s an idiot and I don’t want to even be in his company at this moment.”

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“Sounds great! Then why are you still here, yelling at me? Why are you blowing it all out of proportion at this moment?” I threw at him. “I know I’ve made a mess, ok? But if you think Rashida is so perfect, why don’t you date her for a change? Because it sounds like you’re in love with her or something!”

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As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew they were true. Whenever Rashida would come up in conversation, he never had anything but good things and praises to say about her. And he would always get this smile on his face when anyone mentioned her or when he talked to her… Sergio was in love with Rashida. He was just too non-confrontational to say anything, especially since she and I were dating. And I was truly an idiot for never realizing it before.

Even the others were speechless.

“You know what, Phoenix? That’s exactly what I’m going to do,” he announced quietly before walking away from all of us.

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“Damn, this is better than a soap opera,” Trevor whispered under his breath.

“I had no idea,” Jeanine whispered in surprise.

“Neither did I. Although, it does make some sense,” Jeanne admitted. “It still doesn’t make what you did ok, Phoenix. I thought better of you.”

She walked away, dragging Trevor with her.

Jeanine was still here. She didn’t say anything to me during the entire exchange, although I doubted it she thought anything positive about me at this point either. That sucked – she and I used to be good friends before…

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“Hey, I’m not going to say I approve of what happened this weekend, but I do think they are overreacting,” she surprised me.

“You do? You aren’t angry at me too?” I was incredulous.

“I feel like maybe I should be, but not really. We were friends before all of this crap happened,” she smiled. “Don’t worry about them. They’ll cool down soon enough. Well, maybe not Sergio, but it kind of seems like he’s been bottling up his feelings for a while now. He’ll need some time to figure everything out.”

“Thanks. For not going against me as well. It’s good to know I have at least one person on my side,” I smiled. Jeanine and I were good friends since childhood. I wondered why we’ve stopped hanging out lately, but between me and Rashida and Jeanine and her boyfriend, we didn’t have as much time for each other.

“Yeah, well, just take care, ok? I don’t really know Morgan all that well, so I can’t say anything about her. But I hope if you’re serious about her, things go better with her than they did with Rashida. I really have to run now.”

I really hoped she was right. I didn’t want to lose all of my friends because of a failed relationship. Especially not when there was someone who liked my ex more than I did.

But as the days went on, the coolness stayed there. There wasn’t really such obvious hostility between me and them at this point, but I think the others mostly tried to avoid me. And that sucked.

On the plus side, no one was giving me any trouble for spending time with Morgan. Now that I was officially single, there wasn’t any reason for me to avoid her. And since the other’s kept away from me, I was free to be with her as much as I wanted.

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And I did want to be with her. Morgan was intoxicating. Her voice, her personality, her appearance… She had the effect of a drug on me.

This was it. This was what you were supposed to feel for the person you were dating. Despite my best efforts to convince myself that my previous relationship had it, that feeling simply wasn’t there.

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With Morgan, I didn’t care if the teachers caught us in the wrong places, at the wrong times, doing things you weren’t supposed to be doing on school grounds. We were having fun, we were both exhilarated, and rules seemed stupid.

Of course, she and I saw each other off the school grounds as well. As soon as my month of being grounded was up, we began to meet up at local clubs and hangouts, as it seemed that Morgan was never short of places where one could have a fun time.

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Although, really, any outing with her usually turned into heavy make out sessions. As it was, we never finished our dates until late, late at night.

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My parents were kind of confused with my behavior, I think. They kept asking if everything was alright and I could see some sort of concern in their eyes, but really, they had no reason to worry. I was spending my time with a girl I was crazy about but I wasn’t letting my schoolwork lag, so there was no trouble.

Besides, after that first time, I put extra effort into making sure they won’t catch me anywhere I wasn’t supposed to be.

However, there was one thing Morgan and I haven’t done so far – sex. It wasn’t for the lack of wanting to; we just couldn’t figure out a good time and place for it. I had the feeling Mom and Dad wouldn’t be too ecstatic if Morgan stayed the night with us, they barely saw her one or two times. And according to Morgan, her folks were pretty strict, so her house was out of question.

It took over a month for us to get a place arranged. I picked up Morgan from her house and she informed me she had a surprise for us. The surprise? She rented out the lakeside cabin not far from where I lived.

This was perfect. She didn’t have to say anything, but it was obvious why she rented out the place.

We made small talk on the way to the cabin, she flirted with me, I tried to flirt back. In reality, my hands were getting sweaty and I could feel my heartbeat speed up before we even arrived there. I had no idea if I was going to do well or not, and I didn’t want to embarrass myself with Morgan. I knew I wasn’t the first guy she’s dated and I didn’t want to seem like a complete newbie, even though I was…

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“Man, I wish Mom and Dad didn’t polish off that bottle of wine they had in their pantry,” Morgan laughed when we got to the cabin. “It was this really nice Pinot Noir and I’ve had my eye on it for weeks! I was going to bring it with me, but they just had to drink it yesterday.”

“I don’t know,” I shrugged. “I’ve never actually had wine, so I wouldn’t be able to tell if it’s nice or not.”

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“Oh, trust me, most people who do drink usually can’t tell the difference either. It’s just supposed to be fashionable to say you’re a wine connoisseur,” she laughed. “I’ve had it. Snuck it out of my folks’ cellar a few times. It’s pretty good, especially red. I’ll treat you sometime, promise.”

“Sounds like a plan.”

Awkward silence. Well, awkward on my end. Morgan just smiled and leaned back on the couch.

“So, what are we doing tonight?” She inquired.

“What would you like to do?” I tried not to blush.

“I thought we could relax, just the two of us,” she shrugged.

“We are all alone here, aren’t we? It’s kind of nice,” I admitted.

“I know right? No chance of random teachers interrupting and yelling at us for making out in the conference room!” She laughed about what happened last week. My parents were not amused when they got a call from the school – I couldn’t believe I wasn’t grounded this time.

Instead of laughing with her, I just smiled quietly. I knew what Morgan was getting at – she certainly didn’t book the cabin for us to just play charades. I was just really nervous. It was silly, right?

No. I wanted this. This meant I had to man up and take the lead. More or less, at least.

“So, you wanna…?” I nodded towards the door to the bedroom.

“Would I even be here if I didn’t? Come on. Do you need condoms?” she offered.

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“Thanks, I already bought some,” I assured her as we moved to the door.

Inside she quickly took of her warm clothes, under which, as it turned out, she was wearing only a bra and panties. Damn, she looked good. I tried to pretend my pulse didn’t quicken at the sight of her like this and moved to undress myself. Really should’ve gone to the gym when Quiang offered to train me. Really.

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The awkwardness disappeared as soon as her lips were on mine. It was only natural when we moved to the bed, with her falling on top of me, her soft hair tickling my chest. We continued to make out for what seemed like an eternity, neither of us in a hurry to move to the next part of the evening. It was going to happen. But for the moment, the two of us simply enjoyed one another.

“Are you sure you haven’t done this before?” she whispered. “You’re good with your hands, Phoenix. Like, really good.”

“Maybe I’m a natural?” I breathed out before her lips were once again on top of mine.

Bang, Bang, Bang!!!

“What the hell?” We both pulled away from one another, with confusion.

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“Wait, you did book the cabin for the entire evening, right?” I tried to think of a reason someone would be knocking on the door at this time.

“Yes, I did. Why else would I have the keys? Wait, I don’t think I locked the door!!!” She moved to stand up, just as two familiar faces burst into the room.

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“Aha! Gotcha!” A familiar-looking guy from my school yelled out. What was his name? Stefan? Dominic?

The other guy was Jeanine’s older brother, Brannon and he looked disgusted.

“Dominic was right, then? You really are stringing us all along, Morgan?” he accused.

“What the hell are you two doing here?” She was furious.

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“I’m just trying to bring the truth to the masses,” the blond explained. “Hey, Phoenix, right? I’ve seen you around before. So, you see, dear Morgan here has a scheme. She is somewhat of a serial dater.”

“Shut up, asshole!” she yelled.

“Pot calling kettle black, no?” Brannon was now yelling at her. “So what, you were going to sleep with him, dump him the way you did with Dominic, and then the repeat the process with me? Who’s the next target?”

“Fuck off, all of you!” Morgan was seriously furious.

In the midst of all this, I found my clothes, and moved towards the door. This was getting weirder by the minute and I didn’t want to be in the center of everything in case the situation came to blows.

“Sorry about your evening, man,” Dominic apologized. “I just really wanted to expose Morgan to both you and Brannon and this was as good a time as any.”

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“Ok, so what are you saying, she just sleeps with and then dumps guys?” I was trying to wrap my head around it.

“Pretty much. She did just that with me and then I found out she did the same with three other guys before me. It turns out she always has a next person of interest on hand. You’re her current guy, Brannon was supposed to be the next one,” he sighed. “She’s not a bad person, really. I don’t think so, at least. She just has some problems that she really needs to get help with. Professional help, that is. ‘Cause that kind of behavior just isn’t healthy.”

“I see.” Well, this night was pretty much ruined. I moved to leave, but Morgan blocked my path before I could exit the cabin.

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“So what, you’re just going to leave me? You believe them over me?” she screamed.

“Actually, yes.” I answered simply.

“Is this some weird male solidarity thing? What makes their word better than mine?” she was furious, but after my breakup with Rashida, I wasn’t going to deal with anymore relationship bullshit.

“So, you didn’t dump Dominic before starting to date me? Or wait, were you still dating him when you got together with me? And are you currently also dating Brannon? Look, I know Brannon and his entire family – he wouldn’t lie to me. Also, if they aren’t telling the truth, then why do you look so freaking guilty right now?”

“Oh, please, like you didn’t come to the club with me while you were still with that clinger of yours!”

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“You know what, yes, I fucked up and I admit it. I should’ve ended things properly with her before seeing anyone else. But first things first, don’t you dare talk bad about Rashida – she has nothing to do with what happened here. And second, we are done here. I’m glad those two showed up when they did. Have a nice life, Morgan.”

With that, I finally stormed out and walked all the way home. In the cold, without a jacket on, since Morgan drove us to the cabin.

This night was a complete disaster and I felt like a major idiot for falling for Morgan’s charms the way I did. What could I say? The girl had charm, no wonder she was able to pull this scheme on several guys. It seemed like she worked hard for the reputation she had…

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When I arrived home, everyone was already asleep, which meant whatever lecture I was bound to receive after tonight was going to be saved for the morning. Which was just fine. I had plenty to think about without getting grilled about my behavior.

For starters, I was going to think about something other than girls for a change. Because, obviously, my luck with them was not the best.