Drew arrived at lunch early. There was no way he was going to let the Corinth guys usurp his table like they’d taken over the arbor that morning. When he got there, the only people in sight were a few freshmen sitting at a table near the wall and a janitor wiping a spot on one of the plate glass windows. Drew walked over to the senior section, a raised area all along the sun-streaked windows, and put his stuff down on a chair at the best table—the table Trey and the rest of the senior athletes had always used the year before. Then he took a few books out of his bag and spread them out at other chairs, just to be safe. There was no room for complacency in the lunch room. This was war.
Drew walked up to the kitchen to get his lunch—two cheeseburgers, two fries, and an iced tea—then sat back down to wait.
Five minutes later, the noise level had gone from a buzz to a blowout. Unlike last year, when half the tables in the sprawling cafeteria had been empty, every table was full with laughing, chatting students. The decibel level was out of control. Drew could tell that most of his fellow students were enjoying the excitement, the unfamiliarity of it all. Unfortunately, the din only aggravated his already frayed nerves.
“Whaddup, man?” Jason asked, nudging Drew with his elbow as he slid into the chair next to his.
“You’re in a good mood,” Drew grumbled.
“Dude, the day’s almost half over,” Jason said as he shook up his iced tea. “One day of school down, only a couple hundred left to go.”
Drew managed a scoff. He took a bite of his burger as he stared across the senior section at the table Samson and his friends had appropriated for themselves. If looks could kill, every one of the people over there would have keeled over. Tamara Glenn was sitting at the end of the table, right next to Samson himself, tossing her hair and laughing. Half the other girls were over there as well, chatting up the enemy. Even Marisa was standing near the wall, looking up at Adam Lazarus with wide, admiring eyes as if she were enchanted by his incredible wit. Drew had never felt so betrayed.
“Crap, they got Marisa now, too?” Clay said, shoving a chair out with his leg and dropping into it. “By the end of the day they’re gonna have expropriated all our women.”
“What the hell are they thinking?” Drew said through his teeth.
“Come on, guys. You know Tamara. She’s a people person,” Jason said, popping a fry into his mouth. “She probably just wants to make them feel welcome.”
Drew watched as Tamara laid her hand on Samson’s arm—on the arm of his Corinth varsity jacket, to be precise—and he felt like hitting something. It wasn’t as if he wanted Tamara for himself anymore, but he thought they were friends. Did she have to throw herself at the one person he abhorred more than anyone else in the world?
“This is a debacle,” Clay said, shoving half a burger into his mouth. “Unless—”
“What?” Drew asked. He sat forward, hoping to hear something that would alleviate the gut-clenching anger and hurt he was suffering with.
Clay took a moment to chew and swallow, which Drew appreciated. “Well, maybe Tamara is just feigning her interest in those guys. Maybe she’s over there spying on them for us.”
Jason laughed, but Drew looked over at the table hopefully. Tamara was in the middle of telling some story, and everyone at the table was completely riveted. Then Samson cracked up, and Tamara threw her head back, giggling gleefully.
“No. Not possible. Remember the spring play? Girl’s not that good of an actress,” Drew said. He slumped back in his chair. “But I’ll bet you a million dollars it’s all an affectation on Samson’s part. He’s just trying to piss me off.”
“Why do you say that?” Jason asked.
“Because. Look at him. Why pick Tamara out of every girl in school? He must know we went out,” Drew said. “He’s just trying to make me jealous.”
“But you’re not, right?” Jason said. “’Cause you’ve already moved on to Red over there.”
Drew’s heart thumped extra hard as he followed Jason’s gaze. It took him a moment to find Lily, because she wasn’t sitting in the senior section. Instead, she had chosen a small table for six in the middle of the cafeteria. She sat flanked by two empty chairs, her headphones on, completely absorbed in a hardcover book she was reading. Apparently, she was the cerebral type. She may have been alone, but she looked anything but forlorn. She looked, in fact, quite serene and content as she munched on her baby carrots.
“That girl?” Clay blurted.