Crowd of Lies (Kingsley Academy Book 2), page 20
Danielle pulls me from my thoughts when she begins to laugh maniacally.
“You really have no idea, do you?” she asks, a sly smile twisting her lips.
“What?” I try to act unaffected but my gut twists at the look she’s giving me, like she’s been keeping something back until this very moment.
“They’re playing you. They used to laugh about the poor girl coming to live next door. Hell, Grant and Kaiden planned this. They wanted to get you to let your guard down so they could break you. And you’re so utterly ridiculous, you’ve let them. Once Kaiden has finished with you, it’s Grant’s turn. By the time you’ve wished you never met them, every lad will have fucked you. Just like your mum. We would lie in bed laughing at how pathetic you were, thinking you were welcome.”
She really has no idea.
Her words would have cut me, but I know the truth. Even if I hadn’t, I’m hoping I wouldn’t have been naïve enough to have believed her.
I step away from the others, getting in her face and smiling sadly. “Danielle, you really are a sad, lonely girl. You have all these people around you and yet, you are still alone. You bully them into liking you. But you can’t bully me. You saw what I had, and you wanted it. You were witness to the moment I truly became one of them. I accepted them back and you didn’t like it.”
“That’s not true,” she snaps, glancing at her friends and frowning.
“But it is. If it wasn’t, you wouldn’t be telling me this. If I was being played, you wouldn’t have announced it to all these people around us. You would have let them continue and made sure you had a front row seat to my downfall. You said it in the hopes I would believe it.” I chuckle, flicking my top lip with my tongue. “You’d use anything in the hopes to tear us apart.”
“It’s true,” she says, glaring at Kaiden, then Grant. “I heard them.”
Grant steps forward, a noise escaping the back of his throat. He looks lethal as he glares at her. “No, what you heard was a revenge plan that was redundant the moment she walked into our lives, and you knew that the moment you saw them together. Get over this vendetta, Danielle, because what I said back then about her, I meant it, but people grow up, evolve. We were wrong, and if you touch one hair on her head, I’ll make you hurt tenfold.” He looks up at those around us and notices a few people from school. “It goes to all of you. She’s one of us, protected by us, and if anyone fucking touches her, speaks to her in a way we don’t deem respectful, we’ll put you down.”
Even though his words are strong, cemented in stone, I notice a few of the guys look to Kaiden for validation. He nods, glaring down at Danielle. “You had your warning, Danielle. You are done at Kingsley Academy. Your place in the hierarchy is over. And whoever shares in your malicious stunts, you’ll be held accountable.”
“You can’t do this,” Danielle whispers in fury.
He smirks down at her. “I can do whatever the fuck I want. I’m Kaiden Kingsley.”
Her fury is aimed at me next, her lips in a hard line. “Don’t forget what I threatened you with this morning. I’m going to find out, and when I do, no one will accept you here.”
“And my reply from then still stands. Go ahead.”
“This isn’t over,” she threatens.
“I’d take you seriously if you didn’t have shit all over your face and smell like a rotting corpse.”
The sound of her screeching has me wincing, wanting desperately to cover my ears. I laugh as she trips again when heading to her car. Her friends go to help, but she shoves them all away, screaming at them. She throws her shoes into the crowd and we laugh at her outburst, watching as her friend steers her into her car that’s parked next to Danielle’s.
Once she’s gone, I turn to Kaiden, gripping his T-shirt. I pull him down until his face is close and grin at him. “You promised me a shower,” I flirt, fluttering my lashes.
He smirks, pulling me close. “Then I won’t disappoint.” He scans my expression, a spark in his eyes that he didn’t have before. “You’ve accepted this?”
I shrug, still smiling up at him. “I guess I needed the wakeup call. I guess Danielle has her uses.”
His deep chuckle vibrates down my chest, causing a small moan to slip free. His pupils dilate and his fingers tighten on my hips.
“I don’t care who or what changed your mind. I’m over the fucking moon.”
I sense a but.
“But… I wish you could have done this somewhere I could strip you naked and fuck you raw.”
“And they say romance isn’t dead,” Clary mutters, interrupting us. “Are you two finished being mushy?”
I laugh, resting my cheek against his chest as I face her. She smiles, and I can see she’s happy for me. “Sorry,” I lie.
Rolling her eyes, she shakes her head at me. “No, you aren’t. I’m going to get a lift back with the twins. They said they’re going to finish the party at theirs.”
Kaiden groans, making me chuckle. I hadn’t even realised they’d left. “I’ll meet you there.”
She nods before running to catch up with the twins, Grant and Selina. I look up at Kaiden, feeling nervous.
“Before we go, can we do something?” The heat in his eyes express the dirty thoughts he’s having. I giggle, shaking him a little. “Get your mind out the gutter.”
Grinning, he asks, “What do you have in mind?”
Feeling my cheeks heat, I duck my head briefly before looking back up. “Can we go on a ride?”
I love the way his face gentles as he runs his fingers over the curve of my neck and shoulders. “Yeah, baby, we can do whatever you want to do.”
And I know in this moment, he really would do anything for me. Even risk his bad boy image by going on a ride. All because he knows I’ve never been on one.
I don’t know what the feeling is that’s swarming through my system, threatening to burst my heart wide open, but it’s strong, powerful, and I never want it to leave.
It has been two weeks of pure bliss. There’s still a black cloud over us where it concerns my dad, but we haven’t let it get to us. The twins are getting frustrated, wanting Mum back. They don’t say it, but I can read it in their expressions every time she calls to check in on us, something she hasn’t been able to do in a while. It’s different. She sounds different.
Everything is quiet again in Cheshire Grove. Even Danielle has stayed out of our way. After the pranks Ivy and her friends pulled, she’d taken the week off and had come back at the beginning of the next.
I’ve been watching her. She hasn’t been bothering Ivy or her friends, but I know her. She’s planning something, and I don’t feel good about it. I want to hope her dad had talked some sense into her, but whenever she thinks no one is watching her, I can see the rage boiling behind the façade. It’s not something I’ve brought up with Ivy. I don’t want to stress her out. She has been herself for the past two weeks and I don’t want to ruin that for her.
I couldn’t see it before, didn’t care to, because to me, she’d been perfect. But for the past two weeks, I’ve seen another side to her, one that has also crawled under my skin. There are no sides of her that I don’t want, don’t crave.
People at school were shocked at seeing us together, mostly because I don’t do public affection and because of the rumours Danielle had spread about Ivy.
A slap to my chest brings me to the present and I smile up at Ivy, who’s leaning across the bed. “Are you even listening to me?”
“Sorry, I must have spaced out,” I admit, grinning at her when she frowns.
“You said you wanted to watch this.”
I pull her into my chest, kissing the top of her head. “I know. I’m sorry.”
“I guess you’re lucky I like you,” she grumbles. “That clown thing is scary.”
My chest vibrates with laughter. “Why don’t we—Let me get that,” I groan, grabbing my phone f
“Mate, I’m next door. Get your arse over here. Got the crap you needed. But there’s something else… You should get over here.”
“Give me five,” I tell him, then end the call.
“The twins?” Ivy asks, resting her chin on my chest.
I hate to ruin our night, but I’ve been waiting for this information. Ivy might be with me again, but there are times when I see her indecision on whether to trust me. It kills me, but I’m willing to fight for her trust. It’s all I can do.
I run my fingers through her hair. “No. It was Rome. You remember me telling you about the information I asked him to dig up?”
“But she’s been quiet,” she murmurs. She’s unable to meet my gaze when she says it, so I know she doesn’t believe it’s over.
“Let’s go see what he found out. I don’t know why, but I’ve had this sinking feeling in my gut for a week now, and with all the crazy going on, I just want to be a step ahead at all times.”
“You’ve been busy a lot this week. You need a break,” she tells me.
I smile at the care in her tone, and shift down the bed until we’re facing each other. “I love that you care, but I had to do some stuff for my mum. She has a beneficiary, but with Dad out of the picture, she wants me to keep an eye on things.”
“All right, let’s go and see what Rome wants, but then you owe me.”
I pull her back down on the bed when she sits up, ready to leave, and lie between her legs. “Oh, I plan to make it up to you.”
“Oh yeah?” She grins, her hands locking behind my neck.
“Definitely. I plan to do naughty things to you, Ivy Monroe,” I rasp, leaning down to kiss the corner of her lips.
She moans, pressing hers to mine and deepening the kiss. I groan into her mouth, wondering if Rome will care if I’m another thirty minutes.
She pulls back, and satisfaction runs through my veins at the sight of her swollen lips.
“Let’s go then, Kingsley.”
Laughing, I roll over to the side and let her get up. I pull on my shoes before grabbing my shit off the side cabinet and putting them back into my jacket.
Nova is walking through the foyer when we hit the bottom of the stairs. “Ivy, just the girl I wanted to see.”
She waves her off her concern. “It’s fine. I just wanted to run something by you. I’m not sure if you’re aware, but Kingsley Academy is throwing a charity event in two weeks and I’m hosting. There will be music, silent auctions and a two-week getaway competition for anyone who bids on an item. This year we are using the event as a platform for young, talented minds to show off their talents. There’s going to be a fashion show for designers, food from the cooks and a few other things. Me and Mrs Swansea will also be adding in artwork to be auctioned off.”
Ivy’s face pales and she glances at me briefly. “If you’re mentioning this because you plan on using my artwork, no. It’s terrible.”
Nova shakes her head. “Sweet girl, you have raw talent. I’ve been surrounded by art my whole life, but nothing has ever come close to yours.”
Ivy shifts on her feet, looking uncomfortable with the praise. Personally, I’ve not seen her work, but now that Nova has mentioned it, I’m intrigued.
“Mrs Swansea said it was dark,” Ivy mumbles.
“Which makes it more captivating. She’s pleased with the work. Would you please consider putting it up?”
“Good. Now, I’ve bought you and Selina tickets. Are you okay with Sam being there?”
Sam, in all his failures, has been here a lot since the hospital. I’m not sure what their relationship is like since he’s been away for three weeks on business. Or so he says. Something tells me he’s looking for my dad, and I don’t blame him.
“Yes. He messaged me last night to say he was coming back this week and asked if I wanted to meet his parents.”
Nova’s face softens. “What did you say?”
Ivy shrugs, shoving her hands in her pockets. “I’m not ready to meet anyone else. I’m still getting used to having you. I’m not sure how I feel about Sam. I’m worried it will turn to shit if I add more people in.”
Nova steps forward, tucking a strand of hair behind Ivy’s ear. “I have faith you’ll both get there. I know he’s not been around lately, and he feels bad about it, but he’ll be back soon and will make it up to you.” She steps back, taking a deep breath. “As for everyone else, I understand it can be overwhelming, but you won’t meet nicer people than Sam’s parents. You’ll be shocked by how much they’ll remind you of Elle and Ed. And they’re chomping at the bit to meet you. They just won’t force you.”
I watch a smile light up Ivy’s face at the mention of the old couple she’s become close to. “I’ll think about it. Right now, I just need a little more time.”
“Then time is what you’ll get,” she declares. “As for the charity ball, I’ll have someone come in to fit a dress for you. I’m hosting this year so we’re going all out.”
Ivy glares at her. “You didn’t mention anything about dresses, Nova.”
Laughing, Nova waves her off. “It will be to your style, don’t worry.”
Ivy continues to glare, standing with her hands on her hips. “It had better not be frilly, short, or have any pink on it,” she rants, before taking a breath. “Just pick black to be safe.”
Nova’s lips twist. “What about blue? Or dark green, like Romeo’s eyes over there?”
For a moment, I think she considers it, making me smile until she says, “No. Just no. I’m not doing girly crap. My uniform is ridiculous enough.”
“Language! And as long as you come, I don’t mind,” she explains sweetly.
“All right. We’re just popping next door. Is that okay?”
Tears brim the edges of Nova’s eyes and the calculating look from before disappears as sorrow fills her expression.
“You okay?” I ask, nervous about the way she’s watching Ivy.
She wipes under her eyes, chuckling, but then a sob tears through her throat. She stares at Ivy, shaking her head in disbelief. “It amazes me how far you’ve come since you first arrived. You were so angry at the world, at me, that I never thought we’d get to this place.”
I can see how uncomfortable Ivy’s becoming and I want to laugh at her horrified expression as her gaze shifts from side to side. Some things never change, even if a person progresses.
“Nova, we really need to get next door,” I tell her softly.
She nods, wiping her tears away. “Go! Go! I’m being a silly old fool.” She laughs at her own dramatics. “God, I’m so sentimental lately.”
“It’s okay,” Ivy murmurs.
“I’ll see you later. Remember, don’t be late back. You’re helping Elle tomorrow.”
“I won’t,” Ivy promises before saying her goodbye.
The second we get outside, Ivy spins to face me. “She’s going to get me a girly dress, isn’t she?”
I laugh as I wrap my arm around her shoulders. “Yeah, but if it makes you feel better, I can be at the dress fitting and scare them into giving you what you want.”
She slaps my pec, smiling widely up at me. “For a second there, you made me believe you were doing something sweet, but you really just want to see me naked, don’t you?”
Grinning, I shrug. “I’m a bloke.”
“Will you two hurry the fuck up!” Ethan yells, grouchy as ever. He’s been a nightmare the past week and it’s getting on my last nerve.
I’d tell him to get laid, but it’s nice to see him not fucking every girl in sight.
“Ethan, do you have balls?” Ivy asks sweetly, stopping outside of our door.
I growl, my arm tensing around her shoulders. Ethan, eyebrows drawn together, nods as he stares down at her.
“Then don’t yell at me again, because that
He licks his bottom lip, eyeing her up and down. “I knew you’d want me eventually.”
Groaning, Ivy pushes him out of the way. I don’t want to have to punch my brother, but I will if he keeps flirting with my girl.
Rome is lazing in the front room, his ankle resting on his knee as he watches Grant and Lucca going at it on the Xbox. Noticing me, he gives me a chin lift and straightens in his seat.
I take the sofa, pulling Ivy down next to me, keeping her between me and Grant.
“What you got?”
He runs his hand over his face, apprehensive about something. “You aren’t going to like what I’ve got to tell you.”
“Just say it, man. I need her gone, but I need to know everything.”
“First, I couldn’t locate her whereabouts after the festival. She made a large withdrawal the day after so I’m guessing she didn’t want Daddy dearest to know either. There’s nothing for me to go on.”
“Go on,” I encourage.
“Most of it is petty stuff with her friends. Danielle is the one who broke up more than one of her friends and their boyfriends. She posted the pictures of Jasmine before she started high school.”
“The liposuction one? It still baffles me that Jasmine was ever huge,” Lucca comments, still half engrossed in the game.
“Yeah, and the picture of Krysten’s breast implants, she leaked the photos and made it look like Krysten’s guy did it. There’s a bunch of shit like that. She even has a folder on her computer with secrets her friends have told her. My guess is she’s waiting until they step out of line to use them.”
“Most of them are bitches, but not all are cruel,” Grant adds.
“I know, so I deleted most of them,” Rome admits, smirking.
“What about Hackett?” I ask, not caring who’s a bitch or not. They go against me or mine, they’re all as bad as each other and deserve what’s coming to them.
Rome grimaces, looking a little green. “She’s sleeping with Hackett. According to her teachers, she’s not doing so well in her other classes, but excelling in Design. Hackett’s computer shows he’s been doctoring her results. She keeps him happy, so he keeps her in Design.”