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Drama High, Vol. 3 JAYD'S LEGACY
By L. Divine
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2007 L. Divine
All right reserved.
Chapter OneNew Territory
"In the middle of the madness/ Hold on." -SADE
I love Jeremy's new habit of picking me up at the bus stop by school every morning. Last night while driving me back to Mama's, he insisted on starting this morning and I don't mind at all. It'll give my feet a well-deserved rest and keeps me from dealing with the uncomfortable stares of the neighbors. It also gives me a few private moments with my baby before the impending drama of the days begins. After last night's dream, I can only imagine what's coming our way.
"Nellie doesn't know what she's getting herself into," Jeremy says, practically shouting over the loud music as we slowly cruise toward campus.
"I know. I told her to be careful. These folks around here will smile in your face and be all happy for her publicly. But, when the shit hits the fan, they'll scatter like roaches," I say, recalling my personal moment of betrayal when I first joined the Associated Student Body.
"Ooh. Sounds like a sore spot. I'm intrigued," Jeremy says. The base from Jeremy's car is so smooth, the people walking around outside with their spoiled dogs can't even complain about the loud reggae bumping from his speakers. He turns down the volume slightly, ready for my story. I readjust myself, straightening out my red Apple Bottomcuffed Capri jeans and matching red shirt as I turn to face him.
"It's not funny," I say, playfully socking him on the arm. "It was a very painful experience, having the entire Associated Student Body ostracize me for speaking up against the favoritism the cheerleaders, athletes, and ASB members receive during the monthly student senate meeting." Almost veering off the road, Jeremy looks at me, shocked.
"When did this happen?!" he exclaims, almost laughing. I'm not surprised he doesn't know. Mickey and Nellie wouldn't have known about it either if they weren't my friends. The athletes and cheerleaders are a tight-lipped clique, even when they're hating. I guess it's bad for their rep if they air their dirty laundry around school.
"Last spring. And, it's not funny," I say, again socking him in the arm, this time a little harder. "I was really hurt when they all turned on me."
"I'm sorry I laughed. It's just I don't understand why you would join an organization and then speak out about the perks, especially during a meeting where the principal and teacher sponsor are present. But, I've got to give it to you, baby. You've got guts. So, then what happened?" Jeremy asks as he slows down in front of the main parking lot, really interested in my story.
"I resigned and joined the Drama Club," I say. "I was already enrolled in the class and played Lady Macbeth in the drama festival. So, I already knew everyone."
"It just goes to show you how ridiculous these people are up here. Nellie doesn't even know what she's getting herself into, especially running against ASB."
"I'm with you one hundred percent, baby. I know how these cliques up here work and I'd never run for anything just because I know how vicious they can get," Jeremy says as we join the long line of cars waiting to get into the parking lot. The first bell hasn't rung yet and students are already hanging out all over the place.
"Has she ever run for anything before?"
"Not that I know of," I say, not really sure. She went to another high school for freshman year, just like me and Mickey. So, I don't know much about her life before South Bay High.
"Well, the competition ain't pretty. During homecoming week, the opposition can be very dirty," Jeremy says, finally pulling into a parking spot and barely missing a squirrel.
"Jeremy, did you see that poor squirrel?" I ask, reaching into the backseat for our backpacks.
"Poor squirrel? You mean that oversize, rabies-infected rat?" he says, grinning at my sensitivity toward small animals. I can't even stand to kill a roach, let alone a small animal. It gives me the creeps.
"Well I'm just a damn riot to you this morning, ain't I?" I ask, stepping out of his ride. As if I hadn't said a word, Jeremy takes my hand and backpack in one quick motion.
"Did I mention how good you look in those jeans?" he asks, eyeing my goodies like he wants to take a bite right now. "No, you didn't. But, I can tell by the look on your face you meant to." And, he's right. These are my favorite pair of jeans. They fit perfectly and feel good, just like the two of us together.
"Not that I need to remind you, but you always look good, girl. I'm glad you stopped being so stubborn and decided to take me up on my offer," Jeremy says, slipping his arms around my waist and pinning me up against his Mustang. He kisses me softly and makes me forget all about the squirrel. I could stay here all day, but the school day calls.
"Come on, Jeremy," I mutter in between pecks. "I have to catch up with my girls before the bell rings."
"OK, just one more kiss," he says, pulling me in closer. I wish we could ditch class. His kisses are so worth the unexcused absence in Spanish.
"OK, you two. Break it up," Chance shouts from the top of the stairs leading from the parking lot to campus, completely ruining our flow. "There are young, impressionable minds here. Keep it moving," he says, gesturing his arms like a traffic control officer, drawing even more attention from the nosy onlookers all around.
"Don't you have other happy couples to harass?" Jeremy asks, wrapping his right arm around my shoulders and leading me toward campus.
"Yeah, Chance. Can't you see we're busy?" I ask.
"Jayd, you're never too busy for your boy," Chance says, kissing me on the cheek and falling into step with me and Jeremy while the other students rush past. "And, did I hear you say couple?" he asks.
"Yes, which means no more free kisses," Jeremy says, pulling me slightly away from Chance.
"Hey, just because you're my man don't mean my cheeks, or any other part of my body for that matter, belong to you," I retort, as sassy as ever. I do like Jeremy's newfound possessiveness. It's kind of sexy, as long as he doesn't get too carried away.
"Hey, dude," Matt says as he and Seth walk up to us. "Chance, Jayd."
"What's up, dude," Chance says, giving Matt and Seth dap.
"Well, don't you two make a picture-perfect couple?" Seth says as Jeremy and I stop and lean up against the bicycle racks next to the science building.
"How's Nellie handling the nomination?" Matt asks.
"I think she'll be fine," Chance says, looking around the buzzing campus. "Do you know if she's here yet?" he asks, taking his cell phone out of his pocket and flipping it open to check the time.
"No, but I'm about to find out," I say. "I have to get to my locker before the bell rings. I'm sure I'll catch up with her then," I say, reluctantly rising from my comfortable position next to Jeremy.
"Could you please tell her we need to talk?" Chance says. "She needs to know how to handle the nomination, know what I mean?"
"Yeah. Tell her we've got her back if any shit goes down," Matt says.
"Yeah, I can't wait until Reid gets wind of our nomination. He's going to be so pissed," Seth says, looking like he's been waiting for this moment all his life.
"Why did y'all nominate Nellie?" I ask. I hope it doesn't sound like I'm hating because I'm not. Why they're now her personal cheerleaders is what I don't get.
"Honestly, Jayd, we think she can win. She has that princess quality about her that gives her the competitive edge necessary for full domination," Matt says. It sounds like he gave this a lot of thought.
"And also, she's just enough of a bitch to instill fear in all the other candidates, which is exactly what we need to win," Seth adds.
"Don't be calling my woman a bitch," Chance says, punching Seth in the chest. I knew he had a thing for Nellie.
"Your woman? Did I miss something?" Matt says.
"Nah, you didn't miss nothing. My boy's just got it bad for Nellie and she could care less," Jeremy says, rising from his spot on the bike rack to walk me to my locker.
"I'll relay all the messages," I say, instinctively taking Jeremy's hand and leading him up the walkway toward the Main Hall.
"I'll catch up with y'all later," Jeremy says, leaving his crew behind.
"Later, you two," Chance says. "And, tell Nellie if she needs anything at all, hit me up." Poor Chance. He's picked the wrong Black girl to have a crush on. Although, I think it would be cute if he and Nellie became a couple. Then, we could all hang out together and start our own crew. But, I'm sure Mickey would have a serious problem with that. She's already not feeling hangin' out with the White side of campus. If Nellie crossed over, she'd be liable to leave us both behind.
When we reach my locker, Nellie and Mickey are already there waiting for me to arrive.
"Hey, girl. What took y'all so long? The bell's about to ring and we haven't even had a chance to catch up," Nellie says, reaching out to give me a hug.
"Sorry. It was my fault. We ran into my friends, a.k.a. your fan club," Jeremy says.
"Her fan club? What are you talking about?" Mickey asks. She's already on the phone with her man, I assume, and I'm sure they just saw each other. He comes to her house every morning before he goes to work, bringing her fresh doughnuts from Randy's Doughnut Shop. They are too cute.
"Chance, Matt and Seth are looking for you. They want to give you some pointers on being the Drama Club's nominee for homecoming princess, with the first round of voting taking place at lunch and all," I say.
"Oh, that's so sweet," Nellie says, twirling strands of her hair around her index finger; she must have gotten a fresh perm this weekend. "I'll have to catch up with them at lunch."
"Voting? What the hell we got to vote for?" Mickey says, completely out of the loop. When it comes to school business, Mickey couldn't care less. She might as well not even come to school sometimes, as oblivious as she is to the ins and outs of Drama High. All she cares about is what she's wearing, who's hating, and getting her diploma on time so she can go to beauty college. Everything else is secondary.
"Girl, where you been?" Nellie asks. "You have to vote for the top three candidates for each grade level," she says, filling Mickey in while I retrieve my books from my locker. The bell has just rung and the race is on, with students bustling around the spacious hall, rushing off to first period.
"I don't get it. If you're nominated, doesn't that mean you've already been voted in?" Mickey asks, putting her man on hold to get a better understanding of the voting process. I guess she cares now that her girl's on the ballot. Jeremy shakes his head, amused by my girls' conversation.
"No, silly. I have to win a place on the actual ballot for next week's election. This is just the beginning," Nellie says all dreamy as if she's running for Miss America.
"Shit, that means I have to vote twice," Mickey says, resuming her phone conversation. "Baby, I got to go. The bell's about to ring," she says before hanging up her cell.
"That goes for me too," Jeremy says, giving me a kiss before sprinting down the hall. "Check y'all later," he says to my girls.
"Bye, Jeremy," they say at once.
"So, when is the voting supposed to take place?" Mickey asks, truly annoyed. Anything that takes away from her chill time aggravates her.
"At lunch. And the finalists will be announced Wednesday at break. Make sure you tell everybody in your classes, Jayd. I have to make it onto the ballot," Nellie says as we all head toward our respective classes.
"Will do, Princess," I say, teasing her. I'm sure she's popular enough to make the ballot on her own accord. I really don't want to get involved with all the election business. It's too volatile here. These folks take their politics very seriously, as Nellie will soon find out.
When I get to Spanish class I notice our teacher/football coach, Mr. Donald, is wearing a dress shirt and tie like he does on game day every Friday during the regular football season. I wonder what's going on.
"Good morning, class," Mr. Donald says, waiting for the bell to finish ringing before continuing. "I have a new student coming in this morning and I'll need to talk to him outside for a few minutes. You'll need to complete page eight in your workbooks. And, if you finish before we're done outside, you can start your homework on page twenty-five of your textbooks," he says, picking up his teacher's edition and writing the homework assignment on the board under today's notes.
When I reach into my backpack on the floor next to my seat, I notice my workbook's not in there. Damn it. I can't go more than two days without leaving one of my Spanish books in my locker. Reluctantly, I have to ask for yet another hall pass.
"Mr. Donald?" I ask while raising my hand. He doesn't need to turn from the board to look at me. He already knows what I'm going to say.
"Let me guess, Miss Jackson," he says. "You left your books in your locker."
"Yes, I did," I say. "I'm usually not this forgetful." Mr. Donald turns toward the class and looks straight at me with no emotion.
"Here, Miss Jackson," he says, handing me the hall pass. "And, please make this the last time."
"Thank you and I will," I say, feeling a little embarrassed. I like to remain somewhat anonymous in my elective courses. I just want to pass, not make friends or enemies.
As I rise from my desk to open the door, someone's already on the other side pushing it open. I step outside, almost losing my footing, to see a face from the past.
"There she is," Nigel, my old friend from back in the day, says as he releases the door to give me a tight hug. "How's my girl been?" he asks. He looks too good to be visiting, dressed in a dark blue pin-striped suit and hat to match.
"Nigel, what's up?" I say as he lets me go just enough to look up at him. Damn, he gives good hugs. "And more importantly, what are you doing here?"
"Girl, it's been a while and we miss you around the way," he says, allowing the door to completely close and leaving us outside to quickly catch up.
By his "we" I know he means Raheem. Whenever we'd get in a fight, which was often, Nigel would always play the middle man. But, this is the longest we've gone without talking, mostly due to us all leaving our old school, Family Christian, at the same time. Both of them now live in Windsor Hills, which isn't far from Inglewood, but is still a completely different hood from my mom's.
"A while? Try two years," I say, releasing myself from his embrace to look him in the eye.
"So, you're balling like that now, huh?" he says, grabbing my wrist and eyeing my gold bracelet. "Must be nice chilling with the White folks," he says. "But I'll know soon enough."
"What do you mean by that?" I ask, eyeing the hall clock. "Is Westingle turning all White or something?" I say, referring to their school. It's basically the Black South Bay High. My mom tried to get me to go there, but no such luck. Her address wasn't in the right area and she missed the deadline for submitting a transfer request.
"No, but the coaches from South Bay said they could promise me a starting position, basically guaranteeing me playing time in front of recruiters from the top colleges in the nation, which means scholarships. Now, a brotha can't pass that up, can I?" he says.
"So, you mean to tell me you're going to my school?" I ask, almost shouting. Oh, hell no. This can't be good. And, knowing Raheem, he'll be at every game, if not trying to transfer himself. They are each other's clique, no other members allowed or needed.
"Yeah, you got a problem with that?" Nigel asks, smiling.
"No, not at all," I say as Mr. Donald opens the door. But, hell yeah I got a problem with it. First Nellie's nomination, and now this. What the hell?
"Jayd, you know our new student, Nigel?" Yeah, a little too well. But, Mr. Donald doesn't need to know all that.
"Yeah, me and my girl here go way back," he says, putting his arm around me and giving me one last hug before I head to the Main Hall.
"I was just going to get my book," I say, leaving the two of them to talk.
"I'll catch up with you later, Jayd. Raheem gave me a letter for you, but I left it in my locker." A letter saying what, I wonder? All I need is more drama to deal with.
After voting, Nellie, Mickey and I decide to hang in South Central for the remainder of lunch. Although I miss my man, I need to chill with my friends too. Most of the usual suspects are still voting in the cafeteria. So, it's unusually peaceful in the quad area.
Excerpted from Drama High, Vol. 3 JAYD'S LEGACY by L. Divine Copyright © 2007 by L. Divine. Excerpted by permission.
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