Home > All the Pretty Lies

All the Pretty Lies
Author: Melissa Toppen

 

CHAPTER ONE

 


POPPY

 

 

“CAN YOU BELIEVE MR. Morales gave us such a big assignment three days before our senior trip?” Camila plops down next to me in her usual lunch spot, dropping her lunch tray onto the table in front of her. “I mean, hello. Who really cares about some old war anyway?” She tosses her long, dark hair over her shoulder before twisting the lid off her water.

“I’m sure a lot of people do.” I shrug, swirling my plastic fork through my salad.

“Not me,” April chimes in from my left. “I mean, I get that it was important and all, but really, how is any of this going to help me in the real world?”

“I don’t know. But it doesn’t hurt to know our country’s history.” I stab a cherry tomato and shove it into my mouth.

“Whatever. I’m not doing it,” Camila announces. “Between packing, getting my nails done, and all the shopping I need to do before this weekend, there’s no way I’m going to have time.”

“You realize it counts for twenty percent of your grade, right?” I point out.

“You realize that the only person at this table who really cares is you, right?” she fires back. “No Cosmetology school on this planet is going to care if I passed History by the skin of my teeth.”

“Agreed.” April laughs.

I’ve been friends with April and Camila since seventh grade, when we all got teamed up together for a Science project. We clicked instantly. And while the two are vastly different than me, and left me to do ninety percent of the work, I found comfort in our differences.

Camila is what I would call a bad ass. Quick tempered, not afraid of anything or anyone. She’s the first person to speak her mind and doesn’t care what you have to say about it. Her parents moved here from Mexico before she was born, and while both are sweet, hardworking people, five minutes with them and you know exactly where she gets her sauciness from. Her mother. She gets away with it though, mainly because she’s drop dead, freaking beautiful. Long, dark hair, dark eyes, lashes so thick she doesn’t have to wear a lick of mascara, and perfect brown skin. And if that wasn’t enough, she’s also got an amazing figure that she hasn’t had to work for a day in her life.

April isn’t much different. Only she’s beautiful in another way. She doesn’t have Camila’s ‘in your face’ sex appeal, but that doesn’t make her any less desirable to nearly every boy in school. Blonde hair, blue eyes, and legs for days. April is one of those girls that could have any guy she wants, and she knows it too.

And then there’s me. Short. Average build. Classic good girl. Plain Jane. There’s not one thing that stands out about me. I’m one of those girls that blends into the crowd. If I don’t speak, most people don’t even know I’m there.

I’ve often compared our little threesome to the movie The Duff and have declared myself the designated, ugly, fat friend of the group. Though I wouldn’t say I’m fat or necessarily ugly, but I certainly don’t measure up to my two best friends.

“Well, not all of us can be lucky enough to have our entire future planned out.” I drop my fork and lean back in my chair. “If trade school or working with my family was an option for me, maybe I wouldn’t care so much either.”

“You still would,” they say in unison, sharing a little laugh at my expense.

“Let’s face it, P,” April leans forward, “you’ve got a good ol’ case of overachieveritis.”

“That’s not a word.” I cross my arms in front of myself.

“My point exactly. Who cares if it’s a word or not. Doesn’t make it any less true.”

“But there’s nothing wrong with that,” Camila interjects. “You’re just more driven than the rest of us, and you thrive on being the smartest person in the room.”

“I do not.”

Both of them give me a look I know all too well.

“Whatever,” I grumble with a slight eye roll.

“You know we’re right.” April pats the back of my hand. “You make the rest of us look like simpletons.”

“Well, unlike you, I don’t have beauty or a shining personality to carry me through,” I say in general, not directing the comment to either of them specifically.

“There she goes again.” Camila sighs dramatically. “P, when are you going to realize that you’ve got it going on?”

“Got it going on?” I choke on the words.

“Yes!” she exclaims. “You’re a little hottie. I wish you’d own it already.”

“Right!” April agrees. “Maybe then you’d have the courage to ask Ethan out. I mean come on, Pop, it’s been what? Two years. You wait any longer and you’re going to miss your window.”

“Ethan isn’t interested in me,” I say, my eyes finding him across the cafeteria, sitting at his usual table with most of the other athletes.

My heart flutters at the sight of him.

Ethan Ripley.

The guy I’ve been pining after since sophomore year when we sat next to each other in English class. He leaned over and asked to borrow a pencil and that was it. I was a goner.

He’s gorgeous, but not in an in your face way. He’s not as tall as the other football players or as muscular, but something about him makes him feel larger than life. Maybe it’s his smile. The way his eyes squint and the two matching dimples that pop on his cheeks. Or his laugh, which is deep and rich and makes my skin prickle every time I hear it. Or his eyes, which I swear are so blue they match the sky on a cloudless day.

“Says who?” Camila asks, interrupting the direction my thoughts have gone in.

“Says him.” My gaze swings back to her. “If he did, why has he never spoken to me outside of class or a brief hello in the hallway?”

“Maybe he’s shy,” April offers.

“We all know that’s not it,” I disagree.

“Maybe he’s waiting on you to make the first move?”

“Like he waited on Harper last year?” I give her a knowing look. “Pretty sure he pursued her quite relentlessly and didn’t care how big of a fool he made of himself in the process.”

“Yeah, and you see how that turned out.” April snorts.

“Regardless, I think we all know that shy is not something that describes Ethan in the least. I might as well be invisible.”

“Then make him see you.” Camila nudges my arm.

“Yeah, and how exactly do I do that?”

“Well, for starters, you can come bathing suit shopping with me today after school.”

“And that’s going to help me how?”

“Because we’re going to get you a skimpy bikini that shows off that delicious booty of yours.”

“Did you just call my butt delicious?” I arch a brow.

“It is,” April agrees. “Come on, Pop. You know you have the best freaking ass. And your girls? What I wouldn’t give to have even half of what you do.”

I look down, feeling weirdly self-conscious. I’m not big chested by any means. A small C at best, but I guess in comparison to my two friends I am a bit bustier.

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