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Prom Queen
Author: Alexa Riley


Chapter One






I stand at the back of the ferry watching the sun rise over the mainland. As we get farther and farther away from it, I try not to think about the cool wind biting at my cheeks. We’re on our way back to the island, and my stomach tightens. It was only last week that I wanted Craven Cove to be somewhere I could settle down and start a new journey in life. Now I’m dreading being back there. I will myself not to cry because I’ve done enough of it at this point. I will not shed any more tears over Apollo. I let his cruel words play on repeat to remind myself he’s not worth crying over. Too bad my heart doesn't agree with my head.

After my mom and I left both of the Crew men behind, we went home. Mom got the bright idea for us to get away for a few days, so we’d hurriedly packed and caught the next ferry off the island. We stayed at a fancy hotel for the entire week, ordering room service and binge-watching movies.

I learned quickly that it didn’t matter how much space I put between Apollo and myself, the heartache I felt didn’t lessen. I couldn't stop thinking about him, and it didn’t help that every time I shifted, I could still feel what we'd done between my legs. Even in my dreams he wouldn’t leave. There’s no escaping him.

“I got an email that your new phone will be delivered sometime today.” Mom comes to stand beside me, offering me a coffee. I take it from her hand and down almost half of it in one big gulp. I’m not a morning person, and today we got up at six so I could make it back to school on time. I’ve already missed too much, and it’s too early in the year to miss any more.

“I’m sorry I broke mine.” I really hope it didn’t cost too much for her to replace.

“It’s fine. You were due for an upgrade anyway.” She shrugs.

It totally slipped my mind that my phone was in my pocket when I’d gone tumbling into the pool on Friday night. After the past few days, I think that might have actually been a good thing. I would have been obsessively checking to see if Apollo tried to reach out to me or not. I think it’s better not to know either way.

“We don’t have to go back,” Mom offers. Running is always the answer for her.

“It doesn't matter. It will still hurt.”

“Honey.” She sets her coffee down to pull me into a hug. “Everything is going to work out how it’s supposed to. We all have our first heartbreak.”

“You told me you’ve never been in love before,” I remind her. It was years ago when she said it, but I knew it was the truth. I can always tell when she’s lying.

“Well, at the time I hadn't.”

“Oh.” I breathe out, processing her words. “Oh!” She’s in love with Rory? What the freaking hell? Some of her odd behavior starts to add up, but how is this happening?

“Come. We’re docking.”

There’s no time to talk about it now, so I polish off the rest of my coffee and follow her back toward the car. She’d lied when she told Rory he could come get his car the next day. I’m sure when he showed up, all he found was a vacant house.

“Do you want to stop and get something for breakfast?” Mom asks as she drives off the ferry and heads toward the main stretch of town.

“I’m good. I don’t want to be late.” I wipe my palms against my jeans. The closer we get to the high school, the more nauseous I feel. I can’t help but wonder what it will be like when we run into each other. We have classes together so there’s no avoiding Apollo, no matter how much I want to.

“If at any time you want to leave, I’ll come right over and pick you up.” Knowing she’s a phone call away goes a long way to calm me down.

“I don’t want to run, Mom. We always do that. We committed to finishing my senior year here, and I’m going to do just that.”

“All right then.” She leans over and gives me a kiss on the cheek, telling me she loves me before I get out of the car. Hearing her say I love you has my mind going back to when Apollo said the same words to me.

It was a lie. I don’t think he could love me and say the things he did. He might have thought he was in love with me, but I don’t think he truly was. He’s probably been rethinking those words since I left his house.

I keep my head down as I make my way up the stairs to get inside. I’ve always been good at not being noticed, but a few steps in, and my plan fails miserably.

“Celeste!” Someone shouts my name, and my stomach churns. “Wait up!” I let out a breath when I realize it’s Emerson calling after me. “Where the hell have you been?” he asks when he gets to me. I pull the door open to go inside, and he follows.

“Hanging with my mom. Some stuff came up.” I shrug, trying to pretend to be relaxed.

“And you can’t return a text?” Oh crap. I’d forgotten we talked about meeting up so I could help him start planning prom.

“I’m sorry. My phone drowned when I fell into the pool Friday night.”

“Damn. I’ve been worried. Shit’s been weird around here.” Emerson glances around like he’s looking for someone.

“Weird how?” I adjust my bag on my shoulder.

“Apollo.” He cocks an eyebrow at me.

“We’re not a thing anymore.” Again I try to play it cool.

“Then why was he trying to find you the past few days?”

“He has?” I stop walking, and I hate the hope that blooms in my chest.

“He got my number and was calling me looking for you.”

“Like I said, Apollo and I aren’t together anymore.”

“I don’t think he got that memo.”

“Trust me. He got it.” I start walking again. The only reason he’d be looking for me is to interrogate me more. I don’t understand the point; he already said what he needed to say.

“Yeah, well everyone is gossiping because Apollo didn’t go to practice yesterday either. Are you going to tell me what happened?”

We stop at my locker, and I don’t look up. Apollo might have missed practice for a doctor's appointment or something. Why does he assume it’s because of me?

“How did he look?” I ask softly, and even I want to roll my eyes. I can’t stop myself from asking.

“Not good.” Emerson leans against the locker beside me. “He looks like he hasn't slept in a month.”

I worry my bottom lip between my teeth. I only thought about him being mad. I didn’t think about him being heartbroken over me.

“We’re just too different. It will never work.” I pull some of my books out of my bag and put them into my locker so I don’t have to carry them around all day.

“Does this have something to do with his dad?”

“Not really, but he doesn't much care for me.” I close my locker. “Can we—”

“Oh shit. He’s coming down the hallway.” Emerson cuts me off, and I see his eyes are trained on something behind me.

I feel a sense of panic rising in my chest. I’m so not ready to face him yet. I know I have to at some point, but fear takes over. I’m scared of what he’s going to end up saying to me. Not that it matters at this point. There is no fixing this.

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