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Wicked Idol
Author: Becker Gray

 

 

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Wicked Idol

 

 

The new girl doesn’t belong here. So why can’t I stop thinking about her? Iris Briggs a goodie two-shoes with a headmaster father who aims to ruin my school year before it’s even begun. She gets under my skin. With her demure skirts and braided hair, Iris flits around the periphery until she runs right into me, hot coffee soaking me as she looks up at me with wide, innocent eyes.

We start off scalding. In the library, we reach lava levels.

And then in the city? We go nuclear.

She’s a good girl, but I’m a Constantine. My duty is to my family. At least, it was until I started unbraiding the good girl and realizing there’s more to life than duty.

 

 

1

 

 

Iris

 

 

The very first thing I did as a student at Pembroke Preparatory Academy was piss off the Hellfire Club.

It had been an accident—the kind of accident that was entirely preventable, but an accident, nonetheless. I was checking my bag as I walked through the stone-paved courtyard to make sure I’d packed my camera, and then I stumbled right into a bleary-eyed teacher. Not wanting to make any extra enemies among the staff—my father was the new headmaster and had already threatened all the teachers with salary freezes along with promising to gut the athletic department—I staggered sideways and stammered out an apology.

And slammed right into the back of Keaton Constantine, sending his whipped dalgona coffee flying all over the tailored school blazers and silk school ties of his friends.

Not that I knew then that he was the Keaton Constantine, rugby captain, king of the school, and scion of one of the most powerful families in New York.

All I knew was that when he wheeled around, he had the fullest, firmest lips and bluest eyes I’d ever seen.

“God, I’m so sorry—” I blurted out, but he cut me off.

“Who the fuck are you?” His eyes raked over me like hot sapphires, taking in my scuffed, secondhand Mary Janes and my brand-new Pembroke uniform.

Which is when I knew I was toast. His derision was obvious in his cruel smirk.

I’d followed the regulations in the student handbook exactly and kept the pleated gray skirt at knee length and wore the sweater embroidered with the Pembroke crest over my white button-up shirt. My red hair was in two simple braids, and I hadn’t worn any makeup. I didn’t want to draw any attention to myself by flouting the school rules—not to mention my father would’ve had a fit if his daughter wasn’t the paragon of student handbook adherence.

Turns out that I was drawing more attention to myself by wearing the uniform perfectly. The other girls had their skirts hemmed up high, fluttering well above their knees, and their shirts untucked and rumpled. Some were clearly in their boyfriend’s sweater or blazer, others had skipped it all together, and all of them had artfully messy hair and influencer-level makeup.

The boys were just as bad. Untucked shirts, loosened ties, tousled hair. Some were smoking, others had girls parked on their laps.

And the boys I’d just inadvertently splattered coffee all over were the most insolently rakish of them all.

No, all I’d done with my immaculate and prudish uniform was prove how insignificant I was going to be in the Pembroke Prep social ecosystem. I’d also unofficially stamped myself as little miss uptight with my regulation-to-a-T uniform.

“I said,” repeated the boy I’d run into, “who are you?” He took a step towards me, dark blond hair tumbling over his forehead. His skin was lightly kissed by the sun, like he’d spent the summer in the Hamptons.

“Um,” I said, and then wanted to kick myself. All I wanted was to get through this year alive and get away from my parents. And in order to do that, I needed to survive everything Pembroke Prep would throw at me, including angry boys. “Iris Briggs.”

“Briggs,” repeated the boy. His eyebrows lifted, highlighting those deep blue eyes. “Like the new Headmaster Briggs? The same new headmaster who is talking about decreasing funding to the athletic department?”

His friends, who’d been busy scowling and disgustedly trying to swipe the coffee off their uniforms, now watched with undisguised interest.

“Perhaps she could send a message to her father for you, Keaton,” someone behind him said. I looked past Keaton to see a pale, beautiful boy with glittering onyx eyes and a cruel mouth.

Danger, my mind warned. That one is dangerous.

Not that Keaton wasn’t dangerous—a fact that became clearer as he took another step towards me. He worked his square jaw ever so slightly to the side, and his eyebrows were slashes of irritation over those hypnotic eyes.

And he was big—jock big. Tall and broad-shouldered, with muscles that tested the fitted seams of his blazer.

“Listen here, Iris Briggs,” he said in a voice full of soft menace. “I’m not going to forget the coffee. And I’m not going to forget what your father is doing. And I’m not going to forget you.”

He was so close now that he could lean down and kiss me if he wanted. Close enough that I could see the faint crease in his full lower lip.

Stop it. You don’t need this kind of trouble.

Shivers raced down my spine, and chills crawled up my neck—even as indignation fired my blood—and something went tight. Low, low in my belly.

I parted my lips—I didn’t know what I was going to say, but it was probably going to be something along the lines of fuck off, dude, it was an accident—and his eyes dropped down to my mouth. For a minute—an instant—I could swear I saw hunger flash in his stare.

But what he was hungry for? I never found out, because a girl’s voice cut into the moment and brought me back to reality.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart. He’s going to forget you. I’ll make sure of it.”

I turned around to see a slender girl with dark brown skin, a thick mass of gorgeous curls and big, arty glasses perched on her nose striding towards us. She planted her feet and folded her arms when she got to Keaton. “Fuck off,” she told him. “Feeding time is over.”

“Yeah, well just so you know, because of her, coffee time is over,” one of the other boys said dryly, still mopping at his tie.

“I’m sorry,” I said, trying not to sound irritated. But really, it wasn’t like I did it on purpose. “I ran into someone else, and I—”

The girl held up a hand to stop me. “Never concede anything to these jackasses. It won’t get you anywhere but under their feet.”

“You never know until you try, Serafina,” the onyx-eyed boy said in a silky voice.

Serafina slid her gaze to him, her eyes narrowing. “How about you try this, Rhys?” And she flipped him off as she looped her free arm through mine and marched me away from the boys.

When I dared to look back, Rhys and the others had clustered back into a circle, muttering to each other and trying to fix their uniforms. But Keaton still stood in the middle of the courtyard, his long fingers curled around his now-empty coffee cup and his furious gaze trained right on me.

***

 

A few minutes later, we were up the shallow steps and into the main heart of Pembroke, walking into the dim, wood-paneled hallway and stopping by a large window. Through it, I could make out the rolling lawn and the thick Vermont woods clustered around the brick and stone buildings that made up the boarding school. This early in September, everything was still green and sunny and warm, and students were stretched out on the lawn, making out or reading before class.

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