Mia's Heart


Page 2



In his cowboy boots.

I’m dying with laughter and I am not quiet about it.

This is literally the funniest thing I’ve seen in awhile.

Man-boy looks up and sees me laughing and glowers at me, which makes me laugh all the harder.

My bad mood has been lifted at the sight of this cowboy’s boots digging into the sand trying to escape a harmless horseshoe crab. For that, I should thank him.

So I do.

I get to my feet, brush off the sand and make my way over to him. I offer him my hand, which he takes and I pull him to his feet.

He smiles and his grin is slightly crooked, which I actually find endearing. He’s not gorgeous in a perfect way, he’s gorgeous in an interesting way. He’s got sexy stubble gracing his jawline and his eyes sparkle.

He is even better looking up close and I smile back.

“I’m Mia. And you’re afraid of horseshoe crabs.”

I speak in Caberran. Man-boy looks puzzled and holds his hands up.

“I don’t speak Caberran,” he says apologetically in English. So I repeat myself in English. He smiles again, crooked and mischievous.

“I’m Quinn. And no, I’m not. I’m not afraid of anything.”

I start to laugh, then freeze.

“Quinn? As in, Reece’s friend from Kansas?”

He grins again, cocky, self-assured.

“The very same. Quinn McKeyen. And you must be Mia, Reece’s friend from Caberra. What a small world this must be.”

He’s got a charming American accent.

And I might die.

I’ve heard all about this guy. He’s the one who Reece used to have a crush on, the guy who used to date Reece’s friend Becca and who has come here to Caberra in the Foreign Exchange Student Program to live in Dante Giliberti’s house.

I’m such an idiot. Whether or not I want to get all fluttery over him, I have to admit that his crooked grin is fairly panty-dropping. I can’t crush on my best friend’s old crush. Can I?

But as I stare at him, at this man-boy with the chiseled country-boy body, his crooked grin begs to differ.

He raises an eyebrow. “You are the same Mia, right?”

I nod, willing my voice to begin working again. What the eff is wrong with me?

“Yes. I am.”

He nods, his cowboy hat dipping in an attractive way.

He’s like a retro Marlboro commercial.

But younger.

And hotter.

Holy freaking cow.

“Well then. It’s nice to meet you,” he nods again and I notice that his eyes are warm and chocolately. I’ve always preferred blue eyes. But I am changing that stance as of right this minute. Brown is my new blue. I’m sure of it.

And then he turns around and walks away.

Wait.

Did that just happen?

I start to call after him, but then decide not to. I’m not going to be one of those girls, the kind that chases after a good-looking guy simply because they’re good looking. And Quinn is definitely that.

Good-looking.

Very, very good looking.

Awesomely, amazingly good looking.

I watch his strong, wide shoulders sway as he disappears over the sand dunes.

And later, after I return home and go to bed, I dream about his milk-chocately stare.

Chapter Two

To: Reece Ellis >[email protected] /* */

From: Mia Giannis >[email protected] /* */

Subject: HolyFreakingHotGuy

Reecie,

Soooooo. I met Quinn. Holyfreakinghell. You didn’t tell me that he is so effing hot.

Shame on you. A girl needs some advanced warning for something like this.

-Mi

********

To: Mia Giannis >[email protected] /* */

From: Reece Ellis >[email protected] /* */

Subject: Seriously?

Mi,

Seriously? You met him already? School hasn’t even started.

But honestly, I had a crush on him for years—did you really think I’d crush on an ugly guy? Not hardly. Also, Dante is way hotter. Just saying.

XOXO,

Reecie

********

To: Reece Ellis >[email protected] /* */

From: Mia Giannis >[email protected] /* */

Subject: Night and Day

Reece-

Dante’s not better—Dante’s just Dante. He’s different from Quinn. Like night and day different. Quinn’s got calluses and a cowboy hat and holyhell, his biceps! I’ve gotta go fan myself.


I’ll have to talk to you later. How is Dante, anyway?

Love,

Mi

PS

Please come back soon. I miss you.

********

To: Mia Giannis >[email protected] /* */

From: Reece Ellis >[email protected] /* */

Subject: I miss you too.

Mi,

I miss you, too. I think we’re coming back for Christmas break.

And like you said, Dante is Dante. He can fit in anywhere.

Regarding Quinn, you should get to know him. There’s a reason that I used to be so totally in love with him—he’s a pretty good guy. I’ve known him since we were in diapers. And yes. He is hot.

XOXO,

Reecie

PS

What color are the stripes now?

********

To: Reece Ellis >[email protected] /* */

From: Mia Giannis >[email protected] /* */

Subject: No joke.

Reecie,

No freaking joke. Tell me something I don’t know.

Love,

Mi

PS

The stripes are blue.

I run my fingers through the blue streaks in my hair and sigh before I close my laptop. Life sucks without Reece and Dante here. This year will freaking suck without them here. Going to school will suck without them here.

But today’s the day. And there’s nothing I can do about it.

Except get my butt into gear and take a shower.

And get ready for the first day of school.

I sigh again.

Hell.

Chapter Three

The Piranhas are circling.

I watch them casually as my leg dangles from my open car door.

They are brightly colored, all with razor sharp teeth, all swarming in for the kill.

And they all have something in common. All of them think that they are better than everyone else because they have rich or important parents. Big deal. So do I. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be.

I should know. My life sucks.

In fact, I sort of hate my life.

Actually, not sort of. I do.

And I can’t make myself get out and join them, not yet.

Because they might not be actual piranhas, but they may as well be.

The superficial girls are batting their eyes at cocky and arrogant boys, there is endless flirting and way too many noses in the air. Each one of those girls would stab me in the back quicker than they would even look at me. I know that. And it’s all too much to deal with before breakfast.

Thankfully, the second bell hasn’t even sounded, so I still have some precious alone time for just a few minutes more. I don’t have to deal with these freaking barracudas yet.

“Hey Mia,” a cheerful voice interrupts my solitude.

So scratch that. Alone time is over. But at least I haven’t lost it to a barracuda.

“Hi Gavin,” I turn and find Gavin Ariastasis.

As one of my best friends, I trust him because he’s from the same exact position in life that I am in. Almost exactly. His father is Caberra’s Minister of Interior, while mine is the Minister of Defense. Our lives are seriously effed up because of this. In fact, we might as well have our own little effed up club where we air out our own little effed up issues.

“Are you ready for our last year?” I ask absently, as I watch the fray in front of me. There’s a certain first-day-of-school energy in the air today.

He laughs in response. Gavin is always laughing, actually. He’s one of the happiest people I know. The world is a joke to him, a comedy, a play. And he’s always in the center of the stage. But I like that about him. Everyone likes that about him. He doesn’t take anything, including himself, too seriously.

“I’m ready for anything. Always,” he announces to me.

One of the things I love the most about Gav is that he is so freaking cocky and self-assured. But he pulls it off in a likeable way, unlike most of these other cretins. That’s why he’s so likeable.

I laugh and stare up at him. He’s good-looking in a very Caberran way. He’s dark-haired, dark-eyed and carefree. And tan because he’s always out in the sun. Like many of the other Caberran boys, he is a surfer. He was born to live in the sun. His eyes are almost always sparkling at some unsaid joke. But for some reason, I’ve never been attracted to him even though he’s gorgeous. I don’t know why because it would be so convenient.

But I guess hearts don’t care about convenience.

“I see you’ve altered your uniform,” he observes.

I glance down at myself. I have the blue plaid skirt on, the black knee socks and the white button-up shirt on like I should. But I’ve unbuttoned the top several buttons of my shirt and a black camisole peeks out. It’s my homage to the rest of my wardrobe. Black, black, black. It fits my mood most of the time.

I even dye my hair jet black. Usually, much to my parents’ chagrin, I add colorful streaks to it. Right now, as I told Reece, I have bright blue streaks. I figure I might as well coordinate with my school uniform.

I nod. “It’s just a little thing.”

A little tiny way to be an individual. But even a little of that kind of effort is considered too much around here.

Kolettis Academy does not exactly encourage individuality. It was founded by Antonio Kolettis, a Prime Minister from a few hundred years back, as the first private school in Valese. It is the private school now. Only the very rich, the very influential or the very powerful can get their kids in.

It’s ironic that I spend my days day-dreaming about getting out.

But then, I’m contrary like that. Or so my parents say.

Gavin nods. “Just a little thing,” he agrees. “Just a little thing that Kanaris might send you home for.”

He does have a point. The headmaster, Constantine Kanaris, does not deviate from the rules. Not for any reason, not at any time. It’s exhausting. But it’s a little bit fun to play with. He can’t expel me. My father is the MoD of our entire country.

But that doesn’t mean that Kanaris won’t send me home to change. He’s done it before, many times. He only wishes that the policy had some specifications about hair color. But it doesn’t. So I can color my head like the rainbow if I choose to.

Take that, asshole.

Gavin holds out his arm. “Come on,” he urges me. “You can’t stay out here all day.”

I stare up at him. “I can’t?” I ask. “Are you sure?”

He grins. And entire countries could be leveled with that charming grin, I am sure. And once again I ponder why I’m not attracted to him. It’s probably because I’ve seen him in diapers. That tends to squash sex appeal.

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