Then You Look At Me - Book cover

Then You Look At Me


Age Rating


Rainey has a past she tells no one, secrets she wishes not to share. She’s viewed as the bad girl, but there’s more to her than what meets the eye. After an incident tarnishes her reputation at Freetown High, Rainey transfers to Crosshill High in hope of a fresh start. Ansel isn’t your typical bad boy. He's seen as a good guy with good grades. He’s quiet, reserved, and mysterious. But Rainey can tell that he’s not as innocent as he appears. An awkward exchange of eye contact from Rainey’s locker mirror begins a thrilling love story of two teens who find comfort in each other but struggle to overcome their secrets and scars. It’s a love story that presents a whirlwind of emotions, jealous antagonists, and obstacles that test their abilities.

Age Rating: 18+ (Assault, Attempted Rape, Cheating, Child Abuse, Depression, Domestic Violence, Drug Use/Overdose, Extreme Violence/Gore, Human Trafficking, Offscreen Rape, Sexual Assault/Abuse, Stalker, Statutory Rape, Torture, Violent Death)

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78 Chapters

Locker Guy


“I can guarantee that you will enjoy being here at Crosshill High, Rainey. Consider this a fresh start,” Principal Cameron asserts while she beams at me from across the mahogany table.

I offer a weak smile before averting my eyes to the stripes on my plaid skirt.

“This will be the perfect opportunity for her to forget what happened at Freetown High. She will like it here.”

She smiles reassuringly at my mother, and while they engage in their chatter, the door to the office opens.

I turn my head in its direction, and a boy walks in. His strides are lazy as he grins at his phone screen, the light illuminating his perfect rows of teeth.

“Oh, good morning, Jace. This is Rainey. Could you show her around? She’s new here.”

Mrs. Cameron smiles at the guy, who finally looks up. His eyes shift between the principal’s and mine. Then he offers a half-smile, but his hazel orbs show his reluctance to be in this position.

“Go ahead, Rainey. I’ll be back to pick you up after five this evening,” my mother says as I get up from my chair and hustle over to the guy whose head has resumed its position in his cell phone.

He lets out a deep cackle as he leads the way through the door, and I tug the hem of my skirt further down my thighs.

The uniform is uncomfortable. It’s a white dress shirt with a green and dark blue plaid skirt, which seems rather prep-school.

We walk down the hall in silence. He hasn’t said much except his self-conversations as he continues his giggles at his phone.

I pretend not to be annoyed, mentally taking notes of my surroundings and refusing to ask for his assistance, since it appears he doesn’t want to be of aid.

I pull my bag open while we walk and retrieve my timetable from the textbook it’s tucked into before zipping my bag up and scanning the paper for my first class.

Math, room T81.

I scrunch my face up in ignorance before shifting my amber eyes to my “tour-guide,” who is now tapping away on his cell.

“Um, where can I find T81?”

“Oh shit, she sends nudes?!” he chuckles at his screen, and I presume he didn’t hear a word I said.

I sigh, and my patience withers away. “Look, if you didn’t want to help me out, you could have said so.”

He finally looks up at me, and his smile fades while his brows bump together in a frown. “Sorry. What did you say?”

I repel the urge to roll my eyes skyward. I am already hating this school. At least at Freetown High I had a few friends. But the kids here are way too stuck-up for my liking.

“Do you know where T81 is?”

“Second room, third floor,” he states. “Look, I got to run, because I have something to take care of. So you can find your way there, right?”


I just nod, and he scurries away quickly, as if he’s thrilled to get away from me.

I jotted my locker number on the back of my timetable while inside Mrs. Cameron’s office earlier, so while reciting the combination, I scan the lockers for the one with the matching engravement.

I finally locate it, and a smile shapes my puffy lips as I reach down to sit my knapsack on the marble tiles before punching in the combination of digits.

“Okay.” I breathe in.

The door creaks open as if it hasn’t been used in a million years. I wrinkle my nose and fan away dust bunnies while coughing excessively. God, this school could not get any worse.

“Okay, don’t freak out, Rain. Let’s start on a good note.”

I reach down to open my bag before grabbing the accessories I brought from home to decorate my locker.

After using my rag—which I will now certainly have to throw away later—to clean the area up, I hang a photo of my dad and me at the top before adorning the metal space with small flowers.

For the finishing touch, I place a mirror at the back of the locker so I can always be aware of what’s behind me.

I developed this habit last fall at Freetown when a kid stuck gum in my hair from behind while I stood at my locker.

I rake my slender fingers through my bronze hair in an attempt to get it tidy.

My hair is always a mess, and it isn’t because I don’t comb it in the mornings. It’s just that my hair is not well-behaved like other people’s.

My eyes drift to a figure behind me in my mirror. A guy stands by his locker, jamming some books into his knapsack.

His black mop of hair is tousled on his head, and from behind I can tell he’s wearing glasses.

He doesn’t appear to be a “glasses” guy though, judging by his atlas shoulders and lean figure.

He closes his locker and whirls around to leave, and immediately our eyes connect. I notice right away his icy pair of sapphire eyes beneath his half-rim glasses, and I avert my gaze awkwardly.

Okay, let’s not stare at strangers like a creep, Rainey.

He walks off, his face expressionless, despite having caught a weird stranger gazing at him from her mirror.

I have no idea why I did that.

The bell jolts me back to reality. I have a class to get to, and the long stairs that lead to the third floor will more than likely take me ten minutes, if not more.

I close my locker and pull my bag off the floor before hurrying to my class.


The annoying laughing boy that Principal Cameron assigned to give me a tour this morning gave me the wrong directions to my math class.

Honestly, I’m not surprised. He was more absorbed in looking at his nudes.

I locate the room at a quarter past eight, and the teacher stands at the board, jotting down her class objectives, while I awkwardly stand at the entrance.

I clear my throat, and she shifts her eyes in my direction.

“You’re late, Miss…”

“Slate,” I say, making my way inside. A few heads snap up from their notebooks. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t find the class.”

“It’s halfway into the term and you can’t find your class?”

A brunette giggles along with her friends.

“I’m new here,” I explain to Mrs. Forbes, who is glancing at her watch with a deep scowl on her aged features.

“Okay, introduce yourself,” she finally instructs before returning to the board.

I sigh. This is the part of being new that I hate the most.

…Standing in front of a bunch of kids who don’t care to know who you are because after high school you’ll just be a girl they sat next to in class or took a group picture with.

High school doesn’t last forever, and these people won’t either.

“I am Rainey,” I mutter, staring at my leather boots while an awkward silence sweeps over the class.

They are probably waiting to hear something else. I glance up at inquisitive eyes, and Mrs. Forbes gawks at me in disbelief.

“Is that all?”

“Yeah, tell us something more!” a boy in the back seat prods. And his friend, a guy with black messy hair, chuckles, interest sparking in his eyes, “Yeah, like do you have a boyfriend?!”

The brunette who injected the rude remark earlier rolls her eyes. “Shut up, Tate! She isn’t even all that…”

Mrs. Forbes gives a wave of dismissal to the class. “Okay, enough, Olivia!” She gestures to a seat at the back. “Have a seat, Rainey.”

I pace down the narrow aisle, gripping the straps of my bag. I keep my eyes down in case one of these girls decides to place her foot in my path.

That happened at Freetown last year, and the end result wasn’t so good.

“Nice boots,” Olivia chuckles, and her friends laugh along with her.

I roll my honey eyes just before they settle on a familiar blue pair by the window.

The locker guy.

He sits in the far corner. The sleeves of his white dress shirt are rolled up to his elbows, and his face is buried in his copy of our literature text for the term, To Kill a Mockingbird.

He appears to be in his own world, despite all the commotion the class was in a second ago. I turn my eyes elsewhere to avoid our gazes connecting for the second time in less than an hour.

I sit down in the empty seat in front of his and grab my books from my bag. I hate math. I’m an English person, and believe me when I say I’ve read the entire text he’s reading in less than a week.

“Ansel? Could you solve this one, dear?” Mrs. Forbes calls from the front of the room.

I notice a few girls glance in my direction with smitten looks on their faces.

My brow furrows, but my curiosity is relieved when the chair behind me pulls back with a screeching sound against the tiles.

Locker Guy saunters to the front of the room. A mild scent of strawberries and candies fills my nostrils as he passes by me, and all the girls are now gawking at him with hearts in their eyes.

Mrs. Forbes too, if I am seeing correctly.

He reaches up, and his shirt stretches against his broad back as his hand goes to work, solving the equation instantaneously before handing the marker back to Mrs. Forbes.

She scans his work, then she beams brightly. “Thank you, Ansel.”

How did he even do that in less than a minute?

“Give him a round of applause,” she says, and the class claps. Olivia is louder than the rest, and her eyes follow him down the aisle.

His alluring eyes glance at mine, and I look away, gripping my pen and copying his work from the board.

He sits behind me, and his knee bumps my back. So I shift further down my seat, keeping my eyes in my notebook.

“Uh, Slate?”

My head snaps up at the sound of my name to see Mrs. Forbes jerking a thumb toward the board. “Number two?”


I groan quietly and set my pen down while heads shift to watch me as I lazily stand from my seat.

“Come on, Sunny. We don’t have all day!” a girl says, and the class laughs immaturely at the lame joke.

“Her name’s Riney, Lisa. Leave her alone,” Tate chimes in, and his friend shoots him a look.

“It’s Rainey, dude. If you’re going to call dibs on the girl, at least know her name.” At this the class chuckles again.

There is definitely something wrong with kids at this school and laughing.

I approach the front of the room, and she hands me the marker. She crosses her arms while she watches me, and I clear my throat and begin to work the problem out.

I hate math, but I am not bad at it. In no time I solve the equation, but not as fast as Ansel did.

I hand her the marker and immediately mince down to my seat. Mrs. Forbes narrows her eyes while she examines it, then shakes her head in disapproval.

“It’s incorrect.”

I sink into my chair. It’s incorrect? What exactly did I do wrong? It seems fine to me.

“Why is it wrong?” I question, and everyone appears alarmed that I asked that question.

“Because you didn’t put the negative before the four, Slate,” she says. Her glare is mean.

“Ha. Too bad,” Olivia mutters, tapping her pen against her desk smugly.

“Actually, it isn’t incorrect,” a somehow calm yet dominant voice comes from behind me.

“Repeat, Ansel?” Mrs. Forbes’s tone is soft as her face unhardens.

“The positive is correct,” he states. “According to the rules you presented, a negative times a negative equals a positive.

“And considering she has two negatives there, the answer has to be a positive four. Therefore it’s safe to say that she’s correct.”

Mrs. Forbes looks over the solution, and her expression morphs into one of pure embarrassment.

“Oh dear, you’re right. Haha. I did not see that there were two negatives there. Thank you, Ansel. And well done, Rainey.”

Olivia scowls as she squints her eyes in my direction, and I smile a little before grabbing my pen and taking down the solution.


The cafeteria’s curry looks disgusting, so instead I grab an apple and a Coke. I purse my lips as I look around the crowded space for an empty seat.

I spot two vacant tables at the far back, and I plod my way over. I slump down, resting my tray on the table and reaching for my apple.

“Ansel! Over here!”

I look up to see a table of girls and guys two rows away from mine. One of the occupants is Olivia, and she waves at Ansel, who has a skeptical expression etched on his features.

“Maybe another time,” he responds, and I watch how their faces fall in disappointment as he moves in the opposite direction from the crew.

He approaches my corner, and I keep my eyes on the sour green fruit as he plops his bag down on the table away from mine and sits down.

I glance over from the curtain of my hair and realize that a banana and a bottle of water sit on his tray. I’m guessing he’s as not into the curry as I am.

He eats in silence while his eyes are glued to his novel once again.

He appears so unbothered. The cafeteria could be on fire, and he’d probably just sit there and read a book, not caring that the person next to him was being burned alive.

To Kill a Mockingbird topped my list of best novels when I realized how much Scout mirrors my character. She’s rebellious and seldom follows rules.

She also loves her dad a lot, and at a young age she was forced to come to the harsh realization that the world isn’t fair.

I am unaware of another character that relates to me so deeply, which is why I have read the book ten times.


Okay, and I have no idea why I just said the name of the character aloud.

I have a very problematic issue. When I’m deep inside my thoughts, I tend to think out loud. This habit caused a lot of ruckuses between me and the girls at Freetown High.

…Because, as my mother tells me, I need to distinguish between the thoughts that should be said aloud and the ones that should be kept in my head.

Ansel’s head snaps in my direction, and I shrink in my seat, heat rising to my rosy cheeks. Our gazes connect for the third time today, and we’re just exchanging glares for a few seconds.

“I meant the book,” I quickly defend, “…that you’re reading.”

Duh, Rainey!

His lips pull back into a smile, showcasing deep dimples on either cheek, while his nomad-blue eyes twinkle. Now that he’s in closer proximity, I notice his flawless appearance.

His half-dome cheekbones sit above a lantern jaw. He appears toned, judging by the way his biceps bulge against his white dress shirt, which is still rolled up to the elbows, displaying strong arms.

His half-rim glasses do not subtract from his godlike qualities. If anything they make him look even better.

“I can see that,” he finally says, and I smile a little, averting my eyes back to my tray.

“Have you finished it yet?” He shifts his body in my direction.

“Yeah, I have. Like ten times.”

He laughs deeply, and the sound is melodic. Is he a Roman god or something?

“Well, I’m just in chapter twenty.”

“Oh, you’re almost there.” I jerk him a thumbs up, and he smiles and shakes his head.

I look away and reach for my apple.

“So, do you like it?” he asks again.

I nod. “I do, actually. A lot. It reminds me so much of myself.”

He tilts his head to the side. “Why’s that?”

“Well…I guess I can relate to the protagonist.” I half-shrug.

A glint of curiosity flashes across his eyes, but he lets it pass and just smiles. “Oh, that’s deep.”

I smile, and he continues to read. My eyes dip to what appears to be a tattoo peeking out from the bunched sleeve of his shirt, and my brow furrows slightly.

Not to be stereotypical, but it’s somewhat rare to see a smart guy wearing glasses who also has a tattoo on his arm. Hold on, is he wearing earrings?

His eyes meet mine again, and I look away awkwardly. Yeah, he is wearing studs in both ears.

“Do you like it here?” he questions.

My shoulders raise in a shrug. “I don’t know. I guess not.”

“Is it the kids or the nasty curry they serve?”

I laugh. “Both, I guess.”

His cell rings from his pocket, and he raises a finger in my direction before pulling it from his plaid pants. He answers it, and the person on the opposite end speaks indistinctly.

His brow furrows, and his jaw clenches. His warm expression is replaced by a hard countenance, and my curiosity is piqued as I watch him. Is he all right?

He hangs up, and I pretend I am minding my own business as he slides his phone into his pocket with haste.

“Uh, I got to run…,” he mutters, more to himself than to me, as he jams his novel in his bag and gets up from his chair. “I’ll see you around.”

“Um, yeah, okay.” I watch him as he briskly leaves the cafeteria. What was that all about?

“Keep your eyes off.”

I look to see Olivia sitting across from me, crossing her arms against her chest. Her uniform top is unreasonably tight, so that the buttons stretch, displaying her chest underneath the garment.

Her skirt is way too short, and she’s chewing gum awfully in her mouth while she eyes me distastefully.


“Keep your eyes off Ansel. I won’t ask twice.”

I repel the itch to snort. This feels like one of those teen movies where the head cheerleader warns you to stay away from the popular jock. This is fun. I should play along.

I mirror her actions, crossing my arms as I glare daringly at her. “What if I don’t want to?”

She gasps, blinking at me speechlessly, as if I just cut her tongue out. Her mouth opens and closes like a choking fish, and I chuckle softly before shaking my head.

This will be fun. I grab my bag and plod out of the cafeteria, leaving her in a fury.

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