Home > All the Little Lies

All the Little Lies
Author: S.J. Sylvis

Chapter One




I stared down at my hand-me-down uniform. Plaid. Blue-and-white checkered fabric skittered along my skirt, hitting a few inches above my knees. The white stockings weren’t as white as they were when they were first worn—I’m certain of that—but at least the worn holes were on the soles of my feet and not running up the sides of my calves. The white dress shirt was undoubtedly supposed to fit snug, but on my angular frame, it hung loose, making me appear childish—even more so with the girly bow-like tie that was tied around my neck. If only it’d just strangle me all together.

The gargoyles in front of the school stared at me with demonic eyes, and I almost shivered in my spot. I’d most definitely been in worse places, and everyone here, in all their ritzy glory, would realize that quickly when they got one good glance at my face. On the way here, I wondered if anyone would remember me. If they’d recognize me. If a certain somebody would recognize me. I was going to stick out like a sore thumb with the yellowing bruise on my eye and the healing cut on my lip. But I was a different girl now. My once glossy and long, ember-colored hair was now cut to my shoulders and dull—as if the life was sucked out of it, too. I was skinnier now, and although I went through puberty, my curves were almost nonexistent due to lack of nutrition. My stomach actually growled at the thought. All I had to do was make it to lunchtime so I could eat.

And by eat, I meant steal an apple or something when no one was looking at me. It wasn’t as if Jill or Pete were going to give me any lunch money or pack me a nice peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a little love note in the shape of a heart that read Have a great day at school! I learned just what kind of people they truly were with a backhand right to my face last night. Great couple. The best. Definitely an A-plus for them as foster parents.

With a hesitant hand, I latched onto the willowy brass handle on the school’s entrance. I was supposed to wait for Ann, my social worker, but I preferred to do this alone. If I’d learned anything in the last few years, it was that no one was going to look out for me as much as I’d look out for myself. Ann wasn’t going to scowl at the group of catty cheerleaders when they snickered at my unfit clothing, and she wasn't going to stand her ground when a rich, preppy boy tried to cop a feel. It was all on me.

If I wanted to count on anyone in this world, all I had to do was look into a mirror.

“Hayley! Wait up!” Speak of the broad herself. Ann hurried up the cobblestone steps in her clacking heels, her auburn hair blowing in the early autumn breeze, and her coffee was literally spilling over the edge of the Styrofoam cup. My mouth watered at the sight of it, and she must have sensed that, because she gave me a half-smile and thrusted it in my direction.

I basked in its warmth as the creamy taste of hazelnut landed in my empty belly. I was so grateful for the coffee I almost thanked her, but then I put up my shields and remembered that I wasn’t exactly pleased with her. I know. Typical. Foster kid mad at their social worker. But as I glanced up at the skyscraper-tall prep school, I got angry all over again. It had been years since I’d attended English Prep Middle. My friends—and really, I meant Christian—had replaced me by now. We were seniors. He probably didn’t even remember me from middle school. Not true, and you know it. I surely remembered him. And I’d have been lying if I said there wasn’t a teeny, tiny part of me that longed for him to welcome me with open arms.

I understood why it was crucial for me to be here at English Prep. Ann pulled some major strings, and with the help of my stellar GPA, the headmaster allowed me in on a scholarship. I should have been behind everyone else here because I’d been to three different high schools in the last four years. It would take me a little while to catch up, but school was literally the only thing I had. If I wanted any chance at surviving and getting the hell out of this town, this vulgar place, I needed to get a scholarship to attend a great college. I needed out. I had to make it out alive. I had to.

“How were Jill and Pete last night? They seem like a really nice couple. Did you sleep well? How does your uniform fit? I tried my best to get you the size you needed. It goes against HR policy for me to use my own money to pay for things for you, so I had to get everything from the headmaster.” I continued to stare at Ann as I gulped more coffee down. She was talking a mile a minute, eyes darting all around. “So? How was it? Do you like Jill and Pete?”

Did I like Jill and Pete? Ann had no idea how badly I wanted to say yes. She didn’t have even an inkling as to how much I wished they were a nice couple like they seemed on the outside. But I was sure she knew as well as I did that there was much more to people than met the eye. And Jill and Pete? They had a little hell running in their veins.

“They were fine,” I lied. There was no point in telling her they were spiteful, ugly people. I’d been with them for twelve hours, and I had already learned so much about them.

Jill catered to Pete. He whistled when his plate was empty or when he needed a beer, and she would come scurrying over the yellowing shag carpet to do whatever he wanted. I went ahead and excused myself last night when he asked her for a blowie—as if their new foster daughter wasn’t sitting three feet away.

I couldn’t complain too much, though. It beat the last foster home—and juvie.

Ann gave me a warm smile, and I almost caught myself latching onto it for dear life.

“Shall we go in?” Ann opened the clad door, and I realized I was holding my breath. Little black dots danced around my vision before I exhaled. The giant entryway was empty and smelled of cleaning supplies. The tile floor looked as if it belonged in some ornate gallery or museum. The ceilings were at least twenty feet high with large windows cut out, letting in the natural light. Pristine was the word that came to mind as I gazed into the large opening in front of me. Tall stone pillars were to the right of us, which I assumed, by the way Ann’s heels were clacking in that direction, was the headmaster’s office.

A small part of me was excited. What a breath of fresh air it would be to go to a school that prepared you for college, offering classes like British Literature and Astronomy instead of mundane classes consisting of how to use the proper grammatical form of the words to, too, and two. It’d be a change of pace to be around students who weren’t trying to get you to join their gang or selling drugs behind the graffiti-covered bathroom stalls during lunch. Not only did I have to watch my back at whatever home I was currently in, but I also had to watch myself at school, too. Once you were labeled the “foster kid,” a certain group emerged, and they tried their hardest to drag you under right with them. They thought you were just as broken as they were—and maybe I was. But that only made me run faster.

Keep your head down, Hayley. Keep to yourself, Hayley. Don’t make a fuss. Don’t make eye contact. Keep your mouth shut. The times I had mentally told myself those lines were far too many.

Ann cleared her throat as I tried to pull my skirt down. It was loose around my waist, so thankfully, it came down another half inch.

“Hello, I’m Ann Scova. I have a meeting with Headmaster Walton.”

A small, dainty, older woman peeked up from her rich, oak desk and pulled her glasses down to the tip of her tiny nose. “Yes, one moment please.”

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Den of Vipers
» House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)
» The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #
» Sweet Temptation
» The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» Wreck & Ruin
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Twisted Hate (Twisted #3)
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)