Her smile dimmed again. Shit. I should be smiling, too. I smiled, and she looked at me funny. I almost laughed at the awkwardness of the situation.
“Okay, well, I need to grab my lunch. Meet me here.” She strode off without waiting for a response.
Christ. This was going well. I made my way to my locker. It took me a couple of tries to get the combination right, but finally, the lock clicked. I shoved my books inside and grabbed the brown sack lunch Mom had packed for me.
Rosalyn was waiting for me when I got back to the door of our last class. She was holding a similar brown bag, and I said a silent thank you to Mom for being awesome.
“It’s a good thing you brought yours, too,” she said as we walked toward the cafeteria. “The food here is gross. No one eats it unless they’re desperate.”
I didn’t know how to respond to that, but she didn’t notice.
She eyed my bag as if she could see through the paper. “What did you bring? Tofu? Sushi?”
Guess she had some ideas about what a proper Angelino should eat. “A turkey sandwich and some chips.”
“Oh.” Her mouth pressed into a firm line as she studied me from head to toe.
I nearly walked away right then. Mom and Dad were kind of right this morning. I couldn’t change who I was, even though I needed to hide my visions. I was a walking contradiction—equal parts wanting to fly my freak flag with pride and bury it in a deep dark hole.
“What’s up with the gloves? Are you a germaphobe or what?”
And there it was. This was why I didn’t talk to people. I needed a lie. A good one. Just my luck I was possibly the worst liar ever. “I guess it’s hard to stay current with fashion here.”
I held my breath, hoping she’d buy it. My cheeks weren’t heating, my usual “tell.” That was something at least.
“Ugh.” She stuck out her bottom lip. “We never get any of the new trends till they’re already over. I’ve got to get out of here.”
I couldn’t believe she bought it. If everyone here started to wear gloves because of this, I was going to laugh. Hard.
Rosalyn walked up to a round table that was almost full and sat down. Taking my cue, I slid into the chair next to her. Everyone stopped what they were doing, some in mid-chew, to gawk at me. One might think being a pariah at my old school would give me the ability to deal with these kinds of situations, but they never got any easier. I wanted to slouch, but didn’t dare. Showing weakness only made things worse.
“This is Tessa,” Rosalyn said. “She’s from LA.”
I counted eight other people besides Rosalyn sitting around the Formica. Two of the guys had on blue and white jerseys. Hiding my abilities from one person, hard. From nine? This could very easily be a disaster of epic proportions.
“Is that Tokidoki?” The girl to the right of me asked as she pointed to my bag. Her brown hair was done in some elaborate braid that would’ve taken me hours to attempt even though my hair was long enough to try it. I was jealous for a split second and then realized she must’ve gotten up at the butt-crack of dawn to get ready, a feat I would never dare to try myself.
She grinned. “Thanks.”
I tapped my messenger bag. “Yep. I have kind of an obsession with Tokidoki.”
“Jealous! My dad won’t get me one. Says a teenager doesn’t need such an expensive backpack. But I found my Harajuku Lovers one on eBay for a sweet deal.” She rummaged around in it and pulled out a copy of Us Weekly. “Have you ever met any stars?” She flipped through pages, stopping on a picture of my favorite Scotsman.
I flashed back to the party before we left LA. The look on his face when he stared at me was something I wished I could erase from my mind. I could’ve probably impressed the group by saying that he’d been one of Dad’s clients, but that would’ve required a bunch of explaining and would probably come off as bragging. Not a good option.
I took a closer look at the photo. “That’s Larchmont Village, one of my favorite streets in LA.” I shrugged. “You see them every once in a while. I mean they’re normal people. Just like us.” I quoted the magazine’s tag line, but got a bunch of empty stares as I glanced around the still silent table. I quickly re-thought my no-bragging approach. “My dad had a lot of stars as his clients, including him.” I tapped the picture. “Plus, there were tons in my neighborhood—Bel Air.”
“No way!” Fancy Braid Girl said.
“Isn’t that where the Fresh Prince lived?” the boy across the table asked. His dimples winked at me as he spoke.