Home > Fallen Heir (The Royals #4)(13)

Fallen Heir (The Royals #4)(13)
Author: Erin Watt

“Same.” I guzzle the bottle, toss it aside, and throw myself back on the grass.

Pash collapses beside me. We both lie there staring up at the cloudless sky.

Bran, looking fresh as a daisy despite the grueling practice, saunters past and chuckles at us. “You guys need to hit the gym more. I feel great.”

I weakly manage to lift one hand—so I can give him the finger. “You only feel great because you’re straight-edge.”

He laughs harder. “Is that an insult? Cuz, seems to me, being straight-edge means I’m not the one dry-heaving on the turf.”

This time Pash joins me in flipping Bran the bird.

Eventually, we’re able to haul our asses off the field and into the locker room, where I take a quick shower. I transfer Hartley’s apartment key from my jeans to my uniform trousers, then head over to the admin office.

Mrs. Goldstein is there. Her wiry, tinted-blue curls halo above her small round face. Pink glasses are perched on the end of her nose.

I prop an elbow on the counter. “Mrs. G, you look fine today.”

She sighs. “What do you want, Mr. Royal?”

Ignoring her obvious impatience, I tap the top of her monitor. “I stopped in because there’s a mistake in my class schedule. I went to first period and apparently I’m not in that class anymore. Some kid named Wright transferred in, and when he did that he took my spot.”

The drawn-on eyebrows above her glasses crash together. “That’s highly unusual.”

AKA I’m full of shit. Which I am.

But I go all in on the lie. “I know, right? All I can say is, Mr. Walsh was like, ‘You’re not in this class anymore, Royal.’ And I was like, ‘What? That’s insane. How could this Wright person just take my spot?’ And he goes, ‘Well, why don’t you go to the office and ask.’ And—”

“All right!” she cuts in, visibly exasperated. “Just stop talking. Let me have a look.”

I hide a grin. “Thanks, Mrs. G. I really think the Wright kid is in the wrong class.”

I wink after making my terrible pun. Mrs. G likes it, though. She presses her thin lips together to keep from laughing.

“Let’s see what we can do.” She types a few things on her keyboard.

I twist toward the monitor to watch what she’s doing—she’s just pulled up a record labeled Wright, H. Pushing her spectacles up to the bridge of her nose, she starts to read the schedule.

Smooth operator that I am, I lean over the counter and quickly tap the print screen button.

“Mr. Royal,” she yelps, jumping out of her seat.

But she’s not fast enough for me. I vault over the counter with one hand and land right in front of the printer.

“Thanks for printing this.” Beaming at her, I snatch up the paper and jog around the end of the desk.

She grabs for me. “I didn’t print it for you. Easton Royal, you get back here!”

“Your perfume smells great, Mrs. G,” I call over my shoulder.

Outside the admin office, I look at the printout. There’s not one overlap, except for last period. In fact, most of Wright, H’s classes are at opposite sides of the building as mine.

That’s going to change after today.

I take the stairs two at a time. The lecture has already started by the time I breeze into Hartley’s first period class. All the chairs next to her are taken. She’s surrounded by a bunch of potted plants—the kids that suck up all the oxygen because of their self-importance. I walk over to one I know and don’t like much.

I bend down at her desk. “Your car’s on fire.”

“Omigod!” Cynthia Patterson yelps and sprints out of the classroom without a backward glance.

With a smug smile, I pull out her abandoned chair and settle in.

“Mr. Royal, what are you doing in this class?” the teacher asks.

I have no clue who she is. Based on the lines in her forehead that she’s trying to Botox away, she’s in her forties. Too old for me.

“I’m here to learn. Isn’t that what everyone else is doing here?”

“It’s Feminist Thought.”

I cock my head. “Then I don’t know why you’re discriminating against me. If we want more gender equality, shouldn’t this class be mandatory for males?”

Teach makes one last effort to kick me out. “You don’t have the books necessary for the class.”

“No worries. I’ll share with Hartley for now. We’re old friends.” I pick up my desk and move it right next to hers.

“What are you doing?” she demands under her breath.

“You have an amazing ability to whisper-shout, do you know that?” I drag one of her books onto my desk.

“You have an amazing ability to piss me off.”

“I’ve been perfecting this skill since I made my first appearance in the world.” I kick my legs out. “My momma told me that I came out punching. Thanks for helping me out last night.”

Reaching into my pocket, I do a quick examination of the room, then slide my hand under the table and nudge Hartley’s thumb with her key.

She startles for a second, glances down, and tenses. “I told you to leave it in the mailbox,” she mutters.

“Figured this would be easier.”

She searches my face. “You must have a deal with the devil. It’s the only way you look this good after a night of drinking and getting your ass kicked.”

“I didn’t get my ass kicked.”

“Really? Is that why you blacked out? You didn’t get hit so hard in the head that you couldn’t see straight?”

“That’s right.”

I get nothing more than a head shake after that. Her jaw remains stiff. At the front of the room, the teacher is droning on about third-wave feminism. She’s oblivious to the fact that hardly anyone is paying attention.

“Why are you here?” Hartley finally says.

“Oh, didn’t I mention? I’m in all your classes now.”

Her head swivels toward me. “Oh my God.”

“Well, except for music. I’m tone deaf.”

“Oh my God,” she says again.

“I knew you’d be excited.”

She groans so loudly that everyone turns in our direction. “What was that, Ms. Wright?” the teacher asks pleasantly.

Hartley is visibly clenching her teeth. “I just can’t believe that even in this progressive modern society, drug trials are still primarily based on male subjects, endangering the lives of women every day. It’s shocking.”

“Shocking!” agrees our teacher. “And yet true!”

The moment she resumes her lecture, Hartley scowls at me. “Switch your schedule back to whatever it was before, Royal.”


She clutches the edge of the desk with both hands as if fighting the urge to punch me. “Fine,” she mutters “Then stop talking to me. I’m trying to learn something.”

“What’s there to learn? Women deserve the same rights as men. End of story.”

“Do you really believe that?”

I raise both eyebrows. “Doesn’t everyone?”

“Obviously not.”

I wink. “So does that mean you like me now because I’m super enlightened?”

But my charm goes unnoticed, because her eyes narrow suspiciously. “I don’t know why you’re following me around, but you need to stop. I’m not interested in you and will not be interested in you in the future. And from what I hear, you have a line of girls about ten deep who are ready and willing to be whatever you want, so just—” She makes a shooing gesture with her hand. “Just go away.”

I ignore everything she said except for the obvious. “You’ve been asking about me, have you?”

She shuts her eyes and spins back to face the front.

“What else have you heard? I like hearing gossip about myself.” I nudge her arm.

She moves it away from me and remains silent.

“My favorite rumor is that I’ve got a magic tongue—because it’s true. I’ll be happy to demonstrate for you at any time.”

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