Home > Fallen Heir (The Royals #4)(3)

Fallen Heir (The Royals #4)(3)
Author: Erin Watt

She stares at me. “Are you seriously flirting with me now? Hard pass.”

“Hard, eh?” I lick my bottom lip. Yes, I am flirting, because as ordinary as she might look, she intrigues me. And, I, Easton Royal, am bound by the laws of the universe to pursue all things interesting.

There’s a flicker of fascination in her eyes. Brief, but I’ve always been able to tell when a girl thinks I’m hot, when she’s imagining what it’d be like to hook up with me.

Hartley’s totally thinking about it right now.

Come on, baby, ask me out. Take what you want. I’d love to see a girl grab me by the metaphorical and literal balls and tell me she wants me. Straight up. No games. But despite the whole girl empowerment thing, I find that most chicks want the guys to chase them. Bummer.

“Ew.” She tries to inch away. “Seriously, Royal. Move.”

I plant both hands against the cool wood on either side of her head, effectively trapping her. “Or what?

Those gray eyes glint, piquing my curiosity again. “I might be small, but I have the lung capacity of a whale, so if you don’t move I’m gonna have to release the oral Kraken until the entire school is in this hallway rescuing me from you.”

I crack up. “The oral Kraken? That sounds pretty dirty.”

“I’m thinking everything sounds dirty to you,” she says dryly, but a smirk toys with the corners of her lips. “In all seriousness, I only opened that door because I’m trying to transfer into Ms. Mann’s calculus class. But I’m going to keep your little secret, all right?” She spreads her hands wide. “So what’s it going to be? Oral Kraken or stepping aside?”

Threats aren’t likely to work with Hartley, mostly because I don’t think I could carry one out. Intimidating girls isn’t my style—making them happy is. So I’m going to have to take her word for it. For now, at least. Hartley doesn’t seem like the narcing type. And even if she does spill the beans, I can fall back on the wallet. Dad might have to endow another scholarship to get me out of the Ms. Mann mess, but he’s already done it once for Reed and Ella. I think I’m due for a little bequest in my name.

Grinning, I move aside. “Listen, if you want to take AP Calc—” I gesture to the room at the end of the hall, “I recommend you talk to her now. You know…” I wink. “Catch her when her defenses are down.”

Hartley’s jaw drops. “Are you saying I should blackmail her? Tell her I’ll only keep my mouth shut if she approves my transfer?”

I shrug. “Why not? Gotta look out for yourself, right?”

She studies me for a long, long moment. I’d give a lot to know what’s going through that head of hers. She gives me nothing.

“Yeah, I guess so,” she murmurs. “Later, Royal.”

Hartley brushes past me. I amble behind her, watching as she knocks on the door and then enters Ms. Mann’s classroom. Will she go the blackmail route? Somehow I doubt it, but if she does, her transfer will be approved in no time; Ms. Mann would do anything to stop Hartley from ratting us out.

Even though I’ve successfully executed my orders to “fix this” (or at least I think I have), I don’t leave the hallway. I want to make sure nothing bad goes down between Hartley and Ms. Mann. So I cool my heels outside the classroom, which is where my friend and teammate, Pash Bhara, finds me.

“Yo,” he says, rolling his eyes. “You’re supposed to be giving me a ride home. I’ve been waiting downstairs for, like, fifteen minutes.”

“Aw shit, man. I forgot.” I shrug. “But we can’t go just yet—I’m waiting for someone. You okay to wait a few more minutes?”

“Yeah, it’s cool.” He comes to stand beside me. “Hey, did you hear about the new quarterback they’re trying to bring in?”

“Really?” We lost our first game of the season on Friday, and based on the way our offense played, we should get used to it. Kordell Young, our starting QB, busted his kneecap on the second play, leaving us stuck with two underclassmen who are in the running for Dumb and Dumber.

“Coach thinks with the injuries and all, we’ll need someone.”

“He’d be right, but who’s going to come here after the season’s started?”

“Rumor has it that it’s either someone from North or Bellfield Prep.”

“Why those schools?” I try to remember the quarterbacks from either school but draw a blank.

“They run the same type of offense, I guess? The guy from Bellfield is cool. I’ve partied with him a few times. Straight-laced but decent.”

“I don’t see a problem there. More booze for us,” I joke, but I’m starting to feel antsy. Hartley’s been in there a long time. It would take Ms. Mann all of five seconds to scrawl her name on the transfer slip.

I peer through the small window on the door, but all I see is the back of Hartley’s head. Ms. Mann is out of view.

What’s the hold up? There’s no way that Ms. Mann doesn’t immediately agree to Hartley’s request.

“Agreed.” Pash’s gold-plated phone buzzes in his hand. He checks the text and then wiggles his phone at me. “You going out tonight?”

“Maybe.” But I’m not really paying attention to him. I twist around to take another look in Ms. Mann’s window. Pash notices this time.

“Dude, seriously? Ms. Mann?” he says with arched brows. “You tired of the Astor girls already? We can take your dad’s plane to New York. Fashion Week is starting up and the city is gonna be thick with models. Or, we can wait for the new QB to come and hook us up with some locals.” He winks and nudges me. “Although there’s nothing like doing something you shouldn’t, right?”

Irritated that he guessed right, my answer comes out terse. “Wrong. She’s too old.”

“Then who is it?” Pash tries to peer past me as I use my big frame to block his view.

“No one. There’s some chick inside and I’m waiting for her to leave so I can make sure I have the assignment correct.”

“The assignments are online,” he says unhelpfully.

“Ah, that’s right.” But I don’t move.

Naturally, Pash is only more intrigued. “Who’s in there?” he demands, trying to shove me aside for a look.

I decide to move and let him investigate, because otherwise he won’t stop bothering me.

Pash presses his nose against the window, takes a long look, and concludes, “Oh. So you are here to see Ms. Mann.”

“I said I was.” But now I’m confused, because why was he so quick to dismiss Hartley as the focus of my interest?

He checks his phone again. “Okay, this is boring. I’ll meet you downstairs in the parking lot.”

As he starts to take off, curiosity gets the better of me. “Why not the other girl?” I call after him.

He turns around and, as he walks backward, says, “Cuz she’s not your type.”

“What’s my type?”

“Hot. Hot, stacked. Hot,” he repeats before disappearing around the corner.

“Wow,” a dry voice remarks. “I’m totally crushed that your friend thinks I’m cold and flat.”

I nearly jump five feet in the air. “Jesus. Can you make a little noise when you move around?”

Hartley grins at me and adjusts the strap of her backpack as she walks. “That’s what you get for lurking outside the door. Why are you still here, anyway?”

“Did you get everything taken care of?” I ask, falling in beside her.

“Yes.” Hartley makes a face. “I guess she figured out it was me who saw you guys, because she was embarrassingly willing to do everything I asked. I feel bad.”

“You shouldn’t. Teach made a mistake, and now she’s paying for it.” It’s meant to be a quip, but it comes off callous, and I recognize it the moment Hartley frowns deeply at me.

“She didn’t fool around with herself, Royal.”

“No, but that would’ve been hot,” I try to joke again, but it’s too late.

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