Home > Cruel North (The North Brothers #4)

Cruel North (The North Brothers #4)
Author: JB Salsbury

 

Prologue

 

 

AP Physics 1

 

 

Hayes


“Come on, people, we went over this yesterday.” Mr. Lewis’s voice ricochets off the wall in the back corner of the classroom, jerking me awake.

I’d finally found a comfortable enough position, forehead in my hand, face pointed toward the open notebook on my desk. I had even managed to keep my pencil upright in my free hand so that I would appear to be deep in concentration rather than drifting in and out of sleep.

Offended by the blunt awakening, I scowl toward the front of the class at our teacher as he pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose. Lanky and pale, Mr. Lewis is the walking definition of virginity over forty. With his mouth in a tight line and eyes magnified through glasses, his gaze darts through a sea of slouching students.

“No one, huh? Not even a guess?” He must feel me glaring because his bug eyes land on me.

“Shit,” I mutter to myself.

“Mr. North.” He manages to look down his nose at me from twenty feet away. He may make decent money teaching at Burton Prep, but he’ll never come close to the net worth of every student in his class—save for the scholarship kids. “What is the kinetic energy of the question on the board?”

Dawson, my hockey team’s left winger, chuckles beside me. Asshole.

“Eighty-two.” The answer’s wrong, but I say it with enough confidence that Mr. Lewis checks his notes before sighing in defeat. My dad always told me that if I’m ever unsure, fake it.

“Eighty-two,” the teacher mumbles with a you’ve got to be fucking kidding me tone. “That’s incor—”

“Six point five seven meters per second.” The confident female voice comes from the front row. Another nerd speaking nerdlish.

“Yes, Ms. Osbourne, well done. It’s nice to see at least one person is paying attention in class today.”

Of course, he’s looking right at me.

I roll my eyes and slump back into my chair with a shrug.

The great thing about paying private school tuition is it’s nearly impossible to get kicked out for something as petty as grades. Teacher salaries need to get paid by someone. Every ass in a chair represents forty grand a year in tuition. Can’t kill the cash cow.

“Thank you, Mr. Lewis,” the ass-kisser in the front row replies.

“Nerd,” I cough loudly into my fist. The class chuckles. Well, not the whole class. Little Miss Osbourne whirls around in her seat, sending an arc of long, shining, nearly black hair into the personal space of the person sitting behind her. Her eyes are light, I think. It’s hard to tell through the fuck you glare aimed my way.

“All right, let’s move on…” Mr. Lewis continues, but I ignore him in favor of the stare-down with little miss know-it-all.

I know this chick. Not personally, but she has a reputation. Vanessa Osbourne, only child to mayor Nicolas Osbourne. The man wins campaigns by touting family values and keeps his only daughter on a tight leash. She doesn’t go to parties or games, and she gets teased for milling about campus with her nose in a book. She’s a junior taking senior-level physics. Like I said… nerd.

As if reading my thoughts, she slings her arm around the back of her chair to face me more fully. “I’d rather be a nerd than deadbeat jock!”

The room erupts with a peal of laughter that cuts off abruptly when I scan the room to note who the fuck is laughing at me. No one wants on my shit list.

“That’s enough!” Mr. Lewis’s voice rises above the snickers and tension.

“Deadbeat?” I laugh through the discomfort of being called out publicly. There are only two people who have the right to talk to me like that—my dad and my coach. Not little Suzy Smartass, who shouldn’t even be in this class. I’m not a deadbeat. I’m a hockey player. And yeah, education comes second, but I get good enough grades. I may pay for help here and there, but she doesn’t know that. “Be nice, honey. You may need me to hire you someday, and I have a really long memory.”

“Mr. North!”

Her glare gets impossibly tighter. “I’d rather lick sidewalks than degrade myself by working for you.”

I lean forward and smirk. “I’ll give you something to lick—”

She gasps, horrified.

“That’s it. Mr. North and Ms. Osbourne, to the office now!”

Fine by me. There isn’t a punishment in existence that would make me regret that little exchange. Shit, my heart’s even pumping a little harder—something I never feel off the ice.

I throw my crap into my backpack while she argues with the teacher. I’m out of my chair when she loses the battle and gathers her things. We hit the doorway at the same time, and her upper arm brushes mine. I don’t move. She jumps back a foot.

“Please.” I prop the door open and motion with a swing of my arm for her to go ahead. “Dorks first,” I whisper.

She ducks under the thick strap of a leather satchel and then stomps her high-top Docs as she marches through the door. “Thanks a lot, shit-for-brains,” she says soft enough for only me to hear.

My jaw drops open, and I stand dumbfounded for a second before I follow her out the door. This chick has balls to talk to me like that.

Call me intrigued.

I follow behind her, enjoying the view of her knee-length plaid uniform skirt, which is filled out quite nicely in the back. Her blazer is tapered at the waist, giving me an idea of the curves that lie beneath. Her long hair is straight, with not a hint of a curl or wave, and the ends sway at her lower back.

She can’t be taller than five foot five, and at my height of six foot two, my long legs help me catch up to her quickly.

I keep up with her pace easily, even though I can tell she’s trying to get ahead of me. She’d have to run to do that, but I can tell she has too much pride to run from me. Wouldn’t want me to think she’s scared. “Clearly, you don’t know who I am.”

She makes a sound like you would when your dog takes a piss on the floor—annoyed, disappointed, and offended. “Of course, you would think that,” she says dryly.

“Can I give you some advice?”

Her feet slam to a halt, and she turns to face me head-on. Her arms cross at her chest, and her chin is stiff as it angles toward me. Green. Her eyes are green.

“You’re already an outcast here.”

She tries to mask the flash of hurt my words cause, but she’s not fast enough to stop her wince.

“Don’t make things harder on yourself. Lay low, keep your opinions to yourself, and stay out of my way.”

She blinks, and for a second, I worry she might cry. That is until the corners of her full, pink lips jump and make a slow trip upward. She catches her smile, rolls her lips between her teeth, and shakes her head. “Wow.”

I frown.

She grasps her hands together in a praying position. “Thanks so much for the helpful advice. How did I get this far in life without you?”

I think she’s being sarcastic, but—

She steps boldly into my face. “Let’s cut the shit. You know exactly who I am, and you see me as an easy target. But newsflash, fuckface—”

“Whoa, easy with the name call—”

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