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Serendipity: Chapter One ~ Landon's Project

Emma meets an interesting character on her first day at her new school.

"You're seventeen years old. You've hardly had the time to become an expert detective," I say, rolling my eyes. I always seem to find myself being a lot more confident when meeting attractive people. Maybe I just like to make a good first impression.

"For your information, I turned eighteen last week," Landon scowls mockingly at me. "And I wouldn't make any assumptions about me. You might say that I'm full of surprises." He flashes a perfect smile at me.

I frown. "Don't you have anything better to do?"

He laughs then. His laugh is slightly higher pitched than I'd expected, considering his deep tone of voice. Maybe he was right. He was already surprising me; proving my assumptions to be incorrect.

"No," he says. "Think of it as... a project for me to work on."

"And what if I don't want to be your little project?"

He leans back in his seat, letting out a satisfied sigh. "Then so be it. But I think you want to be my 'project'."

He smirks at me. It's more of a flirtatious smirk rather than a condescending one, so I let it slide.

"Just think about it, Baltazar."

I nod, then turn back to my textbook. The sound of him saying my surname in his captivating voice kept ringing over and over in my head. There wasn't a doubt in my mind that I would accept his proposition. I was just confused as to why he had taken such an interest. Even I haven't thought about my parents, at least, not since I was nine.

How would a teenager go about finding out how my parents died? I didn't even know their forenames. I wondered how Landon managed to achieve the all-knowing aura that hung around him. Maybe it was just me and my inner typical teenage girl finding him insanely attractive.

The bell signaling the end of the school day rang out. Landon gathered his books and left hurriedly, without taking the time to put his schoolwork into his bag. I shrugged it off, packed away my things, and left.

I found it odd that Landon was the only student today who seemed to take notice that I was a new student. Having been to a lot of high schools across the country, one of the common elements was that the students would usually be excited to have a change from their usual monotonous school days in the form of me. A fresh new specimen, ready to be claimed by either the popular clique or the group of rejects.

Apparently Lockwood High was different.

It was mid-October. The streets were covered in damp leaves as I trudged to my workplace and second home, Delta Coffee.

Tris was the only barista at the counter when I arrived, which I was thankful for. He beamed at me as I walked in. The comforting smell of coffee hit me, and my mood was instantly lifted.

"How was your first day then, kiddo?" Tris grins.

"It was fine until you insisted on calling me kiddo."

"Force of habit," he says with a smile.

"You're only four years older than me," I smile back, taking my jacket off.

"So you should respect your elders and their decisions. Such as the decision to call you 'kiddo'."

I roll my eyes. "You've got an answer to everything, haven't you?"

He raises an eyebrow and smirks at me.

"Seriously?" I groan.

"Well, I just wanted to prove you wrong," he grins.

"You're unbelievable."

"I try."

I growl at him quietly, then go to the back to change into my work clothes. This was my second month working at Delta, and I was enjoying it so much more than my old job at a service station Starbucks. I probably have the maximum experience as a barista that a seventeen-year-old could possibly have.

After shoving my schoolbag and clothes into one of the lockers, I made my way back to the front and stood next to Tris.

"You still haven't told me how your day went," he says, running a hand through his hair.

"Pretty standard," I say absentmindedly.

"Make any friends?"

I pause and think of Landon. "Not really, no. They don't seem very enthusiastic about my presence."

"Well they should be," Tris frowns. "You're the most interesting person I know."

"I'm your best friend; you have to say that," I shove his shoulder playfully.

He just smiles then, his eyes fixated on the door as if he's waiting for someone to walk in.

"Expecting someone?" I ask, clearly breaking his train of thought.

"Hmm? Oh, no. Just waiting for it to pick up a bit. There should be a lot more customers at this time."

"Oh." I don't know if I was expecting a different answer. Tris only had a few other close friends, none of whom I'd met. I was a different part of his life. They were part of the drinking and partying side.

"You okay?" He's staring at me now.

"Yeah, just thinking."

"You look exhausted."

"Thanks."

He laughs. "Not in a bad way, I swear. Do you wanna go home or something? I can cover for you?" He pulls his keys out of his pocket.

"I'm fine. And you gave me my own keys, remember?"

"Oh yeah," he grins. "Sometimes I forget that you've actually moved in."

I laugh. Moving in with Tris was probably the best thing to ever happen to me. When I turned sixteen, I was moved from the children's home into council housing. The accommodation was shared, and I was placed with a silent single mother and a pervy middle-aged guy. I still get shivers every time I picture his face.

Thankfully, I met Tris when he was working a shift at Starbucks for some extra cash. We instantly clicked and became close friends. It was Tris who talked the manager at Delta into giving me a job. And it was Tris who offered me a safe home with him. I like to think of him as my guardian angel, though I'd never say that to his face. He'd make fun of me for weeks for becoming sappy.

The bell on the door jingles as a customer walks in. Tris and I instantly look up. My heart skips a beat as he flashes that perfect smile at me again.

"Fancy seeing you here, Baltazar," Landon smirks.

 

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