Minutes before sunset novel

The high school was smaller than I expected, but the hallways were smothered with people. Punks, gothics, cheerleaders, dorks, and teachers crowded the entrance, and more flocked to the cafeteria at the end of the hall. I stood in silence, clutching the handle of my small backpack, and my eyes flew over hundreds of new faces. Where was I supposed to fit in? Shaking my head, I was saddened and petrified. How could my parents expect me to fit in? I was starting as a junior, and I’d never even been in a high school.  “Heads up!”  I heard the warning at the last minute and stepped to the side. A McDonald’s coffee cup splattered on the ground, missing the trashcan by a good yard. The light brown liquid soaked into the blue carpet, and the sickening sweet smell of morning filled the hallway.  What had my parents gotten me into? Seconds later, a tall boy stood next to me, shaking his head as he ran a hand through his dark brown hair. “Sorry about that,” he said, tilting his face as he met my eyes. Before I knew it, his chestnut-brown gaze slid from my face, to my body, and then a grin plastered his face. “Hey, there.”  I stepped back in disbelief. He hadn’t even tried to hide his interest.  “What’s your name?” he asked, showing off a set of perfectly white teeth. I shall seal the heavens
“Don’t answer that.” A girl interrupted him as she shoved her way in front of the boy. She had dark eyes, pale skin, and nearly white hair despite the black roots. Her lip curled when she looked at the flirtatious boy. “Can’t you back off for one second, Robb?” She smacked her gum, and her lip piercing sparkled.  He threw his head back and laughed. “Not when there’s a pretty girl around.”  “Believe me, I’ve noticed.” The punk girl rolled her eyes before focusing on me. “Hey,” she said, smiling and showing her nice side for the first time. “So, you’re the new girl.” So maybe it wasn’t exactly her nice side. “I’m assuming that’s obvious in a town like this,” I said, smirking, and Robb whistled.  “New girl got spunk,” he said, practically drooling. “But, if you had to ask me, you stand out for reasons other than not being one of the dimwits we went to kindergarten with.” He winked. “For my stomach’s sake, Robb, it’s seven in the morning,” the girl said before turning to me. “Ignore him. I’m Crystal.” “Jessie.” Robb leaned forward. “Jessie—?”  “Jessie Taylor,” I said, taking the time to study them. Neither had backpacks or notebooks. Instead, Crystal carried a small, black purse. Her painted nails were chipped and black. She wore tight jeans and a white jacket that matched her discolored hair. Robb, on the other hand, was a mess.  His brown hair stood in a hundred different directions as if he just woke up, and his blue T-shirt was crinkled and worn. He was wearing short sleeves and shorts. It was January.  “Jessie Taylor?” Crystal asked, and when I nodded, she opened her purse. “Your new name is Jess. I don’t need another Jessie or Emily in this school.”  “But—” I began to argue, but she shook her head. “No exceptions, Jess,” she said, pulling out pen and paper before jotting down my name.  “Don’t be surprised.” Robb laughed at my dropped jaw and widened eyes. “Crystal’s a journalist like her mother, and she runs our student rumor column.” He patted her on the head. “She knows everything about this school.” Crystal rolled her dark eyes at Robb. “Maybe because my best friend is the biggest man whore in the school,” she said, pushing his hand away before meeting my gaze. “Don’t be intimidated. He forgot to mention the fact that my mother and I despise one another, and I’m not nearly as good as her.” She grinned. “But I will be.”
Battle through the heavens
I nodded slowly, taking in all the information. Robb was Crystal’s best friend. Crystal was a journalist, same as her mother, but they hated one another. Got it. I think.  “So what’s your story, Jess?” Crystal asked, chewing her gum.  “I don’t have one.” Crystal’s eyes squinted. “Not yet, anyway.” “Right,” I said, looking away, and she sighed as she put her interview materials away. I grabbed my schedule from my bag as a teacher warned us to get to class.
Robb leaned over his short friend and grinned. “Can I see your schedule?”  I was surprised he wasn’t asking for my cell phone number as well.  I shrugged, handing it over, but Crystal snagged it from my hands and glared at Robb. “Don’t you stalk this girl down,” she said. “She’s nice.” “Exactly why I want to get to know her.” Robb looked at me. “You, I mean,” he said, stuttering. “I didn’t mean to talk about you like you weren’t here. Right here.”  “It’s okay,” I said, and Robb hung his blushing face before walking away. As he disappeared into the crowd, I shook my head. “He never gives up, does he?”  Crystal groaned. “He’s disgusting,” she said. “Believe me, I’ve known him since birth. There are better guys in Hayworth than him.” I laughed. “Don’t worry; I’m staying away,” I said. “But thanks for the warning.” “No problem. It’s my job to make it crystal clear—no pun intended,” she joked as she skimmed over my schedule. “Well, Jess, I’ve got some good news and some bad news.”  She handed my schedule back, and I raised my brow. “What is it?” “The good news: we share homeroom, and you’ll be stuck there for the next two years, so you’ll learn to like it.” I gulped. “What’s the bad news?” She cringed. “We have the crazy science teacher, and she’ll force us to have a second chemistry class.” Her eyes lit up, and she hit herself on the forehead. “Oh, and Robb just happens to be in it, too.” I sighed. So much for escaping his flirtation.

“Can’t wait,” I said, and Crystal linked her arm with mine.  “Jess,” she began. “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” My heart beat with excitement. “Casablanca?” I asked, recognizing the famous movie line.  She spun us in a tight circle. “I knew I’d like you,” she said, and I grinned.   “It’s my favorite movie.” “Mine, too.”  Maybe this high school thing wouldn’t be too hard after all.