Finding Wonderful

By: Jessica Sorensen

(The Perfect Rebels, #1)





Chapter 1





Willa





I’m not a huge fan of violence, but I really wish someone would slap Mr. Bellingford across the face. While he’s usually a jerk, he seems extra douchey today and has made it his mission to rip Gaige Irvins’ confidence to shreds. Sure, Gaige has plenty of confidence to spare and may not be the nicest guy. His friends and him are referred to as the Perfect Rebels. I’m not sure who started the name—hell, it could’ve been them—but the name is fitting in a way. Because all of Gaige’s friends, including Gaige himself, are perfect, at least in the looks department. And they love to get into trouble. Although, they always manage to talk their way out of everything.

Yes, perfect indeed. But if I had my way, ‘douchebags’ would be added to their little group nickname.

Still, no matter my opinion of Gaige or the Perfect Rebels, he doesn’t deserve to be humiliated in front of the entire class by some high school teacher riding a twisted power trip.

Besides, no matter what my opinion is, my best friend Brecken swears Gaige is a decent guy at heart. That his popular, cocky, I-don’t-give-a-shit-about-anyone-because-all-the-girls-worship-me attitude is a facade. Or I guess I should say Brecken used to swear Gaige was a great guy.

Past tense, Willa. You need to get used to it.

My chest constricts, and I rub my hand over my aching heart, telling myself to breathe. That I’m going to have to get used to every memory of Brecken being in the past. Because that’s what he is now.

The past.

“You know what I’d really like to know?” Mr. Bellingford strolls up to Gaige’s desk. “How on earth you managed to make it all the way to your senior year when you can’t even answer a simple question on microorganisms. I’ll be surprised if you even graduate.”

Gaige brushes strands of his inky black hair out of his eyes and tries to win over Mr. Bellingford with one of his charming smiles. “I’m sorry I forgot to do the assigned reading, man. But I had a lot of stuff going on. Plus, we graduate in less than a month. You’re the only teacher still pushing the not-being-able-to-graduate threat.”

“Did you just call me man?” Mr. Bellingford places his palms on the desk, leaning in. “I’m not one of your asinine friends, Gaige. You will either address me as Mr. Bellingford or sir.”

“Using sir is a bit extreme, don’t you think?” Gaige replies, crossing his arms across his chest. “We’re not in the military, man.”

The class snickers and a couple of Gaige’s friends egg him on with cheers. I cringe, knowing Gaige probably made things worse for himself. But this is the cocky Gaige I know. The one who loves being cheered on at others’ expenses.

Mr. Bellingford’s face turns fire ant red as he stares Gaige down. When he opens his mouth, I expect him to yell at Gaige to go to the principal’s office.

But a malicious grin twists at his lips instead. “Tell me, Gaige, why do you think you’re so special? I’d say maybe it was because you’re too spoiled, but I think we all know that’s not the case. Maybe if your parents were around, you’d behave better.”

The class grows so quiet you can hear Sophie Hurley texting on her phone. Because the entire class knows that Gaige’s parents died in a car accident when he was about ten, and he now lives with his aunt. So does Mr. Bellingford.

My heart breaks at the pain in Gaige’s eyes. I recognize that pain all too well. It’s been burrowing in my heart for the last couple of months, ever since I watched my best friend be buried underneath the ground.

Mr. Bellingford's smile screams satisfaction as Gaige rises to his feet, about to explode.

I may not be a huge Gaige fan, but my disgust toward Mr. Bellingford is much greater than my disgust for Gaige. He’s a bully who gets his kicks off others pain.

Don’t give him what he wants, Gaige. It’s not worth getting expelled three weeks before graduation over a teacher who has a rep for being a jerk.

Gaige's fingers curl into a fist, and Mr. Bellingford's grin broadens.

“Mr. Bellingford, I don’t think you should be saying that sort of stuff, so just leave him alone,” some idiot sputters.