Cinderella and the Three Princes


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1. Wrong High

'There must be a mistake!' I shuffle through my papers again, reaffirming that I did in fact apply for Gemini High, not Gem High.
How did I get into a school I didn't even apply for?!

'You should be happy! Getting to go to Gem High is like winning the lottery.'
'But I didn't have a ticket. And I applied to your school on purpose because of the killer soccer team.'
'I'm sorry, but registration is closed. There's no room for you at Gemini High.'
'I'm so screwed.'
'Go over to Gem High. I'm sure they can clear this up for you.'

I hang up, unsure where I'm supposed to go. It's my first full day in a new city, and it's already a disaster. I quickly research other schools in the area.
There's Ranger, the local public school, but it looks like their soccer team is the worst in the state. Forget that! At least Gem High has a kick-ass team. And look at the time, I'm late for school.
I hate leaving everything to the last minute, but things are different that I've moved in with my dad. He didn't hand me the acceptance papers until Friday night after everything was closed. I pull out my phone and dial my dad's number.

'Dad! I-'
'Hey, honey. I'm having a busy day today. Whatever it is, can you figure it out on your own?'

I groan and hang up the phone. He is not getting this "parenting" thing at all. I guess I have no choice. I'll go down to Gem High and see if they know how this all happened.

It's even grander than I imagined it. Is this place even real? The students file up the main staircase in crisp uniforms - suits for the boys and pleated skirts for the girls. I'm starting to feel a little underdressed. At least I won't be here forever. Someone is bound to figure out that I can't pay for this fancy private school. I can practically smell all the money they dumped into this place.
As I head into the hall, I brush shoulders with a pretty blonde-haired girl.
'Excuse me, where's the front office?' She looks at me like I'm something sticky on the bottom of her designer shoe.
'Yuck! Are you sure you're at the right school?'
'No, but I'm here anyway.' She points me to the office, standing back like she's worried my poverty will rub off on her.
'Thank you for your help. I appreciate it.'
'Whatever, loser.' I can already tell this school is not going to be my cup of tea. I find the front office just down the hall and step inside.

'Hello?'
'Take a seat and we'll get to you in a minute.' I find a couch and sit down on the edge of the middle cushion, hands squished between my knees. A student busies herself at a desk filled with snacks and drinks. She gives me a sweet smile.
'Do you want something? Everything here is free.'
'A soda please.'
'Sure thing!' She grins and hands me a soda. I pop the cap and take a sip as the student takes a seat on a chair across from me. 'So, what brings you to the office? I haven't seen you around before.'
'I'm just here to see the register. There's been a mistake and I'm not really going to school here.'
'Too bad. I was hoping to meet someone with an actual brain. I'm Kayla, by the way.'
'Nice to meet you, Kayla. I'm Hannah.' So not everyone in this school is a total snob.
'Did you need something?'
'Oh! Yes, there's been a slight mix-up. I applied for Gemini High, but somehow I'm registered here. This place is too rich for my blood.'
'What's your name?'
'Hannah Lawson.'
'You're in the right place, and you're late for class. Where's your uniform?'
'I don't have one. I didn't know until this morning that I belonged here for real.'
'You do, and the teachers here aren't very understanding about students being late. You can use the spare uniform. I'll grab it for you.'
'You don't understand. I can't pay for this!' The woman behind the desk consults a stack of papers in front of her.
'Hannah Lawson, scholarship student. And I see you're already registered on the soccer team. Impressive.'
'Scholarship?'
'Your entire year has been paid for already. Congratulations!'
'Listen, lady... This can't be happening!' The woman behind the desk raises her eyebrows. 'It definitely is. The only thing we need to figure out is where your uniform went. I usually have them waiting for the new students. I'll figure what happened to it, but in the meantime, I don't think you want to throw away your $100,000 education by being late.' I have no idea how I even got this scholarship! Okay, it's not my fault if they got it wrong. I'll stay... for now. But only because the soccer team here is so good. People from Gem High have the chance to go pro.
I grab my uniform and head to the restroom to change.

How am I going to explain this to dad? ''Hey, dad. I'm going to the most prestigious private school in the country. Hope you don't mind socializing with CEOs!'' I put on my uniform, then look through my schedule. 'Looks like my first class is Horticulture, in the... atrium?' I find a map and spot the atrium on the edge of campus. I head there, expecting someone at any minute to call me out as I fraud.

When I hand my schedule to the teacher and explain my transfer/scholarship student status, I spot the rude girl from earlier staring right at me. Oh, God. Not her.
'Nice shoes. Perfect for working in the mud.' The whole class breaks into riotous laughter. 'That's enough, Bethany. Everyone come to the front and grab a pair of gloves.' Since I'm already standing at the front, I get to the gloves first.
`Does someone smell fertilizer, or is it the new student?' Her gaggle of cronies laugh again. All right, I let it slide once, but I`m not the type to let bullying go. 
'I heard fertilizer can instantly reduce the appearance of wrinkles. You should give it a shot.'
'You better watch what you say. You have no idea what people can do to you at this school.'
'I suspect they'll do all the usual boring things.'
'Just wait. I'll-'
'Quiet down, you two!' I shoot Bethany a dirty look and get to back to work. When class ends, I spot Kayla in the hall, but she`s not smiling as brightly as she was this morning.
`Kayla? Is everything okay?'
'I`m fine, just worried about a rumor. Someone's getting the King of Hearts.'
'King of Hearts?'
'It's a card given by-' The hallway busts into screams, and girls start running towards the front doors. 'What on earth is going on?'
'The Legendary Three.'
'Who?'
'Them!' three boys enter the school, their hair blowing in the breeze. They're wearing the same uniform as everyone else, but they still stand out.
'The Legendary Three, or L3. Princes of the school. They're the richest, snobbiest brutes there are. But everyone just loves them.' One boy walks in front of the other two, like he's the ringleader. He had thick, dark hair and beautiful eyes that come to a point like wings. The one behind him is gorgeous, too, a dark-skinned kid with short-trimmed hair and expensive headphones. The last one is almost angelic, with tousled hair and gentle eyes.
'I'm not impressed. Every school has popular boys. They do have the looks, but I wonder how much of their appearance is store-bought.'
'You're the first person I've talked to that doesn't swoon over them.'
'What does it look like when someone actually swoons?' Kayla puts a hand over her forehead and wobbles around. I burst out laughing. 'So, tell me more about the cocky, tall one.'
'That's Oliver Gem, as in the heir to the entire Gem fortune and founders of this school. His father is the headmaster of Gem High.' Huh. Sounds like the poster boy for privilege. 'And what about the other two?'
'The one with the headphones is Leo Heart, legendary songwriter and self-made millionaire. The dark-eyed kid is Henry Knight. He's old-money English royalty.' Bethany tosses herself into Oliver's path.
'Oliver, hi. You look fabulous today. I brought you these macarons my parents picked up in Paris. I know they're your favorite.' Oliver stops, looking at Bethany for the first time. She holds up the colorful cookies for him to see better. He narrows his eyes at her, turning up his nose.
'That's harsh. Couldn't he just say ''no thank you''?' Oliver starts to walk away, but Bethany hurries to catch up to him. 'Wait, don't you want to try one? I'll feed it to you.' She's practically throwing herself at him! That kind of behavior is shameless. She could have some self-respect. Oliver takes a look at her outstretched hand and reaches forward and knocks the box from Bethany's hands, right onto her white shirt. She stumbles backwards and falls, a rainbow of almond powder all over her. I may not like Bethany, but it's no wonder she acts the way she does if these jerks are at the school. The boys start to walk away, and the gaggle of fans follow them as if nothing happened. I don't care if Bethany is as nice as a velociraptor, no one deserves to be bullied like that. Oliver looks at Bethany like she's a dead thing the cat dragged in.
'Get out of my way. I have places to be.' Bethany bows her head and steps aside. Oliver shoulder-checks me as he continues to walk down the hall. 'Hey, watch where you're going!' Oliver freezes in his tracks, fire in his eyes and a snarl on his lips. He looks up and down as if weighing something in his mind. Then he smirks and walks away. 
'This is a disaster. Didn't I just tell you who he is?'
'I don't care who he is. He's human garbage.'
'You're a stranger woman than I, but I'm telling you, you're in for a world of hurt.'
'No one should step on anyone else. Whatever happens, I can handle it.


 

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