If I'm Being Honest Page 1

Author: Emily Wibberley

Genres: Romance , Young Adult



I hear the word under Autumn Carey’s breath behind me. I guess I earned it by daring to walk ahead of her to reach the dining hall door. I cut her off while she was examining her reflection in her phone’s camera, trying to decide if her new bangs were a bad choice. Which they were. Part of me wants to whirl around and tell Autumn I don’t have the entirety of lunch to walk behind her, but I don’t.

Instead, I tilt my head just enough to tell Autumn I heard her, but I don’t care enough to respond. I have things to do. Autumn’s not remarkable enough in any way to hold my attention, and I’ve been called that name often enough, under enough breaths, for it not to hurt. Not from a girl like her. It’s hardly an uncommon thought here. Cameron Bright’s a bitch.

I throw open the door and walk outside. The sun sparkles on the fountain in the heart of the courtyard, encircled by low hedges and lunch tables. It’s about a billion degrees out because it’s September, when Los Angeles gets apocalyptically hot. I head for the stairway to the second-story patio, under the red-tiled roofs and cream-colored arches of the school’s mission architecture.

I notice heads turn in my direction. The girls watch me with half worship and half resentment, the boys with intrigue. In their defense, I do realize I’m . . . well, hot. I’m a natural blonde, and I have the body that comes with running six miles a day.

A sophomore girl stares from the railing with the undisguised interest of someone who doesn’t realize she’s been noticed. I give her a what? glance, and she drops her eyes, her cheeks reddening.

I’m popular. I don’t entirely know why. I’m hardly our school’s only hot girl, and it’s not like I’m rich. I’m not. My dad is, but he’s lived in Philadelphia since the year I was born, which is not a coincidence. He sends a check for my tuition and my mom’s rent, and nothing else. And I’m not popular because my parents have won Oscars or played for sold-out stadiums or were groupies for Steven Tyler. My mom could be considered an actress, but strictly of the washed-up, C-list variety. She had roles in a couple of commercials and stage plays when I was in elementary school. From there, it’s been a downward trajectory to watching daytime soaps on the couch and job searching on the internet.

I’m uninteresting among my classmates, honestly. Beaumont Prep—the top-ranked, priciest private school on the West Coast—is full of the children of the rich and famous. Actresses, entrepreneurs, athletes, musicians.

Then there’s me. I live forty minutes away in Koreatown. I drive a Toyota I’m pretty certain predates the Clinton presidency. I don’t set trends or post photos of myself on Instagram that get thousands of likes around the world.

Yet I’m popular. Undeniably and unquestionably.

I find our usual table overlooking the courtyard. Everyone knows the second-story patio is ours, the best view to see and be seen. No one’s here yet, which gives me the opportunity to pull my notebook from my bag and write down a quick list, organizing my thoughts.

To Do 9/8

         Pick up peer-reviewed Wharton essay

     Conditioning run

     Econ homework


I know there’s a fourth item. I’m itching to remember it, and it’s not coming. I use lists to unwind because I get edgy when things feel disorganized and out of my control. The way I feel right now, trying to remember the final thing I have to do today—

“You could come over tonight . . .” croons an obnoxious male voice, unmistakably Jeff Mitchel’s. Two bags drop to the ground at the table behind me. I roll my eyes as a female voice replies.

“You’re not going to Rebecca’s party?” The girl’s tone is bashful and obviously flirtatious. I wince. Jeff Mitchel is the worst. Rich, spoiled, and just attractive enough to make him insufferably entitled. He gets straight Ds, smokes pot instead of going to class, and enjoys impressing girls by “treating” them to five-hundred-dollar dinners at Daddy’s restaurant.

“Not if you’re coming over,” Jeff replies. I hear fabric rustling, telling me there’s been physical contact. Of what form, I don’t want to know. But I have a list to finish, which won’t happen with this playing out behind me.

Gritting my teeth, I round on the two of them.

I find Jeff in his popped-collar glory, one hand on the white-jeaned knee of Bethany Bishop. Bethany, who’s had her heart broken by nearly every one of Beaumont’s dumbasses of record, a string of careless rich guys and philandering athletes. I have neither the time nor the inclination to watch this one cross the starting line.

“Really?” I drag my eyes to Bethany. “You’re flirting with him now?”

Bethany flushes, glaring indignantly. “No one asked your opinion.”

“You just got dumped.” I ignore her. “The whole school knew. You ugly-cried by your locker for weeks. I’m not interested in having to walk past that again on my way to Ethics every day, and Jeff’s a worse guy than your ex—”

“Hey,” Jeff cuts in.

I fire him a glare. “Don’t get me started on you.” I turn back to Bethany. “Honestly, you’re decently attractive. I mean, your wardrobe needs updating, and you have a really annoying laugh. But all things considered, you’re a six-point-five for Beaumont. Jeff”—I fling my hand in his direction—“is a two. You could be doing way better,” I tell her encouragingly.