Project US by Ottilie Weber
Rachel is used to being in control of her emotions, never letting anyone get close to the real her. Nick is exactly the kind of guy Rachel has been trying to avoid getting involved with. Yet, when their school arranges a mysterious project that puts them together, they soon become trapped in a marriage that turns out to be real and legally binding, and they aren’t the only ones. While their parents try to get four hundred students out of these marriages with legal help, the teenagers must live in a compound with their respective spouses for the duration of the project. Being trapped together leaves no room for denials. As Nick begins to fall for Rachel, she does everything in her power to avoid his charms and protect her heart. All she wants is to get out of the marriage, but does she truly want out, or is she only lying to herself?
His fingers grazed hers bringing her attention back up to those brown eyes that had become so familiar to her. The air seemed to be stuck in her throat as she was trying to find the words to say to him. This was the guy that she was finding herself to be in love with. She was still in disbelief that this was actually happening to her. Butterflies seemed to flutter every time he even glanced in her direction. His mere touch seemed to turn her body aflame leaving her skin to tingle in the aftermath of his fingers. These feelings inside of her were new, almost making her nervous yet, happy.
“Look,” he paused; locking eyes with her and his eyes were tensed seeming to be filled with such emotions. “I have never felt this way about a girl, and to be honest I didn’t want to ever feel this way about anyone.”
She felt his fingers interlacing with her as he took a step closer bringing the two to a point where they were almost touching.
“But, I love you,” he whispered as his other hand brushed some of her dark hair out of her face, such a small gesture made her wonder if her heart would leap out of her chest.
Little by little, he slowly drew close to her face. Her eyes drifted close as she could feel his lips about to grace hers for the very first time stealing her breath away. Her heart started to speed up as his lips started to timidly
The bus hit a bump causing my book to jump out of my hands and my friend Bridget next to me jolt back awake. Glaring I bent over to pick up my book from the floor. I didn’t grow up with long road trips and this one with school to Virginia was seriously killing me. Reading in a car gave me a headache, but I was so beyond bored I decided to risk it. My inner mind was as jittery as the characters from being stuck on this bus for so long.
“I swear bus drivers purposely choose to drive over the big bumps and pot holes at obnoxious speeds to be annoying,” Bridget mumbled shifting in her seat in an attempt to fall back to sleep.
“I know the feeling,” I answered not really paying attention to what my friend for years was saying.
Narrowing my eyes, I scanned the pages striving to find where I was in the book as I flipped through the pages.
I really needed to figure out where I left off! Just because it was unrealistic moment in the paperback didn’t mean I shouldn’t enjoy a book. It wasn’t the author’s fault that the guys in my grade sucked.
“Oh God, I know that scowl,” Bridget spoke in an even tone as I started tossing through again looking for key words. “Romantic scene?”
“Yup,” I replied keeping my voice short, making the ‘p’ pop.
“You really don’t have to be so cynical about love,” Bridget said and I raised an eyebrow at my friend.
Bridget was wearing a floor length, peasant style, black skirt. In addition to wearing one of her corsets, a white one with black lace designs on the front with cap short sleeves. Bridget had brown ringlets. Her hair had a little volume not that I could relate with my hair that had a slight wave to it, but mine was thin. Bridget was wearing her spider choker and matching dangling earrings. She had thick black eyeliner on almost in Egyptian style.
“But, but it’s so much fun picking on the lovey dovey airheads in books,” I faked a whine, batting my eyelashes at my friend.
“I really can’t wait until you fall in love and I can poke you for all the details all the while laughing at you because I was right,” Bridget verbally jabbed before starting to repeatedly diving her finger in and out of my shoulder.
“When that day happens, I’ll allow you to drop a piano on my head,” I muttered.
I started to finger-stab her back, giving up a second on searching for where I was in my book to get her back. We were fifteen years old in our sophomore year of high school, but we still had our childish moments. She and I still meander into the Disney store despite the stares that we might receive. We met in sixth grade, but really bonded in eighth grade homeroom when we became closer each day over the dumbest things.
“A piano would kill you, when would I be able to gloat with you dead?” she laughed.
I smiled rolling my eyes.
“Love you too.”
Bridget just grinned.
We were getting a little edgy, the class trip started very early in the morning before the sun had even started to peek into the sky and we were still not done driving from central New Jersey to Virginia. Morning wasn’t any of our friends apparently…
“Man, why couldn’t you and I be sharing a room?” I questioned, feeling my shoulders slump.
“I know, I really wonder who we’re rooming with.”
Leave it to school to turn a fun trip, a few days from classes into a project. The project was vague, ‘something to teach us about working together so we can further understand the responsibility of adulthood’. Their words, not mine, my wording would be ‘waste of time along with frustration of working with someone you wouldn’t normally deal with’. I guess that actually could be the same wording for high school, no wonder they didn’t use it. It was part of some new curriculum that the state wanted to test out on my grade. I really feel like my grade really gets all the new tests, new scheduling, added a section to the state test, and now this! We were just now taking our eighth grade trip because, the school delayed it for two years just for this project. Would two projects really be so bad?
We weren’t really told much about the project just that it’ll start during the trip, we will have to work closely with our partner, and that it’ll last the whole school year. I really don’t know what jerk thought that up, but they really should be taken out back to suffer. Possibly being tied to one of the uncomfortable desk chairs, with a broken loud speaker stuck on, and to just top it off a just for show air conditioner in August of New Jersey would be a good enough punishment for this person. Leave it to Adams High to do a project all year. I always had such bad luck with group work, they really were hell on earth.
“Think positively, maybe you’ll get someone you really don’t know.”
I raised my eyebrow again.
“That won’t take much, our grade is what, four hundred people?” I inquired thinking I really didn’t care to know most of them.
Bridget shrugged, “Sounds about right.”
“Aren’t you worried about who you’re working with?” I asked, trying to figure out if she was only as calm as she was because she was still waking up.
“Not everyone is as crazy curious as you are,” she continued rubbing her eyes a little. “Did I mess up the eyes?”
I shook my head.
“I can’t help it, I don’t want to screw up a grade and that is a long time to work with someone.”
“True, I’ll worry about it when we cross that road.”
I fused my eyebrows and my green eyes met her dark brown ones.
“Why can’t you and I ever be calm at the same time?”
She smirked. “We balance each other out what can I say love.”
I gave a light laugh. “Isn’t that the truth.”
An hour later our bus finally pulled up behind the other buses from our school at our hotel. The girls and boys were separated on the buses, which wasn’t a detail that was presented onto us until people started to tell what their bus numbers were. Nick March, he and I have had classes together since kindergarten were talking about our bus numbers when the whole homeroom noticed the segregation of the sexes.
Nick March and I have an odd relationship and always have for as long as I can remember. We were school friends, talked when we had classes together, might say “Hi” in the halls, but never tried to hangout with each other outside of school. We were not on that level. Nick and I talk about whatever, school, movies, and random jokes or comments during class when we are near each other. This was a guy who saved me a swing once in kindergarten the day we met. He hung out with a slightly different crowd when we got to high school.
I’ve heard him in homeroom talking about the parties he’s gone to, and having to sneak back into his house at God forsaken hours. That would never happen to me in my wildest dreams. I never really saw that side of him and I was more than okay with that. However I was pretty sure he wanted to wring my neck for trying to figure out what the project was. He was trying to push away the thought of doing more homework I knew it. We’ve worked enough together in class for me to know when he was trying to avoid school work.
Our two chaperons on our bus, Miss Barnes and Ms. Dixon finally seemed to remember the purpose to this trip as their discussion stopped. Miss Barnes was my English teacher who still had a very sweet childish face even though she was probably in her thirties. She had dark red hair that curled at her shoulders and freckles across her nose. She was fishing in her purse for something as Ms. Dixon my math teacher had her everlastingly formed glower on her face, a raised dark eyebrow towards Miss Barnes. Ms. Dixon had dark curly hair in a low pony tale that she wore every single day. Ms. Dixon unlike Miss Barnes did not have an endless supply of patience.
“Tell me you did not lose the room keys,” Ms. Dixon spoke, her words direct, and sharp.
“I did not misplace the keys Ally. I just have a lot of stuff in my bag,” Miss Barnes giggled. “Companies make bags so big these days. It’s hard not to put a whole lot of stuff in them!”
Ms. Dixon didn’t even crack a smile as Miss Barnes head bobbed left to right, probably humming to herself as she searched for the keys; she did that in class…
“Aha!” She wore a grand grin on her face as she held up the bundle of keys, Ms. Dixon stone face lacked the enthusiasm that Miss Barnes’ had.
“Lovely, you can do your job.” Ms. Dixon remarked.
Miss Barnes rolled her eyes, she did work with high school students after all. Understanding sarcasm was teaching 101. Comments never seemed to penetrate her optimism. “Was your sense of humor accidentally tossed out of the bus window? Live a little!” Miss Barnes stood up in the middle of the aisle. “Ladies! I’m about to pass out your keys so we can get the ball rolling. Make sure you listen to the directions very carefully and answer the room phones because you guys were not allowed to bring any electronics on the trip. Now, Laurie Doyle where are you?”
I turned my head taking a deep breath before letting it go slowly, in an attempt to calm my nerves from popping around like popcorn kernels in a microwave. I watched as the boys walked, jumped, and ran off their buses into the chaotic mess that was the mob of boys trying to get a hold of their belongings under the buses. I was truly not looking forward to pushing through people to grab my duffle bag. The crowd of males slowly dwindled as they were herded into the building.
Release date: August 7, 2015