Chapter 1: Meetings
Sophia Daniels woke up for school hung over.
This was not an uncommon occurrence lately. Still, on a Monday morning, it certainly was a bitch. Sophia stumbled out of her bed, rubbing her eyes, wishing for a beer. Of course, there wasn't any. She certainly didn't drink at home. That would have been just asking for trouble.
Attending school with a hangover was never one of Sophia's favorite things to do. Attending school at all wasn't high on the list, either. "Ah well," she sighed to herself as she gathered her books together, "maybe someone will have some pot or something. Good ol' Oceanview High always looks better when I'm stoned, anyhow."
She ran out of the house with a cheery "See ya!" to her mom and younger brother and sister-careful not to let her mother get too close. Bags under the eyes were a warning sign. She had thought she had done a good job with her makeup, but best to be careful. Oceanview High was a fairly short walk from her house, but it didn't seem all that short when the street was spinning. Plus, it was cold, being as this was Massachusetts and it was January eleventh. Sophia managed to make it to school in one piece, and, as she had hoped, found a bunch of friends passing around a joint. "Better," she thought, "that's much better." She'd sleepwalk through her classes, but she did that anyway. School was such a bore. She couldn't wait to be done with it. The problem was, she had a ways to go. She was a freshman. Sophia Daniels was 14 years old.
There were very few things important to Sophia. Beer and pot, sure. Her friends. Her boyfriend Scott, a senior, and an expert in all forms of partying. She'd be content to go through life stoned or drunk, hanging out with her friends, or "riding the ol' hobby horse" with Scott, as Scott put it. That was all that she really cared about.
Except for one thing-her job. Sophia worked the counter at Dunkin' Donuts in downtown Oceanview. She loved her job. She was good at it, she had regular customers that loved her, and she got along well with her co-workers. She even made sure that she didn't drink or do any drugs in the afternoon on days when she had to work. If any of her school friends or teachers had seen her at the donut shop, they would have witnessed quite an anomaly. It even seemed strange to Sophia, but she never dwelled upon it. She genuinely did like the job-even if she had no idea why-and she certainly enjoyed the money. And the store manager, Antonio, was a peach of a guy.
Sophia ran into the shop, waved a quick "hi" to Dora, the middle-aged Portuguese lady that worked the counter with her in the afternoon. She went out back to hang up her coat, giving quick greetings to Billy, the afternoon baker, and her boss Antonio. That was the usual crew on the days that she worked, so she was surprised to see another person there, out back by the sink. She only could see his back, as he was evidently washing something.
The place was empty when she went out front to begin her shift. Dora was making some coffee, so Sophia joined in. She really liked Dora. Dora was the only person at the shop who knew what Sophia was really like. She listened, and scolded like the mother she was, but she also couldn't help liking Sophia right back.
And she worried about her.
"Hey, Dora," Sophia asked. "Who's the guy washing the dishes back there?"
"Oh!" Dora exclaimed. "That the new boy! Tony finally hire maintenance boy! No more wash floor for
you and me!"
"Really! Well that is good news. You meet him yet? What's his name?"
"Warren. He about your age I think. Nice boy." Sophia was always amused that Dora had lived here for many years but still spoke broken English. "I think Tony say he go to St Michael's."
"Oh boy, a preppy. All I need." St. Michael's was a private prep school in the area. Sophia generally didn't have much use for preppies. "Ah well, I'd best introduce myself." She went out back and found Warren talking with Billy about what pans were ready to be washed. She walked up to him.
"Hi. I'm Sophia Daniels. I work the counter."
"Hi. Warren Kelleher. I'm the new clean up guy."
Sophia looked at him with a practiced eye. Definitely a preppy. Glasses and everything. She almost was surprised he wasn't wearing a slide rule. Still, he wasn't bad looking.
"Dora said you go to St. Michael's?"
"Yeah. I'm a freshman. I live here in Oceanview, though, not too far from here."
"I didn't figure on a St Michael's boy stooping to wash floors and scrub dishes. I thought all you guys were too proud for that sort of stuff."
Warren just laughed. "Nope, I am not proud. I needed a job, I saw the sign, and it's convenient. Most St Michael's guys have money, true, but not me. If it weren't for scholarships, I'd be at Oceanside High. I just turned 14, so this was the first job I applied for."
"Just turned 14? I'm going to be fifteen in April. Aren't you kind of young for a freshman?"
"Yeah. Started school a year early."
Sophia snickered to herself. Started school early, going to St. Mike's on a scholarship. We didn't just have a preppy here, we had a brainy preppy.
"What about you?" Warren asked.
"You're a freshman too, I take it? You go to Oceanside?"
"Yup. Good ol' Oceanside School for the High, member in good standing. Oops, I've got customers.
Nice meeting you."
"Nice meeting you, too."
A couple hours later, Sophia took a break to go outside and smoke a cigarette. Warren was out there picking up trash and changing the barrels.
"Nasty habit, you know."
Sophia glared at him. "What are you, my mother?"
"Not the last time that I checked, no. Doesn't change the fact that it's a nasty habit."
"Oh, rest assured, Prep Boy, that smoking is the least of my nasty habits."
Warren looked up, bemused. "Do you have a list?"
"OK, are you my mother, or the cops? What is this, twenty questions about Sophia's wild and wooly life?"
"Oh, you know, being Prep Boy and all, I wouldn't know from nasty habits. I figure your list of depravities might be educational."
"Oh really", Sophia said with a raised eyebrow. "And what do you do for fun?"
"Oh, the usual. Burn, rape, pillage. Accost little old ladies trying to cross the street. Call my mother nasty names in Russian. Read Shakespeare."
"That's the one off your list I can believe."
"Well, I call my little sister nasty names in Russian."
Sophia had to laugh at that one. "Oh, you've got one of those, too? A little sister, I mean? I've got one of each."
"Yup, me too. Matched set."
"What's a good nasty name in Russian?"
Sophia waited. "All right, Prep Boy, what's it mean???"
"That's not a very nice thing for a Prep Boy to be calling his little sister, now is it?"
"Yeah, but I told her it means darling sweet sister."
Sophia blinked. And then laughed. "No way. You're too goody too-shoes for that kind of stuff. I bet you wouldn't say shit if you had a mouthful. No way you do that to your sister."
Warren looked up, deadpan. "Obviously, you've never met my sister." And went back to changing the trash bag.
Sophia put out her cig, went back into the shop, and stopped in the doorway, shaking her head. He certainly was... er... interesting, in a preppy sort of way. For sure, she had just been successfully teased, and skillfully. So skillfully she wasn't quite sure how.
A couple hours later, Sophia was gathering her stuff up to go home, and ran into Warren doing the same thing.
"Where do you live?" Sophia asked.
"Up off Tremont."
"You get picked up?"
"Naah, I'm gonna walk it."
"That's a pretty long walk. I walk home, too, but I only live halfway up Washington."
"You mind company from a Prep Boy?"
Sophia grinned. "I guess I can stomach it." They left the shop and headed out up the street.
"I'm surprised you walk," Warren began. "I know it's not far, but still. It's dark."
"You don't think I can take care of myself?"
"No doubt in my mind. But, let's face it-Oceanview isn't Mayberry, and you're a gorgeous girl."
Sophia blinked. Gorgeous? Her? But she kept her face blank. "Anyone who tries anything with me has to contend with my boyfriend. I'm not worried."
"Yeah. Scott. He's a senior. He's a lot of fun to party with. And he loves the hell out of me. He's insanely jealous. I'm only letting you walk with me because I know he's not around."
"He'd be upset?"
"Sure he would. Wouldn't you, seeing your girlfriend walk around with some other guy?"
"Depends on what?"
"Circumstances. If I saw my girlfriend walking with a guy, and then she told me that the guy was a co-worker that was headed the same way and was just keeping her company-no, I wouldn't be upset."
"But if you love her, wouldn't you be jealous?"
"Jealousy is not my idea of love."
Sophia stopped walking. "What is your idea of love?"
"Well, I would think trust would figure into it somewhere. I figure if I loved someone, and she loved me, I could trust her to walk down the street with a guy friend and not go on a bender about it."
"You've got some strange ideas about love."
Warren grinned lopsidedly. "That, no doubt, is why I don't have a girlfriend."
Sophia grinned back at him. "Well, that, plus you're an unredeemable Preppy." They both laughed.
"This is my house. Working tomorrow?"
"See you then".