I Hate You, Fuller James is on sale for $0.99 until July 16, 2020!
“Food fight!” someone shouted behind me.
You’ve got to be kidding me, I thought as I scrambled to close my Calculus book. Hands fumbling, I tucked my calculator safely into my backpack, but by the time I’d turned around to grab my notebook, it was too late. Ranch- soaked lettuce splattered across my meticulous notes on differentiation and the homework assignment I’d started a few minutes ago. I ripped out the page and balled it up. Now I’d have to copy someone else’s notes and redo the first five math problems.
The lunchroom buzzed with excitement as a group of freshmen got in on the action. They chucked their green beans at a group of girls sitting two tables away, who screeched and scrambled to their feet. A kid sitting in front of me dumped his casserole and cinnamon applesauce on the table and held up his tray as a shield. His fork clattered to the ffoor as I planned my escape. I wanted to get out of the cafeteria before things got totally out of hand.
Squelch. Before I’d had a chance to move, a sticky substance landed on the back of my neck and slid beneath my shirt. My shoulders stiffened and heat prickled my skin. I didn’t need to turn around to know who’d thrown it.
It was always the same group of guys who started crap like this.
“Seriously?” I shouted, spinning in my seat. My eyes immediately landed on Fuller freaking James, captain of the basketball team and the jerk responsible for my hideous nickname, “Wrentainer.”
He’d given it to me in middle school after a humiliating incident during a school dance, and it had stuck. Five years had passed and I still had to put up with people reminiscing about the time my retainer ffew out of my mouth and landed on Fuller’s best friend.
“Come on, Wren,” Fuller taunted. “You know you want to join us!”
He stood with a lopsided grin on his face and a glob of mashed potatoes in his hand. His blue eyes twinkled with mischief as he pushed his dark brown hair off his face with the back of his hand. He looked like he’d just stepped off the pages of an Abercrombie and Fitch catalog, right down to the perfectly pressed cargo shorts and maroon Magnolia Valley Cougars T-shirt that hugged his washboard abs. If I didn’t detest him so much, I might have been impressed by his looks.
Emphasis on the word “might.”
Fuller elbowed his teammate Marc, who dug his spoon into a container of yogurt and ffung it at a group of freshmen. Without thinking, I reached around to the back of my neck and scraped off a clump of the cold mashed spuds. Cocking my arm back, I flung the food at Fuller as hard as I could. Instead of hitting the most obnoxious guy at our school, the potatoes landed square in the middle of his teammate’s chest.
“Crap,” I gasped. Marc’s lips parted and his eyebrows knitted together as he looked down at his shirt. With an aggressive swipe of his hand, he flung the mashed potatoes to the linoleum floor.
Fuller threw his head back in laughter. “Swing and a miss, Wren. Want to take another shot?” He held his arms open and winked at me. My heart fluttered for a second. Ugh. Why are the cute ones always such jerks?
I glared at him as I slid my backpack over my shoulder and stomped out of the cafeteria. I’d never lost my cool before, and I couldn’t believe I’d thrown food at that jack wagon. Looking down at my gloppy hands, I exhaled through gritted teeth and made my way to the nearest bathroom.
The halls were empty, except for a sophomore with a laminated red pass in his hand. We passed each other a few steps before the girls’ bathroom, the shiny ffoor squeaking under our sneakers.
“Hey, Wrentainer, you’ve got something on your back,” he called over his shoulder with a chuckle before disappearing around the corner.
Balling my fists, I shoved the bathroom door open with the backs of my forearms. Per usual, the small room stank of cheap perfume, and paper towels overflowed from the trash can to the left of the sinks. I caught a glimpse of my scrunched-up face in the mirror.
I hated Fuller James. No one else made my blood boil like him. When he wasn’t throwing food in the lunchroom or making out with my ex—best friend right next to my locker, he was showboating on the basketball court and bragging about his stats. Fuller had such a big head, it was a miracle he could fit through the locker room door without getting stuck.
I cranked on the water and washed my sticky fingers. What a jerk. After they were sufficiently clean, I grabbed a handful of paper towels and headed into a stall.
Taking a breath, I tried to calm myself down before slipping off my shirt and wiping away as much of the mashed potato debris from my neck and upper back as possible. I still felt gross, but I tugged my shirt back on over my head.
I reached for the lock on the stall but froze when I heard my former best friend’s nasally voice.
“Can you believe Fuller?” Marissa asked. “Throwing food in the cafeteria like a ten-year-old. Honestly, I don’t know why I put up with him.”
Pulling my hand back, I clutched my backpack to my chest and sat down on the edge of the toilet. The last thing I needed right now was a run-in with her.
“Because he’s so damn hot?” Courtney laughed. Courtney and Marissa were always together. As part of the popular clique, they wore only stilettos to school. I couldn’t even begin to imagine hiking up to the third ffoor in those death contraptions.
“I heard he hooked up with Haleigh on Saturday night,” Marissa said.
The jealousy in her voice was palpable. She and Fuller must have been on a break again. Keeping up with their relationship status required a degree in statistics, or at least some kind of master calendar.
“It’s like he’s shoving the breakup in your face,” Courtney replied.
Silence. I could only assume they were putting on more lip gloss. Like they needed a seventh layer.
“Whatever,” Marissa said. “That bitch will be yesterday’s news. I can have him back anytime I want.”
“I mean, duh,” Courtney said.
Oh my gosh. Please stop talking and get out of here.
I couldn’t believe I used to be friends with Marissa Stanton. We’d been inseparable in elementary school, but that all started to change in sixth grade. Marissa’s parents went through a nasty divorce, and she quickly found out that she could manipulate them into giving her whatever she wanted. By the start of seventh grade, her whole personality had changed.
When we hung out, she spent most of the time asking me if I liked her hair or her clothes. She stopped wanting to stay in and make brownies or watch movies. Instead, when she wasn’t obsessing about herself, she was fixated on Fuller James, the most popular guy at our school. When I didn’t join in, she started to get annoyed with me. I could feel it building, but I didn’t know what to do about it. I tried talking to her, but she didn’t want to hear it. Instead, she started hanging out with Courtney more and me less.
Our friendship finally came to an end in seventh grade. She got boobs, while I got a retainer. To make matters worse, at the spring ffing, Marc had asked me to dance.
Normally, this would be a good thing. Unfortunately, I’d come down with a terrible cold and sneezed mid-dance. I can still remember the look of disgust on his face as my drool-laden retainer ffew out of my mouth and rebounded off his light-blue dress shirt.
Marc never spoke to me again, but that wasn’t nearly the worst of it.
As I ffed the gym, I overheard Marissa telling everyone what happened. Even worse, I heard Fuller loudly exclaim the nickname that caused my classmates to howl with laughter, “Wren ‘the Retainer’ Carter,” later shortened to “Wrentainer.”
Marissa and Fuller started going out that night. He told her to stop being my friend, so she dropped me instantaneously. After that, I became an easy target for cheap laughs. To make matters worse, with Fuller at her side, she rocketed to the position of queen bee at our school. Between her relentless bullying and spreading gossip like wildfire, my remaining friends dropped me like a bad habit. No one wanted to get in her way, and by the end of the school year, no one wanted to be my friend.
Marissa’s shrill laugh pulled me out of my painful trip down memory lane. It made me furious that I was stuck in this stupid bathroom stall, but the thought of facing Marissa made my stomach twist into knots. If at all possible, it was easier to stay out of her and Fuller’s way.
“Oh, guess who Fuller nailed with those nasty mashed potatoes in the cafeteria today?” Marissa said.
“Who?” Courtney asked, smacking her lips together. My chest constricted. “Wrentainer,” Marissa replied, bursting into laughter.
Courtney joined her. “She is such a loser. Can you believe that we used to be friends with her?”
My eyes stung as I prayed they wouldn’t recognize my white, low-top Chuck Taylors under the stall. Blinking back the onslaught of tears that I refused to shed, I bit my lower lip and continued to clutch my bag.
“Ugh. We were so stupid.” Marissa said. “Anyway, enough about her. This mascara is everything. It makes my eyelashes look, like, twice as long.”
“I wish Mr. Ferguson would give us twice as long on our physics test next period.” Marissa sighed. “I had to study for, like, four hours last night. I better get an A.”
“Of course you will. You always ace his tests,” Courtney assured her.
After an eternity, Marissa and Courtney grabbed their makeup and left the bathroom.
Letting out a sigh of relief, I stood and exited the stall. My reffection stared back at me in the mirror hanging above the sink. The yellow painted concrete bricks in the bathroom felt like they were closing in around me. Turning on the tap, I splashed some cold water on my face and ignored the tight feeling in my chest.
As I patted my face dry with a scratchy paper towel, my thoughts drifted back to Fuller and the way he stood there taunting me with that irksome smile. Most girls would have thrown their panties at him instead of potatoes.
Worst of all, I knew that neither Fuller nor any of the guys on the basketball team would get in trouble for the food fight. They never did. Those guys practically walked on water, and they followed Fuller around like he was some kind of jock Pied Piper. Even my best friend, Brandon, who played point guard on the team, would succumb to Fuller’s stupid antics from time to time.
Occasionally they’d pull a funny prank, like the time Fuller and Marc snuck out during last period and went to town with industrial-sized plastic wrap in the junior section of the parking lot. Brandon and a few of the other guys had helped them wrap dozens of cars. They made use of nearby light poles, which had acted as a makeshift barrier, completely sealing off the entire area. It looked like the cars had been quarantined by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
This wasn’t one of those occasions, though. This time, Fuller had attacked me with potatoes. Biting my lip, I thought back to the tirade I went on yesterday after school. I’d caught Brandon on his way to basketball practice. With my hands on my hips, I’d urged him to stand up to Fuller. To tell him that one player didn’t make a team and that all of Fuller’s hotshot moves wouldn’t mean a damn thing if the other team had a strong enough defense. Of course, Fuller happened to be walking by as I reached the height of my diatribe.
“Who died and elected you team captain?” The tone in his voice cut right through my confidence. Instead of responding, I turned and practically ran in the opposite direction.
Looking at my reffection in the bathroom mirror, I cursed myself for lacking the confidence to confront Marissa and Fuller. I ran my tongue over my perfectly straight teeth. At least I’d come up with a secret nickname for him, Fuller “Fuller than a Bag of Manure” James or F.B.M. for short. Of course, I’d never say it out loud, but thinking about it always brought a smile to my face.
I considered talking to my uncle, the boys’ basketball coach, about everything. It should have been easy. He was my dad’s twin brother. Too bad they had completely different personalities. Sadly, I’d learned my lesson after the last time I’d confronted him. I tried to point out the injustice of treating Fuller and a few of the other guys on the basketball team differently, but I knew it was a lost cause. His response was typical: “Boys will be boys, Wren.”
What a load of sexist crap. I knew plenty of boys who didn’t act like jerks on a daily basis. Like Brandon and my other best friend, Dae.
When it all boiled down to the basics, the only thing my uncle, the head principal, and pretty much everyone else at our school cared about was winning another state title. We’d never won back-to-back championships, but with Fuller leading the team, our chances of going all the way again this year were strong.
The bell outside the bathroom rang. I had five minutes to grab my AP Literature book from my locker and get to class—class with Fuller. Luckily, he sat a few rows behind me and, once I got to class, I wouldn’t have to see his face for at least forty-five minutes. I fished my phone out of my bag and sent Dae and Brandon a quick text message telling them what happened. We’d have a lot to talk about after school. Glancing at myself one last time in the mirror, I frowned. I’d missed a bit of mashed potato that was stuck to my ear.
I hate you, Fuller James...
As Mrs. Brewster wrote our homework on the board, I heard someone behind me giggle. When I stole a glance over my shoulder, I couldn’t help but roll my eyes. Lyla Burkman was practically sitting in Fuller’s lap, bent forward, with her cleavage on full display.
I guess Haleigh is out of the picture already.
A small grin tugged at the corners of my lips for a ffeeting moment. Marissa would be livid once she heard about Lyla ffirting with Fuller. They were in the same clique, but Marissa always thought she was better than everybody else. This would definitely set her off.
Oblivious to the budding couple, Mrs. Brewster continued to write on the board. She was one of the nicest teachers at the school, but her disciplinary skills were weak at best. Most of the time, everyone respected her, but certain students still got chatty at the end of every class. Once, when she was writing on the board, Tiffany Neilson and Liam Mayor made out in the back row for two minutes and thirty- seven seconds. To this day, Mrs. Brewster still didn’t know why the class had erupted in laughter.
Ignoring my classmates, I glanced at the clock and tried to nonchalantly sniff my T-shirt. At least I didn’t smell like that nasty beef gravy they served with the mashed potatoes in the cafeteria. Even though the incident in the lunchroom had left me in a foul mood, class was a good distraction.
AP Lit was by far my favorite class. Yesterday, we’d finished reading The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. It had immediately become one of my all-time favorite books. I’d loved it so much, I bought my own copy and filled the margins with notes. I’d also color coordinated fforescent tabs with matching highlighters. That way, I could quickly locate the sections with important themes and my favorite quotes.
More giggles. This time louder. The rage that had been simmering since getting to class and seeing Fuller’s stupid face began to boil.
I spun around in my seat and opened my mouth to say something, but nothing came out.
“Jealous much?” Lyla hissed.
I cursed myself for not being able to say the words out loud.
Fuller’s eyes danced with amusement as he watched me squirm.
Why did he have to act like such a d-bag all the time? We were both seniors. By now, he should be smart enough to figure out how to act like a decent human being from time to time. Or at least pretend to.
Before I could turn around, Lyla rolled her eyes. “Loosen up, Wrentainer. It’s not like you’re ever going to be in the back of the class with a guy.”
I thought I saw Fuller’s smile falter for a moment, and then he was back to being obnoxiously handsome.
Mrs. Brewster cleared her throat. “If you three are done.” She tapped the whiteboard. “You’ll have two days to come up with a topic for your essay. Once I approve it, you can begin writing. You’ll have one week to complete this paper.” She set down the whiteboard marker. “Are there any questions?”
“Is that, like, one week from today or one week from the two days?” Lyla asked.
“One week after your topic is approved. That would make your paper due next Wednesday,” Mrs. Brewster said, circling the due date in red dry erase marker on the whiteboard. “Any other questions?”
My mind raced. I’d already considered several topics for my paper. I’d typed up a list and had it tucked away in the front pocket of my binder. I wanted to go over my ideas one more time next period in study hall before I picked my favorite and ran it by Mrs. Brewster.
Several of my classmates groaned as they began shufffing dog-eared paperbacks into their backpacks. The girl sitting next to me sneezed into a tissue. I immediately grabbed the bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer clipped on to my backpack and applied a liberal portion to my hands. I couldn’t risk bringing any germs home to Gramps. He’d come down with a bad case of the ffu last winter, and it had been really scary.
After rubbing the clear gel all over my hands, I waved them in the air and checked the clock mounted to the wall above Mrs. Brewster’s head. One minute left, then study hall, where I’d have to start my math homework over again from scratch. Stupid mashed potatoes. Scratch that. Stupid Fuller James.
“Also, if you turn in your topic late, I’ll deduct ten percent from your paper.” Mrs. Brewster pushed her glasses back up the bridge of her long, thin nose. More groans erupted from behind me. “Oh, and, Wren, please see me before you leave class.”
“Ooh,” Fuller called from behind me. “Somebody’s in trouble.”
“Shut it, Fuller,” I snapped.
Holy crap. I called him out.
I hated to admit it, but my constant lack of sleep had been playing a major role in my moodiness both during the day while I was at school and in the evenings when I was at home. Not that it mattered in this situation. Fuller was a complete jerk, and he deserved everything I threw at him.
Our eyes locked for several seconds before Lyla placed her hand on his leg.
Whatever. By next week, Lyla would be a distant memory in Fuller’s black book. He and Marissa would probably be back together and we’d all have to be witness to their spit-swapping, over-the-top make-out sessions in between every class.
“Don’t talk to him like that,” Lyla sneered just loud enough for me to hear.
“Wren’s agi-tatered,” Fuller said, chuckling. “Get it?”
Liam, the varsity quarterback, burst out laughing. In the process, he knocked over his water bottle, which instantly soaked through the back of Jenny’s shirt.
“Ugh,” she screeched. Mrs. Brewster put her hands on her hips. She looked like she was about to reprimand the boys, but before she could open her mouth, the bell rang.
Shaking my head, I stepped out of Jenny’s way and shot a withering look at Fuller before making my way to Mrs. Brewster’s desk. Two large bookshelves stood on either side. There were stacks of books overffowing from both, and smaller piles had started to accumulate on the top.
“Agi-tatered?” she asked as Fuller and the rest of the students filed out of the classroom.
I glanced down at her desk. There were papers and red pens covering every square inch. She must have been in the midst of grading essays from another class. “Yeah, Fuller thought it would be cute to throw mashed potatoes at lunch. He hit me in the back of the neck. I’m still sticky.”
“Oh,” she said, giving me a sympathetic nod. “Agi- tatered, as in the taters he threw at you.”
“Yeah, apparently Fuller thinks starchy vegetables are funny,” I said. “It’s a bit of a stretch, but so are most things that involve thinking when it comes to Fuller James.”
Mrs. Brewster picked up one of the pens on her desk. Tapping it against her open palm, she tilted her head to the side and said, “I have a favor to ask you.”
“Sure, what’s up?” I asked. She stopped tapping the pen against her hand. “I need you to tutor someone in class for a couple of weeks.”
I looked around at the empty desks. There were a few kids who struggled in class, but I didn’t think anyone was failing. I mean, most of the time, if an AP class got too hard, kids would just switch to a regular class.
“Sure,” I said, “happy to help.”
“Great,” Mrs. Brewster said. “I’ll give you ten extra credit points on your paper in return. Plus, you two already have study hall together the last period of the day, so it should work perfectly.”
“Okay, that sounds fair,” I said, racking my brain. “Who do I need to work with?”
“No way,” I said, waving my hands in front of me before she could finish saying his name. “He’s seriously the worst!”
“Fuller James,” she said, ignoring my frantic gestures. “You’re my top student, and he really needs your help.”
I crossed my arms and stared at Mrs. Brewster. “I’m not tutoring Fuller. I’m literally covered in food because of him.”
Her dark hair framed her face perfectly. “I know he can be difficult, but—”
“Difficult? There are so many words I could use to describe him,” I said, cutting her off. “But ‘tutee’ isn’t ever going to be one of them.”
Mrs. Brewster sighed. “He really needs your help, Wren.”
Wow, I can’t believe Fuller is failing. He’s always so confident. I guess even the King of Magnolia Valley High has a few secrets.
“Wren?” Mrs. Brewster said, tilting her head to the side sympathetically.
“If it was anyone else, I’d do it in a second. Promise.” I shook my head. “Plus, I’m sure there are other kids in class who can work with him. Why not ask Lyla?”
“If he doesn’t bring his grade up, he won’t be able to play basketball,” Mrs. Brewster admitted. “And Coach is really worried.”
There it was, the real reason I’d been asked to tutor Fuller. My uncle knew I had great grades and that I used to tutor kids after school.
Too bad for him it would never happen.
“Perhaps you could try today and—”
I held up my hands, knowing my uncle would be disappointed in me. “I apologize for interrupting, but, Mrs. Brewster, I’d literally tutor anyone else in the class. I swear. But there is no way, no how, that I’d ever tutor Fuller James.”
KELLY ANNE BLOUNT is a USA Today bestselling author of young adult novels. She loves to alternate writing sweet romances, gritty thrillers, and fantasy books. She’s a firm believer in balancing light with dark.
When she’s not writing, she’s probably lost in a book, watching Twilight, or having an adventure with her sweet family, which includes her handsome husband, their darling daughter, and their five furry loving rescues.
After living in a palace in Scotland, across from the Caribbean Sea, and in the snowy land of Wisconsin, Kelly and her family reside in beautiful Asheville, North Carolina. She draws inspiration from the places she’s lived while world building in her books.
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