Chapter One

 

                They’ve always said a queen would know her rule on the kingdom she’s built by the reaction of her worshippers. Danielle walked down those halls of Johnson Prep with her perfectly-manicured brown hair, flawless make-up, and designer clothes that hugged her petite frame in all the right places. She watched as her peasants whispered as she walked past them. She knew she worked to be feared and adored by her people. The only problem was she had a new queen trying to take her throne. She had dealt with other girls before, but The Marked Queen had her own flare to bring to the war. Spring has always brought a sense of new beginnings, why not have a full out bitch war for the kingdom?  Danielle knew that the best way to keep her secrets safe was to expose someone else’s.

 

                Danielle held up the new post by The Marked Queen and put it on the cork board for the whole school to see. She knew people were wondering what was said on that single sheet of paper. She had to admit she was impressed with the attention this new queen brought to the school.

 

Danielle looked at the new post herself and read it out loud. Those were the rules when you had been marked. “Who doesn’t love an innocent pregnancy scare on a Sunday afternoon? Clara, you must have been sleeping during your father’s sermon on the Devil’s temptation. Or maybe you were too busy thinking of all the positions Troy planned to do. Troy, I’m proud you’re stepping up to be with Clara during these hard times. I just hope Vanessa doesn’t mind sharing you. Remember boys and girls, a couple minutes of sinful pleasure, is a lifetime of scandal. -The Marked Queen.”

 

                She turned around to see people whispering and shocked to see the latest post. She saw Vanessa slap Troy across the face and run off screaming. She turned to see Clara hugging her stomach and looking completely mortified. Danielle rolled her eyes. She didn’t think the post this day was that scandalous, but it got The Marked Queen  off her back…for now.

 

                She saw Aman coming up to her with his camera ready to record the whole thing. She rolled her eyes. She has always hated him for his stupid vlogs. “Danielle, what secrets are you trying to hide?” He asked.

 

                “For an Indian, shouldn’t you be busy in the chemistry lab or something?” She crossed her arms and raised an eyebrow.

 

                Aman turned off his camera. “Really, an Indian Joke? I thought you were better than that,” he said. Aman was an Indian-Muslim. His parents came here when he was five-years old. He kept his black hair slicked back. He was slim, but he was starting to form muscles, and Danielle had to admit he did have beautiful brown eyes.

 

                She laughed. “If I recall, you’ve also been marked. I don’t see you exposing your secrets either.”

 

                He knew she had a point there. “We’ve all got secrets we’re trying to keep hidden. Why not be the first person to break that mold and take down The Marked Queen.” He paused. “Unless you’re okay with her having control of your school.”

 

                Danielle didn’t get a chance to respond before Delilah came up to Aman. “Or you could talk about your secrets on your weekly videos. We could all be the bigger person,” she said. Delilah was Danielle’s best friend since they were in elementary school. She had dirty blonde hair, freckles, emerald eyes, and she was a thicker girl.

 

                Aman rolled his eyes. “Bitches, all of you.” He turned and walked away.

 

                “And this is why you don’t have a girlfriend,” Delilah screamed.

 

                Danielle laughed. “Thank you for coming to my honor. He’s always trying to get views and hits.” She was impressed with Aman’s empire that he was starting to build for himself.

 

                “Did you hear we have a new kid in the school?” Delilah asked. She turned and pointed to the new kid at his locker.

 

                Danielle followed her finger to see a guy at his locker. He looked scrawny with dark hair, hazel eyes, and stubble. She also saw who he was talking with. “Clearly, he doesn’t have enough class because he’s mingling with Tucker and Bethany.” She rolled her eyes. “He’s not that cute anyways.”

 

                “Already pining over the new boy in the school? Don’t you think you should give him a full day to realize that you’re a cunt,” Jasmine said walking up to them. Jasmine and Danielle have been the two popular girls of their class and have never gotten along. “Besides, aren’t you too busy being The Marked Queen’s bitch?”

 

                Danielle turned and smiled at Jasmine. Jasmine was a shorter, thicker, and mousy-voiced creature that Danielle had the displeasure of knowing. She thought Jasmine’s pixie haircut made her look more like a lesbian than an edgy girl. “At least, I’m interesting enough to be marked. I don’t think I’ve ever seen you have to post anything.”

 

                Jasmine crossed her arms. “Maybe because I have no secrets to hide.”

 

                Danielle and Delilah both laughed. “We’ve all got things to hide.” Danielle leaned forward. “Yours are just not that juicy to expose,” she whispered. Danielle turned to Delilah. “We’ve got class, and I’ve done my fair share of charity work for the day.” Danielle made sure her charity work comment was pointed right at Jasmine.

 

                They walked away from Jasmine. Jasmine felt a little insulted by Danielle’s comments. It was true what Danielle said. She hasn’t been marked, but she does have a lot of secrets. Everyone might have been feared to be marked, but they were lying when they didn’t get an adrenaline rush from their name being spoken on everyone’s lips.

 

 

 

Chapter Two

 

                “What was that all about?” Andrew asked looking at Tucker and Bethany. Tucker was Andrew’s locker neighbor and Bethany and Tucker were dating. They seemed like nice people, and he hoped this new school would give him the chance to start over. He had done enough damage in his life, and he wanted to finally act like a normal high school student.

 

                Tucker was a short, acne-glasses-wearing-heart-of-gold nerd. He had curly blonde hair, and blue eyes. He would be cute if he actually took care of himself. It was truly a tragic life lesson about the boys in high school. If they knew their potential, then they wouldn’t be lowering themselves to date Bethany.

 

                Bethany was adorable with her basic brown hair, American Eagle outfits, and her desperate need for attention with her pearls. She was president of the prom committee, and she was in student government. She was as boring as her outfits. It wasn’t surprising when the two wallflowers fell in love. Now they were trying to get a third to join their pathetic group.

 

                “The Marked Queen decides that every Monday she would choose a student to be marked and expose someone’s secrets. She makes them read it out loud to the whole school.” Bethany said. She was more focused on prom committee than The Marked Queen.

 

                “So, she’s a bully?” Andrew asked. He understood that New York City was the type of place for people to backstab each other, but he didn’t think he would have experienced it on his first day. He came from a small town, and maybe it was better he lived in the city. He could hide in the shadows until graduation.

 

                “I think it’s awesome. She goes after the popular kids who think they’re so much better than all of us,” Tucker said. He realized soon enough that they were too busy going after each other to worry about the “bottom dwellers,” as Danielle liked to put it.

 

                “So, people fear this person?” Andrew asked.

 

                Bethany shrugged. “If you have nothing to hide, then you shouldn’t have to worry about The Marked Queen. She came around at the beginning of the school year. She’s been on a roll, and I think it’s good for people to be on their toes.”

 

                “I guess I’m used to violent bullying,” Andrew said.

 

                “You have to understand this is Johnson Prep. You must be smarter and slyer than your competition. We don’t believe in violence here. It’s kind of beneath us,” Bethany said.

 

                Andrew nodded. “I guess I have a lot to learn at this new school.”

                Tucker smiled. “Well, now you have two new friends. Why did you move to the city anyways?” He asked Andrew.

 

                “We moved because my dad got a new job. He thought it was good for me to be social with people other than the small town that I lived in.” He knew it was the lie that everyone would believe. He didn’t want to admit the real reasons why his father took him to the big city. He knew there was temptation everywhere, and he had to accept that it would be hard for him.

 

                Tucker smiled. “Well, welcome.”

 

                “You can think of us as your welcoming committee,” Bethany said with a smile. She was happy to have another friend in the fold. She just hoped he didn’t get dragged away by the rest of the kids at this school. She knew that it might have seemed glamorous, but she knew that it wasn’t worth it in the end.

 

                Bethany should have known the only reason she wasn’t invited to a party was because only the cool kids get to have friends. She might have had Tucker on her arm, but that didn’t give her any street cred. Cling all you want to a society that you would never be a part of. We all knew you were just trying desperately to think you are better than all of them.

 

                “Thanks,” Andrew said with a smile.

 

                “I got to get to the photography studio before first bell,” Tucker smiled. Bethany and him walked away from Andrew leaving him at his locker.

 

                He was about to open his locker when Aman walked over to him. “Welcome to Johnson Prep. I’m Aman. Tell me about yourself.”

 

                Andrew reached out and blocked the lens of the camera and pushed it down. “I’m not doing interviews for whatever the hell this is.”

 

                Aman turned the camera off. “Come on. You’re the new hot guy of the school. Don’t you want people to know who you are?”

                Andrew turned to him. “I don’t care what people think of me. I’m good on keeping a low profile. We only have three months of school, and then we graduate. It’s all I’m focusing on.” Andrew opened his locker and saw a piece of paper drop out.

 

                “You’re going to regret not being in my blog. Everyone wants to be famous whether they admit it or not,” he said walking away from him.

 

                Andrew ignored him as he picked up the piece of paper. He looked at what was written on it. “Welcome to Johnson Prep, new kid. Let me be the first of your welcoming committee. If you haven’t figured it out yet, I can be your best friend or worst enemy. Let’s see how you do here. Are you going to be like the rest of these insecure bitches trying to get power and dick? Or are you going to be like the testosterone-filled boys looking to score with one of the slutty cheerleaders? The choice is yours, my dear Andrew. Always remember one thing, we’ve all got secrets that we will protect from getting out into the world. I’m just wondering what yours could be? -The Marked Queen.”

 

                “I guess there goes the idea of me keeping a low-profile,” he said to himself. He looked around at the kids gossiping to each other. He thought this would be his fresh start after the year he’d had, but he didn’t know if this would make him stronger or make him relapse again.

 

Andrew, you shouldn’t have been so worried about going back down a dark path again. We would find out soon enough what monsters live under your bed. The Marked Queen took an interest in you. You should probably take her suggestion very carefully, or you could be the next one to do her bidding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Three

 

                “You missed a great showdown this morning,” Aman said, walking up to Calvin. Calvin was putting away his baseball gear after practice. We couldn’t begin to describe how dreamy Calvin was. He was built for the gods with his sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, puppy-dog smile, and a scar on the left side of his face. He knew damn well how to be mysterious and sexy all in the same breath.

 

                Calvin rolled his eyes. He knew Aman loved gossip more than the next person. “Sorry, I missed whatever secret The Marked Queen decided to expose today. I had practice this morning. You do know that states are right around the corner.”

 

                Aman loved that Calvin was so invested in his baseball career, but he wished Calvin was invested in the drama of the high school, too. “You act like you’re above it all.”

 

                Calvin laughed. He threw his bag over his shoulder. “It has nothing to do with being above it all.” Calvin looked around to see that everyone had already gone to the locker room. It was common for Calvin to be the last player on the field. “I don’t need anyone finding out about the skeletons in our closet.”

 

                “No one is going to find out. We’re careful.” Aman quickly leaned forward and gave Calvin a chaste kiss.

 

                Calvin raised an eyebrow. “You actually gave me a kiss in public. I’m pretty impressed.”

 

                Aman pushed him. “I hate dating you.”

 

                Calvin laughed. He loved this side of Aman. He knew that Aman had a personality he perceived for all his viewers, but he enjoyed when he let the walls down. These were the moments that he truly knew that Aman was special to him.

 

                “I’m just worried that The Marked Queen will find out about us,” Aman said. He knew that was a constant fear because he didn’t know who this queen was.

 

                Calvin reached over and pulled him into a hug. “You need to stop worrying about what people are going to think. If it gets out, then it gets out. We can finally stop sneaking around.”

 

                “What about your baseball career?” He asked.

 

                “So?”

 

                Aman stepped back. “I get that your parents are okay with you being gay. They’ve accepted me into your family, but my parents aren’t that cool. You get that, right?”

 

                “And I haven’t come out because my dad wants me to be a baseball star. I get what it’s like to have to live a double life,” Calvin said. He would never get Muslim culture, and he wasn’t sitting here trying to get to know it. All he had to do was understand the position that Aman was in.

 

                “I need to go edit this new vlog before tomorrow,” Aman said. He was done with this conversation.

 

                “Are you seriously walking away from me?” Calvin asked. He crossed his arms and looked at his boyfriend.

 

                “You know that me coming out will never happen. I wish you would stop trying to push me.”

 

                “I would never ask you to come out, Aman. I have loving parents, and it scared me shitless. I’m not going to ever make you come out of the closet unless you’re ready.”

 

                “But we don’t know if we have that chance. We all have knives over our head because of this Marked Queen bitch.”

 

                Calvin knew that Aman was worried when The Marked Queen started coming around at the beginning of the year. They both thought it was someone that would eventually blow away. The problem was she was gaining more power each day. He sighed. “You need to stop freaking out so much. We’re good people. If we keep it on the down low, we’ll be okay.”

 

                Aman wished he could keep a low profile. He had fans that he couldn’t let down. He had the biggest target on his back. He also knew that Calvin did, too. He was the baseball star of the school, and people always wondered why he never dated anyone.

 

                Aman, we already knew why he wasn’t dating anyone. The all-star baseball player has a secret other than his training regime. It was so tragic that we had to disappoint so many girls and tell them the only person he wanted to play catch with was a vlogger.

 

                “I don’t think we get the luxury of low profiles,” Aman said.

 

                Calvin leaned forward and kissed Aman on the lips. He put a sense of love and urgency in this kiss. He wanted Aman to know that no matter what happened in the world, they still had each other.

                Sweet Calvin, everyone wished you could see that notion was only for fools. They said the only person you should protect was yourself. When would you learn this lesson yourself? You both might have enjoyed these tender moments, but Aman was right. The Marked Queen was looking for her next scandal, and she didn’t have to look too far. Who knew that baseball was like a soap opera? We all should have guessed that there was more injecting on the field than just steroids. We hoped you enjoyed these moments together because we all had a feeling that they were turning into your last together in the closet.