Perfect Chemistry (Perfect Chemistry #1)(15) by Simone Elkeles

I pull a cigarette from my pocket and light it, ignoring Fairfield's no-smoking policy. I've been smoking a lot lately. Paco pointed it out yesterday night when we hung out.

"So what if she's white? Come on, Alex. Don't be an idiot. Look at her."

I take a glance. I admit she's got it goin' on. Long, shiny hair, aristocratic nose, slightly tanned arms with a hint of muscle in her biceps to make you wonder if she works out, full lips that when she smiles you think world peace is possible if everyone had her smile.

I shove those thoughts from my mind. So what if she's hot? She's a first-degree bitch. "Too skinny," I blurt out.

"You want her," Lucky says, leaning back on the grass. "You just know, like the rest of us Mexicanos from the south side, that you can't have her."

Something inside me clicks on. Call it my defense mechanism. Call it cockiness. Before I can switch it off, I say, "In two months I could have a piece of that ass. If you really wanna bet your RX-7, I'm in."

"You're trippin', man." When I don't answer, Lucky frowns. "You serious, Alex?"

The guy will back down, he loves his car more than his mama. "Sure."

"If you lose, I get Julio," Lucky says, his frown turning into a wicked grin.

Julio is my most prized possession, an old Honda Nighthawk 750 motorcycle. I rescued it from a dump and turned it into a sleek ride. Rebuilding the bike took me forever. It's the only thing in my life I've made better instead of destroying.

Lucky is not backing down. Time to either back down myself or play the game. The problem is, I've never backed down . . . not once in my life.

The most popular white chick at school would sure as hell learn a lot by hanging with me. Little Miss Perfecta said she'd never date a gang member, but I bet no Latino Blood ever tried to get into those designer pants.

Easy as a fight between Folks and People--rival gangs on a Saturday night.

I bet all it'll take for Brittany to come around is a bit of flirting. You know, that give-and-take wordplay that heightens your awareness of the opposite sex. I can kill two birds with one stone: get back at Burro Face by taking his girl and get back at Brittany Ellis for having me called into the principal's office and dissin' me in front of her friends.

Might even be fun.

I imagine the entire school witnessing the pristine white chick drooling over the Mexicano she vowed to hate. I wonder how hard she'll fall on that tight white ass when I'm done with her.

I hold out my hand. "Deal."

"You gotta show proof."

I take another drag of my cigarette. "Lucky, what do you want me to do? Pluck out one of her f**kin' pubes?"

"How'd we know it's hers?" Lucky responds. "Maybe she's not a real blond. Besides, she pro'bly gets one of those Brazilian wax jobs. You know, where every thin' is--"

"Take a picture," Pedro suggests. "Or video. I bet we could make muchos billetes on that thing. We can title it Brittany Goes South of the Border."

It's trash-talkin' times like these that give us a bad rep. Not that rich kids don't talk trash, I'm sure they do. But when my friends go at it, it's no-holds-barred. To be honest, I think my friends are damn entertaining when they're ragging on someone else. When they're ragging on me, I don't find it half as funny.

"What'cha talkin' about?" Paco asks, joining us with a plate of food from the cafeteria.

"I bet Alex my car for his motorcycle he can't get into Brittany Ellis's pants by Thanksgiving."

"You loco, Alex?" Paco says. "Makin a bet like that is suicide."

"Lay off, Paco," I warn. It isn't suicide. Stupid, maybe. But not suicide. If I could handle hot Carmen Sanchez, I can handle vanilla cookie Brittany Ellis.

"Brittany Ellis is out of your league, amigo. You might be a pretty boy, but you're one hundred percent Mexicano and she's as white as Wonder Bread."

A junior named Leticia Gonzalez walks by us. "Hi, Alex," she says, flashing me a smile before sitting with her friends. While the other guys drool over Leticia and talk to her friends, Paco and I are left alone by the tree.

Paco nudges me. "Now she's a bonita Mexicana, and definitely in your league."

My eye isn't on Leticia, it's on Brittany. Now that the game's on, I'm focusing on the prize. It's time to start flirting, but no bullshit come-on lines will work with her. Somehow I think she's used to those from her boyfriend and other ass**les trying to get into her pants.

I decide on a new tactic, one she won't expect. I'm going to keep riffling her feathers until I'm all she thinks about. And I'll start next period when she's forced to sit next to me. Nothing like a little foreplay in chemistry class to spark things up.

"Carajo!" Paco says, throwing down his lunch. "They think they can buy a U-shaped shell, stuff it, and call it a taco, but those cafeteria workers wouldn't know taco meat from a piece of shit. That's what this tastes like, Alex."

"You're makin' me sick, man," I tell him.

I stare uncomfortably at the food I brought from home. Thanks to Paco everything looks like mierda now. Disgusted, I shove what's left of my lunch into my brown paper bag.

"Want some of it?" Paco says with a grin as he holds out the shitty taco to me.

"Bring that one inch closer to me and you'll be sorry," I threaten.