Home > The Soul's Mark: FOUND (The Soul's Mark #1)(14)

The Soul's Mark: FOUND (The Soul's Mark #1)(14)
Author: Ashley Stoyanoff

“Um, thanks I guess,” Amelia said, thrown for a loop. What was wrong with this town? The idea of spending the day studying was looking better every minute.

“Look at her hair,” another girl said, stepping out from the crowd. She was tall with an hourglass figure and looked like she had just stepped off the runway. Everything about her shined, from her long silky black hair right down to her patent leather bright red heels. She took one of Amelia’s hands and examined it closely. “And oh my God, she’s a biter. Those fingernails are hideous.” She put her hands on her hips, drumming her perfectly polished fingernails against them, and looked Amelia over with a scowl. “And what in the world are you wearing? How could you possibly think that yoga pants and a baggy sweater are flattering?”

“Wow, did you really just say that?” Amelia said, looking the girl over. Who did she think she was?

“I’m Fiona by the way,” the rude girl said. “And we won’t be seen with you if you don’t make an effort Amelia. You aren’t some trailer trash anymore. You are one of us now and you need to act like it.”

Amelia bristled. “You seriously need to back off.”

“I could give her a manicure,” Jessica offered timidly, looking back and forth between Fiona and Amelia as if she was waiting for the claws to come out.

“And I might be able to do something with this frizzy mess,” another girl said from behind Fiona. She stepped out and gave an apologetic smile to Amelia. She looked like a knock-off of Fiona: same hairstyle, same clothes, and same make-up. The only difference was that while Fiona was hard looking and mean, this girl looked… friendly. “I’m Amber,” she introduced herself.

“Now ladies,” Eric said, strolling in and draping an arm around Amelia’s shoulder. “Millie looks just fine.”

“Right, and you would know,” Fiona sneered, and Eric laughed, putting up his hands in surrender.

He winked at Amelia and mouthed I tried and then sauntered off to the gathered crowd of people, who were watching the girls, all with amused smiles.

“There’s nothing wrong with the way I look,” Amelia said through clenched teeth. What kind of guests came into someone’s home and acted this way?

“Amelia, you’re a VIP now,” Fiona said, wagging a finger at her like she was a child that needed to be reprimanded. “You can’t be seen in the community looking like… like you just rolled in from the streets.”

Amelia looked at Angelle for help. “Don’t look at me,” she said, her overly bright smile plastered on her face. “I think it’s a good idea. You never know, you might actually have fun.”

With Angelle’s okay on the situation, the three girls grabbed Amelia and dragged her off, promising she would look like a beauty queen when they were done with her.


There were twenty-two houses on the gated street, Amelia found out, all owned by Mr. Lang.

After the three hour makeover, which she had to admit was fun, Amelia was set in the living room like an expensive museum piece on display. For two days, the residents of the little community came to meet her. They all fawned over her, telling her how pretty she was, which was crazy. Amelia had never seen so many flawless looking people in one place and she couldn’t help but wonder if they all used the same plastic surgeon, because no one could look as perfect as they did. It just wasn’t natural.

While on display, Amelia had also found out that all of the people in the little gated complex worked for Mr. Lang in one way or another, since he really did own most of the establishments in town. It was mind-boggling; she wondered how old he was. She had assumed that he was the same age as her roommates, but that would make him too young to be as important as he was. Maybe it was family money? Whatever it was, she was getting more and more nervous about meeting him.

When Monday morning finally rolled around, Amelia jumped for joy because she couldn’t take much more of the meet and greet that had been happening all weekend. She just couldn’t understand why any of them cared about her. Was it normal for neighbors to make such a big deal about a poor scholarship kid moving in?

If she had hoped that the buzz would die down, she was mistaken. As soon as Amelia hopped out of the car at the University, people flocked to her as if she was some kind of rock star. She soon found out that the majority of them had grown up in Willowberg or had been around long enough to know who Mr. Lang was, but their excitement was rubbing off on the other students and before long, everyone wanted a chance to meet her.

When her first lecture started, Amelia had never been so happy to listen to the monotone drone of her professor, who clearly wanted to be anywhere but teaching. Professor Patterson started right into the what-you-can-expect speech. He went through the lectures, the labs, the assignments, and the grading system he used. He told when everything would be due, and explained his no make-up policy. Basically, no make-ups unless you are dead and then you don’t need to make anything up anyways.

People stared at her throughout the class. Amelia had thought she would be used to it by now. People always stared at her. But this was different. They weren’t staring at her because she was new; it was because of whom she lived with.

The three-hour lecture ended too soon. Amelia didn’t rush out because she really wasn’t ready to smile and meet more people. She stayed put, finishing up her notes, and tried not to notice the line of people who were waiting for her.

“What are you guys staring at?” snapped a female voice. “Have you never seen someone writing notes before? Shoo. You vultures need to find somewhere else to be. Nothing to see here.”

Amelia’s eyes snapped up to see the girl she had met shopping. The one who had given her the rose. She searched her brain, trying to remember her name. Erin? Yes, she was pretty sure it was Erin who was expertly dismissing the gawkers.

Once Erin had herded the last of them out the door, she plopped down next to Amelia. “It’s worse than I thought,” Erin said, grinning.

“Yeah, you really weren’t kidding about the celebrity thing,” Amelia sighed. “I just don’t get it. I’m just a scholarship student. I’m not important.”

Erin’s grin faded and she looked Amelia over as if she was crazy. Had she said something wrong? If she had, Amelia didn’t know what. After a long moment, Erin’s grin returned and she shrugged. “It just goes with the territory. You live with the rich kids and well, most of us don’t get to see them. They’re all pretty secretive and keep to themselves so you’re like the shiny toy and everyone wants to see what’s behind the gate.”

“Well it sucks,” Amelia groaned. “I don’t think I like this popularity thing very much.”

Erin laughed and rolled her eyes. “You better get used to it ‘cause it’s only gonna get worse. Let’s go grab something to eat before the next class. I can sneak you into the cafeteria without anyone seeing you.”

Erin kept her word and managed to get Amelia to the cafeteria almost undetected. They went through the library and down a service hall and ended up in the back of the cafeteria before Amelia knew it. It was frustrating that she had to hide and sneak around. She really wanted to see the school, check out everything, but with the constant people or sneaking around, she barely had a chance to explore.

Erin sat Amelia in a far corner shielded by some fake trees and went off to order their lunch. She returned with a couple of egg salad sandwiches and bottles of water. She handed over a sandwich to Amelia and had just sat down when her eyes widened and she groaned loudly, “Here comes the Barbie Squad.”

The Barbie Squad? Amelia turned around scanning the room to see what Erin was talking about and then giggled. Fiona, flanked by Jessica and Amber, were heading straight for her, all wearing identical and unflattering scowls. And they did kind of look like Barbies.

“Amelia,” Jessica said, rushing over. She blew delicate air kisses on either side of Amelia’s cheeks and sat down beside her.

“Hi Jess,” Amelia said, forcing a smile. Couldn’t she just have a quiet lunch? The three of them looked magazine perfect. For most people their outfits would have been everyday boring, but with their flawless skin and curvy figures the low-rise jeans and snug turtleneck sweaters, all a slightly different shade of purple, looked stunning. Each wore a sparkly diamond pendant around their neck.

Fiona and Amber didn’t bother to greet Amelia; instead, they glared at Erin, a cold, hard glare that made Amelia’s skin crawl. “Did you forget what side of the gate you’re from?” Fiona said. “The trash gathers over there.”

Before Amelia could say anything, Erin jumped from her chair so quickly it clattered to the floor, and she got right up in Fiona’s face. “We aren’t behind the gate, Fiona. You’re on my turf now.”

“Amelia will not have lunch with the likes of you,” Fiona sneered. “Scram Erin, no one here wants you.” Annoyed, Fiona shoved her hard, causing Erin to stumble back a step.

Frozen, Amelia watched, unable to believe what she was seeing. Erin struggled to regain her footing.

A second of tense silence filled the air before Erin said, “You better be careful, Fiona. All that frowning is going to make you wrinkle.” Her lips twitched up into a smile and she folded her arms across her chest. “And by the way, Millie’s a big girl. She can pick who she wants to have lunch with all by herself.”

Amelia didn’t think it was possible, but Fiona’s frown grew even deeper. “Run away, freak, before I change my mind in letting you go so easily.”

“Fiona!” Amelia snapped, finally finding her voice. “Pretty sure you’re the one that needs to run away. What the hell’s gotten into you?”

“She’s just looking out of you, Amelia,” Amber piped in, fidgeting back and forth, clearly nervous. “You don’t want to be seen with that freak. It’ll ruin your reputation.”

Fiona ignored Amelia and took another step towards Erin, and Amelia jumped up and got in between them just as Fiona raised her hand to slap Erin. She slapped Amelia instead. Hard. Hard enough to bruise, hard enough that Amelia almost screamed out. White-hot rage bubbled up inside her; all Amelia saw was red. “I think it’s time for you guys to leave,” Amelia said tightly, clenching her fists into little white-knuckled balls.

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