I enjoy doing men of Ottilie and leading ladies posts. It lets me try to give you a rough visual of the character, and let you know the character a little outside of the book. Think of it as a snapshot, or a profile of the character. Nick March is a character from Project US. He was based off a dream I had when I was a freshman in high school, took that person, and threw in some fantasy/creativaity on the character. Then over the years as I edited, he picked up a few mannerisims from my boyfriend, but he doesn't need to know that! My friends in high school adored Nick, and didn't want me to write anything bad about him. Of course I loved writing him as well.
A sophomore at Adams High School
The youngest four children
Middle name is Alexander
Wants to go to college
Used to sneak cookies with his sister
I crossed the entryway, my hand behind my back to close the door behind us. Rachel turned around, probably thinking she'd close it herself. She came up chest to chest, face to nape of my neck. I grinned. Rachel's cheeks had pink spreading across them. Her gaze was glued to the floor as the door clicked behind us. I watched Rachel's whole upper body rise, filling up like a balloon before letting out a long breath. Rachel has always been funny to embarrass. I held back laughter. I didn't want to make her completely uncomfortable.
The hall was surprisingly quiet especially considering the hotel was filled with high schoolers. Rachel was a step or two ahead of me despite her shorter legs. I glanced over at her. Rachel's hair was just short of her waist, blond with smooth waves that flowed down from the top of her head to the tips of her strands. Her coat was buttoned and tied close to her upper body and overlapping those dark blue jeans of hers since it was so big. Rachel's white little sneakers were just peeking out of the bottom of her pants, no I wasn't studying her.
I reached around Rachel when we got to the end of the hall to open the door before her. She tilted her head to some extent so that her big green eyes would meet mine. The corners of her lips turned ever so slightly.
"No problem, Rachel," I responded.
Rachel started to hop down the stairs. When I say hop, I quite literally mean bouncing down the stairs like a small child. I took each step in haste to keep up with her. It was probably not wise to lose a short woman on a mission. My sister and mother proved that one. I was the youngest of four, two older brothers and an older sister. Plus I've had classes long enough with Rachel to know the teachers were going to fix our room situation. She was so sweet and innocent; no one would dare try to corrupt her, minus my sense of humor.
When we reached the bottom of the platform we made our way out into the lobby to see our grade traveling as a herd into another room, a big room filled with tables and chairs for dinning, most likely it was used for conferences that came to the hotel. I glanced down at Rachel who shrugged her shoulders as we followed. We were ushered to a random table.
I sat in the chair, closed my eyes for a moment and stretched, wishing that I could just go to sleep already to make up for waking up so freaking early this morning for this stupidity the school had arranged. My siblings took this trip in eighth grade, my brothers felt the need to brag about the fact they didn't have a project like us. My sister smacked them with a spoon when she was cooking to get them to shut up. That started a food fight in the March household. We were lucky my mom came home before my dad; otherwise we would have been doomed. Mom got the last word in by shoving spaghetti sauce on all of our heads then making us clean up before Dad saw. I love my family.
"It kind of looks like everyone is paired up when they're coming in here," Rachel announced in a low voice, disbelief in every word.
Oh God girls were absolutely crazy! "Rachel, I think you've been reading too many of your weird books," I started, thinking about when the book, I think it was called Flowers in the Attic, came up with some students because some kid saw the movie and Rachel straightened out the facts which left me to never look at her the same way again. "We go to a public school. We’re not people in a dating service."
I shook my head as she raised an eyebrow at me. "Don't patronize me Nicholas, look around the room," Rachel muttered, she just had to use my whole name.
I rolled my eyes as I scanned the room, observing more of my peers entering. "Okay, maybe you aren't completely crazy," I responded under my breath and she stuck her tongue out at me.
I returned the reaction and she giggled. I smiled. This was so normal for us. I really wish Rachel wasn't right as much as she was.
"Yo, dude, what the hell is happening?" A slap on my back punctuated my best friend's question.
I peeked over my shoulder and grinned. "Dill, if I knew I'd think about telling you for a good price," I told him.
Dill, Mark, John, and I were part of a close-knit group, each person coming in at different years. Dill and I were probably the longest in the group then John later in elementary school when he moved into our town. Mark moved into our town in middle school with his uncle, we were all a little different yet, still had fun busting each others’ chops. What else are friends for?
Dill had his dark hair in his usual short cut. I did not know how he could handle only half an inch of hair. I liked being able to have hair to run my hands through. I would never tell my friends that, the girl jokes that I would get. Dill had dark eyes and was a little shorter than me. Dill sat in a chair across from me, slouching back in the chair. Next to him glared Rachel's dark clothing wearing friend Bridget, big hair and all.
"Hey Rachel, maybe you had a point in being pessimistic on the whole drive here after all." Bridget still kept her eyes on Dill who appeared to be just as thrilled as her.
"Schools, you can't trust them," Rachel responded, but she was turned around not facing the three of us, still surveying the room, her voice distant.
"Rach, you okay?" I asked, placing a hand on her shoulder. She withdrew her body from me in a snap of a reaction.
"Don't touch me," Rachel said. Even through her jacket I could see her shoulders tense.
I tried to remember her friends hugging her in the halls like some of the other girls did. I couldn't think of a time I'd seen that. Actually thinking back to eighth grade graduation she was laughing at those who were crying. She kept shouting something like 'you'll see them in three months!' over and over. She'll calm down eventually.
Principal O'Doherty stepped up to the front of the room.
"Students quiet down, quiet down!" His stern voice was cutting through the voices of the whole sophomore class.
A middle aged man with brown hair that was speckled with gray and white, that I could see even this far back, was up front. A microphone was in one of his hands while his other hand was free to be able to be expressive. I scooted my chair a little so that I could see the principal, leaning back I watched around Rachel's blond head. Principal O'Doherty was a tall, lean man who always wore a pressed suit that seemed to hang just a smidge on his frame. Back when my siblings were in high school he was a decent guy, but apparently a few years ago his wife and him started having issues in their marriage. Rumors spread around the school that his wife left him, that they split up, that there was a full-on battle of a divorce. That one of them was caught cheating, you think of any form of gossip that could have been thought up, and it was mentioned. Ever since then Principal O'Doherty had been a hard-ass, ruling Adams High with an iron fist that was apparently desperately needed for a very low key suburban town.
"Before you continue to harass the teachers to fix your room arrangements, there were no mistakes made. That's your roommate." Principal O'Doherty paced, his eyes scanning the room that was now hushed except for a few whispers. One of his hands was somewhat open, rolling around in the air as he spoke. "The project will be taking place over the next few months, possibly longer depending on how things go. Spending more time with your partners will help the project develop for the full experience. That is one of the reasons we said no electronics on the trip, we want you all to be focused on the task at hand."
He stopped in the center of the platform upfront. Principal O'Doherty's body was directly facing the student body. All of us waited for him to continue so we would finally hear the details of the alleged project. My eyes drifted down from Principal O'Doherty and to Rachel. The girl was stressing from the moment the permission slips were passed out during homeroom. Rachel's emotions weren't fully furious or crazed, but more curiosity and dread of who she would be paired up with. GPA was a heavy weight on her and she was the type to stress over that since kindergarten. When our friends were a little side tracked I tried to calm her. I joked with Rachel that worst case scenario that she would mess with her partner, Rachel didn’t like that.
"We want our students at Adams High to be able to enter the real world prepared for life and what will come their way. We have a reputation to keep up. Now I'm sure you students have over the years seen on television or even from grades above you, the marriage project. You and your partner will learn to co-operate with each other, in addition to learning the basic skills it takes for a couple to function in a marriage."
"Oh, for the love of God," Rachel mumbled under her breath, with her elbow resting on the table she leaned her head against her hand.
I might never have been Rachel's number one friend, but I do try to look out for her. I admit that I have been known to pick on her over the years, but I was never that bad. I'm not that mean, like I tell her to stand up for herself against others. My picking is more like joking between the two of us than harshness. For example a few guys made a nickname for her (that she hates) and I call her that sometimes. At the same time I tell her to tell on them since a teacher heard someone saying it to her and told them to stop. When I do push her buttons it always seemed different. I can't explain it, but it just was. It was also written on her face that when I do call her it once in a blue moon, when I do call her Worm, she doesn't have the look of 'I hate you, go die'.
I leaned in close to her. "You could have been paired up with someone worse, Rachel," I whispered to her, red spreading across the side of her face.
Rachel always turned red. I smirked. Her chin was against her shoulder so that she could almost see me. She placed her index finger over her lips so that we wouldn't start anything.
"I'm hoping that even though we paired a bunch of high school students together for this assignment you'll will act as young adults instead of hormone driven teenagers," Principal O'Doherty continued, voice still stern despite the catcalls that followed.
I glanced around at all of the tables. There were the girls who did their make up between classes paired with guys from honors classes, then there were some with guys that they wouldn't usually take a second glance at. Then there seemed to be football players with cheerleaders, a couple were with girls from orchestra and some girls from ROTC with guys from choir. I smiled at the so-called social spectrum being scrambled. I peeked over at my friend Dill and he rolled his eyes once he saw that I was watching him.
"Since it's still a decent hour in the afternoon we're going to have you in your groups get organized, then head over to the historical sight. Watch for your chaperones and remember you're representing Adams High on this field trip so behave yourselves."
The teachers started to line up in front of the room to get our attention, but the chatter in the room just grew by the second. Dill rolled his eyes as Bridget next to him was putting on her long black coat, ignoring the guy beside her. I glanced over to Rachel who was always bundled up in class. She was still wearing her coat, her hands buried deep in her pockets. Rachel was already standing up as if I was taking too long.
"Ready to head over?" Rachel asked, her green eyes on me, her voice light.
I shrugged my shoulders and followed her through the mob of students. I was almost tempted to grab onto her hand so that I wouldn't lose her in the crowd. With her tiny stature she was having an easier time zipping through the people than me. I had to watch to trail after her. Rachel kept her arms curled into her chest as she weaved. I did not want to lose her. I was squishing myself between people to keep up with her. How the hell was she doing this? She finally stopped near the teacher, scanning over her shoulder till she found me. Squeezing through the last couple of people I made my way next to Rachel whose head came up to about the nape of my neck.
We moved out of the room and got onto our newly designated buses. It was a short bus ride to Williamsburg. Everyone was talking madly about this new news. We had to share a room with the opposite sex. The guys were either complaining about the girl they were with, celebrating that they got the hottie they wanted to talk to in class, but couldn't, or were too embarrassed to say anything. I didn't really know how to respond to my situation. Here I was with Rachel, even though I had a girlfriend. I kept glancing over at her but she was staring out the window the whole ride. She was acting as if I didn't exist.
Release date: August 7, 2015