Popular Ch. 01

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Welcome to Serenity, the beautiful town where the main campus of Reynolds University is located. You’re about to enter the lives of four college students, where life is anything but easy.

Leo Warner, Lexie Covington, and Noah Radcliff have been best friends since grade school, and they are three of the most popular people on campus, even if they are only sophmores. Their familes are some of the richest and most powerful people in the country. Are the bonds of friendship strong enough to weather the rough waters their lives are about to enter?

Hayden Taylor has traveled to Reynolds in search of one thing, a life of freedom and an escape from a painful past. He expected his freshman year to be quiet and relaxing, but a chance encounter will change his life forever. Is he prepared to let go of his fears and embrace his new college life?

Fate has an interesting way of working, and life will never be the same for the four Reynolds students. A wager will test the bonds of friendship, secrets and lies are revealed, and dark times are head on the Reynolds Campus. Life, love, and friendships could change, find out as their stories unfold as a new semester starts. Life is never easy, especially when you’re Popular.

Popular Chapter One By: Michael Philips (aka Gryffindor)

The sun shone down on the beautiful courtyard that sat in the center of the Reynolds University Campus. There were small groves of trees and benches spread out over the lush green lawn. A large fountain sat at the courtyard’s epicenter, and the wind blew a refreshing spray of mist over anyone sitting close enough. The last rays of summer heralded many changes on the campus because the fall semester would be starting soon, and the possibility of a harsh New England winter in Serenity, Connecticut loomed in the distance. These thoughts were far from the minds of the students that lounged around the massive courtyard though.

Hayden Taylor emerged on one of the many paths that crisscrossed the courtyard carrying a few suitcases. Hayden’s shaggy chocolate brown hair was caught in the power of the summer breeze. Strands of hair blew unceremoniously around his face and were getting caught in his glasses. A pair of ice blue eyes gazed through the glasses at the beauty that filled the campus. The buildings were renovated back in the late Seventies and looked very majestic rising above the many trees that were scattered throughout the campus.

Hayden shuffled along at an easy pace and didn’t gain the attention of any of the other students that filled the courtyard. His appearance gave the distinct impression that money was hard to come by in his family because his clothes were obviously hand me downs from the way they hung on his body. His sweatshirt was at least two sizes too big and his pants were so large it appeared they would fall off if the wind caught them right. His clothes were so large and worn it made him appear shorter than his actual six-foot height.

Hayden stopped to check some paperwork in his pocket to ensure he was headed towards the registration office. He had only been stopped for a moment before he was knocked to the ground by some unseen force. It took a moment for him to clear his head as he glanced over to see a guy lying next to him on the ground with a Frisbee in his hand.

“Sorry, man. We didn’t even see you there.” The guy stood up and offered his hand out to help him up. He was obviously referring to the guy and girl that were standing on the lawn about fifty feet from them yelling jokes about him running people down. “I’m Leo Warner by the way.”

“No problem, Leo. I’m Hayden Taylor.” He offered a small smile to his accidental attacker. “Am I going in the right direction to get to the registration office?”

“You sure are, buddy. Keep going across the Court and past the fountain. The registration office is in the Student Affairs building. You’ll see the sign for it as you get closer.” Leo answered and pointed out one of the buildings that rose above the treetops.

“Thanks. I really appreciate it.” Hayden replied with a smile.

“No big. Welcome to Reynolds.” Leo smiled in return and headed back over to his friends to continue their Frisbee match.

It only took Hayden a few minutes to finish crossing the Court, as Leo had called it, and he found the Student Affairs building right away. He entered the building and was grateful as he felt the air-conditioning swirl around his tired body. Hayden checked the directory located in the foyer and rode the elevator to the fifth floor. He was thankful that there were signs pointing out the direction to the correct office. It had been a long trip from sunny California and he just wanted to get his room information and crash.


Leo Warner watched as Hayden retrieved his dropped suitcases and headed off across the Court. He felt bad for knocking the poor guy down and wanted to make sure he was going in the right direction. After seeing Hayden cross the Court, kütahya escort Leo tossed the Frisbee back to one of his best friends, Alexis Covington. Her midnight black hair floated around her shoulders as she leapt to catch it. Her five foot eleven frame easily allowed her to snatch the plastic disc out of the air.

“You better listen to me and start paying more attention to what goes on around you, Leo. Otherwise you’re really going to hurt someone one of these days.” Her melodic voice sounded scolding, but Leo knew she was just teasing him.

“It’s not like he knocked over anyone important, Alexis.” The other guy standing with them added with a snicker. “Did you see what he was wearing?”

“Leave it to you, Noah Radcliff, to play the stereotypical spoiled rich brat.” Leo said to his other best friend with a smile. “Lexie, remind me once again why you date this jerk?”

Leo smiled at his best friends as Lexie laughed and Noah tried to look pissed off. Whoever said that opposites attract must have had those two in mind when they said it. With her trim body and natural beauty, Lexie reminded him of the classic girl next door. She had a laugh that made her emerald eyes sparkle with mischief. Lexie probably had more money in her family than Noah did, but you would never know it. She had a laid back, relaxed attitude and always took everything in stride.

Noah, on the other hand, was her complete opposite. He was actually an inch shorter than his girlfriend, but his perfect posture and overwhelming air of superiority made him seem taller. His blonde hair was always perfectly in place and cut in the newest style. Noah had more clothes than Lexie and Leo put together, and he refused to shop at any store that wasn’t name brand or exclusive. His amber colored eyes were like a hawk and were always trained on everything around him.

Leo stood watching his friends and chuckled. His six foot-one frame wasn’t overly muscular, but he had a nice firm body. His thick black hair hung almost to his shoulders and had a slight curl to it. His forest green eyes sparkled in amusement as he listened to Lexie and Noah fight with each other. Leo’s appearance was heavily influenced by his mother’s Italian heritage. He always had a perpetual tan and his chest was covered in thick, soft black hair.

Many people mistook Leo and Lexie as twins because of how similar they looked, and the fact that they were the same age just added to that. Their friendship had evolved over the years from best friends to a very tight sibling type bond. Leo and Lexie didn’t have any siblings and had quickly turned to each other. The fact that their names were so similar only added fuel to the twin theory.

“I’ve been stuck with him ever since I saved his butt on the playground back in kindergarten.” Lexie gave Noah a kiss on the cheek. “Though it’s a move I regret from time to time.”

Leo laughed as Noah’s face turned red from the mention of that fateful day many years ago. All three of them came from well-to-do families and first met each other back in kindergarten. Leo had bonded with Lexie, who was then known as Alexis, instantly, and they were the best of friends. Noah was brought into their friendship after the other kids were picking on him, and Lexie and Leo stepped in to help him.

“I don’t blame you for that, twin.” Leo smiled as he used his term of endearment for Lexie. “I would probably be regretting that myself. It’s not everyday you hear of a boyfriend taking longer than his girlfriend to get ready to go out.”

“It is not my fault that the two of you don’t seem to understand the importance that people in our positions have.” Noah’s voice sounded weary as he lectured his friends. “I keep telling you that people look up to us because of our money and our looks, and we have to lead them. We need to show them what they need to strive to be¡K”

Leo and Lexie ignored Noah and began tossing the Frisbee back and forth again. They had heard that lecture a thousand times over the past few years, and they expected to be hearing it long into the future. Leo and Lexie just weren’t as concerned about the material things in life. A lot of that had to do with their families because neither one of them were spoiled in any way. Anything they got in life they had to earn and were made to realize that hard work was an important part of life. So much in fact, they each bought their own cars in high school from money that was earned from summer jobs.

Noah’s family on the other hand felt that their money made them better than everyone else, and that line of thinking had obviously been instilled into their son. Leo and Lexie’s attitude helped to ground Noah from time to time, but he still had his moments. They were thankful that Noah wasn’t so high and mighty all the time. That only seemed to happen after he was visiting with his parents, and he did just return from a two-week vacation with them.

“¡Kso you both can see my reasoning I hope.” malatya escort Noah finally stopped his tirade, but it took him a moment to realize that his friends were not paying attention. “Do you realize how rude it is to ignore somebody?”

“It’s almost as rude as harping and lecturing on the same subject for over five years.” Lexie said to her boyfriend with a wink. “Of course we heard you, sweetie, but we are going to have to agree to disagree on this one. Money and popularity don’t mean everything.”

“Remind me why I’m dating you again?” Noah asked with a weary sigh.

“That’s simple.” Leo replied as he winked at Lexie. “No one else would have you.”

Noah grumbled under his breath as Leo and Lexie continued to enjoy the sunny afternoon. His eyes roamed over Lexie’s taut, muscular body, and he grinned silently to himself. Noah felt lucky to have such a beautiful woman as his girlfriend, and it certainly didn’t hurt that she came from a lot of money. Noah continued to watch his two best friends throw the Frisbee back and forth. He couldn’t understand their thinking, but was definitely thankful for having two popular, wealthy, good-looking people as his friends.


Hayden’s arms felt like they were going to rip off at any second. He had been carrying his suitcases all over campus and was happy to see Wilsher Hall, his dorm, in front of him. It had taken over an hour to get all of the paperwork and class scheduling information taken care of. He would be happy to finally see a nice comfortable bed to collapse into after his cross-country trip. Hayden had over four layovers and ended up spending countless hours in different airports.

He could have stayed overnight a few times, but it would have taken longer for him to get to school. Hayden was ready for a new chapter in his life to begin, and the sooner he was able to get to Reynolds, the better. He entered Wilsher Hall and was thankful that he was placed on the first floor. He was also thankful as he felt the cold rush of air-conditioning wrap around his weary body.

Hayden made his way down the hallway until he found room 112. He unlocked the door and dropped his suitcases inside the room. There were moving boxes scattered in neat piles around the room and this caused Hayden’s eyes to widen. He didn’t think his things would be shipped here so soon but quickly realized that his parents would have it no other way. Hayden was happy to see the one single bed in the room. He was grateful that he wouldn’t have to deal with having a roommate.

It wasn’t that Hayden didn’t want to interact with people, but he wanted to make a smooth, easy transition into his new life. Hayden took his time going through the boxes and making sure everything had arrived safely. He unpacked and set up his computer on the desk that was provided. Besides the bed and the desk, there was also a small stand for a television and a decent sized closet. There were shelves located in the bottom of the closet since there wasn’t a dresser.

Hayden opened up his suitcase and began to put his clothes away. He noticed there was a box that he hadn’t packed and he eyed it curiously. Hayden opened the box and sighed when he saw more clothes inside; clothes he had told his parents that he wouldn’t need. He quickly packed them into his empty suitcases and stored them under the bed. Hayden placed his bag of toiletries in one of his desk drawers, and then he placed his small television with a built in DVD player on the small stand.

He pulled a chair over to one of the two windows and sat down finally. Hayden cracked the window and removed a pack of Marlboros. He knew it was a bad habit, and it was one he was trying to break, but he needed something to calm his nerves. Being that he was only nineteen years old, he wasn’t able to drink, and he wasn’t going to turn to drugs. Hayden took a slow drag off of his cigarette, and listened to the silence that surrounded him as he blew the smoke out the window. He had been looking forward to this silence for over three years.

Hayden stretched his long legs and rested his feet on the windowsill. He looked forward to a new year and the fresh start that he had planned. Hayden hoped to put the past behind him and keep it there. He wasn’t sure what his major would be or what he wanted to do with his future, but he was certainly excited about going to school.

His mind traveled back to what happened on the Court earlier that day. Leo was definitely good looking, and Hayden definitely felt the attraction. He shook his head to clear those thoughts. Hayden knew that he couldn’t let anyone know about his sexuality. What happened in the past couldn’t happen again; Hayden wouldn’t allow it.

Hayden took a final drag off of his cigarette and tossed it out the window. He removed a long carrying case from the closet, unzipped it, and removed a keyboard and stand from the case. He plugged the keyboard into the wall outlet and set it up on the stand manisa escort that he had removed from the case. Hayden sat on the edge of his bed and put on the headphones that were attached to the keyboard. He turned on the machine and his fingers flew nimbly over the keys.

The headphones were filled with an electric range of music from Classical to Pop, and even Rock, as he played. Music had always been something that soothed and calmed him down. He had been playing since the age of five, but it was a talent that no one except his family knew about. Hayden played for only one reason, his own pleasure. He didn’t feel it necessary for everyone to know because that would run the risk that people would want him to play all the time. If that happened then it wouldn’t be any fun anymore.

Hayden’s powerful baritone voice softly carried through the room as he started to play a ballad. He made sure not to sing too loudly; otherwise he would attract the attention of anyone else on the floor. The music and singing had the desired effect on his body as his muscles relaxed and the tension slowly left his body. As one last long note slid from his throat, Hayden glanced at the clock on his desk. Over an hour had passed since he had begun playing and that didn’t surprise him. Hayden knew how quickly time passed when he played.

His mind argued over whether to get something to eat or succumb to the weariness that still ran through his body. The decision was settled as a long yawn erupted from his mouth as he stretched. Hayden removed his shoes and placed them at the foot of his bed. Order and cleanliness was an obsession for him. Hayden was thankful that he had made up the bed earlier when he was unpacking everything.

It was only late in the afternoon, but the jetlag seemed to finally catch up with Hayden. Sleep overtook his exhausted body almost the moment his head hit the pillow. He hadn’t even changed clothes or turned the bed down. Hayden stretched out on the bed and with one final, large yawn he fell into a peaceful sleep, the first he had in months.


Leo, Lexie, and Noah were walking towards their late afternoon class, and the other students in the hallway seemed to subconsciously move and make way for them. It was something none of them even realized happened anymore. There were always cliques and groups at school, and the fact that it was college was certainly no different. Between the sororities, fraternities, sports teams, and clubs, there were many levels of cliques.

“My parents invited everyone to Colorado again this year for Christmas break.” Noah’s smile literally lit up the hallway. “Another two fun weeks of skiing and partying on the slopes.”

“I think we will definitely have a blast.” Lexie gave Leo a wicked look. “As long as someone doesn’t have too much to drink again, that is.”

“If we are going to start digging up embarrassing stories, oh funny one, then I think we should talk about that ski instructor that kept trying to get you in the hot tub.” Leo leered back at Lexie.

“I’d love to continue this conversation, boys, but this is my stop.” Lexie’s huge grin made her eyes sparkle with mischief. The group hadn’t even realized they had already gotten to the choir room. She gave Noah a quick kiss and stuck her tongue out at Leo. “I’ll see you two after class¡Kand behave for once. Otherwise Professor Mitchell will have your asses in a sling, and not in an enjoyable way either.”

Lexie walked into her class before Leo or Noah could reply. The guys laughed at her sling remark. It still surprised Noah that his girlfriend could look so sweet and innocent, but still have the mind of a porn director. Leo, on the other hand, wasn’t at all surprised. He was very close to Lexie and knew Noah would blush if he heard even half of the things Lexie said.

“Your woman has a mouth that is worse than a sailor on shore leave sometimes, Radcliff.” Leo managed to say through his laughter.

“You’re just as bad as she is, Warner, and I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t encourage her so much.” Noah sighed at his best friend. “You would think that someone with that much money wouldn’t talk like that.”

“When are you ever going to get a clue, Noah, that life doesn’t revolve around how much money you have or how popular you are?” Leo patted Noah’s shoulder. “If we look up materialistic in the dictionary, I’m sure we’d find your picture there¡Kin color. Hell, it would probably be and eight by ten glossy.”

“Fuck you, Warner!” Noah hissed at his friend. “One of these days I’m going to prove to you just how wrong you are.”

“I won’t be holding my breath on that one, buddy.” Leo’s laughter echoed down the hall.

The pair continued to their psychology class and teased each other the whole time. Though Noah was the butt of most of the jokes, he at least had a good sense of humor most of the time, but he wasn’t as quick tongued as Jacob. Normally he sat back and watched Leo exchange barbs with Lexie. Lexie definitely had an aggressive personality, and it secretly turned Noah on to no end.

“I wonder what torment awaits in Dr.Bitchell’s class today.” Leo said with a grin. “Is it just me or does that man always have a stick up his ass?”

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