Chapter 17

It was the first week of October. Things were going pretty smoothly, with everything; which I knew could only mean that it was time for something crazy to happen. If only I knew what it was that was about to happen, though; I would have definitely tried to stop it, somehow. Or at least post-pone it until further notice.

My mom was still in bed-ridden in the hospital. Chandler and I were now going up to see her every day, since she was getting bored there, by herself. My dad was keeping himself very busy at work, only going to spend a few hours with my mom at the hospital, in the late evenings. I knew he was anxious for the twins to be born and to be at home with us. And that's how my dad was when he was nervous or excited – he was distant. So my mom and I were dealing with it. Although it was getting a little annoying.

I was now seeing and/or talking to Jeremiah – I no longer felt the need to call him The Pierced Punk, since I knew him now, although Chandler still referred to him as that – almost every day. He called me, just wanted to talk, or to see if I could go and hang out with him. We talked online. We had even spent an evening out, together, alone. We had went to see a movie, and then drove around Henderson Heights for an hour or two afterwards. It hadn't been a "date", I made sure of it, but it sure felt like one, while it was happening. Jeremiah and I had sort of moved from "friends" to "friends who flirt with each other". I hadn't meant for this change to come about; it had happened pretty naturally. I really didn't see how anything really bad could come of this, so I just went along for the ride; enjoying it, too.

And, to my surprise, school wasn't all that weird, or awkward, as I had thought it was going to be, after my last conversation with Marty. Everything seemed pretty much the same, except the fact that Marty wasn't exactly talking to me. I could understand why he would be upset, though, considering I had basically just found another guy – though nothing was really going on with Jeremiah – and moved on. He was mad at me, and he was acting pretty immature about it. But it wasn't really a big deal. The girls were no longer forcing the whole Marty thing on me, and neither was Chandler, surprisingly. Everyone was pretty much staying out of my business. And I liked it that way. But at the same time, I was still in the popular group, and felt like an important senior at Greenwich High.

It was a Tuesday when things started going from good, to not so good. But I didn't know the extent of the changes that were taking place. I suppose I didn't want to notice.

Chandler woke me up that morning. I opened my eyes and looked at him, right at him, but was confused about what was happening. Chandler was never awake before me. Never. So I began questioning him.

"Why are you awake?" I wanted to know.

"It's quarter to eight," he replied calmly.

We were in my bedroom. Everything else seemed normal, on track. But the fact that Chandler was awake before I was, was too much for me to comprehend that early.

"Yeah, but," I began, throwing the blankets off of my body and down to the end of my bed, "you're never awake before me."

"Yeah, so, today I was," he said, looking at me like I was crazy.

"Why?"

"Why? I don't know why, Jordy. I woke up," he told me, giving me a weird look.

"But –" I was going to ask him why again, but I knew it wouldn't do any good. "Wait, did you already have a shower?" I asked then, noticing that his hair looked wet.

"Uh, yeah. And now you can go have yours."

"You woke up and took a shower, and it's not even eight o'clock?" I asked, confused.

"Yeah, sure. What are you freaking out about?" Chandler wanted to know. He was already dressed and looked pretty much ready for school, too.

"N-nothing. Never mind," I finished, shaking my head. But I knew at that moment that it was going to be a weird day.

I took my shower, got dressed, put on a little bit of make-up and went downstairs, only to find Chandler in the kitchen, with my dad. Both of them were eating breakfast, my dad was reading the newspaper and Chandler was reading a Math textbook. Nothing seemed right. My dad hadn't been home at that time in the morning for the past three weeks. He always rushed off to work before Chandler and I even made our way downstairs, on the days we slept at my house, anyway. And Chandler never opened a textbook during school hours, let alone in the morning, at my kitchen table. I was flustered, to say the least.

"There's eggs and toast, there, for you," Chandler nodded his head towards the stove.

I looked over at it, but my stomach was doing somersaults, and I couldn't even imagine eating breakfast, even though it looked good. I just shook my head at it.

"You don't eat breakfast anymore, Jordan?" my dad asked me, now folding the newspaper and placing it down on the table.

"I do. I just… I don't really feel good," I answered. At least it wasn't a lie.

"Oh," my dad said plainly. He stood up and picked up his plate and glass, then walked over to the sink and placed them in it. "Have a good day, you two," he went on, but wasn't looking at me, or Chandler. He seemed a little bit out of it.

"You too, Dad," I nodded, and watched him leave the kitchen then, without another word.

I poured myself a glass of orange juice from the refrigerator and sat down where my dad had been, across from Chandler at the table.

"You okay?" he asked me, flipping the pages of the textbook.

"Uh. Yeah. Are you?" I asked him back, gesturing towards the book on the table.

"What do you mean?" He didn't even look up.

"You're… studying?"

"Oh, yeah. I have a math test this afternoon," he told me, as if it was no big deal. But it was. Because Chandler didn't study for tests. He didn't even think twice about a test.

But I chose not to say anything else about it. I figured I must have been making a big deal out of nothing. It couldn't really have been that weird. That out of the ordinary. There was no way.

"Did you talk to my dad at all?" I asked him instead, hoping that he had. And that he had found out something, anything, about why my dad had been so distant from me, lately.

It had gotten worse, the awkwardness between my dad and I, over the past couple of weeks. We had barely spoken more than a few words to each other. I had so much to say to him, so many questions for him, but he seemed to always be busy with something, or not around at all.

"A little bit, I guess," Chandler said, still not looking up from the textbook in front of him.

"Did he tell you anything?" I wanted to know.

"About what?" Chandler seemed pretty clueless about what I was hinting at.

"Chan… you know about what. About why he's been acting so strange to me lately."

"Oh. No," Chandler answered quickly. "Why would he tell me anything about that?"

I shrugged. I couldn't tell if Chandler was hiding something or not. "I was just hoping, I guess," I finished.

We got to school just before nine o'clock, as usual. Chandler and I first went to my locker, like we did every morning. I got what I needed and left what I didn't, and then the two of us made our way up to Chandler's locker on the third floor. On our way up, we ran into Lacey and Kyla, like we usually did. Nothing weird. Yet. But then,

"Hey Chandler, Jordan…" Lacey began, but let her voice trail off.

"Hey girls," Chandler answered.

I just smiled. I didn't know what to say. I guess I was waiting for something to happen.

"Oh, Jordan… Marty was looking for you," Kyla told me, twirling her shoulder-length hair around one of her fingers.

"He… was?" I asked slowly.

"Yeah, he wouldn't say what it was about," Lacey continued. Neither of the girls looked very concerned with the issue.

But I was, immediately. Something was up. Something was going to happen. I could feel it. And I was going to do everything I could to avoid it.

Kyla followed Chandler and I upstairs, after we said goodbye to Lacey, and then the three of us made our way to our first period class. The morning seemed to be fairly normal, uneventful, even. But it was the calm before the storm. I just didn't know it yet.

During second period, a couple of girls that I didn't really know seemed to be looking over at me, and then talking, laughing, and looking at me again. I usually wasn't too concerned about fellow students talking about me, but this seemed different. I felt like everyone knew something that I didn't know. And though I usually would never have done it, at the end of class I went right over to the girls and asked then what was up. Why they had been looking at me and talking about me. I definitely wasn't prepared for their answer.

"You're Jordan Addams, right?" the chubbier of the two girls asked me.

I nodded. "Yeah…"

"Yeah. We thought so," the other one, who had black hair with blonde streaks and thick black glasses, told me.

"Um, can you please tell me what's going on?" I asked, trying hard not to sound like a bitch.

"Sorry, I don't think that would really be a good idea. You know, it's kind of none of our business…" the first girl told me, now picking up her bag and walking away from me.

"What?" I asked after them, but the girl with the glasses just gave me a pathetic look and walked out of the classroom.

I turned back to Chandler. I knew that if he knew what was going on, he wouldn't be able to keep it from me. I shot him a look, and knew by the look on his face that he was as confused as I was.

"I wish I knew what the hell was going on," I told him.

"Yeah, weird…" he agreed.

The two of us were back down at my locker only a few minutes later, surrounded by Jade, Will and Jason. None of them were acting out of the ordinary. I was starting to wonder, again, if I was just over reacting, about everything. Maybe I was just being paranoid. We met up with Amanda, Lacey and Kyla a few minutes later, and we were all leaving for lunch together. As usual.

"Jord, did you find Marty yet?" Lacey asked me, casually.

"Uh, I wasn't really looking for him," I answered honestly.

"He was looking for you, though," Jason interrupted, "it seemed important, too."

"Oh," I said, because I had no idea what else to say.

Marty was looking for me. He wanted to talk to me about something seemingly important. And everyone seemed to know about this, except for me. But I wasn't going to have to wait long to find out. Before we got much further, we all saw Marty coming towards us. He was alone. He didn't look happy.

"I need to talk to you," he said sternly, looking right into my eyes.

"Marty, we're going –"

"No, Jordan, I need to talk to you, now," Marty went on.

I kept on walking. He hadn't spoken to me in two weeks, but now all of a sudden thought he could just pull me away from everyone because he "had to talk to me"? It didn't seem right to me. Even though a part of me wanted to know what this was all about, the other part of me was mad at Marty and didn't want to give him the satisfaction of getting his way with me.

"Marty, it can wait. We're going for lunch," I told him, annoyed.

"It can't wait, Jordan. Please?" Marty practically begged.

"Jord, we'll be outside," Chandler said to me, and followed the rest of the gang towards the doors of the school before I could object.

And I was left there with Marty Andrews. He looked devastated, now that I actually looked at him. His eyes were dark and sad. And I wondered why Marty and I were going through all of this. Why weren't we talking? I could hardly even remember. Was it because he had gotten back together with Amber? Or was it because I was too ignorant and too much of a bitch to believe that he hadn't even done that, at all?

"What the hell, Marty?" I asked, looking up at him.

He put his hand on my arm and loosely pulled me back towards our lockers, out of hearing range from most of the people around us. I went with him, only because I was confused and just wanted to know what this was all about.

"Okay, I'm just going to come out and tell you this… I mean, tell you what I know…" he began, not really saying anything at all.

"About…?"

"Okay… you know that day, the last time we talked, really, when I told you about what had happened with Amber and you said that there was another guy –"

"I didn't say –"

"His name, its Jeremiah, right?" Marty said quickly, ignoring me altogether.

I was even more confused. I hadn't even told Marty, or anyone else, his name. Besides Chandler, no one at school knew about me and Jeremiah, at all. I didn't say anything then.

"The guy that you are seeing, or whatever, its Jeremiah, right? Jeremiah Cole?" Marty went on.

I had no idea how Marty knew this information, but it pissed me off. I immediately assumed he was stalking me or finding out information that was none of his business. Or something.

"What the hell, Marty? What are you doing?"

"Nothing, I didn't do anything," he defended himself.

"Then how do you know –"

"Jordan, stay away from this guy, okay?" Marty interrupted, basically ignoring me again.

I could not believe what I was hearing. "What? Who the hell do you think you are? You're not my boyfriend, Marty, you never were. And right now, you're not even my friend. We haven't had a conversation in over two weeks. What the hell are you trying to do? And what makes you think you can –"

"Jordan, please. You are my friend, and I care a lot about you, even if I haven't really shown it lately. I wouldn't be saying anything if I wasn't completely serious… please, stay away from this guy," Marty said again.

I didn't even bother to ask him how he knew Jeremiah's name. Or why he thought I should stay away from him. I was too busy being a bitch. I rolled my eyes. And then I told him to stay out of my business. I even told him that he was just jealous because I didn't want to be with him. I knew I had gone too far with it. But I was too pissed off to care. I wasn't thinking straight. So I turned and walked away from him. And he didn't even call after me. He just stood there and watched me walk away.

I went out to the student parking lot, where I knew Chandler would be waiting for me by my car. And he was. But for some reason, he didn't question me about what Marty had said to me.

"I'm going home," I told Chandler right away. I didn't want to talk about it. Not even with Chandler.

"You're going home?" he asked, once he realized what I had said.

"Yeah. I am. Today is just too weird. Take notes for me in Chemistry and Biology, okay?" I asked, knowing that he wouldn't. He didn't even take notes for himself.

"Uh, yeah, okay. You don't want me to come with you?" he wanted to know.

I shook my head. "I just need to be by myself. Clear my head. I'll be fine."

"Oh, okay. I'll get dropped off at your house after school?" he asked, looking over at me.

"Uh, well, call my cell first, okay?" I said, already opening my car door.

"Uh, okay. You sure you're okay, Jord?" Chandler looked concerned, now.

"Yeah, yeah. I am. I'll see you later?" I tried to assure him.

"Of course," he told me.

I got into my car and started it, then sat there and watched my best friend walk away, back towards the school. It was a strange feeling, but it was something I needed to do. I pulled out of the parking lot and started driving. I knew where I was going.

I slowed down in front of the large, mansion-looking house about fifteen minutes later. I knew Jeremiah should have been at home, since he had told me that he rarely worked on Mondays and Tuesdays. And it was only eleven-thirty in the morning. He didn't seem like the type to be up early on a day off from work. I didn't see his mo-ped anywhere near the house, but the big silver pick-up truck was there, parked on the road. There was also a small, red car that I didn't recognize parked behind the truck. I parked behind the red car and got out, not really knowing what I was going to say to Jeremiah when I saw him. I just wanted to see him. I wanted him to make all the weird things that had happened seem unimportant. I wanted him to tell me that I was just being paranoid, and that nothing crazy was actually going on.

But as I walked up the sidewalk to the front door of the house, the door opened. I was still about fifteen feet away, but I could see Jeremiah standing there, inside the house, smiling. Two girls were standing in the doorway. Both of them looked my age, at the most. They were both blonde, and both wore short skirts and high-heels. I felt my stomach starting to turn, again. But I kept on walking. The girls were just saying thanks and that they were get ahold him again soon, and giggling, when I made it to the bottom of the steps. Jeremiah saw me and grinned, but looked like he had been caught red-handed. He waved to the girls, said goodbye, and we both watched as they passed me and continued on their way to the small, red car.

"What are you doing here?" Jeremiah asked me. He looked confused, but also happy to see me.

"I was just having a weird day… didn't feel like being at school anymore… but…"

"What's wrong?" he asked, reaching out for my arm. He led me into the house and closed the door behind me.

"I don't know. Things just keep getting weirder. And I'm just… confused," I told him.

I wasn't even going to ask him about those girls – it really was none of my business; it wasn't like I was his girlfriend or anything. But he obviously felt that it was something that he should explain to me.

"Those girls are just… friends. They just came by to see if they could borrow… my new Doublewide CD, actually. They're friends of Arrows…" he told me, letting his voice trail off.

I was too frustrated by then to even think about whether what he was saying was true or not. I just nodded. "Can I hang out here for a bit?" I asked. I hadn't taken my shoes off yet. We were still standing in the front hall of the house.

"Of course," Jeremiah told me, as if he hasn't been expecting me to say that.

And so I spent the rest of the afternoon in Jeremiah's bedroom, listening to him play his acoustic guitar and singing to me, quietly. I sat on his bed, next to him, doing everything in my power to forget about what had happened at school that morning. I wanted to forget those girls who had asked me if my name was Jordan Addams. And I especially wanted to forget about Marty telling me to stay away from Jeremiah. But then again, I was still sort of trying to get back at Marty, by being there, with Jeremiah. It was all a confusing mess. But the sound of Jeremiah playing his guitar and his low, soft voice, singing songs I had never heard before, seemed to help me to forget. And that was all I could ask for.

Jeremiah's cell phone rang. I had no idea what time it was. I was pretty spaced out by that point. I was only half listening to Jeremiah and his guitar, and half thinking about what was going on in the outside world. I wondered what Chandler was doing. And is Marty was telling anyone about Jeremiah and me.

I watched as he grabbed his cell phone from where it was sitting, on his bedside table. I watched as he pressed a button and put it to his ear. And then I listened. I didn't want to be one of those girls. The girls who wanted to know everyone her boyfriend talked to and everything they talked about. He wasn't even my boyfriend, and I was already turning into that girl.

"Hey… uh… no. I can't right now. No, I'm busy," he began, staring at the floor the entire time. "I have things to do, you know? It's my only day work this week. I'll talk to you later. Okay? Yeah… you too. Bye."

He pressed a button on the phone again and put it down on the bed, in between us. I didn't say anything. I was pretending I hadn't heard any of his conversation. But, again, he felt the need to share.

"My friend… she wanted to hang out with me…" he began, looking at me, but not into my eyes.

"Okay…" I said, because I felt like I had to say something.

"But, I'd much rather hang out with you," Jeremiah finished, smiling now.

And I felt myself blushing a second later. I smiled, without even thinking about it.

We went downstairs to the living room a short while later. Suzanna was now home, and busy doing something in the kitchen. I saw a clock on the wall and was surprised to find out that it was after three o'clock. I sat down next to Jeremiah on the large sofa, and he slipped his arm around me, before I could do or say anything about it. But when Suzanna entered the room only a few minutes later, he faked a cough and pulled his arm back, away from me.

"Hi, Jordan," the woman smiled at me. But her eyes went to her son a moment later. "Jer, I thought you had plans tonight? With Arrow, and –"

"Yeah, I do, Mom," Jeremiah replied, not letting her finish.

"Okay," she said, but was giving Jeremiah a questioning look. He gave her a look back, but I couldn't read what it meant.

And then, as if on cue, the doorbell rang. Suzanna smiled again and made her way through the room, to the front hall. I watched from where I was sitting as she opened the front door and let someone into the house. I saw Arrow a second later.

"You must have known we were just talking about you," Suzanna said loudly, giving Arrow a half-hug.

"You were?" Arrow asked with a laugh.

"We were," Suzanna nodded.

"I hope only good things," Arrow grinned.

And then he took off his shoes and started walking into the living room. The look on his face when he saw me, though, wasn't exactly what I had been expecting. He just shocked. As if there was no reason for me to be sitting there next to Jeremiah. I forced a smile.

"Hi, Jordan," Arrow said to me, the same way Suzanna had, just minutes before him.

"Hey," I answered, feeling awkward.

"What are you doing here already, dude?" Jeremiah asked Arrow right away.

"The girls are waiting at Sarah's house for us, man. We have to be out in Henderson Heights in, like, an hour," Arrow replied, as if Jeremiah should have been waiting for him.

Jeremiah glanced up at the clock. "Oh, wow. I didn't know it was this late," he said slowly.

"Uh, yeah," Arrow said stupidly.

"Oh, well I have to go, anyway. I'm supposed to meet Chandler…" I lied, standing up quickly.

"Oh. Well, I'll walk you out," Jeremiah looked confused now, but stood up and followed me towards the front door, leaving Arrow standing in the living room.

We both put on our shoes, neither of us saying anything. I opened the door and went outside, not knowing or caring if Jeremiah was behind me. I was embarrassed and felt awkward and unwanted. I wanted to get home, back to Chandler, back to my normal environment.

Jeremiah closed the door after he stepped outside, and then reached out and grabbed my arm. "Hey, wait," he said, but kept his voice quiet.

"What?" I asked back, not looking at him.

"Why are you taking off?" he wanted to know.

"You have plans. You have things to do. People to see. I'm just in the way. I shouldn't even have come over," I told him, turning back around again.

"Jordan, hey. You know that's not how it is. You know I love hanging out with you. I love having you around. I just… forgot about this thing I'm supposed to do tonight with Arrow and his girlfriend and… some friends. Okay?"

And I heard something in his voice that made me believe him, even if I wasn't sure it was the truth or not. I believed him. He smiled that gorgeous smile, with his dimples and everything, and I caved. My heart melted. If I had been mad at him for something, I wasn't any more.

"Okay," I said plainly, but was smiling.

"Okay. Good. I'll call you later?" he asked.

I just nodded. And then he hugged me. And I didn't want to let him go. When we pulled away, he was still smiling, and so was I. I told him I'd talk to him later and spun around, and began walking towards my car. I didn't look back, even though I wanted to. And by the time I reached my car and got in, Jeremiah was gone.

I dug my keys out of my purse and started my car, but I sat there for a few minutes, just staring at the house. Just thinking. And hoping that Jeremiah would come back out and say that he wanted to spend the evening with me instead of doing whatever it was he was going to do. But, of course, he didn't come. So I drove off down the road, angry and excited and confused all at the same time.

And then, when I was least expecting it, my cell phone began to vibrate inside my purse. I didn't hear it at first, because my purse was on the passenger seat, next to me. But I saw it moving, slightly, out of the corner of my eye. I turned down the radio, dug out my phone and looked at the caller ID. It was my dad's cell phone. It took me a few seconds to register that I had to answer the phone. All I could think about was why he would be calling me. He should have been at work. Something was wrong.

"Dad?" I asked into my phone, slowly. I didn't want to know what it was.

"Jordan. Get to the hospital," was all he said.

I didn't have a chance to ask him what was wrong, even if I had wanted to. He hung up as soon as he said the words. And I was left there, alone, staring at my phone in my hand, my heart pounding hard and fast.