Here you go!!! Another chapter finally. And it's long!!! Almost 14 pages. Just for all you guys. Please enjoy!!!!
P.S. HAPPY LITTLE 5 WEEKEND!!!
When At First You Don't Succeed, Try, Try Again—by: Mitchie
(After A Break Up…Confront Your Demons; Don't Run Away)
What's wrong with me?
I was hiding in the small teacher's lounge of the science department on the first floor, waiting for the warning bell to ring. One of the teachers, an old man with oval glasses and balding hair, stepped out of his office and gave me a funny look. I smiled at him sheepishly and he eventually moved on.
Why was I hiding?
Because Christian Mills wouldn't leave me alone. For the past three days, he's been everywhere.
On Tuesday, I woke up to hear him throwing rocks against my bedroom window. Pulling aside my purple curtains, I spotted him leaning against the open door of his Jeep Wrangler, his arm slung through its window, perfectly tranquil. He beamed up at me and gave a small wave, beckoning me to come down (acting all innocent-like). He claimed he was only there to give Colin a ride to their soccer team's early morning workout session, but "since he was there" offered me a ride as well.
Of course, I freaked out and called Ryan who had become my new, personal bodyguard.
On Wednesday, Christian began waiting for me at my locker between classes like he used to do when we first started dating. Ryan gallantly offered to share his locker with me, which I regretfully declined, because I was avoiding the senior hallway at all costs. With earnest understanding, he took the initiative to walk me from class to class instead.
But on Thursday, my luck had reached the end of its rope. Ryan caught the flu, so he couldn't go to school.
I avoided Christian the best I could, and I was still avoiding him. I checked around corners before turning them, stuck to tall people's sides like glue, just in case I needed to hide behind them at any given moment (My favorite choice was Tate McGowan. His six-foot-three frame intimidates even the toughest guys in school, labeling him as fairly unapproachable, but deep down inside, Tate's just a big teddy bear. Tate the Teddy Bear. Hehe.), and avoided spacious areas at all costs. He made it clear that the less people around, the more forward he became.
Gwynn's done her best to take Ryan's place while he's been absent, but it's been nowhere near as effective. Christian has been finding me more and more easily, discovering each of my hiding spaces and forcing me to find new ones. I'm officially running low on places to hide.
I'm getting paranoid. For crying out loud, I'm spooking at the sight of blonde hair.
What's wrong with me? I'm slowly loosing my mind.
The bell rang, making me jump.
I cracked the door open and peeked out, easily locating my locker. I looked left, then right, then left again, like crossing the street. There was no one around. 'Go quick!' my mind warned me. So I did. I tiptoed to my locker, spinning the combination easily. I dropped my messenger bag on the floor, bending down on my knees to deposit and trade out my textbooks.
Just as I was reaching for my Physics book, something large, pink, and sweet-smelling blocked my view. I leaned away on reflex. It was a rose.
"You're running late."
I pushed the flower away and jumped to my feet. "I'm fine. Get lost."
"You complain about me not calling you, and now you're all about keeping distant… I don't understand you." Christian sighed and crouched down to pick up my bag. I made to grab it, but he held it an arms length away, where I couldn't reach.
"Give it back, Chris."
"I'm trying to be a gentleman," he said. "Let me carry it for you."
I didn't have time for this. I threw my hands up in the air. "Fine! Keep it!" I grabbed my Brit Lit book from my locker—the only one I needed for now and slammed the door shut. I stepped around him, hoping he'd just leave me alone and not follow me, but of course…he did.
Just keep walking, my mind advised.
"Rylee, come on." Christian grabbed my arm, pulling me to a stop. "I'm busting my ass for you here."
"You're wasting your breath."
His shoulders tensed and I caught the flash of irritation run through his eyes. I fought to keep that look at the front of my mind. Angry Christian made me angry in return, and I could only face him when I was angry. Standing as tall as I could, as confident as I could, I looked up and gave him my best glare, hoping he'd just catch melt into a puddle at my feet just like the Wicked Witch of the West did in The Wizard of Oz.
His eyes softened, making my anger deflate. Darn it!
He reached down and I felt his fingers comb through my hair, threading the rose through its silky strands. "All I'm asking is that you give us one more chance."
My control cracked at his small touch and I found my eyes closing at the loving tone of his voice. NO! I slapped his hand away. "No."
He moved quickly to rub the back of his hand against my cheek, nonplussed. I shivered. "You will," he said, "I'm all you'll ever have." He gave me a stern look I couldn't decipher, and then walked away.
What did that mean?
"You need to stop hiding," Gwynn told me at lunch. "He's cornering you, and that's exactly what he wants."
"He's killing me—that's what he's doing. A slow and painful death... God, I'm doomed."
She patted my back with pity and I groaned, pushing my tray full of untouched food off to the side. "What am I going to do? He won't leave me alone! Where the hell is Ryan when I need him?"
"You can't always rely on Ryan."
I sighed heavily. "I know…"
"Chris isn't the only one you should be worried about," Vanessa Myers added softly from across the table. She was my very good Drama-buddy, somehow connecting everything in life to a book, play, or musical. "Just like in Mean Girls, as you try to get the boy of your dreams, she's the bitch trying to break it apart! Although...you aren't trying to get with Chris anymore...so...whatever. My point is, Erica's really angry that he's been paying you so much attention." I didn't blame her. He slept with her behind my back for a month and then suddenly left her dry. The poor thing's probably going through withdrawal. "So you've got competition," Vanessa teased.
"Please," I scoffed. "She can have him." It would be nice if she could just take the jerk off my hands.
"Speaking of which… Home-wrecker headed this way," Gwynn said suddenly, ducking her head.
I banged my knee against the bar beneath the table as I spun around quickly. I winced and rubbed it inconspicuously until the sting went away. Erica Lansing came to a stop beside me with her hands on her hips. Her two constant followers, Nicole Weise and Cassandra Rhine, were flanked at her sides. The three of them were standing far too close to me for my liking.
"What do you want?" I snapped. Although she would be helpful in getting rid of my pest problem, I still didn't want to see her ugly face.
She cackled, morphing her face into some satanic demon. See, ugly. "Oh Rylee," she clucked, "I pray every night that you'll just disappear…"
I'm pretty sure I heard crickets. It was that quiet. Not even her two tag-alongs found her snarky comment funny. "Really?" I snorted in disbelief and burst out laughing. "You're joking! Don't you have anything better to do? You can't honestly tell me I'm who you think of before you go to bed every night." I smirked as her face turned red.
"Of course I don't!" she huffed, advancing toward me. "I… You are such a bitch, Rylee!"
I stood up abruptly, welcoming the challenge. "Listen skank…"
"Peace and love, people!" Vanessa said, pressing her palm flat against my shoulder, giving me a gentle push. "Can't we all just get along?" I snorted, keeping my eyes on Erica and sending my most vindictive glare her way.
"Oh-kay!" Gwynn said, "Chill." Erica harrumphed.
"I only came over to your loser table for one reason," she said, "so just answer my question quickly, I want to leave as soon as possible."
"No one wants you here anyway," I quipped. "Go fu—mph!"
Gwynn wrapped her hand around my face, covering my mouth and effectively muffling my cuss-out. That didn't stop me from shouting curses into her palm though. She ignored my struggles and looked back up at Erica. "What do you need?"
"What's your relationship with Ryan Parker?" she asked me.
What? Why wasn't she talking about Christian? What could she possibly want with Ryan? My Ryan! She couldn't possibly be interested in Ryan; he wasn't her type. She went for the rich, arrogant, playboy type—every trait that Christian embodied. She wasn't into the sweet, charming, love-for-life type.
Just the thought of them together made me gag.
I pried Gwynn's hand away.
"Why do you want to know? One lover not enough?"
Erica's eyes narrowed to slits. "That's not your concern."
Her lips pursed as she sighed dramatically. She turned slightly so that I came face to face with her back, and reached out with one perfectly manicured hand to grab Nicole's wrist and pull her over. "If you must know, my friend's curious."
My eyes widened in disbelief. "You like Ryan?"
Nicole squeaked and jumped away, finding me completely intimidating. The look on her face clearly read: please don't kill me! She immediately set to work twisting her thick black hair around her fingers, chest heaving. It gave me great pleasure to see the younger girl hyperventilate. I smiled smugly.
"You can take that naive crush of yours and shove it up your--"
Gwynn elbowed me, sending me a warning look that clearly said: Behave. She cracked her fingers threateningly, and I decided it would be good to readjust my attitude. Pissing off Gwynn (a blackbelt in karate) really wasn't a good idea, even if she was my best friend. She'd defend anyone that couldn't defend themselves, and Nicole was obviously a big wussy.
I inhaled deeply for composure. "Ryan and I are just friends," I said through gritted teeth. "Really good friends."
Satisfied with my answer, Erica turned back to her friend with a congratulatory smile. "I told you there was nothing to worry about!" Nicole smiled at me widely, eyes full of excitement, and rushed forward to give me a hug. I shoved her away, bitterly, crossing my arms over my chest so she wouldn't try to hug me again.
"This makes me so happy, Rye!" she said.
I opened my mouth to tell her off, but she spun around to converse with Cassandra, giggling like a silly love-struck teenager. Oh wait, she is one.
"You wouldn't honestly try to break apart the love between two people, right Rye?" Erica whispered in my ear with a mocking chuckle.
"No. I'm not like you," I retorted.
"I didn't break up a couple in love, Rylee," she said with an air of snootiness, "because he never loved you, right?"
I shoved her away and headed for the exit just as the bell rang. I was halfway there when I spotted a head of flawlessly combed blonde hair further ahead, entering through the double doors. My eyes lowered to the smooth, familiar features of the familiar face that's haunted my dreams for the past week. Shit! I really didn't want to face him. Not here. I glanced back over my shoulder at Erica, who was watching me with an amused, triumphant look on her ugly face. I turned back to Christian, falling back on my confession only a few minutes earlier. It would be nice of her to take him off my hands...
Erica could take him off my hands.
I stopped and backpedaled quickly, grudgingly linking elbows with Erica. She glowered at me, leaning away.
"Why are you touching me?"
I plastered the largest, fakest smile on my face and started dragging her toward where Christian stood waiting, looking around. In an attempt to stall, I asked, "Where are you heading?"
"Algebra…" she responded, eyeing me with suspicion.
Lord, she's dumb. A senior taking a junior-high level math class? Could she even graduate with that low of math credits? I shook my head, clearing my thoughts. Though it killed me to say, I forced the next three words out of my mouth and pushed aside the taste of vomit that filled my throat, "Let's…walk…together, huh?"
"Alright Rylee Adams, what are you plotting…?"
Christian spotted me first, waving a large bouquet of roses in the air. Where did he get those? When did he have the time to get them? His smile faltered as soon as his baby-blues landed on my scapegoat. Erica's whole attitude changed like a light-switch the moment she saw him. Her eyes grew wide with adoration. She stood tall and stuck her chest out, smiling a truly radiating, genuine smile with her straight white teeth.
"Erica…" he deadpanned, clearly wishing she wasn't around. Perfect.
Erica forgot about me (much to my enjoyment) and latched herself onto Christian's arm, nuzzling her face into his shoulder. Chris grimaced. I took that as my cue. "Well, I'm going to be late. Bah-bye!" Chris shot me a "we'll talk later" look, but I only smiled deviously and waggled my fingers at him in a mocking wave before running off toward my class as planned. I was so happy at my change of luck, I practically skipped there, receiving odd looks from those that passed me by.
"Nice of you to arrive on time today, Miss Adams," my teacher, Ms. Georgiana Lucas said snootily. Yes, she's named after the creator of Star Wars. If I had to guess, I'd say her parents were fanatics, and after the disappointed realization of finding out she wasn't a boy, simply chose to warp the name to fit properly instead.
When she taught Colin last year, she had to put up with his constant harassment, which would explain why she hates me so much. She hated my brother and in turn, hated me. With effort, I tried to smile at her politely, but just gave up, because I hate her too.
"Please find a seat," she said.
"May the force be with you," I snickered (I couldn't resist).
"Take a seat, NOW!"
Lately, I'd chosen to arrive late to every one of my classes, just in case Christian would be waiting at my door like some obsessed stalker. Coming early gave me the lovely privilege of choosing my own seat for once. Most people conjugated in the back, choosing to sit as far from Ms. Lucas as possible, leaving those that came in late no other option but to sit up front in the "danger zone".
I chose an open seat in the back left-hand corner of the room.
Sitting on my right was a boy I'd seen countless time, but couldn't seem to remember the name of. I constantly saw him sitting at the marble fountain with a group of guys after school. He had well-groomed blonde hair and a killer smile that I've never seen wiped from his face. He was talking privately with June Hobbs, a pretty brunette that—while slow upstairs—happened to be the school's ultimate sweetheart.
To my left, sitting in the desk closest to the window, was another boy. He was silent and seemed more interested in keeping to himself than conversing with those around him. Then again, except for me, everyone sat with at least one desk apart from him. He wore a simple black sweatshirt with the hood up, the earphones to his iPod dangling down and disappearing into the pocket of his cargo pants, its blue screen visible through the thin fabric. He was huddled over his desk, his pencil scribbling roughly against thick paper.
I turned back to the front with a sigh, drumming my fingers against the wooden surface of my desk in boredom.
"Hey," boy-on-the-right said, sending me his bright grin. His name was coming to me. John…something-or-other.
He held out his hand for me to shake. "Johnny Lafferty."
Riiight… Johnny Lafferty. John the jack-off. How could I forget him? He became famous back in middle school, when he claimed to be the first boy to lose his virginity. Of course it helped his reputation when Carly Simmons admitted to being his first. Then again, I didn't really know when to believe Carly, considering she's a pathological liar. I mean, she claims to be related to Angelina Jolie (some distant cousin twice-removed) but... Carly Simmons is black. Anyway, John goes on dates; lots of them. He never goes anywhere without a girl at his side. And he never keeps the same girl at his side.
I wasn't sure who was worse between him and my ex. Christian loved breaking hearts, and although Johnny dated lots of girls, his relationships never lasted long enough for a "love interest" to start. Girls know this, and yet they continue to bend under his will… hoping they could mean more to him. I wasn't one of him.
I took his hand. "Rylee Adams."
"Yeah, I know who you are." He held my hand longer than necessary, and I pulled it away with a nervous chuckle, barely registering that boy-to-my-left had stopped scribbling. "So, how are you doing? I heard you had a pretty rough Friday night."
I shrugged, unwilling to dwell on the day that's been plaguing my thoughts. "I've had better."
He nodded. "Anyway, June's hosting a party tomorrow night. Interested?"
June smiled at me and nodded in agreement. Apparently she didn't care that he was inviting me to her party. "More the merrier!"
Johnny turned away and pounded fists with another guy who'd just entered the room, diving into a conversation with him and abandoning the conversation he was previously having with June and I. June didn't seem offended. She leaned forward and listening in on their conversation.
I sighed heavily and tapped my fingers against my desk in boredom. Time seemed to be moving far too slowly lately.
The creak of a chair broke the silence, followed by a low, husky voice that whispered in my ear.
I twisted around in my seat, startled by the sudden voice. Boy-on-my-left was facing me now, his hood casting half his face in shadow. I regarded him curiously, raising a brow in question. "What?"
"He's a compulsive gambler."
"Who, Johnny?" I laughed humorlessly, but he didn't seem to find it funny. "A gambler? What do you mean?"
I caught the slight lilt of his lips. "If you go to that party, he'll just make a bet with his horny friends about how quickly he can kiss you, or get in your pants…or make you fall in love with him or something…" he said slowly, with little emotion.
I gaped. People didn't really do that, did they? Sure, I'd read about stuff like that in books, but fiction isn't supposed to be true, right? I cleared my throat, blowing my bangs out of my face.
"You seem pretty confident about that…observation."
"And you have proof of this?"
He sat back in his chair, arms crossed. "No..."
"Then how do you—?"
"I'm just going off what other people say." He smirked, "Boys will be boys."
I frowned with disgust. Men are so disrespectful. I turned away from the boy peevishly, deciding to just pretend he wasn't even there. Less than a minute passed before Johnny tapped me on the shoulder, finished with his "guy" conversation.
"So are you coming?" he asked.
I was originally going to say no. I'm not sure why, but after briefly glancing back at the inconsiderate no name, I had the sudden urge to throw his caution to the wind and attend the party, just to piss the guy (whose name I didn't know) off. Plus, I wanted to see if it was true. Did Johnny really gamble with girl's hormones? I waited until no name tilted his stupid hooded head my way before I spoke, wanting him to hear my response.
"I'd love to."
Johnny beamed and turned back to June to give her the good news. I swung my head around and stuck my tongue out at the other boy. He paused, but then shrugged in a "suit-yourself" gesture, making me even angrier that he wasn't affected by my answer. He had the opportunity to save a poor, defenseless girl from falling under bad influence, and he was just going to sit there and do nothing? Sure, I could take care of myself, I punched Christian, but I expected him to show some ounce of care.
"Alright, class, we're going to do an in-class assignment, so find a partner quickly," Ms. Lucas instructed.
"Hey partner," Johnny said without even asking first.
Before I could respond, no name gripped the side of my desk and pulled the whole thing beside his. Wow. Just how strong was this guy? He closed the notebook he'd been scribbling in and clicked his pen shut without another word. I cautiously shifted my chair closer to my desk.
"Hey," Johnny growled, "I asked her to be my partner first."
He received nothing in response. I saw him bend over, trying to peer under the hood and see his face. I'd already inconspicuously tried to do that myself without luck. Why hadn't Ms. Lucas said anything? Surely it's against dress code. Miffed, Johnny turned to me, reaching out to pull my desk back. No name wrapped his foot around one of the metal desk legs, keeping it in place.
Johnny growled. He grabbed my chair next. It screeched as he dragged it, with me stock-still in its seat, towards his desk. Unperturbed, no name moved closer too, sandwiching me between the two of them. My breathing quickened as my nerves caught fire. "Um…guys?"
"What's your problem dude?" Johnny said.
No name answered evenly, "You."
Worried that a full-frontal assault would take place, I offered, "Come on guys, don't fight. That's stupid. Let's all just…work together, okay?"
"Fine!" Johnny said, giving up. "Dick…"
I turned back to no name to see what he thought. His face was still hidden.
Ms. Lucas started passing out the worksheets, slapping the paper especially hard against the surface of my desk, making me cringe slightly. "You only have fifteen minutes to complete this, so get to work, class." She was eyeing me in particular. I pushed back the urge to flip her the bird. "Don't procrastinate. And Mr. Lafferty, we're only in groups of two. It looks like June needs a partner, so please split apart."
Johnny's nostrils flared, but he obeyed and moved closer to June, keeping his eyes on me.
The moment Ms. Lucas turned her back, I stuck my tongue out at her.
"Real mature," no name said.
I ignored him, still testy with him from before. I flipped the worksheet over, assessing what we had to do. There was a small list of questions we had to ask each other, like an interview. Then, we'd share the information with the class when our time ran out. "Okay…" There was something about him that was nagging me, something that told me he was a slacker when it came to schoolwork. Would he really be interested in participating in this unnecessary assignment? "Should we start?"
I pressed the lead of my pencil to the first space. "What's your name?"
No name smirked. "Archer."
I paused, expecting him to tell me his last name, but after thirty seconds of silence I moved onward without bothering to ask him for it. "How old are you?"
"Me too," I said, hoping he'd give me some sort of positive response, an emotion, anything. He didn't. I sighed. "And your weight?"
"I don't know it." Okay, we'll skip that one. "I'm six-foot-one," he said, anticipating the next question.
"I'm one-eighty-five and six-foot-two," Johnny said snidely, feeling the need to let June, and the rest of the class, know. "And my birthday's next week. I'll turn eighteen. Of course I'll have a party, so you're all invited, except for fuck-face over there. I expect to see you there, Rylee. You can't go to June's party and not go to mine." He leaned closer to me and beamed. "Are you going to buy me a present?"
"Getting off topic," Archer said, ignoring the look of murder Johnny sent him for interrupting.
I continued where I'd left off. "Tell me one thing you like about yourself."
"My looks," Johnny said arrogantly, winking at me. Shouldn't he be telling June this?
Archer rolled his eyes and paused, "Just make something up."
I quirked a brow. "Make something up?"
"I don't like anything about myself."
Gee, that's just slightly pessimistic. "Nothing?"
I hummed disbelievingly. "Should I write nothing down in response to what you hate about yourself too?"
"No," he said with a shake of his head. "I hate my eyes."
I crossed my arms over my chest and leaned back in my seat, studying him. "You know, if you hate something about yourself, that obviously means you like other aspects more than what you hate, so therefore you should have an answer to my previous question," I argued. "What do you like about yourself?"
"I don't know what you just said," he deadpanned, "but I don't like anything about myself…especially my eyes."
"Freak…" Johnny muttered.
"June's waiting..." Archer retorted.
I watched Johnny scowl and turn away. "Why can't you just pick something? I can't just leave the question blank." He didn't respond. "Ugh, fine," I grumbled. I read over the next question and seriously considered skipping it. Rubbing my temples, I said, "Now, please tell me a story."
"A story?" he scoffed. "What kind of story?"
"Any story," I said boorishly with a wave of my hand. "She's got no specifics."
He tugged on one of his sweatshirt's drawstrings. "Nothing to tell…"
As expected. I rolled my eyes.
The last question was for me to answer. 'I would describe this person as…blank.' It didn't take long for me to come up with my answer. Archer is evasive.
"I answered most of your questions, you know."
I blanched. "You can see what I'm writing?" He sat so far away.
"I have good eyes. It comes with being an artist," he said simply.
I sat still for a brief moment and then grinned, turning back to my worksheet to erase the large 'NOTHING' and replace it with 'ARTISTICALLY GIFTED.'
He didn't complain.
Christian checked his watch for the zillionth time in the last five minutes, standing beside his car in the back parking lot. As the sun began to set, he double-checked his surroundings, pleased to see that he was one of the last of his teammates there. The only one who hadn't left yet was Jordan, who was currently drooling over second-string cheerleader Whitney Baylor by the stadium snack-shack. Though he'd made it quite clear that the cheerleading squad was within dating boundaries, he hadn't expected the kid to pick a half-whit whore with no talent in her chosen field—simply eye-candy (not that he had a problem with that; she just wasn't ranked high enough on his "to-do" list).
Undeterred, he checked his watch again, running a hand through his sweaty locks. Finally, he caught a flash of movement to his right. His eyes zeroed in on the figure walking his way, taking his own sweet time.
"You're late," Christian said. He needed to be sure he kept the upper hand with this kid. "Now what have you got?"
Archer Reed pulled a pack of Camel Lights from the back pocket of his tattered jeans, pulling out a thin cancer-stick and sliding it smoothly between his lips. He answered Christian's question with a blasé shrug of his shoulders, flicking his lighter open to burn the end of his cigarette and inhale deeply. He released a calming breath, exhaling smoke through his nostrils.
"She's…charming," he said coolly with just a hint of sarcasm lacing his voice.
Christian's lip curled up into a crooked grin. "Don't let her fool you. She's got the anger of a raging bull." He rubbed subconsciously the area just below the waistband of his boxers reluctantly letting his mind trail back to the first day he'd confronted her at school. Although he'd approached her countless times over the past four days, he was always on his guard, keeping a relatively safe distance away.
"John the jack-off was slightly problematic," Archer continued. "There's a party this weekend he invited her to."
"A party?" Christian laughed. "Rylee doesn't go to parties."
"She seems intent on going to this one. Possibly out of spite."
"Whose party is it?"
Christian relaxed, but only a bit. He pulled a manila envelope out of his car and held it out for Archer to take. His stomach tingled in discomfort. He felt like he was buying drugs. It made him antsy.
"I need you to attend this party," he said.
"Why?" Archer asked in bafflement. "You're going to be there."
"True, but I don't have time to babysit her the whole night," Christian said. "I have to mingle. Besides, I can't ignore the other ladies. I have a reputation to uphold." Archer gave him an odd look. Christian felt like he was being studied by a magnifying glass. It was unsettling. Clearing his throat he said, "So I'll see you there."
"No," Archer said with a scoff. "I can't be seen there."
Christian narrowed his eyes, angry the kid thought he could just do as he pleased and ignore an order when he was getting paid to do whatever Christian asked of him. "I'll pay you double." He smirked in triumph, knowing the kid couldn't possibly refuse his offer now.
It was silent as Archer considered it. Finally, he smiled and accepted the envelope.
"Nice doing business with you."
A/N: Hey everyone! Sorry it's been a while since I last updated. But finals are coming up in two weeks and we have projects coming up and everything, so it might be a little bit before I update again. But I'll try. Please stay with me! It's almost summer!!!!! Hopefully I'll have another HYM chapter up shortly too.
Thanks to all that reviewed. I love you guys!!!!! Please R&R again!!!!