A/N: Oh my goodness, TOO LONG. I'm so sorry it took me such a long time to update. You are such troopers if you're still reading and reviewing this.
It was just past eleven. She didn't have a class until 1: 15, but she figured it was no longer healthy to be putzing around her room doing nothing. She didn't feel like writing or reading. Heather had left for her first class ten minutes earlier and she was no longer sick. The flu only lasted twenty-four hours, and while that was a relief, it didn't completely calm Beth's spirits. She knew Jesse Jarrickson wasn't going to be quite so easy to get rid of.
11:20.Lunch. That was as good a reason to leave as any. She would have time to come back and gather up her books for her next and only class for that day, thankfully it wasn't the lab. Quickly she gathered her hair up into a lazy ponytail with a few long curls dribbling down the side of her face and headed out the door. She refused to put on make-up. There wasn't anybody she was trying to impress. The better reason of course though, was that she only had one class and there simply was no point.
The halls were long and almost empty but she knew it would get much more cluttered once she was within reach of the dining hall. About half a block away it was easy to tell where the large crowd of people was heading. She sighed, looked at her watch – 11:35 – and continued her trudge to the cafeteria. That was when she saw him.
Groaning, Beth slowed her steps as she saw Jesse Jarrickson approaching the cafeteria as well. Luckily he hadn't seen her and she was hoping it would stay that way. The last thing she needed was Friday minus the…physical sickness, which of course she didn't want to be reminded of either. Jesse was well groomed; his spiky hair was gelled to perfection with neat khakis and a cool blue polo with white stripes. He had the same shoes on as before but somehow he looked completely different. She knew she should have started walking again, but she couldn't stop herself from staring and later she would insist it was the lack of sleep and thus it was all a daydream that halted her steps. She would ignore the fact that she slept well over ten hours that night.
Before she had realized what happened, Jesse Jarrickson was a mere few feet in front of her, hands deeply rooted in his pockets and a wickedly sexy smirk on his face. His deep eyes glittered at her. It was very unnerving. As soon as she was aware of what was happening, she blinked rapidly, gave her head a little shake and moved past him to the dining hall that somehow had gotten even more crowded over the last minute and a half.
She could feel his eyes burning a hole into the back of her neck and it made her walk faster. Her body felt like a desert and like it was going to dissolve any minute. She tucked a wild curl behind her ear and inwardly encouraged her feet to walk faster and to not stop again until a clear table was found inside the dining hall.
"Beth," she heard from behind her. She blocked out the idea that Jesse may possibly be following her, and kept walking. Somehow this made his smirk widen on his perfect lips.
"You look like you're feeling better," he remarked, finally catching up with her. She kept her vision straight ahead of her. In less than a minute she'd be inside the food-infested building and then she could lose him easily in the crowd.
"Much," she muttered, halting once they were inside to scan the area for a table. She cursed herself for stopping to soon. Jesse used the brief juncture to grab a hold of her elbow softly and bring her over to an empty table, set for two, that he'd seen from just outside the doors. She looked up to him, almost glaring, though finding herself unable to succeed in that venture. He was not smirking anymore, and he had found a table for her, despite the fact that he would be sitting with her. It was even close to where she usually got her food. She did not have much to complain about.
"You go first," he said, "I'll hold the table. With all these ravenous wolves, we'll lose the table the instant we both leave it," he chuckled lightly. She eyed him suspiciously.
"All right," she said, her hawk eyes still analyzing everything he did. He did not seem moved or find the action in any way unusual and so she just moved away from the table and got some food. She turned to look at him curiously, finding the eerily familiar bubble up of jealousy rise in her when she spotted a tall, model-like blonde approach him and talk briefly about something clearly insignificant. He did not seem too interested in her, but she could never be too sure. Quite honestly she didn't even know why she would be getting even a little upset. She wasn't even interested in Jesse. Dating or even future dating were not words she could ever align with him. This was Jesse. Despite his particular interest in being around her – excuse being their lab project – it simply could not be…what it looked to be. She turned her head away and directed her attention back to the food when Jesse caught her looking at him, green written all over her face.
No words were exchanged when she returned. He simply got up, smiled briefly, and went to get his own food. When he returned, she made sure he did all the talking. She wasn't about to get involved with him. They were just two people sitting at the same table, and then two people walking in the halls or outside, and then two people working on their lab together. That was it.
"I have to go," she jumped to her feet. She didn't know how she had been able to eat so fast, but she'd spotted a few girls flirting with Jesse when he'd gone up to get food and now hated the fact that she was attracted to him and that he was her lab partner, and apparently fascinated with stalking her.
His eyebrows narrowed. "You had a ton of food, Beth." Cringe. "You were only picking at it when I left. I wasn't gone that long."
She sighed testily. "Look, Jesse," she said slowly, so she'd get his attention, not that she didn't have it already. "I appreciate you informing me about the lab—"
"But I could have waited till lab on Thursday. As for this lunch? Unexpected, and quite honestly, unwelcome. So, I'll see you in lab on Thursday. I don't think there's any other justified reason for me to see you before that."
She rolled her eyes as she picked up her tray and set it down on the conveyor belt near the exit. Jesse shook his head at her, though semi-shocked. She was gorgeous. He was gorgeous. He didn't see what the problem was. Why wasn't she just…cooperating?
"What do you want?" she ground out, emphasizing each word. She could almost feel him smirking on the other line. She placed the cell phone in between her shoulder and ear so she could properly clench and crack her fingers, and knuckles especially. Heather raised her eyebrows from across the room, glad though a little bothered by the distraction she'd gotten from her American History textbook.
"You don't sound happy to hear from me," he responded cockily. She sighed. In the back of her mind she was patting herself on the back for this. His nice act had finally evaporated and his true self was showing – jerk, egotistical, "in-control". She rolled her eyes at the combination and faced away from Heather, very tempted to go out into the hall to speak with the annoying bastard that now claimed to be her lab partner. The only thing that held her back was the very real possibility that he was standing right outside the door.
"That's because I'm not," she said pointedly. "And I thought I said—"
"Ah-ah-ah," he said. She could almost see him shaking his finger at her. It annoyed her to no end. "You said there was no legit reason to see me. You didn't say anything about hearing from me."
She rolled her eyes at his logic. "Who gave you my number?" she asked, not even bothering to hide her continued and increasing annoyance. She spun around and looked accusingly at Heather who held both her hands up instantly, practically shouting her innocence. She accepted it and turned back around. Her legs were becoming incredibly restless.
"A friend of mine," he said coyly. Beth figured it was probably Joey but decided not to blame Heather for it. The girl was her best friend after all and only wanted the best for Beth.
"I'm sure," she muttered, rolling her eyes. When he made no cocky comeback, she sighed and resigned to her fate. She crashed into the plush chair in the center of the room. Heather tried to look like she was actually doing something, but inconspicuously turned down the music on her ipod.
"Okay, what gives, Jesse? Why do you keep trying to talk to me?"
She could almost feel him smirking on the other end of the call. "We're lab partners."
She blinked. Disbelief ran through her and she found herself quite possibly feeling disappointed. That couldn't possibly be his only reason for tracking her down…could it? She was disoriented.
"Heather told me. Joey must have told you." She didn't even bother posing the connection between the two individuals. It was well known. She was sure Heather was widening her eyes in shock behind her, which indeed she was, but at the moment it didn't really matter.
"He did…" he said casually, trailing off.
"Okay, now I'm officially lost. If you were already told, and I was already told, then why are you still trying to get together with me? I mean, lab isn't till—"
"Are you accusing me of asking you out on date?" he asked. Beth's face flushed bright red. She hadn't thought of it in the midst of her confusing, accusatory questions, but if the words were twisted well enough, they could definitely be interpreted as he just made them. What was worse was she knew he knew that and was doing it to irritate her on purpose.
"No," she ground out.
"Jesse!" she nearly screeched. She didn't turn to look at Heather this time either. She was sure, just as the facts showed, that her eyebrows were near the top of her forehead. They were. Silence now rested eerily on both ends of the phone. Somehow Beth still imagined Jesse smirking at his clever antics. She groaned and sighed inwardly.
"What is the point of this phone call?" she asked, speaking slowly and exaggerating each word with bite in her tongue. It was quiet for a little while longer, then he cleared his throat.
"Lab is on Thursday," he seemed to be considering for the first time. Beth's eyes analyzed the blank space in front of her, trying to figure out what he was getting at and most definitely not getting anything with her own pathetic luck. "I guess you're right. We don't have to discuss the project until then. Ciao."
Beth gaped at the phone, slowly pulling it away from her ear and staring at it for what seemed like hours. Then, just as slowly, she stood up from the chair and turned to face Heather lying in her bed. If Beth had been more focused, she would have noticed Heather's sudden flailing about to look like she was actually doing something productive, mainly her homework.
"What?" Heather asked innocently, figuring the 'hard at work' appearance was no longer necessary since her bestie was officially still dazed by the abrupt end to the phone call.
"He just…hung up."
Heather pursed her lips, watching as Beth slowly raised her eyes to meet hers. She was gaping and Heather found it slightly hilarious. She tried hard not to laugh. It was then when realization hit her and she gave her a look that Beth knew all too well. The girl sighed and flopped down onto Heather's bed.
"All right, I'll tell you what happened, but trust me, it's not that exciting. I'm just easily irritated."
Heather chuckled. "Okay." She slipped into a lazy position and focused entirely on Beth who appeared to be nervous just by the thought of remembering the last twenty-four hours. When she was finally done telling her tale, Heather simply blinked at her. That was it?
"What do you have against him?" she asked, truly confused. Beth's eyes widened and she looked at her like she couldn't believe the question had actually been a thought in her mind.
"It's Jesse," she said, like that explained everything. Heather shook her head and scooted off her bed. She gathered up a few things and stuffed them in her purse. Then she headed for the door with a light jacket. Beth appeared to almost be panicking. She followed suit and followed Heather to the door.
"Where are you going?" she asked, sounding more panicked than she had planned to. Heather turned back around and laughed at her, hugging her briefly.
"There's another study group study session tonight with a few of the kids from my Econ. class, so I'll be back in a few hours. Try not to kill yourself." She winked and headed out the door. Beth gaped.
"What?! You can't leave me here after everything I just told you!"
Now she was panicking. She held the door open so she could yell at Heather properly. After a few good shouts Heather finally turned towards her in the hall.
"You're over-thinking it, Beth. If you're really not into him, then don't let anything he says get to you." She shrugged. Beth said nothing more. Heather had been planning on saying goodbye if Beth had interrupted her once more, but it seemed her final words had been just enough. She smirked, congratulating herself as she made her way through the dorm halls.
Frustrated, Beth closed the door behind her, very close to slamming it, but she resisted. She fumed, pacing the room. She hated the feeling that she was restless, but she still pressed on, a million thoughts racing through her mind.
The sound interrupted her racing thoughts. She looked over at her computer. Near the bottom of the screen there was a blinking light on a new barely visible box. Someone was IM-ing her, and that someone was Jesse Jarrickson.
A/N: Okay, hope you won't hate me forever for taking so long. Hope you liked it. Review! =D (And yes, there's a bigger reason to Beth freaking out than just the fact that the popular guy from high school is trying to get involved with her in college. ;p)