AN: This is the edited version of the first chapter. I thank CrimzonRozeAlchemist for being kind enough to edit my little spelling and grammar errors.
"Come on, Willow! It's Saturday night. I have nothing to do; you have nothing to do. Let's go!" My best friend nagged me over the phone.
"Correction: I have a paper due on Monday that I haven't even started; therefore, I'm busy tonight. But no one is stopping you."
"Don't be such a nerd! Please, I don't like rocking up to one of the races alone. Please, Willow. Oh, pretty please."
I rolled my eyes. I hated when people badgered me. Especially Anna, and especially about this subject; It had been just over a year since my accident with street racing, and in that year I hadn't attended a street race ever since.
My answer was easy. "No."
"I know it must be hard, but don't you think this is a good idea; it will get your fear out of your system."
"I'm not scared!" I was defensive now.
"Okay, fine, you're not scared; however, I'm bored and scared to go alone. Do a deed for your best friend, please."
Great. If I didn't go she would make me feel bad until the day I die.
"Only if you promise not to use that whiny voice again—"
"Thank you, thank you!" She cut me off; knowing I had caved.
I let out an exaggerated sigh. "Whatever, just pick me up in twenty minutes, beep. Don't come in; my mom's home."
She didn't need any more explanation than that. We hung up, and I started to quickly get ready. I was already wearing skinny dark jeans, so I left them on, and exchanged my baggy jumper for a red V pullover. I applied some foundation to my face and a coat of mascara to my long eyelashes. I detangled my dark brown hair from my long braid, letting the loose curls cascade my shoulders. I then declared myself ready. After all I wasn't planning on impressing anyone.
When I heard the beep of Anna's car, I quickly tucked my phone into my pocket, and made it down the stairs. I found my mother sitting on the couch with a glass of whiskey in hand. I sighed at the sight.
"I'm going out; I'll be home later." I told her.
Her only response was a grumble and a slight raise of her glass. I shrugged off her coldness, and planted a mocking smile on my face knowing Anna would start questioning me if I showed up with a frown.
I took my seat and changed the station straight away to an old rock channel. That's one thing I loved about Anna; she didn't complain about my taking over of the radio.
"Who's racing tonight?" I asked. I had a feeling I knew the answer.
"Rowland, Luke, Dani and… Jack." Yep. I was right.
"What a surprise." My sarcasm was thick and sticky.
"I suddenly feel bad for making you come tonight. I know you don't like going to the races…anymore. I just thought it would be fun."
As well as her annoying nagging, I hated when she felt bad too.
"Don't feel bad. You didn't make me come; I agreed to coming. It's not like you tied me up and dragged me. Chill, Anna."
"Fine. At anytime you want to go home just tell me and we'll go; no questions asked."
I looked over at her, and watched as her fire red hair blew in the night breeze. She smiled at me, showing me she was serious.
When we made it to the hidden location of the street racing, I started to regret agreeing to attending. Once I got out of the car, everyone started to stare and give me questioning looks. I heard various voices speaking and questioning.
"Do you reckon she'll race?"
"I reckon she can put them in their place."
"Watch out, legend coming through!"
The last one was called out by Caden King, this caught the attention of the last person I wanted it to—Jack Hale. Jack was known as my enemy since preschool. Though I always thought that enemy was too strong a word to pin-point our relationship, it didn't mean I wasn't a complete bitch towards him. He had a way of making my blood boil. How he did it? I had no idea.
Our eyes met and he gave me a little nod of the head. I returned it.
After everyone got over the initial shock of my returning to the streets, Caden and Jack found Anna and me sitting on the bonnet of her car. I knew it was only a matter of time before they did, I was just hoping it wouldn't take them so quickly.
"Well, well, well, I never thought I'd see the day that Willow Hastings returns." Caden had a huge smirk planted on his face, then again, when didn't he?
"Shut it, King, before I do it for you." I shot back.
"Still as feisty as ever, just the way I like it." The smooth dark voice of Jack Hale ran through my body. He made himself comfortable beside me, taking a seat on the bonnet.
"Hale, always an unpleasant experience seeing you."
"Hastings, please, your artificial sweetness is giving me a toothache." His signature smirk finally revealed itself. That smirk—with no doubt—had landed him in bed with every attractive girl in the school.
"You forget; your pain brings me pleasure."
"Always so witty."
"Just the way you like it."
He nodded in agreement as he took out his usual smoke. Anna must have noticed the serious change of atmosphere because she silently excused herself.
"Nice to have you back, Willow." Caden winked at me, then followed Anna, leaving Jack and I alone.
"Why are you back?" It wasn't vile or insulting like I'd expect from Jack, it was an honest curious question.
I shrugged my shoulder, "I'm not back. Just because I've come to watch doesn't mean I'm back for good. All it means is that Anna finally reached her peak of nagging me to come and I couldn't take it any longer."
He took another puff of his smoke, and pondered for a while. Finally he said, "That's too bad."
I raised an eyebrow. "Why? Hoping I'd come back and beat your sorry ass, once again?"
A laugh escaped his curved mouth. "No. If you came back I'd finally show you that your win was a fluke."
Now it was my time to laugh. "Always excuses with you, Hale."
"Maybe you should prove me wrong, tonight." His deep blue eyes were challenging.
The challenging and stubborn part of me—and it was a big part—was telling me to go for it; prove him wrong. The way Jack's ocean eyes were scanning mine; I'm sure he saw it too. Yet a small part of me that held my fear of racing was too strong, and decided to take over. "No. Not tonight."
He raised his dark eyebrows. "For a second there you had me thinking you were about to agree to my challenge. I guess you're not a true racer after all"
There it was; his damn way of getting under my skin and boiling my blood. "Don't you have a race to lose?"
He checked his watch and must have agreed—he jumped off the bonnet. "You're right; I do have a race to win."
"Always the little optimistic boy."
He scoffed at that; flicked his bud to the ground, and fix the hood of his leather jacket. With a nod he started to turn around. I immediately relaxed; his presence always made me tense. He surprised me by turning around, a bit unsure of himself. "We…did miss you. You're great competition, as much as I hate to admit it."
"By we, do you mean you?"
He revealed a white toothy grin. "Whatever, I still hate you."
Before he could turn around again, I stopped him. '"Hale?"
"One day I will race again, and when that day comes; I'll make sure I'm first across that finish line."
"Let's hope that that day comes soon."
"I miss it… I mean…I tell everyone else I don't, but I'm telling you because I know you'd understand."
"Good," I nodded my head. "I've been way too nice to you tonight. You should go."
Another dark laugh. "Touché."
"I still hate you."
"Jack! Race is starting in five; get your ass over here." Alec, another one of Jack's friends called him over."
"I'm coming!" Letting out a frustrated sigh, he once again gave me his nod and turned to win the race I knew he would. Especially with the Nissan R33 Skyline GT-R V-Spec he just bought himself. I'd consider cutting off a limb to see the inside of that baby. I knew Jack would have gotten Caden to put all the best into his car.
After watching the race Jack won, someone announced a party back at their place. I prayed with all my might that Anna wouldn't hear of it because I knew she'd drag me along.
Obviously God didn't like me at that moment of time, and decided to keep my luck within his hold for the time being. Anna dragged me to the party, and then disappeared on me within twenty minutes. I was in the kitchen getting my third drink when I bumped into Alec. Out of the three stooges, Alec was my favorite.
"Don't you think you should go easy on the alcohol?"
I turned around to see him leaning against the island. He had the deepest green eyes that reminded me of something I could never place my finger on. "I'm sorry, mom. Did you want me to pour it down the sink?"
"Hell no, that would be a waste of alcohol that could be in my stomach right now."
"Well, in that case," I took a big mouth-full of the sweet alcohol. He laughed at the sight.
"You haven't changed a bit, Willow."
I shrugged me shoulder. "Sorry to disappoint you."
"Where are the other two stooges?" I made a scene of looking around, "Where there is one, there should be another."
"Caden is probably with a girl, and Jack…is right behind you."
I turned around to find Jack looking me over. "Stop checking me out; it freaks me out. I swear if I didn't know any better I would say you're undressing me with your eyes." I told him, earning a laugh from Alec.
"I've done that plenty of times, and guess what?"
"I'm afraid too."
"I always liked what I saw."
I rolled my eyes and took another swig of my drink. "I would say I had a nice time talking to you, Alec; however, considering that we got unwanted company, I'm going to have to say it was horrible." I gave a pointed annoyed look at Jack, who leaned against the fridge with his arms crossed.
I hated to admit it, but Jack was attractive, especially with his tanned toned arms crossed like that. His deep blue eyes that were framed by thick dark eyelashes were my only favorite thing about him. Then there was his hair that always had me pondering if he actually styled it; the black hair was constantly a wild mess, like he just woke up from a good nap or just got out of some heated sex. Either way, he pulled it off.
"You see something you like?" He pulled me out of my daze.
I scoffed. "Yeah. Okay, Hale. In you're dreams."
"A place you'd like to visit, isn't it?"
I didn't even want to answer to that, so I just flipped him off and turned to Alec. "Have you seen Anna anywhere? I want to go home but she disappeared on me."
"Ugh…no, not exactly. I saw her out on the deck twenty minutes ago but I can guarantee she won't be there anymore."
"I'm going to go look for her. Bye Alec," I walked passed Jack and addressed him, "Asshole, hope to never see you again."
"Always the pleasure, bitch."
Oh and I was so wrong about that. After forty-five minutes of searching for Anna, I was fed up and ready to strangle her. I was heading out of the door to start walking home, when I ran into the one and only Jack Hale who had Gemma Dickinson—the school slut—hanging off him.
"Are you stalking me, Hastings?"
"Don't start, Jerk. I have a headache from drinking too much, I want to kill someone, and I want to go to bed. You jumping into the picture is only going to piss me off."
"Anna? She left with—" he ran a hand through his hair. "Ugh… she already left."
"You have got to be fucking kidding me." I mumbled to myself. "I'm going. Let me pass."
He looked over at Gemma; whom might I add, was staring at me like she wanted to slaughter me. "I'll take you home; I was leaving anyway."
Gemma pushed him off her and looked confused. "What the hell? You were just about to take me upstairs and have sex with me!"
"Obviously, there was a change of plans."
I raised my eyebrows at the scene playing out before me. "Listen, tame your little pet; I'm happy walking home." Yet, he still didn't let me pass. This only angered Gemma and myself.
"What the hell did you just call me you slut?"
"Excuse me? You better watch who you're calling slut. You're the one who's begging a guy to take you upstairs and have their way with you."
"What the fuck? Jack, are you going to let her talk to me like that?"
Jack, who I noticed was amused, which only angered me more, finally spoke. "I'm not your boyfriend, Gemma; fight your own battles." He let out a frustrated sigh, "Are you ready?"
I would have told him where to go; how could he just assume I'd jump into the car with him; however, I wanted to get back at Gemma for calling me a slut and see his car so I agreed and enjoyed watching her face falter as I followed Jack.
We didn't talk until we were five minutes into the ride, when Jack started asking for directions.
"Take a left here, then keep going straight until I tell you to turn right."
He nodded his understanding.
I was upset that he had gone home to change his racing car; we were now sitting in his black Mercedes Benz. Not that I was ready to complain; I was just keen on seeing the inside of his Nissan.
After a while I got sick of the silence; it was so quiet yet so loud. "You could gain more speed if you don't hesitate around your sharp turns."
I must have pulled him out of deep thought.
I let out a sigh, "The sharp turns; you hesitate which gains time on your watch. I know it's not much, but Rowland could have overtaken you within two seconds. If you don't hesitate so much on your sharp turns, you can swipe the time you waste when you hesitate."
"This is coming from a girl who hesitates all the time when someone mentions why she doesn't race anymore."
"Hey! No need to get defensive; I was just giving you a little advice. You're good out there better than I expected." This made his mouth twitch, fighting a smirk. "You've improved, a lot in the past year. You're pretty much flawless besides your sharp turns and asshole behavior."
"Maybe if you weren't such a bitch all the time I'd be nicer!"
"When pigs fly."
"I know. The day you're actually nice to someone and have a sincere smile planted on your face will be the day the world ends."
"You're impossible!" I was fighting the urge to slap him across the head.
"I'm impossible? You're the one who can't give a decent compliment!" He raised his voice. Was that supposed to intimidate me?
"I did give a compliment! You just have your head too far up your ass that you can't stand when someone gives you advice!" Great! Now I was raising my voice.
"Whatever. Don't talk; you're giving me a headache." He stopped at a red light.
"Stupid idiot; I hate you." I grumbled under my breath.
"Why exactly do you hate me; is it because I'm rich? Is it because you're jealous?"
That was it; I exploded. "What the fuck, Jack?" I jumped from my seat and turned my body toward him. "I don't hate you because you're rich! I hate you because you're a jerk! I hate you because you can sleep with girls and treat them like crap and still manage to be loved by the whole school. I hate you because although you hardly show up to all your classes you get straight A's, where I give up my Friday nights to get an A. I hate you because you get everything handed to you on a damn platter! I hate you because you can set fire to a classroom and get away with it because your dad stuffs hush money under their noses—"
"That was one time." He was amused.
"Shut up! I hate how you can wear that stupid sexy grin when I'm obviously pissed off. And most of all; I hate you because you can race with no fear at all, where here I am! Too fucking scared to push down hard on the accelerator! So don't for one second think I hate you because you're rich, you cocky asshole!" He sat there in shock; his mouth gaped, finally speechless. I sat there trying to calm myself down.
Finally he found his voice box. "Willow…"
"No. Shut up. Don't speak." I adjusted myself so that I was no longer facing him. I looked outside the window, refusing to make eye contact with him.
After a few moments he interrupted my daze. "Willow w—"
"I said don't talk to me!"
"I need to know which street to turn into!"
"Oh." I felt embarrassed now. "Turn right, then right again at the end of the street."
The tension was still strong between us and I guess Jack wasn't comfortable with it. "Look, Willow—"
"Don't tell me to shut up! Just hear me out. Okay?"
"Whatever." I grumbled.
"I may be a jerk to girls but you're a bitch to everyone. It's true; I might not show up to all my classes but I do get straight A's. I work fucking hard for those grades, even if it means pulling all nighters. I may be rich but that doesn't mean I get everything handed to me on a platter. I work hard for what I want; although my dad tries his hardest to make sure I don't. And I admit, I did use money to shut the school up about the classroom getting set on fire but it wasn't my dad's! Oh and my amused sexy smirk." Shit, I was hoping he wouldn't remember that. "I smile because you don't realize how incredibly cute you look when you're frustrated—"
"This isn't the time for your stupid flirting." I interrupted.
"Shut up. This is my time to talk, remember?" He ran a hand through his wild mess of hair. "You think that I'm fearless when it comes to racing? Why the hell do you think I hesitate on my sharp turns?" He was getting more frustrated by the second, thus causing him to lose concentration on the road.
"Keep your eyes on the road."
He didn't reply to my comment but he did keep his eyes on the road. He continued. "You have another thing coming if you think I don't think about your accident as I'm waiting for the flag to be waved. Your car flipping in the air constantly plays through my mind as I race and that scares the hell out of me. So don't think I'm not scared; you don't know what the fuck is going through my mind." He finished his big speech with a deep sigh.
It was my turn to be speechless; I had nothing, absolutely nothing, to say back. I did however; find the words to describe our relationship. It was a love-hate relationship with it involving hate 95 percent of the time. We bickered till the end of the day but it dawned on me at that moment that when it came to something we were passionate about; we would listen to each other and understand. Now that I think about it, it wasn't a love-hate relationship--scratch that--it was an understanding-hate relationship. Yeah that was it.
When we reached my house I finally found something to say. "Oh my God; you have to be kidding me!"
"What the hell, Hale? I just did this big speech and all you have to say is that? What are you complaining about now?"
"Shut up, asshole!" I shot back.
He followed my gaze and finally understood. "Why is there a cop car parked in your driveway?"
"Nothing, it's fine. Go home. Thanks for the ride." It was a lie and unfortunately he could see right through it.
"There is nothing fine about a police car."
"Go home!" I jumped out of the car and headed toward the front door, not looking back.