Chapter 2

"I would love to meet my soul mate. I'm always kind of keeping my eyes open for somebody."

-Holly Madison

The rest of the week had little variation. I woke up, went to school, came home, and did homework. My history project wasn't going very well, and was due the following week, and the English assignment was mostly done before a big storm hit, knocking down the power lines to my house and my computer shut off. Without saving.

"Svelte, school is going to kill me." I groaned, dropping my head to the lunch table with a thud.

My friend crunched on her carrots, eyes glazed over. It looked like the pressure of school was getting to her, too. I slowly opened up my lunch bag, pulling out my bread sandwich. I ran out of cheese the day before, and wouldn't be going food shopping for a while.

I was running on little sleep, as I think much of our class was. Everywhere you looked, juniors with bags under their eyes struggled to keep their lids open during class, and lunch turned into a giant napping session. Mondays were always the worst. I was tempted to lay my head down on the table, arms encased in the extra-large hoodie I hid in during the cold months.

I watched over Svelte's shoulder, her back turned to the double doors of the lunch room, as a group of seniors walked in, all of them heading for the closest table. Included was Avery Hudson, back from his suspension, and laughing at something his friend Lola said. The two, along with three other seniors whose names I didn't know, claimed chairs and plopped down in them, ignoring the obvious stares coming from the rest of the student body.

I snapped myself out of it, dropping my eyes down to my lunch. Svelte didn't notice my creepy watching, and I was relieved. I didn't tell her about my eyes connecting to Avery Hudson's and the way he just seemed to stop searching for something - because, honestly, it was a bit ridiculous to think anything of the sort.

With a sigh, I dug out a textbook from my bag. The rest of my day was quizzes or reviewing for quizzes. I ate slowly, turning the page and trying to concentrate, but it was nearly impossible.

I felt eyes watching me.

Svelte noticed me stiffen. She herself glanced around, brown eyes narrowed at the cafeteria.

"What is the matter?"

I bit my lip, shifting in my seat. "I just feel someone watching me." I shook my head. "I guess it isn't really anything. Just a feeling."

I dropped my gaze back down, but my face burned as if someone was trying to scorch holes in it. Although I knew about the quiz I would be having in under half an hour, I couldn't shake the feeling of a predator slinking around me.

My stomach unsettled, I dropped my bread onto the plastic baggy. My hand shook slightly when I grabbed my bottle, drinking the water as a nervous habit. Svelte looked around again, this time on high alert. With her training, she was good at reading body language, and knew I was uncomfortable.

"I do not see anyone looking at you, but everyone is moving so I can't see who all is in here."

I stared at the words on the page, not seeing them. "It's fine, I'll just try to ignore it."

Svelte, not one for backing down, still continued to look around. I slouched down in my seat, face heating up. Fighting the feeling to drop my head on the table, I tore a small piece of bread off and forced myself to eat it. My mouth was dry, and I sipped on the water bottle. I flipped the page, trying to concentrate.

Svelte was still looking around, carrots abandoned on the table. Her dark eyes narrowed, they swept around the room multiple times, looking for the person who was making me squirm.

After a few minutes, the feeling went away. A heavy weight lifted off my shoulders, and I shot a nervous grin to my friend.

"Whoever it was, they stopped." I tapped on her arm. "I'm fine now."

Svelte assessed me, looking at my loose posture and shaky smile. She nodded, her dark hair falling from behind her ear. Her white chemise blouse contrasted her dark skin, and kohl pencil skirt ending above her knees. Today, she was taller than her normal 5'7'' because of her three inch heels.

"I wonder who was staring at you so harshly." Svelte commented, picking up her carrots once again.

I shrugged, her wording confusing me a bit. I could tell that the person who was staring at me wasn't being harsh, just a bit creepy. The ogling wasn't bad, and they meant no harm. It was startling that someone paid attention to me.

"What are you plans after school?"

I looked at my friend, who was still glancing around the cafeteria.

"Hm," I replied, pretending to think really hard. "Homework, and then more homework, and if I'm lucky, dinner." I joked hollowly.

Svelte frowned. Cursing silently to myself, I bit my lip. I shouldn't have said that.

"Do you normally not eat dinner, Jay?"


The bell rang, saving me from answering her question. I usually ate dinner, but food wasn't on the menu tonight.

"I'll see you in last block," I grinned, escaping quickly.

The lunchroom hoarded towards the only double doors, pushing up against others in their hurry to leave. Me being the shorty that I am, I got caught between a gigantic freshman boy, who smelled like he hadn't showered in a week and hair pulled back in a ponytail, and a senior girl, one of Kortney's posse.

The girl noticed me, baring her teeth in a semblance of a smile. Her (fake) platinum blonde hair flipped over her shoulder and into my face. After the third time, I wondered if she cared that her hair kept getting in my mouth. It was gross for both me and her. But every time I tried to ask her to stop, another mouthful of hair was caught up in my saliva.

Frowning, I knew that even if I did get a word in past her hair she probably wouldn't listen, ignore me, or act innocent. Since none of the three choices sounded good to me, I decided to be the grown up and move away from her. With a slight shove to the freshman behind me, I managed to step away from Kortney's crony and right onto someone's foot and into their rock hard chest.

I let out a little scared sound, almost falling backwards because of the way my foot stood on the other persons. I grabbed their dark t-shirt, pulling myself close so I wouldn't fall.

"Oh, I'm so sorry." I apologized, face burning. I tried to step back, but the crowd moved and I was pushed up against the nice hard chest once again.

The chest against my face tensed, and it caused me to panic. I looked up at the face of the guy, and gasped. I pushed away from him, not caring that I pushed someone else out of the way.

"I-I" I stutter, looking at Avery Hudson with wide eyes and fear in my eyes.

The older teen glared at me, golden eyes intently staring into mine, and jaw set. His hands were clenched into fists, arms tight to his body. He noticed my horrified gaping, and his anger melted. I knew it was silly of me to be scared of the man, he'd never done anything to me, but he could, and at the moment, it looked like he really wanted to.

I did the only sane thing I could think of. I turned and pushed my way into the crowd, disappearing from his view. Being small had its advantages every once and a while; for example, I fit into the tight spaces (under people's arms) and could get away quickly. Once I felt like there was enough distance, I glanced back to find Avery Hudson gone as well, anonymous in the group.

It was a shame that my body felt like prey once the golden eyed boy set his gaze upon me. He was extremely handsome, nothing like the rest of the guys at Lunawood. Tall, mile-long legs that reached for the sky; dark, sun-kissed skin given by the gods; dark wavy hair that curled around his petite ears. His mouth curled into a devious smile most of the time, the thin lips slightly rough and dream-worthy. Strong jaw, small but pronounced chin, were normally shaved except for the occasional 5 o'clock shadow.

And this boy's eyes. The melted gold surrounding his irises, boiling when mad, hardened when angry, and I could only imagine the other range of his emotions playing in his beautiful dark eyes. Small flecks of brown sometimes flashed, other times a dark green.

Not that I knew all of that from watching him in the halls in the one day he'd been back. Girls who had known Avery Hudson since childhood gushed about his natural good looks, and about his sisters who were just as beautiful. The entire family was, from his mother and father who I'd seen once or twice around town in the three years since I'd been here, down to him, the youngest. His friends were also quiet easy on the eyes.

Of course the boy was popular. In a town as small as ours, beauty went a long way, and it didn't hurt that his parents were of high social standing. Avery Hudson was the golden (eyed) boy of the school and town.

Until two years ago.

In hushed whispers, I heard from rumors, Avery Hudson had acted extremely out of character that first week of school. He was cordial and happy, popular, sporty. Now, still all those things, plus his hardened features and killer attitude.

Rushing through the halls, I barely made it the fifth block. My teacher cleared his throat loudly as I speed-walked in, bell ringing as I sat down in my chair. Mr. Thompson closed the door and began class with roll call and I brought my book and supplies out of my back pack.

Roll call did not make any sense to me. On the first day, Mr. Thompson put us in alphabetical order, and hadn't moved us since. With his seating chart, it was easy to see who was here and who wasn't. Also, our school was so small that classes rarely had more than fifteen kids in them.

The door opened with a scrape, and Mr. Thompson looked over the top of his glasses to see who the latecomer was. Avery Hudson sauntered in, black shirt tight over his large muscles and jeans slung low on his hips, eyes daring Mr. Thompson to say anything to him. I shrank down in my seat, face paling.

"Mr. Hudson," Mr. Thompson nodded, "nice of you to join us."

Avery sneered a bit, eyebrow twitching. He stopped in front of the teacher, towering over the older man. The teen had to be at least 6'2'', which was even not the tallest in our school. The people native to this town must not have any short genetics, because I was shorter than most middle school brats, save for a few who hadn't hit puberty yet.

"I would say the same, but it would be lie." Avery sardonically replied, his voice deep and smooth, reminding me of hot chocolate on a cold winter day.

Mr. Thompson frowned, but looked down at his seating chart. "You'll be sitting in front of Lane."

I let out a small whimper, and golden eyes zoomed in on me. They narrowed, remembering me from lunch. Once again, Avery's gaze made me feel like prey, as if he were going to eat me, and he knew that if he wanted to, he could.

"Miss Lane and those behind her, please move back one seat to make room for Mr. Hudson." Mr. Thompson ordered.

Putting my notebook on top of my text book, and pencil in my hand, I grabbed my back pack with my free hand and placed them on the seat behind mine. The rows of only had four desks, and I would become the last person in my row. Because that was smart for the shortest person from grades six and up.

Avery dropped into my old seat, no bag on his shoulders or book in hand. Mr. Thompson started his lecture, rummaging around a cabinet and pulling out a book for Avery. I took notes furiously. I did not want to stare at the back of Avery Hudson's chocolaty-copper haired head.

Unfortunately for me, Mr. Thompson went over the homework from last time and then moved on to the project that was going oh so well for me. History was one of my least favorite subjects, being that it seemed tedious because we went over and over the same things every year. Yes, I did still remember what the Declaration of Independence was from last year, thank you very much.

"Remember, ladies and gentlemen, that your projects are due next week. I'll give you the rest of class to work on them."

Chatter immediately started up, friends moving around the room to sit with their buddies and project partners. I stayed in my seat, and silent, as did Avery Hudson. A few people passing bye said their hellos, and he nodded to them in greeting, but didn't speak.

I pulled out my history folder, going through the printed pages of information and notes that I had. I was writing a paper on the Vietnam War, analyzing the weapons and chemicals used in the warfare, and why, especially the chemicals, were discontinued. Working quietly, I read a few papers I had on Agent Orange.

"Miss Lane, Mr. Hudson, can I please talk to you two?" Mr. Thompson called, sitting at his desk.

I glanced at Avery Hudson, who I found already staring at me. I squirm out of my seat, and Avery followed me up to the teacher's desk. The teens in the class quieted down to hear what Mr. Thompson was going to say.

"Get back to work!" He barked at the eavesdroppers, and I sent him a silent thanks.

Avery stomped next to me, close enough that I could feel body heat roll off him, but we weren't touching. He shifted on either foot, impatient, waiting for Mr. Thompson to speak.

"Now, you two, I've noticed, are really quiet. Jayda, you don't talk to your classmates, and Avery, you're a senior in a junior class." Avery's mouth quirked up for a millisecond when Mr. Thompson said that I don't talk. "Most of the kids here already have partners, and Avery is new to the class. I was wondering if, Jay, you would partner up with him."

I sneaked a peek at Avery, who was watching me again, but with more interest than anger or hatred.

"I don't mind," he said with a shrug, looking back at Mr. Thompson.

"Sure." I agreed, shifting to my left foot and away from the tall teen.

"Good. I look forward to your project." Mr. Thompson nodded, dismissing us.

Avery and I went back to our seats. He sat backwards in his chair, facing me, and I sat stiffly.

"I'm Avery," he introduced. "But you probably already knew that." His thin lips smirked.

"Jay," I muttered back, eyes staring down at the desk.

It was silent for a few seconds, obvious that I wasn't going to say anymore.

"You were the girl in the lunchroom, right?" Avery crossed his arms and leaned down on them.

Biting back a sarcastic reply, I replied, "If you mean the one who stepped on your foot, then yes."

Avery snorted, and I glanced up at him. He looked amused.

"I didn't feel your weight at all." He commented.


It was silent for a few seconds. Avery finally picked up on the fact that I didn't talk much - should he have been surprised? Mr. Thompson did just state that I didn't talk to my peers; what made Avery Hudson think he was so different?

"What exactly is the project?" Avery asked finally, picking up a sheet of paper with my notes on it.

"We have to write a paper over an important point in history and-" I paused. Avery, reading my handwriting, wrinkled his nose at something, golden eyes dancing and fighting back a smile.

"What?" I asked worriedly, resisting the need to take back my paper from his large hands.

"Nothing," he shook his head.

"Really," I insisted.

Avery's eyes met mine, smoldering, and my face heated up. " your i's with an open circle. That's just, well, cute."

I leaned back in my chair, taken aback. My eyebrows drew together; I never expected those words to come out of Avery Hudson's angry mouth.

"You look surprised," he leaned toward me, and his heavy woodsy smell overpowering me.

"Oh?" I muttered, trying as subtly as I could to lean away from him.

"You want to know what else is cute?" He whispered.

My hazel eyes snapped up to meet his golden ones. My mouth dried, and though normally I would never answer, my curiosity got the better of me.

"What?" I whispered back.

He opened his mouth and I watched his lips form a word. The bell rang loudly just as he spoke, overpowering his quietly spoken word. But I read his lips, and I watched his smirk as he got up and strode off, leaving me behind to stare after him.

"You." He said.

Svelte was already on the bus when I got on. She was leaning up against the window, eyes closed. I tapped her on the shoulder so we could switch places. It was silly for me to sit on the edge if she got off first.

Her dark brown eyes opened, and she stared at me suspiciously as I maneuvered myself to the window spot.

"What?" I asked self-conscientiously.

"People are talking in the halls that you, Jay, were flirting with Avery Hudson." She said accusingly.

"Me?" I laughed. "No, not at all."

Although what I said was true, my face burned. Avery said that he thought I was cute; did that count as flirting? I'd never had a boyfriend, so I didn't know. I knew if I thought about it too much, I would over-analyze. Avery Hudson didn't really think I was cute, I understood. He just liked to mess with and make fun of others.

"We were paired up for the history project." I explained.

Svelte nodded, turning to face the front. I did the same, both of us lost in our thoughts. A few stops later, she got off with a goodbye. I pulled out my Spanish homework to do until the bus pulled up to the road to my house. I stuffed the worksheet into my back pack.

I strolled leisurely up the rocky lane to my little house. My dad's old green wagon sat in the rounded driveway. Weeds grew up against the house, and I made note to tell my dad about them. Because he was out of the job, he worked on the house most of the time. When he bought it two years ago, the place was overrun with weeds and grass up to my knees. The outside needed painted, and the roof badly needed to be thatched.

Piece by piece, our little home came together. The roof was done in sections the past year, only being able to afford a section at a time. The house was painted the year before, and the dollar store had cheap flower seeds that we planted in the spring every year.

My dad was inside, reading the newspaper on the couch in a pair of jeans and red t-shirt. He was circling job listings in a red pen. A pile of bills sat opened on the table in front of him, several marked 'Urgent'. He gave me a distressed smile.

"Hey, Pumpkin. How was school?"

"Good," I smiled back cheerfully, feeling anything but. "How was your day?" I dropped my bag on the ground next to the couch and plopped down next to my father.

Dad's smile faded, but he brought it back with full force, refusing to show me his worries. "A bit boring. There's not much in the paper, again. A few minimum wage jobs that I qualify for." He snorted.

"Daddy, you're way too smart for a minimum wage job." I snuggled up to him.

He chortled, patting my arm. "I might be, but I don't have the skills for any other jobs that are on the market."

He went back to circling ads, and I relaxed for a few minutes.

After leaning back into the under-stuffed couch for a few minutes, I stood up and stretched. "I've got a lot of homework, so I better get started."

"Alright, Pumpkin. I'll make dinner about six."

I gave a tight smile, knowing that he probably wouldn't be making dinner. We didn't have anything to make.

Thanks for reading:)

Thanks to purple-wolf-howl, Lost Time Traveler, Fireicegirl16, Kirihime, missmiley03, thatgirlwiththeboy, Silver Witherwings, violetsblue, and bookppl93 for reviewing the first chapter! I'm really happy with all the positive feedback I received:)