It’s been over a week since I spoke to Kaleb Nixon. Since our project was done and I told him we weren’t doing the extra credit, there was nothing for us to talk about. That would change soon because next week we had to present our poem in front of the whole class. I was just ready for that to be over with.
“Greer, you in there?” Adam is waving his hand in front of my face to try and get my attention.
I look away from the salad that I’ve been pushing around. “What? Sorry.”
“What’s up with you lately? You’ve been out of it.” He questions.
I shrug, “Just not feeling well, I guess.”
“I’ve barely seen you eat all week.” He says, sounding concerned.
“School food’s gross,” I complain.
“As long as you’re eating something at least.”
“Don’t worry about me, Adam.” I laugh.
“Too bad.” He sticks his tongue out at me.
The day passes in a slow blur. I barely pay attention through my classes. I don’t know why I feel this way. A part of me feels relieved to be free of the stress that comes along with Kaleb Nixon. Then there’s also another part, deep down inside, that tells me I need to go back.
As I cross the parking lot towards my car, I notice Kaleb’s car parked not far from mine. He’s leaning against his driver’s door, arms crossed over his broad chest. Black sunglasses cover his dark eyes. His leather jacket is draped across the hood of his Mustang. Even though I can’t see his eyes, I know he’s staring at me.
I quickly cast my eyes downward and slip into my car. My chest feels tight. I grip my steering wheel with clenched fists and take in a deep breath. I back out of my parking space and leave the school behind.
I’m at a stop sign when my heart finally slows down. I reach forward to turn up the volume of my radio. I look up at the road again, I’ve been sitting at the stop sign for too long. Good thing no one else is around. I’m just about to take my foot from the break when there’s a loud crash and my whole car lurches forward.
At first, I can’t understand what happened. My body is shaking and my heart is pounding. I look up into my rear-view mirror and notice that a car is way too close to me. That’s when things start to make sense. Some idiot just rear-ended me.
The anger quickly seeps into my veins, replacing the fear. I throw open my door and stomp around to the back side of my car. I ignore whoever hit me for a moment. When my eyes spot the damage, I calm down. It’s only a small dent. I put my hand to my chest and take in a deep breath.
“Crap, I’m so sorry!” A voice says frantically. My eyes focus on the guy standing next to me. He’s pulling at his blonde hair with shaking hands. His blue eyes are wide as they stare between my car and his. “Are you okay?”
My anger has ebbed away now. “I’m fine.”
“I’m so sorry!” He tells me once again.
“It’s fine,” I sigh. “You can barely see the dent.”
He starts to pull something out of his pocket. He suddenly thrusts a roll of twenties in my face. “Here, that should cover the damage.”
“No, really, it’s fine. I don’t need your money.” I push the cash back towards him.
“Seriously, take it. I really don’t want this going through my insurance.” He tells me, trying once again to give me the money.
“No, it’s fine. We don’t have to file a claim. As I said, there’s barely a dent.” I insist.
He sighs, rubs the back of his neck, and gives me a charming smile. “My friend owns a body shop down the road. He could fix it up right now for you.”
“Right now?” I repeat.
He nods, “Yeah, he owes me a favor.”
I think it over. It would be nice to fix it before Leo saw it. He’d freak out.
“Look, it’s the least I can do since I hit you. It won’t take very long at all.” He explains.
“You sure it’s not a problem?” I ask.
“Oh, yeah! It’s fine.” He beams.
“Okay. That would be great.”
He smiles, the kind of smile that could make a girl go weak at the knees. “Great, you can just follow me over there.”
I nod and get back into my car. I let him pull around me so he’s in the front. It only takes us five minutes to get to the body shop that he was talking about. We pull in and he instructs me to pull up at a closed garage door. I get out of the car.
“Just wait here, I’ll go talk to my friend.” He tells me and disappears inside the body shop. It’s only a few minutes later that the garage door opens. A man that appeared to be in his thirties came out to look at my car. He gave me a nervous smile before asking for my keys. He didn’t say a word before he pulled my car into the shop. The guy who rear-ended me came standing beside me once more, “That’s Nick. He’s shy around pretty girls.”
I instantly blushed, “Really?”
He nods, “He said it should take about thirty minutes or so. He has to finish up something before he can look at it.”
“Okay. Thanks for this, again.”
“You don’t need to thank me. I’m the one that hit you.” He laughs. “I’m Bash by the way.”
"Bash?” I laugh. “That’s ironic.”
He laughs as well, “Yeah, it is.”
“I’m Greer,” I tell him.
He looks at me for a moment, and something flashes in his eyes. It quickly passes. “Unique name. Where’d it come from?”
“It means vigilant. I think my mom just searched up every name that meant that and chose one. It was her favorite word.” I laugh.
He smiles, “That’s cool.”
“What’s Bash short for?”
“How do you know it’s short for anything? Maybe that’s my full name.” He says with a smile.
“No way that Bash is your actual name.” I chuckle.
“You’re right, it’s Sebastian.”
“You don’t like it?” I ask.
“It’s my father’s name. It got confusing when I was young so my mom started calling me Bash.” He explains.
“Yeah, that would be confusing.” I muse.
We stand in the middle of the parking lot in silence for a moment longer. Bash breaks the silence, “Want to get something to eat?”
My eyes snap to his, “What?”
“Well, I just thought we could do something to pass the time.” He scratches the back of his neck. “We could just get something at the diner across the street. It’s walking distance.”
It doesn’t take me long to answer, “Sure.”
“Really?” He sounds excited. “Cool.”
We take off walking. Bash keeps close to me as we walk across the street. When we get to the diner, he pulls open the door for me. I step into the diner and my eyes skirt around for an open booth. We find one near the back. I sit facing the door.
“You been here before?” He asks me. He must not be from around here, not that I am either, but this town is small. Everyone that lives here has been to Pete’s.
“You’re from out of town, aren’t you?” I ask.
“How’d you guess?”
“It’s a small town. Everyone’s been to Pete’s.”
“You grow up here?”
I shake my head, “I’ve actually only been here for a few weeks.”
I nod, “My uncle got a new job so we moved here.”
He’s the first one not to ask why I live with my uncle. It’s refreshing. The waitress comes over to take our orders. We both order a plate of chicken tenders. Bash orders a soda and I order a lemonade. When our drinks arrive, I play with my wrapper while Bash’s eyes roam the diner. The doorbell chimes as someone walks into the restaurant. My heart drops out of my chest.
Kaleb Nixon has just stepped foot into the diner, his eyes staring daggers into the back of Bash’s head. I wish there was a back door to escape through because suddenly Kaleb is striding angrily towards us.