The following day the school emptied before lunchtime. Only a handful of students remained , whose parents lived too far away or were too busy to take the time off. April hoped that her fellow students would think that's why she had to stay too. Not that anyone had bothered to ask. Not even Hannah had questioned her about it. She was not looking forward to the coming week, mostly because she knew she had no classes, no homework and no Hannah to fill her days. The fact that George was staying too only made things more complicated. There was only so many hours they could spend in each others company in complete silence.
April stepped into the dim dining hall and was relieved to see that she could have her pick of empty tables. She spotted a coulple of older kids in deep conversation in one corner, a lone Asian girl reading a giant textbook in the other. There were a few more tables with small groups or lone occupants, but she saw no one she recognized from class or her dorm. George was nowhere to be seen, thankfully. She could bear the solitude much better than the awkwardness of being ignored. She slumped heavily down in her seat and stared down at her stodgy lunch tray. She had nothing to do, no plans for the rest of the day so she slowly started to pick at her food, willing her meal to consume as much of her time as possible. She should have brought a book, like the Asian girl sitting three tables down from her. April smiled brightly at her when she looked up from her book and noticed April's eyes on her. The petite Asian girl scowled back at her. April inhaled deeply and got up to put her tray back. It was going to be a long week.
Just as she exited the dining hall April thought she caught a glimpse of golden brown skin and a flash of bright blueish-green. Suddenly she could hear her blood thumping in her ears and her heart speeding up. She felt light headed as she stepped out into the drizzle and had to briefly steady herself against the wall. Jackson. She had forgotten he was staying back too. Or no, she hadn't forgotten, but she told herself that she had. She had tried not to think about him at all since yesterday, convinced herself that she had so many more important thoughts in her head. She practically had to concentrate on directing her thoughts away from him. She felt ridiculous even wasting a little bit of energy thinking about him. He was Jackson Avery for goodness sake. Varsity football and basketball star, heir to the Avery family fortune, responsible for the batting of lashes and fluttering of hearts wherever he went. She refused to fall for the first cliche boy crush that came her way and willed her heart to slow down to a normal steady rhythm. When she finally left the dining hall there was only a slight dull ache in the pit of her stomach to remind her of him.
The next few days were uneventful and excruciatingly dull. April spent most of her time in the library swatting up on next semesters curriculum, purely out of boredom. She was getting increasingly frustrated with this holiday, more than ready for classes to start up again and her now familiar daily routine to get back on track. She even tried to vent to George, who looked at her as if she was speaking Greek when she complained that she even missed her chemistry lessons. April had no idea how George spent her days, though she occasionally came back to their room dressed in running tights and drenched in sweat. She must be bored out of her mind too.
The school had organised a few outings for the few students that had stayed back, and April welcomed every single one of them. A trip to the nearby mall had been uneventful, though she had enjoyed the change in scenery. Her parents had sent her a little pocket money so she had been able to get a couple of things that she hoped would help her blend in to the Hartwell aesthetic a little better. Tonight the school had arranged for them to go to the cinema and even George had perked up when April mentioned it to her. As they approached the small bus waiting at the school gates her heart involuntary sped up as she spotted Jackson waiting just outside. He flashed a big smile at her and slowly turned to face her.
He spoke softly, with familiarity.
April could feel her face contort into a stupid grin and slowed down her pace to savour the moment. As she did George quickly fell into step with him and Jackson snaked his arm over her shoulders. Aprils smile dropped, her heart beating so loud she could barely hear her own footsteps anymore. Of course he had been waiting for George, not her.
Once they were on the bus and on their way, George ignored her completely, already caught up in deep conversation with Jackson. She was sitting alone a few seats behind them, trying to breathe deeply hoping that her red cheeks would calm down with her breathing. She was unbearably hot even though it was the middle of autumn and raining lightly outside. When they finally made it to the cinema she quickly ducked into the dark room, thankful that no one could see her flustered face inside. As the movie started she spotted her roommate sitting a few rows ahead of her snuggled up to Jackson. She averted her eyes and tried to focus on the screen, but the movie was terrible. The plot was paper thin, and every big name and cliched piece of dialogue the director had thrown at it to cover that up only made it more and more ridiculous. George was clearly bored too, leaning into the boy sitting next to her whispering something that made him laugh out loud, completely out of context to what was happening on the big screen. April couldn't help herself, before she knew it she had burst out laughing too, shaking her head in exasperation. An older man sitting on the row in front of her turned around and gave her a stern look, so she quickly scrambled out of her seat and ran out of the cinema into the ladies room.
After splashing her face with water, she was pleased to see that her face was finally a normal colour, if a little pink in the cheeks. She walked out of the lavatories only to walk straight into another person. She bumped her nose against a hard chest and felt that someone's knee sharply digging into her thigh. She yelped out in pain, tears spilling from her eyes before she could even register what had happened. Her hands instinctively flew up to cover her nose, expecting blood to come gushing out, but thankfully nothing came.
"Shit, are you ok?"
She heard a voice filled with concern probe her. Heavy hands were placed on her shoulders and she could feel someone leaning in over her to investigate further. She knew without looking up that she had walked straight into Jackson.
"Y-yeah... I'm fine", she said a little too brightly, and without conviction.
She tilted her head back and quickly shook her head to rid her eyes of the tears that were overflowing. She roughly wiped away the ones that had already escaped down her cheeks and finally met his gaze. She wanted to cry all over again. He was leaning in far too closely, his eyes still filled with concern and boring down on hers. He held her gaze as he moved one hand to cup her chin and slowly twisted her head from side to side studying her damaged nose intently.
"Do you think it's broken?" April squealed.
Christ, she thought, try not to squeal at him Apes! Your nose may be broken but your brain is still intact!
"Probably not" he concluded after finishing his examination.
"I'm really sorry, I didn't see you come bursting out of there" he offered.
"I'm ok, really," her voice several octaves lower this time, convincing him with her tone of voice she was not a hysterical little girl.
He finally let go of her chin, only to place his hand back down on her shoulder. His eyes still burning into hers, searching them for some confirmation that she really was as ok as she claimed to be. The initial surge of adrenalin from their collision was now starting to wear off and a now April was starting to feel mortified. Mortified that she had crashed into him of all people, mortified that he had seen her cry, mortified that she had squealed at him - she really hated that her voice so easily broke into high pitch when she lost control of her emotions - and mortified that she was still standing in such close proximity to him, staring into his magnetic eyes. His hands were searing hot on her body, and his hard body hovering over her was starting to make her knees shaky. She had to break the spell, it was all too much for her to take.
"Ha ha, your chest almost broke my nose, maybe it's time to lay off those steroids" she laughed, trying to make light of the situation.
His eyes flickered and he quickly removed his hands from her shoulders, taking a few steps back as if she had burned him. She realized too late that she had said the wrong thing. He smiled a thin smile at her, not quite reaching his eyes.
"We better get back."