I quickly looked down without acknowledging him. I swallowed and sighed before taking my usual seat in front of Jason. I could feel him following my every move. I tried to ignore it but his gaze gnarled into my skin making me more nervous than I already was. I dropped my books onto the desk in front of me. I was shocked when I glanced at my hands. They were shaking uncontrollably. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt like this. I quickly folded my hands onto my lap.
“You know; you could at least thank me for not letting you crack your head open.” I heard his husky and modulated voice speak behind me.
An involuntary shiver ran down my back making the hairs on my neck stand tall. I didn’t reply. I didn’t want to talk to him, I was glad he saved my head from cracking open but I couldn’t forgive him or thank him after what he had done. I heard him chuckle behind me before Mr Bradley the chemistry teacher walked into the room making everyone recline to their seats.
I sighed, grateful for Mr Bradley’s entrance, saving me from this wicked man.
“Morning class,” Mr Bradley sighed, wiping sweat from the top of his brow with the back of his hand. How could he be sweating in this kind of weather? After all, he was a short chubby man, with greying hair and beard. Probably in his late fifties.
“Right. Shall we begin?” He said writing ‘Periodic table’ on the whiteboard. “Today, we’re going to look at the Periodic table.”
I could hear some people groaning in annoyance. I sighed. I loved the Periodic table. I had memorised it from top to bottom. Yes, I guess you could say I was a science genius. I rubbed my neck, trying to shake away the feeling of Jason’s gaze on my back. Did he think I was going to tell someone right now? I wasn’t that stupid. I tapped my foot on the ground and started biting my nails. An act I had never engaged in before. The desk in front of me shook along with my foot. I glanced up at the clock, I wanted to be out of there, far away from Jason. However, the clock seemed to be teasing me by its slow ticking.
“Miss Belrose.” Mr Bradley’s booming voice brought me back to reality.
“What?” I blurted out without thinking. I looked around and all eyes were on me. I could feel Jason smiling behind me, “I’m sorry sir, what was the question?”
“Are you alright? You seem to be a bit tense.” Mr Bradley continued glancing at my bobbing foot. I quickly stopped before glancing at him.
“Oh, no. Sorry.” I apologized. “I’m concentrating now. Please repeat the question again.”
“Ok. Are you certain you’re listening now?” He questioned raising his right greying eyebrow.
I nodded furiously and concentrated on him hard, trying to block out Jason’s gaze that seemed to be causing all sorts of disturbances in my body.
“What period is Lead in?”
I searched my head for an answer but nothing came. What lead? What was he talking about?
“I’m sorry sir. No lead is ringing any bells.” I replied shaking my head confused.
“Lead, as in the soft, malleable and heavy post-transition metal with the symbol Pb?” When I didn’t reply, Mr Bradley shook his head before turning away from me in frustration. “Since, Miss Belrose can’t even answer the question, I doubt any of you would know. So, I’m going to give each and every one of you a copy of the periodic table. Make sure you memorise the metals in the first, second and third periods.”
I could hear people moaning and groaning behind me. I looked at my desk feeling ashamed. Lead, lead was in the sixth period. How come this answer didn’t come to me when he was questioning. I heard people muttering whispers around me. What has happened to her? A girl voice sounded. She normally saves us from extra homework. A boy’s voice sounded from my right. I hate her now, another girl whined from my right. I whirled my head towards her. She quickly darted her gaze from me. Did she hear me? Her lips didn’t move.
Shaking my head in disbelief, I turned back to my desk. Maybe it was someone else who spoke.
What annoyed me the most was the realisation that people depended on me to answer their questions. I scoffed, luckily not too loud. It was all Jason’s fault. He was the one who sent my strong demeanour quivering after scaring me one night ago. I resisted the urge to whirl around and shout at him to stay away from me and stop making me have thoughts that disrupted my learning. Thankfully, Mr Bradley’s voice saved me from my predicted outburst.
“Come everyone and get a copy while I mark the roll.”
Everyone shuffled towards his desk. I waited for everyone and especially Jason to go first before I could join them. However, Jason wasn’t anywhere in line. I glanced behind me. Jason was watching me, a small smirk on his perfect lips. I shook my head at the weird thought I just had. I stood up, so did he.
“Ladies first.” He smiled.
I looked at him in disbelief. What was he planning on doing to me as soon as I turned my back to him? So, I shook my head and motioned for him to go first, scared to open my mouth. He eyed me curiously before covering the distance between the person in front of me and him. I scrutinised him curiously. The smell of mint and lavender wafted through my nostrils. I couldn’t help but breath in the unique smell. Again, I questioned God as to why he made such a treacherous creature smell so good.
I heard Jason chuckle. He whirled around to face me. My breath got caught in my throat when I witnessed his beautiful face leaning towards me. Tranced, I observed his face. He was beautiful, thick hair, amazing eyebrows, thick eyelashes, two blue diamonds for eyes, a slightly crooked nose – the only thing holding him back from being perfect - , dark plump lips and finally a small dimple that formed as his smirk turned into a grin.
Unable to tear my eyes from him, I felt his breath hit my neck. “You should’ve thanked me earlier. I could’ve saved you. Lead is in period six.” He whispered in my ear, before teasingly moving away from me.
I couldn’t breathe. Before I could process what he had just said, he whirled around. Leaving me an exclusive view of his back. His tight black shirt hid lean muscles that struggled to escape from imprisonment. I found myself tracing his hair. It was thick and looked soft to touch. My hand wanted to reach up and confirm my assumption. I urged my hand to not disobey me before drifting my eyes down his bulging arms. Did he work out? I’m sure he did, after all, he lifted me off the ground twice that night as if I didn’t weigh anything and also carried me to the sickbay.
I shook my head trying to get rid of these obnoxious thoughts. He was my enemy. I couldn’t possibly have any feelings towards him. I could see Jason taking a few steps forward. I copied his suit, however, I didn’t see him coming to a halt. I crushed my face into his back before I could stop myself. Jason turned around with a smirk on his face.
“Couldn’t keep yourself away from me for that long? I didn’t know I was that irresistible in your eyes” Jason winked casually.
I scoffed in disgust, “You wish.”
“I do.” He replied without fluttering. “You should go in front of me because I need to speak to this chubby man whose sweat could water my whole garden and result in beautiful fruit.”
Shocked by his reference towards Mr Bradley. I pushed in front of him and grabbed a copy of the periodic table from the desk before bumping Jason’s shoulder as I whizzed past him in anger. I heard him chuckle but I didn’t turn around to witness this. I plunged onto my chair before my legs could buckle under me. He was such a rude jerk. Even though I did call Mr Bradley a chubby man, I couldn’t tolerate him teasing this old man’s sweat. How dare he? I felt my hands clenching in my lap. I glared at Jason as he chatted with Mr Bradley.
I decided then and there that I hated Jason with passion and I wasn’t going to get involved with him one way or another. I saw Mr Bradley turn his attention briefly towards me before nodding something at Jason. I furrowed my brows in confusion. What was Jason telling Mr Bradley about me? Panicking, I watched as Jason shook the old man’s hand before turning around making his way towards his desk. He leered and winked when he caught me staring at him and probably amused by my confused expression. He broke eye contact before passing by me. I heard him take his seat behind me. I willed my body to not turn around and question him about what he had just told Mr Bradley.
“Ok everyone. We’re going to do an experiment this whole week.” I heard some cheers coming from around me. “It’s going to be in pairs. Every pair will be given two hydrocarbons similar in structure or weight. You’ll investigate to see if they burn the same. Making sense?”
Everyone agreed in response.
“Excellent!” Mr Bradley responded. “I’ll give you all five minutes to find a partner.”
Everyone started whispering. I looked around trying to find a familiar face to work with. However, no one made eye contact with me. The girls were already flooding Jason’s table asking him to be their partner. The rest of the boys had already paired up among themselves eyeing Jason jealously.
“Mary-Kate.” I heard Mr Bradley’s voice in front of me, making me turn my head around confused. “I thought you could work with Jason since he is new and probably need some guidance with how our syllabus works.”
Shocked I gaped at the man, “I can’t sir. Please let me choose someone else.”
“I was hoping you wouldn’t say that.” He sighed, “You’re the only person I believe would be able to help Jason catch up. Besides, you’re the top student in class. It will be a great way to expand your knowledge.”
If only this man knew the reason behind my denial.
“Please Mary-Kate.” He pleaded and I just eyed. “Ok, how about I give you my exclusive pin to accessing the Cosmos monthly for free.”
I beamed at his suggestion. “Really?”
“Yes, I can write it down and give it to you right after the lesson.”
I couldn’t turn the offer down. I was all about free stuff. Besides, I loved the Cosmos magazine, I just didn’t have money to waste on it when I could put it to good use such as my university fund.
“It’s a deal then.” I replied.
“Excellent.” Mr Bradley said walking towards the back.
What did I just get my self into? I thought at the sudden realisation of what this meant. A week will be spend stuck with Jason, my pursuer, stalker and every horrible word that could be found in the dictionary.
I felt someone take a sit on the chair next to me. I turned my head to see who it was. I nearly jumped out of my seat at the sudden surprise. I didn’t know I had to share a desk with him as well. Jason didn’t seem to be taken aback. He lazily placed his books on the desk before turning his head towards me. Was this what he was talking to Mr Bradley about? Change of sitting plan as well as having him as my Chemistry partner? I swore to myself. I had get out of this situation by the end of the day.
I felt Jason shift on my left. “Thank you for letting me be your partner.” He spoke, dangerously close to my ear.
I shuddered at his breath hitting my face. Mr Bradley came to our desk and dropped two cards. One had methanol written on it and the other ethane. Before I could get his attention he progressed to the next table.
“He’s not going to allow you to ditch me.” Jason whispered as if he read my thoughts.
“My business with Mr Bradley is not your concern.” I snapped at him.
“You two have business together? Please don’t tell me.” Jason didn’t finish his sentence. I could see from his expression what he was implying.
“No.” I replied waving my arms furiously in front of him.
“Thank goodness, because I was going to cry myself to sleep knowing I didn’t have a chance with you.” Jason wiped invisible sweat from his forehead.
I very much wanted to tell him that he had no chance with me either way however, Mr Bradley’s voice interrupted me.
“I’m hoping that all of you will work accordingly and well together. I’ll give you the rest of this lesson to research about your given hydrocarbons and tomorrow we will begin the experiments.”
I didn’t talk to Jason for the rest of the lesson. I just shoved the card with methanol written on it hoping that he took the message that that’s what he was supposed to research on.
By the time the bell went, I couldn’t handle being close to Jason. I quickly gathered my books ignoring Jason’s stare. I was the first one out of my seat, for the first time. I stopped abruptly when I heard Mr Bradley calling my name. I whirled around immediately confused as to why he wanted to talk to me. He waved a piece of paper in the air. Then I remembered his bargain. I smiled before making my way towards his desk. I snatched the piece of paper from him and said a quick thank you.
“Wait.” He stopped me before I could take a step away from him. “I have another favour to ask from you?”
Confused I asked, “What is it sir?”
“Would you maybe be able to tutor Jason. I mean, he is far behind with what we have learnt already and as I mentioned before, you’re the only person I trust with this job.”
“I can’t sir, I already have so much on my plate right now. I can’t possibly fit anything else.” I whined. The truth is I had plenty of time however, giving up my nights tutoring Jason was worse than wasting my time on the internet watching cat videos.
“Please Mary-Kate, just this once.” Mr Bradley pleaded. “Sleep on it and we can discuss this tomorrow, ok?”
I nodded my head, but I was certain the answer was going to be the same “No”. I walked out of the classroom, making sure not to glance at Jason. I made it out safely.
Later that day, I was perched on a bar stool at work. As usual it wasn’t a busy Tuesday. The doorbell chimed signalling that someone had just entered. I was the only free waitress, hence I jumped at the amazing opportunity to do something productive other than sitting down. I turned around, a smile plastered on my lips. I felt my smile decline on me. How could this be?
With Brittany hung onto his left arm, Jason walked into the diner. My brain willed me to run but it was too late. Jason had already seen me. I didn’t know if it was coincidental or he was really stalking me. He beamed, probably at my reaction. I turned my body away from him and faced my manager who was looking at me confused.
“Why aren’t you serving the customers?” He asked.
“I can’t serve them sir. The girl hates me with passion and she takes pride in making my life hell.” I informed him. I couldn’t divulge that Jason made me feel the same way, terrorised and frightened.
“It’s ok. I’m sure she wont try any stunts in a public place like this.” The manager chuckled. He was always relaxed and made me feel good about myself.
“You think so?” I questioned. I looked at the couple as they took a seat in one of the booths. At this moment I was more afraid of Jason’s presence than Brittany’s. The manager nodded with an encouraging smile on his face.
I sighed before making my way towards the couple’s booth. I forced myself to take big breaths to calm myself. When I reached the booth, I was a bit calm however, my composure went wild when Jason lifted his gaze towards me.
I cleared my throat ignoring him, “Welcome to Amoris Diner, what can I get for you today?”
I took in a deep breath waiting for their answer.
“Oh, its you.” Brittany spat. I ignored her and waited for her to order. “I’ll have my usual fries and garlic aioli sauce and a lemonade. What do you want baby?”
Baby? I turned to Jason with my eyebrow lifted.
“Just water thanks.” He replied politely.
“Are you sure babe? You can share my fries with me.” Brittany replied lovingly, stretching her arm across the table towards Jason’s.
He retreated his hand from the table before glancing towards me. I saw a frown form on Brittany’s glossed lips. That made me smile a bit. Why? I don’t know.
“Anything else?” I asked when Brittany followed Jason’s gaze which was aimed at me.
“No.” Brittany said bitterly waving her arm as if to shoo me away.
I took my turn and left the couple’s sight. I told the manager the order before pouring water in a tall glass and lemonade in another. I took the two glasses towards Jason and Brittany’s booth. Jason turned his gaze towards me as I approached. Brittany whipped her head around to face me and scowled at me. She turned her attention back towards Jason and said something. He replied but his gaze not leaving mine. My stomach was filled with panic. Why was he staring at me like that?
“Here are your drinks.” I said when I reached the booth. I placed the water in front of Jason and then shaking turned towards Brittany. I tried to steady my hand from shaking using my left one but I didn’t succeed. Therefore, I ended up spilling cold lemonade all over Brittany’s designer skirt. I gasped and she squealed before I could apologize. She stood up with her arms raised in rage.
“Look at what you did, you freak!” She spat at me before storming towards the female restroom. I turned towards the table, drenched in lemonade. Then back at Brittany as she retreated behind the restroom door. I heard Jason chuckle next to me. I whirled towards him anger flashing in my eyes. It was his fault that my nerves had become out of control. I huffed before leaving his presence. Everyone in the diner had their eyes trained on me.
“What happened?” The manager questioned me as soon as I budged into the kitchen.
“I accidentally spilled lemonade all over Brittany’s skirt.” I informed him grabbing a clean towel from our supply.
“Go and grab her some trousers from the back. I’ll clean up the mess for you.” The manager quickly replied.
Shocked by his calm demeanour, I thanked him before heading towards the crew room. It was located at the very back of the store. I opened the room and searched my surroundings for the box of uniforms. I found them tucked away in the corner of the room. I quickly began my search for some trousers. I cheered in success when I pulled a pair of trousers from the box. I was startled when I heard a chuckle behind me. I whirled around clutching the trousers against my chest.
“How did you get in here?” I whispered, out a breath.
Jason just watched me with a smirk on his lips closing the distance between us. I retreated back but was met by a wall. An evil smirk on his lips and darkness in his eyes. I had nowhere to escape and he was going to finish what he started that night. His gaze and smirk didn’t quiver at all as he invaded my personal space.
“What do you want from me?” I whispered.
“You.” He replied, only a few inches from my face. I could feel his breath hitting my face.
“Me?” I retorted trying to sound strong but confusion and fright radiated from my words.
“I don’t like repeating myself.” He replied casually.
“Because only one of you is enough to make me powerful.” I gaped at him confused. “Don’t worry your pretty self because you’ll know when the time comes. At the moment you need to tutor me.”
“What?” I questioned, “You don’t even need tutoring.”
He had told me the answer to Mr Bradley’s question during Chemistry class.
“I know, but it is you who I want.” He replied casually.
“What?” I asked again confused, then a memory came to my mind. “Do you by any chance know where I live?”
“No, but would you like to tell me? I would like to see your room especially. Do you have a single or double bed?” He asked leaning towards me biting his bottom lip.
Horror struck me. I knew what he was implying by that. I shook my head before composing myself. I turned away from him. I felt his lips graze my cheek. A weird sensation ran through my body. I heard him chuckle before moving away. I turned my head facing him once again.
He smirked before begging, “And please do me a favour, stay away from Craig. He’s not good enough for you.”
I scoffed, “And you think you’re good enough for me?”
“Yes, I’m way better than that guy. I can treat you better. I can give you twenty times more than that guy can give you.”
I laughed at the irony in his words. He was the bad guy in this situation, not Craig. Jason whirled around and exited the door before I could give him a piece of my mind. I sighed and breathed in deep at the sudden thinness in the air. I touched my burning cheek, clutching my heart with the other. My heartbeat was wild. However, a thought came to me. If Jason didn’t know where I lived. Who did that figure belong to? Or was Jason lying about it. I grabbed the trousers and charged after him. When I reached the dining area he wasn’t there.
“They’re gone.” The manager informed behind me.
I whirled around at his words. How was it possible? What was up with that guy? I sighed before retreating back to the crew room. The rest of the night went slow. Half of the time, my thoughts were occupied by Jason’s words.