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Chapter Ten

I squint my eyes at Shane as he sat slumped over on his desk, his fingers tapping repeatedly on the solid wooden surface. He was dressed in all black, his dark hair slicked back and his face expressionless. We were currently in Economics with free work time we were advised to take advantage of. Of course no one really abided to the teacher’s advice and were mostly talking amongst themselves and on their phones. I decided to sit beside Shane today but he’s been ignoring me and even though it’s better than his glares and snarky comments, his silence seemed more unnerving than usual.

“Shane?” I say, my words coming out in a questioning manner. He jumps so quickly and violently that it shocks me. He immediately fixes his cold, burning eyes on me and sets his mouth in a dissatisfied grimace.

“What the hell do you want?” He growls, shoving his fingers through his hair roughly. He slams his elbows on the desk, his combat boots tapping fast on the linoleum floor. I take in a deep, calming breath while trying to restrain the need deep inside me to scream and knock some sense into this kid. What was his problem? Why does he act like this around me? I get that I’m new to their group and he might feel like I barged my way into their lives or something stupid like that, but it’s been weeks and he’s still being a dick! I’ve always known that he’s a rude, closed off person, but never have I seen him act so angry towards anyone but myself.

And I’m sick of it.

“I was just trying to start a conversation with you. Honestly what the hell is your problem? Did I do something to you that I’m unaware about?” I ask frustratedly, tired of this constant back and forth thing with him. Can’t he just be mature and tell me what his problem was with me?

“God I don’t feel like doing this today with you. Just fucking leave me alone, okay?” He says in a gruff tone. But my patience is running thin.

“Seriously, just tell me why you hate me so much! It’s not even that you have to like me, but hell not knowing is exhausting!”

“Fuck this! No, fuck you! You really want to know? Want to know how just seeing your face makes me sick. How having to be around you daily is screwing with my mind so much because you look exactly like her and I hate you for it!” He didn’t scream it or yell. His voice wasn’t even loud enough to be heard by anyone but us, there was barely a slim chance that those in our close vicinity even heard him. If so they had to of been straining their ears.

He had gotten into my face quick, his nose slightly bumped mine, his breathing harsh. His hazel eyes had darkened with unrelenting anger but I knew it was much deeper than that. He looked upset and filled with so much anguish and sadness.

Shane was always this unapproachable badass who no one ever dared to bother or even give a crap to try and know. But despite his attempt to scare me and make me upset, he only gave me a glimpse of who he is under this exterior. A human being who is just as vulnerable and susceptible to hurt like the rest of us.

Before I’m even given a chance to utter a word, Shane’s chair is screeching loudly as he stands up, kicking it behind him violently. We now had the attention of the whole class as he stormed forward, causing our classmates to scramble and jump out of his way. I flinch violently when the door bangs loudly behind him, the sound ricocheting off the walls.

The silence Shane’s exit caused is soon replaced by quiet chatter and questions bubbling from everyone’s lips. I just sigh loudly. Shane may use anger and violent tendencies to forget whatever it is plaguing him, but we can only run from our problems for so long.

One thing kept nagging at me though. Who do I remind Shane of? And where is she now? When the bell rang I eagerly left the classroom, albeit a bit on edge. Part of me wanted to seek Shane out for answers, but a bigger side of me said to give him space. Throwing chairs and slamming doors didn’t make good conversation starters.

But I am determined to find out whoever it is that I remind him of.

“Are you writing an apology letter to Shane?” Amiyah teases, nudging me as she took a seat beside me in English.

“God no,” I mumbled, rolling my eyes. Like I’d write him an apology letter. If anything he’s the one who owes me an apology for disliking me because I looked like someone he knows. How shallow is that? As if it’s my fault bad memories are tied with that person, which in turn Shane lets it out on me.

Rumors have been spreading fast since our little scuffle this morning, and everyone kept sticking their noses where they don’t belong. The different theories I’ve heard so far about why Shane left the classroom that angry has ranged from us secretly selling drugs to me carrying his baby. People seriously needed to check themselves because Shane doesn’t look at me with anything but disgust and is in no way attracted to me.

As if I’d have sex with him anyways.

“You know, all I did was ask him why he hates me so much and he flipped out! He threw a tantrum like a five year old child!”

“You’ll just have to be patient with him. Anger is the only way Shane knows how to deal with everything he’s been through,” Amiyah says, placing a comforting hand on my arm. I knew she was right, but I had to ask her one thing.

“I know. You’re right, but… Shane said I look like someone he knows. What does that even mean Amiyah?” It confused me so much. There was so much that I didn’t know and I felt like I can’t piece anything together without this small piece of information. Amiyah gasps lightly, but loud enough to where I caught it.

“Oh wow…” She says softly, her brown eyes widened in shock.

“Who is she Amiyah?” I ask desperately.

“It’s his sister. You’ll understand once he tells you. She means a lot to him.”

Then why does the fact that I look like her disgust him? I want to know why Shane is the way he is. I want to know his story.

But I doubt he’ll ever tell me, and I don’t want to be the only one left in the dark. I’d just have to earn his trust.

But that is definitely easier said than done.

“Is he giving me a death glare?” I ask Lou while we stood outside my locker. Shane, Gracson, and Justin were down the hall acting like complete idiots. They kept pushing and shoving one another while yelling like cavemen. I don’t understand how I’m friends with them.

Amiyah stayed behind in her class for some extra help on their current subject, and I honestly didn’t know where Jasmine was. Ever since our conversation the other night she seemed awkward around me. I guess she shared more than she felt comfortable with. I was glad though because she’s mostly quiet but comfortable with everyone else and I want to be included in that too. Jasmine seemed like a genuine person and I wouldn’t mind being closer to her.

“Bitch please he doesn’t have time to hate you every second. Look, he keeps glancing around and it’s not for you,” I look over at them and observe how Shane keeps looking around ‘casually’. His face was pinched in what looked like worry, and I started to panic as he made his way towards us. Holy crap! What have I done now? Was he gonna extract his evil revenge?

“Have you guys seen Jasmine?” Shane asks us immediately, running his hands through his dark hair. His eyes kept flickering over our shoulders and even into my locker, as if I were hiding her in there or something.

“No we haven’t. I doubt she’s disappeared though so don’t get your panties in a twist,” Lou says, rolling her eyes. She had a vindictive smirk on her face though, and I felt clueless and left out once again. What was going on?

“You’re no fucking help,” Shane says, clenching his jaw before looking around one more time. I watch as his features immediately softened, and he lets out an almost inaudible breath. I follow his eyes to see Jasmine bounding to us, her sweet smile reeling Shane in. His mouth was curved into a tiny smile and his face was just… relaxed.

“Never mind,” he mumbled, flashing a dimpled smile towards her before walking off briskly. I stared after him in astonishment.

“Hey guys, what’s up?” Jasmine asks, shuffling her books and papers in her arms.

“Shane’s dick,” Lou says, and me and her both burst into laughter while Jasmine looks at us in bewilderment.

“What are you guys talking about?” Jasmine asks, laughing a little too.

“Oh hun you are so clueless,” Lou says, patting Jasmine’s arm affectionately. Lou’s smile immediately disintegrates when a flash of blonde strolls by.

“Speaking of clueless,” She says spitefully, her green eyes blazing with hate as she regards Justin’s ex Amy from across the hall. I find myself glancing over against my will, and studying her flawless physique. Her platinum blonde hair was curled into effortless ringlets, her makeup sharp and her ruby red lips pursed at us in distaste. I find myself making eye contact with her and she looks so cold. Her expression is furious and she smirks at me before strutting off, winking at something behind me before disappearing down the hall.

“I fucking hate her,” Lou hisses, turning back to face us. Before she could go into a whole spiel about the vindictive Amy Winters, Justin’s voice rings in my ear.

“Lou she’s not worth it. Honestly,” He says beside my ear, sending shivers down my back. I glance back at him and admire how nice he looks with his hair brushed and out of his face. I immediately frown though when I realize that he must’ve been the one Amy winked at. It was obvious she had a problem with me and the last thing I wanted was any drama.

But all Amy was during their relationship was drama, and she clearly didn’t appreciate my new friendship with her ex. But I enjoyed Justin’s presence and there was no way I was going anywhere soon. I was here to stay unless Justin wanted me gone or gave me a reason to leave.

“Okay I have to tell you assholes all something. My mom wants to meet you guys, whenever you’re free we can all hang and have dinner at my place. It’s no pressure just my mom’s psycho and thinks you all could possibly be mass murderers. So be on your best behavior!” I exclaim, laughing at their bewildered expressions.

After some discussion we all decide that tomorrow night would be good and I just have to inform my mom so she can act crazy and power clean the house and cook a crap ton. I made everyone swear they’d behave, even Shane who’s not as pissed at me anymore I don’t think. We are finally going to use the dining room we haven’t set foot in for years. Ever since Alex and Dad both left we had no use for it or visitors.

But times are changing and I’m not finding myself clinging so desperately to the past like I typically do. I’m open to these new changes and experiences. Things are looking up.

This was a disaster. My mom has broken two plates so far, burned the garlic bread, screamed at me about the house looking like a wreck, and literally made me haul extra chairs from our basement. Never again will I do this. It’s been so long since we’ve had guests and I forgot how pyscho it made her act. I wouldn’t be surprised if by the end of the night I had no friends left.

“Lilly, will you please set the table? If I have to clean up another broken plate I’m going to scream,” My mother huffs, while stirring the spaghetti on the stove top. Rolling my eyes, I set down eight plates on the table. Walking back into the kitchen, I simultaneously grab forks, knives, and napkins. I am slightly terrified that this dinner is going to turn into an investigation where my mother does her thing where she pries insistently into your life. Setting down the silverware and napkins, my mom comes into the room to place glasses at each seat. Hearing the doorbell ring, my mother starts to curse and runs into the kitchen to grab the food. I take the hint and go to answer the door. Swinging it wide open, I’m immediately am greeted by Gracson who shoves me aside.

“I am only here for the food!” He exclaims, and I can hear him greeting my mother. I take in a deep breath. The worst thing that can happen is we all die.

But if you’ve met these people you’d realize that could be a plausible possibility.

“I’m sorry my boyfriend is such a dweeb,” Lou says, coming inside with Amiyah following behind her. I glance behind them, wondering where the others were. Where Justin was.

“Justin pulled in behind us, but I don’t know what their doing exactly. He’s probably making sure Shane behaves but honestly if Jasmine asks him to he’ll keep his mouth shut like a little bitch,” Lou sniggers, and I glance at Justin’s car in my driveway. It was so strange to me that Shane had a crush on Jasmine because she was just so quiet and sweet and he’s all dark and moody yet I find the idea cute. But I know it would never work because she was in love with someone else. And despite all that Shane is, I actually feel bad for him.

As I’m about to go and be a good host to my guests, I finally see those three coming to the door. Jasmine is in front, and we say hi to each other before she slips further into my house, and Shane follows behind her diligently, not even sparing me a glance but I find myself okay with that. There was someone else I was looking forward to seeing. And here he was.

Justin was in front of me wearing a black shirt that fit him amazingly, blue jeans I desperately wanted to see the back of him in, and his hair was back to it’s usual mess but he was still handsome as ever.

“Hey,” Justin says, smiling goofily at me causing me to laugh, shaking off my nerves. I loved how calming he was.

“Hey,” I say, smiling too. We both keep staring at each other, and I’m desperately thinking of what to say so this won’t turn awkward yet I don’t want to ruin the moment.

“You guys can have sex later, dinner’s ready!” A voice who I am convinced is Gracson yells. My face is super red as I tell Justin to follow me. I lead him into the dining room, taking the last two available seats. My mom was sat at the head of the table, with Amiyah at the end. Justin was sat to my mom’s right, I was beside him, and Jasmine was sat next to me. To my mom’s left sat Gracson, who didn’t have the decency to wait for me and Justin to get in here before eating, Lou to his left who looked gorgeous as usual with her hair up and done in intricate braids. And last but probably least was Shane, who sat conveniently across from Jasmine and I couldn’t help but smile at that. I mean, who knew a guy like Shane Rikers could fall for sweet and innocent Jasmine. I don’t know who the guy she loves is, but he sure has some competition. When Justin and I finally take a seat, my mom clears her throat and gives me her evil eyes.

“Lilly Grace Alvarado! You told me you two were just friends and if you’re having sex I’ll have to tell you father-”

“No mom, god! Gracson was just kidding,” I moan, glaring angrily at him. I swear him and Lou are one in the same. And I specifically told them no sex jokes tonight but of course they can’t help themselves. My mom is going to try and give me the talk again even though I’m seventeen going on eighteen. This is just great.

“I’m sorry miss…?” Gracson trails off, looking towards my mom.

“You can all call me Jane,” My mother says, smiling at everyone. We begin eating the spaghetti she made, and it’s really good. Amiyah and Jasmine compliment the food, but other than that things are pretty quiet. Until my mom speaks up.

“So, how did you all meet each other and become friends?” My mom asks, and everyone glances up at her. Justin swallows his food before smiling at her.

“Gracson, Shane and I have been friends since we were kids. We all grew up together and met in elementary. These kids were picking on Gracson and me,” Justin pauses to snicker at the memory and his laugh makes me smile.

“Then comes in this tall and gangly looking kid who literally punches one of the punks in the face and sends them all scattering. He terrified Gracson and I so much and we ran too once he turned to ask us if we were okay,” By now everyone at the table was laughing and even Shane looked happy to relive the memory. Gracson now picks up the story.

“So the next day Shane comes up to us during lunch and sits at our table. Now, we are freaking terrified thinking Shane is gonna beat the sh-” Gracson’s eyes widen. “Sorry. Beat the poop out of us. But he doesn’t. And we all three start hanging out each day and became cool. I met Lou the summer after sophomore year and asked her out Junior year. I still don’t know why she said yes,” Gracson jokes, and we all laugh as Lou playfully punches his arm. I smile at their backstory. It’s clear how much they all care about one another and Lou and Gracson are just so cute together.

“And with Lou comes Amiyah, since the two are damn near inseparable,” Shane says, and I’m surprised to see him smiling and contributing to the conversation.

Rolling her eyes, Amiyah says, “Shut up Shane you know you love me.” She sticks her tongue out at him and he rolls his eyes but you can tell that they got along well.

“And,” Jasmine says, getting everyone’s attention, “I moved here at the beginning of summer to start at Westfield High for 12th grade. I was lonely and lost, then this crazy red head in my french class invited me to hang with her and her friends,” Jasmine says, and Lou smiles cheekily. “Amiyah was always nice and welcoming, Gracson was and still is this big goof, Justin was a nice guy, and Shane absolutely terrified me before things just clicked into place.”

My smile was huge as I regarded all of these people and felt so happy to have met them and be able to call them my friends.

“Oh and you can’t forget how we all met Lilly,” Lou says, winking at me. Oh god.

“How did you guys meet Lilly?” My mom asks curiously.

“It’s not that big of deal,” I start off but Gracson interrupts me.

“Oh no you’ve got to hear this. So Justin tells me how he met this girl in detention who refused to tell him her name. He literally wouldn’t shut up about her and was so focused on her. Then, next thing we all know we’re being left at lunch only to find out Justin’s been sitting in the library of all places to talk to this girl!” Everyone laughs and I find myself laughing too even though I’m embarrassed. But I’m glad Justin was so stalkerish and persistent.

“So he finally gets Lilly to agree to eat lunch with us. And oh my god he literally coached us all on how to act,” Everyone laughs loudly, and I glance at Justin, feeling an indescribable warmth flow through me. I didn’t want to read too much into what Gracson was saying but it was so goddamn cute that he cared that much to become my friend and make me feel comfortable. Why did I of all people deserve that?

“That is the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard,” My mother coos, looking at Justin in adoration. This has just made her love him more.

“It wasn’t like that,” Justin mutters in embarrassment.

“Yeah right,” Shane laughs. Conversation is scattered after that, but the night was pretty successful. My mom got to see the gang in all their glory and hopefully hasn’t deemed them all as killers. They’re psychopathic sure, but they haven’t killed anyone to my knowledge.

“Thank you so much for dinner Jane. It was delicious,” Amiyah says, as everyone begins to leave. They would stay longer but we all have school tomorrow and they got here sorta late. Then again the kitchen was an absolute disaster at the time everyone was supposed to get here.

“You guys want a tour of the house before you leave?” I ask, and everyone nods. I lead them into the living room, and show them the downstairs bathroom. Going up the stairs, we pass by my mom’s room and then go into mine. I nervously open the door and watch as everyone piles in.

“You have like nothing in here,” Lou comments, walking around and picking at my stuff. I shrug and watch as she picks up my notebook. I clear my throat loudly and she laughs before winking and setting it back down. Oh god.

“I don’t need much. And I’ll be eighteen soon.”

“Still. Your room is just so plain and boring. It doesn’t reflect you at all,” Amiyah mumbles. If only you all knew.

“Come on guys leave Lilly alone,” Justin says, throwing his arm over my shoulder making me want to have a spasm attack. Honestly why does he do this to me?

“Yeah leave Justin’s girlfriend alone,” Gracson teases, and Justin has to stop me from attacking him. He already made my mother believe I was having sex with Justin and I swear if he doesn’t stop I’m clawing his eyes out.

“Okay that’s enough everyone get out!” Justin says, and he helps push everyone out of my room. Everyone walks ahead of us to go downstairs, and Justin walks beside me quietly. I flinch when he interrupts the silence.

“Who’s room is that?” He asks, pointing over to Alex’s room. I feel my face pale considerably as my heart beats so loud I can hear it in my own ears. I feel my hands begin to shake slightly as I try to cling to any excuse that comes to mind.

“It-it’s no one’s. No one important anyway,” I mumble, going down the stairs and glancing behind me to make sure he follows. I say goodbye to everyone in my front foyer and they thank my mom for dinner and letting them over. As everyone leaves out the door I start to wonder where Justin went. He was literally right behind me. I turn around to go and see if he got lost when he entered the room.

“Hey, sorry I had to go to the restroom. Thanks again Jane for dinner it was lovely as was you,” Justin says, taking my mother’s hand and kissing it. I swear I hate this kid.

“Seriously Justin you know you might as well buy her a ring-” I start to ramble but immediately stop when he wraps his arms around me and hugs me. Holy poop. Justin Grey is hugging me.

“I had a great night,” He mumbles into my hair. I hug him back, feeling everything in me melt. He was no good for my health.

“Glad you had a good time,” I say quietly. He smiles down at me charmingly before a honk from outside interrupted our moment. He gives my mother and I one last grin before leaving and shutting the door firmly behind him.

“That boy is perfect for you.”

“Please stop mom,” I moan, trying to leave the room to escape her teasing.

“No Lilly wait,” My mom says seriously, and I turn around to face her fully.

“Whether you like it or not, you’re going to your father’s this weekend. And don’t you dare complain or moan about it. And I talked to your teacher Mr. Dylan today. You need to get your grades up. I mean that. I know I haven’t paid as much attention to you as I should but I’m done with that now. I miss Alex too but we can’t put our lives on pause for him honey,” She says earnestly and with stark honest. I want to be pissed at her and be upset because it took her this long to realize what she’s been doing and how it’s affected us both.

But I didn’t get upset. At least not right now. Because we had a good night for once in a long time and this could wait.

“Okay mom. I love you,” I say, kissing her cheek. My mom looks surprised but takes this win in stride. But things would probably be different in the morning, but for now all I could think about was Alex, and Justin’s hug so I felt too distracted to think about anything else.

“I love you too sweetie,” She says, and I go upstairs and flop onto my bed. My mind is filled with so many thoughts about Alex, Justin, Shane, and my dad. My thoughts and feelings were so confused, but all I knew was that I missed Alex so much and nothing felt better than being in Justin’s arms.

Justin Grey entered my life in a whirlwind and nothing has been the same since. And I know I’d never be the same if he were gone.

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