The next few days consisted of basically the same exact things. My mom and I ignored each other, I went to all of my classes and actually put forth effort against my better judgement due to Mr. Dylan’s constant watch over how well I’m doing in school. He wants to see an improvement in my work and has even threatened to assign a meeting with my mom over my grades if I don’t put forth any effort. Typically this wouldn’t bother me, since my mom hardly ever responds when my teachers reach out to her. But, do to our lack of communication lately I know my mom would respond eagerly to Mr. Dylan just to spite me. Therefore I have been a good student who turns in her homework, however much of a half ass job I’ve done on it.
Also, Justin hasn’t failed to interrupt my lonely lunch everyday this week. He insists on sitting with me and tries constantly (and achieves) to have a conversation with me. As much as I want to push him away and ignore his very existence, I just can’t. He just has this way of making you feel so calm and comfortable in his presence, and it’s almost impossible to dislike or ignore him. And that is so frustrating yet thrilling at the same time. I find myself wanting to tell him things I can barely even admit to myself and as much as I want to stop his pull on me I just can’t. And a part of me doesn’t really want to.
“Great Lilly, you saved me a seat today! How generous of you!” Justin comes swooping towards my table in the library and takes a seat. His sarcastic comment was aimed towards my actions a couple of days ago when I decided to be petty and put something in every chair around me to deter him. Let’s just say it didn’t quite work out. I roll my eyes.
“You are so very welcome,” I mutter, trying to be bitchy but I end up smiling at him instead. His happy vibes always rub off on me.
“So, what do we have today? Hot Cheetos? Skittles? Some other kind of junk unsuitable for lunch?” Justin nags, flicking my bag of sour patch kids. He’s been condemning me on the junk I eat during lunch and overall acting like my mother. And being here at school was an escape from her so I definitely didn’t need Justin to take over her role.
“You’re just cranky because you’re eating that nasty crap from the cafeteria,” I tease, pointing at his cheeseburger.
“At least this won’t rot my teeth.”
“Whatever you say, mom.”
“Seriously Lilly. You need to eat a real lunch. It’s not healthy to eat junk food everyday for a meal,” He says, looking at me with concern. As if he’s worried about me. What the hell. Why would he care whether or not I was eating right? I don’t get this kid.
“I am and will continue to be perfectly fine. I don’t understand why you care so much anyways,” I mutter. I hear Justin take a deep breath and stare at me intently. I try desperately to ignore his gaze, but I eventually give in and meet his eyes. Us staring at each other this way makes me so nervous I want to grab my bag and make a run for it. But I don’t. I stay.
“Isn’t it obvious by now?” He asks, laughing ruefully before giving me a small, crooked yet perfect smile. He has two dimples that I focus on to ignore the erratic beating of my heart. What is Justin Grey doing to me?
“What do you mean?” I end up whispering, only adding tension to this somehow intimate moment.
“I care about you and your well being. I wouldn’t be trying so hard to be your friend if I didn’t.” My breath catches on the word friend. I haven’t had a friend in a very long time. I felt happiness and dread at the prospect of being friends with Justin Grey.
“But why? Why would you want to be my friend or care about me?” Why would this boy want to be nice to me and show me the kindness I can’t even get from my own father? How is he able to get me to express myself in ways I haven’t in years? Why me? Why him of all people?
“Is it really that hard for you to believe someone wants to genuinely be friends with you?” he asks, basically dodging my question.
“Yes. No. Maybe? I don’t know!” I say exasperatedly. My mind is a confusing mess that only makes sense on paper.
“Okay, let’s jump to a lighter subject. I want to ask you something, but you have to promise me you’ll listen to me fully and really consider it before you deny or reject my offer,” Justin says sternly, trying to keep the mood light yet I can see how nervous he is to ask me whatever’s on his mind.
“I’m pretty sure that whatever you plan on asking you won’t accept “no” as an answer. You’ve made that clear by sitting with me everyday,” I laugh, trying to ease his nerves. I don’t want him to be nervous around me. It doesn’t feel natural coming from him.
“Okay I’m just going to get this over with. I wanted to invite you to sit in the cafeteria with me and my friends during lunch. They ask me constantly about you and why I ditch them everyday,” He laughs, clearly amused by his friends antics. I can tell that he loves them very much.
“Anyway, they kept insisting that I ask you and here I am. Please consider it. I want you to meet them and they want to meet you. Show them the new Lilly Alvarado,” He says kindly, his eyes begging me to answer. To say yes. To sit with him and his group of friends where I will surely gain attention from people. To leave my solitary loneliness of lunch in this library each day.
“I don’t know...” I trail off, cursing myself silently. What are you doing? Say no! Don’t give him false hope!
“Come on Lilly, please? Sit with us tomorrow. And if things end badly I won’t ask you to eat with them again and I may even let you eat alone here. Maybe. Possibly. Actually, most likely not but still. Come on,” He pleads, smiling at me with so much hope that I feel all of the excuses and no’s fall from my lips. I hate how he’s able to do that. All Justin has to do is look at me with those captivating green eyes or flash a hint of that dimple smile and I am putty in his hands. It’s not fair. But somehow it feels so natural and right.
“Okay! Fine! Whatever,” I grumble, trying to act as if this wasn’t a big deal to me yet it was. Justin has gone through this much of a struggle to become my friend, so how the hell would tomorrow with a large group of people work out? God this was a horrible idea.
“Thank you. It means a lot to me that you are willing to meet them. You’ll love them, I promise.”
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep Grey.”
“Just let me be happy that I didn’t have to argue with you this whole lunch period over it like I was originally anticipating,” He laughs, drawing the attention of the few students who were sat in here also. Most of them didn’t have lunch this period and probably just sat in here during their study hall.
The reason I liked eating in here was the fact that it was mostly quiet, and I could collect my thoughts to just think and write. The shelves upon shelves of books adorning almost every corner of this room brought me comfort. They were filled with thousands of words that someone slaved over, thoughts from so many amazing and distinct authors. Each book started out as a sole idea that blossomed into characters and experiences. That was truly beautiful to me. It was a part of the reason I loved writing so much. There were no rules or boundaries you had to follow. The possibilities of your imagination were endless. There is no greater loss of control.
The restrictions of society ended when your pen or pencil went to paper, or when your fingers tap into those keyboard keys. So many random letters collected into words that served a purpose and meaning. And throughout this process I find the meaning of life. The purpose of expression of thoughts and emotions. And that is true beauty.
“Are you okay Lilly? I think I lost you there for a second,” I immediately slip out of my philosophical thoughts and come back to this moment with Justin. He does not know the meaning of peaceful silence. He has this incessant need to fill every moment with words.
“Sorry. Right, lunch tomorrow with your friends and my horribly awkward self. Sounds peachy.”
“There she goes. Thought you might have been gone. Still as sarcastic as ever I see though.”
“Shut up Justin.”
“Yeah you’re definitely back.” That earned him a punch on the shoulder and a laugh from me as he groaned in imaginary pain.
“Maybe I shouldn’t introduce you to them after all. Abuse isn’t deemed appropriate in typical social standings.”
“Justin if you don’t shut up right now I am going to hit you again.” Lets just say the last few minutes of lunch were spent in peaceful silence.
“I can’t do this,” I mutter, glancing around the lunch room that looked as if it were filled to maximum capacity. Boisterous teenagers seemed to swarm every corner of the room. Someone was blaring their crude music where every other word was exceedingly explicit, making me cringe. There was constant laughter from this one group of girls that somehow reached above every single other person here and was beginning to grate on my nerves. And this is all not to mention how the lunch lines were ridiculously long for the basic lunches the school offered. I am seriously missing the library right now.
“Sure you can! Think positively!” Justin urged before surprising me by taking my hand. All I could focus on was his warm fingers interlacing with mine as he maneuvered us around all of the tables in the cafeteria. It wasn’t long before he stopped before a bunch of people sat at a rectangular table. This is it. Oh god. I am going to majorly screw this up. I was up all night last night dreading this moment and thinking of various excuses to get me out of this. I even tried to dodge Justin by hiding in the girl’s bathroom but unfortunately the little shit was smarter than that. He cornered me outside of my locker.
Curse you Justin Grey.
Justin clears his throat before his friends glance up at us. I recognize most of them. Despite being antisocial, I was aware of the people I had been going to school with for years. I just hadn’t interacted with them much. Until now.
“Hey guys, this is Lilly,” Justin introduces me, and I hold my breath as I try to anticipate what’s going to happen next. Oh god what if they all hate me?
“Hey! I’m Gracson. It’s nice to meet you,” One of the guys speak up, his lips curving into a large grin. He was very attractive with chocolate brown hair with blond highlights touching the tips of hair he has quiffed up. The most startling thing about him was his eyes. They were so blue. It was like watching the water reach the shore in that perfect candid moment. His eyes were deep and calculating, and he was smiling at me devilishly. He looked innocent but I was already wary of him. I recognized him, but I know he’s not someone I ever knew very well.
“So this is the girl you’ve been ditching us everyday for? And you claim you guys just talk in the library? You’re full of shit Justin,” Louisa Denerise says as she struts up to their table. She sits down on Gracson’s lap and attaches her lips to his immediately. I know Louisa because we both have french sixth period. It’s no secret that she spends almost every summer in Italy so she’s basically mastered the language. She sits in the back of the class and texts on her phone. She has gorgeous red shoulder length hair that I’m insanely jealous of, with pale flawless skin and a take no shit attitude. If she hears that you’ve been talking shit about her she’ll definitely confront your ass. She’s been suspended twice already this school year. She’s not one to take anyone’s crap.
“Lou don’t be a bitch. Hi I’m Amiyah, it’s nice to meet you Lilly,” A pretty mixed girl speaks up from across Louisa and Gracson. She has a nice lighter caramel skin tone with perfect pouty pink lips. Her curly brown hair is in a loose ponytail and she has flawless eyebrows and I smile at her as I finally connect who she is. Amiyah Haillefield. She’s actually in my English class and she helps me out when I don’t understand what the fuck Mr. Dylan is going on about. If it wasn’t for her I’d still be failing his class. She’s such a sweetheart and I immediately know that she is someone I can see myself being friends with. I don’t know about Louisa though. She’s a cool person but I feel like she’ll end up hating me. I’m not exactly the type of person she’s friends with.
“It’s nice to meet you too. And, thank you for helping me in English by the way. Mr. Dylan can be a dick.” She laughs before agreeing.
“You’re totally right. By the way, this is Jasmine. She just moved here this year so you most likely don’t know who she is,” Amiyah points to a pretty dark haired girl sat to her left. She has long inky black hair and coffee brown eyes. She was very pretty. I wonder why she moved here of all places. This town is shit.
“Hey. You must be pretty special if Justin chose to spend most of his time with you,” She smiles softly and she looks... sad. Does she like Justin or something? That made my stomach clench tightly. I suddenly felt nauseous. Damn the library is looking so good right now. I go to respond to her before a loud and rude voice interrupted me.
“Are you both going to sit down or stand there the whole time? Because quite frankly I couldn’t give zero fucks about this meet and greet shit.” I felt my eyes widen in shock at this guy’s rudeness. I glance at him and feel my breath hitch. You have got to be kidding me. Justin is friends with Shane Rikers? The ultimate fuck boy and asshole extraordinaire. His cold hazel eyes meet mine before he scowls.
“Seriously man? Her? I’d at least expect you to ditch us for a decent fuck. But Lilly Alvarado? You ain’t getting your dick wet there my friend,” He laughs crudely and I feel my cheeks flame and an angry scowl mar my face. This fucking asshole has the nerve to say shit about me?
“Listen here asshole. At least I can find a good time without being under some girls skirt and getting shitfaced between classes! You don’t even know shit about me so I suggest-” He cuts me off before I get anymore words out.
“Trust me I know enough. And I have no shame on what the fuck I do on a daily basis so I don’t need prissy bitches like you to point out how I spend my time!” He growls, and if I wasn’t so pissed right now I’d be goddamn terrified because his eyes were dark and menacing and he looked like he wanted to kill me. Fuck this was a bad idea.
“Shut the hell up Shane! Dammit you promised to not be a dick. I’m sorry Lilly. Trust me it’s not you. Shane’s a dick to everyone. I don’t even know why I’m friends with him half of the time,” Justin jokes and I watch as Shane rolls his eyes. I go to sit beside Jasmine as Justin sits across from me next to Shane. They all had already grabbed their lunches and Justin made me wait in line with him as well before we came over here.
“Here. Eat this instead of the crap you brought,” Justin slides a piece of pizza over to me. I go to protest before he gives me an insistent look and my words fall short. I roll my eyes and take a bite out of the pizza just to please him. He gives me a sexy, smug smirk before turning towards Shane and Gracson to start a conversation.
“Don’t let Shane get to you. I remember the beginning of the school year when I first moved here and Amiyah invited me to sit with them at lunch, I was terrified of Shane. He scared the crap out of me. But he’s not that bad. Just rough around the edges,” Jasmine reassures me. I smile at her in thanks.
“I hope you’re right. Justin begged me to sit with you guys and I don’t want to deal with Shane’s mood swings.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m happy Justin invited you to sit with us. It’s the first time I’ve seen him happy since him and his ex split over the summer. I think you’ll be good for him,” Amiyah speaks up. I feel myself blush, tucking a strand of my brown hair behind my ear.
“We’re just friends. If even that,” I assured her. Me being anything more with Justin? I can barely handle him as a friend.
“Hey! I thought we were best friends at least by now! After everything we’ve been through!” Justin says dramatically, making me roll my eyes but I can’t help the giggles that leave my lips.
“You are such a fucking dweeb Justin. Honestly Lilly I’d ditch the loser if I were you,” Louisa speaks up, laughing as Justin throws a french fry at her.
“Gracson get your girlfriend she’s being mean to me again!” We all laugh as Gracson shrugs his shoulders helplessly. His blue eyes twinkle.
“Hey I don’t control her man. She’s the dominate one in this relationship.” We all start laughing hysterically and I even see tears leaving some of their eyes. Even Shane cracks a smile before covering it up. God they are all crazy. But maybe it’s a crazy I can get used to.