Chapter 2 - Partners.
Second period and third period went by in a blur. Anne didn't get the chance to sit next to me since there were assigned seats, so all she did was send me friendly glances every once in awhile. I tried my best to give them back, but I think I mostly ignored her the whole time.
Walking into fourth period, I couldn't help but feel a little sad at the fact Anne had to like Jace. She was my only friend as of right now, yet I can see our friendship flowing down the drain already. There was no way I could get along with her, whenever she's near I get annoyed. She's friendly, pretty, and great at conversing but my crush for Jace put too much of a barrier between us, even if she didn't know.
My mood worsened when I realized I had physics this period. My D- stared me right in the face as I took my assigned seat all the way in the back, feeling like total crap. I needed to figure out a way to get my grade up. I didn't want my dad to give me a lecture when I got home from informing him that I did absolutely nothing to get it up.
Though I perked up when Jace walked through the doors along with the other students, taking a seat all the way across the classroom. I cursed my teacher for putting us so far apart, yet I was almost glad she did. I don't know what I'd do if we sat next to each other. I'd probably embarrass myself more than I already do in front of him.
The final bell rang as everyone took their seats, all waiting for Mrs. Anderson's instructions. She stood up from her desk, glancing at all of us before smiling.
"Today we're doing new seating arrangements."
Some of the students groaned while others did a little cheer. I honestly couldn't care less.
Everyone stood up and made their way towards the front of the room while Mrs. Anderson got out a clip board and stood in front of us. She looked down at it, most likely our seating arrangements and cleared her throat as she began telling students where to sit. I only listened to where Jace was going to be sitting.
"Alex, you're right here." She pointed to a seat while a blond kid in my class obediently took his seat.
"Kyla, you're going to be sitting here."
"Paselie, right here."
Finally she said the name I've been waiting for. "Jace, this is gonna be your spot."
I watched him leave the now small group in the front to take his seat. I also took this time to gaze at what he's wearing. He wore black jeans that defined his long legs nicely, a grey-blue v-neck shirt, his usual scuffed up black and white vans, and a black hoodie. He swung his backpack next to his seat and plopped down. I looked away when he looked up.
My heart stopped at my name. "Orabella, you're right next to Jace."
I froze. No, no no no no, no. The thing about our science tables was that each table only sat two seats so that everyone had a partner. And I was supposed to be Jace's, who was sitting all the way in the back left corner. When I didn't move at first, too busy internally crying, Mrs. Anderson raised her eyebrows at me. I swallowed thickly and moved, my nerves shot. I met Jace's steel gaze and he smiled kindly at me. I fought my blush and looked down.
When I got to my seat, I slowly lowered into it, stiff as a board. The last time we spoke was the day I drove him to the hospital. After that we were only friendly glances in the hallways.
Now I'm going to be sitting next to him in physics, my worst subject ever.
My heart skipped a beat. He was only a couple inches away from me! I peeked at him to find him looking forward, clicking his pen again. I narrowed my eyes at his thumb that repeatedly clicked the pen. I hated it when he did this.
Mrs. Anderson finished placing people in their seats and turned to face us. "These are going to be your permanent seats this year, people. Now, don't give me those looks! I put you next to your partner for a reason. I believe the people you are sitting next to you now will help you benefit and learn more throughout the year. I will now give you ten minutes to get to know them better since you will be working with them most of the time, so I better see your mouths moving and hear people talking! Alright?"
A lot of yes's murmured through the room and she smiled gratefully, returning back to her seat behind her desk. My heart stopped throughout what she said, and so I was completely tense when I abruptly turned towards Jace. His lips lifted slightly as he raised a brow at my quirky movements, turning his body towards me smoothly.
If I was going to talk to him normally, I had to push my crush for him to the back of my mind, despite how fucking excited I am that I finally get to talk to him.
His perfect pink lips moved first. "Long time no see, partner?" His grey eyes sparkled as he smirked. My lips parted, slightly in a daze before I frowned, registering his words.
"We see each other everyday?" My brows furrowed in confusion.
His face lit up in amusement as he glanced away briefly, shaking his head as a small breathless laugh escaped his lips. Eyes meeting mine again, he was having a hard time containing his amused grin. "That's not exactly what I meant by that. I mean, we haven't spoken in awhile Orabella."
I nodded once in understanding. "Oh. Yea. We haven't."
He smirked and nodded slowly. "Yeaaah. So how've you been?"
Oh gosh. This is getting really awkward really fast. I blushed and shrugged my shoulders.
"As good as always. How about you? How's your head?" I asked, smiling at the end.
He groaned before grinning at me. "I hoped you would've forgotten that. That was super embarrassing."
I laughed quietly, shaking my head. "You could say that... but I'm serious, your head is fine? I mean you almost died!"
"You're still on about me dying?" He laughed. "Ora, a simple splitting of the skin isn't going to kill me."
I ignored his silly nickname he came up for me and frowned. "But you were bleeding so much! I've never seen that much blood come out of someone before."
His eyes shined. "The head bleeds more than the rest of our body. It was normal."
"Oh, I didn't know that."
He chuckled but changed the subject. "Anyways, my head is doing great. Thank you for your concern... and at the moment I'm doing pretty damn well."
I gave him a genuine smile. "That's good to hear."
His facial expression softened as he stared at me, eyes scanning my entire face. Something flickered in his eyes and I felt myself heating up, my cheeks turning red. My brows furrowed slightly as my smile slowly dropped, confused at his sudden change in expression. His eyes were intense and had my heart beating fast.
"What?" I blurted. I was having a hard time keeping eye contact with him.
He blinked and smiled at me. "I just haven't realized how beautiful you are until now. Why do you always keep your hood up?"
I blushed even more at his compliment and looked away, shrugging. "I don't know." I murmured.
I never took compliments easily. For some reason, they always made me feel more insecure. And of course I knew why I always kept my hood up. It was for that very reason, my insecurities. Jace complimenting me felt so... strange. I wanted to believe him but after years of dismissing compliments, I couldn't find it in me to do so.
He cleared his throat and I looked back up at him. He looked awkward. "Uh sorry, I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable. Sometimes I don't think before I say things."
I smiled reassuringly at him. "No way, you didn't make me uncomfortable. You just took me off guard. Thank you, though."
He smiled back at me and went to say something but that's when Mrs. Anderson brought the class back in focus, cutting him off before he could speak.
"Alright, times up!"
As she droned on talking about our project we'll be doing, I felt Jace keep giving me sideways glances. I tried my best to ignore it and focus on the directions, but I found myself spacing out in thought of why he keeps looking at me. Do I have something on my face? Oh my gosh I hope I don't have a booger hanging out my nose-
"This is partner work." Mrs. Anderson declared, snapping me out of my thoughts at the word 'partner.'
My eyes widened and I became panicked. I hadn't listened to a word she said and now she was passing out papers as students became engrossed in the work together. I shot Jace a panicked look. He didn't see. Shit shit.
Mrs. Anderson approached us and gave us one piece of paper to share, meeting my eye and smiling. I tried to smile back but I think it came out more as a grimace. Jace is going to see how much I absolutely suck at physics.
He took the paper and faced his body towards me, eyes meeting mine over the edge of the paper. They were mischievous. I twisted my wrists in my hands.
"I'll read the directions out loud since I don't think you caught a word she said." He smirked, quirking an eyebrow. I paused and gaped at him.
He could tell?
I diverted my gaze for a second in embarrassment and nodded. "Yea, that would be g-great." I mumbled, tugging at my sleeve. He chuckled and began to read the instructions, his velvet voice seeping into my ears like a melody.
I listened closely and when he was done, I knew what we had to do but didn't know how to.
He set the paper down and shot me a smile. "Which project would you rather do, the swing or the hula hoop?"
I fumbled. "U-um, which one is- which one would be easier?"
He smirked. "The swing would be easier, but the hula hoop gives us more points since it's harder."
I blushed furiously and shrugged. "You choose. I am fine with both."
"We'll do the swing." He chuckled then got up and walked towards Mrs. Anderson's desk. I watched them talk before she handed him a packet. He turned around and made his way towards me, smiling when he caught me watching.
"This is the packet for the swing. Mrs. Anderson already has the needed materials so all we have to do is put it together correctly." He said as he sat down. I nodded before I hesitated.
"Um, just so you know, physics is not my forte." I murmured, tucking a strand of hair behind my ear. He nodded understandingly.
"Alright well I'm here to help, so don't worry about it too much." He shot me a grin and I sighed in relief.
We got the materials and started figuring out how to put the swing together. By the end of the period, all we had was the measurements written down on a piece of paper. The bell rang and we were so engrossed in our work, that we didn't even realize it was time to go.
We stared down at the piece of paper, proud of our work. Jace turned to me, a smirk plastered on his face. "Well done, partner."
I grinned widely and nodded. "Thanks. This was surprisingly easy with your help. I don't know what I'd do if I was partnered with someone else..." I murmured while we both started packing up.
"Yea, you helped me a lot too so thanks. I'm sure we'll get this done before the due date." He said, shrugging on his backpack as we started our way towards the door.
"I did?" I blanched, looking up at him. I mostly just told him ideas and things we could do while he did all the mathematical stuff. He nodded.
"Yea. You have quite the imagination, I would have never seen all the different ways we could build it."
I smiled and he gave me a dazzling grin in return. We left the classroom and he called out to me, "I'll see you tomorrow!"
I sighed in complete bliss as I watched him walk away. Friends immediately swarmed him and they said something making him laugh. I smiled and shook my head, walking the other direction while the image of him laughing played over and over in my head.
Getting home around 1:20 pm, I immediately went upstairs to my room after greeting my parents who were talking suspiciously quiet in the kitchen. When they saw me I saw something flash in their gazes before they greeted me with smiles like usual. I ignored their weird behavior and stripped out of my clothes once inside my room. I got myself a fluffy white towel before getting in the shower, instantly calming down once the warm water hit me. I got out when I was done, pulling on sweatpants and a loose black t-shirt. I blow dried my hair then pulled it up into a messy bun then headed downstairs to spend some quality time with my parents.
When they saw me mom took me to the living room, dad following close behind as she sat me down on the sofa. I shot them a weird look at their strange behavior. Their faces were serious which had me nervous.
"Um, guys...?" I started hesitantly, looking between my fathers blue eyes and my mothers green eyes.
She breathed in deeply before she started talking. "Bella, before I start to explain please keep an opened mind, okay?"
Her voice was soft yet hard at the same time which had a nervous feeling creeping up my spine. I frowned slightly before nodding, glancing at my dad. He looked stressed. Oh no, this isn't gonna be good.
Mom started again. "Okay. You know Jace Elliott? I'm pretty sure he goes to your school..."
My heart skipped a beat and I nodded in confusion. "Yea I know him... we just started a project together in physics."
She hesitated and nodded slowly. "Well... he's going to be moving in with us next week."
I paused, staring at her incredulously before flickering my gaze towards dad. His face held no amusement that would indicate what mom just said was a joke, instead he looked wary and exhausted.
My dad sighed heavily. "Some stuff happened with his parents. We're the only people fit to be taking care of him right now until they can find relatives willing to take him in."
I was still confused, taken aback, and slightly panicked.
"I don't get it... why is he coming with us though? I've never even been over to his house! Have you guys?"
My mom shared a glance with dad before looking back at me. "His mom and I were best friends before she uh, changed. We used to be super close, sisters basically. We made a promise to each other when we were younger that if something ever happened to us, the other has to be there for them. I'm assuming with kids in the picture, that promise still applies. I know she'd want me to take in Jace momentarily until everything is sorted out. I would've wanted the same if she didn't..." She trailed off and shook her head, dismissing her last thought.
My nerves sparked and I shuffled my feet. This couldn't be happening... "S-so, Jace is coming here?" I squeaked, eyes widening.
Dad nodded. "Saturday. The guest room will be his room for now."
I sucked in a breath and put my head in my hands. Oh no. What the hell? Jace is gonna be living with me! My crush! "This has got to be a dream." I muttered, shaking my buzzing head. I lifted it and looked at my parents in pleading. "Tell me this is a dream."
Mom frowned. "Don't be ridiculous. This is a serious matter."
I groaned. "There's no one else that could take him in? Where are his relatives?"
Dad shook his head. "That's personal. You'd have to ask him yourself."
"And his parents? Why can't they look after him anymore?"
"Again, It's personal. You'll have to ask him." Dad said stiffly, rubbing his temples. I'm assuming this whole ordeal is really stressful for my parents, having to deal with everything and stuff. I pursed my lips and nodded.
"Does he know?"
Mom grimaced. "I'm sure he does now."
I heard dad mutter to himself. "Poor kid..."
I frowned. You'd think Jace would be the luckiest kid alive considering how he acts at school any everything. What could've been so bad that..?
I stood up, the urge to run to my room consuming me. "I'm gonna go do some homework and maybe clean up a bit in here. Call me if you need anything." I mumbled and turned towards the stairs.
"Dinner will be ready soon." Mom said quickly before I hopped up the steps.
When I got to my room, I shut the door and leaned against it.
This whole situation was surreal. Coming home today, I did not expect to be hit with this. This sort of thing only happens in books and movies, not real life! Jace, my crush, is going to be living with me for who-knows-how-long, sleeping under the same roof, showering under the same roof, and eating at the same table!
Although, I am curious to know what happened with his parents.