‘A what?’ Elijah uttered, his eyes wide.
‘Argh Elijah, stop this. I’m going out for food with a guy from school. Simple.’
He blinked as he watched me open the front door.
‘A date.’ He repeated, a smile breaking onto his face.
‘See you later, Eli....’ I muttered as I walked out into the cold air, pulling my leather jacket around me as I pulled my hood up. I had gone a bit heavier on the make up tonight, especially around the eyes. I hoped I didn’t look like a panda. I walked over to Chase who was sat in his yellow sports car watching me walk towards him, his eyes meeting mine.
‘Hey.’ I said, sliding into the car beside him.
‘Hey yourself. Anna right?’ He checked and I just nodded. I wasn’t about to start correcting him for all of the time he would be using my name.
‘Fancy Japanese food?’ He asked hopefully and I nodded as he pulled away. I would eat anything, I was such a food whore. I would rather sit and pig out on food than do anything else in the world. He flicked the radio on and Fall Out boy played, both of us humming along until we reached the restaurant which was in the centre of town and looked busy. I chewed on my lip as he peered at me.
‘You alright?’ He sounded worried and I forced a smile.
‘I’m good. Ready when you are.’
He smiled as we made our way to the restaurant, his arm slung casually around my shoulders. I didn’t move it, but stared at it like it was an insect I wanted to dust off.
Oh God, what was I doing here?!
Despite the many people in the restaurant we were seated quickly, and menus placed in front of us. I already knew what I wanted, having dined here many times before with my family. My dad always tried to cook Japanese and failed miserably, meaning this was a favourite haunt of ours.
‘So tell me about you, Anna.’ He sat back and I checked him out briefly, before deciding that yes, Blue Eyes was hotter.
Wait, where did that come from?!
‘Erm, I’m not great at talking about myself.’ I admitted as the waiter came over to take our order. He smiled at me in recognition, commenting on how lovely I looked. I smiled and ordered my food, chilli chicken ramen.
‘You are gorgeous though.’ Chase smiled as he reached over for my hand.
I smiled as I pulled it back, gazing around the restaurant.
‘So have you been here before?’ I asked, hoping it would distract him from talking about me.
‘No. I don’t do dates that much.’ He laughed and I raised an eyebrow in surprise.
‘Oh for fuck sake.’ He muttered as he looked over my shoulder with annoyance. I didn’t have to turn to know it was him. I could smell him instantly, my body craving more of that addictive scent.
‘Wow Chase, fancy seeing you here. Hey, are you guys on a date?’ Bailey smiled a little too brightly, the blonde girl beside him tugging on his arm when a table became available. He ignored her, his eyes fixed on mine.
‘We are, yes. Hey Cindy. Wow, are you guys public now?’
She shrugged her shoulders coyly as she ran her hand down his arm, which made him tense.
‘Bailey just wanted to get some Chinese food.’
‘I think you mean Japanese.’ I muttered and she looked at me darkly.
‘Lets go Bailey.’ She moved towards the vacant table and he moved away slowly.
‘What is with him?’ I heard Chase mutter as he swigged his drink. Finally the food came and we managed a civil conversation, enough for me to know I felt nothing in the way of romance for Chase; but it had been a nice enough evening. We split the bill upon my insistence, and we made our way out of the restaurant. I felt his eyes on us the whole time, but when I turned to glance back, he was deep in conversation with that Cindy girl. I felt Chase pull me towards him and I panicked- was he going to try to kiss me? I had never kissed anyone, and had no idea what I was doing. I mean, I had read about it in books, but doing it is a different kettle of fish altogether. Suddenly I was pressed against him, his eyes on mine as his hands circled my waist.
‘I had a really good time with you tonight.’ He murmured softly, as I attempted to wriggle from his grasp.
‘Me too. Chase, I’m sorry but I’m just not that into you.’ I said quietly as he blinked, his arms still tight around my waist.
‘What? Are you playing hard to get?’ He pulled me closer and I pushed him further away.
‘No.’ I said simply as I pushed him away, harder this time.
‘Look, you come out with me for dinner, you act all coy and interested-’
I stopped him then, my hand in front of him.
‘I have not acted all coy! I agreed to come with you for dinner, that doesn’t mean I want to jump into bed with you Chase.’ I snapped, suddenly irritated.
‘You know something? I just wanted a bit of fun, and I thought you of all people would be grateful.’ He rolled his eyes and I stared at him in horror. He didn’t wait for me to respond before walking over to his car, opening the door and staring at me.
‘Are you getting in or what?’ His tone was bored, and cruel. I shook my head, tears burning in my eyes as he shrugged.
He got in the car and drove off, as I sat and watched his car fade away into the distance. I was so glad I had worn a coat, and I wrapped it around me as I searched for the bus stop, annoyed with myself for proving Ray right. They really were just airheads with no respect for women. I trudged down the dark street, trying not to shiver as I cursed myself for not having a mobile phone. I could’ve called Ray, she would’ve come for me. I glanced at the bus time and groaned. Forty minutes until the next bus home? I decided I could walk it in less than an hour, and began walking in the direction of my house. I walked everywhere usually, so I didn’t mind the silence of the night wrapping itself around me for comfort as I stared up at the sky, the stars glittering above me. I became aware of a car pulling up beside me and I braced myself for more abuse or worse, some pervert trying to drag me away with him. One pervert was enough for the evening.
I whirled around at the voice and my stomach dropped when I saw no other than Bailey Fenton staring at me from the drivers seat, his expression unreadable.
‘Anna, where are you going?’
I shook my head as tears spilled over my eyes, the concern in his voice tipping me ever so slightly over the edge. I was determined not to let him see me cry, so I refused to look at him as I called back that I was fine. I heard the engine shut off and a door slam as my heart pounded in my chest. His hand touched my back as he moved in front of me, his eyes full of concern.
‘Shit, you’re crying.’ He pulled me into his arms suddenly, and I let myself breathe him in, his hands running through my hair as he held me.
‘Did he hurt you?’ He demanded, his voice suddenly cold.
I shook my head, not wanting any fuss.
‘No I’m just not feeling great. Plus I’m super tired.’ I stared down at the floor as his arms released me, making me shiver.
‘Sure you are, and I’m Mary Poppins.’
I let out a laugh then as he nodded at his car.
‘Let me take you home.’ My eyes met his and he held his hands up.
’To yours, not mine. Don’t get the wrong idea, Annabelle.′ I followed him to his car and sank into the seat gratefully before I quickly checked the back seat, much to his surprise.
‘You expecting someone?’ He laughed, and I frowned.
‘Cindy, wasn’t it?’
He nodded slowly.
‘Yeah, she is still partying. I’m super tired too.’
‘Bullshit.’ I snapped and he laughed.
‘Bullshit indeed, but lets stick to our excuses hmm? Makes it a hell of a lot easier going forward.’
He turned on the heaters in the car and I sank back into the seat, suddenly feeling tired for real.
‘I am sorry you lost the bet.’ I said quietly as he drove, causing him to glance at me quickly before looking back at the road.
‘Don’t worry about it. Its only five hundred bucks. You will have to owe me. Thats the first girl thats ever said no to a date with me.’
‘I’d be the second.’ I yawned and he shook his head in amusement.
‘No, you wouldn’t because I wouldn’t ask you.’ He smirked, and I rolled my eyes.
‘Well that was my first date.’
He stared at me, before looking back at the road.
I glared at him then, feeling annoyed.
‘Why would I say it if it weren’t true?’
We were silent for a minute before we reached my house. He turned the engine off and studied me.
‘I don’t quite know what it is about you, Anna, but I do still want to help you.’
I went to open the door, but I turned to him instead.
’Look what happened the last time you helped me. It’s ok. I really appreciate the ride, I’m sorry about the bet, but now you can go back to your playboy lifestyle, and I can go back to Mr Darcy. We don’t even need to speak again.′
‘No, Bailey. You and I, are worlds apart. Total opposites. I don’t know how you do it, I’m exhausted from living the popular lifestyle for even one day. I just want to go back to being me.’
I got out of the car, but so did he. I groaned and looked at him with exasperation as he spoke.
‘Going back to being you, whats that, unhappy again? Hiding behind your baggy clothes and your hair? Come on, Annabelle. You deserve to smile more.’
I blinked as we stared at each other. He walked towards me, his feet getting wet on the grass.
‘Life isn’t shit all of the time. You’re allowed to laugh, and be happy.’
I nodded as I glanced at my house, seeing a curtain twitch upstairs.
‘I have managed so far. I’m ok, honestly. I just don’t want to sleep around or be mean to everyone to get my kicks, or do drugs or drink excessively, whatever the popular girls do. Thanks again for the ride.’
I looked at him then, his blue eyes staring at me like they were reading my thoughts, I can only hope he didn’t have any kind of super power- that would really end my day just about right.