Reluctantly Yours

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Chapter 9

It was Friday again. Cooper and Isabel had all of their stuff in our house already. I asked Isabel why we didn't just move in with them, since they had the bigger house, when we were in the kitchen, unpacking their kitchen stuff. She looked at me with her warm eyes and smiled.

"I like it better here. It's more homey and it reminds me of the summers I spent with my grandparents when I was a little girl." I smiled back at her and helped her finish unpacking.

Our art projects were due today, though I did absolutely nothing for it. I did, however, work on something for the showcase. I was inspired by Cooper, when he was telling me a story that Isabel used to tell him so he could go to sleep.

Once there was a couple who had a baby. The baby was unexpected, though not unwanted. He was spoiled and pampered, until one day, the family was torn apart by the vicious rulers of the land. They were each made to live as servants, except for the little boy. He was made into the new prince, because once the king saw the boy, he knew that he was destined for something bigger than even him.

The boy grew into a fine, handsome young man. He grew up never knowing who he really was, or who he really belonged to. One day, he was made king after the death of the other. He was fair and wise even for his age. One day, he chose to take a walk through the village, because he liked seeing how they were getting along and to see if they were prospering.

He saw a servant woman carrying armfuls of bread for her master's, but one of the upperclassmen knocked her to the ground on purpose. The king ran forward and reprimanded the man for his wrong doings. The woman looked at him and her eyes filled with tears. She recognized the boy as her lost son, for he had his father's charming looks and some of her features.

She wept and the king took pity on her and brought her to the palace, where she told him their story. The king was shocked and astonished at the news that the woman had given him. He asked around and it turned out that what the woman had said was true. After that, he let his birth mother live with him at the palace and he went in search of his father. He found him and they had a rejoicing reunion and they all lived happily together.

I was very proud of what I had done. The story inspired me because it reminded me of my own family coming together, even if there were some new additions, they would be my family nonetheless. Cooper helped and criticized so that I could get it just right. I smiled to myself and then I let Cooper drive us to school in my car.

We pulled in and I got out of the car. Cooper tossed the keys to me and I pulled the canvas from the backseat. Cooper went inside with me and I took the painting to Mrs. Carter. She smiled and marvelled at the painting and set it aside, assuring me that I would do well in the showcase.

The showcase was tomorrow night and I was a little nervous. Apparently, my nerves were obvious.

"What's wrong," Cooper asked as we walked together down the hallway. I looked over at him, my eyes fixed on his.

"Nothing. I'm just nervous about the showcase I guess," I said softly. He reached down and twined our fingers together and stopped us in the hallway before he tilted my chin up so I could look at him.

"You have nothing to worry about Jazz. You're going to do absolutely amazing. Don't let yourself think otherwise and stop with the negativity, okay?" I smiled and nodded. We started walking again, still holding hands. I was okay with this, because it wasn't really anything romantic.

We walked into My. Tyler's class together, and Shane's eyes were on us. I let go of his hands as we sat on opposite sides of Shane. Shane turned and stared at me, and it reminded me of his first day here, excel now, it felt more intense somehow.

Class began and I took down notes as quickly as I could. I was grateful for the distraction of the pen in my hand, letting my words swirl across the paper.

Soon, the bell rang and I gathered my stuff together, meeting Cooper at the door and ignoring Shane completely. We walked down the hall together but departed, since we had separate classes.

Now, it was time for art. I walked in and sat in my seat my seat beside Shane in the corner. He shot a look at me before turning back to face the front. Mrs. Carter came in and smiled at the class, her white teeth gleaming in the fluorescent lighting of the room.

Even though I had claimed to throw off all care on this project, I was still nervous. I had never made a bad grade ever. Especially not in art, which was my favorite class.

Shane and I were one of the last few people to be called to the front. Instead of turning to face the class, like all the other students did, I walked up to Mrs. Carter.

"We didn't do the project Mrs. Carter," I said quietly. She raised a questioning, perfectly arched brow as she waited for my explanation. "Shane and I aren't good partners. At all. So we weren't able to do the project." Shane butted in after this.

"You mean you weren't able to do the project. I tried to meet with you multiple times to get it done but you repeatedly slammed the door in my face. Literally. I did my part, we just didn't put them together and I doubt she even started on hers anyways," he sneered.

My face heated and I glared up at him, but he ignored it. Mrs. Carter took a deep breath. "Okay then, go have a seat and we will discuss this after class," she instructed. We nodded once and did as she had told us to do.

After everyone had presented their projects and the bell had rung, Shane and I went up to Mrs. Carter's desk. She sat down and folded her hands in her lap while looking up at us. I hated it when teachers did that. They studied and stared at you like they were thinking of your punishment, which she probably was.

Finally, she broke through the tension and the silence. "I honestly don't know what to say. Jasmine, you being the best student in my class, I expected better from you. Here's what I'll do. I'll take Shane's work in for a grade, and I'll give you whatever points that I can for your piece in the showcase, Jasmine. But this will affect your grade and you two must be willing to work to bring it back up. Got it?"

We nodded and she stared at us for a few moments, assessing us before dismissing us with a flick of her hand. When we walked out, the hall was empty. We both had free periods right now, or at least I did. I wasn't sure about him, but he didn't seem to be in a hurry to get to class.

I was walking away but he grabbed my arm and pushed me against the wall, but not roughly. His brown eyes hardened as he looked down at me. "What the fuck was that Jasmine? I could fail, and so could you, but you don't even care. You're too busy being so fucking petty just because you're jealous of some bitch that came onto me so that you can't-"

I don't know what came over me. But I slapped him so hard that his head turned with the impact. He looked back at me, stunned and surprised, but I didn't care. I could hardly see through the tears that were blurring my vision. It wasn't because I was sad, I was angry.

"I am not petty or jealous. I'm pissed. I'm mad at you and myself because you ended up being exactly the person I thought you were in the beginning and I'm mad for letting myself feel something for you that went against everything I have built for my self preservation." It was hard to speak and it felt like there was a cotton ball lodged in my throat.

He just stared at me, his expression was unreadable. After a few more beats of silence, I turned and walked away, but he caught me by the arm again. This time though, he pressed his lips to mine. The familiarity of them were thrilling and irritating at the same time. I quickly pulled away and pushed away from his chest. I couldn't do this again. I had finally gotten past him and he goes and pulls this stunt.

I looked at him in shock for a few seconds before tearing down the hall and out of the door. I ran to my car and locked myself inside. I leaned my forehead on the steering wheel and forced back the tears that were building up. I looked up and Shane was there, sitting at my table, staring at me. I wanted to leave, but I wouldn't. I was tired of running. I pulled out my cell phone and called the only person that could help.

"Hello," he asked tentatively.

"I need you," I choked out.

"Where are you?"

"Parking lot." Then the call ended.

Only a minute later, Cooper hurried out of the building. He looked around frantically, ignoring Shane's gaze, then ran to the car. I unlocked the doors for him and then locked it back as soon as he was in. With no questions asked, he reached across the console and pulled me over to him so that I was cradled in his lap.

"Was it him again," he asked quietly after a while. I slowly nodded and his fists clenched. I had already told Cooper about everything that had gone on between Shane and I. I look up and Shane is still staring at my car. I have no idea what to do. I don't want to get out of this car. But I don't want to leave or hide here and look like a coward. In all honesty, I want to go back to being invisible, hidden from everyone, but now there's no turning back.

I take a deep breath and after a few minutes of staring up at Cooper's hazel eyes, I step out of the car from the passenger side. He steps out right behind me and as soon as the door closes, Cooper is slammed against against the car.

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