Billionaire's Childhood Love

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XX. Jumping in the Trashcan

Hailey’s POV:

After my wonderful morning discussion with Austin, I head towards my class. With each step, I can feel a slight bounce as I twirl my finger around the necklace.

The halls were crowded with people, and the chaos was like a well-thought-out movie. There’s a couple that’s making out on the one side of the hall, and about ten feet farther down, there’s a bunch of students holding heavy books. I smile, seeing a parade of bands with their huge instrument cases. Everyone may be wearing the same outfit, but they were somehow different.

Then, there’s me.

I began walking, dodging crowds and lockers flying open.

No one paid attention to me, and it feels comfortable.

Exhaling and inhaling, I scan around - I wonder if there is anyone I know.

I didn’t know anyone.

After several searches, I straighten my back. “This is it. D-2,” I told myself and walked into the class.

The classroom was loaded with students, but still some empty seats. I take the chair closest to the teacher’s desk - an old habit. Settling my backpack on the floor, I sat up straight while cupping my hands together.

Briefly scanning the table, which consists of three other seats, I saw two other girls.

The first girl who sat across from me had a book resting on the table with earphones plugin, seemingly in her own little world. She bobbed her head to the beats causing her short dark hair to sway against her shoulders while humming once in a while. I glanced down and saw her name - Serena Garrison.

Skimming over, there’s another girl who sat straight and tall. Her seemingly golden eyes dart at the papers in front of her. Unconsciously, I lean over, seeing multiple bar and pie charts, causing my body to shiver.

Is she studying or working on a business?

On the second day of school?

The black pen between her fingers stops tapping, and she glances upward, halting the mushing of gum inside her mouth. She pushes up the circular frame hovering over her beautiful chocolate skin. “Can I help you-” she looks down towards my nametag. “Hailey Vaughn?”

I smiled, but she didn’t return it. My eyes linger down - Taniyah Sosa.

Lifting a finger, I point at the scattered papers. “Studying for math already? Pandora Academy must be harder than I thought,” I half-jokingly state, but realistically I was anxious already.

What do we have to study on the second day?!

I want to flip a table and leave, but there are two problems.

One, it isn’t polite.

Two, the tables are all bolted down in the classroom.

The gum smacks between her lips as her eyes continue studying me. “I’m not studying.”

I exhale, feeling quite a relief. “Then, what are you doing?”

“Stocks,” she replies in a firm voice.

I glance down at the papers once more. “Stocks?”

Taniyah nods, puckering her slightly red lips. “How else am I going to pay for tuition?”

“If you don’t have the money, don’t go here,” a seemingly sweet voice spoke, and I glanced over and realized it belonged to Serena.

Taniyah arch a perfect brow. “Miss bowl head, am I speaking to you?”

Serena unplugs her earphones. “Watch it, scholarship student.”

Thunder seems to strike in the background, even on such a sunny day. I gulp, lowering myself while Serena turns towards me and looks down. She snorts lightly. “Vaughn? Never heard of your family,” her tone seems to be all strong and mighty. She places her hand under her chin. “What does your family do?”

“My mom is a detective, and dad is a businessman,” I reply, clutching onto my stomach, mentally scolding myself for skipping breakfast. I was too anxious about school and forgot to eat.

Serena’s eyes scan my body. “Nice necklace,” she smiles, and I automatically reach for my necklace. She leans inward. “I’ve never seen anything like that before in stores.”

I smile proudly. “It’s one of a kind.”

Taniyah snorted without looking away from the papers.

I frown.

Did I say something wrong?

Serena tucks her hair back, revealing a pair of diamond earrings. “Don’t bother with her. The lower class is raised differently,” she waves off Taniyah.

Taniyah rolls her eyes.

Before I can ask what’s going on, a person walks in. I take a few blinks as he prances in with dirty brown hair and a cleanse black suit complimented by leather shoes. With a suitcase in one hand and his jacket in the other, it seems as if the whole world was under his command.

“Hello, students,” he said, and I almost choked.

He is a teacher?

Is he even legal?

“Good morning Mr.Timberland,” everyone said at the same time.

He smiles, eyes scanning the room, then it lands on me. My hands cup tighter as he walks closer. “You must be Hailey Vaughn, I presume.”

I nod. “I’m sorry for not attending class yesterday,” I apologize before he can accuse me of anything.

He shakes his head. “Don’t worry; you’re not in trouble, Miss Vaughn. Welcome to my class,” he places several papers in front of me. “If you have any questions, please feel free to ask,” he said before walking back to the front of the class.

Serena sighs. “Handsome and kind. Gosh, his wife is so lucky,” she mumbles under her breath, and I thought I heard Taniyah chuckling.

Mr.Timberland started lecturing, and I bent down, rigorously taking notes. Quickly scanning the classroom, I realize that a few students were sleeping or merely staring at the board.

Taniyah sat there, clicking on the laptop set in front of her.

I took a few blinks as Mr.Timberland continued lecturing. “Now, we will discuss employment law scenarios, including discrimination, harassment, and job termination.”

I continue blinking, feeling a pulse rising inside my temple. So far, it doesn’t sound bad.

He clears his throat. “PK Corps is a consultancy based in the South of New England but operating both nationally and internationally. Some years ago, it adopted non-contractual grievance, disciplinary, and dismissal procedures based on its statutory model. It claimed to be an equal opportunity employer. It upheld a harassment policy, which lists examples of behavior that could amount to harassment and details the activities taken against employees. Some issues are causing concern.”

I see stars.

“The first case - Adam has worked for the firm for nine and a half years and is now forty-five. He doesn’t get on with the new Managing Director and has been dismissed with due notice. When he asked why he was being dismissed, in a meeting between the two of them, the MD told him - it’s because you’re a Catholic and I’m now in charge - and if you tell anybody, I said that I’d deny it and you won’t be able to prove it. The firm provides mobile devices and recording apps to a number of its staff for use in the business, and Adam had covertly recorded the meeting.”

He glances upward. “Miss Sosa,” he said, and she stops typing. She looks at him with what seems to be a glare. “How would you handle this matter?”

She looks down at her laptop. “The simplest method by which to deal with the issues raised in the scenario is to consider the individuals’ position. Two potential issues arising out of the treatment resulted in Jacob’s dismissal. These relate to whether the dismissal is considered unfair under the provisions of the Employment Rights Act 1996 and also whether, because Jacob’s dismissal is related to his religion, whether he will be able to bring a claim under the provisions of the Equality Act 2010.” she replies.

I did not understand what she said.

Mr.Timberland continues lecturing, and with each question, he seemed to purposely pick on Taniyah to answer - almost as if bullying her.

I want to cry.

I’m going to fail.

I look at the trashcan, feeling the need to jump into it.

Once the bell rang, I silently prayed to the Gods and packed up my stuff. Massaging my temples with two fingers, I walk out of the classroom seeing Taniyah settling on her chair - still typing on her laptop.

I tilt my head and continue walking. A gasp exited my throat when I felt someone’s arm tangling with mine. “Hi!” Serena chirps with a broad grin.

I attempt to pull my arm away. “Hi,” I said slowly as my legs continue to move down the busy hallway while I glance at my schedule.

“I saw how you look at Mr.Timberland,” she smirks. “Unfortunately, the man is married.” She wiggles her left finger. I look back to see a black ring on it.

I was a little disappointed, but - Josh’s face appears in my mind again.

Can’t you leave me alone, Josh?!

“Although, I wouldn’t touch Mr.Timerland even if he is single. Rumors said he is from the-” she glances around. “Italian mafia.”

I almost choke on my saliva. “What?” I sigh, unable to find my class.

Serena giggles, “Your classroom is in the other building.”

“Is it?” I ask, turning my body 180 degrees.

She nods. “You need a tour guide,” she places a hand on herself and begins walking backward. “Good thing, I’m here. Follow me”

I sigh, knowing it’s better to follow her then get lost.

Serena pops a bubble and stops walking. “You got in Kick Em’ 143?” she gasps. “Lucky! No freshmen can get into that class!”

I smile awkwardly. “Really?”

She nods. “It’s like one of the hardest extracurricular classes in school to get into. Even seniors have a difficult time getting in.”

I saw my classroom number and almost physically clapped. Tucking a strand of hair back, I look at Serena, who stares at me. “Thanks for showing me my class.”

She smiled and held my hands. “Let’s be friends.”

I shrug. “Okay.”

Serena looks at my ears. “Oh my gosh! Are those Tiffany Victoria earrings?!”

I held onto my ear, feeling the cool metals. “I think it is.”

She leans in closer and gasps, covering her mouth. “Where did you get them?”

“My best friend brought it for me during my birthday,” I said, wondering if I should mention Josh’s name.

Suddenly, Serena hugged me. “We are going to be the best of friends!” she chirps. “Have lunch with our friends and me later?”

I held onto my wrist, rubbing it lightly. “I may have lunch with someone else,” I said.

Serena sighs. “If you change your mind, call me.” We exchanged numbers, and she left.

One class passes by after another, and soon, it’s lunchtime. I smile, replying to Crystal’s messages. After getting lost a few times - tempted to call Josh for directions - I found the cafeteria.

Upon opening the double doors, the grand design of the cafeteria came into view. With gold stripes lingering against the white marble tables, it passed its function. There were men and women dressed in professional cookware, along with chefs’ hats. Every item was so dazzling; it hurt the eyes.

The building is a wave of loud chatter. Each table consists of a huddle of people raising their voices to be heard above one another. The food is secondary to the exchanged information - establishing new relationships, gossiping on the latest styles, or merely discussing the latest news.

Everything was new - different.

Taking one step after another, I continue scanning the area - finding someone - anyone.

The memories of emptiness - loneliness trickle every single one of my senses.

Over the wonderfully crafted food and sweetly smiling chefs, the chattering jerk into my ears. As I stand in the queue for my plate, more rumors are spread.

“Did you hear?”

“What?”

“Joshua Greyson got a girl, dude!”

My brows furrow - Josh got a girlfriend?

Is that why he hasn’t been messaging me?

Here, I thought he was still upset.

The anger and frustration only dialed up with each spoken rumor. I grip tightly onto the necklace, rope around my neck.

“I heard she is fucking hot, like a model and shit.”

“I heard she is fucking hot, like a model and shit,” I said mockingly under my breath as I grab the fruits.

Huffing a breath of air, I paid for the food and stomped towards an empty table. Settling down, I want to bang my head against the marbles. “Stupid Josh, not telling me about his so-called new girlfriend. When did he even get one? I bet she is ugly...and stupid,” I said one offensive line after another while viciously stabbing the fruits.

“Hailey?” I look up to see Serena tilting her head at me. She sat down along with two other girls. “Why are you here alone? Why didn’t you text me?”

I swallow the fruit in my mouth. “I’m waiting for a friend.”

Serena frowned. “You’re not avoiding me, right?”

I shake my head - maybe.

Truthfully, Serena kind of scares me.

She smiles. “Fantastic! Girls, this is Hailey. Hailey, this is my girls - Riley and Paisley.”

Riley gasps, “I love your necklace!”

“Thank you.”

Paisley sat beside me, uncomfortably close. “Serena wasn’t lying about you.” She looks at my necklace and earrings, “You must be new money.”

I tilt my head, “New money?”

She rests her chin on her palm. “You know, families who just got wealthy.”

I scratch my head, “Wait...what?”

Before Paisley can respond, Serena places a hand in the air. “Girls, get ready - the Golden Circle just enter.”

I scratch my head and turn around, eyes meeting with the deepest ocean I’ve ever witnessed.

Before I can even react, Crystal’s high heels echo throughout the cafeteria as she races towards me. “Hailey! My baby!”

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