Billionaire's Childhood Love

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XLII. Jealousy

Hailey’s POV:

I stare at the guy in front of me.

“Don’t scream.”

I will scream.

I nod.

Ricardo removes his hand, “Did you tell him?”

“Tell who what?”

“Mr.Timberland...about the tests.”

“No.”

He exhales.

“But you should tell him.”

He snickers, “Funny.”

“I’m serious.”

“Seriously funny,” he said in such a severe tone that it’s almost scary.

“You shouldn’t be stealing exams. Why are you stealing? If you don’t know, stealing is bad.” I feel like I’m talking to Alvin.

He slams a fist beside my head.

My face scrunches, “What are you doing?”

“Don’t tell anyone.”

I puff my cheeks, “Fine-” I agreed because I’m scared of him. His fist looks like it can beat me up. “But, I hope your conscience will eat you up.”

He rolls his eyes and walks away.

With shaky legs, I head back towards the table.

Josh looks up from the dishes, “What took you so long?”

I sat down and picked up the fork, “Bad stomach.”

Josh nudged a brow but just said: “Weirdo,” and left it at that.

The exams are over...somehow I’m still alive.

I cradle myself underneath the covers.

A finger pokes me, “Hey. I’m sure you didn’t do that bad.”

“I can’t believe I didn’t know there were questions in the back!” I cried.

My hand pulls out from underneath the cover, and Josh hands me a tissue. I blew my nose and gave it back to him. He exchanges it with a piece of chocolate. I engulf the divine sweet.

I reach out for another one.

“We’re out,” he said.

I cried even harder.

My chocolate!

Why?!

I can feel myself being lifted from the bed, the blanket still wrapped around my body. When I opened my eyes, I saw the floor, “Where are you taking me?”

“Out of this miserable room,” Josh said.

Some people greeted us.

They didn’t even question why we are doing what we are doing.

My feet land on a cold wooden floor, my body swaying against Josh’s body. “One box of chocolate.”

I poke my head out from underneath the covers and look around to see the aisles of food. We’re at the student’s store. I sniffed, smelling the scent of fresh chocolate in front of me. I smiled.

“What’s wrong with your face?” The cashier at the counter asked.

“My face?” I question.

“Yeah.” He hands me a mirror.

I look at myself.

A mess.

A complete utter mess like one of those drug addicts who’s trying to quit.

“You took me out looking like this?”

Josh grins, “Another box of chocolate, please.” He looks at me and cringes, “Make that two.”

I thought after the exams. I would be miserable for a little while; then, I’ll get over it.

Right now, I’m seated in my assigned seats. In my hands is the third exam, and the misery only escalated.

“Wow,” Crystal said. When I looked at her, she backed away.

Being friends with popular students has some benefits, such as people always talking to you even if it’s short meaningless conversations.

Not today.

I exhale and look up from my shoes to see Josh surrounded by other students, playing and laughing.

“Dude! How the fuck are you so - no homo - gorgeous and smart? What is this? Like the fourth A?”

I look up, seeing a dark cloud cast above my head.

Turning my shoes, I walk away.

I didn’t want to rain on their happy parade.

Years ago, when I first met Josh, before I realized I was in love with him, we were simply friends. I didn’t know it at the time, the term - jealousy.

When I was six, Josh began hanging out with kids his age. No, he had always been with them. I had only noticed it later on when I started school.

At that time, we were still in MistVille, going to the same elementary school. There was something about Josh that drew people to him - he was charismatic and handsome. He wasn’t stand-offish; his face was friendly and welcoming in body posture. I never saw him go out and deliberately make a friend; they just came to him. He was a natural listener, giving encouraging feedback laced with intelligent comments. Unlike me, everyone loved him - adults and kids.

When I started school, Josh was always with me. He would play with me until the morning bell rang, then when he finished school - he would dash to my house. That was when I was in kindergarten.

***

Starting first grade was difficult - mainly when your best friend was in third grade. At first, everyone was friendly, and I was cool because I hung out with the older kids - basically all of Josh’s friends. Over time, I realized I wasn’t as welcome as I thought. When Josh would play soccer or basketball with the guys, I would sit on the sideline and watch because the older girls are always talking about something I don’t understand. Everyone else my age already had a group, so I wasn’t welcome.

After a few weeks, I got more irritated when everyone continuously surrounded him.

Josh belongs to everyone.

I grew bitter and resentful, but I couldn’t voice it.

I was afraid of being isolated if I told them he is my best friend.

Soon, I start hanging out in the library during recess, sick of watching them play sports or girls gossiping about things I don’t understand.

I mean, why is Mark dating Katie?

Daddy said boys and girls couldn’t date until they are at least 30 years old - at least.

“Hay Bug! I found you! Why are you here?” Josh asked, sliding down the wall beside me.

I hid the book over my face. “It was cold outside,” I lied, pointing my toes inward.

Josh nodded and smiled, took off his sweater and wrapped it around me. “There! Better right?! Now, let’s go!” he grabbed my hand.

I pull it back, “J-Josh I...I don’t want to go outside. You can go.”

He tilts his head, “But...But I want to see you, Hailey...It’s boring out there without you.”

I closed the book and laid it on my thighs. “But I just sit there.”

He squats back down and pulls the book back open. “What are we reading?”

I closed the book. “Josh,” I whispered, noticing a group of people waiting for him. “Go...I’m okay here.”

“Hailey...Do you not like them?”

I bit my lower lips, remembering how six grade girls pushed me the other day when I was wearing Josh’s jacket. She said that I’m ugly, and I don’t deserve Josh. I didn’t really understand why she was mean to me. She told me I was hogging all of Josh’s attention - how no one likes me being his 1st and 3rd-grade reading partner, how Josh shouldn’t even hang out with a baby like me.

I told mom about it, and the next day, another girl pushed me down, calling me a tattle-teller.

He stood up, walking towards the group. One by one, they frowned and shook their heads, then left with the basketball. Josh waved them goodbye and walked back towards me. “I’m friendless now,” he said, reopening the book.

“What?”

He smiled, eyes crinkling slightly as he held my hand. “I told them I wanted to hang out with only you and how I stink at sports without my girl cheering me on the sideline.”

I smiled when he pulled out a bag of chips. “So, what are we reading?”

Josh wasn’t everyone Josh.

Josh belongs to -

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