Jessica Thompson as That Girl

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XVII. You're a Mean One, Mr.Grinch

Jessica’s POV:

I stared at the twenty in his hand. Jax inches it closer to me. My body began to sweat as my cheeks sank between my teeth. Does he know? Money is my weakness.

I’m not saying I’m greedy, and I’ll do anything for it, but I do like money.

“Dang it,” I hiss slowly before I snatch the twenty. I grab the window handles and open it further.

Jax leaps inside my room. “I’m surprised that money is your weakness.”

“How did you know?”

“I saw you got your arm stuck beneath a vending machine for a nickel.”

My brows crunch. The last time I got my arm stuck beneath a vending machine was when I was in middle school. I wonder if Jax happened to hear about it.

Jax leaped on my bed and made himself comfortable as if it’s his room. I deposit the twenty in my piggy bank and pull him off the bed. If only it were that easy. The guy is a walking wad of tough meat. “Sleep on the ground.”

“I slept on your bed last time, and you didn’t complain.”

“Last time and this time are two completely different situations. I’m not supposed to sleep in bed with a guy.”

“Come on. We’re both adults here,” he said. “Unless you’re expecting something may happen, which is the reason why you’re afraid.”

I can sense it—the psychology behind his words. I shouldn’t fall for it. “Fine. Do whatever you want.” My body falls beside him. “I don’t care.” I smack his body, signaling him to move over.

He rolls to the left once and rests on his back. A deep breath of satisfaction exists in his throat. “You’re an odd one, Grinch.”

You’re a mean one, Mr.Grinch. I miss Christmas. My face pressed against the bed. “I supposed that’s a compliment.”

“In a sense, it is.” He stares at the ceiling. “How did you know I won’t take advantage of you?”

“You already are taking advantage of me. You know I’m the type of person who can’t kick away other people when they need help, so you’re using that to your advantage.”

The bed shifts and he lays on his side. His head rests against his arm. “So, you do know about that bad habit of yours.”

“Yeah,” I muffled into the bed. Of course, I know it, and I’m sure a lot of people do too. I’m the type of person who goes with the flow, and when someone needs help, no matter how ridiculous it is, I’m going to help them. I can’t say no whenever I look into their eyes, and they know it.

Even when I said no to Jax before, he knew that I would’ve gone back to the convenience store and told him to get in my car. This is one of the many reasons why I choose not to socialize.

“Then, it’s a good thing that you have me now, isn’t it?”

I turn my head, my hair covering my face. “What?”

“What do you mean - what? I helped you out in a bad situation earlier. Didn’t I? If I wasn’t there. You would’ve stayed with that jock guy. Someone would somehow manage to catch you two together, and the girlfriend wouldn’t be happy. I mean, she clearly doesn’t like you enough already, which is why you purposely avoid her.”

“Were you always this blunt?”

“But, you didn’t deny anything I said.”

I slap a hand on his face. “Go to sleep.”

Jax shook his head and went to his back.

“Why did you choose to bother me of all people? You know, except for the fact that I’m easily taken advantage of.”

Jax exhales, “I don’t know. Because you’re cool?”

I laugh, “First time someone called me that.”

I can see it, the grin on his face. “I guess it’s because you don’t come with drama even though everyone around you is extremely dramatic.”

“The people around me are dramatic?”

“Dramatic. Center of attention. Those kinds of people,” he said.

“Just in case you don’t notice. You’re pretty much someone who is the center of attention too.” I sat upward. “You’re getting close to me in hopes that somehow my invisibility power rubs off on you?”

Jax burst out laughing, “Yeah.”

“Is it not fun to be popular?”

“I didn’t ask to be popular.”

“Wow,” I grab the towel and pat the rest of the water off my hair. “Being born charismatic is so hard, isn’t it?”

He smiled, but he didn’t respond. Instead, he changed the subject. “Want me to help you get Toad’s attention?”

I didn’t bother correcting him. “I don’t want to do anything that involves drama.” I tilt the upper half of my body towards him. “You know that already.”

“Then, do you want to do something that doesn’t involve drama?”

“Such as?”

“Dating me.”

I stood up and hung the wet towel against my chair. “Yes,” I said. “Dating one of the most notorious guys at school will not spark any drama at all.”

“Then, what is your ideal guy?” I know he’s messing around because he’s bored. Eventually, he’ll stop rotating around me when he realizes how boring of a person I am.

“A normal guy with an average job. A guy who doesn’t sneak into a girl’s bedroom. A guy who asks for her parent’s permission to date her instead of asking her out while dirtying her bedsheets with his shoes.”

Jax lifted his legs and took off his shoes. He threw it on the floor, and the dried dirt scattered all over the ground. I hate him. “There you go. I’m one step closer to your ideal guy.” He smiles, “Get it? One step closer because I took off my-”

I place a hand in the air, “That’s enough.”

A knock on the door intrudes into our conversation. “Coming,” I screamed. I turned back towards the bed to see it empty, and the window fully opened. I wonder where he goes.

I opened the door, “Hey, mom.”

Mom had a flier about the autumn pageant.

“No,” I responded.

She grasps my shoulders, preventing me from escaping. “Jess, sweetheart, you’ll love it. I remember competing in the autumn pageant and made so many new friends.”

It was ignorant of me to believe that since she stopped forcing Brody to force me into the friendship play date, she would allow me to make friends on my own.

“I just-” mom held my hand, “I don’t want you to be alone.”

“Mom. I’m not alone. You’re here.” I smile, “You’re my friend.”

“Let’s be realistic. I’m your parent, not your friend. Your friends don’t ground you.”

“You’ve never grounded me.”

“Because you never do anything bad!”

“Do you want me to do something bad?”

“Yes! So I will be less suspicious of you!”

“What?” I ask.

Mom pulls her hair, “I’m at my end wit here, sweetheart. You never do anything bad, and it worries me. Kids your age are supposed to be extremely hormonal and do these things that excite them. Give them this adrenaline rush.” What kind of kids is she talking about? “As a parent, I’m supposed to ground you afterward and give you a life lesson speech then the cycle returns.”

I wonder if I should tell mom about Jax to please her. I’m sure, wherever he is, Jax is laughing to death.

I exhale, “There’s a guy out the window, and he slept over last weekend. He’s going to sleep in my bedroom tonight too.”

Mom scoffs, “Who are you trying to fool?”

I’m done with life.

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