13 | Crazy Proposition
Thoughts of Cody’s attacker were in the back of my mind all day. I thought through so many different scenarios, but it still didn’t make any sense to me.
At the beginning of free period, I headed to my locker to put my books away. When I got there, I found Kai Rivers leaning against it, looking down at his phone.
“That’s my locker.” I said, stopping in front of him.
He glanced up at me. “I know.”
“So, can you move?” I asked after a moment.
He slipped his phone in his pocket, still looking at me, and stepped away from my locker, but didn’t leave.
I rolled my eyes, opening my locker and stuffing my books in there. I noticed the folder I’d made on Cody’s attacker sitting with my other books and reached for it, but then remembered that Kai hadn’t left.
I turned around, planning to tell him to leave, but found him standing less than a foot away, looking down at me.
Startled, I tried to step back, but my back hit my open locker. “Did you need something?” I asked, looking up at him a little uncomfortably. I hadn’t realized how tall he was until just now, but he was probably around six feet tall and his body had me completely boxed in.
“Yeah, I wanted to talk to you.” He stepped back a little. “In private.” He said, glancing down the hall.
The first thought that crossed my mind was that this was some kind of invitation to go make out with him in the bathroom. I mean, what could a guy like him want to talk about with any girl? Let alone a girl that already had a reputation of turning down guys.
Yes, that was my reputation, as Nadia and Mckenna had informed me, I was the hot girl that didn’t want anything to do with guys. But it didn’t stop the guys from trying to flirt with me.
I realized I was still looking at Kai and shut my eyes, wincing a little. “Sorry, I’m supposed to meet my friends at the bleachers.” I turned back around and shut my locker.
“I’ll walk with you then.” He picked up my backpack before I could and started walking down the hall.
It was totally not what I’d expected, and I stood there for a few moments before joining him. “I can carry my own backpack.” I said, holding out my hand.
He glanced over but didn’t give it to me. “I know.”
“Fine. What do you want to talk about?” I asked, annoyed.
He looked at me a moment, his face still expressionless. “You don’t like it when guys flirt with you.” We reached the door and he held the door while I walked through. “Why is that?”
I gave him a look. “Why do you like making out with five different girls a day?” It was actually was probably more like seven or eight.
“I asked the question first.” He glanced at me again, but his facial expression hadn’t changed at all.
“And I don’t want to answer it.” I stopped and turned to him. “Why do you even care? You don’t know me at all. You probably don’t even know my name.”
He stopped too and turned to face me. “Your name is Hayden Wagner.”
I gave a laugh and shook my head, frustrated. “So you know my name. Please just get to the fricking point.”
His jaw clenched a little and looked off behind me like he was annoyed.
It was the first time I’d seen his face do anything other than sit in that expressionless look.
“I need you to be my girlfriend.” He said, looking back at me.
I literally laughed out loud. “No fricking way!” Did he actually think I would be his girlfriend?
I stopped laughing, but I was still grinning. That was a crazy proposition. “What’s the difference? Fake or real, I don’t want a boyfriend.”
“And I don’t want a girlfriend. But think about it. If everyone thought you were my girlfriend, guys would stop checking you out.” Kai watched me closely.
So, he’d noticed. I looked out across the parking lot and shook my head. “It’s not worth it. Even if I was going to pretend to be anyone’s fake girlfriend, it would never be you.” I looked at him. “Why do you even need a girlfriend?”
He clenched his jaw again. “If you’re not going to do it, you don’t need to know.”
“Then at least tell me why you asked me.” I narrowed my eyes. “You have girls falling at your feet. Why ask the one girl that wants nothing to do with you or any other guy?”
He sighed. “Look, are you going to do it or not?”
I made a face. “No.”
“Then that’s it. You don’t need to know anything else.” He handed me my backpack and started walking away. “Sorry I took up your time.” He said over his shoulder.
I stood there and watched him go. That was one of the craziest and most random things that had ever happened to me.
Had the most popular guy in school seriously just asked me to be his fake girlfriend?
Right after free period was chemistry, and when I got to my seat, I found Kai sitting in the seat next to mine.
“What are you doing?” I asked, giving him a look. “I told you no.”
“Miss Strayer moved me here.” He said, shrugging.
Seriously? I clenched my jaw and sat down. This was awkward.
We didn’t say more than five words to each other throughout the whole class.
I was seriously stressed by the time school ended. All the scenarios of what Kai could do to my reputation if he wanted to get back at me for turning him down were going through my head.
On the bus, I saw Wesley sitting by himself and slid in next to him. “Can I catch a ride with you to the fight tonight?” I asked.
“Hello to you.” He grinned. “What’s up with Cody? Why can’t he drive you?”
“He’s got some other things going on.” I didn’t want to tell Wesley what had happened because it would lead to questions I didn’t want to answer.
He sighed. “Sorry, I catch a ride with another guy and the car’s already full.”
“Fuck.” I clenched my jaw. I seriously did not want to run like I did my first night.
Wesley gave me a look and I realized that I’d just swore.
I hardly ever use any language stronger than heck or crap. My parents had always been pretty strict about language rules and once they eased up, I just didn’t use those words. “I’m just really uptight right now.” I told Wesley.
“We can spar when we get back if you want.” Wesley offered. We’d agreed that since school started, we’d only train together once a week and we’d done that on Monday.
I shook my head. “I’ll just save my energy for tonight.”
“Just be careful.” Wesley gave me a look. “Don’t lose control out there.”
I was not going to lose control. Throughout my fights, I’d practiced channeling my anger to give me more power, and tonight I’d need it.
My name was drawn for a fight almost right away. The guy I fought was a decently well-known fighter, but I’d watched him fight before and knew his weaknesses.
The fight wasn’t as messy as it could’ve been, even though I almost broke his arm and he tore my muscle shirt.
I felt a lot better when the fight was done but didn’t feel like sticking around very long. I talked to Wesley about our fights briefly and then took off towards home.
From the very beginning, I felt a little odd. The feeling was the same as the times I’d thought someone was watching me.
Really, I’d been feeling that way all day, but it was probably just because of what happened to Cody. I kept checking behind me to see if anyone was there, but no one ever was.
I took the shortcut through an alley that I’d found on the way and came to a wooden fence about seven feet high. I knew that there were empty crates on the other side that I had used as stairs on my way, but on this side, there was nothing.
Sighing, I jumped and pulled myself up on the fence. I was straddling the top of the fence, about to jump down on the other side, when up the alley, in the direction I’d just come from, I thought I spotted a movement.
Thinking I must have imagined it, I blinked and then looked again. There was no longer movement, but I could make out the shadow of a person standing against the building.
An uneasy feeling settled in my stomach. Were they following me? I jumped down from the fence and headed around the corner.
I planned to wait and see if whoever it was followed me, but when I came around the corner, I found myself face to face with three guys.
“Whoa there, Baby!” The one with a bandana on his head grabbed my arm. “What’s a chic like you doing out here alone at night?”
I could smell the alcohol on their breaths as they circled around me. “Leave me alone.” I said, yanking my arm out of the guy’s hand. They were all pretty big guys and I wasn’t sure I could defend myself from all three of them, so I tried to push past them.
The biggest one, who was shirtless and covered in tattoos, blocked my way. “C’mon, Sweetheart.” He lowered his head a little. “How about a little kiss?”
I knew there was going to be no easy way out of this, so I threw an uppercut into his jaw hoping to surprise them and get myself a little time.
They were all definitely surprised, but I only had just enough time to send the third guy crashing into the wall with a side kick before the other two regained their senses and started fighting back. None of them were trained, but with their size and number, it was a tough battle.
It was several steps up from organized street fighting. I had three opponents and I wasn’t fighting for money; I was fighting potentially for my life.
I couldn’t tell if I was winning or not, but I was pretty sure I had just broken the bandana guy’s nose, when I saw the big guy pick up an old board that was lying on the ground.
Knowing I was no match for a board, I shoved the third guy at him and turned to run, but the bandana guy was standing right there.
His bloodied face was the last thing I saw before I felt a sharp pain in the back of my head, and everything went black.
I winced. My head ached so badly, and that voice wouldn’t stop.
“Come on, Hayden.” The voice had a little urgency behind it. “Hayden, please wake up.”
I moaned. I knew that voice, but I couldn’t quite figure out who it was.
“Hayden. Please open your eyes.” The voice said again.
I managed to open my eyes, but everything was blurry.
“You’re gonna be okay.” The voice said. “Just keep your eyes open, Hayden. Don’t go back to sleep.”
“My head hurts.” I moaned. I tried to see who the voice belonged to, but everything was dark and blurry.
“I know, help will be here soon.”
I blinked my eyes hard. I could sort of make out a face above me. “Ashton?”
“I love you, Hay.” The voice whispered.
I rubbed my eyes and looked again but he was gone.
I sat up slowly. “Ashton?” I said again, looking around. There was no one there.
A tear ran down my cheek. Of course there was no one there. I’d heard Ashton’s voice and he was dead. I sniffed and wiped my eyes. Well, I’d imagined Ashton’s voice.
I heard a siren approaching and tried to get up, but my head hurt so badly that I sat down again.
A police car pulled into the alley and two cops climbed out of the car.
“Are you okay, Miss?” One of the asked. “We got a call saying a teenage girl was attacked. Was that you?”
I stared at them, confused. I didn’t call them. “I didn’t-“ I stopped. I was going to be in so much trouble with Damen! “Yeah. I got hit on my head.” I said, touching the back of my head. There was already a small bump.
“I’m Officer Rowan and that’s Officer West.” The guy said, gesturing to the other cop, who was checking out the area. “I’m gonna check out that bump and ask you a few questions, okay?”
I nodded. What was I gonna tell them?
“What the hell, Hayden!” Damen paced back and forth in the living room.
The paramedics had arrived shortly after the police and we’d gone to the hospital where the doctor said I had a concussion.
The police asked me a bunch of questions about my attack and I told them that I was on my way home from meeting a friend and I’d taken a shortcut. It was sort of true, the people I was meeting at the fight just weren’t really my friends, and I didn’t know what happened to my attackers, they hadn’t taken my phone or anything. As far as I could tell, they left right after they knocked me out.
After that, Damen had arrived, and I’d told him the same story. The doctor gave him some instructions on how to take care of me, and then he’d brought me home.
I was surprised at how fast everything went. I wasn’t sure what time I’d left the fight, but when Damen and I got home, it was only 2:00 AM.
Now I was laying on the couch putting ice on my bump and Damen was pacing the length of the living room.
“Why do you feel like you have to sneak out in the middle of the night to meet your friends?” He asked. “I had no idea you were gone! People care about what happens to you. I care what happens to you! And your Mom is going to kill me when she finds out!”
I winced. “Would you have let me go if I asked?”
“No!” He gave me a look. “It’s a school night, you should’ve been in bed.”
“It wasn’t even that late. I would’ve been back by like midnight and it’s not like I was going to a party and getting drunk, I was just hanging out with a friend.”
“So did you go to a party and get drunk that other night?” He stopped pacing and looked at me. “Tuesday night? Or did you go hang out with your friend like tonight?”
I groaned. “Neither! I just didn’t sleep well that night.”
Damen put his hands on his face and sighed. “Hayden, I’m trying to understand you here, but you’re a completely different person than I used to know.” His face softened a little. “I understand that your Dad and best friend made a mistake and seriously messed up your life, but that doesn’t give you the right to just go and do whatever you want.”
I sat up and stared at him. “Dad and Demi didn’t make a mistake, they FUCKED UP!” I was yelling. “And they didn’t just mess up my life, they RUINED my life!”
Damen clenched his jaw. “You can’t just sneak out at night and do whatever you want!”
I groaned and laid back down. “I already told you! I wasn’t doing anything bad! I was just hanging out with a friend!”
“Yeah! You’ve said that! Several times! But you won’t say who the friend is!” Damen looked at me expectantly.
That’s because there was no friend. What was I supposed to say? An idea crossed my mind. It was risky, but if it worked, it would convince Damen I was telling the truth.
I sobered up and tried to look guilty, which was easy, because I was guilty. “I didn’t want to say who it was because it was a guy.” I said softly.
“A guy?” Damen gave me a look. “Is that supposed to make me feel better?”
I knew Damen, like any other guy, hates it when girls cry, so I turned on the tears, hoping to make him feel uncomfortable. “See? I knew you’d be like this!” I sobbed, covering my face with my hands. “It’s why I didn’t want to say anything. I didn’t think it would be a problem, you didn’t tell Mom about Gia, and it’s not like I’m not allowed to date!”
Damen came over and sat on the edge of the couch next to me. “Do you mean this guy is your boyfriend?”
I nodded, wiping my eyes with the back of my hands.
“Okay, but why wouldn’t you just tell me?” He asked. “I would’ve been happy for you. It’s your first, right?”
“Yeah.” I sniffed. “But I didn’t think you’d like that I already had a boyfriend in my first week of school.”
Damen made a face. “No, there’s nothing wrong with that.”
“Well you didn’t tell Mom about Gia.” I knew Damen was good at psychological evaluations, but I’d done my own research throughout the years and I knew how to manipulate the system. By throwing part of the blame on him, he’d think that I still didn’t believe that he was on my side and that I was still trying to defend myself, so he’d go a step further in being nice to prove that he was on my side.
Damen winced. “You got me there. But that’s a little different. I’m an adult, and your mom is not in authority over me. It’s not something she necessarily has to know.” He paused and looked at me. “But back to your boyfriend, tell me about him. I’d like to meet him. What’s his name?”
My eyes widened a little. I guess my psychological manipulation had worked a little too well. I hadn’t expected it to go that far. “I don’t want him to know about tonight.” I said quickly. “I want to go back to school tomorrow like nothing happened.”
“No.” He shook his head.
Hoping he’d get into the school idea and forget about my fake boyfriend; I pushed a little harder. “Come on! It’s the first week! I can’t miss or people will ask questions.”
“You have a concussion, Hayden!” Damen gave me a look. “People will understand.”
“But I don’t want to have to explain that to everyone!” I sighed. “The nurse said I could go if I took it easy and someone kept an eye on me.”
Damen groaned. “Fine. But I’m driving you there and telling Principal Wright to keep an eye on you.”
I made a face. “Unnecessary.”
“It’s the only way you’re going.” Damen stood up.
“Get some sleep. I’ll check on you later.” He tossed me a blanket. “And stay off your phone! You’re not supposed to look at electronic screens.”
I nodded and he left the room.
I sank back into the pillow, breathing a sigh of relief. It had worked. He’d gone easy because of the tears and then forgot about the boyfriend when I brought up school, but that had been crazy!
I touched the back of my head and winced. I so did not want to go to school tomorrow, but after the deal I’d just made I couldn’t not go.