24 | Fresh Start
I watched Hayden closely. She claimed she was fine, but as with most things she told me, I didn’t believe her. I’d caught her in several lies already and I was pretty sure she was lying about dating Wes too.
Wes had been my best friend throughout middle school and even into the beginning of high school, but after freshman year, we’d kind of just drifted apart. There was never any falling out or argument, we’d just taken different paths.
I couldn’t honestly say that I was okay with Hayden staying at Wes’s, but I trusted him. If they were really together, I’d respect that. And if they weren’t, I would rather she stay with him than some other guy I didn’t know. At least I knew he was a good guy. Maybe too good.
I hadn’t talked to Wes since before Shaye and I broke up, and to be honest, I didn’t really want to talk to him now. I couldn’t look him in the eyes and act like nothing had happened to me, and I didn’t want to admit to him or anyone else that I’d changed. But I needed to know if Hayden was lying to me and I intended to do whatever it took to find out what her deal was.
“Do you have any more shopping to do?” I asked, standing up.
Hayden glared at me. “I didn’t want to come in the first place.”
Okay, that was true, but she had been enjoying herself. I knew that.
“Have you ever had Auntie Anne’s?”
Hayden glared at me again. “Are you serious? I want to go, not share a pretzel with you.”
Yeah, I knew that too. I knew she hated me and was only doing all this because she had to, but she owed me for last night.
I gave a small laugh. “You’re forgetting I’m the one with the keys to the car and to your cover story. Sit and talk with me for a little bit, and then I’ll take you wherever the hell you want. If you don’t want a pretzel, that’s fine. We just need to talk.”
Last night had been wild and if that’s what I was signing up for, there had to be some rules set in place.
Hayden squirmed uncomfortably, probably realizing she had no choice. “Fine, but you’re buying my pretzel.”
I grinned. That was my plan all along.
I slid into an empty booth at the food court and glanced over at Kai in line to order.
What a dick. He’d basically kidnapped me. I should’ve insisted we go or left on my own.
I could’ve walked, or probably even gotten Nadia or Mckenna to come pick me up, although then I’d have to explain what I’d been doing there, which I definitely did not want to do.
I pulled out my phone and looked at the picture from Nadia of me and Kai at the party. This was why I was putting up with him now. Some had to show Kai that you can’t just take whatever you want or whomever you want and just discard them when you’re done.
It didn’t surprise me that Kai wanted to talk. I was sure he was going to end our deal since I hadn’t, but I wasn’t about to let that happen. I might not need a ‘boyfriend’ anymore, but as long as Damen liked him, it gave me a cover.
And the fact that Kai didn’t want this definitely added a bonus.
“You didn’t say if you wanted a drink, so I just got you a lemonade.” Kai set a pretzel and lemonade on the table and slid in across from me.
I lifted my chin. “You didn’t get anything?”
Kai shook his head. “I just wanted to talk.”
Before he had a chance to say anything and leave, I shoved my phone in front of his face and snapped a picture. “My new lock screen?” I asked, showing him the picture.
A hint of a smile tugged at his lips, but he just shrugged. “If that’s what you want.”
I leaned back and folded my arms across my chest. “Why do you even need people at school to think you have a girlfriend? I thought we were convincing your dad.”
It was all irrelevant. I mean, it wasn’t like his dad saw what he did at school, so there was absolutely no reason that he needed all the kids at school to think we were dating.
Kai’s eyes turned dark. “Look Hayden, you don’t know anything about me, even if you think you do.” He leaned forward and rested his elbows on the table. “If you knew anything, you’d know that Brody is my step-brother.”
“Brody?” I laughed. “Is that name supposed to mean something to me?”
“Your old chem partner?” Kai watched me closely.
That guy was related to him? I shifted a little, remembering how uncomfortable Brody had made me feel.
“So?” I didn’t see how that was at all relevant.
“So he hates me.” Kai leaned back. “He lives with his dad most of the time while his mom lives with me and my dad.”
“Damn.” That was kind of messed up.
“Yeah.” Kai glared at some indiscriminate object. “He might not live with us most of the time, but my Dad still thinks of him as family. If the guy even gets one piece on me, he’ll go running to my Dad and I’m out of here.”
Wow. That was either true, or he’d really gone the extra mile creating his cover story. Why didn’t he just give up already?
“You haven’t touched your pretzel.” Kai said after a moment.
I glanced down at it. I’d kind of forgotten it was even there. I tore a piece off and stuck it in my mouth.
Kai didn’t say anything, he just sat there watching me.
“You’re not going to just stare at me, are you?” I snapped. I tore off another piece and put it in my mouth.
“Me?” Kai made a face. “You’re the one giving me the death glare.”
“Cause you deserve it.” I muttered under my breath.
“That’s bullshit.” Kai snorted. “What did I ever do to you?”
“Oh. My. God!” I hadn’t intended to bring it up, but I wasn’t going to put up with him any longer. “Let’s start with the lying.” I pulled up the picture from Nadia on my phone and slid it across the table.
An expressionless mask slid over Kai’s face as he looked at it. “What did I lie about? I never said people wouldn’t take pictures, in fact, that was kinda the point of last night.”
“I’m not stupid, Kai.” I took my phone back. “You spent the night.”
“Nothing happened.” Kai looked slightly amused. “You fell asleep on the way back and I carried you inside.”
“If that was true, there would have been no reason for you to stay. And what about the picture?” His tale was fucking crazy.
“What about it?” Kai slumped back. “Whoever took it did a great job with the angle.” Realization flickered in his eyes for a moment. “Wait, are you mad because they made it look like we’re kissing?”
I was confused. Either he was a great liar, or we weren’t actually kissing in the picture?
Kai didn’t notice my tripping and continued. “That’s just part of making people think we’re together. If you can’t deal with that, you’re in the wrong business.” He looked at me for a moment and his amused look faded. “Fuck, Hayden, don’t tell me you don’t remember that.”
Shit. I didn’t dare look at him.
“What’s the last thing you remember?” He asked again.
I shifted a little and shrugged, hoping he would just drop it.
“Hayden?” Kai was no where near forgetting about it.
“I don’t know, okay?” I snapped. “The truth is, I have bits and pieces and I have no idea how the hell they fit together. You happy?”
I half expected Kai to laugh or say something rude, but he didn’t. Instead, his expressionless mask slid on again.
“What do you remember?” He asked softly.
“Dancing, drinking, not much of you, that’s for sure.” I eyed him for a moment, not really wanting to give him anything. “I sure as hell don’t remember either of us taking off our shirts.”
Kai stared at me for a moment before hie face broke into a smirk. “So, what? You think I’m really kissing you in that picture?”
I clenched my jaw. I knew he was messing with me, but I didn’t think it was funny.
“I don’t know what I think.” I admitted sharply. “I don’t trust you as far as I can throw you and you can’t deny that’s the kind of guy you are.”
Something flickered in Kai’s eyes, but he quickly covered it with a sheepish grin. “Damn, Hayden, that’s nasty. But you don’t have to worry because you’re the last person I’d fuck.”
I’m not sure why, but that hurt. I didn’t want him to see me as some sexual object, but it’ kind of hurt to actually hear it. And he’d said it with such ease… Maybe there was something wrong with me. Something that turned guys off. I mean, what the hell could be so bad that even the school’s fuckboy didn’t want me?
I gathered my wits and lifted my chin, not wanting him to think anything had just changed. “Good. That’s all I wanted to know.”
Kai smirked again. “You don’t expect me to believe there wasn’t a moment or two that you thought I fucked you.”
I felt a blush tinging my cheeks at his remark and tried to cover it by taking a sip of lemonade. Damn him, I needed to show him I was in control.
I ran my tongue over my lips slowly and grinned. “Definitely a moment or two, but you can’t blame me, I woke up hungover, wearing your shirt, with you in my room.”
Kai across the table towards me, a serious look on his face. “Hayden.” My name rolled off his tongue in an oddly sexy way. “If I had fucked you last night, you’d know.”
I felt my face heat as he slumped back into his seat, a grin spread across his face.
His eyes rested on my lips for a moment and I realized I was biting my lower lip.
“Damn you, Kai, it’s not funny.” I grabbed my phone and started to slide out of the booth, just wanting to get away from Kai and the nervous energy he was making inside me.
“Hayden, wait.” Kai sprang after me and grabbed my arm. “I’m sorry, I was just teasing.”
I yanked my arm away and glared at him before slowly sitting back down. “You’re running out of time.”
“Yeah.” Kai nodded. “But look, if it makes you feel better, I swear I won’t touch you like that.”
“Well it’s not like your word is worth much around here.” I muttered.
“Geez, Hayden.” Kai rolled his eyes. “At least I’m trying.”
I folded my arms across my chest. “I’m here, aren’t I?”
“Not because you chose to be.”
We both fell silent at that.
What the hell was wrong with me? Why did I give a shit wat Kai or anyone thought of me? They didn’t know me and they never would. So why was I letting Kai get to me?
I’d dealt with plenty of sexual perverts before and that was when I actually cared. It should be easier now, but it wasn’t.
Not with Kai anyway.
“Look.” Kai crossed his arms over his chest, mirroring my positing. “We’ve both got problems with each other and neither one of us can seem to get past that. So I propose we start over.”
I felt my eyes widen involuntarily. That’s not at all what I’d expected from him.
“Whatever we’ve done before, even in the last week, let’s just forget it.” Kai continued. “Pretend we’re just two normal people with a normal arrangement. And I won’t ask questions if you don’t.”
Where the hell did that come from?
My first instinct was hell no. That arrangement would only be profiting him.
But when he said no questions, I realized:
I didn’t have a right to say no.
There was dark shit in my life too, the only difference was that no one knew mine while everyone knew his.
I could never let my guard down with him, but I realized right then that if I didn’t start conceding some things, Kai would go digging, and he would find out something about me, making my life Lincoln High all over again.
“Fine.” I leaned my head against the back of the booth and picked up my phone. “But there has to be rules.”
“Of course.” Kai looked relieved.
“Like no getting with other girls.” I said, glancing up at him.
“What?” Kai narrowed his eyes. “How the hell is that fair?”
I seriously wanted to laugh. “How the hell is that not fair? You touch even one girl while you’re “with” me and how is anyone supposed to believe I’m any different than all your other hookups?” I gave him a look. “It’s the only way this will work.”
Kai stared out across the room. “Look, I know how to sneak around, okay? I promise I won’t do anything with anyone who could actually hurt us.”
I gave him a look. “Why is it so hard for guys to just keep it in their pants?”
“Wow.” Kai smirked. “You know, that’s funny coming from the girl who’s dating two guys at once.”
Damn. How had I already forgotten about Wesley?
“Okay, fine.” I set my phone down. “How do you propose to keep you little rendezvouses a secret?”
Kai grinned. “I’ll go up to the university.”
I gave him an unconvinced look. “You think you can seduce college girls?”
“You think I can’t?”
I shook my head and he laughed.
“It’s actually a lot easier than you’d think. I just say I’m double majoring in computer science and electrical engineering and they don’t ask any more questions.” He winked, making me feel sick.
Why did he have an answer for everything? It wasn’t fun, always losing to him.
Kai rolled his eyes. “I swear you’ll never hear a word about it from anyone. And if somehow it does get out, everyone will blame me, not you, so you’re fine.”
“Not really.” I couldn’t believe how little he’d thought this through. “That would make me look EXACTLY like all of your other girls and everyone would think I fell for your sorry ass.”
Kai looked frustrated. “What do you want me to say, Hayden?” He rubbed the side of his face. “That if I fuck up at all you can twist the story in your favor as much as you want? Because if that’s really what you want, fine, I’ll sign a damn contract. But just so you know, I’m not planning on fucking it up.”
I could tell he was very frustrated and for a moment or two I actually felt sorry for him. I finally realized that he did need this. Maybe he didn’t really want it, but he was willing to put a lot on the line to make this work.
I picked up my phone and opened it back up to the notepad.
“Then what are the rules?”
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