Chapter 17: I am trailed by a kidnap car
Memories are what warm you up from inside. But they are also the ones what tear you apart.
A black car was following me.
As I frantically made my way towards school, I could not shake off the feeling that someone was deliberately trailing behind me. I did not dare to glance back.
Quickening my steps, I briskly crossed the road and headed to another shortcut that was familiar.
The car still followed me.
My heart was beating loudly in my chest and I cursed myself for not carrying a pepper spray. I had dissection needles and blades in my bag but I hardly thought that my kidnapper would wait for me to remove it from my bag.
Just then, the car stopped beside me and the passenger door popped open.
I jumped a mile back and contemplated running away. Then I heard the driver sigh warily and I knew who it was.
“You scared the bloody hell out of me! Why were you following me with a black car?” I screeched at max who looked amused while sitting in the driver’s seat.
A heavy pounding started in my head and I winced slightly.
“I didn’t want to take a chance in case you had not forgiven me yet. Therefore, here I am ready to pick you up. Get in.” he told me with a small smile on his face.
I liked walking to school; it gave me time to daydream. The pounding in my head turned to flashes of pain.
I closed my eyes for a second and when I opened them max got out of the car and approached me.
He gazed at me in confusion, "are you okay?”
I swallowed and nodded. Going in a car sounded heavenly right now. Stepping into the car, I gave him a slight smile. He stared at me for a few seconds before coming to the driver’s seat.
“How could you mistake a range rover for a kidnapping vehicle?” max asked me curiously.
“Well, any car could be a kidnap car. Don’t discriminate.”
He scoffed. I leaned my head on the window and checked him out. The muscles of his arm bulged through the thin uniform shirt every time he changed the gear or took a turn. He had a statuesque body.
His jawline looked so smooth that I was tempted to stroke it. The car smelled like him and I took a deep breath. Fresh and citrusy.
“Are you checking me out?” he asked with a grin.
I waited for him to glance back at me before smiling sweetly, ”no, I was planning on how to murder you.”
“You don’t have to lie to me, crystal.” He said in a serious tone that caught me completely off-guard. He glanced back at me and noticed my baffled expression.
“You don’t tell everything. It’s like you speak only the half-truth.” He started slowly.
I sat just a bit straighter. Why would he think like that? I was not a prized murderer. I just had my secrets.
But I replied, ”I always speak the truth. In fact, I think I reveal too much too quickly.”
“Then why don’t you tell me the reason you winced before getting into the car?“
If his earlier sentence had startled me, this one made shock waves pass through me.
Damn, who was he? Sherlock Holmes?
“It’s nothing. Just a little headache.” I mumbled softly.
“There’s aspirin in the glove compartment.”
Aspirin cannot heal the type of headache that I suspected I was going through. We reached the school and I quickly slid out of the car. A bunch of students stared at us as we made our way to detention. I could feel them gossiping about us. Max was unusually chatty today.
“Why do you take psychology classes?” he asked me as he solved an intricate integration problem.
“Because I want to be a psychologist,” I told him.
He looked up briefly before resuming his work, “you will be the best psychologist.”
“You think so?” I asked him tentatively.
He shrugged then smiled at me. I found myself smiling back at him.
“What are you aiming for?” I asked him as I made notes for my history class.
“Seriously?” I asked him.
He stopped his work and looked at me, ”yeah, I am going to own my Dad’s company very soon.”
“Oh. What is the name of your company?”
“You don’t know?” he asked me a little bewildered. I shook my head.
“Wester international.” He stated.
Some memory tingled in the recesses of my mind. The name sounded too familiar. I dismissed the thought because it took too long.
“Why did you order people around in Divinity? Are you that influential?” I asked him.
He stopped reading the next problem before giving me a bemused smile, “crystal, I own the restaurant.”
Violet had told me that his father was one of the trustees in this school too.
“How can you write notes when you are barely paying attention?” Max asked me giving a glance to my notebook.
“I have already finished studying it,” I told him.
I always finished studying everything covered in school on the same day. I was aiming for a scholarship and slacking off could never help me.
As the bell rang indicating the start of another school day, max again hurriedly packed his stuff and exited.
This time I was right on his heels, ”where do you always run off to?”
He stopped for a moment, ”soccer practice until the third period. I am the captain, I have to be on time.”
Before I could utter another word, Damon hugged me from behind. Through my peripheral vision, I saw Max stiffen. Damon then went for a handshake with max but max was emanating a blizzard through his glacial blue eyes.
”what are you doing here? Go and do your warm-ups. We don’t have enough time to practice.” Max spoke with a hard edge to his voice.
Damon flinched barely before flashing his dimples at me "crystal, we have a soccer match tomorrow at school. You have to come.”
“Obviously,” I told him.
He slid an arm around my waist and tugged me closer, “I could use some beautiful lady luck.” he murmured while gazing at my lips.
“What you could use are some new pickup lines. The one you used is too old.” I told him.
Max started laughing but covered it up in a fit of coughing while Damon looked flushed. It took him a moment to regain his cool charm. He gestured and a boy in glasses stumbled forward with a bouquet of orchids.
I hadn't noticed the boy since he had blended with the shadows so perfectly. I gave him a warm smile before Damon impatiently drove him away. However, I did not miss the look of surprise on his face at my acknowledgment.
“These are for you. You didn’t come to the library yesterday.” Damon told me as he handed me the bouquet of white orchids.
They were snow white with a magenta pink lip. I gazed at the flowers adoringly before shyly mumbling thanks to Damon. The orchids were the prettiest I had ever seen.
When I looked back at Damon, he was grinning as if he won a lottery and max was seething with fury. He avoided my eyes and roughly grabbed Damon as he left muttering how they were going to be late. I smiled at the orchids one more time before making my way towards my locker.
I entered third-period biology and flashed my brightest smile at Ms. Khov. Surprisingly, she smiled back at me.
Uh oh, it was the smile a butcher would give before cutting a sheep’s head off.
When the whole class had settled down Ms. Khov smiled brightly, flashing her straight white teeth before announcing the most dreaded words, “it’s surprise test day! And this time I have set up the paper to be a little….difficult.”
Faces turned pale and a majority of students started crossing their hearts or praying to whatever god that listened to last-minute prayers. Ms. Khov distributed the test paper while humming a cheery tune.
I turned the test paper with dreaded anticipation and…the test was easy. All the questions were easy. I smiled and started writing my paper.
Forty-five minutes later, I had finished my paper and Ms. Khov was looking at all the students struggling to write her paper with sick satisfaction. Her eyes landed on me and she gave me a questioning glance. I stood up and placed my paper in front of her. She stared at me as if I was doing something abnormal.
“You have to finish your test, crystal. Don’t lose hope so quickly.” Ms. Khov told me sweetly.
“I finished my test, ma’am.”
Ms. Khov looked shocked then started flipping through my answers.
Even when the bell indicating the end of class rang she was looking at my test paper; defeated because she did not find any mistakes in it. I sighed and went to my next class.
The Connelly surprise tests were tests that were held at any day before major exams. All the students in my class were struggling to study. Meghan and Violet had latched on to me while I buried my nose in my history textbook. Mr. Terrust came in with the question paper.
“Everyone. Get out of your seats. I am going to give you places to sit.” Mr. Terrust announced as everybody groaned loudly.
“No! You can’t do that!” Meghan protested.
“Meghan Park, come and sit on the first bench.” Mr. Terrust ordered.
Meghan squeaked and made a crying face before sitting on the first bench. I got a place on the second last bench. A nervous-looking girl with messy blonde hair sat next to me. It looked as if she was trying to shrink into a small ball.
“Hey, it’s just a test. Don’t be so scared.” I told the girl.
It took her a few moments to realize that I had spoken to her. When she did realize, she gazed at me with wide eyes. She nodded once before hiding her face behind a curtain of blonde hair.
Mr. Terrust distributed the paper and once again, it turned out to be very easy. At least to me, it was easy. I was in the middle of my test when I noticed that the girl beside me was copying my paper. I contemplated covering my paper up but then I saw her forearms.
Her wrist was covered in an ugly red bruise as if someone tried to grab her forcefully. She reminded me of amber. An almost faded memory came to the forefront of my mind.
Amber and I were nine years old. It was raining heavily outside and the temperature was so cold that the window of my room had condensation. We had finally set up a tent inside my room with numerous blankets and pillows.
Amber was making weird hand shadows as I giggled with a torch in my hand. Her long-sleeved shirt slid down her arms as she raised her hand to make a bird. There was a huge blue bruise around her forearm.
I stopped giggling and stared at it for a few seconds. Amber soon realized that I was too quiet. She looked at her exposed arms and quickly covered it up. She opened her mouth then closed it.
I took both her hands and intertwined our fingers. ”I am your best friend amber. You can tell me everything.”
Her big blue eyes filled with water and her skinny arms came around my neck as she sobbed on my shoulder. She cried for a long time and through her sobs and sniveling muttered that her dad hit her when he was angry. And she was a bad girl so dad was always angry. After a long while, she calmed down.
It was pouring sleet and the whole room was dark, the only source of light was my small torch. Amber clutched my hand with her wet ones and pleaded, ”Don’t tell anyone, it’s a secret.”
And like a faithful best friend, I nodded back, “I won’t tell anyone.”
The blonde girl saw me watching her paper and she threw me a guilty glance. Her brown eyes looked too hollow. I numbly placed my left arm on my lap and shifted my paper in an angle that made it very easy for her to copy.
When the test finished she did not look at me and I did not look at her.
I absently made my way to the cafeteria when a strong burst of pain in my head made me stumble a little.
Oh no, it was getting too bad. I considered informing my mom then dismissed the thought quickly. What if it was just a headache because of the workload? I could take some pain, it was no big deal.
I was shocked when I entered the cafeteria. Usually, it was brimming full with students but today there were hardly any students left and the cafeteria was completely silent except shadowed murmurings.
I double-checked my watch. It was lunch break, so where was everyone? I scanned the leftover crowd for any familiar face when I spotted max buying lunch. I strode over to him.
“Hey max, where’s everyone?” I asked him.
He gestured towards an empty table and we sat in front of each other.
“It’s the surprise test day. During the lunch break, people go either to the library or to the school church. Or bunk the classes.” Max spoke.
“We have a church in the school?” I asked him.
“Yeah. It is behind the middle school building. Where do you think they arrange the religious classes?” max muttered as he unwrapped his sandwich.
I felt no appetite and the thought of eating food made me nauseous.
“We have a religion class?” I asked him a little incredulously.
He looked amused, ”we even have a father who wears white robes and walks around with a bible.”
I frowned at him before taking out my chemistry book. I may as well study if I was not going to eat anything.
“You are not going to eat anything?” max inquired.
I thought about food and another wave of nausea overwhelmed me. I shook my head slightly.
“Hey, are you alright? You look a little pale” max peered at me.
I cradled my head in my hands and managed a smile, ”I am fine.”
“You should eat something crystal.”
I shook my head again and tried to concentrate on the words in my book.
“Are you the type of girl who doesn’t like to eat in front of boys? I don’t think so.” Max pondered.
I gave him a wry look.
“I just don’t feel like eating anything,” I muttered while swallowing another wave of nausea.
“You look ill. Let’s go to the medical room.” Max tried to grab my bag.
“I am okay.” I gritted out.
He looked at me with concern. I smiled at him.
“You eat, max. I will have something later.”
“I can buy you something.”
“You could have some of my food.”
“no.” I sighed.
“You know what? I have never seen you eat anything.” I told him while mulling the thought in my head.
He gave me a blank look and stated, ”that’s because I practically inhale my food.”
“How?” I asked him curiously.
He unwrapped his sandwich and started eating it. By the time he had finished eating it, my mouth was gaping open and I was leaning as far as my chair was allowing me to.
“Told you.” Max declared proudly.
“You...You…how did you…you barely took two minutes to finish that off!” I told him.
He gave me a roguish smile before carrying our bags and moving out of the cafeteria. I had no choice but to follow him.
“I can carry my bag,” I whined as I reached for my bag.
“I know you can. However, you look sick and you have not eaten anything. So I will carry your bag.” He replied firmly.
I stopped for a moment to look at him. What was happening to Max? When did he transform into such a gentleman?
The whole day passed with tests that were completely amazing for me. Beth was waiting for me outside my physics class. As soon as she saw me, she collapsed into my arms.
“Dude, the tests suck. This whole school sucks.” She muttered dejectedly.
“It’s okay Beth, even my tests went pathetic.” I lied. She sighed a little.
“I am hungry. Let’s eat something.” Beth said as she dragged me to the cafeteria.
Violet and Meghan were equally miserable. Meghan’s boyfriend had promised her ice cream treat so she wasn't actively griping about it, unlike violet whose current girl crush was avoiding her.
I made my way shortly to the library for my study hour. A flash of pain started from the base of my skull all the way to my temples. I clutched my head tightly and collided with a wall of warm hard muscle.
“I am so sorry. I did not see where i-“ I cut my rambling short when I saw max looming over me with a concerned face.
“Hey, are you feeling well?” he asked softly.
I looked at him for a few seconds before feigning nonchalance, ”yeah. I am okay. It’s just a headache. Don’t worry.” I told him and moved towards the library.
“Crystal, do you want me to come with you to the nurse’s room. You could use some medicine.” Max responded.
I shook my head quickly. If I went to the nurse’s room, she will immediately call mom. There was no need for mom to be stressed.
Max watched me for a few seconds before slightly grabbing my shoulders and looking me right in the eyes, ”Listen, could you wait 15 minutes longer than usual in the library? I will come to pick you up. I don’t want you to walk back home while you are feeling sick.”
As sweet as the gesture was I could not stop the wave of annoyance that swept over me. I did not need anyone’s help. Max sensed I was going to defy him and added a plea that sounded desperate and so concerned that I begrudgingly agreed.
Later at my home, my appetite had returned full force and the dinner was not ready yet. I grabbed a bag of Doritos and moved to the sofa facing the plasma TV. The Harry Potter movie was on.
I lay down on the couch and opened the bag of Doritos while sleeping. All the Doritos came flying on to my chest and I just shrugged and continued eating them. Too lazy to even move anymore. I flicked the last Dorito in my mouth as my mom galloped towards me with my mobile in her hand
“Crystal," mom whispered while biting her lip in excitement.
I ignored her and continued looking at Harry’s weird hairstyle for the Yule ball.
“Crystal! It's someone special!” mom said a bit forcefully bouncing on her toes.
I threw her a wary glance, “Is it Liam Hemsworth asking for my hand in marriage?”
My mom shook her head giddily, “even better.”
“Monkeys are taking over the earth.”
“Taylor Swift is getting married?”
“I don’t think so….”
“Trump is resigning from his post?” I asked her skeptically. She was not deterred in the least.
“It’s max.” mom said with a huge smile.
“Say what?” I asked her unsure if I heard her correctly the first time.
“It’s max!” mom said a bit too loudly.
I quickly straightened up to take the call. Sure enough, pookie bear was on hold.
Why would max call me?
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