There’s a strong relationship between time and people. It’s simple. The more you spend with someone, the stronger your feelings towards them are. Whether they’re positive or negative, they will grown. They will soar or they will fester. You will love or you will hate.
I knew I was in trouble from the moment I got to school on Monday morning.
It was sweltering, a strong thirty degrees at 8:15am. I had just arrived with Ada by my side, both of us already complaining about the heat. Celti rarely got above twenty, so the heat was exhausting for us.
There was one girl in the entire school that didn’t seem affected and that was my fucking gorgeous fake girlfriend.
I think it was one of the first times I’d seen her in a dress, not counting parties. I swear, her legs went on for miles. She had her dark hair tied up and was talking with Landon, standing in the empty courtyard. Everyone else was inside.
“Why are you not hooking up with her?” An arm slung around my neck and I elbowed the owner in the ribs.
“It’s boiling. Fuck off.”
“Language!” Hayden scolded, looking from me to my sister and back with a smirk.
“Fuck off, Hayden,” Ada laughed, flipping him the bird. I’d taught her well.
“I’m officially offended,” he deadpanned, poking his tongue out at her like a four year old. “But seriously, man. How can you pretend to date someone who looks like that?”
“Easy. She’s annoying.” It was a lie. I knew it as soon as the words tumbled out. She was a smartass and kind of rude in a nice way but she entertained me more than anything. She kept things interesting.
“Yeah, right,” Ada scoffed, just as me met Landon and Kaia. “Enjoy living in denial, bruder. Du bist ein dumkopf.”
“Danke,” I said sarcastically, stopping while she continued and disappeared into the building.
“Why are you guys standing outside?” Hayden asked them, putting his arm on Kaia’s shoulder like he was leaning on a table. She raised an eyebrow at him as if to say what do you think you’re doing and he dropped it straight away.
“Believe it or not it’s stuffy as hell inside. The halls are overflowing and there’s no air circulating.”
“It’s shit,” Landon agreed.
“What’s shit?” Zavier asked, standing beside Landon with his backpack on one shoulder.
“You. When are we meeting Annaliese?” I asked, everyone else nodding in support. It was getting ridiculous.
He was about to answer but Hayden cut him off. “Tonight. We’re all going to my place after school to make use of my pool and you’re bringing her along.”
“You know I can’t do anything on Mondays,” I frowned, wiping the sweat off my forehead. “I’m looking after Ada.”
“Firstly, she’s nearly fifteen. She can look after herself,” Kaia said, crossing her arms. “And secondly, she could always come.”
“Yeah,” Hayden agreed, holding his fist out to Kaia. She hit it, harder than he expected as he cursed under his breath. I’d guess that was payback for the arm. “So it’s settled.”
“Guys.” Zavier was reluctant. “Does i-“
“YES!” We all responded and he sighed, but didn’t fight back. Good. Otherwise I’m sure we would have made an extra effort to meet his girlfriend and he’d have regretted protesting.
“Good. Hey, where’s Parker?” Hayden asked, noticing the lack of Kaia’s sister. Of course Hayden would notice she wasn’t around. He wasn’t telling us who he had a thing for but he wasn’t covering it up very well.
“She’s sick,” Kaia told him, but her eyes were on the ground. She was lying.
“So she won’t be coming tonight?”
She shook her head.
“We better head in. Five minutes until class,” Landon said and they all started to go down the path.
“Wait, Kaia,” I said before I knew what I was doing. She frowned and looked at the guys before going back to me.
“Yeah, sure. See you guys later.”
“Well,” I fumbled for an excuse. It was lame as hell that I just wanted to spend time with her alone. Why didn’t I hate her anymore? “I just figured since we’re officially fake dating now, we should probably go in together.”
“When did you start using your brain?”
“About the same time you ruined this world by your presence.”
“Funny,” she deadpanned.
“I’ve been told. Shall we?” I held my hand out to her and she took it.
“Your hand is all sweaty.”
“It’s like, a hundred degrees.”
She rolled her eyes. “It’s thirty. I could probably be wearing a jumper.”
“How?” There is no way. I was struggling to stay in my t-shirt for fucks sake.
She shrugged. “I’m used to it.”
“And I’m used to twenty five degree summers.”
I held the door open for her and she walked in ahead of me. they were right. The halls were brimming with students, the air thick and hot. I needed air.
The bell rang thankfully and the hall cleared within seconds. I felt like I could breathe again so we went to class, with Kaia frowning at me and asking if I was okay.
“I’m fine.” I kept saying but I didn’t know how I could get through the rest of the day like this. I wanted to ditch. Actually, that wasn’t a bad idea. We could all go back to Hayden’s and swim in his pool and get out of this claustrophobic place.
I couldn’t do anything about it now, but I was definitely going to leave at break. Kaia and I went to our lockers and met near psychology, two minutes after the bell rang.
“I hate being late,” Kaia muttered, her forehead creasing.
I chuckled. “You’re such a goody-two-shoes.”
“I am not!” She exclaimed, punching me in the arm. Really hard. It hurt but I didn’t show it.
“Are too,” I poked my tongue out at her. “Now let’s just go, shall we?” I grabbed the door handle and waited for her approval. She let go of my hand and nodded. It’s not like it mattered, rocking up late together would be enough proof that we were together. Besides, it was too hot.
I opened the door and the room went quiet, with Mrs. Patterson stopping her lecture to turn to us. She’d probably lecture us on tardiness instead of psychology.
She made a show of checking her watch, before her cool eyes made their way back to us. More specifically, me. “Why are you two late?”
“We’re just really early for tomorrow,” I smirked, causing the whole class to erupt into laughter. Kaia’s cheeks flushed but she shouldn’t have been embarrassed. No one was looking at her and Mrs. Patterson was laughing as well.
“How about we make a deal, Jacob?” She asked once she and the class had quieted. “In future, if you can make one person in this room laugh with the excuse you come up with for being late, you won’t get in trouble.”
“What’s the catch?”
“If no one laughs, you get detention for a week.”
The class ooohed but I wasn't finished. I had to barter. “Only if Kaia is excused for being late if she is with me and she gets no detentions.”
“I didn’t see that coming,” Mrs. Patterson said, looking at the girl who was still partially hiding behind me. Then she looked back at me and nodded. “Deal. Now take your seats. I was just about to put on the documentary.”
“Thanks,” I said and I sat down.
“Sorry,” Kaia mumbled, and took her seat in front of me. I didn’t understand why she was so embarrassed. She was a goody-two-shoes, but it wasn’t like she never did anything wrong. She was okay with ditching school, vandalizing public property, filling the admin office with plastic balls. I didn’t get it.
Mrs. Patterson flicked out the lights and the documentary rolled. It was something to do with social experimentation but I wasn’t paying attention. I got out my phone and texted the girl in front of me, knowing that Mrs. Patterson wouldn’t notice. Also, half the class were on their phones.
Jacob: what’s up w the embarrassment?
She didn’t touch her phone. I stretched my leg so I could poke her back and she jumped, turning around.
What? She mouthed at me, seeming more pissed off than usual.
Phone! I mouthed back and she shook her head, turning back to the front of the class. I didn’t bother again.
As soon as the bell rang she was out the door, not giving me a chance to ask her. I pulled out my phone and texted her again on the way to chemistry.
Jacob: meet u at ur locker at break. remember, we’re dating
She didn’t respond but I think she got it. Next I texted Hayden with news of my plan and that I wanted to ditch at break. I sent a different one to Zavier.
Jacob: we’re ditching at break and going to Hayden’s. bring ur girlfriend or suffer the consequences. k?
Zavier: ur a pain in the ass
Jacob: I know. meet u in the parking lot
Zavier: whatever. see u there
Landon was in chem so I told him of my plan
She was standing at her locker but it was only until I got closer that I noticed the guy standing against the one next to hers. Marcus. I felt myself frowning before I remembered I was acting as Kaia’s boyfriend. I went up behind her and put my arms around her waist, kissing her hair before looking to her ex. He was livid, his hands clenched into fists by his side. He looked like he wanted to hit me. Part of me wished he would, because then I’d have an excuse to hit him back.
He looked down at Kaia and said “Think about it,” and left.
“What was that?” I asked her, taking up Marcus’ spot leaning against the next locker. It wasn’t until then that I saw her face, looking almost like she was about to cry. Her eyes were watering and she was biting her lip, then she turned into her locker, cutting off my view.
“Hey,” I said, making my voice gentler. I hesitated but put my hand on the small of her back. “Kaia. What happened?”
“Nothing,” she sniffled, rubbing her eyes.
I didn’t want to push it but I wanted to know what he said. Or did. I couldn’t help but worry and that kind of sucked because it meant I cared about her in some way. “Come on. We’re leaving.”
She shook her head profusely. “I’m fine.”
“I know,” I allowed, even though I knew she wasn’t. “But I’m not. It’s too fucking hot in here and we’re all going to Hayden’s now. You coming?”
She slammed her locker closed and nodded. “But we have to find your sister.”
We walked around the halls hand in hand and didn’t say a word. I think she was trying to move past whatever happened and it seemed to have worked by the time we found Ada. She was walking with a guy with curly blonde hair who hadn’t hit puberty yet.
“Ada,” Kaia called, getting her attention. She walked over to us with blondie and introduced us.
“This is my friend, Oliver. Oliver, this is my brother Jacob and his girlfriend Kaia.”
“Nice to meet you,” Kaia grinned, then nudged me to do the same.
“You as well. Anyway,” Oliver trailed, wide eyed and kind of scared. “I am going to class. I will see you there, Ada.”
“Bye!” She called, and turned to us. “What’s up?”
“Well, you’re not going to see him in class,” Kaia chuckled, linking arms with her as we walked. “Your brother is being a wimp in this heat and we’re going to Hayden’s to swim. Do you want to come?”
She frowned. “Do you guys really want me there?” She was looking more towards me than Kaia but I smiled. She was my little sister and as annoying as they stereotypically are, she wasn’t. Besides, she was probably better friends with Kaia than I was.
“You’ll help balance out the guy to girl ratio,” Kaia said so she agreed and we met the others at the car park. The sun was so much worse now, almost directly above us. It was unbearable, but Zavier wasn’t here yet.
“Where is he?” Hayden groaned, wiping his forehead.
“There,” Ada said, her quiet voice getting everyone’s attention. We turned and sure enough, there he was. With a girl on his arm.
Hayden, Landon and I looked at each other and smirked.
“This is going to be fun.”
We had all driven to Hayden’s house after getting our bathers, virtually running through the house and to the pool out the back. It was hard to miss. It ran at least twenty five metres and was about half that in width with a fountain up one end and a spa up the other.
It was hot, but I had a high tolerance for heat so it didn’t bother me too much. The Beck’s were the opposite and were the first two to jump into the massive pool which kind of reminded me of the one in High School Musical 2 but bigger, better and private.
I had my bathers under my dress but Zavier’s girlfriend still needed to change, so I offered to show her to the bathroom. The impression I got from her was confident but innocent, which made me think it would be daunting to be introduced to all of her boyfriend’s over-six-feet-tall best friends in the one day.
“I’m pretty sure we’ve had class together before but regardless, I’m Kaia.”
She laughed, walking up the stairs to the left wing of the house while tying up her blonde hair. She was pretty in a popular way but was didn't posses any of the typical popular traits. She was nice.
“I’m Annaliese. I think we had English together at some stage but I don’t remember.”
“Me neither,” I nodded, and led her down the carpeted hallway. “How are you feeling about officially meeting everyone? You realize it’s a big thing for the guys. They’ve been trying to convince Zavier to introduce you since you started dating.”
“Trust me, I know,” she said with a quick roll of her eyes. “He thinks they’re all morons and that they’ll take away my ‘innocence’.”
“Well they are morons,” I admitted. “And they are likely to take away any innocence you have. But they’re overall good guys.”
“You should know, you’re dating one of them.”
Indeed I wasn’t. I just laughed and was thankfully saved from coming up with a response.
“The bathroom,” I pointed out to her, remembering from all those years ago where it was. That’s only because the guys had locked me in there when we were ten but eventually Jacob came to rescue me.
“Thanks. I’ll only be a sec.” She closed the door.
I leant against the wall and waited, trying not to think about what had happened in English. Marcus hadn’t bothered me in person for almost two weeks but as soon as Parker wasn’t in class, he decided it was the day. He had sat next to me and begged me to take him back and after class, made his move. He tried to kiss me, tried to force himself on me. I said no, and he said he wouldn’t leave me alone. I was scared more than I wanted to admit, and relieved when Jacob showed up with an offer to get me out. It was turning out that I needed him more than I realized.
Annaliese didn’t lie. She was out in under a minute in her green bikinis, obviously having no issue walking around a guys house in them. I wasn’t that confident.
We got back to the pool and all of the guys were in. Ada was sitting on the side of the pool with her legs dangling in the water and everyone was laughing and splashing each other and having fun. I put my bag on one of the lounges and sat on the burning concrete beside Ada, a layer of her towel underneath my legs.
“Not going to swim?” I asked her, sliding my feet into the water. It was cool, but not cold enough to be warm. It was actually perfect. Surprisingly.
“I will,” she said, but her tone was unsure.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“How did you-“
“I just do. So…?”
She shook her head. “No. I’ll go in soon.”
“How was Fred on Saturday?”
That got a smile on her face. I knew it would. She groaned, running a hand through her hair. “Shut up.”
“Hey, you were the one who told me. You’d have had to know I was going to bring him back up.”
She paused for a minute so I just looked over the boys, and Annaliese who was clinging to her boyfriend’s back like a monkey. They were figuring out who was going to be ‘it’ in Marco Polo.
“But I’m always it.”
“You’re always too slow.”
“Suck it up sunshine.”
They made me laugh. I would have loved to say I hated them all and would love to be without their company for just two seconds but I couldn’t. I hated being alone and as Annaliese had said, they were morons. But they were amusing morons who never ceased to make me smile.
My eyes drifted involuntarily to Jacob, who was arguing with Hayden about being ‘it’. They were yelling at each other but one was on a pink pool floaty chair and the other wasn’t. The sight was hilarious, but more than that was the sight of Jacob shirtless.
I didn’t not like him but I didn’t like him either, but at least I could admit he was hot. He had the European tanned skin and the abs and the muscles and just everything about him and his body were something to look at.
“Stop ogling my brother. It’s gross,” Ada nudged me, snapping me out of my thoughts.
“I’m not!” I protested, but she just shook her head.
“Whatever,” I rolled my eyes. “Are we going to talk about Fred or are we going to swim?”
“How about neither? I have to go use the bathroom.”
“Do you want me to show you where it is?” I asked, preparing myself to stand up. She shook her head, standing up and putting her hands in her pockets.
“It’s okay. I know.” She headed inside and my attention turned to the argument which was coming to a close.
“Fine! I’ll just be it,” Hayden grumbled, pushing Jacob off the pink chair. He glanced my way then turned to the corner and closed his eyes, starting his count down from twenty.
Everyone scattered and for the first time in the ten minutes we’d been out here, Annaliese got her hair wet. She was definitely competitive. As were the guys though, as they all grew even more quiet than when we’d gotten in trouble for filling Mrs. Barden’s office with plastic balls. Even Jacob had gone silent, although he’d drifted over to me and was hiding beside my legs for protection.
“That isn’t going to work,” I whispered but he just splashed me, telling me to shut up.
“Three.” Hayden was counting down. “Two. One. Marco?”
“Polo,” everyone responded at different volumes, the boy beside me practically screaming it. Hayden dived, flailing towards me like a fish who couldn’t swim. Jacob ducked under the water and I could see him swim along the bottom of the pool to the other side.
Hayden got to my feet and said “AHA! You’re it!” Sounding like he’d won the lottery.
“I’m not playing,” I laughed, patting him on the head. “Too bad.”
His eyes were still closed but he had a devious smirk on his face. His fingers wrapped around my ankle and before I could realize what was happening, he yanked me into the water.
I resurfaced with a gasp to the sound of laughter, but started harassing Hayden with splashed of water. “You idiot!”
He smartly grabbed my wrists and laughed like an evil genius, but then Jacob swam up behind him and gave him a shove.
“Get your hands off my girl.” He slid his arms around my stomach and pulled me away, my dress floating around in the water. I was kicking for him to let me go but his arms didn’t budge.
“You’re still it, Hayden,” he called, blatantly ignoring my protests. “Go count in the corner.”
“But muuuuuuuum,” he mocked, jutting his bottom lip out like a toddler.
“Naughty corner. Now!” Jacob said, splashing him with the arm that wasn’t holding me.
“Fine!” Hayden said at the same time I said “Let me go!”
“Never,” he cackled but then Hayden started counting and he disappeared within seconds. I slipped my dress off, thankful I’d put on my black bikinis underneath, and set it on the side of the pool. It was probably ruined now, but I had another one like it.
“Marco!” Hayden was already calling and the games had begun.
By two we were all hungry so the guys went into town to get some fish and chips while us girls stayed behind. Girls meaning Annaliese, Ada, myself and Hayden, of course.
“So,” Annaliese started, sitting on one of the beach towels we’d laid out on the grass. “How are you and Jacob?”
We were sitting in a circle, the middle of which the food would land in a few minutes. I had to laugh at her question and decided to tell her. She could keep a secret, and if she was going to be hanging out with us she’d need an explanation as to why we were always rude to each other.
“We’re not actually dating,” I admitted, sliding a little bit back so that I could be in the shade of the tree.
“I know! Zavier told me.”
“Then why are you asking?” I frowned. Why would she ask that if she knew?
She shot me a dubious look and Hayden and Ada laughed, as if they were in on it. Then it clicked. My jaw nearly hit the ground.
“You don’t think I like him, do you?”
I couldn’t believe she was thinking about this! “I think he likes you,” she finally said. “And I think you will like him. In time.”
“He doesn’t and I won’t. We really don’t get along.”
“That’s not true,” Ada piped up, turning to lie on her stomach on the towel. She still hadn’t gotten in the pool and was still in her clothes, unlike the rest of us. “He said so himself. I’m not sure he likes you but he doesn’t not.”
“That’s what I’m trying to say!” Annaliese chuckled, high-fiving Ada. “All I’m getting at is that you two seem to get along, even though you say you don’t. I bet ten bucks you’ll be together by the end of the year.”
“Money, I have,” I said, knowing already I was going to win. There was no way Jacob and I would be an official thing this year or any year. He was too infuriating. “But I don’t know you well enough to bet anything else.”
“According to you, we’ve got time. We’ll talk later,” she grinned, her eyes moving over my shoulder to where the guys were making their way through the house. you could hear their voices echo through the place and float out here.
“What sounds good?” Jacob asked, dumping the paper filled food in the middle of the circle and flopping onto my towel beside me.
“Not you.” I pushed him off my towel so that he was on the grass. He pinched my waist but stayed away, not bothering to fight back like he usually would have. Annaliese caught my eye and raised shot me a doubtful look. I just shook my head and enjoyed the rest of the afternoon off.