I woke up at 11am, sleeping way past my alarm which either didn’t go off or did go off but I didn’t hear it.
I needed to get to school.
Usually if I slept in this late I wouldn’t bother, but I needed a distraction. Besides, it was Ada’s birthday and I was going to the Beck house for dinner and I figured I kind of needed to be at school.
I had a quick shower and dressed in my jeans and a black and white striped t-shirt, grabbed my backpack and went to Parker’s room. If she was still sick she’d be in there and from the look of it last night, she wouldn’t be getting better for a while.
“I’m down here!” Her voice called just as I got to her room. I sighed and turned around, ending up in the kitchen where she was making breakfast. I scrunched up my nose at the smell of food, apparently not having an appetite this morning.
Come to think of it, I felt like shit. My head was pounding from crying and my nose was blocked. Along with the fact I was dead tired, I really shouldn’t have bothered going to school. But I did anyway.
“You okay, sis?” Parker asked me as I hesitated by the door. I shook my head and she came and gave me a hug. “Do you want to talk about it?”
I shook my head. It would make her feel the same way and she was already sick. “Could you just please take me to school?”
“Sure thing,” she said in her soft voice. “I’ll go grab my keys.”
“Cool, ‘cause I need to grab my phone actually.” I’d left it in my room. I jogged up the stairs and snatched it off my unmade bed, frowning at the unresponsive screen.
Oh, duh. I’d switched it off.
Then the reason for doing so came back and I frowned, questioning whether I really wanted to turn it back on. I would have at least one missed call from Jacob and who knows what else; he seemed pretty persistent last night.
But why did he care? It’s not like we were even that good friends, and he shouldn’t have been able to tell I was upset just by my voice. That got me thinking.
Did he care?
No. He didn’t. He couldn’t. It was just Annaliese putting ideas into my head. There was no way he could like me and I didn’t care one bit.
“Are you ready?” Parker called, snapping me out of my thinking daze. I switched my phone on as I headed back down the stairs and got in the car.
The screen came to life with a picture of me and Parker and Atlas pulling stupid faces at Coffee Bean the last time we were there. I smiled a little, until the messages started to cover it.
Missed call (4) : Jacob
Text message (13) : Jacob
“Damn. Your phone is going off like the fireworks on New Years Eve,” Parker observed, making me chuckle a little.
“Four missed calls and thirteen texts will do that to a phone,” I nodded, not even sure I wanted to open the messages.
Who was I kidding, of course I did. I was curious!
“And I wake up with only three texts. I’ve been out-messaged by my little sister. It’s sad, really.”
“Oh far out, he left voice mails,” I groaned. Seven of them, too.
“Of course,” Parker said, looking at me weirdly before her eyes went back to the road.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked. “And what was that look?”
“It’s not nothing!”
“You’re spending a lot of time with Jacob…” She trailed off and I didn’t like what she was implying.
“We’re pretending to date, Parker. You should know that. Hell, you came up with that!”
“With some help,” she muttered before responding. “All I’m saying is that you’re spending more time with him than you have to. It’s not a crime to be friends, you know.”
“Wait, what do you mean ‘with some help’?”
She blushed but shook her head. Wait, what?? Parker never blushed. She wouldn’t be caught dead blushing in a million years.
“Parker…” I trailed, my voice confused. “What’s going on?”
“Don’t worry!” She gushed, shaking her head as we pulled up in front of the school gates. “We’re here.”
“I’m not leaving without an answer.”
“Well then you’ll be following me around for quite a while,” she deadpanned, unlocking the doors.
“Ugh,” I groaned, pushing open the car door. “You’re so stubborn!”
“You too. Do you need a ride home?”
I thought about it, but then about what Jacob said yesterday. “Nah. I’ll make Jacob take me home.”
She just laughed and I closed the door. She beeped as she drove off.
The front courtyard was silent as it was just before lunch time, but of course as soon as I got to admin the bell rang and you could hear the seats scraping along the floor, everyone rushing to get out of their classes.
Mrs. Barden was sitting in her usual spot. Ever since we filled her office with plastic balls I had been scared of her. It was fair enough. She kept trying to get me into trouble because she couldn’t prove I was part of the group who vandalised her office, even though she knew.
“Didn’t feel like coming to school this morning, Ms Sawyer?” Her nasally voice asked, her eyes narrowing in on me.
“I was unwell,” I told her which wasn’t entirely untrue.
“And you’re here now infecting everyone because…?”
“I’ll infect you if you’re not careful…” I muttered.
“What was that?”
“I said I have classes I can’t miss,” I said louder, enunciating everything as if she should have heard me the first time.
“Here is the sign in sheet.” She handed me a clipboard that was almost empty for today’s date, and I filled in my details. Name, year level, ID number, reason for sign in.
“Have a nice day,” she said in a mocking voice and I was so tempted to flip her the bird or poke my tongue out at her like the immature girl I was.
But of course someone cut in.
“Hey,” his voice drawled and I flinched away. After our last conversation I didn’t want to be anywhere near him.
“Leave me alone, Marcus,” I growled, heading straight for my locker as fast as I could walk. Unfortunately his legs were longer and he kept pace with me.
“I just want to talk.”
I shook my head. “No, you want more than that.”
“I always knew you were a smart girl.” His voice sent chills down my spine and he grabbed my arm, pulling me to a stop.
“Ow!” I cursed, struggling to get out of his grasp. “Let go of me!”
“Come on now, don’t make a scene,” he drawled, a whisper in my ear. I shuddered, trying to punch him with my other arm, but he caught it.
“Marcus! Let go!”
There wasn’t anyone around. I had one more corner until the main hall where everyone would be but I couldn’t make it. It was too far away.
“Yes, let’s go,” he twisted my words and started dragging me to a door, that I thought was the janitors closet but couldn’t be sure because he was in the way.”
“STOP!” I squealed and he let go of one of my arms to put his hand over my mouth.
“No,” he growled, his grip tightening around my arm.
“OW!” I cursed but it was muffled.
“I’m going to show you why you shouldn’t have broken up with me.”
His hand moved so that he was blocking my nose and I couldn’t breathe. I tried to tell him but he was too focussed on getting me to that door. I squealed with all I had left and suddenly, I could breathe again. I fell to the ground with the sound of punching.
I gasped for breath as I turned and there was Jacob, beating Marcus to a pulp. Marcus was on the ground, cowering like a little girl and with a final punch, Jacob stopped.
“Don’t ever touch her again,” he growled, giving him a final glare before rushing over to me. Marcus scurried away, holding his hand to his face.
“Are you okay?” Jacob asked, his voice filled with concern. He was bending down in front of me, looking over me with his hands on my arms. I winced slightly at where his hand was. It’s were Marcus’ had dug into me.
“Sorry!” He exclaimed, letting go. “Are you okay?” He repeated, his eyes staring into mine. I looked down and nodded slightly.
“You’re not. We should go report him to Mr. Lawson,” he said. Mr Lawson was our principal and I knew he would take the matter seriously but it would get Jacob in trouble. He’d just kicked Marcus’ ass and he would undoubtedly have bruises ten times worse than mine. I didn’t want him to get in trouble. He could get expelled for that.
“No, don’t,” I told him, shaking my head profusely. “Just, help me up.”
He hesitated, not liking what I was thinking. He sighed and hooked an arm around my waist, pulling me up to a standing position.
“I don’t think he’ll bother you again,” he said, trying to comfort me. I had to admit I was already comforted.
“Jacob saves the day,” I half smiled, but it collapsed as quickly as it was forced up. Why was I having such a good run of bad days? I thought I was a good person. I was nice, I helped people, I was never intentionally mean or rude or hurtful. What the hell had I done to deserve all of this?
My vision started to go blurry and a hot tear slid down my cheek.
Jacob just pulled me into him, resting his head on top of mine and I cried. I felt pathetic, like I couldn’t handle anything on my own anymore. I was always relying on someone to make me feel better, to help me through whatever I was going through. It was stupid. I felt like I was five.
“It’s okay,” he soothed me. “It will be okay.”
After a minute I pushed away from him, staring at his shirt which now had just two wet circles on the front. It made me smile a little and he frowned, stretching his shirt out so that he could see.
“Kaia,” he groaned, over dramatizing it probably to make sure I knew he was joking. “Now it looks like I have boobs.”
I laughed because it was true, the circles were in exactly the right place on his shirt. He just smiled a half smile at me and slung his arm around my shoulders and we went to the cafeteria. I still had no appetite, especially after whatever the hell had just happened, so I just leaned against Jacob with my eyes closed for all of lunch. Everyone talked around me as if I wasn’t there, which is exactly what I wanted.
The last two periods dragged on and I was sitting in sixth with Landon when the PA crackled to life.
“Can Jacob Beck please come to the principal’s office. Jacob Beck to the principal’s office.”
“Can Jacob Beck please come to the principal’s office. Jacob Beck to the principal’s office.”
I was expecting that. After all I had beaten up a wuss who was exactly the type of guy to go cry to Mr. Lawson. I knew this before I did it, but seeing him drag Kaia to that closet made me feel sick. I had no other option.
Everyone’s eyes in the class were glued on me and I just shrugged, got my books and headed out the door. It was sixth period and I knew I wasn’t going to be back. I was confident I could talk my way out of expulsion, but suspension? I wasn’t sure.
The halls were quiet and for me it was deafening as I made the walk to hear my fate. My dad was going to kill me.
I walked past admin where Mrs. Barden was smirking. I didn’t even know people her age knew how to smirk. I just glared and went past to Mr. Lawson’s office. The door was open and sure enough, Marcus was sitting opposite him with a black eye and a ripper of a bruise along his jaw.
I smirked, probably not helping my case at all.
“Good afternoon, sir,” I greeted him. I had to admit he was the best principal and I had the most respect for him. I was going to respect whatever decision he made, but a bit of sweet talking on my part wouldn’t hurt.
“Mr. Beck. Please, take a seat.”
“Of course, sir,” I nodded and sat down on the chair beside Marcus.
“It has come to my attention that you caused this pain to Mr. Reynolds,” he said, gesturing to the bruises on his face. I took a closer look. Damn, there was a cut on top of his bruise. Fuckin’ A.
“Yes, sir,” I admitted, making it clear I wasn’t sorry.
“This school has a strict no-violence policy, Mr. Beck, as I’m sure you are aware. We can not tolerate this behaviour. However, I have heard Marcus’ side of the story but not yet yours. If you wish, I will give you the opportunity to tell it.”
What a legend.
“I appreciate that, Mr. Lawson. I truly do.”
He leaned forwards on his elbows and raised his eyebrows. “So what happened?”
“My girlfriend was unwell this morning but texted me saying she was coming to school at lunch. I was at her locker waiting for her when I heard a scream that I recognised as hers. I think it was understandable that I was concerned.”
“Go on,” he urged me.
“I followed the noise into the adjoining hallway where I saw Marcus dragging her in the direction of a janitor’s closet. He had one hand around her arm and the other covering her mouth. I don’t know what his intentions were, sir, but he was hurting her.”
Mr. Lawson looked to Marcus with a disappointed look, before returning to me. “Was this the first time Mr. Reynolds had made such advances?”
I nodded. “Yes, however my girlfriend had made it clear to me that she was a bit concerned. She said he wouldn’t leave her alone last week.”
“I see,” he said, nodding with a thoughtful look. Probably trying to think of what to do.
“Do you believe this?” Marcus asked, feigning disbelief.
“Should I not?”
“No! It’s his word against mine!” That was not the way to win over the principal, even if he did have a point.
“Shall we call on the girl involved, then? I’m sure she will determine who is telling the truth by her recounting of it.”
Marcus’ eyes widened. Sucker.
“I think that would be fair,” I nodded, just to torture Marcus a little bit more. He would learn not to mess with me. Or with Kaia. “But I don’t really think she would want to see him again after that.”
“He can wait in the other room.” Mr. Lawson was understanding and to be honest I think he wanted to prove me right. All evidence pointed that way.
“I think that will work,” I nodded.
“What is the name of your girlfriend?” He asked me, with a pen and paper ready.
“I’ll be back in a moment.”
He left and I turned to Marcus with a slight smirk. “How’s your face? A bit sore?”
“Fuck you,” he cursed, looking like he wanted to hit me. I wished he would, because then Mr. Lawson would walk in and he would get in huge trouble.
“Are you going to leave her alone?” I said, the smirk turning into a glare.
His silence and slight nod was enough of an answer for me.
“Good. Otherwise you’ll have that again only ten times worse. Got it?”
He looked kind of scared and I worked to keep the smirk off my face as Mr. Lawson had just walked back in.
The PA had just called Kaia up to the office and Mr. Lawson asked Marcus to wait in the adjoining room. We were alone.
“You know I will have to do something about this, regardless of the situation?”
“You believe me?” I asked.
“I don’t think anyone could make up being that concerned. However, you did break one of the rules and for that I will have to at least suspend you.”
“I understand. Thank you for not expelling me.”
He let out a short chuckle. “If Ms. Sawyer’s story fits your description, Mr. Reynolds may not be so lucky.”
I had never wanted to thank someone so much in my life.
I heard a noise behind me as someone cleared their throat. I turned and there was Kaia, wide-eyed and looking nervous as anything.
“Everything is fine, Ms. Sawyer,” our principal said, gesturing for her to take a seat. She hesitated but took it, looking to me for comfort. “I just want to hear what happened at lunch from you.”
“Will Jacob get into trouble?”
“That’s what you’re worried about?” I asked her in disbelief.
“The school has a no violence policy, so yes. However from what I hear he was provoked, so it will not be so bad. Why don’t you tell me your side of the story and we can come up with an agreement on Mr. Beck’s punishment?”
“Okay,” she hesitated, and recounted what I had said except in more detail. She said she couldn’t breathe at one stage and rage filled me once again, but I had to keep it inside. After what she had said I wanted to beat Marcus into the ground but Kaia’s eyes found mine and her worry calmed me.
“Thank you for your cooperation,” Mr. Lawson said with a courteous nod. “I apologise but I have to suspend Jacob.”
Kaia frowned. “For how long?”
“I was thinking a four day suspension, until Wednesday next week.”
She shook her head. “I think one day suspension and then after school detentions until Wednesday next week.”
She was seriously bartering my punishment?
“Between you and me, Ms. Sawyer, if I didn’t have rules to follow he wouldn’t be in any trouble,” he said making Kaia smile a little. He turned to me then and frowned. “I’m sorry, Mr. Beck, but you are officially suspended for one day. Your parents will receive a call this afternoon once the paperwork has been sorted and from Monday to Wednesday next week, you will stay behind until five for detention.”
“I understand,” I said, feeling a little weird. It was the first time I’d ever gotten in this much trouble before. “And thank you for understanding.”
He nodded. “I suggest you two go home before class lets out.”
We started to head towards the door but Kaia paused, turning back to our principal. “May I ask what will happen to Marcus?”
“You don’t have to worry about seeing him around here again,” was all he said. She thanked him and we left.
“I’m going to take you home,” I told her, walking her to her locker and then going to mine.
“What about Ada?”
It was my sister’s birthday and I couldn’t ditch her, but she would understand if I asked Hayden to drop give her a lift.
“I’ll get Hayden to drop her home. It’s all good.”
She turned away from me and into her locker but I saw a shadow of a smirk on her lips before. I wanted to ask but I had people to text.
First up, Hayden.
Jacob: I figure u heard. i’ll explain tonight but Kaia and i r going home early. Could u pls give Ada a lift?
His response came within the minute.
Hayden: not a problem. see u 2nite
Then I texted Ada.
Jacob: u probs heard I got in trouble. It’s all g, but i’m going home early with Kaia. pls find Hayden after school, hes giving u a lift. Hope thats ok. P.s. hbd
Ada: all good, bruder. See u at home.
I expected Hayden to be texting in class but not Ada. Oh well, it worked for me today.
We drove to Kaia’s house in complete silence. She stared out the window the entire time while I focussed on the road, taking less time to get there considering there was no traffic.
“You don’t have to come for dinner if you don’t feel up to it,” I had to say, just as she put her hand on the door handle.
“Don’t be silly,” she said, rolling her eyes. “It’s Ada’s birthday. I’m not missing it.”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m fine!” She snapped, before biting her lip. “Sorry. Just, don’t treat me like I’m about to break all the time. If I say I’m going to come, I will. If I say I’m fine. I’m fine.”
Okay, something was definitely going on that I didn’t know about. It was bad, but after that I couldn’t ask. Sometimes I wished she wasn’t so stubborn and secretive. It was liking there was this massive secret she was hiding from me that kept popping up but she wouldn’t ever give them freedom of letting them out.
She didn’t trust me. That was probably it.
“I’ll see you tonight.” I struggled to smile, tapping my hands on the steering wheel.
She just sighed and got out of the car. “See you tonight.”