Truce

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Chapter 24

Kaia

A weekend in Europe can do wonders to a person, but on Tuesday morning when my alarm clock buzzed for me to get out of bed it felt like it would be the death of me. The jetlag I was experiencing was the worst I’d ever had, but my desire to go to school made getting out of bed a little easier.

I had spoken briefly to my siblings last night after Jacob dropped me off, enough to tell them about the trip in as much detail as I was prepared to give. Neither of them believed me when I answered to Parker’s question that yes, Jacob and I were still just friends, but at this stage I was beginning to question it myself.

Look at what he had done for me, had supported me through, had stood up for me for. He had after school detentions every day after school until Wednesday for beating Marcus to a pulp. He stood with me at my parents’ grave and started picking up the pieces of me that broke after the accident. I wasn’t sure anymore how I felt towards him, but I knew that he was the reason I got out of bed this morning and he was the reason I had started to feel like I would be okay after all.

Maybe he would be my prince.

Parker was sitting at the counter with a bowl of muesli, tapping on her phone which lay on the counter. Hearing my footsteps she looked up, smiled and asked how I’d slept.

“Good,” I tried a smile but I was still waking up, my muscles not in full effect yet. “And you’ve recovered fully from your cold?”

She nodded, the rest of the morning ensuing in silence.

The heat outside was a stark contrast to the winter I had just been exposed to, requiring shorts and a singlet instead of a snow jacket and boots. In the car my phone vibrated in my hands, my lips automatically turning up at the name.

“Jacob?” Parker asked.

“Yep.”

Jacob: when r u gonna b here?

Kaia: in like, 2 min. why?

Jacob: Audreys hangin around. She doesn’t seem to get that Im taken. Looks like shes gonna come over.

It took me a minute to wonder why he was talking about Audrey, but then I realised our deal. Get Audrey off his back and Marcus off mine. The latter had been successfully taken care of but the former was still a recurring issue. My face fell upon the realisation that all of this, of us – our friendship – could end when Audrey backed off, and I was beginning to hope it wouldn’t happen.

Then I remembered his admission to an ulterior motive, and his acknowledgement of mine.

Kaia: ok. what do we do?

Jacob: up to you. I know whatever u choose will b convincing ;)

Kaia: whats that supposed to mean?

Jacob: nothing nothing ;) see u soon

I didn’t bother respond.

“Home for not even twelve hours and he’s already texting? Jesus.”

My eyes rolled as we pulled into our school’s road. “He said Audrey is hanging around.”

“Still using that excuse, is he?” Her smirk was devious, and I would have hit her if she wasn’t behind the wheel.

“You know it’s not. What do I do?”

“He didn’t tell you?”

“No. Said it was up to me.”

“Sneaky.”

“I know.”

She helped me devise a plan that would both make Audrey jealous and give Jacob a bit of a shock. That was Parker’s idea; justifying that playing with Jacob was fun and she was in the mood to see his reaction. My heart raced at the thought of what I was about to do, but didn’t have time to worry.

Parker pulled the car into the lot and pulled the key from the ignition, trying to hold her laugh as we got out of the car.

Sure enough, Jacob and the boys were standing in the courtyard by the student carpark, and Audrey was hardly ten feet away.

“You ready?” Parker asked, at the same time Audrey’s eyes flicked to me. Her glare was murderous, but I was comforted in the fact that she wouldn’t commit murder out of worry of blood staining her clothes. Besides, it may have messed up her hair.

“Here goes nothing.” My feet hit the ground running and I didn’t have time to think of all the ways it could have gone horribly wrong. Jacob turned just in time for me to jump on him, my legs around his hips, my arms around his neck and my lips on his, feeling the shock through his frozen lips. His arms held me up as if I weighed nothing and suddenly, he wasn’t frozen, moving his lips against mine as if we weren’t in a courtyard full of our peers.

The feelings it sent through me were like an electric current, pulsing through my veins and all I wanted was more. But I had a job to do, and as much as I wanted to disappear with him in that moment I had to stop.

I pulled away, enjoying the undeniable grin on his face and the way he quickly pecked my lips again, before setting me to my feet. The moment I touched the ground I looked around Jacob just in time to see her escape inside, slamming the entrance door as she went.

“That is not what I was expecting.” Jacob’s voice sounded off, a little breathless even.

“At least it was convincing, hey?” The smirk on my face was so wide it consumed my face, which helped when someone cleared their throat and I realised we weren’t the only ones still here.

I slowly turned, leaning my back against Jacob’s chest as if that gave me the comfort to face the four guys with their jaws hitting the concrete.

“What the fuck did I just see?” Of course it was Hayden to voice his thoughts first; like it could be anyone else. I almost waited for Parker to say something, but she just kept her lips tightly shut and pretended not to have noticed.

“You saw brilliant acting,” I beamed, only seeming to confuse the lot more.

“Audrey,” Jacob explained, jerking his head to the door where she had disappeared. “Jesus. Do none of you remember why we’re ‘dating’?”

By the delayed responses of the boys I could tell something was up, because even when there was understanding, they still seemed doubtful.

“Do you?” Zavier muttered, but the matter was left at that when the bell rang.

“We’re going to be late,” I grumbled, everyone rushing inside and dispersing separate ways to their lockers. Jacob was dead set on playing our part still so we could walk into psychology together, Mrs Patterson’s gaze shifting to us with the rest of the class following.

“Why are you late today, Jacob?” Our teacher asked, the class looking excited to see what he would come up with. I couldn’t say I wasn’t too.

“A queen is never late,” he started, his already German tinged accent turning British in a matter of seconds. “Everyone else is simply early.”

The class erupted, Mrs Patterson sporting a little smile of her own. “Just sit down.”

“Great. I’ve already got detentions this week, I really didn’t want any more.” This caused everyone to laugh harder but Jacob’s face went straight.

“I’m not kidding,” he said, and then we sat down.

Jacob

My mind had replayed this morning’s events on repeat since it happened. I didn’t hear a word of my morning classes, and by the time I got to fourth period I had accepted the fact I wouldn’t be learning anything today. Luckily I was smart, or else I would have been in serious trouble.

We had a substitute in Physics, as clueless as Donald Trump running for President. He gave us our homework which I happened to miss, and proceeded to ignore the class chatter, despite there only being six of us. Because really, who is insane enough to take year 12 physics?

Landon, the incredibly intelligent guy he is, finished the set work within twenty minutes, and then turned his attention to me.

“What?” I asked, after a minute or so of his questionless staring.

“You like Kaia.” He said it as if he were informing me, as if I wasn’t capable of coming to the conclusion myself. It occurred to me that I hadn’t told anyone straight out, and that maybe it was time to.

“Yeah.”

“You’re admitting it?”

“There’s no point in denying it anymore, is there?”

He shook his head. “What happened in Europe?”

“I liked her before Europe.”

“You’ve liked her since you were six. What happened in Europe that made you be able to admit it?”

“You sure you want to be a physicist instead of a psychologist?” I joked and he just shook his head, his usual small smile spreading over his face. He was definitely the easiest to talk to, and by easiest I mean least judgemental. He had a way of getting you to tell him everything without asking, which was a great quality for a psychologist to have.

“Pity. You’d be a good one.”

“Back to the point?” He asked, folding his lanky arms over his chest.

“There’s nothing to go back to. I like her and she doesn’t reciprocate and that’s fine.”

He scoffed in disbelief, but to what I wasn’t sure. “You weren’t an outsider of your little ‘act’ this morning,” he said, adjusting his pencil case to lay parallel to his notebook. “I’m sure Hayden would be able to explain it better but for the sake of diplomacy let’s just say it didn’t look like either of you were acting.”

“Fuck diplomacy,” I joked. “Did it actually seem like she was interested?”

“Yeah, it did. But I don’t think she knows it yet.”

“What do you mean?”

He sighed, tapping his pen against the desk in time with the clock at the head of the room. It was two minutes until lunch.

“It’s obvious to everyone but you that she likes you in some way, but I don’t think she has realised that she does yet. Kind of like you, in the way that you’ve liked her for so long but didn’t realise it until recently.”

Our teacher dismissed us as I was pondering this, wondering if it could actually be true. As we headed down the halls I just shook my head, knowing she couldn’t be thinking the same thing. Instead of acknowledging the disappointment, I turned to Landon as I opened my locker.

“You sure you’re not interested in psychology?”

“My girl keeps asking the same thing. I’m considering it as an option.”

I stopped what I was doing and he realised what he’d said. “Oh fuck.”

“Oh fuck is about right,” I said. “You’ve got a girlfriend?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“’My girl’?” I quoted, my eyebrows raised dubiously. “Who is she?”

“Not my girlfriend. We’ve just been hanging out a lot.”

“What’s a lot?”

“Every day?” He winced as he said this and I shut my locker, shaking my head in disbelief.

“Do I get a name?”

“Do you really want one?”

“As long as it’s not Kaia or my sister I couldn’t give two shits.”

He choked on a laugh, shaking his head, but proceeded to laugh the entire way to the cafeteria, even more so when he caught sight of Hayden. Then he lost it.

“What’s up with him?” Hayden asked and I just shrugged, respecting the discrepancy of the issue despite his weird ass behaviour.

I took my place beside Kaia and everyone continued their conversation, not pausing when Landon returned from getting his food still with a grin on his face. Annaliese had joined us, and brought up that Kaia and I had “made a scene” this morning, being the “top gossip” of the day. Kaia looked proud but didn’t say anything, and stayed quiet for the entire break. She didn’t look upset, but it was rare that she stayed quiet for very long.

I put my hand on her thigh as if it were the most normal thing in the world, and mouthed are you okay? Her natural smile and nod was as much as a comfort as her letting me keep my hand where it was, was disconcerting. My eyes scanned the cafeteria for the only reason I could think she would allow that and came up empty. Audrey and her little posse of friends were nowhere to be seen, which sparked a sense of hope.

Was it possible that Kaia had some semblance of feelings towards me?


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