Truce

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Chapter 9

Jacob

Valentine’s day was a day I’d despised for as long as I could remember. It was just an excuse for couples to brag about their love or for other people to find love. All of this romantic bullshit was made a thousand times worse by the flowers and the roses and the love notes, that gave businesses another day to make bucket loads of money.

This morning I had woken up at my usual early hour where only my mother was awake, speaking to my father on Skype on the iPad. She was wandering around the house with the device held in front of her, looking for the best connection as they conversed in German. I liked to see that. It was rare that many parents of kids my age were still that in love, or if they were they didn’t show it.

I ate my cereal in silence, too tired to cook up something nutritious. After that I took my shower and got dressed; Converse, shorts, button up t-shirt. I let my brown hair dry and messed it up with my hand as I read, waiting for Ada to come get me.

“Are you excited for Valentine’s Day?” I asked on the way to school, my mind half still in the story of the book I’d been reading. An English one this time, of stories from World War II.

Ada shrugged, but was tugging on the nice singlet she wore. “Sort of, not really.”

I raised my eyebrow, motioning to her seemingly subconscious actions. “It doesn’t seem like it.”

“My top’s new and I don’t think it’s sitting right,” she explained, which made a lot more sense. I’d be very surprised if she were into a day such as this. It was mostly couples that got excited. “Are you?”

I scowled, not wanting to talk about it but did regardless to explain. “Margaret LaMarr is hosting this Valentine’s Day party tonight where Kaia and I are making our relationship ‘official’.”

“That sounds fun,” she drawled, voice laced with heavy sarcasm. I turned into the school parking lot and shook my head.

“It won’t be.”

We were a bit early so I walked with her to her locker, surprised to find a piece of folded paper tucked in between the gap. She frowned and pulled it out, opening it. Her eyes skimmed over it and her cheeks went slightly red.

“A love letter and it’s only eight thirty. I never knew year eights were into Valentine’s Day.” Ada was different. With her birthday next Thursday which would make her fifteen, she was more mature than the rest of her year level.

“I don’t even know who it’s from,” she mumbled, folding it into her pocket securely stashing it away. “Did you get anything for Kaia?”

Changing the subject. Smart. “I got her roses. They’re sitting in my car. I’ll grab them at lunch so that the whole cafeteria can see including our exes. Although, I think part of our deal has something to do with her grandmother. She told her we were dating and that I’d go out to dinner with them one evening.”

“That’s odd,” she nodded, smiled and closed her locker. “It’s good you got her something. I have to go get something from the library now, though. I’ll see you later.”

She didn't even give me a chance to respond. I shrugged it off as optimism to learn and headed to the quadrangle where a few stragglers were scattered. It was still only early, so I got my phone out of my pocket and sat on the bench, reading an e-book. It was a murder mystery that took place in a creepy town in Germany so of course, the whole book was in German. The main character was walking home late at night, where the streets were pitch black. He had just decided to head down an alleyway when I felt hands on my shoulders.

I jumped, cursing and dropping my phone in the process. I heard a laugh and looked up to see Kaia’s face, her mouth open in mid-laugh. “That was a great start to my morning.”

I rolled my eyes. “Yeah, for you.” My heart was still beating frantically in my chest. I picked my phone up as she sat on the bench beside me, crossing her legs and facing me. The quad was now filled with students walking in the gate, some embracing the sunshine and some just dreading being locked up inside for six hours.

“Were you reading? I tried having a look over your shoulder but I couldn’t quite see.” She had an easy smile on her face, one I wasn’t used to seeing. She was one of those girls who couldn’t do a close lipped smile, it would have looked wrong. Her smile brightened her whole face, so much so that it was contagious.

“Yeah, it’s a murder mystery e-book. You should read it,” I said, then realized she wouldn’t be able to. “Actually, don’t worry.”

“No. It sounds interesting. What’s it called?”

I chuckled, looking at my watch. We had two minutes until first bell and with all the couples everywhere, it’d take ten times longer. We started to head inside along with the rest of our peers.

“I don’t want to get your hopes up. It’s in German. You won’t be able to read it.”

“You can speak German?”

“I always could.”

“Yeah but I didn’t know you knew it that well!”

I laughed, walking in the direction of her locker and avoiding all the romantic shit going on around us. “Where do you think I’ve been for the past six years?”

“Oh.” Was all she said. I walked her to her locker and then she came to mine, and we walked into Psychology two minutes late. Mrs. Patterson just waved us in and we started the lesson.

By lunch time I was starving but I had to get the flowers out of my car. I would have preferred to off myself then be seen participating in Valentine’s Day, even if it were just for show.

“I hate this,” I muttered under my breath, and walked into the cafeteria.

If I didn’t have an ego, I would have after my entrance. Every pair of eyes in the room were trained on me; a silence fell over the room. If people didn’t know I had a thing with Kaia, they were about to. Good.

I put on a flippant smirk and headed over to my table, where Parker, Landon and thankfully, Kaia were sitting.

“Kaia,” I said, a bit louder than usual, standing to the side of her. “Happy Valentine’s Day.”

She looked up at me with the fakest grin I’d ever seen, her eyes darting from my face to the overwhelming amount of roses. I’d gone with a dozen and upon reflection, I could have gone with less. I handed them to her and she did the classic girly thing of smelling them, then stood up and hugged me. Even if it were just part of the act, it felt nice. She was really good at giving hugs.

“Thank you so much!” She gushed, kissing my cheek and pulling away. Her voice was a high pitched exclamation, which made me want to laugh. “Will you come with me to put them in my car?”

“I’d love to,” I grinned, twining my hand with hers and leading her out of the cafeteria. They erupted into cheers as we headed out the doors, which made me smirk. They had totally fallen for it. Just before the door swung shut I found Audrey and Marcus in the crowd, both of them with matching expressions. They were mad.

Tonight would be interesting. I knew it.

Kaia

Jacob bought me freaking roses. I was torn between wanting to compliment him on his thinking ahead and ripping his head off. What the hell was I meant to do with a dozen roses? I loved flowers but I was really good at killing them. I never knew how to take care of them. I gave those poor buggers three days to live at most.

We got into the hallway and I immediately scrunched up my nose, going for the latter option. “What am I supposed to do with these?”

His laugh echoed down the hallway as I took a right through the exit door. I wanted to put them in my car so I wouldn’t have to think about them for the rest of the day. Knowing me I’d probably end up leaving them there.

“I don’t fucking know. It’s not my problem.”

“So helpful, Jacob,” I rolled my eyes, clicking the lock on my car and opening the boot.

“You could always say thank you? Roses aren’t cheap, especially around Valentine’s Day.”

“I was getting to that,” I told him, shutting the roses away. Out of sight, out of mind. “Can I give you some money for them?” Not that money was an issue for his family, but I felt bad that he bought those for me because of this plan. Sure, it was for his benefit as well, but he was right. They would have cost a fortune. I felt bad.

He scoffed, waving the matter away with his hand. “Hell no. I don’t care about the money. I was just making a point.”

“Please?” I asked, putting on my best puppy dog face. Bottom lip jutted out, eyes wide. “I feel bad.”

“That is pathetic,” he said, disgraced with my attempt to persuade him. He held the door open for me to go back into the building. “And I’m not letting you give me money. It’s all good.”

“No, Jacob. Let me pay.”

He took a quick step to stand in front of me, blocking my way. “You’re not paying. A thank you would be good enough for me.”

I sighed. “Thanks, Jacob.”

“Say it like you mean it.”

“Do you want a punch in the face?”

“There we go. You definitely meant that,” he chuckled, taking my hand again just before we walked back through the cafeteria doors. “Come on, let’s grab some food.”

The rest of the day was uneventful. People were staring. German was boring. Maths was hard.

I went to the psychologist after school, as I had promised my grandmother. Dr. Wallace kept me for a bit longer than last time, not touching on anything I felt of use. She asked me questions about school life, home life, sport, friends, work, but in a way that allowed me to give multi-syllable answers.

Parker picked me up and from there it was go go go. I was going to the party at eight but Parker wanted to pick out the right dress and do my hair and makeup with red lipstick and then the boys would collect me and we would go.

My sister had a head cold all week and didn’t want to anger it by being in that sort of environment, so she decided to have a quiet night at home.

She sat me on my bed and did my hair and makeup, but I was ready with still an hour and a half to go so she left me to read in peace. It was a fractured fairy tale, where Sleeping Beauty was transformed into a modern day storyline, set in a high school where the principal acted as the bad guy.

I got caught up in it and as a result, had to stop a chapter half way through to get dressed. If there was one thing I hated more than anything was leaving a chapter unfinished.

“Hurry up! The guys are here!”

That got me moving. I already had a dress hung up on the outside of my wadrobe which I slid on, enjoying the way it sat on my frame. It was black, reaching just past my ankles with slits up either side to mid-thigh. There were cut-outs on my waists. Simple but gorgeous.

I quickly slipped on my black three inch heels, leaving my phone in my room so I wouldn’t have to worry about it. The way the top was cut emphasized my boobs and showed the cleavage that I only got with a push-up bra, and I wasn’t about to mess with that by putting a phone there.

I raced down the marble staircase with my dress flowing out behind me, and to the entrance hall where everyone was standing. Parker was sweats and a hoodie while all the guys were dressed sharply in slacks and nice dress shirts.

Jacob caught my eye, wearing a dark blue long sleeve that showed off his very nice arms. His hair was gelled into place and he had an easy smirk on his face, his eyes drifting to my chest.

“Quit staring,” I scolded him, going to cross my arms but stopped, figuring that wouldn’t help my case. Or better yet, his.

His eyes lazily worked their way to mine as he raised an eyebrow. “I may have been the first but I won’t be the last.”

The guys howled with laughter, all except Landon who had more sense than that.

“Let’s just get this over with, shall we?” I asked, heading out the door and into the warm summer night.

“Let’s party like it’s 1999!”


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