I closed my eyes, attempting to ignore the hot breath against my neck. Could he be any closer?
“What the hell do you want from me?” I asked Ezra.
“I am here to ask a few questions. Please, answer honestly.” He grabbed my shoulder, turning me to face him. He wore shorts and a short-sleeve shirt today. Did he not get cold?
“I can’t make any promises.” I crossed my arms and gestured for him to go on.
He nodded and shoved a paper in my face. There was a big D on the front in red ink. The paper was filled with math problems. Ah, yes, math. The one subject I was surprisingly good at.
“Can you help me? I need someone to tutor me.” He lowered his paper to show me his face. As if I wanted to see it.
“Are you serious right now? I don’t want to tutor you.” Of course, this could help me win this bet with Amelia and get my one hundred dollars. However, I had other plans to win. Tutoring was not one of them.
“Mel, please. I am failing and I need to do this or else my ma will be so pissed off at me. I’ll even pay you.” He gave me those damned puppy dog eyes.
I shooed him with my hand. “I don’t want your money. I only wish to keep my sanity and teaching you math is like teaching a brick wall how to talk.”
“I know you want to help me. You could use the money.” He nodded as if he already knew me and my schedule. Of course, I had no job. It just wasn’t any of his business.
“I don’t need your money. I could make money if I wanted to. I carry myself just fine, thanks.” I gave him my fakest smile yet before walking away and grumbling to myself. Buttface.
Buttface: I know you want the money. Dont lie to me.
Me: Stop texting me!
Buttface: When you agree to be my tutir I will leave you alone. Okay thats a lie. I will bother you bevause youll be my tutor.
Me: I’m repulsed by your grammar skills. Autocorrect would be better than this. Goodbye.
I turned my phone off before he could bother me some more. I was never going to tutor him. I already didn’t want to be around him as it was. It was a tough call trying to win a bet while hating him at the same time.
And yet, I still wanted to be around him.
He drove me bonkers and got on my nerves faster and anyone else could do. However, I loved his jokes and the silliness he had in him. He was not the Ezra I first judged him as. This did not mean I was letting him learn math skills from me.
I made it to the cafeteria but growled at the sight of Ezra. How the flop did he end up here before me? I left before he did.
Walking over to him, I dropped my bag in front of him onto the table. “Excuse me, what’s this?”
He smiled at me, showing me his graded math quiz once again. “This is me bothering you for not accepting.”
“You asked me to answer honestly and I did. I said no. You can’t just force yourself on someone when they say no. That’s what rapists do.” I lifted both eyebrows high up on my forehead so he would get the picture by now.
He frowned. “Are you comparing me to a rapist? Asking you to tutor me is not the same thing, Mel. I’m hurt that you would think of me that way. I love naked women but I could never do such a thing.”
I wasn’t sure how to respond. I hated when he was right. He was right. I had compared him to a rapist and it wasn’t the same thing. “I’m sorry, Ezra.” I sat next to him. “I just don’t want to tutor you.”
“Why not? Am I that bad?”
I threw my arms up. “Yes! You are that bad. I don’t exactly enjoy your presence. I enjoy when I’m alone or with people I love. I don’t exactly love you. You’re the boy who doesn’t stop bothering me when I ask for it.”
“I thought we were friends.” He put his arm around me, swaying us both side to side.
“You think a lot of things that are wrong. You also think that X stands for the same number but that’s not correct. Only π stands for the same number. When they say solve for X, they mean figure out which number X stands for each time.” I pointed to the question on his quiz.
Ezra tilted his head. “Alright, I see now. And I suppose Y and Z are the same issues?”
“If you mean the same as in they also don’t stand for the same number, then yes. It’s a good thing this is only Algebra II. You would never survive AMT.” I shook my head, giving him wide eyes.
“What is AMT?” he asked.
I said, “AMT stands for Advanced Math Topics. You deal with a lot of everything. It’s between Algebra II and Pre Calc. The graphing is the hardest part, I admit. But you get the hang of it.”
Ezra stood up and put the paper in his bag. “Thank you, Mel. I will see you after school for our first session. I’ll pay you twenty bucks per session, deal?”
I thought about it for a moment before agreeing.
I gasped as Ezra came into my room without warning. “What have I told you? I could have been changing!”
He sat on my bed and smiled. “And that would have been amazing to see.”
“Whatever. Let’s just get to tutoring.” I rolled my eyes, looking away from him. This was going to be a long afternoon.
“Your room is still so boring. Have I not taught you anything?” Ezra looking around. This boy was going to make my head explode.
“Yes, I’m boring. That’s why I don’t know why you hang out with me to begin with.” I hit his arm and grabbed his quiz from his bag. He sure as hell wasn’t going to do it. He was too slow for his own good.
I slapped his paper onto my lap. “Look here and listen good. I’m going to teach you what you did wrong and how to do it right on every question here. After that, we will end today’s session. You go home without another peep. Is that good for you?”
“Yes, ma’am.” Even his eyes smiled this time.
“Don’t call me that.”
“Yes, m-” Ezra stopped before he earned himself another slap.
I went through the first two problems and taught him exactly what he needed to know to do it right. He asked way too many questions but if it got him out of my life faster, I didn’t mind.
I gave him my famous disappointed look. “Please do not tell me you’re talking about something unrelated to math. I’m here to tutor. I only get paid twenty per session so I would like to finish as soon as possible.”
“But how can I not talk about it? I mean, come on. Season three was crazy.” He laughed. “That monster was disgusting to look at.”
I looked at the paper, pointing to the next problem. “That monster was basically another version of the Mind Flayer. Let’s not get carried away.”
“Of course. Of course. And what about the kids? They were just as great as always. Steve has really picked himself up.” He sat back, relaxing against my headboard. No, no. I did not want him getting comfortable here.
“Enough about that. Let’s get back to work.” I waved his paper around.
He ignored me. “It was an overall exciting season. The fair and summer theme was really brilliant. Have you noticed that they tend you use all the different seasons? They’ve used fall and winter and summer. That ending was so tragic.”
I crossed my arms. “Yes, I cried, now let’s focus on your math.”
“You cried? Wow, so you do have emotions. That’s a major shock to me.” He leaned in closer, smiling into my ear.
Gritting my teeth, I said, “If you don’t back away, I will punch you. I am here to tutor. We are not talking about Netflix shows.”
He rested his head onto my shoulder and I could only shake my head and hold the bridge of my nose. This was hopeless. He was going to prolong every session because he was a strange boy. “At least they have some good movies and shows.”
I patted his head before pushing him off of me. “If you don’t stop with this bullshit, I will kick you out. I’m giving you one more chance to get back on track or this tutoring deal is over.”
“Okay, okay. I will stop going off-topic.” He sighed and looked at the math quiz. He stayed quiet while I finished going through the rest of the missed problems with him. I was thankful he didn’t try and change the subject and make this last longer.
“We’ve finished up today’s lesson. Time for you to leave.” I got off the bed and smiled. This was now over.
“Ezra, dear, I’ve made some dinner if you’d be happy to join us,” Mom said from the other side of my door.
My smile dropped from my face and I wanted to scream and cry. I had been so close to getting rid of him and then my mom had to go and pull this stunt on me. I swear my family hated me. They were out to destroy my life.
“I would love to,” he said in response.
I fell face-first onto my bed. This was the end of me. I was never going to get this annoying maniac out of my life. I was screwed for all of eternity, or at least until death. I wasn’t sure what happened after this.
I dragged myself downstairs, after Ezra. He sat down at the table and thanked my mom for inviting him. They loved him and I couldn’t stand him. What a terrible situation. I’d been in scenes where my mom hated the people I hung around but I’d never seen this.
I sat in my chair and started stuffing my face before she could ask any questions. She would ask when the wedding was and there was never going to be a wedding. Ezra was not the marriage type. He was goofy or a pervert. He could not be a gentleman.
“Ezra, how is school? I heard you were getting Amelia to tutor you in math. That’s so sweet of her to do that.” Mom gave him her sweetest smile. She never even gave me that smile and I was her daughter.
He chuckled. “Yes, I am paying her to tutor me. It took a lot of convincing but I cracked her.”
Mom gave me a death glare. “Amelia, are you making him pay you? You should do this out of the kindness of your heart.”
“I have to make money somehow. I can’t work for free. This isn’t a free country.” I crossed my arms.
“You don’t pay bills. You don’t need to ask for money from your own friends.” She pointed her fork at Ezra.
“He is not my friend.” I sat back in my chair. I wanted to mention how Breanna didn’t pay bills either when she should have but I had promised her I wouldn’t say those things anymore. I refused to break a promise.
“Ezra, Amelia will tutor you regardless. She doesn’t need your money. She will continue to do this and be a good person.” Mom continued to eat her dinner.
I cannot believe she did that. She cut off my income. She was forcing me to tutor Ezra for free. I was not a servant. I was not a friend. I was someone providing him with a service. I was simply a private teacher and I did not want to work for free.