A Soulless Path

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Chapter 9

Thanks to Will getting Aj into the mechanics class she was able to work on her own jeep without bothering her dad so much. Not that it ever bothered her father, actually he insisted that hed still be there to help, Will too. The suspension in her jeep was horrible and she decided to fix it herself and by herself, she meant her with shadows that resembled her father and Will. Aj swore that Will was the brother she never had and that he secretly was her father’s lost son. They would talk about everything together politics, sports, and even farming even though her father had never done anything related to it. “She takes a mechanics class for two months and suddenly she doesn’t even need me anymore,” pouted Mr. Jones. “At least it's something we can do with her, I mean she could have taken a cosmetology class” replied Will. Aj slid from out under the car “Are yall going to talk or actually help this time” Aj asked annoyed. “Oooh did that hit a button?” grinned Will. Aj threw out her leg to kick Will but he jumped back and it missed. “Well looks like someone’s getting hangry let's go in and order some food” cheerfully announced Mr. Jones. Aj listened to their distant chatter as they walked away and smiled to herself, this is where she was meant to be.

They had decided on Chinese food after finally growing tired of pizza. The three of them sat around the table, mostly her father and Will talked. Aj attempted to look interested in their conversation about the latest football game but her mind drifted elsewhere. She started to imagine red wavy hair and honey brown eyes, Charlie’s face began to swim through her mind. Aj kept reimaging this one look she had the day she saw her, something’s off she thought to herself. She couldn’t figure it out she just continuously replayed the memory over and over in her head trying to find something even though she wasn’t sure what she was looking for. “What are you staring at?” asked her father. Aj snapped back “Uh. Just thinking to myself.” She replied. “I guess our football conversation was too much for you?” joked her father. “More like she has a crush at school” answered Will. “shut up” snapped Aj at Will. “Oh, you have a crush! I can't even remember the last time you’ve liked someone” marveled her father. “It's not even a thing yet shes just, well I don’t know, strange to me” attempted to explain Aj. Aj’s father began to laugh “I used to think the same about your mother.” The room was silenced it was rare when her father mentioned her mother especially with a smile on his face. Will managed to change the subject back to football allowing Aj’s mind to drift back to Charlie.

The school wasn’t dreaded anymore, since the first fight, no one hasn’t really attempted to fight them anymore. There was the occasional bumping into her on purpose and trash talk but as soon as they stood their ground everyone walked away. Though the main reason Aj wasn’t dreading it was the fact that since the first time she saw Charlie she started seeing her everywhere. There was something strange about her that Aj found incredibly addicting. Almost as if Aj wouldn’t be satisfied until she found out her secret. “Earth to Aj” interrupted Hayley. Aj snapped out of her stare and looked towards Hayley. “You should really talk to her” smiled Hayley. “Keep your voice down!” panicked Aj. “Her voice, you’re the one who just made the whole hallway stare at us” informed Will. Aj looked around and it was true everyone was looking at them including Charlie. Aj blushed and shut her locker door harder than expected “I hate you both” she whispered. Both Will and Hayley started laughing and followed Aj to lunch. “But seriously you should so you don’t look like such a stalker “continued Hayley. “I don’t even know if shes gay yet, it would be embarrassing if she wasn’t” answered Aj. “Well she's never had a boyfriend” explained Hayley. “That’s not true she dated that one guy for a couple of months. Remember he was bitching about how she never ‘put out’” rejected Will. “Ugh, I hate that guy I'm glad he moved. Though that just proves my theory, that she’s gay” encouraged Hayley. “I think what shes waiting for is her kissing a girl” joked Will. “I don’t know what I'm waiting for but I'm not just going to embarrass myself that’s for damn sure. “ responded Aj.

The lunch bell rang and Aj realized that she forgot to grab her Literature book for her next class, she attempted to rush due to her locker being so far from her next class. By the time she reached her locker the halls had emptied, around the corner from her locker she began to hear two voices. “Why don’t you come over tonight to study, my parents are going to some charity thing again,” said a female voice. “I don’t think that’s a good idea anymore,” said a second female voice. Aj recognized the first voice and peeked around the corner, it was Charlie and Samantha. “Aj watched Charlie pull Samantha’s chin to the point where their lips almost touched. “You didn’t seem to have an issue the other night with me” insisted Charlie. Samantha blushed and pushed Charlie back “Look I don’t want this anymore, I love Zach, and I'm starting to think he’s suspecting something,” worried Samantha. “Love? Ha, Please. His intelligence alone shows the negative effects of inbreeding in this town,” amused Charlie. “Look shut up! This was never real to me just something to do in this boring town. Now you’ve made it annoying and I'm done, but look I won't tell anyone if you just leave me alone.” Samantha slammed her locker shut and walked towards Aj. Quickly Aj acted if she was walking around the corner and pretended to walk into Samantha. “Watch it, trash” sneered Samantha. “What was that?” taunted Aj. Samantha looked down immediately and hastened her pace. Aj walked past Charlie without looking at her but then stopped. She turned around looked straight at Charlie who happened to be looking at her as well, “I figured it out, your smile it's not real.” Said Aj. She turned around and walk to class. Fuck that was embarrassing.

Aj was so embarrassed from her encounter with Charlie she began attempting to avoid her when she could, and when she couldn’t she looked down at the ground then quickened her pace. Every now and then Hayley would make it that much harder for her to avoid her by yelling her name at the top of her lungs. “I like to watch you squirm” Hayley smirked. “I already embarrassed myself im squirming enough I assure you,” Aj grumbled. She began playing with the food sitting in front of her as she replayed the event in her head. “Look if it was as bad as you think don’t you think it would be all over the school. She would have made fun of you to all her friends,” encouraged Will. “Maybe,” sighed Aj. She began scanning the cafeteria hoping it would avoid the conversation any further only to be discouraged when she made eye contact with Victoria. She felt trapped she couldn’t pull her eyes away and to make it more awkward Victoria kept staring as well. The only thing that broke the stare was the bell sounding and a group of teenagers walking in between them. Aj snapped free and found Hayley and Will staring at her, “We saw that” grinned Hayley.

Even after school ended Hayley continue to tease AJ about what happened in the café. When they walked out of school they were surprised to find a crowd sitting at the bottom of the steps. Curiously they walked toward the crowd and noticed a news reporter interviewing a man. Aj noticed the man instantly stood out from everyone else his three-piece suit was far more expensive than anyone could afford here and his hair looked as if he had his own personal stylist that did his hair every day. Whispers grew in the crowd as the reporter was speaking to the man no one knew who he was. “Mr. Chester is it true that you are interested in financially supporting this town?” asked the news reporter. Mr. Chester gave a politician smile then spoke “I am interested in rooting my new cooperation here. I don’t believe that cooperation can succeed without its environment succeeding as well so I decided to share thirty percent of our profits from this facility to the town.”

“Why this town though? Do you have ties here?” questioned the reporter.

“Actually it was brought to my attention by a colleague. After looking into it what can I say I was hooked,” explained Mr. Chester.

“Is it also true you’re here to invest in the school?” continue to question the reporter.

“That is correct. As a show of good faith, I have already made a donation to the sheriff’s department and I am here to start a full-ride grant for the students. Now if we could continue this another time I must not be late for my meeting, thank you.”

Mr. Chester began walking through the crowd towards them. When he saw Aj he started diverting his course straight towards her. “You’re the sheriffs’ daughter if I'm not mistaken?” he asked her. “Uh…yeah,” stuttered Aj. I just met your farther. He spoke highly of you when I mentioned I was headed to the school next,” he explained. “Oh okay,” replied Aj. “He seems like a good guy with his heart in the right place” he continued. “He's the best if that’s what you’re asking, ” said Aj with a confused look on her face. Mr. Chester looked at AJ as if he was trying to examine her under a microscope though it didn’t make Aj feel uncomfortable, she assumed like everyone else he heard about her record. “Well I’m sure this won’t be the last time we meet until then,” he remarked as he held his hand out towards AJ. She shook his hand and watched him walked toward another well-dressed man in glasses.

“Damion are you sure this is a good idea?” asked Atlas. “The best way for us to rehabilitate them is to be part of their life, don’t worry so much my friend,” explained Damion. “Then why didn’t you introduce yourself to all of them, you specifically went to her” Atlas inquired curiously. “Of course, she is the leader it only makes sense that I focus on her more, “defended Damion. “I think it’s more than that. I think you have a favorite” teased Atlas. Damion didn’t respond because it was the truth he felt drawn by AJ more than the others and he didn’t know why.

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