“You held out on me Monday.” Jessica runs a finger along my biceps. “Rumor has it you’re dating Haley.”
“Who’s spreading that rumor?”
“Matt Spencer. Actually, he was asking me if it was true. He said that Haley said the two of you were an item, but I told him I thought it was a lie.”
I pop my head to the right. Damn. Not what Haley and I need.
Since Tuesday, Haley and I walk to class together and I sit with her at lunch, but the other girls at the table talk to me more than she does. We’re not a couple, so we’re not acting like a couple. No touching. No hugging. In fact, we’ve hardly talked. Every time I press her for more info on training and this upcoming fight with Conner, she says she’s working on it.
To make matters worse, Matt watches her like a hawk and I don’t like it. “Why would I lie?”
“Why do you want to keep it secret that you’re a Young?”
Jessica waits to see if I accept the bait, and, when she figures out I’m not biting, she continues, “Everyone knows you got into a fight with Conner last Friday. Matt thinks Haley is protecting Jax and Kaden and that you two are faking this relationship to throw him off course.”
Matt’s smarter than he looks. “Why would I get involved in Haley’s world if we weren’t an item?” Because Haley defended me, because Conner hit Haley, because I won’t go through the rest of my senior year with anyone believing I’m weak…because I can’t fail again.
Her lips compress into a flat line. “That I don’t know.”
“Haley and I are the real deal. If you talk to Matt again, tell him he can kiss my ass.”
“I still think you’re lying.” Jessica trails a finger along my arm again and surprising myself, I inch away and wipe my biceps as if to get the dirt off. Wildfires don’t work as fast as this girl.
“Haley and I are dating and you’re supposed to be her friend.”
“Haley doesn’t do attachments. She floats. By the way, I saw your Escalade in the parking lot. It looks like a sweet ride.”
“It is.” Come on, Haley, where the hell are you?
She leans against me, pushing her br**sts against my arm. “I like sweet rides.”
Meaning she gives sweet rides. “I’m taken.”
“Please.” She rolls her eyes and pulls the hem of her shirt down so that she exposes more of her cle**age and part of her bra. Damn. She’s selling hard. “You’re not taken. If you were, you would have confessed your undying love for her Monday or Tuesday or any day this week during science, but you never did.”
True. “I was curious what people said about Haley.” Truer.
“You kept quiet because you liked what you saw in me.”
“Let me guess, your favorite position in basketball is forward?”
Shit, the way she just smiled says she eats anything she f**ks for breakfast. “I heard you liked forward.”
Normally, I do. Guess a lot has changed in a few days. “As I said, I’m taken.”
“Besides,” she continues as if I hadn’t spoken. “Haley doesn’t do guys.”
That grabs my attention. “What?”
Her smile widens and she juts out a hip. “Haley’s a fighter.”
Her voice indicates the “duh” is implied. “Fighting is a guy thing.”
And cars are also considered a guy thing, but my sister is in love with the inside of a popped open hood. I can’t stomach people like the chick in front of me. “I’ve gotta go.”
She slides to block my exit. “Okay fine, she’s interested in guys, but she’s Matt’s property.”
My muscles tense. “A girl is no one’s property.” And Haley sure as hell doesn’t belong to that ass**le.
“You’re all girl-power. That’s awesome in a weird way. Look, I agree with you, but here’s the thing—Matt doesn’t give a crap about equal rights or that we earned the right to vote a couple hundred years ago. Haley and Matt may have broken up, but he makes it clear that no one sniffs around her. He’ll hit you the moment you touch her.”
“Let him.” I’ve agreed to this showcase in two months for Haley’s sake, but if Matt and his crew want to go at it now, then I’m game. Maybe it would be better if we did. I wouldn’t have rumors floating around that I’m weak and it would take the burden off Haley.
“Matt’s bad news,” she says.
“So am I,” I snap, pissed everyone thinks this guy is stronger than me. “Why are you even interested?”
Her eyes light up. “Because you’re West Young.”
Because she thinks I have money. This is the first time I’ve itched to tell anyone I’ve been disowned. Is she still going to be pushing up on me then?
With her fingers typing intently into a cell, Abby, the queen of not giving a shit whether or not I want her around, sidles up beside me. “You should listen to her about Matt.” She glances up at me. “I was eavesdropping.”
“Rude much?” says Jessica.
“Jessica,” responds Abby.
She widens her eyes as a “what do you want?”
And the blonde scurries down the hallway like a squirrel darting through traffic. If I didn’t hate Abby, I’d be impressed. “You do go to school here.” Haven’t seen her once.
“Yep.” She slips her phone into her back pocket. “Do you watch soap operas?”
What the hell type of question is that? “No.”
“Curious.” Her eyebrows furrow. “Because I would have thought you reenacted the crap with what you’ve accomplished in a week.”
Not caring for anything else Abby has to say, I head to my first period class. Maybe I missed Haley and she’s already there.
“You’re a soap opera writer’s wet dream.” Abby keeps step beside me. “The funny part is, I’ve never seen one, but, holy shit, has this been fascinating. In a span of seven days you’ve managed to piss off Isaiah, Jax and Kaden Williams, and Matt and Conner Spencer.
“You’re dating Haley Williams, plus you’ve got slut of the month Jessica…well…slutting up on you. Throw in a switched at birth storyline and bam, I’m thinking daytime Emmy for sure.”
Abby pivots, walks backward and snags the shirt of some kid with bloodshot eyes. She drags him with her, forcing him to her level. “Unlike the rest of corporate America, I’m not into competition. Last time I’m telling you, keep it off my block.”