I Hate You, Jason Lawrence

Jason was Abby's tormentor when they children, her bully. So when he moves away in the fifth grade, she is eager to forget him. Now, as she's going into her senior year, she has only two things on her mind: making this the best year yet, and winning over the popular and good-looking Ryan Blake. But there's only one problem: Jason has returned, and though he is eager to prove he's changed, Abby is not eager to let him close. As the year goes on, though, Abby is unable to push Jason away anymore. Or her feelings...

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5. Actually, People Don't Change

Chapter Four


        Tuesday morning, I stood at my locker, impatiently waiting for Charlotte to come to school. I was leaning against it, pretending to be interested in something on my cell phone as the two creepy guys from the day before passed by me, each giving me a once over, followed by a weird grin. There was still twenty minutes before class was starting, so I shouldn't have been as impatient as I was that Charlotte wasn't there, yet. But I couldn't help it. Down the hallway, I could see Melanie Gilbert's group of friends, all talking and laughing loudly with Melanie in the center. And Ryan was in her grasp. I folded my arms over my chest, annoyed, as I watched them. Why was he with her? Again? Granted, he looked uncomfortable as she snaked an arm around his waist, and I saw him on more than one occasion move out of her grasp. But if he hadn't been hanging out with her group in the first place, he wouldn't have had to deal with her at all.


        I let out a heavy sigh and glanced up as Principal Stafford made his way over to me. He was talking loudly as he walked, and I could see brown hair poking up behind his head – hair that didn't belong to him.


        "Sorry it took so long to find you a locker," he was saying, turning his head so that he could speak over his shoulder while he continued walking. I tried looking around him to see who he was talking to, but he was such a wide man, it was useless.


        "It's not a problem," a voice said from behind him, and I tried not to let out an audible groan when I recognized it. Jason Lawrence. Of course. It was barely a second later when I did let out an audible groan as it suddenly hit me which locker Principal Stafford was walking towards.


        "Well, here it is," he said, stopping at the empty locker between Charlotte's and mine. I looked away when Jason glanced down at me, trying to make eye contact. I grabbed my bag, pulling it onto my shoulder with every intention of leaving before he had a chance to say anything to me. But Principal Stafford suddenly turned to me. "Abby, you'll help Jason here get his locker figured out, won't you?" He asked, and I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes, instead choosing to nod silently. "I knew I could count on you." He gave me a large friendly grin that stretched his already wide mouth even wider, then headed back down the hallway toward his office.


        "Do you have your combination?" I asked Jason, once the principal was gone.


        "Yeah, here," he said, offering a small slip of paper with the three digits printed on it.


        "Great." I snatched the paper from his hand. "It's like most locks," I said, turning the dial to the first number. "The only difference is, after you turn it to the third number, turn it back to zero. Then it pops open." And, as if to further my point, the locker suddenly sprang open with a creek.


        Jason smiled down at me, a nice smile, I was reluctant to admit. His features seemed so... soft. Not something I was expecting from him. He almost looked kind as he stared down at me. "Thank you," he said, taking the paper back from me. "Listen, I know you don't want to talk to me, but can I just-"


        A flash of red behind him drew my attention away from his words as my eyes locked on Charlotte. She was approaching, a confused look on her face as she looked between the back of Jason's head and to my face a couple of times.


        "Charlotte!" I interrupted Jason, walking around him, and over to my friend.


        "Abby." Jason's voice was full of frustration at this point, but I didn't even bother looking at him.


        "What's this?" Charlotte asked, gesturing to Jason. "Is this his locker now?" She frowned, throwing a glare in his direction, and he sighed, leaning against the locker as his hand ran through his hair.


        I nodded. "Unfortunately," I answered, following her to her locker. She popped it open quickly, shoving her backpack in, and pulling out a couple of her textbooks.


        "Abby," Jason said again, and I was growing really tired of hearing my name come out of his mouth. "All I'm trying to do is apologize to you. Can you at least let me do that? Then I'll leave you alone."


        I opened my mouth to answer, but Charlotte cut in, pushing past me to get in his face. "No, she can't," she said, her words dripping with venom. "So how about instead, you stop talking to her like she asked?"


        I half expected Jason to get angry, but he grinned down at her instead. "Little Charlotte," he taunted. "You really haven't changed much," he said, which only seemed to make Charlotte even more annoyed.


        "You don't know me," she huffed, and he rolled his eyes. He had the same stupid cocky expression he would get when we were kids and he thought he knew something we didn't know.


        "You used to handle all of Abby's problems when we were kids, too," he insisted, and it was my turn to get annoyed. Well, more annoyed.


        "Charlotte did not handle my problems," I spat, and his grin widened.


        "Yes she did. Nothing happened to or around you that Charlotte wasn't right behind, there to figure out how to fix it for you."


        "That is not true!" I insisted. My annoyance was slowly turning into fury.


        Jason shrugged, leaning against his locker. "It is true. She fought all your battles then, and she's fighting them now. You probably won't even hear me out because she told you not to."


        I stepped up to Jason. I was only eye level with his chest but I didn't care, and I wasn't intimidated. "I'm not hearing you out," I hissed, "Because I really don't care what you have to say. This has nothing to do with Charlotte, it's between you and me." I pushed my index finger into his chest. "I may have hid behind Charlotte some when we were children, and let you bully me, but I assure you I am not that same girl. You, on the other hand, haven't changed a bit."


        I grabbed Charlotte's wrist, pulling her towards our first class before Jason had a chance to say anything back. I was fuming at this point. Whatever chance he had of making an apology before, it was completely gone now. Jason was still every bit as much of the asshole he was when we were kids.





        First period offered me a chance to cool down, and by the time second period rolled around, I was completely over my little confrontation with Jason. I still hated him, and I still didn't want to talk to him, but it didn't make my face visibly red with anger to think about his stupid face anymore. I said goodbye to Charlotte with a promise to see her at lunch before heading to my second class, happy when I realized I would get a chance to see Ryan. As usual, I was one of the first ones in the classroom, and I picked the same seat I'd sat in the day before – I was nothing if not a creature of habit. I was pulling out my books when I saw Ryan walk into the classroom, and he offered me a smile before making his way over to the empty seat next to me.


        "Did you do the reading assignment?" He asked, pulling out his books and placing them on his desk.


        I nodded. "I read a little into the next chapter too. I think the book's pretty interesting." I tried not to frown when I thought about how nerdy that made me sound.


        Ryan smiled. "I heard you were smart," he laughed. "I should've known you'd do the homework plus extra."


        I raised my eyebrows, surprised. "You 'heard' I was smart?" I repeated, and was surprised again when I saw a slight blush creep across his cheeks.


        "I... May have asked a couple of people about you," he hesitantly admitted. "I'm not some weird stalker, though, I swear."


        I laughed, shaking my head. "No, of course not," I teased. Really, I was more curious as to who it was he had asked about me. I was convinced no one even knew who I was. I didn't get the chance to ask him, however, because the teacher walked in shortly after, calling the class to order, then starting on her lesson.


        With Ryan sitting right beside me, I was finding it increasingly hard to pay attention to our teacher. I was painfully aware of every time he would look at me, and when I would glance back at him, he'd offer me that dazzling smile that nearly took my breath away. It took all of my willpower just to pay enough attention to take down the few notes I had taken down by the end of the class.


        "Everything alright?" Ryan asked. The lunch bell had rang, and everyone was eagerly getting their things together, ready to eat.


        I sighed, shutting my notebook. I had barely gotten half a page of notes. But I couldn't tell him that, not without explaining why I hadn't been able to take the notes I had wanted to. Instead, I offered him a smile, standing up.


        "Just hungry," I said.


        He nodded, walking next to me as we made our way out of the classroom. Then, he stopped at the door, turning to me. "Well, my locker's this way," he said, pointing to the hall on the opposite side of the school. "See you in third period?"


        "See you in third period," I echoed, and we both gave a small wave before parting.


        I met Charlotte at our lockers as we both dropped off our books before heading towards the cafeteria. Charlotte chatted happily about her art class, and Ian – Reynolds, not Jameson – and I tried to keep up with her constant change of topic. We both piled food onto our lunch trays just like the day before, and just like the day before, we sat at our regular table to eat lunch.


        "He asked around about me," I told Charlotte, taking a big, very unladylike, bite of macaroni and cheese.


        "Who, Jason?" She asked, and I shook my head.


        "No, Ryan," I said, and her eyes got big.


        "Really?"


        I nodded. "I didn't get a chance to ask him who he asked, but whoever it was said I was smart."


        "Everyone knows you're smart," she said dismissively.


        "I honestly didn't think anyone even knew who I was."


        She grinned. "Ryan does. And he likes you."


        Normally, I would've argued, but he had been paying a lot of attention to me. It was just hard to believe that a guy as amazing, and funny, and cute as Ryan would be interested in me. For the most part, I was plain and boring.


        "Oh, speaking of Jason," Charlotte said suddenly, and I followed her gaze behind me.


        At a small table at the back of the courtyard sat Jason. Alone. He was sitting with his tray in front of him, looking uncomfortable, and out of place, and for just the briefest moment, I felt sorry for him. How difficult it must've been, to move to a new school during his senior year, not really knowing anyone. Our school wasn't a huge school, by any means, but it was still next to impossible to know everyone in our grade. A lot of people had come and gone throughout the years, went to different elementary and middle schools before coming to this high school. There was really only a handful of us that had been going to school together since kindergarten. Jason looked almost sad, as he sat there by himself, eating his lunch with no one to talk to. Part of me wondered if I should've offered to let him sit at our table.


        "Don't even think about it," Charlotte said, cutting into my thoughts.


        I turned back around to face her, raising my eyebrows. "What?" I asked, feigning innocence. She always was able to read my mind.


        "He's not having lunch with us," she answered, echoing my thought. "It's Jason Lawrence. The asshole. We literally just had an argument with him this morning."


        I sighed, tilting my head at her. "I know who he is," I replied. "I just don't think anyone should have to eat alone."


        "He's not." She nodded back in his direction, and I turned around to look at him again.


        Lydia Hayes, Melanie's best friend, was leaning over his shoulder, whispering something into his ear. It was only a short moment later that Jason stood up, then followed her over to their table, and I turned back to face Charlotte, rolling my eyes.


        "See?" She said, grinning.


        I sighed again, every ounce of sympathy I had for Jason slowly leaving my body with the breath I was exhaling. I didn't say anything back, only turned my attention back to eating my macaroni as my stomach let out a loud rumble.





        The rest of lunch seemed to pass by quickly as Charlotte and I made small talk. When it was over, I was eager to get to my next class to see Ryan again.But as usual, I got to class first, and I was annoyed when all of the seats around me filled up quickly. Ryan was one of the last to get in, and he had to sit at the back. But as he made his way to his seat, he flashed a smile at me, and my mood was instantly lifted.        


        My talk with Jason earlier that morning seemed to have done its job. Anytime I glanced back at him, he was either staring straight ahead at the teacher talking, or had his face in his textbook. It was almost as if he didn't know I was in the same room as him. I smirked.


        Good. Maybe he finally got the hint.


        The rest of the period seemed to drag, as did the rest of the day. By the time the final bell rang, I had been trying to find ways to keep myself from falling asleep at my desk. I met Charlotte at our lockers, noting that Jason didn't seem to be anywhere around.


        "Coming to my house for dinner?" I asked, grabbing my backpack out of my locker.


        "Of course," she replied, as if the question had been a stupid one. And it probably was. Charlotte was over at my house almost every night for dinner. My mom had just come to expect it, and had even started setting a place for her at the table on the days that she wasn't there, just in case.


        I nodded, and we walked out of the school, and through the parking lot to my car.


        I was already hungry by the time we got to my house, my lunch having left long ago. As soon as I opened my car door, I could smell the roast my mom was cooking through our open windows, and I felt my stomach growl in response. But I was also suspicious. Mom never cooked roast unless we had guests over, and Charlotte was hardly considered a guest anymore. I stepped into the house hesitantly, Charlotte on my heels, and peaked around the corner to the dining room, where my mom was setting down the fancy cloth place-mats. There were seven total, and I wondered who the other three were for.


        Mom looked up, smiling. "Good, you're both here," she said. "Charlotte, will you finish setting the table?"


        "Sure." Charlotte dropped her backpack in the hall, and went to grab the dishes.


        "Abby, I need you to help me finish cooking, our guests will be here in about an hour."


        I nodded, following her into the kitchen.


        "Who's coming over?" I asked, and her shoulders stiffened for just a brief moment. Immediately, a bad feeling washed over me.


        She turned around to face me, offering me a gentle smile. "The Lawrence's," she said, finally, and my jaw nearly hit the floor.


        You have got to be kidding me.

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