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...


3. Play Hard to Get



Chapter Two

        The wedged heels had been a horrible idea. I didn't even make it downstairs before my feet started hurting, and I headed back to my bedroom to switch them out for my simple black flats. Definitely not as cute as the wedges, but since I'd be doing a lot of walking, I had to go with comfort over style.

        Mom and Dad had both headed out to work by the time I got back downstairs, and I stood in the kitchen for a while, debating on whether or not I wanted to make breakfast. In the end, I grabbed an apple, already feeling butterflies in my belly as I made my way to my car. The fifteen minute drive to West Hills High seemed to stretch on forever. A confusing mix of anxiousness and excitement had settled over me as I drove. Would anyone notice how I'd changed over the summer? That I'd fixed my hair, and taken time to pick my outfit out, and do my makeup? I allowed myself a quick glance at my reflection in the rearview mirror. I could tell the difference. I had ditched the glasses for contacts, and instead of the bun my blonde hair was usually balled up into, I had let the waves fall down my back, and around my shoulders. My makeup was simple, but it definitely made my blue eyes stand out against my fair skin, and the slight pink of my cheeks brought some warmth to my face.

        Yes, I could see the difference. But would everyone else?

        My breath was suddenly caught in my throat, my heart bottoming out into my stomach as I made the turn into the school's parking lot. I was early, so most of the spots were available, but it would only be a couple of minutes before that changed. I picked a spot near the front, taking deep breaths to steady my nerves before finally stepping out of my car. Really, being this nervous was completely ridiculous. The worst that could happen was that I would continue to be as invisible as I had been all the years before. I smoothed out my sweater, grabbing my backpack from the passenger's seat and slung it over my shoulder before shutting the door. As I headed towards the front doors of West Hills High, I felt my resolve strengthening with each step.

        This will be fine, I promise myself, and I take a deep breath before opening the doors.

        There weren't a lot of people in the halls yet, and I pulled out my class schedule from my bag to find my locker number. Locker number 324. That was on the east wing, near the science lab. I made my way down the hallway, noticing Principal Stafford in the front office, his balding head bobbing up and down as if he was talking to someone. But if he was, I couldn't see them past his girth, so he looked like he was just standing there moving his head up and down. I was nearing my locker, when I felt an arm link around mine.

        "Which locker do you have?"

        I looked over at Charlotte, her brown eyes twinkling with excitement, and her cherry red lips curved into a smile. I showed her my class schedule, and she grinned. "Right by mine." She held up her own class schedule: Number 326. I wondered, for half a second, who would be in between us.

        As we both stood in front of our lockers, twisting the locks in the correct number sequence until they popped open with a slight creak, the halls began to fill up as more students began piling into the school. I looked down at my watch. Only ten minutes until first period started.

        "Damn girl," I heard someone say behind me, and I almost didn't turn around. I'd gotten so used to blocking everyone else out – they were never talking to me anyway. But something made me turn as I shut my locker, my Spanish textbook in hand.

        Two guys stood across from me, leaning against their lockers, leering at me. The taller of the two was smirking as his eyes roamed over my body, starting at my face, then going down, lingering on the tight jeans I was wearing. The other guy just stood with a goofy grin on his face, and I tried not to shudder in his stare. I didn't recognize them. I wasn't even sure which grade they were in. They looked no older than sophomores, but short of asking them myself, I had no know way of knowing if that was an accurate guess.

        I didn't know what to say, and I cast a glance in Charlotte's direction, but she was no help. She was trying to keep from laughing as she looked at the boys, enjoying every moment of this uncomfortable interaction. Another boy let out a low whistle as he walked past me, giving me the same once over the boy in front of me had done. This was not at all the attention I had imaged getting.

        "Alright, that's enough boys," Charlotte said, finally coming in to rescue me. "Go be gross somewhere else. Like way down there." She pointed down the hall, giving them a stern look. The boys walked away, heading towards their classes I could only assume, but not before looking me over once more.

        "Ew," I said, once they were gone, and Charlotte let her stifled laughter erupt from her throat. I glared at her. "Shut. Up." I grabbed her arm, and steered her towards our shared first period - Spanish class - her laughter trailing behind us as we walked.

        My little makeover did exactly what I wanted it to – more in fact. I'd never gotten so much attention in my life, and I wasn't sure what to do with it. Guys and girls both were staring at me, sometimes whispering, sometimes vocalizing their impressed opinions of how much I'd changed. And really, I hadn't changed all that much, just put in more of an effort to look nice. But the attention was welcome, and put me in a good mood that morning.

        I was especially aware of Ryan's gaze on me during second period. He was sitting two seats to my left, next Jenna Shaw, a quiet girl I'd only spoke to a couple of times. She had her head bent down, resting on her folded arms as Mrs. Evans went over the lesson plan for the semester. With Jenna's head out of the way, I could see Ryan in my peripheral, glancing over at me every so often. I could feel my cheeks burning red, and I forced myself not to look back at him - I'd heard playing hard to get was a good way to get a guy's attention. The time seemed to slow down, dragging through the hour, and I wanted so badly to just give in and return his gaze. But I held firm, and when the bell signaling the end of class sounded, I slipped quickly out the door.

        I caught up with Charlotte outside of the cafeteria, and she began speaking quickly as we walked in together.

        "Do you remember Ian Reynolds?" She asked, leading me to the lunch line. I racked my brain trying to remember. The name sounded so familiar...

        "Is he the one that got expelled last year for letting chickens loose in the courtyard?" I asked. It had been a joke – he'd released three chickens in the courtyard where most of us spent our lunch period, and numbered them with paint, one, two, and four. Then, he watched the madness ensue as the janitors and principal ran around gathering them up, searching frantically for the 'missing' number three chicken.

        Charlotte shook her head. "No, that's Ian Jameson," she said, piling food onto her lunch tray. I followed suit. It might not have been ladylike, but I was starving. "Ian Reynolds," she continued, "Is the light and sound guy at all of the plays and concerts. He sits up in that booth in the auditorium, making sure everything runs smoothly?"

        I tried to remember any time I'd ever actually looked up at the soundbooth during one of our shows, but I eventually shrugged. "Sorry," I offered, and she shook her head.

        "Anyways, he got like really cute over the summer." We paid for our food, and I followed her out to the courtyard, where we claimed the table we'd been sitting at since freshman year. "He finally got a haircut, and he's growing a bit of a beard." She bit her lip as she thought about it. "He looks good."

        "Wow," I replied. "I haven't seen you have a crush on a guy like this in a long time."

        "I know. But he's in my art class this semester, and he was showing me his portfolio. He's really talented. I had no idea." She bit into a French fry, looking up at me, then looking past my shoulder. "Oh, speaking of crush," she grinned.

        I looked over my shoulder, following her gaze, and locked eyes with Ryan. He smiled, a dazzling, white, beautiful smile, and I felt my heart skip a beat. He began walking over to us, and I nearly choked on the food I'd been eating.

        "He's coming over here," I hissed to Charlotte. "What do I do?"

        She rolled her eyes. "Well, stop freaking out, for one," she answered flatly. "Act natural, like you don't care."

I nodded, taking a deep breath. I looked back over my shoulder as he drew closer, and frowned when Melanie Gibson bounced up to him, snaking a long, delicate arm around his waste. She smirked at me as she whispered something into his ear, then pulled him in the direction of where she and her friends were eating lunch. He glanced at me, offering me an apologetic smile, then followed her.

        I turned back to Charlotte, pushing away my tray. "Well, now my appetite is spoiled," I said, and she laughed.

        "Yeah, Melanie has that effect on people." She grabbed a handful of my fries, shoving them into her mouth. "Whatever, more for me."

        I shook my head, smiling at my best friend.

        After lunch, I headed to my 3rd period class, science with Mr. Connor. Mr. Connor was a middle-aged man, soft spoken and kind. He was pretty well liked by most of the students. And, he had the highest percentage of students that passed his class. He greeted us as we all walked into his classroom, and I took a seat in the second row, opening my notebook to a clean page, and waiting take notes on any instructions he might give. The rest of the seats began filling up quickly, and when someone slid into the only seat next to me, I glanced up, my heart almost stopping.

        "Hi," Ryan said, flashing that smile again.

        "H-hi," I managed to stutter out. I cleared my throat, scolding myself. Girls who play hard to get do not stutter.

        "It's Abby, right?" He asked, catching my gaze with his.

        I nodded slowly, surprised he knew my name. But I cleared my head quickly, forcing a natural smile as I said, "And you're Ryan."

        His grin widened. "Guilty as charged." I laughed, feeling a little more at ease as the tension seemed to slide away. "I think you're in my second period."

        "Am I?" His smile faltered for a minute, and admittedly, I enjoyed the look of uncertainty that crossed his face. I was sure he was used to girls being painfully aware of when they shared a class with him. "Mrs. Evans seems like she's going to be tough," I added.

        He nodded. "And that lisp is going to drive me crazy. Remind me not to sit in the front row."

        I laughed, and his smile returned.

        "Alright class, settle down." Mr. Connor stood at the front of the room, offering everyone a gentle smile as seats were filled, and voices quieted down to hear him. "I hope everyone had a good Summer," he began. "My name is Mr. Connor, I welcome you to Physics 101. This won't be easy, and some of you will struggle more than others, but I promise, as your teacher, I will help each and everyone of you pass this class with a higher understanding of-"

        He was cut off mid sentence when the door suddenly swung open, and a tall guy rushed in, out of breath, and a bead of sweat on his brow. I looked him over carefully. He was tall – taller than a lot of the rest of the seniors – and lean. I guessed he probably didn't play a lot of sports – though he was in shape, he wasn't muscled like Ryan or the rest of the football players. His dark hair was a bit longer in front than the rest of his head, but it was brushed out of his face messily.

        His face. There was something so distinctly familiar about his face, something nagging at the dark edges of my mind, like a memory trying to push forward. But I just couldn't figure out what it was.

        "I am so sorry," he panted. "I'm new and I got lost trying to find the class." I noticed the school map he clutched in his left hand, wrinkled and worn from overuse.

        Mr. Connor looked at the huffing young man, and offered him a gentle smile. "Not to worry," he said. "What's your name?"

        Then it dawned on me why he looked so damn familiar, and I knew his name before he even said it.

        "Jason Lawrence," he breathed.

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