“It’s not like that.”
I knew she didn’t want to hurt me, but I just couldn’t listen to it. There was no excuse. The heat of anger clouded my reason. I was f**king mad, and I wanted her to feel as bad as me.
This is how bullies are made I thought, but it still felt good to lash out, and I didn’t want to stop.
I let out a small, spiteful laugh. “You know, I think I might have to thank Jared for saving me from all this drama over the years. Friends I can’t trust and boys that would only piss me off. What are you doing with him?”
She ignored my question. “Jared saving you from what? What do you mean?”
Bloody hell. What did she care, anyway? I should just walk away, but I didn’t.
“Madoc told me all about how they both sunk every potential date I had freshman and sophomore year. They started all of the rumors and ruined any hope I had of making friends or getting a boyfriend.”
“You’re listening to Madoc now?” She slammed me with an accusatory tone.
“Seems reasonable, doesn’t it? Madoc wouldn’t lie about his best friend. And he wouldn’t tell me if he thought Jared would be mad. I think they’re both proud of themselves.”
Jared’s pleasure would come from me starting a fight with my best friend over my hatred of him or her involvement with him. The painful lump in my throat got bigger. I wanted to calm down and fix this, but it took every ounce of reason I had to not walk away. She’d betrayed me, but she’d also stuck by me through everything. I owed it to her to not run away at the first sign of trouble.
“K.C.” I continued after a couple of breaths, “I’m not okay with this. If you’re going to date Jared…” I guess I shouldn’t worry about running into Jared at K.C.’s house or trying to double date. If he succeeded, I’d lose my friend, anyway. I should tell her that he was using her, but that’d just piss her off. “I don’t trust him, and that’s not going to change.”
K.C. looked me in the eye. “And we’re friends. That will never change.”
Still mad as hell at her, I exhaled the breath I’d been holding. “Is it worth it?” I asked. “Dating him when you know I hate him?” Why was this so important? Did he really mean anything to her?
She offered a tight smile, eyes downcast. “He deserves how you feel about him, but what good has it done you to carry around this hatred?”
Annoyed, I shook my head. Believe me, if I could get rid of it, I would.
Last ditch effort to get her to use her head. “You know Jared is a major player, right? Like he’s had a lot of girls in this school and a few other schools, too.”
“Yes, Mom, I’m aware of his history. I’m not an easy target, you know?”
“No, but Jared is a good shot,” I deadpanned.
We both looked at each other and laughed. The tension in my chest eased as I realized our friendship was safe…for today.
“Come over for dinner. We need a girls’ night,” K.C. asked while peeling an orange.
“No, I can’t.” I was exhausted, and to be honest, I didn’t want to act like everything was okay. “My grandma is coming in today. I’d invite you over, but I’m sure she’ll want to do a lot of catching up. It’s been over a year since I’ve seen her. “
“Yeah, right.” At that moment, she got a text. Opening it up, she grinned from ear to ear as if enjoying a private joke.
Noticing me watching her, she gave me an apologetic smile and continued eating. Glancing at the windows to the cafeteria, I spied Jared inside, leisurely sitting at his table with his phone in his hand. He smirked at me, and I knew he’d been watching us.
And I wiped a fake tear with my middle finger. Again.
By early afternoon, yawns were erupting from my body every five minutes. After the wake-up call, the lab, the episodes between Jared, K.C. and Madoc, the sob session in the bathroom, and the heart-to-heart at lunch, my body needed to shut down for a while. One more class and I could head home to crash. If I were lucky, we’d be watching a movie in Themes. When I remembered that Jared shared this class with me, though, a renewed tension spit fire through my shoulder and neck muscles.
After I sat down, Nate Dietrich walked up to my desk and leaned in. “Hey, Tate, how about you come out with me this weekend?”
I couldn’t help but laugh to myself. This guy passed me in the hall last week and grabbed his crotch in my direction. “No thanks, Nate.” With his curly brown hair and hazel eyes, he was somewhat cute, but too stupid to tolerate. If he wasn’t cracking some immature joke, then he was the immature joke.
“Oh, come on. Give me a chance.” His long, sing-song tone sounded like he was speaking to a toddler.
“Not. Interested.” I made deliberate eye contact, shooting him a warning with my eyes. It was definitely no secret now that I could handle myself. He should take the warning. Opening my notebook and looking at my notes, I hoped he’d take the hint that this conversation was over.
“I don’t get you.” Nope. As I said, too stupid. “You give it to Trent in the locker room last week, and then you let Jamison take you out. You probably gave it up for him, too.” He leaned in further and ran his hand up my arm.
Every nerve in my body was electrified. I wanted to bring this guy’s head down on my knee hard enough to sprout blood flow that would rival Niagara Falls.