More tears, hotter than those that had already fallen, burned at the back of my throat. Why I was always eating something sweet was no secret, but only Zayne knew how badly I struggled—up until now. I couldn’t believe he’d told Danika. And asked her to keep an eye on me? Mortifying seemed like a weak word to describe how I felt.
“Layla, do you need something else? I can go to the store and get some more juice.”
I dumped the stuff in the garbage can, shoulders stiff. “I’m not going to jump on you and suck out your soul, if that’s what you’re worried about.”
Danika gasped. “That’s not what I meant—not at all. It’s just that you look like you need something and I want to help.”
I whirled around. She still stood by the fridge, her wings unfurled, reaching at least four feet on either side of her. “I’m fine. You don’t have to keep an eye on me.” I turned away, but stopped at the door, drawing in a shallow breath. “Tell Zayne I said thanks.”
Before Danika could respond, I left the kitchen and went back to my room. I crawled into bed, throwing the covers over my head. Every so often, a spasm ran through my muscles and my leg would jerk. Over and over again, the words ran through my head.
I can’t live like this.
“Are you feeling okay today?” Stacey asked the moment she sat beside me in bio. “You look like warmed-over crap.”
I didn’t even bother looking up. “Thanks, buddy.”
“Well, I’m sorry, but it’s true. You look like you’ve been up all night crying.”
“It’s allergies.” I shifted forward so my hair blocked most of my face. “You, on the other hand, sound awfully chipper this morning.”
“I do, don’t I?” Stacey sighed dreamily. “Mom didn’t screw up my coffee like she always does. You know how I get when she does, which is almost every freaking morning, but today. No. Today was hazelnut day and my world is bright and shiny. Anyway, what did Zayne do?”
“What?” I lifted my head, frowning.
Her stare was sympathetic. “Zayne is the only person who makes you cry.”
“I wasn’t crying.”
She brushed her bangs back. “Whatever. You need to get over him and get with a hottie.” She paused, nodding at the door. “Like him, for example. He’d leave you crying for a whole different reason.”
“I wasn’t crying over—” I cut myself off when I realized she was gesturing at Roth. “Wait, how would he make me cry?”
Stacey’s eyes widened. “Are you for real? Do I need to spell it out for you?”
I glanced back at Roth. Like Stacey, my classmates had stopped what they were doing to just watch him. There was a natural swagger to the way he walked. Suddenly I got what Stacey meant. Turning beet-red, I turned back to my book.
It was a lab day. We were partnered with Roth, much to Stacey’s delight. Surprisingly, he ignored me for most of the class and chatted with Stacey. She told him everything except her bra size, and I sincerely believed that if the bell hadn’t rung, she would have told him that, too.
My craptastic mood followed me through the rest of the day. At lunch, I pushed my food around my plate while Stacey engaged Eva in an epic stare down.
Sam poked me with his plastic fork. “Hey.”
“Did you know every northern state has a Springfield as a city?”
I felt a grin tug at my lips. “No, I didn’t. Sometimes I wish I had half the memory you do.”
His eyes twinkled behind his glasses. “How long do you think Stacey is going to give Eva the stink eye?”
“I can hear you,” Stacey responded. “She’s been spreading some nasty rumors. I think I’m going to break into her house later and cut her hair off. Then maybe glue it to her face.”
Sam grinned. “That’s kind of an odd form of retaliation.”
“Yeah, that is weird.” I took a sip of my water.
Stacey rolled her eyes. “If you heard the shit she’s been saying, you’d sign up for the face-gluing.”
“Oh, is this about me putting out after one beer or being a servant in my own house?” I twisted the cap back on the water bottle, briefly considering chucking it at Eva’s face.
Sam took his glasses off. “I hadn’t heard this.”
“That’s because you don’t hear anything, Sam. Eva’s been saying some vicious stuff about Layla. I’m not down with that.”
A fine shiver ran down my spine, cutting off my response. I looked to my left, shocked to find Roth standing there. This was the first time I’d seen him in the cafeteria. For some reason, I didn’t think he ate.
Stacey didn’t even try to hide her surprise. “Roth! You came!”
“What?” I felt as confused as Sam looked.
Roth dropped down in the empty seat beside me, a smug grin on his face. “Stacey invited me to lunch during bio. Weren’t you paying attention?”
I shot Stacey a disbelieving look. She just smiled. “How nice of you,” I said slowly.
Sam’s gaze bounced between Stacey and me before settling on Roth. He stuck his hand out awkwardly. I wanted to knock it back. “I’m Sam. Nice to meet you.”
Roth shook his hand. “You can call me Roth.”
“Roth as in the retirement account?” asked Sam. “Is that what you’re named after?”
Dark brows inched up Roth’s forehead as he stared at Sam.
“Sorry.” Stacey sighed. “Sam has absolutely no social skills. I should’ve warned you.”
Sam’s eyes narrowed on Stacey. “What? That’s what retirement accounts are called—Roth IRAs. How can you not know that?”
“I’m in high school. Why would I care about retirement? Besides, who would know that but you?” Stacey shot back as she picked up a plastic fork, waving it in his face. “Next you’re going to wow us with your knowledge of plastic utensils and how they were created.”
“I’m sorry if your lack of knowledge makes you uncomfortable.” Sam knocked the fork away, grinning. “It must be hard living with that tiny brain of yours.”
Roth nudged me with his elbow. I nearly jumped out of my seat. “Are they always like this?”
I considered ignoring him, but when I glanced at his face, I found I couldn’t look away. Seeing him in the school cafeteria was beyond unnerving. I figured he just came to bio and then disappeared. Was he actually attending all day?
“Always,” I murmured.
He smiled as his gaze dropped to the table. “So what were you guys talking about before retirement accounts and the creation of utensils?”
“Nothing,” I said quickly.
“Eva Hasher—the bitch over there.” Stacey gestured with her hand. “She’s been talking smack about Layla.”
“Thanks.” I eyed the doors leading out of the cafeteria desperately.
“I’ve heard,” Roth responded. “So you were planning some sort of revenge?”
“Most definitely,” she answered.
“Well, you could always—”
“No.” I stopped him. “No revenge necessary, Roth.” I was pretty sure his ideas would buy me a one-way ticket to Hell.