The sunlight peeks through my curtains. With a sigh, I drag my pillow over my head. That does nothing to lull me back to sleep, so I groan as I roll over to grab my phone to check the time. Only 6:02 in the morning. I don’t have to be at school for another hour and fifty eight minutes. I stretch as I know there will be no more sleeping this morning. I push my legs over my bed and because it’s ancient it creaks and dips so low it practically touches the floor.
I drag myself up and walk over to my dresser to look for something to wear. Something to make me blend in. To not be noticed. I don’t like having attention drawn to myself. It’s not like I’m anything like the other girls at school. I’m just barely 5'3 with dirty blonde hair that has a little too much frizz in it, an underdeveloped body, and insanely high cheek bones that make my face look hollow. I sigh as I look in the mirror that hangs above my dresser.
I start rummaging through my drawers to find something to put on. I pull out a gray boyfriend fitting tee shirt, some jeans and rush to the bathroom before my stepfather, Frank, notices I am awake and tries to ask me to do him a favor before I have to get to school. He’s always causing me to be late. School is the only place he can't get to me. The only place where I feel safe from him. As I shuffle down the hall and reach the bathroom I quickly go in, shut the door, and lock it. I start the shower and stare at my sorry complexion as I wait for the water to warm up.
Forty-five minutes later I am showered, dressed, and heading for the door to leave hoping to make it to the local coffee shop before school starts. I need my coffee due to the lack of shut-eye I get. Sleep? What’s sleep? I am solely surviving off of caffeine and delirium these days.
"Maddie, I need you to run something to one of my clients before you go to school," Frank yells from the kitchen. Frank, the asshole. Fuck, what a winner my mom picked. If there was an award for con artist of the decade he would hold the title. He used to be a decent-looking guy, until years of fraud and paranoia caught up to him. His dark brown hair now dusted with the whole salt and pepper look. He stands about six foot tall. He has acquired a stomach that makes his shirts stretch tight around his belly. He also has the creepiest eyes. They always look like they are constructing an evil plan. If they fall on you, you know things are about to go down. I stop and take a breath, thinking that will help me to calm down, and then turn and head toward the kitchen. He hands me a manila colored envelope. I sigh and take it from him.
"The address is on the front of the envelope. Put the address into your phone and make sure he gets this. I can't afford for you to mess this up this time," he scolds.
Without a word, I turn toward the door hoping to get out of here before any more time is lost or I get asked to do something else. I walk fast to my car, hop in and pull away from my house.
As I make my way down the streets of suburban Southern California, “The Valley," I can't help but laugh to myself. People think just because you live in California that you fit a certain mold of the ridiculously gorgeous, sun-kissed beach babe. That is not me! I am anything but that. It’s early April, so it is starting to warm up in preparation for summer so I roll down my window, blasting my music in my car. The sound of Soldiers by Otherwise blares through my speakers taking the edge off of my morning.
I finally reach my destination. Putting my car in park and shutting it off, I hesitate to move from my seat as I regroup, dreading the delivery I am making. I finally climb out of my car and head to the front door and knock twice, half hoping no one will answer. The door swings open and I am paralyzed with fear. Then suddenly everything goes black.
Nausea takes over as I am coming to. The smell in the room is unfamiliar and I know I am not in my own bed anymore. I try to scream for my mom, but I can’t because my mouth is covered by something.
I am snapped back into place by a familiar voice clearing his voice. In front of me stands a young man who is tall with light brown hair pulled back into a ponytail and extremely broad shoulders and glacier blue eyes. If I didn’t know him for the snake he is, I would say he is handsome. I hate that he makes me tremble with fear. I didn't think I would ever see him again after the last time he laid those eyes on me. I thought he was forced to leave. Frank has some explaining to do.
"Hello, Maddison. Nice to see you again. I see Frank has you doing his dirty work again,"
I smash the envelope into his chest and turn to leave. He grabs my elbow holding me in place. His touch repulses me, but still has the power to paralyze me.
"Always nice to see you. Why don't you come in and we can catch up?" I am barely breathing as I yank my arm out of his grasp.
"When did you get back? I thought you were leaving town for good, Dixon?" Instead of waiting around for an answer I step back quickly and dart for my car, not looking back, but I can hear him chuckle. Once I am in the safety of my car, I lock my doors and speed away. The smooth stucco house looks so benign in my rearview but inside it is a person who has caused me too much pain in my relatively short life. The person who shattered my innocent world in a moment without hesitation. And it feels like it is happening all over again. It might as well be hell. My breaths catch in my throat as I gasp for air, trying to forget.
I barely make it to the coffee shop. It takes me what feels like forever to get out of the car and into the little shop to grab my morning fix. I am still shaken by my encounter with Dixon. After I pay and get my coffee in hand, I walk outside and sit down at the little table that’s been set up in front of shop to collect myself before I head to school. It's been three years since I have seen him and it makes me sick to think that he is back here and is going to make my life even more uncomfortable than it already is. I mentally prepare for what is about to happen now that he is back. I just keep reminding myself that only three more months and I turn eighteen. When that clock strikes midnight I am out of this place filled with fake people who don't even care what happened to me.
I finally get to school fifteen minutes late. As I run out of the parking lot and jog to the front doors of the school, I suddenly collide with what feels like a cement wall. My coffee cup smashes between me and someone, sending scalding coffee down the front of my shirt. My binder goes flying in the air, making it rain down with papers and sending me falling back until I land with a thump on my butt. "Shit, that burns," I screech as I try to wipe the burning off my skin. I look up to find the greenest eyes, spikey chocolate brown hair, and a strong jaw line looking down at me. If you could take the clean cut boy out of some trendy clothing catalog and stick em’ right here right now, that is what I have just collided with. My heart is fluttering the craziest beats as I stare into his eyes. I have never seen eyes this green. I am frozen in time, taking in every detail of his face. I am mesmerized. This feeling is way to foreign to me, so I quickly compose my outer self as my insides are doing flips.
"I am so sorry, here let me help you." He leans down extending me his hand to help me up.
As I start picking up the papers, he crouches down to help me. He hands me a handful. I take them from him quickly and start to feel the embarrassment hit me as I scramble as fast as I can to finish gathering them so I can get away from him.
"No, I got it."
“I’m really sorry,” he repeats to me.
“It’s okay.” I quickly stand up, try to compose myself, and then rush through the doors to get a late pass. Thankfully, I grabbed my sweatshirt this morning so now have something to cover up the coffee stains on my shirt. I don’t need any more looks from the kids here than I already get.
My first period is History and is pretty uneventful. I sit in the back of the class and keep to myself. Today I just can't seem to focus, though. All I can think about are those green eyes. God, they were beautiful! I shake my head. What is happening? I don’t even know why I am thinking about this. This is why I don't get involved with people. Nobody wants to hang out with the flawed girl who can’t bring anybody to her house or Frank might lose his "clients." If people find out it could spoil my plans to get out of here. To find somewhere who doesn't harbor these memories and where nobody will know me. Then I can finally have some peace in my life.
"Maddison. Maddison," Mr. Shultz calls my name, pulling me from the trance I was in.
I glance up. "I'm sorry, Mr. Shultz, I didn't hear you."
He continues to explain to the class our homework for the night. Just as he is finishing up, the bell rings and everybody files out through the doors. I put my things away in no rush to hurry to my next class because it is only two rooms over. My locker is on the way. As I round the desks and head out the door I bump into somebody and almost fall to the ground again, but this time strong hands grab my shoulders keeping me from falling. I pull back finding his magnificent eyes on me again and this time I linger just a little bit longer looking deeply into them.
"Um, I’m sorry. I just can't seem to stop running into you today," he says.
I look down to the ground, embarrassed. "That’s okay. I seem to be really out of it today. I should watch where I am walking." I pull myself together and start toward my locker.
"So I'm Jase, um, Jase Wesley." He extends his hand to me.
I shyly shake his hand. I hope he doesn't notice how clammy my hand is from nerves. I
"I am Maddie, Maddison Walters. Nice to meet you, but I have to get going so I’m not late to my next class." I make my way down the hall. I can feel him following me and it’s making me wonder if I should flee. I stop at my locker, switch books, and head to my next class. I jump at the loud slam of a locker, and I look around to see if he’s still there. I feel silly because there is nobody around. I always feel like I’m being watched. Like they are watching.
I take my usual seat at the back and start unloading the stuff I need for this class when someone takes a seat next to me. Taking a quick peek at who just sat down next to me, I notice Jase. Whispers from the kids in front of him get my attention. I look back to my desk when I notice one of the kids pointing at me.
"Looks like we have English Lit together, Maddie. How did I get so lucky?" That last statement turns me into complete panic mode. My breaths are coming in raggedly as I try to calm down. He reaches over and puts a hand on my shoulder.
“Are you okay?”
The sincerity that I see in his eyes helps relieve some of the panic.
"Is something wrong? Was it something I said?” he asks, concerned.
I take a minute to try and figure out how to explain this to him. "Jase, you seem like a really nice guy and I’m sure you have a lot of friends here, but I just don't have time for friends right now. I'm sorry". He studies my face inquisitively.
"I’m new here. This is my first day. Haven’t you noticed I’ve never been in this class before? I don't know anybody. I was just trying to be friendly and introduce myself".
I suck in a deep breath and force a smile. "Oh, you must think I’m crazy. Welcome to Roosevelt High School. I hope you enjoy your senior year." I turn around and get ready for class to start.
My day pretty much goes on the same. Jase is in four out of five of my classes, so far. There isn't really much use in trying to stay away. He sits by me in all of my classes already and he is always glancing my way. The only way I know that is because he has caught me looking at him a couple of times. It’s hard to resist because has the greenest eyes I have ever seen. His brown hair all spiked up, frames his incredible, smooth face that I would just love to run my hand down. I immediately try and stop my head from thinking these very thoughts.
I take a seat in the last class of the day just hoping that this day will just hurry up and end already, so I can go home and lock myself in my room and not be distracted. I have a lot of homework and I need to go over my notes from the day because Mr. Green Eyes has gotten in my head and made me so unfocused. This is not me. Just as I am getting my binder out for my notes, I see him stride in the door. Only this time there is no empty seat near me. I exhale thinking I am lucky he won’t be next to me in this class. As he takes his seat in the front of the class, he turns to scan the room and we meet eyes. I know this will be the longest class ever. Class drags on with my anticipation of the bell ringing. Jase gets up about ten minutes before class ends, whispers something to the teacher, and leaves class.
Finally, after fifty five dreadful minutes the bell rings. I quickly gather my things and shuffle out of the door. I walk down the halls faster than normal, trying to escape this overwhelming feeling that I keep getting every time he is close to me. Feelings I can’t explain start to take over and I know it can’t be good. I get outside and round the corner only to see Jase standing at the gate that leads into the parking lot.
"Shit," I mutter under my breath. I start toward my car with my head down hoping he won’t see me, so I can just go about my day as I normally do.
"Where are you running off to so fast, Maddie?" he says as he follows me to my car.
"I’m heading home. I have lots of homework to do. Hope you had a nice first day." I walk even faster now trying to avoid his questions, but he’s right there next to me as I race to my car.
"Since I’m new in town I was wondering if you could show me around. I haven't been able to go out and explore since I moved here."
This guy can't take a hint. "Look, I don't know how to make this any clearer for you. I am not interested in getting to know you or showing you around. I don't have the time and I’m sure there are girls at this school that would be more than willing to take you on a tour I’m sorry. I have to go.” With that I hop in my car and head home as fast as I can to get away from him. Of course, that doesn't stop me from looking back in the rear-view mirror as I peel away from my spot. He is still standing in the same spot I left him in, watching as my car takes off.