"Shit." I looked down at Ella and tried to quickly come up with a plan. "Alright, don't panic."
She just stared at me with her huge hazel eyes and chewed on her bottom lip nervously. Fuck, that was distracting. I tore my gaze from her mouth and tried to assemble my thoughts.
"Well, you might as well say it, I'm screwed." She said finally, looking defeated.
"What's the worst that could happen?" I asked lightly trying to make it seem like no big deal.
She wore a look of sheer terror on her face. "He could send me back to live with my mom."
Shit, I couldn't let that happen, for some fucking reason that wasn't even clear to me, I just couldn't.
"I need to be on my best behavior, that was the deal for me to come live with him." She seemed on the verge of full blown panic. "If I act out, or don't seem to be getting better then I will end up back with my mom, and she will probably just stick me in another group home because she doesn't know how to handle my anxiety." She looked lost in a memory for a moment before snapping out of it.
Wait, another group home? -and why the fuck did her mom think she had to handle Ella's anxiety? It was something Ella had to deal with, not her. It seemed like maybe her mom just didn't want to be bothered by any of it, as if Ella's problems were a burden she could pass off to someone else. I automatically disliked the bitch.
I waited until she stopped darting her eyes around and focused on me before talking again. "Well what if I distract him by talking to him, and you sneak around and make it look like you came from the school." It was a long shot, but maybe by some act of faith it would fucking work. She just stared at me doubtfully, still chewing on her plump soft lip- FUCK. I needed to get a hold of myself, I was losing it.
"I don't know Jace, maybe I'll just tell him I left school by myself. I mean, how could he know I was with you?" She looked at me apologetically, and now I understood her aguish. It wasn't the skipping school part her dad would be mad about so much, it would be because she was with me.
"Oh." I said feeling like a dumbass.
"You can't blame him for worrying, especially with what happened with the last guy I was alone with. He just doesn't want me to get hurt, and he's probably thinking that he will just be stuck picking up the pieces when I completely break." She took a shaky breath and continued. "Plus, you don't have the best reputation, you know?"
"Well, I guess I'll see you around then." I regraded her icly as I backed away nodding, because call me weak but that shit pissed me off more than a little. Her dad didn't know me from any other kid out there, and even though I was a messed up fucker I was still probably better for his daughter than any other douche bag at our school. He just made his assumption because he knew I had a record, hell the whole fucking town knew I had a record, but nobody knew the real story accept for me and Ian.
"Can I call you at all over the weekend?" She asked shyly.
I just nodded in reply and watched as she turned to leave, then something just fucking came over me "Wait!" I shouted startling her.
"Yeah?" She asked looking puzzled because I was just fucking staring at her like a complete moron now.
"Maybe you could make up something you can tell your dad you have to do tomorrow, and we could meet here and just hang out or some shit." I shrugged hoping she wouldn't see just how fucking hopeful I was that she would want to hang out with me.
Her face broke into a smile as she nodded, and then her smile quickly faded. "If I'm not grounded that is."
I frowned too and kicked at the ground for a second.
"Well I should really go." She said sourly.
"Hey do me a favor?" I asked. She cocked her head to the side waiting for me to continue. "Just don't fucking rip your skin off okay?"
She bit her lip and looked around nervously to see if anyone was close enough to hear me. "I can't promise anything." She whispered.
"So, just fucking call me if you feel like you're going to." I offered shoving my hands in my pockets to keep from pulling her bottom lip from between her teeth, I constantly found myself wanting to fucking touch her. I wondered what she would do if I just pulled her to me and kissed her, but I quickly extinguished that thought because there was no way I was going to fuck this all up by attacking her like a horny teenaged bastard.
Ella had been raped, and I was sure she would be pretty damn uncomfortable with a move that bold, I would have to start slow- fuck what was I talking about? I couldn't have a relationship with this girl, or any other girl for that matter. I wasn't a normal teenage boy, I was a murderer, and I'm pretty fucking sure murderers don't get to think about kissing girls and other normal teenage shit.
"Have a good weekend Ella." I said through clenched teeth and turned away from her. I just walked away then, leaving her standing there alone, and most likely confused by my mood swing.
"God you're always so damn mopey." Ian taunted me as he sat beside me on the couch eating some sort of healthy rice shit that Norah had made.
"Fuck off." I grumbled and continued flicking through the channels ignoring him. There was never anything good on, five hundred million channels, and not a God damn thing to watch.
"Woah, whats eating you?" He asked while raising an eyebrow at me and shoveling the weird ass rice into his mouth.
The front door flew open to a very bright and cheery Norah. "Hey guys!" She greeted us as she walked in tossing her car keys on the kitchen counter
"Will you tell your man to find a fucking hobby or something, because he has been sitting and staring at me for the past hour." Norah flinched at my use of the word 'fucking', she hated swearing, Ian shot me a warning glare. "Sorry." I mumbled moving my ass off the couch and heading to my bedroom, I hoped I had some Vodka left.
"Hey, Jace wait!" She called me back.
"What's up?" I asked skeptically, she had said she wouldn't tell Ian about my little afternoon adventure. Let's hope she wasn't fucking lying.
"You know Mr. Smith, the electrician? Well he came in to install a new light fixture for the book store today." I stared at her waiting for her to continue, and not finding this the least bit fucking cute. Was she hinting at something? Seeming to sense my discomfort she went on "Well, anyways to make a long story short I guess his daughter just started at your school. Ella Smith." She said raising her eyebrows at me and wearing a smug smile. What the fuck was she getting at?
"So?" I asked feeling a little nervous.
"So, have you met her?" She asked knowing damn fucking well that I had met her, because I had been at the book store with her just hours ago. Sometimes I could be a little fucking paranoid though, maybe she didn't know that it was Ella I was with.
"Yeah." I answered and then clenched my jaw, I could see Ian from the corner of my eye. He looked confused by the smaller private conversation Norah and I seemed to be having with in the big conversation.
"I heard she went crazy after being raped, and that her mom didn't know how to deal with her so she had to move in with her dad." He said from his spot on the couch scraping up the last of the rice concoction, he shoveled it in his mouth hastily and then stared at me. "What?" He asked looking confused, I bet I looked like I wanted to punch him in the face, but really I wanted to fucking drop kick him.
Why did it always have to come down to violence with me?
Norah just stood there staring at me wide-eyed, she had wanted me to give away what I was doing with the new girl, and boy did my reaction say a lot. Now she knew that something was going on between us, even if I wasn't even quite sure what that was.
"Shut the fuck up Ian, you don't know shit." I spat and stormed off.
"What the fuck is his problem?" Ian asked loudly.
"Stop cussing!" Norah hissed at him, and then I could feel her hot on my heels.
Norah sat next to me on the edge of my bed, apparently I was right and she did know that it was Ella with me in the bookstore today. She had lived in this small shitty town way longer than Ian and I had, and she knew everyone here. That's the thing about small towns, everyone knows about everbody else's shit, and if you're new you stick out like a sore fucking thumb, especially if you had a reputation worth talking about. I would know because I have been the new kid as well. I only got here a week before Ella arrived, and I had seemed to be the choice topic of discussion for that first week..
Anyway, Norah asked me what I knew about the girl that everybody seemed to be talking about, and I really just wanted to tell her to fuck off. Seeing as that would just upset Ian more, and I was already on some pretty thin fucking ice, I just took a deep breath and lied instead.
"I don't really know much about her, she just offered to skip with me." I shrugged feigning indifference.
"Oh." She said and then frowned at me. "Well just be careful with her, she has a dark past."
I just snorted because I'm sure she knew about some of my shit from talking to Ian. Who the fuck did she think she was, talking to me about a dark past?
"I'm serious Jace, she even had to spend some time hospitalized."
I had to force myself to swallow because my esophagus was constricting and threatening to choke me.
"I just don't want either of you to get hurt." She said pointedly and then ruffled my hair before walking away.
"We just skipped school, no one's going to get hurt." I said as she was stepping out of my room. I said it like Ella meant nothing to me, when in reality I couldn't stop fucking thinking about her.
My dad had been waiting for me, and he saw me coming from the opposite direction of the school. When he asked me about where I was, and found out I hadn't gone to my afternoon classes he didn't seem too happy. He let it go when I told him I had a rough week and just needed to get away from everybody. He still scolded me, and said that this was not to become a habbit, but for the most part I got off scotch free. I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that I had received the letter for the hearing this week, he probably knew I was stressed out so he let it slide.
Now we were sitting at the dinner table. We had been trying painfully to make conversation, but really neither of us were that into it so we settled for a comfortable silence. I was moving most of my meal around my plate instead of eating it, and then I just decided to take the dive and ask him about tomorrow.
"Hey dad, I wanted to go to the bookstore in the center of town tomorrow, and maybe do some shopping on the strip." I said, excluding the part about meeting Jace but telling the truth otherwise.
"Oh." He said and then looked as if he were remembering something. "Uh, did you want me to go with you?" He asked sounding wary.
"Nah, I'll probably just be shopping and other boring girly stuff." I shrugged praying that he would decide that this was reason enough to just let me go alone.
"Oh okay." He nodded looking relieved. I had to stifle the urge to laugh at his obvious discomfort at the thoughts of shopping.
I just hoped Jace would still want to see me. For some reason I felt almost like a normal girl when I was with him, well accept for when he was yelling at me about cutting, because that was so far from normal its not even funny. I was staring into my plate of spaghetti and frowning at that last thought when my dad's voice startled me back to reality.
"You hardly eat anymore." He said frowning now too.
"What are you talking about? Sure I do!" I said defensively, even though he was right. I barely had an appetite anymore, and the looseness of my pants could prove it.
"El, how have you been feeling since receiving the court summons?" He asked gently.
"Great." I forced myself to smile so hard that it hurt.
He was staring at me hard now. "No more panic-attacks?"
"Dad, I said I'm fine." I snapped shoving a mouthful of spaghetti into my mouth just to prove it.
"Alright, but I'm here if you need me kiddo." He said softly picking up his plate and bringing it to the sink. Now I felt like a bitch for snapping at him.
"Thanks dad." I said emptying the rest of my plate in the trash, because in reality there was no way I could eat all of it, I felt sick to my stomach already.
Once I was alone in my room I dialed Jace's number and then hung up quickly before anyone could answer. Maybe I was being stupid, nothing good could come of this. I needed to just go back to keeping to myself, and maybe he could just forget he ever saw anything and let me have my clutch. Just me and my scissors, that's all I needed. He had even said that he wanted out, that he didn't want to deal with this. I licked my dry lips hastily and eyeballed my backpack. I could totally handle this, I was fine.
I don't need to do it right now. I told myself
I dressed in my pajamas and hopped into bed. It was only nine o'clock, but I was so tired I gave into my exhaustion falling into sleep quick and hard, only to awaken two hours later with my heart pounding in my chest. I sat up quickly and tried to catch my breath, but it was no use I just couldn't breathe. I tried to pull the covers off me with shaky hands and felt like I was still stuck in some sort of dreaming state.
I finally got myself out of the bed and was even contimplating waking my dad. I really felt like I was either going completely insane, or having some sort of heart attack. I settled for crouching on the floor and gasping for air until it passed.
I wasn't sure how long it went on for, but once I could breathe with out feeling like my heart was failing I got up and reached for the phone. Hands shaking and my body covered in a sheen sweat, I dialed Jace's number for the second time tonight.
"Hello?" He answered sounding concerned.
"Hey- I- I." I wanted to say I need you, but that sounded a little too intense so I settled for "I need your help."
"Whats going on?" He asked, he sounded weird.
"I just, I get really bad panic attacks since-" I stopped midsentence knowing he would get what I was trying to say.
I could hear him fumbling with something through the phone, and then he mumbled something that sounded like "Fuck." which was very possible, considering it was Jace.
"What are you doing?" I asked, curiousity getting the better of me.
"Nothing- so you had a panic attack?" He deflected.
"Yes." I shivered violently, the remnants of the attack still causing me to tremble.
"What are you doing now?" He asked.
"I asked you first." I pointed out.
"Ella just tell me what the fuck you're doing." He snapped causing me to wince, and then I realized why he sounded so angry. He thought I was cutting myself, or that I had already.
"I'm just sitting here talking to you." I answered softly and then with out thinking I said "For some reason you distract me. You make me feel normal- even though I'm obviously crazy."
There was another sound like he was struggling with something, and then glass smashing. "Shit!" He hissed.
"What was that?" I asked nervously.
"Fuck." He spat.
"Jace?" I had an idea what caused the sound.
"Look, meet me tomorrow at noon by the bookstore." He said, his words slurring a bit confirming my suspicion about what the smashing sound was. "I gotta go." He mumbled and then hung up.