The next morning I awoke with the sun, and even though it was really early I decided to hop in the shower. I figured I would just get ready right away and maybe do some of my homework before I met up with Jace.
I stepped out of the shower looking down at my naked form and sighing. I studied the marred skin of my arm, letting my eyes travel down to the vicious scab that was forming on my stomach, and then finally taking in the gash on my calf. There was only one word that came to mind -hideous.
I was disgusting.
I sighed and wrapped myself in a towel, gathering my discarded pajamas and walking into my bedroom with tears in my eyes. Why did I start doing this again? Would I ever be able to stop? No, I didn't think I would be able to, because right now I was seriously contimplating grabbing my scissors to erase the pain of it all. Quite the contradiction.
I hated myself.
After ten more minutes of self-loathing I scraped myself up off the ground and moved to my closet to pick out something to wear. I settled for my usual outfit of jeans and a long-sleeved shirt.
Once I was dressed I dragged myself over to my mirror and stared at the haunted girl who had become a complete stranger to me. I combed my hair and decided to just let it dry naturally like I always did, and I didn't even own makeup anymore, so basically I looked like my usual glum self, and definitely not good enough to be with Jace Parker.
"Gross." I whispered staring down my reflection with disgust.
I made breakfast for my dad and me, and after we finished eating I did the dishes. I wanted to make sure he was extra happy with me this morning, just in case he was having second thoughts about me going into town. Once the dishes were done, and my dad was sitting comfortably in front of the TV, I got started on the gratuitous amount of homework I had. It was about eleven thirty when I finally finished up.
I walked over to where my dad was lounging, and stepped in front of the television blocking his view and stealing his attention. "So, you don't mind me going to the center right?- and I can use your truck?" I asked timidly, praying that he hadn't changed his mind about me going.
"No, not at all." He smiled. "Will you be home for dinner?" He asked looking concerned for some reason.
"Um, I don't know- I could call you." I added the last bit about calling because he looked so worried.
"Just make sure you feed yourself Ella!" I went to say something but before I could get a word out he stopped me. "You barely ate breakfast, and it's almost lunch time" He said sternly and then his voice softened. "You're worrying me, you really can't afford to lose anymore weight."
I just nodded because I really didn't know what to say, and he was right. It's not that I wanted to lose weight, in fact I thought I was starting to look like a walking corpse, but a lot of times I couldn't even stomach the thought of food.
"Here." He got up and pulled his wallet out. "Take this, get yourself some lunch." He said handing me a twenty.
"Dad, I don't need that!" I argued, but he just raised a brow at me. "Well, twenty is way too much, I'm not going to spend this much on lunch." I said crossing my arms.
"Well use the extra for dinner if you're still out doing your- uh- shopping." He shrugged and plopped back down in his spot on the sofa.
"Thank you dad." I said and headed out the door quickly before he could see the tears in my eyes. He was always looking out for me, and I was always worrying him with all of my problems.
I pulled up in front of the bookstore that I had gone to with Jace yesterday, and parked the truck with a new kind of anxiety brewing inside of me. I had a feeling what (or should I say who) was causing this excitement in me, but I pushed it far into the back of my mind where I kept all the thoughts and feelings I wasn't allowed to have.
I stepped out of the truck, it was absolutely beautiful out. I wished I could roll up my sleeves and feel the cool breeze on my skin, but that was obviously not an option. I walked with my head down and my arms around my waist protectively as I weaved around people. It was extremely crowded here today, nothing like yesterday's empty sidewalk. I had to force myself to remain calm as I felt the stares from the people around me.
Sometimes when I was in a large crowd I would let my thoughts run rampid, and I would start to wonder where Brad was at that very moment. I would wonder if he would ever try to find me, and then I would get all flighty and paranoid, looking over my shoulder every five seconds and quickening my pace as if he were right behind me. I really didn't want to do the whole crazy paranoid girl routine today, so I tried to force all thoughts of Brad from my mind, and kept my pace gruelingly slow. I couldn't let him get to me like this anymore, he already screwed me up beyond repair, I had to stop letting him effect my every move.
I could feel my hands starting to tremble as I thought about the hearing, I would have to face him again soon enough. I pulled my hands instinctively up to my face and leaned against the wall of the bookstore. "I can't do this." I mumbled into my fingertips.
"Can't do what?" The familiar husky voice I had become so fond of interrupted my mini episode.
I don't know what came over me then, but as soon as I made eye-contact with him I threw my arms around him. He froze immeadiately, and I pulled back quickly as if the contact had burned me, shrinking back against the wall feeling more than a little weirded out. What the hell was I doing? I had a feeling I broke some unwritten rule between us, like we weren't supposed to touch- ever, well accept maybe when he was inspecting my wounds.
"Uh, so I figured we could get some lunch or something." He said scratching the back of his neck.
I just stared at him, my face still warm from the embarassment of throwing myself at him.
"Are you hungry?" He asked staring at me in a strange way, I think I really messed up hugging him like that, because he seemed freaked out.
"Um, not really." I whispered looking around us at all the people walking by.
"Fuck Ella." I jumped at his words, crap he was not happy with me.
"Look, I'm sorry I hugged you like that I don't know what came over me." I spoke quickly, my face flaming at this point.
"What?" He asked sounding annoyed at first, and then he chuckled lowly. "No, It's just- why am I not surprised that you're not hungry?" He asked looking unnecessarily upset.
"Oh." I said dumbly, and pulled my arms tightly around my torso.
"You're destroying yourself." He said, his eyes burning into mine with such intensity that I couldn't help but shiver.
"Like you can talk." I whispered still holding his gaze.
He snorted at me, causing me to frown.
"You drank yourself stupid for the past couple of days." I reminded him, as I recalled the sound of smashing glass through the phone last night. "Did you miss the day in health class when they taught everyone about alcoholism? You're destroying yours-"
"DON'T." He snarled causing me to wince.
"I- I'm- " I wanted to apologize immeadiately, and I didn't know why. I just knew that for some reason what I said had offended him horribly.
"It's fine." He cut me off, his jaw clenching as if to contradict that statement.
I bit my lip nervously and stared at my sneakers, I hadn't known that I was going to cry, until I saw my shoelaces as if I were looking at them through a glass of water.
Shit. I watched as a tear ran down her face slowly, and plopped to the ground. "Don't cry, it's fine." I wanted to reach out and comfort her, but I still wasn't quite sure how she would react. I had been so surprised by the physical contact earlier, but I wasn't taking my chances and upsetting her further. Not to mention that just a simple hug from this girl had me hard. I was such a fuck up.
She looked up at me "What happened to you Jace?" She asked quietly.
Fuck, fuck, fuck. "I just drank a little too much lastnight." I shrugged and smirked at her like the ass I was. I wasn't fucking ready to talk about any of my shit with her, and I didn't know if I would ever really be able to share that piece of my life with anyone.
"No, I mean what happened to you in the past." She corrected timidly.
Damn it. "I knew what you fucking meant." I grunted and looked away from her quickly.
"I'm sorry, I'm just doing everything wrong today." She whispered.
I looked up at her now, and studied her face. She was staring at her damn sneakers again. I hated when she averted her gaze like that, so I figured- fuck it- and grabbed her face in my hands, forcing her to look at me. "You're not doing anything wrong, I'm the one who's all fucked up today."
She let out a small shaky breath, it smelled like cinnamon when it hit my face. "Fuck." I cursed under my breath keeping my eyes locked on hers. "Ella?" I asked softly.
"Yeah?" She answered breathily, staring at me through half opened eyes.
I moved in closer, hoping that she was okay with what I was about to do. I was mere centimeters from her face when- "Jace?"
"Norah." I groaned pulling away from Ella reluctantly, I swear to God I found myself wanting more and more to just tell Norah to fuck off.
"What are you doing here-" She asked and then turned her attention to Ella, who was blushing like fucking crazy now.
"I have to do some shopping." I said, but the way I said it sounded more like 'mind your own fucking business'
"Oh." She answered lamely and continued just fucking staring at Ella, what the fuck was her problem? Couldn't she see how uncomfortable she was making her? Finally she snapped out of her fucking trance and looked at me pointedly. I knew what she was trying to say with that look -'I thought you weren't involved with the new girl'
Well fuck her, it was none of her fucking business how I spent my free time.
"Well don't be rude Jace." Norah spoke out startling me, I wondered if I had been saying my thoughts out loud, considering the filter between my brain and mouth didn't always work so well, it was definitely possible. She rolled her eyes at my obvious confusion and let out a sigh. "Aren't you going to introduce us?"
I looked over at Ella, who was now staring at me and chewing on her lip to the point I was sure she would draw blood. Norah was standing in front of us with her arms crossed, just smirking at me smugly.
"Norah, this is Ella." I said gesturing to Ella. "And Ella, this is Norah."
"Hi!" Norah chirped perkily, causing Ella to pull her arms tighter around herself. I couldn't help but be a little fucking annoyed with how uncomfortable Norah was making her.
"Yeah, yeah- hi- well, we gotta go." I said cutting her off before she could terrorize Ella any further with her overly cheery demeanor. I mean don't get me fucking wrong, Norah was usually cool, but I had to get the fuck out of there.
"Alright, I'll see you later-" Then she paused as if in thought. "Hey! Why don't you have Ella come over for dinner tonight?"
"Uh-" I didn't know what the fuck to do, for some reason I didn't think this was a good idea. I looked over at Ella for help, but what I saw there was a look of hurt.
"I gotta go." Ella said with out warning. "It was great meeting you." She nodded to Norah and started to walk down the sidewalk.
What the fuck was happening? "What the Fuck?" I hissed, causing Norah to cringe involuntarily.
"Let me ask you something Einstein" She said in a smartass voice that seemed to be reserved for only talking me.
"What?" I snapped not in the mood for her shit right now, I was already losing sight of Ella in the crowd.
"Did you tell Ella I was Ian's girlfriend?" She asked confusing the shit out of me.
"I really don't think she gives a shit that you're Ian's girlfriend." I growled.
"Oh really?" She asked crossing her arms matter of factly.
I glared at her, my patience wearing thin.
"Yeah you're probably right." She nodded before tapping me on the head. "But I bet she cares whether or not I'm your girlfriend."
I didn't even wait to say anything to Norah, I took off down the sidewalk like a mad man. I slammed through people left and right, receiving quite a few dirty looks. One guy in a business suit even stopped as if to say something to me, but when he took in my crazed expression he thought better of it. I finally saw her long brown hair, and I just fucking sprinted to her side grabbing her arm to stop her.
"Get off." She sobbed jumping a mile.
"Sorry-" I leaned forward, resting my hands on my knees trying to catch my breath. "Norah- Norah-" I was fucking weezing like an eighty year old chain smoking man. She just squinted her eyes at me and shook her head.
She turned around quickly and started to walk away from me again.
"She's Ian's girlfriend." I finally blurted.
I watched as she slowed her step, coming to a complete stop. I stared at the back of her head, and found my eyes traveling down her back and down to her- Fuck, I had to get a grip on my thoughts.
"I'm not an asshole." I said, breathing a bit easier now that she seemed to be listening. "Well, not a complete asshole anyway." I laughed with out humor, she turned and looked at me quizically. "Okay, okay. I'm a complete asshole!" I shrugged, praying that she wouldn't walk away. Why did I care so much about what this girl fucking thought, or how she felt? I was afraid to answer my own questions.
She spoke after what seemed like forever. "She's your brother's girlfriend?"
I nodded slowly, shoving my hands in my pockets.
"I think we need to talk." She said abruptly, causing me to feel just a little fucking nervous.
"Uh- okay." I shrugged, but I was definitely weirded out. We weren't even in a relationship and she was saying the words 'we need to talk'
"Jace, I- I- " She stuttered before staring at me. "I like you." She said, and before I could interrupt her she continued. "Like, I really like you."
I stared at her then and knew that I was screwed. "I like you too." I whispered.
She smiled so brightly that I wanted to keep it at that. She looked so fucking beautiful when she smiled like that, it was a rare sight, but I couldn't let her believe we could actually go anywhere with this.
"And that's precisely why we can't be anything more than friends." I watched as her smile dimmed slowly and then completely burned out.
Then she tried to force the smile back on her face, forming more of a grimace. "Fine, friends then." She nodded.
"Alright." I said nodding in return, but kicking myself mentally.
We spent the rest of the day going into all the little shops on the strip, and then we stopped to get a late lunch. Ella mostly picked at her food while I ate, and we didn't mention anything more about our conversation from earlier, or our weird encounter before Norah had interrupted us. I watched as she moved her food around the plate with her fork.
God, she was fucking gorgeous.
When exactly had this gone from me being stuck with her problem, to me wanting to be with her? What the fuck was I going to do? Because at the rate things were going I was falling too hard and too fast, and that just wasn't good, for either of us.