Jace's answer was still ringing in my head as I sat beside him in silence. We were almost to my house, and I hadn't said a word to him since we got in the car, well besides a brief instruction on how to get to my house.
I felt extremely nervous, but not in my usual way. No, this was completely different. I found myself wanting to climb over to Jace's side of the car as he drove. The close proximity of our bodies was driving me crazy, and I was hyper aware of even the slightest movements he made. I could honestly say I've never felt such a strong attraction to anyone in my life. There really was just something about him that pulled me in, and I was finding that the more time we spent together, the harder it was not to grow attached.
To grow feelings.
It was as if he were this giant magnet, and I was a tiny paperclip. The pull was intense, and quite frankly I was tired of fighting against it.
"What are you thinking about?" Jace's voice cut through my last thought, causing me to jump a little.
"Um, I was just thinking about- us." I said cautiously, I didn't want to say the wrong thing and have him push me away again. If he didn't want more than friendship from me, that was just fine. I would take whatever I could get.
"What about us?" He asked, as he pulled up in front of my house.
I bit my lip and looked over at him from the corner of my eye. "I just was wondering what we are exactly." I prattled off quickly, reaching for the door handle to make a quick escape once this blew up in my face.
"Oh." He said as he gripped the steering wheel, and stared straight ahead.
"You don't have to say anything." I tried to laugh, but only succeeded in sounding like a dying cat.
Once I stopped making the horrid strangled sound, I gripped on to the door handle tightly, and pushed the door open with more force than necessary. I was such an idiot, I just ruined everything, yet again. He finally opened up to me today, and now I just pushed it too far. I was so pissed at myself.
"Well, goodnight Jace." I tried to keep my voice light, but it fell flat, I wasn't fooling anyone.
Stupid stupid stupid.
"Good night Ella." He said softly, still staring straight ahead, out the windshield.
"Bye dad!" I yelled over the roar of the truck.
As I turned to head into the school, I almost walked right into Jace. I inhaled sharply, taking in his scent, and studied his face. His eyes looked tired and haunted, much like my own. I kept staring, letting my gaze wander down his face and rest on his lips, and I found myself licking my own.
"Fuck." Jace swore as he looked away, scratching at the back of his neck and clenching his jaw.
"Good morning to you too." I laughed, feeling beyond happy that he seemed to still be speaking to me, even if it was in the form of expletives. I was so afraid that he was going to block me out, or lash out, like the last time I pushed him too much.
"What did your dad say last night, did he want to know exactly where you were?" Jace asked looking mildly worried.
I couldn't stop staring at him, and it took me a moment to realize that he had asked me a question.
"Hmm?" I asked, tugging on the bottom of my shirt nervously. I suddenly felt like I didn't fit in my skin, much less my clothes.
He rolled his eyes at me and waved his hand in front of my face. "Earth to Ella?!"
"What?- Uhm no.- I mean-he didn't ask specifics." I shrugged, thinking back to last night. My dad had been so happy that I seemed to have made a friend. He was glad that someone offered to be my partner for the fabricated school project, so glad that he didn't even bother to ask who I was 'working' with.
I had felt bad for lying to him, but there was no way he would have been okay with me hanging out with Jace. He thought Jace was nothing but trouble.
"Good." He stated, looking a little less tense.
He stared down at me for what seemed like forever, and I found myself pulling my arms around my torso protectively. I felt so exposed, like I was standing there naked, with the way he was looking at me.
"Well, we should probably get to class." I stated, trying to break the weird tension.
"Sure Ella." He said quietly.
Then what he did next took me completely by surprise, he reached out and took my hand in his. I gasped and looked up at him wide-eyed.
He was definitely acting weird today.
"Is this okay?" He asked, holding our clasped hands up between us.
"Um, yeah- I mean- yes, yes its okay." I stumbled over my words like an idiot, causing him to smirk at me.
"Okay then." He nodded, still smirking.
Chemistry was ridiculous, the whole period I tried to ignore the fluttering in my chest and concentrate, but it was no use. Jace had taken up residence in my mind, completely consuming my thoughts.
The worst part was, I could literally feel an energy between us as we sat next to each other, and it was actually sort of painful to be so close to him, as if my soul would rip through my skin and bones to get to him. The pull was seriously that intense, I wanted to touch him, hug him, hold him, kiss him, and I knew I could do nothing of the sort.
Most of all I wanted him to want me, as much as I wanted him.
For the first time since Brad, I was actually feeling things, scary things that I shouldn't even be feeling yet. Maybe it was just some sort of emotional problem I had because of what I had been through, or maybe I was just insane.
What else would explain the fact that I was somehow falling in love with Jace Parker?
I looked over at him, with this new realization.
He was staring down at his notebook, which was void of any notes. I let my eyes travel over his profile.
"You're staring again." He pointed out, the corner of his mouth lifting.
I felt my face heat up, and let out a huff of air as I focused my attention on the board.
I watched from the corner of my eye as he shifted his whole body so that he was facing me. I had to force myself to stay in place.
"Do you find me attractive, Ella?" He whispered questioningly, causing me to blush even more.
"I-I-" I stopped and looked at him, why was he doing this now?
"Can we talk about this later?" I asked.
"Sure, whatever you want." He shrugged indifferently.
Seriously, what was up with him today?
"Are you drunk or something?" I blurted out before I could stop myself.
He rolled his eyes and turned away from me as Mr. Plant glared at us in warning.
God, I was such a dumbass!
"It's just, you're acting weird..." I trailed off, keeping my voice lower this time.
He clenched his jaw, obviously annoyed with my accusation.
The bell finally sounded releasing us from chemistry, Jace had yet to say anything since I asked about his state of sobriety. He got up and grabbed his stuff, looking a little- hurt? It seemed unfair for him to be upset with me. It's not like he had the best track record when it came to drinking, he had drank at school before.
"Hey." I said lamely.
He turned and stared at me, he even looked different today, more intense if that were even possible.
I suddenly felt very nervous, what if he regretted telling me everything? I don't know why, but I knew that would just kill me. I was so happy that he had trusted me enough to tell me about his past. I felt privileged that he finally wanted to let me in.
I also knew I wanted something way more than friendship, and I was pretty certain friendship was all I was getting from Jace. I was driving myself crazy, I was walking a thin line here. If I pushed too hard, he would surely pull away, and once he saw how quickly I was falling, he would run as fast as he could. I was pretty much screwed, because like it or not I had feelings for him.
"Hey." He said in return, his voice was rough and caused me to shiver.
He stared at me for a moment with a look that I couldn't decipher, as he pulled on the straps of his backpack,
"What?" I asked, feeling confused and slightly self-conscious.
"Nothing." He shook his head, as if to clear it.
"Um-" I started, not certain what to say.
"Look, I'll see you at lunch?" He asked, looking nervous for the first time since I met him.
I nodded once, feeling my heart flutter as if it had wings and could fly right out of my chest.
I walked to the cafeteria, with my head down and my hands in my pockets. I swerved around the crowds of people as I rushed to get to Jace. I hadn't seen him since first period, and the rest of my morning had sucked big time.
During second period Rachel Reynold's had kept kicking at my chair, and chomping on her gum like the disgusting cow she was. I tried to ignore her, and I was doing a pretty damn good job at it, until she started talking to the equally fake looking girl next to her about how "Some girls were just attention seekers."
I had rolled my eyes at her obviousness.
She had continued on nice and loud, saying that "Some girls liked to pretend to be sad to make guys feel bad for them." Her nasally voice had gotten right under my skin as she whined about "How unfair it was to the more deserving and 'normal' girls, when there were so few attractive men left at our school."
I had been extremely annoyed by the end of the class, and it hadn't helped when I ran into her again in the girl's bathroom. She had been with a pack of her stupid plastic friends, and they all started whispering when I walked in, and then they laughed as I turned right back around and walked out.
Needless to say I was in a pretty pissy mood, because honestly it's not like Rachel had any reason to dislike me, and contrary to what she believed, I hadn't won Jace's affections. We were just friends, and I hadn't purposely sought out for his attention. In fact, it had been the last thing I wanted, it was just recently that I actually craved his presence. She seemed almost jealous of my weird friendship with Jace, and that didn't make any sense, because I thought she was with Ryan Weber.
I darted around another group of people, and slid into the cafeteria.
I don't know why I had acted like such a fucking retard this morning. I was annoyed with myself for being so forward and pushy with her, but I couldn't fucking help it. It was obvious that she found me attractive, there was no need for me to ask. I had caught her staring at me numerous times, and to be perfectly honest it was because I found myself staring at her more than I'd like to admit. I mean, I was a guy. Obviously I knew when a girl was nice to look at, but it was much more than that with Ella. When ever I was near her, it was like every cell in my body buzzed in anticipation. I had never felt that sort of attraction before, and to be perfectly fucking honest it scared the shit out of me.
I looked up from the table I always sat at, and watched as she walked nervously- she always looked so damn timid- into the cafeteria. She spotted me and smiled shyly, and fuck me if she wasn't the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.
I was completely losing it, turning into some sort of love-sick pussy.
Whoa, love-sick? Was I-
"Hey." Her small voice interrupted my very scary train of thought- my train wreck of a thought.
I nodded at her, and tried to smile. I was seriously scared shitless of what was happening here. I watched in a strange state of awe as she sat down next to me, she was so very close to me now. I could smell her cinnamon and spice scent. I stared at her profile, and that's when I noticed the strained look she was wearing. Her brow was furrowed, and her mouth was taught.
"What's wrong?" I asked, ready to fuck up who ever caused her to look like that, and praying to fucking god that it wasn't me.
She slumped in her seat and let out a gust of air. "It's nothing."
"Doesn't look like nothing." I pressed on.
"Just drop it okay?" She said weakly, her eyes begging.
"Hey." I placed my hand under her chin and turned her face toward me, fighting the urge to just kiss her. "No need for secrets." I said pointedly, because really- we knew more about each other than anyone else.
She was breathing quick and shallow, and I could feel as her warm breath brushed across my face. I watched as she started to bite on her lip, and I stopped her with my own mouth before she could. I brushed my lips lightly against hers, and then trailed slowly across her cheek to her ear.
"Tell me." I whispered causing her to shiver.
When I pulled away she looked at me in a way that made me want to just take her away from here, and keep her to myself. I couldn't help but feel protective of her.
"Just bitchy Rachel Reynolds." She sighed, looking sort of distracted, which was pretty fucking understandable. I was feeling the same exact way, being this close to her right now.
I shook my head out to clear it, what the fuck did that whore do now? "Did she say something to you?"
I watched as she tugged on her sleeves, and realized that this was a definite nervous habit of hers, along with the lip chewing. "She didn't say anything to me directly."
"Fuck her." I grunted, feeling more than a little pissy that Rachel was constantly bothering her.
She darted her eyes around, looking everywhere but at me when she spoke. "I don't want you to feel bad for me, or like you have to be nice to me." She blurted, confusing the shit out of me.
"What?" I growled, knowing this had to have something to do with what ever Rachel had said.
She just stared down at her hands in her lap and bounced her leg up and down.
"Look El, I'm kind of a fucking asshole if you haven't noticed." I started, hoping to at least make her smile, but she just kept her head low, with her hair acting as a curtain between us. I couldn't fucking stand her hiding from me like that, so I moved her hair over her shoulder and forced her to look at me before continuing. "I don't feel like I have to be nice to anyone, hell- half of the time I'm not even nice to you." I snorted.
She tried to look away, but I continued holding her face. "What I'm trying to say angel, is that I don't do anything I don't want to do, so whatever the fuck this is-" I paused gesturing between us. "It's what I want."
Her eyes widened and I could feel her pulse racing where my hand was still resting on her neck. Had I really just called her angel? What the fuck was wrong with me?
I was right to call her that though, she did look fucking heavenly.
"Jace- I-" She started to speak, and either from fear of what she would say, or just teenage hormones, I leaned in and kissed her, effectively stealing her words from her mouth.
When I pulled away from her, I noticed how quiet the cafeteria had grown. I looked around, and every fucking moron in that school was openly gaping at us. I shook my head and laughed at how fucking stupid these people were, what the fuck did they care if the two school rejects were kissing?
I looked at Ella, and noticed her cheeks were pink and she was smiling as if she had won a prize. I wondered then, what else I could do to make her smile.
When I got home I was in a ridiculously good mood. I went into my room and pulled up a playlist on my laptop. As I thought about Ella, the sounds of "A walk through Hell" by Say Anything filled my room. While listening to the vocals, I sat with what should have been a somewhat horrifying realization, that I quite possibly had fallen completely for this girl.
Instead of feeling freaked out, my heart felt kind of light.
I had to call her, I had to hear her voice.
I bounded down the hall, and picked up the cordless phone. Punching in Ella's number, I walked back to my bedroom. I realized that my heart was beating in anticipation.
"Hello?" Her voice answered, but it sounded different. Empty, almost like she were hollowed out.
"El?" I asked nervously, feeling my heart drop into my stomach.
I tried to recall everything that had happened after lunch, she had seemed fine, happy even. I suddenly wished I had payed more attention to her during english, but Mrs. Peterson had practically been up my fucking ass.
"Now's not a good time Jace." She whispered, sounding as if she were in pain.
"What's going on? " I asked, panicking.
"We'll talk tomorrow okay?"
"NO.- Fuck, talk to me." I pleaded
She was really quiet on the other end, and then I heard a tiny whimper.
"Angel?" I pleaded, not even feel like the fucking tool that I should for using my newly decided nick-name for her.
"I'm calling off the trial." She said through wracking sobs.
I sat in a stunned silence, studying chewed up skin around my fingernails. I didn't want to freak the fuck out and tell her that she couldn't let that asshole get away with what he did. She already sounded so upset, so I waited patiently for her to explain herself instead.
"I'm just going to hurt myself more in the long run, there's no evidence of what he did. He already denied it openly, and he has been telling everyone that I'm insane." She let out a long shaky breath before continuing. "Between my stay in the looney bin, and failed therapy, it's pretty obvious who was in the right state of mind. Who's word are they more likely to believe?"
I sat open mouthed, and fuming at her reasoning. The only reason she had had to go through therapy and all that fucking shit was because of that fucking douche. I snapped my mouth back shut and clenched the phone a bit tighter than necessary.
"Ella, the judge is going to see how much he has ruined your life. You had to go through all of that because of what happened to you." I felt myself getting really fucking angry. "You can't let him continue to ruin your life, you can't just lay down and give up."
"But isn't that what I did in the first place?" She asked quietly before hanging up.
I didn't sleep all night, I had tried calling Ella about eighty-three times, but she never answered. I was more than a little freaked out, and I just needed to know that she was okay. Every time I had shut my eyes, I pictured her cutting herself too deep and bleeding out all alone.
I felt my heart clench at the thought of never seeing her again, never hearing her soft voice, or smelling her spicy scent.
I walked out of my bedroom, and I must have looked pretty fucking shaken up, because Ian came around the kitchen counter to stand next to me.
"Nightmares?" He asked, looking really worried at the sight of me.
"Yeah." I lied, trying to shrug it off.
"Want me to drive you to school?"
"Nah man, I could use the walk." I said lowly, and I really fucking hoped that it would expel some of my nerves.
"Okay Jace." He nodded in understanding. "Call me if you need anything." He yelled after me as I walked out the door.
The whole walking thing would have been a great way to burn off the nervous energy, except now I was alone with my paranoid and panicky thoughts. By the time I got to the school I was a nervous fucking wreck.
I walked into chemistry and took my seat, trying to calm myself when I noticed the seat next to mine was still vacant. She could just be late I reasoned with myself. I watched impatiently, as numerous bodies with faces I could give two shits about walked into the room. I was growing more and more tense as the seconds ticked by murderously slow. The last bell sounded, and she was still nowhere in sight.
I was just about to get up and fucking bolt out of the room when she walked in.