They say the end justifies the means, or maybe the means justify the ends. I am not really sure how it works or where it came from, but it’s true. In my case, I believe it. It isn’t until you meet that one person who really turns your world upside down that you can start to understand the world, both the visible and the invisible.
I never really believed that everybody held at least one secret. I was naïve in my understanding and thought that just weird people or those in trouble held dark secrets that would alter their lives as well as everybody around them. Myself not included in this pool; I had no secrets or skeletons in my closet that is, until I met Jaden. In the short amount of time it took him to enter my life, I had to quickly realize that the world was not really only what I saw, but there was an entire other world living within and behind it. That was Jaden’s world.
Just a few years after my mother’s death, my father and I moved to Connecticut. We had lived in Oregon my entire life; picking up and going somewhere completely different was not just stressful as one could imagine, but just plain wrong. Our roots had been sown in Oregon; both my mother and father’s families lived there. That is where all my memories were rooted, along with the plunging cliff lines and open spaces of that state. I was used to the cold and damp Pacific Northwest weather, and for me that was what I liked the most. My father on the other hand was ready to go somewhere different. He had just been offered a new job in Connecticut, he was the vice president of some insurance firms that had just open new offices in Connecticut, so the company gave my father a handsome advancement and monetary gift (which I told him was bribery) to relocate. Needing the money and the change in scenery, my father took it without even consulting me. I couldn’t expect much different, if he had asked me I would have argued no to the deal. I didn’t want to leave home.
Even though it was hard, the move was not as strenuous or long as I thought it would be. There of course, was a long goodbye session at school. It was my senior year in high school, and it had just began. I was having the time of my life before I was plucked up and dropped off in the middle of nowhere. My dad had all of our belongings packed up and shipped to our new house while we drove. My dad offered me a plane ticket, but I opted to drive out with him. I figured if I left him alone for that amount of time, I would never get any alone time at the new place. Maybe he would get sick of me after the long car drive. Of course, my plan failed. I’m guessing the car ride was not long enough or I just wasn’t annoying enough.
The new neighborhood was large, but tight. Sure, you had plenty of space in front, behind, and around you but it still seemed so constricting. Unlike you see in the movies, no neighbors where at the door waiting to greet us with casseroles and cakes. The front yard needed to be cut, and the windows were dirty. This isn’t to say that I am nitpicky, I just notice things when they are obvious. The town me moved to was an okay size. Not a large city and not a small rural setting, but rather a normal sized and normally populated town. The house, on the other hand was nice. Other than the few problems, it was the perfect size. There ended up being three bedrooms, but since there were only two of us my father had it converted into an office for his work. That is one good thing about my father, he is a very studious man. He graduated from Yale in 1989, just three years before my birth. My parents bought a house and settled down on the West Coast. My mother died very soon after that; I never really knew her even though my father often would spin out stories about her and I thought that for a moment I could picture her. But I knew it wasn’t real. Because of his background in and love for academics, his office was often strewn with books and magazines. One trait that I took after him I still see all the time; he has a problem with finishing books. I too do this; I have stacks of books in my bedroom, all of which have bookmarks from where I have started them but never finished. My mind, like his is constantly racing and thinking.
After actually getting to the house and greeting the movers, who ended up being late, my father begged me to go into town and meet some of the people. “You need to get to know some people, this is your new home” was his first reason, and then his second turned into a threat, “you start school Monday”.
“You mean, you have us drive all weekend and you are going to make me start school in two days! Dad, I’m going to be that new person that nobody talks to”.
“Well you’re going to be ‘that new person’ no matter how many days before you start. Its better just to throw yourself in and start now. Look, why don’t you go down to the gym or the mall or something. I’m sure there’s something here you will like to do. Besides, it can be like an adventure. You know, new place, new people”.
“Yeah Dad, an adventure” I said sarcastically.
“Look, here’s what you do. You go into one of the restaurants or something and use an accent the whole day and tell people you aren’t from here. People are super nice then.”
“How do you know that?”
“Well, when I started college that is how I met people. Yale was a lot different from what I was used to. People open up more to complete strangers, rather than people from their own country. Trust me.”
“I am not doing something like that; it’s crazy.” I bit my lip and laughed as I realized that my dad was being honest. “I’ll be back soon.”
“Take the car!”
“I’m fine. I’m going to walk, I’ve been in the car all weekend.”
“Alright. If you need anything or get lost or anything, just call.”
“Dad, I have a fancy phone remember; I think I can Google anything. But thanks.” I smiled at him quickly and left the house leaving the front door open behind me. The weather had changed since we had arrived. It had been hours, but the sky had gotten dark as if a rain shower was approaching. Before we moved, I had done my research on the weather in Connecticuit. I found out that it gets wet there almost all year, except some droughts in the summer. Otherwise, there is a very average amount of rainfall, combined with storms and snow for the state. Sadly, this was not the sunshine state, but I still hadn’t seen any bluegrass.
I ended up staring at the sky for about 20 minutes before I walked back in the house and asked my dad for the keys. He pointed at the kitchen counter and winked, as if to say I told you so. I didn’t let his defeat ring me too much before I turned on the radio and quickly turned it back off again. The drive was short, apparently we had moved into a suburb-like area of the city and had a direct road linked to the mall. My guess was that either there were a lot of teenagers who lived at the mall, or rush hour traffic was somehow horrible here. It was just a Saturday, but I really wasn’t ready to test my theories out. I had decided on the mall; I figured I could get some new shoes while I was there and maybe look for good music shop.
To my surprise, I ended up proving one of my hypotheses right. The mall, like many around the country was laden with people; however, my guess was that nearly ¾ of the people were teenagers. Most of which were probably people I would see at school in a couple of days. I picked out your normal ‘cliques’; the girly girls in all shades of pink and heels, the jock guys who made sure their muscles were clearly defined in their shirts, the teens who were too young but thought they were adults, the Goth crews with zombie key chains and badly done makeup, and of course the nerdy kids who came only for the videogame store. There seemed to be an equal and normal demographic makeup in the teenagers of this town. I decided to not get involved with any, I only had about half a year left anyway; I would be out of this town just as fast as I came in.
After scoping out my prospects, I decided to start in a small shoe store. As soon as I stepped over the threshold, the clerk greeted me with a huge fake-toothed smile. I figured that out of her work uniform, she probably owned every shade and tint of pink and probably purple fathomable to humankind. Of course, she snuck in insanely tall heels with her uniform and lipstick that was probably 2-inches thick.
“How can I help you?” She said in a bubbly, high pitched voice. “We have some specials today. Let me show you our new selection of heels that just came in for the season. They are amazing!”
“I’m good.” I gave her one of those really scared, no toothed smiles and tried to ease away from her.
“Oh my gosh, I bet you would look amazing in these. They would be perfect for a spring look” she said as she held a pair of wedge heels up to my face. “Notice the design on the heels, so pretty!”
“Oh my gosh”, my sarcasm was very obviously clear, I thought.
“I know right!” Her voice sounded like something of a southern Dixie queen mixed with a valley girl; none the less annoying.
“I’m really just looking for some sneakers.”
“What color? We have some many great spring colors. Oh, and plaid. We just got an awesome shipment of the cutest plaid sneakers. Here I’ll show you…”
“I’m thinking black.”
“Black? Well, are you sure? I mean, we have such a selection”
“Yea, black would be a perfect color for my wardrobe. You know, it matches everything that I have and it’s just…
“Well, it matches only if everything you wear is black.”
“Exactly” I said. The girl looked a little confused and just moved out the way while pointing to the back wall. “Thanks” I said as I walked back. When I glanced back up to the front of the store, she was still giving me that puzzled look as if she actually believed that everything I owned was black. There was no way that was true; I owned some navy.
The shoe shopping turned out to be a success, I bought a good pair of sneakers, and the cashier avoided any further conversation with me. Now I just hoped she would not remember me at school and try to strike up a conversation with me. I could have probably spoken in sarcasm alone and she would have thought I was actually talking to her. The mall was still packed, either people had here a lot of money to spend all day, they didn’t actually buy anything, or they never went shopping any other day of the week. I did manage to stop a guy in huge framed glasses to ask about a music store. He seemed kind of glazed over, but told me about a great shop that sold some good stuff cheap. I managed to find my way there through all the people. Luckily, people apparently didn’t want music; the store was nearly empty. There were a few people in, browsing and sampling, otherwise I had the place to myself.
“Can I help you?” the voice followed me down the aisle. I finally turned around. The guy was cute, but not my type. It wasn’t like I was looking anyway.
“No, I don’t need any help. Thanks.”
“You don’t want me to point you into the right direction for anything?”
“Nope, I can read signs really really well, they taught me a young age so now I can like pick up a book and read it.” His face was tight was seriousness, but that soon faded away into a smile.
“That’s a great line” he said through his smile. I bit my lip and laughed. At home in Oregon, people always thought I was being rude. “You from here?” he asked.
“Nope, just moved in today actually. My dad pushed me out of the house to go ‘meet people’, he said I will have to eventually”.
“Awesome, well, I’m Sam. I work here.”
“Hi, Sam, I would have never guessed your work here. You know, for a minute I thought you were a creeper”. I couldn’t hold back my laugh with this one.
“You going to school here?”
“My dad insisted, so I think I have to.”
“You’re pretty funny, you know. Most people who come in here don’t even really talk.”
“Well, I’ve been stuck with my dad all weekend, so I guess I needed some human to human interaction.”
“Yea well, I know how you feel. Once I get out of here, it’s like I talk for hours. So, really, can I help you?”
“Nah, I’m good. I’m just checking out the selection anyways. Thanks.” After thinking that I had closed the conversation, I started to walk off.
“Where are you going?” Sam asked.
“Well, to shop.” Sam quickly realized what he had said and his entire face turned red. Out of his embarrassment, he nodded his head and walked back to the cash register and pretended to be on his phone. The selection in the shop turned out to be a nice one; they had nearly all genres in stock, even some stuff I had never heard of but I was not to brave to try it. I ended up picking up a CD that I had been looking for and made my way to the front of the store to pay. I silently laid the CD on the counter. Sam took a look at it and laughed.
“Are you serious?” He said with a grin. I was confused, but knew exactly what he was amused by. “Did you seriously come in here to buy something you could probably get for free?”
“Yes, well I like it.”
“It’s classical music. They play this on the radio for free, 24/7.”
“ I know, but sometimes I just want to listen to Chopin all day. And the radio doesn’t do that. Besides, what’s it to you. I’m helping you out here.”
“how are you helping me?
“Giving you a job to do.”
“Fine. This is a great choice. You won’t regret it.” He said this as I handed him my money. He took his time with giving back change; probably still thinking about my apparent lame choice in music. He finally slipped the bills into my hand with the receipt. “We sell the best here, so you won’t need the receipt.”
“I know, Chopin is the best.”
“Your personality is something else. Look, if you are at school Monday look for me. I can get you in on all the secrets of the place.”
“Thanks guy. I’m not really into secrets and gossip and what not, but, if you are going to be at school on Monday, you should look for me.” I covertly took my merchandise bag and headed out the door. Before I knew it, the security alarm was buzzing in my ear. I looked back at Sam who was doubled over in a laughing fit.
“I forgot to take the security sticker off! Come back.” He quickly silenced the alarms and removed the troublesome sticker. “Sorry about that, we have had a lot of people walk off with stuff. Something new my dad started.” He apologized to me and I simply nodded and walked out the door.
Monday morning came very quickly. After my trip out, my dad and I finished unpacking things and getting our new life started. We had eaten pizza three times in two days and had very wrinkled clothes. Other than that, the move was smooth. My dad dropped me off at school and he continued on to his first day of work, like a responsible company vice-president.
The school ended up being huge. I quickly learned that it was the size it was because it served the entire McGowan County, not just the city I lived in, which also explained the massive amount of people at the mall Saturday. The shear amount of people here was a good thing, I would be able to lay very low on the radar without people paying much attention to me. This reality was shattered as I heard a guy standing near a locker yell out “hey classical music girl!” I quickly turned and glared at the guy to realize that it would be none other than Sam, the music guy. Out of my good manners I walked over to him. He was standing with a group of people, three other guys and a girl. Each of them dressed similar to each other and all were sporting huge headphones around their necks.
“Hey mall worker! How is your life? I see you looked for me.”
“Didn’t want you to get worried. What’s your name anyways?” I was completely tempted to make up something completely strange or just tell him that I didn’t have one. I instantly thought of my dad who had pretened to be a forginer and quickly spoke up.
“Beth. Its’s Beth for short actually. You’re Sam right.
“No, I’m Sam Rubio”
“Ha ha, Sam. You are so funny.” My voice was heavy with sarcasm, he read it very quickly and laughed.
“These are my friends, Delilah, Richard, Scott, and Jeff.” He pointed out each face and I was waved. “Hey guys, I’m going to show Beth around. I’ll see you later”. I couldn’t protest before he began pulling me away. “You know, you are really going to love it here.”
“Sure”. I said, with the straightest face possible. Sam smelled like the music store and he stood taller than me. He looked different out of his nametag and in a different setting.
“So, what’s your story?”
“What’s your story? You know…why are you here?”
“Oh, umm, nothing special. My dad got a job, we had move. That’s it.”
“Oh, well, I was hoping for some awesome story or something. You know, witness protection, trouble with the law, alien abduction experiments.” This made me laugh and caught the same giggle bug as I did.
“No, it’s a very simple story.”
“So where is your first class?”
“I don’t know. I actually need to get to the office and find out.”
“Sure, I’ll take ya.
“No, its fine. I’m actually a biped, so I can walk really well.”
“And you can read, the perfect human!” His joke evened mine out and surprised me. I was being beaten at my own game. “The office is this way” he said as he pointed me along. He guided me into a set of tall glass doors. The secretary at the front desk apparently knew Sam and she waved him on back to the counselor’s office. “Mr. White, this is Beth, she is new here.”
“Oh, so I see you’ve met one of our best students here” said the counselor. He asked me to sit and Sam left the room. “And he’s showing you around. He’s a good guy…”
“I’m not interested” I cut him off before he could finish. This surprised him.
“What is your full name?”
“Okay, we have your file already. Your father called us last week and had it all set up to be sent over. He is really a nice guy, we talked for just a minute. Okay, let me see…they have set you up for some advanced science courses and a basic English course. It is basically the last courses you need to graduate since everything else transferred over. Alright. This is a map of the school and this is a list of your classes. Lunch block is a free period, you are required to use this ID to check in, and you cannot leave until time. It is yours to keep, just make sure you head over to the ID department and have your photo made for it. We have many students here to keep up with. Okay? And if you ever need anything you know where I am now. Do you have any questions?” After the counselor’s long speech, I shook my head no and got up to leave. Surprisingly, Sam did not wait and so I had free reign to explore without crowded halls. The great thing about being new is that it is a great excuse if I were go get caught in the halls.
By the time I found the ID center and had it all completed it was lunchtime. I decided to go and see what all the noise was about. As I got closer and closer, I could hear all the people talking at once. I slid my ID through the card scanner and found a seat quickly. The cafeteria was like a mall food court. There were at least three different ‘stations’ as well as a full size salad and condiment line. The tax dollars must have really poured into this school. The lines were long and seating was abundant. I decided to just sit and relax for a moment. Luckily, I brought a snack bar with me fearing that I wouldn’t get lunch.
“Did you purchase that here?” asked a man in a dark suit. He had on a nametag that shown his title as ‘cafeteria supervisor’.
“No, I brought it.”
“I need to take that. The rules of this school clearly state that any food must be purchased in or through the cafeteria.” I only looked at the strange man and handed him my snack bar. “What is your name?”
“Beth Creel. Why do you need my name?”
“I have to write you a warning. You are going to need to go to the office now.” Before I could say anything else he had already signed me out of the cafeteria and was motioning for me to go. I did the only thing I could do, and left. In a confused daze, I pushed the tall glass doors open and the secretary asked my name. She told me to have a seat; I was the only person in there. They had elevator music playing, this office seemed more like my father’s office. I pulled out my book and began to read when the door swung open and two guys were walking in arguing, they were separated by a teacher. The two guys sat down at opposite ends of the room. One of the guys was as tall as me with dark blond hair and a bloody lip. The other was tall with dark black hair. Unlike the other guy, he was muscular and had a hard jaw. He, undoubtedly was the punch-thrower in this fight.
“Hey” said the blond guy as he raised his head with a slight nod. “You new?”
“A little bit.”
“And you are already in trouble. Nice.” He laughed as he said this, which caused me to bite my lip and turn away. “I’m Nick.”
“Yea well, Nick, you’re bleeding.” My comment did not make him happy; he snarled his lip and turned away from me. As this was happening, the other guy in the office sighed under his breath. I looked over and he was looking at the floor. There was something different about this one, he was as cocky and arrogant as the blond who was bleeding on his shirt. “So I guess you hit him, and now you’re in trouble.” The guy with dark hair didn’t realize I was talking to him until he looked up and noticed that I was staring. He raised his right eyebrow as if to say maybe. I reached my hand out, “I’m Beth, and I’m in trouble too”. He took my hand and shook it lightly without a word. I quickly pulled back and resettled into my chair.
“I’m Jaden. I’m in a little trouble too. What are you here for?”
I laughed before I started, “well, it’s a lame story.” I looked at him to see if he was still interested. His eyes said yes and In continued. “I got caught with a contraband snack bar in the cafeteria. It was confiscated and I was sent here. There was no punch throwing for me, sadly.” He smiled just slightly and looked up at the man walking about of the office door.
“Elizabeth Creel?” asked the man. I stood up and walked into the office. It was dimly lit with a wall of windows behind the desk. “I see you had food that was not purchased here. I was looking over your records and I noticed that you are new.”
“Yes sir. This is my first day.”
“I know. Because of this, I’m going to let this go. But for future references, no outside food or drink is allowed into this school, especially the cafeteria. We pride ourselves for a great school and we do not want this messed up. Okay? I don’t want to see you in here again.”
“Welcome, by the way.”
“Now, you may leave. I suggest you get to know those rules very closely. Next time something like this happens, I will have to issue you a real warning that will be placed on your record. Good bye Miss Creel.” The man rose and walked me to the door. As I was walking out, he called the two guys by their first name and asked them in. As Jaden walked behind the blonde guy, I could have swore I noticed something odd about him, but I didn’t think about it and continued out the door.
The rest of the day went by very quickly. I sat through what had to be the most boring astronomy class and then a course on English literature and the Italian Renaissance. I had already taken a course on astronomy in Oregon, but I was guessing that either they did not read this or it didn’t transfer correctly. The class was like a free pass for me since I had already studied it all, so I sat and read for the hour and twenty minutes it lasted. Most of the students were leaving when the last bell rang, some were boarding school busses. I, on the other had sat on a bench and tried to call my father. After the third time, he answered. He apparently had gotten stuck in traffic and said he would be there soon, which he estimated to be about 45 minutes. I decided to use this free time to get some extra reading done to catch up in my classes and do some well earned people watching. I was in fact, hiding from Sam; I wasn’t feeling extra social this afternoon after a somewhat eventful first day. This of course, failed when he saw me as he was walking out the front door and came right over. This time, he was without his entourage of people and had thrown on a green jacket.
“Hey, where were you at lunch? I literally looked all over the place for you.”
“I got into some trouble, had to see the principal.”
“Whoa, trouble maker on the first day! So what did you do, slap somebody, run away, …”
“I had non-cafeteria purchased food.” When he heard my reasoning, he laughed. I gave in laughed too, but it was not genuine.
“Yes, really. I got off the hook though since I’m shiny and new.”
“Awesome. So, are you waiting on someone? Need a ride or anything?”
“I’m waiting on my dad, he got stuck in traffic. But, I’m good. Just going to use my time to read about conspicuous consumption and things.”
“yea…well okay. I gotta get going; my dad needs me at the store. How did you music work out?”
“It was great.”
“Good. I’ll see you tomorrow. This time you can eat lunch with us so there is not office visit for you.” Sam waved and walked off. I immediately started to regret not taking his offer on a ride, but told myself to bear with it anyways. It was just a few minutes later that another familiar face appeared. This time he was sporting a heavier jacket and a hat on his head. His hat was the same color as his hair, cold black. He had a sure-footed and heavy step and was completely ignorant to the world around him.
“Hey!” I yelled before I even knew what was happening. He turned his head slightly and saw that it was me yelling. He stopped, and turned around the walk back to the bench where I was sitting. Without a word, he took a seat beside me.
“You remember me?”
“Yea, of course. You made that rude guys mouth bleed.” He smirked and lowered his head. His jaw line was perfectly defined and his muscles were working under his skin as if he was thinking too hard. “You headed home?”
“Yes, I was.”
“You live near here?”
“Not really, I live on the edge of the town and the woods. You know, away from all the people and drama that happens here. What about you?”
“I’m waiting for my dad, he’s stuck in rush hour.”
“That sucks.” I sighed and looked back to the parking lot. I squinted because I thought I saw Sam, and within seconds this was verified. Sam was jogging back to me. He waved when he saw me looking and grinned.
“Hey Beth,” he said out of breath. Before he could start again he noticed there was someone next to me. “sorry, if I’m interrupting.”
“No, no, you’re fine. This is…”
“Jaden. Everyone knows him.” This comment was followed by a second or two of silence. “Look, ummm, I was coming back to see if you needed a ride again, but I guess you’re good, so I’m gonna go.”
“Thanks Sam, really. But I’m just gonna wait. See you tomorrow.” I smiled and Sam turned to walk away. I noticed that Jaden had kept his head down the entire time. “So I guess you are quite the guy around here huh.”
“Not really. People just know about me, not really me. I have a reputation I guess.”
“Well you know, one good thing about me is that there is no reputation. I have no idea who you are.” I poked his shoulder playfully. He tilted his head and looked out from the corner of his eye. His eyes were dark, almost black. I imaged at night, his entire aspect was as dark as the night, and that made me shiver.
“yea, I’m good.”
“Look, I know that guy just asked you, but I’m going to ask you again. Do you need a ride home? It’s getting cold out here fast.” I sat for a moment and contemplated his question and the sincerity. Sam did not give a reason for wanting to take me home, he just asked whereas Jaden did.
“Please.” He stood up and so did I. As we walked to his vehicle, I dialed my dad’s phone quickly. I slowed my walking and told him that a new friend had offered me a ride home and that I would be back to the house soon and to not worry. He said that was fine and he said goodbye. I sped back up to catch up with Jaden whose walk seemed like a near jog. He drove a sleek black car; it seemed as if everything he owned or had was this same color. Like a true gentleman, he opened my door and took my bag sitting it in the back seat.
“You have control over the heat and radio, so yea.” I turned the heat on just a touch to warm the inside up. The car smelled like warm cinnamon and was impeccably clean. “So where do you live?”
“Walnut Drive, it’s at the end of the street. Do you know…”
“um-hm, exactly. Do you mind if we stop somewhere first? I need to pick up something for my mom.”
“Of course not, you’re the driver.” That sealed the deal and I turned on the radio to find something to drown out the quiet between us. He sped out of the parking lot, at what felt to be a high speed but really wasn’t. I attributed this with his car. He navigated the back roads of the city and pulled into a small parking spot in front of a flower shop. I looked over at Jaden.
“Commin’ in?” asked Jaden. Without a word, I unbuckled my safety belt and got out of the car. The flower shop was situated on the side of a road that was packed with cars. If not for the back roads, we would have still been in traffic. I had not noticed it in the car, but the sun was starting to set and it was casting a bright yellow hue in contrast to dark blue sky. Jaden was holding the door for me, and so I sped up my walking to not make him wait. The flower shop greeted me with the pungent aroma of roses and lilies. There were tables everywhere that were packed with so many colors, textures, and heights. I browsed around and left Jaden to finish his errand. I found myself drawn back to a display of what seemed to be freshly cut irises and lilies. The colors were all cool colors and their petals were soft and velvety beneath my fingertips.
I was wondering around the tables of flowers waiting for Jaden to finish. He had in his hand a bouquet of bright daisies and sunflowers. Tucked in were a few light purple flowers. He paid for the flowers, engaged in some small talk and turned to leave. I stood near the door and waited.
“Are you ready?”
“Of course”. We walked back out to the car and got back in. “They’re beautiful.”
“My mother’s favorite flowers.”
“I didn’t know guys did that.”
“Bought flowers for their mother. It’s very sweet.”
“I love to see her smile.”
“She’s a very lucky lady.” Jaden cocked his head and lowered his eyebrows. “I mean, to have a great son, you know.” He nodded his head and started the engine. We drove silently; I stared out the window and watched the stars start to appear overhead. I was surprised my dad hadn’t called me yet, worried out of his mind, but I realized that it had only been 30 minutes since I last called him and he probably wasn’t even home yet. Before I knew it, Jaden was already turning onto my street. The drive way was empty; my dad had either gotten stuck in traffic again or he had to go back to the office for a late night. Either way, I was going to be alone for a bit. As Jaden pulled into the driveway, I unfastened my safety belt and opened my door to get out. Seconds later, Jaden was already out of the car and opening the back door to get my bag. He handed it to me and looked at me. His eyes had grown a bit darker with the setting of the sun, but they had also gotten softer. “Thanks for the ride. My dad isn’t even home yet, so I would probably still be sitting on that bench.”
“My pleasure. Do you need me to…”
“Nah, I’m okay. I have a key and everything.”
“Well, I will see you tomorrow at school. Hopefully not in the office again. Where do you hang out?”
“Don’t worry about it, I’m sure you will see me around.”
“Okay.” I was confused. I bit my lip and raised an eyebrow. “Goodnight?”
“Goodnight Beth.” With that, Jaden began to walk back around to his driver door and started to get back inside. I took this as my cue to walk away from the car. As I was walking to the door, I turned to see if he was still there, however, without a sound he had already left. I shook it off and unlocked the door. The house was heavy with darkness. Feeling around, I finally found the light switch and lit the place up. I went ahead and called my dad, he said he would be home shortly. I ordered some Chinese food and took a shower promptly after eating. My bed was calling me and so I went. I heard my dad come in about twenty minutes later but decided to play off being asleep; I did not want to have to recount my first day for him. Seconds later, I was asleep as Chopin played in my stereo.