Chapter 2.2

Two days had passed since the project pairs were assigned. The previous day Annie had waited in the school library for an hour after school only to be stood up like a blind date gone wrong. She thought this outcome was likely, but still not a desirable one. So, that Wednesday morning, she tracked Jonah down at the first chance that she got, which happened to be chasing him in the hallway before school started.

Jonah rolled his eyes. Was she his mom? Did she need to know his every whereabout like it was any of her business. “I had detention yesterday, for your information.” Jonah tried to outpace her, but even with her short legs, Annie managed to keep up.

“What?” Annie couldn’t tell if he was lying but she wanted to assume he wasn’t. She sprinted to get in front of him, forcing Jonah to stop abruptly to avoid impact. He stared at her as she asked, “Why didn’t you say that before?”

No reply. “What about today?” she pestered.

Jonah couldn’t think of anything to get him out of this. It was still first thing in the morning and his brain wasn’t fully functioning. “Blank slate at the moment.” That was the current state of his schedule and his brain, apparently.

“Then, today. Library. Don’t try to get out of it.” She pointed at him again, like she did the other day. Jonah was starting to think it was almost comical. A scolding index finger was a sorry excuse for a threat. Her face was scrunchy and pouty, which looked ridiculously pathetic, but her eyes gleamed with great resolve. Jonah grumbled and swiftly turned to walk away. He was now heading in the wrong direction but he didn’t care.

Tessa was coming down the hallway to meet up with Annie at her locker, but she did a double take as she got closer. She passed within inches of Jonah Mathias who had just been talking to Annie. She looked back to be sure it was him, because she was starting to feel crazy. Confirmed, it was him. Then she approached Annie like she was the crazy one.

“Were you just talking to him?!” her voice incredulous.

“…yes?” Annie drawled out. She knew, especially by that tone, Tessa wouldn’t approve. That’s partly the reason she hadn’t mentioned Jonah before.

“The crazy psycho ‘will bite off your ear’ kid?” Tessa’s disbelief turned almost maniacal.

“He’s not as bad as you think,” Annie replied, starting to walk towards their first period classroom, hoping she could escape the conversation.

“That’s B.S. and you know it!” Tessa weaved into Annie’s upper arm with both of hers, like someone unwillingly being dragged through a haunted house. “He’s scary as shit. I mean, he’d be hot if I didn’t think he could murder me just with his eyes.” Annie almost chuckled at such a typical Tessa observation, but a mere smirk came out instead.

“Seriously Annie,” she continued like an over-bearing parent. “You need to stay away from him.” Now Annie was on the receiving end of a wagging finger. She felt bad having to break Tessa’s mandate so soon.

“That’ll be kinda hard considering we have a class project together.”

What?” Tessa’s jaw near dropped to the floor. “You’re totally the smartest person in school, what are you even doing in a class with someone like him?”

“It’s World Religion. It’s an elective.” stated Annie so matter-of-factly that Tessa knew there was little point fighting it.

“Ok, ok. Fine, you’re so stubborn, I’m not gonna argue with you.” Tessa mindlessly twirled her long braids through her fingers with her free hand, the red ombre tips rippling like flames against her dark skin. “I just don’t want you to die. Or worse.”

“What’s worse than dying?” 

“Being raped.”

“Tessa, I think you’re overreacting.”

“Being raped and then being chopped up into tiny pieces.” Tessa added sarcastically.

Annie was grateful for her best friend’s reaction, really. She imagined most people would react that way if they learned she was willingly associating with one of the most tainted names in school right now. But she liked to think she had a good head on her shoulders, so others should trust her judgement. Still, Annie shook her head and rolled her eyes at Tessa before reassuring her, “It’ll be fine.”

“Famous last words.”

Annie laughed as they headed through the classroom door frame. “I’m serious.”

Tessa shot back, “Me too.”

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