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I stomped angrily through the weeds, making my way closer and closer to the edge of the forest. My mind was swarmed with questions, each of them making me angrier and angrier the closer I got to the forest. And each of them had absolutely everything to do with Jonah.
Of course they do, I chuckled to myself bitterly. It was hilarious, really. Almost ironic, in a way. Me, Violet Shoemaker. The hottest girl this side of the harbor. The funniest. The most popular. In a nutshell, I could have any guy I wanted. I could make any guy I wanted do whatever I wanted. I could have them at their knees, begging me for mercy, but still eating out of the palm of my hand, still not being able to walk away, still always coming back for more . . .
Except for the one guy I truly wanted.
I harrumphed in frustration, even though it wasn’t very attractive. Oh, well. Who cared? All that could hear me was the stupid trees.
A loud thwack! echoed through the woods again. I rather liked the loud thwack. It matched my mood. My mood of wanting to break something.
I heard a grunt, the sound of wood being lifted.
Like wood being chopped.
There he was, just over the rise of that small hill. I could see him through the sparsely rooted trees. The thickness of the forest lay to our left, and beyond that, the harbor glimmered in the afternoon sun. He stood there in his jeans and work jacket, casually chopping wood, not a care in the world.
He liked me, and I knew it. I had seen the way he had looked at me sometimes from across the room. And anyway, if it wasn’t just that, just his shallow attraction to my beauty, it was the way he talked to me. Different. He talked to me differently than the other boys did. Like I was actually interesting to talk to, like he actually wanted to get to know me.
And that was the reason I had liked him in the first place. He was, so. . .
Okay, and kind of cute, too.
I stood there watching him, my palms growing sweaty just at the sight of him. When was the last time my palms had grown sweaty at the sight of a guy? It was always the other way around. It was always the guy melting in my presence, not me.
And suddenly, I just wanted to talk to him. Ask him what was up, if he really honestly liked me, and if so, why he didn’t ask me out, or kiss me, or something to show he was actually attracted to me. Respectfully, caringly, honestly just ask him instead of all this cat and mouse, unspoken attraction sort of thing.
I was tired of walking down the hallways at school and feeling his gaze burning into the back of my head. I was tired of looking at him and smiling at him, and him smiling back, but that being as far as it ever went. No physical contact, no dinner invitation, no nothing. And I was sick of it.
I wanted to just talk to him, just like that different way he talked to me.
He glanced up from his work and looked at me. His face betrayed a note of surprise, but nothing more.
I flipped my hair behind my shoulder and walked confidently toward him.
“Can I ask you something?” I continued mercilessly. I was a woman on a mission.
He shrugged, took off his work gloves, and faced me. “Shoot.”
“Do you like me?”
He blinked. Several times actually. He didn’t seem used to girls as forward as me.
“What? Did I catch you off guard?” I asked coyly, almost flirtatiously.
He was immune to my charms. “Not really,” he replied dryly, “Your honesty is actually kind of refreshing.”
I had come here to ask him honestly if he liked me. I had come here because I was sick of the silence. I had come here to talk to him the way he talked to me. But now, I had to admit it, it was that, that dryness in his tone, that immunity to my charms, that drove me up the wall. I could smile, I could flirt, I could wear my most revealing outfits, do everything that had worked on all of those other guys, and still he would not cave in. It was like the more I did, the less of it he wanted. Like he didn’t want to touch me, or hold me, or date me. He just wanted to . . .
Gosh, I wish I knew what he wanted. Because, ashamed as I was to admit it, I was just about willing to do anything to make him want me at this point.
“Well?” I continued, hoping to keep all of my mixed up emotions out of my voice. “Do you?”
He was quiet for a moment, just looking at me, straight in the eyes. Honest and respectful, just like I knew he would.
There should have been many emotions flooding me at that point. I grit my teeth. I had to hold my temper. I had to keep it under control. I couldn’t blow up at Jonah, I couldn’t . . .
Who was I kidding? I couldn’t not blow up at Jonah at this point.
“Then what’s wrong with you?” I snapped.
He cocked an eyebrow in surprise. “Excuse me?”
“Why don’t you ask me out? Why don’t you make a move? Why don’t you at least do something that shows you’re attracted to me?” I cried.
He looked slightly amused. He almost seemed as if he thought my frustration was kind of . . .
“Like . . . what?” He asked, a slight chuckle at the end of his sentence.
I wanted to scream.
I grabbed his shoulders and kissed him squarely on the mouth.
It was a long one, I must say. I kissed him determinedly for about thirty seconds before I stepped back. I was about ten inches from his face. I was so close to him, to his body, to his eyes, that it was almost like his heart was pinned on his sleeve, and I could see all of his thoughts, all of his emotions. It was almost sick and twisted, like I was messing with the very fiber of who he was, like I was peeking into his soul without permission, like I was breaking an unspoken moral code. But what I saw there, I have never forgotten. What I saw there helped me understand myself, Jonah, and all the other people in this race we call human. It helped me, in the future, in ways I never would have comprehended at that point.
Jonah stared at me. I must say his eyes were beautiful. They were dark brown, but in the middle his irises were tinged olive green. And that’s when I saw it: that weakness.
He wanted me. He really did. I could see it in his eyes. He wanted me like all the other guys at school wanted me, the ones who whistled and eyed me up and down. He wanted me with a raw, unbridled lust.
And Jonah knew how bad he wanted me. He knew it. And it scared the living daylights out of him.
He put both of his hands on my shoulders and pushed me roughly away from him. He jumped down the hill, into his truck, and revved the engine. And I stood there, stunned, and watched as he backed up, tires screeching, then sped down the road like a hunted animal, like a man fleeing what he feared most.