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“Wake up Grey!” screamed Candy. Candy was extremely impatient and wanted people to listen to her every word because she thought every word she said was very important.
“I’m up! God I’m walking aren’t I?” Grace exclaimed.
“But your not listening to me!”
“Can’t really pay attention there’s a lot on my mind see!” Grace pushed her bangs back revealing two red dots shining through a ton of cover-up.
“God, use enough concealer?” Candy laughed.
“Hardly, I stayed up all night trying to fix it and….” Grace placed her bangs back, carefully smoothing them to cover her blemish. “Well at least I have bangs.”
“Yea good thing ya do because if those puppies where seen you’d be the weird, friendless junior,” Candy smiled.
“Ya’d leave me?” Grace asked playfully.
“Ya know it there’s no room for the three of us!”
“Yupp you me and the new addition to Mount Everest… mount blemish!”
“Har har…very funny.” Grace frowned.
“I know comedy is my forte.”
“Seriously we need to be cool this year, Junior is a big deal.”
“Sure…” Candy stopped dead in her tracks and gawked at the sidewalk at the front of Jasper high. The new sign in front of our school gladly gleamed the Jasper Bees. Our school couldn’t decide on the mascot since last year’s Trojan incident. The constantly changing sign made the school look gloomier every time.
“What…what’s wrong?” Grace was shaking candy. Candy was diabetic (ironic I know), so Grace was always freaked out about the smallest things Candy did.
Candy raised her arm and pointed, “Him, omigod. Look. At. Him!” Grace followed her finger to a tall, dark-headed boy with muscles showing through his designer t-shirt. “Omigod. Who. Is. He?” candy was reaching hyperventilation.
“I don’t know, a new kid maybe?” Grace wasn’t too impressed.
“Omigod he is HOT!” Candy’s color was returning to her face.
“Yell it louder! I don’t think China heard you,” Grace’s face started to feel hot. People started to stare. Jess wondered what they were thinking. Grace pushed Candy to walk. Candy hesitantly started to move her feet. She walked slowly like she was learning to walk all over again.
Candy and Grace walked side by side towards the high school when a guy ran into Grace. “Oh sorry babe.” The guy said in his deep voice loud enough for everyone to hear. It was the guy that Candy was just gawking at.
“Its not babe its Grace, but my friends call me Grey,” Grace remarked picking up her binders.
“Oh sorry Grey, I’m Jason.”
“I said my friends call me Grey. You can call me Grace.” Grace retorted with a scowl. She turned around in one sharp movement and, careful not to stumble, stormed off. Leaving Jason confused, he’d never been rejected before.
Grace went straight to Howie, her boyfriends, locker. Her face was hot and her hands scraped from the fall. “What’s wrong?” Howie said with worry in his voice.
“Grace!” Candy was trailing after her. “What is wrong with you!” Candy was now standing in front of them, out of breath. Grace was irritated and started to finger her Tiffany & Co necklace her dad had gotten her on her 8th birthday.
“Whad’ya do?” Howie said with a smile creeping on his face.
“Oh nothing, she just told off the new hottest guy at school,” Candy said not doing a very good job being sarcastic.
“The hottest huh? Well, I feel loved.” Howie’s smile was full-blown now.
“Sure are,” Grace said with a hint of annoyance in her voice. She opened the locker that she shared with Howie and all the contents of the locker spilled onto the hallway floor. Grace sighed and bent down to pick up the mess. She was met with an unfamiliar hand.
“You need to clean your locker out.” It was Jason. Grace clenched her teeth. “Uh, like musky smell?” he said dangling a can of AXE.
“Ya,” Howie said cutting in. “This him?” Howie said to Grace nudging her arm. Grace nodded. “Well then,” Howie remarked standing up. Jason stood too, never leaving Grace’s gaze. Grace cowered behind Howie. Howie had one or two inches on Jason.
“Is he bothering you?” Jason said standing up straighter.
“I would hope not if I am she has been lying to me for a while,” Howie said smiling.
“You have a…”
“Boyfriend, yes she has a boyfriend,” Howie interrupted smiling. Jason glared at him, and then the bell rang. Neither Howie nor Jason moved.
“Hey Jason lets go!” Brian, a boy Grace has known since 1st grade, yelled across the hall. Jason hesitantly left with Howie smiling.
Candy was standing next to the locker, papers in her hand with her mouth wide open. “Candy breathe,” Grace said, “Go to class.” Candy reluctantly shuffled her feet towards 1st period.
“Want me to walk you to class?” Howie asked collecting his books.
“I think I’ll survive,” Grace said walking towards 1st period.
“Kay,” Howie walked in the opposite direction.
Grace rushed into class and slid into her seat barely missing the tardy bell.
“Class I’d like you to meet a new student…” Mrs. Wilson announced. Jason stood up. Grace groaned, the rest of the girls sighed. “His name is Jason and he will be following someone who has his same classes as him until he gets the hang of things.” Every girl held there breath as Mrs. Wilson looked through the schedule lists. Grace sunk into her seat. “Grace Greenly,” she groaned, Jason smiled, “You’ll be showing Jason around.”
“You have a last name,” Jason remarked.
“Great you seem to know each other,” Mrs. Wilson said smiling artificially. Every girl turned to scowl at Grace. Grace couldn’t concentrate during class. Jordan was going to be a problem, she was sure of it, and she was stuck with him. She had a feeling he wouldn't get used to things anytime soon.
Grace ignored Jason for the remainder of the day. She to pointed places he asked about and pretended she didn’t notice him staring.
Grace got home and collapsed on her bed. She was alone. Finally. Her father had passed away years ago, and her mom was always working to make up for the loss of income. She got her laptop out and made a sandwich while it loaded. Once the laptop had loaded, and she exited all the pop-ups she loaded up aim.
Candygirl63: no santa clause, don’t think I culd pull off red tho ! ϑ
Tiffanygirl21: I thot u were sweetascandy ?
Candygirl63: I changed it yesterday…
Tiffanygirl21: oo ok. I thot u told me something this mornin
Candygirl63: um yeah I gotta tell you something…
Tiffanygirl21: wat ??
Candygirl63: Howie cheated on you…
Tiffanygirl21: w/ who ??
Candygirl63: molly =( he kissed her at the football game
Grace didn’t reply.
Candygirl63: grey ??
Grace couldn’t breathe.
Candygirl63: im srry I told u like this but I got my fone taken away… r u okay ??
Grace closed the laptop and laid back and fell asleep. She didn’t want to think about or believe anything she just heard.
The next day Jason was unusually cheerful, he met her in the front of the school, Candy was sick. Grace stormed into the school, trying to get to the locker she shared with Howie before he got there. She planned on clearing out her stuff and leaving him a note. She was thinking so hard she didn’t see Howie right in front of her… "Ow!” Grace screamed as she ran into Howie. His smell overwhelmed her and she found moisture accumulating in her eyes.
“Are you okay?” Howie said, concerned he held his hand out, Jordan mimicked him. Grace debated for a few seconds that seemed like an eternity and reached her hand out to Jason. Howie gazed at her, his face read confused and hurt. Jason helped Grace up and guided her to his side. Jason smiled smugly at Howie. Grace took deep breaths to prevent herself from crying. "Are you okay? I'm sorry. I didn't mean to run into you. Are you hurt?" Howe’s voice sounded honestly concerned, this comforted Grace. But she still couldn't forgive and forget.
"I'm fine," Grace muttered, but her voice cracked. Howie took a step towards grace, she stepped closer to Jason, and Howie cringed. Howie was confused and his face showed it.
"Did I... do something?" he paused and thought for a minute, staring into space. His attention then turned to the smug grin that had not yet left Jason's face. Grace watched Howie's face trying to read his expression. She watched as he finally looked like he understood, he paused briefly with this expression, and then the look of shear anger grew on his face. Grace gasped. "You did this!" Howie stood at his full height to Jason, "I'm gonna kill you!"
"No. Howie stop. He didn't do anything." This time Grace's voice didn't crack. Howie searched her face, hearing the hidden meaning in her words, though he wasn't sure what it was. His gaze traveled to Jason's face and the look on both of their faces quickly became a glare.
"I swear, if I hear otherwise, you'll suffer." Howie said, his voice threatening. Grace had never heard him talk like that, it frightened her. The two boys continued to glare at each other. Grace could swear she heard growling. Her hand fluttered almost as instinct to the spot where her Tiffany necklace hung. Grace started to feel faint as she examined the boy’s faces. She leaned against the locker. Both Howie and Jason turned their heads in her direction, the hostile looks melting from there faces replaced with concern.
"Grey. Grey! Are you okay? Grey look at me!" Graces eyes slipped closed.
Grace gained conciseness. She didn't open her eyes at first. She felt the coolness of the room and could see that there was florescent lighting from the glow through her eyelids. She moved slightly and heard the crackle of paper underneath her. There was something under her head that she could not quite make out, it had an unfamiliar scent to it but nevertheless it was comforting. Grace squeezed her eyes and then opened them. She was greeted by a small room with commercial wallpaper and Jason sitting awkwardly in a small plastic chair, positioned in the corner of the small room. The nurse’s office. I must have fainted. "Where's Howie?" Grace said drowsily, sitting up while wiping her eyes to regain her vision. She looked over at where her head was; it was Jason's sweatshirt.
"Decide to get up?" Jason smirked, avoiding Graces question. Grace scowled. Jason's smile faded, "Why do you hate me so much?" he asked with curiosity.
"Why do you like me so much?" Grace retorted.
"What makes you think that?" Jason asked, the ends of his mouth started to twitch into a smile.
"It's kinda obvious," Grey replied.
"Darn! I was hoping you wouldn't notice." his smile was big and revealed his white teeth. Good lord, he looks like he belongs in a Colgate commercial. Not in the Jasper Highs nurses office. Grace couldn't help but to smile along with him.
"Aha! She has teeth! Lord its a miracle!" this made Grace smile even bigger.
"Where’s the nurse?" Grace asked.
"Today’s a half day member?" Jason replied.
"Oh, no. Why didn't you go home?" Grace asked.
"Nothin else to do. I wanted to see if you were okay. The nurse had a meeting so I said I'd watch you," he shrugged.
"Where's Howie?" Grace asked again.
Jason sighed. "He was carrying you and you said no." Grace paused for a second, shocked, and then she felt the tears coming. Jason got up from his corner of the room and slid next to Grace. The paper crackled. Jason put his arm around the back of Grace. She let him. "Aw come on Grace, you where out of it. It was an accident. I bet he knows you didn't mean it." Grace sighed; she knew he knew she meant it. Jason looked at the top of her head. She felt him move and looked at his face, curious to what he was thinking. As soon as her face was turned towards his he kissed her. Grace paused, shocked. She pushed him away breathless.
"Are you crazy!" she screeched with a hint of hysteria in her voice.
"You really love him don't you?" Jason sighed. He couldn't hide the disappointment in his voice. Grace never really thought of herself as in love, yeah she said it to him a lot but what else was she supposed to say, Nite, I like you a lot.
"Yeah, I guess I do love him." Grace smiled at the thought. In love, ha I'm in love.
"Hmm think you could make it home on your own?" Jason asked absentmindedly. Grace nodded. "Promise?" he said.
"Promise." Grace assured him. She hopped down and stumbled, Jason caught her.
"Maybe I should walk you home." Jason said concerned.
"No I'm okay, " Grace tried to assure him.
"That wasn't a question. I'm walking you home.” Jason said sternly cutting her off. Grace didn't feel like arguing with Jason so she drug her feet to the locker while Jason wrote the nurse a note.
Even though Grace was walking down the hallway alone, she still had a fluttering feeling that Howie would be somewhere. This made her extremely paranoid. She turned the corner to see the shadow of a guy in the hallway. Graces heart did a back flip, but it was just the janitor. It’s just the stupid janitor. No ones here. It’s just me, the janitor, and soon Jason. Graces mind was going crazy or so she thought so. She walked quickly to her and Howie' locker. Her hands shook and were sweating so it made it nearly impossible to open it. After six tries she finally managed to yank her locker open. When she did so a piece of notebook paper labeled GREY floated to the floor. She bent down to pick up the paper, and started to read it:
SORRY I LEFT BEFORE YOU WOKE UP. IM SURE JASON TOLD YOU THE STORY. FEEL BETTER PLEASE. I THINK WE NEED TO TALK.
Grace read the note nine times always lingering at the last sentence. She didn't think it meant something good. She could feel knots in her throat and her stomach felt as if it sunk to her ankles. She could feel extra moisture brimming her eyes. She stroked her necklace and then grabbed her bag and slammed her locker shut. She saw that Jason was walking towards her and the janitor was staring at her and then looking at Jason wearily dragging his feet towards Grace. The janitor and Jason examined Graces distraught face and the tears at her eyes. The Janitor walked into a room, while Jason picked up his pace. Grace sprinted towards the exit, irrationally thinking that this would get Jason to take a hint and leave her alone. Of course Jason followed her, but Grace was faster and she got a head start.
It felt good for her to run. She used every muscle in her body to propel herself forward. It gave Grace the feeling that if she could run fast enough, she could leave her troubles behind. She ran for quite a distance before her muscles started to slow her down, and her ribs started to get sore from her lungs pushing against them. She slowed to a walk and walked for a few minutes before her troubles revisited her head and Jason started to walk beside her. He was panting.
"Could you just let me walk alone? If I'm fine enough to run, faster than you might I add, I'm pretty sure I can do the rest by myself," Grace snapped.
"Sure. I'll see you at school," Jason started to walk in the opposite direction. Grace shook her head in disapproval; he lived in the other direction! Grace continued to walk at a steady pace until her house came into view. She squinted at her house and she saw someone on her front porch steps. Her heart thumped with fear, she started to recollect the little of what she had learned about self-defense. Only until she got closer she recognized the figure in front of her house was Howie. Then her heart started to thump for new reasons, fear was still there, along with jealousy, pain, and the longing to just see him and say how sorry she was.
He was patiently sitting there watching her approach the house. Grace picked up her pace. Once she got on the sidewalk she started talking.
"I'm so sorry... I didn't know what got into me... well yeah, I do. Did you kiss Molly? I mean I guess I understand if you did she's blonde, pretty, prettier than me," Grace couldn't believe how easily she was saying this. She couldn't look at Howie's face too afraid to see his reaction. She didn't have to see his face though because it showed in his voice.
"Wait, slow down. What?" Howie was trying to understand.
"Did you kiss molly?" Grace replied blankly.
"You think I did what!" He tried to control his voice but Grace could hear the anger in his voice.
"Candy told me you did," Grey blurted out, "She said you did at the football game."
"I don't know what to say," Howie shook his head, "I don't know how you could even believe that! I didn't go near her!" he paused for second collecting thoughts. "Think about it. When was the game?"
"Um... I don't know. The beginning of the year right?" Grace was trying to see his point.
"Yes it was, and where was Molly at the beginning of the year?" Howie was edging annoyance.
"Uhh vacation? Oh. I'm sorry I had no idea. I just jumped to conclusions... I...," She was thinking of something to say, "I'm sorry," Graces voice was as small as she felt.
"How can you even believe that, Grey?" Howie was getting mad. "I’ve never ever done anything to hurt you. I don't get it. I do everything for you, put you on a pedestal! But you still don't trust me? I've never ever felt like how I feel bout you about anyone! Especially not Molly! Do you not believe me? Do you not care?"
"No! Howie don't you ever say that! I do care and I do believe you! I’m just distracted there’s a lot on my mind. I jumped to conclusions. I don’t think you would ever do that… I just… I don’t know what your capable of. I trust you and I’m not scared. I know you won’t ever try to hurt me. I’ll never try to hurt you either.” Grace tried to make her voice strong but it cracked, a lot.
“What do you call what you just did? That hurt. For someone who would never try to hurt me…” Howie’s voice trailed off.
Grace started to cry. “I’m didn’t mean to I’m sorry. I wish I could think of a less cliché word than sorry, but I can’t, and I’m sorry,” Grace was pleading now.
“I know you’re sorry, but you didn’t believe me… I… don’t think it’ll work.” Howie couldn’t look at her face.
“So you’re dumping me?” her tears were gone but her voice still cracked.
“Yeah, I guess I am. I don’t know what else to do,” it was Howie’s voice that was cracking this time.
“What? I don’t know whether to beg or let you go,” Grace sighed.
“You don’t have to do this really I learned my lesson I’ll never do it again,” Graces voice became frantic as Howie walked away. He was mumbling and shaking his head as he walked off. Grace didn’t know what to do, she wanted to scream and yell for him to come back but she couldn’t get the words to form in her mouth. Grace just stared after him hoping that if she thought hard enough he might turn around and come back. He didn’t even slow his pace. She stared after him long after his shadow disappeared behind the hill.
When Grace turned to walk into her house she saw a small robin-egg blue box with a white ribbon tied around it. It was something from Tiffany & Co! Tiffany! At least something’s going good today. Grace didn't know or didn't care who it was from. When she thought about it, it was probably from Howie but she honestly didn't care, nothing bad could come from inside a Tiffany box. She grabbed the box, welcoming anything that could take her mind off what just happened. She ran inside, locked the front door, went to her room, turned on her laptop and finally sat on her bed with the box in her lap.
Grace stared at the box for five minutes before she took a big breath and started to gently pull on the pristine white ribbon. With only a slight pull the ribbon came completely untied and fell around the blue box, framing it. Grace lifted the lid and picked up the matching robin-egg blue suede pouch, her hands shaking from excitement, she opened the pouch and turned it upside-down above her hand. She couldn't help but smile when she saw a small silver key with opal on the top, attached to a silver ball chain. It’s beautiful. I love it! It's the same one we saw in New York on the field trip! Grace was beaming now, and then she came back to reality. Howie must have spent a lot on this. Howie... Grace sighed and clutched the small key in her hand and stared out the window.
Beep! Grace jumped when she heard the sound come from her computer she leaned over and saw her someone wanted to talk to her on aim. She sat the necklace next to her and started typing.
Sweetascandy36:Hay gurl !!
Sweetascandy36: Duhh !! who do u think it is ??
Tiffanygirl21: i thot u said u changed it to candygirl ??
Sweetascandy36: uhh no ! y wuld you think that ??
Tiffanygirl21: you were just talkin to me yesterday!
Sweetascandy36: uh nope wrong candy, no computer for me ! i was in the hospital for not havin enuf water... can u believe it ! for not drinking water !
Grace took a deep breath she had an idea of who 'candygirl' was.
Tiffanygirl21:oo ok. that sux r u gonna be back at school ?
Sweetascandy36: Yeah i think like next week or something drastic, my rents flipped ! they gave me one of those huge Rainforest Cafe cups and i have to drink it all throughout the day and ill i do is sit... im sooo bored ! it took me forever for them to let me go on the computer...
Tiffanygirl21:oo that sux.
Sweetascandy36:i kno so watcha dooin ? tell me sumthing interesting. im bored out of my mind
I knew she would ask something like that. I need to get out of this. I need to lie. I can't lie to candy though, she's my best friend.
Tiffanygirl21: Um no. Candy I need to go make dinner ill talk to u later
Sweetascandy36: Plez just talk to me im so boored. get ur mom to get McDonalds or something
Tiffanygirl21: i can't shes working late.. im hungry. byee. get better ! :)
Sweetascandy36:fine see you later luv ya bye. :)
Grace flipped her laptop closed and took a deep breath. It's just a little lie, she'll understand.
Grace closed her eyes and leaned her head against the headboard. She reached to grab her key necklace. She looked at it and took the necklace her dad bought her off, and took the key charm and put it on the chain with the heart. She put it back on and fingered both charms as she thought. Who would act like Candy and try to get me and Howie to break up? The truth is that Grace knew for a fact Jason did it. She didn't want to believe it was him though because she thought they might actually be friends. Grace sunk into her pillows and drifted to sleep with her thoughts haunting her.
The next day Grace got ready hastily and practically power-walked the entire way to Jasper High. She knew that Jason got to school early.
"Hey Grey!" Jason yelled from a bench beside the school, he was sitting with a group of kids Grace has known since elementary school.
Grace gave him a dirty look, and Jason got the hint. He got up and jogged towards her. They walked around the corner of the school, unseen by the group of interested kids that were sitting with Jason. "What's up?" Jason was looking innocent and Grace seriously considered walking away and forgetting it. Grace took a deep breath.
"Why?" Grace pause, closed her eyes and took a deep breath she didn't have to look at Jason's face to see his confusion, "Why did you have to act like Candy to try to break me and Howie up?!"
“I’m so sorry Grace I… I,” Jason was struggling for words, “I’m sorry. I really liked you and then when I saw you had a boyfriend I kinda panicked.”
“Kinda? He dumped me because I believed your stupid trick!” Graces voice was edging hyperventilation.
“It worked? Oh Grace I’m so sorry. I mean it was my plan at first, but I kinda figured out it wouldn’t work. I’m so sorry.”
“Sorry! Sorry doesn’t cut it. Sorry cant bring Howie back! Sorry can’t fix everything you messed up! Don’t be sorry! Fix it!" Grace felt like laying down and crying, it felt useless to yell anymore. She sat in the damp grass and buried her hands in her face. Jason sat next to her.
"I really am sorry. I don't know how to fix it. If I could I would in a heartbeat," Jason looked at her his eyes wide and innocent.
"Jason, I never have felt about anyone like how I feel about Howie. I think I love him," Grace pondered the thought. Love. The most feared and wanted word in the world. Grace remembered her dads old favorite song with the lyrics 'Those three words are said too much, but not enough'. He said I would know what those words meant someday, he said he'd better approve of it, too. Grace smiled and laughed. Jason looked at her like she as nuts, she probably was.
"Grey I..." Jason's face was confused and apologetic.
"It's fine Jason," grace cut him off her voice getting cold, "Let me cool off okay? I need sometime to forgive you." Jason got up without a word, he wasn't going to push his luck. Grace sighed and walked around the corner, her head down, twisting her necklace charms franticly.
"Umph" was all Grace could manage to say when she ran into a familiar figure. She looked up to see Howie's face, his eyes were warm.
"It wasn't your fault, you had nothing else to believe. You were confused just like me," Howie sighed, "I'm sorry for being a jerk, I should have thought before I acted. Maybe I wouldn't have regretted it." He regrets it! He's sorry! "Will you take me back? I understand if you don't. I just have to try. I'm so sorry." Grace held her breath.
"Yes," was all she could manage to say.
"Really?" Howie was stunned.
"Yes really, we both screwed up. We're even," Grace smiled.
"Yeah we're even," Howie examined her face and saw her hand fiddling with her necklace. This he was used to, but he noticed there were two charms instead of one. "Your wearing your charm!" Howie smiled.
"Of course charlie horse, I love it! Its the exact same one I looked at when we went to New York on the field trip!" Grace smiled.
"I know, I thought you might like it."
"Like it? I don't like it I love it!"
"Of course you do, its Tiffany," Howie teased.
"Yeah that, but it kinda helps that you gave it to me," Grace looked at him and smiled.
"You'll always be a Tiffany... excuse me, MY Tiffany girl," Howie smiled. Grace grinned and Howie kissed her forehead. Perfect.