Chapter 9: Ugly
Something about Clay got under my skin, and I wasn’t sure why. He did things that were probably stupid — like spending time with me — because he knew how much it bothered Liam.
Then again, no one called the shots with me, or claimed me, like Liam seemed to be doing. I don’t know what I could say to make him back off, because whatever I tried, nothing worked. So I think that was why Clay wanted to help, because a bully never listened to anyone but his own kind, I noticed.
I had just left the cafeteria when I heard some voices rising. One was a girl and she was pissed. The other was a guy and he sounded exasperated.
He sounded an awful lot like Clay, actually.
I turned around just as a blur rushed by. The girl slammed into my right shoulder, so much as that I stumbled slightly. Before I could say something to her, she was gone. So when I stepped back into cafeteria, I wasn’t sure what to make of the scene in front of me.
Several students looked one way; some leaned to the person next to them to mutter something. But I knew who they looked at, because he looked straight at me. When Clay stood up, people went back to busing themselves.
“Hey,” he said as he came up to me. “I guess you heard all that?”
I nodded. “Whoever you were fighting with, she ran into me out in the hall. So, who is she?”
Clay looked uncomfortable before he said, “My ex girlfriend, Lena Haywood.”
“She seemed nice.” I shrugged. I only really saw her hair, because she kept her head bent. I guess she’d been crying or something. “How long were you together?”
“A year,” Clay told me as he walked through the doors to the parking lot. “But since we go to school together, it feels like more. She’s constantly following me around, making sure I don’t have any other interests. I guess she thinks there’s hope for us.”
I watched as he dropped onto the grass. He folded his legs and looked at me. I sat next to him, in the exact same position I had when we first met. This time, however, he was not telling me the story of the cat’s eye necklace, but another one entirely.
“It’s not really much of a story. Boy meets girls. Girl asks boy out. Boy tells girl he loves her. Girl ends things, but still wants to be with boy.”
“Is this going to turn into a stalker issue? Because I have to be honest, I’m a little uncomfortable with that.” I laughed.
Clay smiled and shook his head. “I’d never tell a story where I come off looking bad.”
“I think you just did,” I pointed out.
“Shut it,” he mumbled. “It wasn’t my fault. I felt something and I said it. Wouldn’t you have done the same?”
I frowned. “I haven’t really—”
Clay’s blue eyes widened. “Seriously?”
I shook my head. “No, I’m lying. I’ve had tons of boyfriends and they all were the one for me and I just left them behind when I moved.”
He put his hands up. “Sorry I asked. I’m just surprised, that’s all.”
I sighed. “I just don’t want some jock guy like Liam, and he doesn’t really get it.”
“That’s because he’s stupid,” Clay said. “He’s always been an idiot, ever since I’d known him. He thinks being a bully makes people like him.” Slowly, Clay took hold of the right side of his shirt. “I want to show you something,” he said softly.
Along his hip to underneath his ribcage was an ugly scar. He told me it was the first thing Liam ever gave him, but it wasn't the last.