Earlier that morning …
Jared had gotten a call from Mike last night in which he explained in detail why he needed someone to cover his shift at the job the next day and Jared, cutting him off halfway through the ridiculously long explanation, had told him it was no problem. Mike always seemed to over explain himself, especially with Jared out of all the staff Jared had seen him around.
However, it also seemed that he looked up to him. Everything Jared said was law to Mike. Even in asking Mike his opinion on something, he always mirrored Jared’s question back at him, then made his answer similar to Jared’s.
Knowing he would have to open up DD’s in the morning, he got up two hours earlier than normal, dressed in some sweats, and running shoes.
Before going downstairs, he peeked into his Mum’s room. She was still asleep and he breathed a sigh of relief. She and dad had had an argument last night. He had been upstairs but the yelling had grown so loud, that he thought he might have to step in so she didn’t get hurt.
His father had hit her before but Jared was older now and he vowed that his father would not get away with hitting her again. But luckily his father had seemed to have exercised some restraint, and made his grand exit with a slam of the front door.
Now, Jared closed his mother’s door gently and trotted down the stairs to the kitchen. Jake, the dog, greeted him with an ecstatic bark when Jared walked through the dining room. Jared bent down and scratched the dog behind the ears.
“Hey boy,” Jared said softly. “We’re gonna take our run earlier today. That good with you?” The Siberian husky barked softly in response, noticing Jared’s soft tone of voice. Jake had been with him, since his mom brought him home from a yard sale about five years ago, along with another British flag to accompany the other million she had, which she had placed somewhere in the house.
She claimed that they shouldn’t forget where they came from. Anyway, he swore the crazy animal could understand everything that he said to him. The dog often made a whole lot of noise but when Jared sat down with him and spoke about something that may have been bothering him, all Jared heard was steady breathing as his dog listened attentively.
Occasionally, Jake would give a grunt as if to show either his agreement or disapproval. Jared’s phone went off and he grabbed for it and pulled it out of his pants pocket. Scanning the Caller ID, he picked up.
“Hey Drew, what’s up?”
“Hey English Invasion, you comin’ over tonight?” Drew asked.
“Coming over for what?” Jared asked, sighing at the nickname that he had so graciously been deigned with.
“The party, man!” Drew exploded. “I told you earlier this week about the party. We’re having the Ultimate Beer Pong Tournament tonight. You’re the reigning champ so you’ve got to be there.” Jared glanced at his watch. Bollocks, he was going to be way off schedule if this conversation went on much longer.
“Look mate, I’ll think about it. I gotta go. Some people actually have lives that don’t revolve around when they’re gonna throw their next party.” Jared said, finger hovering over the end call button.
“Hey wait a minute –.” Jared hung up and rose from his still crouched position beside Jake. The dog was giving him a look that could resemble pity.
“I know boy, I need to choose my friends more wisely.” Jared said smiling. He then jogged into the kitchen and grabbed a banana from the bowl in the middle of the table. Jared made his way out the front door and sent a short whistle behind him.
Five minutes later the dog and he were pulling into a parking space on a side street, near the park they’d be running in. Jared hopped out of the car and left the door open for Jake’s exit. After a moment’s thought Jared decided against the leash. Jake didn’t like it and Jared preferred the dog to be able to run around unrestricted.
The entrance was a large hedge that read: St. Thomas’s, in big white letters over the arch. Passing under it he and Jake jogged over to the trail that was on the other end of the park. There weren’t many people around. Jared nodded and stopped a few times to say hello when he saw a few of the people that normally frequented the place.
The few girls there his age that stood around in pairs or singularly smiled wolfishly at him. He didn’t take much notice in any of them but waved politely when they did, or gave a non committal “good morning”, that he hoped didn’t encourage them to approach and result in him becoming even more off schedule.
At this rate, he would only have an hour to run before he would have to get back so he’d have time to shower and change into his stupid work uniform. But speaking of girls, while he was in the process of plugging into his music, his attention was stolen by the girlish clearing of a throat.
He looked up from his phone into the crazy sparkly, hazel eyes of Mallory Greene. He was startled into taking a quick step back at her sudden close proximity. He had sworn that he was the only one on the trail and here she was as if she had been there all along.
“Hey Jared,” she drew his name out seductively, a trick that had no doubt caused many a poor lad like himself to fall to their knees in worship, “I was hoping I’d find you here.” Jared had no doubt that she had. She had also most likely been so tireless in her efforts to make that hope a reality, that she’d probably hunted down all of his friends to find out what his summer hang outs were. Which when he thought of it, it was as impressive as it was scary.
With it being summer break, unless she had his friends’ numbers, she would have had to track them down wherever they were. But then again, they both sort of ran in the same circles which was why she was interested. He was tight with some girls that she could be in with as well. Whatever her methods, in the end she had found him. But she might not get what she came to him for, he thought.
“You know,” she said, drawing out her words again, “You look so hot in that work out stuff.” He looked down at himself. Really? He was wearing a Mario Bros T under, a no name brand hoodie that he had probably found in the clearance section at Wal-Mart, and some raggedy sweats. Sure he thought his sneaks were cool … but girls, especially girls like her, were weird so he couldn't really judge her on what she thought was "hot"?
“Thanks.” He said, shifting on his feet. If she kept yappin’ it up he wasn’t even gonna have time … She caught the fidget and he guessed that she decided it was about time to move the conversation along and get to the point. He couldn’t agree more.
“So are you going to that party at Drew’s tonight?” She asked and he swore he saw her actually bat her eyelashes at him. He thought people only did that stuff in movies.
“Not sure, what, are you?” He kicked at a pebble and simultaneously slid his phone into his pocket after checking the time. Oh for the love of … he might as well just turn back around.
He spotted Jake sitting on the grassy area on the side of the trail. He was watching the proceedings with what seemed like amusement. Crazy dog… He ran a hand through his hair and noticed two things. Mallory tracked the motion. She followed his arm with her eyes until it rested back at his side, with barely concealed lust. If it could be considered concealed at all. He didn’t know how he should feel about that, so he chose to ignore it. But the second thing he noticed was that she had said something.
“Sorry … could you repeat what you said just now?” He asked, feeling the energy slowly draining out of him. He already knew what she was going to ask. Mallory just smiled and tossed her hair over her shoulder and repeated what he guessed was what she had said before.
“I was just saying how much I think that it would be totally awesome if we went to Andrew’s party together. We’d make a splash and you know it.” At Jared’s lack of response she simply smiled again and he wondered if anything could discourage the girl. Andrew had never liked her. His first year in America he had told Jared that her hotness couldn’t make up for her craziness.
Though, she was Mallory Greene, the queen of them all. All of the girls at their school anyway, and maybe in the near future the queen of some small island off the coast of somewhere, with her wicked powers of manipulation that he knew well she was trying to use on him at that moment, she could do just about anything…
“Jared?” Mallory, tilted her head to side while leaning forward to get a closer look at his face. But she also shifted forward a bit too much, making their proximity to each other once again, uncomfortable. But then again he had never been able to claim that he was necessarily “comfortable” in Mallory’s presence.
She had always eyed him like a lion spotting a zebra, or something, after not having eaten in a week. That doesn’t usually insight comfort in a person. He then realized he had zoned out … again.
“Sorry again,” he shook his head lightly, “but I don’t think I’m going tonight. But if I do, I’ll see you there and talk to you then. It’s been nice, but if I stay any longer I’m going to be late for work.” He tried to scoot around her but she stepped into his path, blocking his way. He groaned inwardly. There was only so much a guy could take.
“Modeling for Expression again are you?” She asked, twirling her strawberry blonde hair around a finger. “I loved the last issue you were featured in. With those tiny, tiny shorts …”
“Alright that’s enough.” He said with a huff, his temper finally snapped. “Good day, Mallory.” With that, he turned on the worn heel of his shoe, and with a short whistle Jake was by his side. He could feel Mallory's possessive stare burning holes into his Mario and Luigi clad back as he stalked away.