Title: Alive [Chapter Five]
Summary: Sage Alvi’s whole world turned upside-down when she lost her mother to cancer. Now forced to live with a father she never knew, she’s trying to navigate her way through a new home, city and school. To make things worse, her half-siblings hate her and she’s being bullied by the cool crowd.
They say high school is hard, but this is just ridiculous.
Sage was gathering her things together when David suddenly popped up from behind. Leaning beside her locker, he flashed an eager smile.
“Changed your mind about the dance yet?”
She shook her head ‘no’.
“Come on. It’ll be fun,” he urged.
“It’s not my thing.”
“If you’re worried about finding a date-”
“I’m not,” she interjected.
David scowled at her. “What’s wrong with you? You’ve been so moody lately.”
She shrugged her shoulders, hoping silence would put an end to David’s questioning.
“Want to smoke up? It’ll make you feel better.”
“I don’t think so.” She gave him a forced smile. “See you later.” Slamming the locker shut, she walked away. David was right about her mood, but she didn’t want to feel better. Yesterday would have been Layal’s 40th birthday and instead of crying or mourning the loss of her wonderful mother, Sage simply sat in her room and did her homework. The numbness that had gripped her insides still refused to let go. Where were the tears, the sadness? What kind of a person was Sage that she couldn’t even grieve her mother’s death? That she’d managed to move on so quickly? How could she betray her mom like that?
Lost in her thoughts, she turned the corner only to crash into Aidan. Her books dropped to the floor and she knelt down to retrieve them. “Sorry,” she mumbled absentmindedly.
“Wow, an apology.” He joined her on the floor and started helping. “Didn’t expect that from you.”
He flashed a cheeky smile.“You’re not the kind of girl who says sorry. More like ’drop dead, asshole!’”
She went to grab the book he was holding except he raised it out of her reach, taunting her. Frustrated, she glared at him. “Don’t be a jerk.” Realising she wasn’t in the mood to play, he handed the book back promptly. Concern gleamed in his eyes as his gaze roved over her face, but she ignored him and stood up. Without saying anything, she headed down the hallway.
An hour later Sage was sitting in a quiet corner of the library, staring blankly at the Physics textbook in front of her. Try as she might, none of the material was sinking in. Finally giving up, she laid her head on the table and closed her eyes. Shortly after, she sensed someone pulling up a chair close by.
“Want to tell me what’s going on?” Aidan asked quietly, just loud enough for her to hear.
She pretended to be asleep.
“Stop faking. I know you’re awake.”
She sat up straight and turned towards him only to be taken aback by his close proximity. His long legs were stretched out and almost touching hers while his left arm was balanced on the back of her chair. Worried someone might get the wrong idea about them, she shifted back to put some distance between them – except he leaned in even closer.
There was no twinkle in his eyes, his usual smirk absent as he levelled her with a disconcerting stare. “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
“I know something’s up when you don’t tell me to go to hell.”
“Maybe I’m trying to be nicer,” she snapped.
“Now I know you’re lying.”
A proud smile shaped his lips. “That’s more like it. Now tell me what’s going on.”
Maybe she needed a different tactic to get rid of him. “I’d rather not talk here.”
“Fine. Grab your stuff.”
Sage hesitated, and he shoved the textbook into her bag before handing it back to her.
Stubborn jackass that he was, Aidan wasn’t going to let this go, so she followed behind him as they headed to the top floor of the library. The space upstairs was dimly lit. There were only a few people scattered throughout the room. Aidan led her towards the back wall until they reached the very end and turned the corner. It was empty, far away from everyone else – the perfect hiding spot. Sage wondered how many times he had sneaked up here and with whom. “This is your make-out corner, isn’t it?”
“Good. Because you’re not my type, remember?”
“So you keep saying.”
“We’re here to talk and nothing more. Try not to get too excited.”
“Honestly, there’s nothing to talk about. I’m fine. Just a little tired.”
Hand curving around her wrist, he pulled her down gently to take a seat. Sitting cross-legged in front of him, she felt vulnerable as his eyes scanned every inch of her face. His stare was penetrating, determined to break through all of her walls and discover everything she wanted to keep hidden. With the tension becoming too intense, she shifted her focus to one of the buttons on his shirt.
“Are they giving you a hard time?” he asked.
“Tish? Cat? Anyone else?”
She shook her head ‘no’.
“If they are,” he continued. “Tell me. I can help you.”
“Why?” It was her turn to interrogate him. “Why would you want to? Why do you care?”
He appeared stumped by her question. As if stalling for time, he ran his fingers through his hair. Was he worried she would spill his secret if he didn’t help her? She had hoped they had gotten past that but apparently not. “Look, Aidan. I promised I wasn’t going to say anything about you and I meant it.”
“Is that why you think we’re here?”
“Then why? Do you feel like you owe me or something? You don’t.”
“Just shut up for a sec and let me talk,” he snapped. “I want to help you because we’re friends. That’s it, that’s the only reason.”
“Are we? Really?”
“Yes. If I thought Theo was in trouble, I would do the same.”
She scrutinised him, trying to gauge his sincerity. Eventually, she decided to take him on his word. Exhaling a resigned sigh, she gave him a small smile. “Thanks.”
“Don’t thank me yet. I haven’t done anything.”
“It’s nice to know I have someone in my corner.”
“I am. Now spill it. What’s going on?”
Feeling embarrassed, she shrugged her shoulders. What would she say to him? It would be one thing if she had actually been depressed, at least that would be normal behaviour for someone who had recently lost a loved one, but how could she explain her lack of emotions? Worse yet, what if he judged her for it? “It’s nothing.”
She took his hand to reassure him, only to immediately recognize the intimate gesture was a mistake. Touching him, experiencing the heat of his skin against her own, made her feel unsettled, even strangely excited. With his arresting gaze taking in her every move, her senses were on overdrive. She quickly withdrew her hand and steered the conversation back to what they were discussing. “If you want to help, Aidan, don’t push me. When I’m ready to share, I will.”
The way his jaw clenched made it clear he wasn’t happy with her answer, but at least he didn’t argue. “If things get bad-”
“I’ll get help.”
Resignation set in his face, he seemed to realise she wouldn’t concede any further. “Going to the dance?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Why? Can’t get a date?” He smirked. “Maybe you’re too picky. What are you looking for in a guy?”
“Someone nice and sweet. So nothing like you.”
“Sounds boring as fuck.”
“Whatever. You wish you could be as exciting as my future boyfriend.”
“Too bad I don’t compete with imaginary guys.”
She smiled at him. Assuming their conversation had ended, she moved to stand up when Aidan caught her elbow. The gold flecks in his hazel eyes were mesmerising, and she found herself transfixed by their striking beauty.
“You’ll call if you need help?” he asked.
“I don’t have your number.”
He pulled out his phone to make a call. A second later, hers vibrated in her pocket.
“Just sent you a text. You should have it now.”
“How did you get my number?” she prodded.
He cocked his eyebrow. “I have my ways.”
“Stalking me now?”
“Only when I’m bored.”
Maybe it wasn’t the right time to bring it up but she couldn’t help herself. “Is everything okay at home?”
His smile stiffened. “You don’t need to worry. He’ll be in New York for a while.” Just as quickly he was his usual smirking self again, the darkness in him melted away. “Resist the urge to send me selfies.”
Sage rolled her eyes. “I’ll try.”
“But I’m open to sexting.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
His amused gaze slowly travelled down her body, lingering on her chest. A slow blush spread across her cheeks. This was the first time he had blatantly checked her out and she was at a loss for words, unsure of what to do. Before things became weirder, she swatted his hand away. “See you later.” Ignoring his cocky laughter, she rushed out.
Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced without written consent from the author.
A/N – If all goes according to plan, this will be the second novel I publish 🙂 I wrote this five years ago and I think a lot of the problems Sage faces, unfortunately, is very relevant today. Anyway, I’d love to hear your thoughts so feel free to drop me a comment.