Chapter 1

In the school hallway, I tried to avoid his eyes whenever I could. It was easy enough in theory, considering the number of students in our hallway were more clogged then the arteries of a person with cholesterol. I could easily dip in behind one of the beefy basketball jocks and thus, my existence would instantaneously vanish from his sight. The plan was perfect, flawless, and guaranteed to work at any given moment. But did I really want that? I don't know. Our eyes locking in the school hallway was the only sort of interaction I had left with him, and I couldn't afford to lose that tiny shrivel of our past relationship either. I glanced up ahead.

Crap.

Right at that moment, he emerged from the science room side by side two other girls. Laughing. Grinning. Flirting. My heartbeat went haywire, thumping erratically to an unregulated rhythm . Why, of all moments, did this have to happen now? All the thoughts in my mind were shoved down a blender, everything spitting out in half-processed fragments. I would've froze in my tracks had the bustle of the hallway not kept me walking forth. I gulped. He was confidently striding down the hallway and I was stumbling up, and sooner or later, our paths would intersect and the awkward eye contact scenario would ignite. He would look up with his hazel-green eyes (depending on the weather) and stare me down blankly, while I would flicker my eyes around and pretend to all-of-a-sudden be interested in the binder I was holding. All of this would last under a second, but to me of course, it would drag for what would seem forever. I couldn't let that happen. I couldn't let him know that I was in any way jealous or invidious, because that would declare him the winner and me the loser.

Thank God for Jim Barron's 6'7 stature.

I really did try forgetting about her and becoming interested in other girls, I really did. I was getting on pretty nicely with this one named Brianna in my science class, yet just when the bonds were getting strong, simply seeing her would be the wind that would knock down my house of cards.

And there she was again.

Her timing was so, so inconvenient. Nicole and Brianna had been telling me about something having to do with their ski trip, and I had pretended to be interested, teasing or throwing in a joke every once in a while. They would laugh, I would flirt; you know how the formula goes. I was on the verge of finally moving on, once and for all. Yet as I absentmindedly scanned the hallway, she appeared there in the crowd for a split second and disappeared just as quickly as she came. That was all it took for my attention span to snap onto her. I could've been imagining this for all I knew, but I always searched with a tiny smidge of hope anyway.

We had sort of been avoiding each other for a while now….well okay, more like a year….and besides the brief hallway encounters, we didn't really speak or see each other at all. I had always thought about maybe saying hi to her or something, possibly restart the engine to what we used to have. Her existence would sit in the back of my mind, even though she rarely ever thought of me. Maybe now would be the day. Maybe I could restart the engine to what we used to have. It couldn't be too late, right?

As I walked down the hallway, I noticed that one of those no-brain bimbo jocks seemed to be standing in the way. I picked up my pace. Nicole and Brianna continued babbling on, but I tuned them out and instead shoved through the small clusters of people walking side by side. This was like one of the hardcore hide and seek games her and I used to play nonstop when we were younger. I grinned at that thought, that memory. As stupid and sudden this all sounded, today needed to be the day we starting talking to each other again.

Okay, the door to the math class is only two steps away. I was almost safe.

I think I can spot her red combat boots.

Ugh, Jim Barrons just stormed across the hallway. Curse you short people for not barricading me from him seeing me.

She's right in front of the math room! I was right!

MOVE! God, can't you annoying couples go make out somewhere else, somewhere other than the front of the math room door?

She's standing right outside the math room. All I have to do is walk by and say hi. That's all I need to do. But how will she react?

For the last time, do you guys not notice me standing here? Some people are trying to get an education here! Move!

Slowly walk by. Nonchalantly. Don't make it obvious that you intentionally want to say hi. Keep it casual.

Finally. After five hours you guys have officially stopped shoving each other's tongues down your throats.

Okay, now's the time. Quickly say it, and it will all be over. Just do it.

I'm stepping through the door. That's it. Done. Fin. It's all over. He probably hasn't even noticed me at all.

"Hi Aria."