What if? The alternate version of Never Alone

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 23 (v.1) - Chapter 23

Submitted: March 17, 2011

Reads: 61

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Submitted: March 17, 2011

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I was back to being a nervous wreck in the morning. I had to keep reminding myself that the ride home yesterday hadn't been that bad in comparison with what it could have been. And it's not like we would have a whole lot of time, this morning. We had to get to school. There wouldn't be time for Josh to do too much.

At least that's what I was telling myself.

Per my promise to Anna, I went to the kitchen for some breakfast. I was glad Mamma didn't make a big effort today. Just cereal and fruit. I didn't think I could stand anything heavier.

Louis didn't seem all that hungry this morning, either. And he would barely even look at me.

I quietly ate my food and hoped Mamma and Daddy wouldn't notice his strange behavior. He usually ate like a horse.

When the time came, Louis and I made our way outside, to go to school. Thankfully, our parents had been absorbed in their morning reading and didn't notice anything out of the ordinary.

I got into Josh's car, clicked my seat belt, and anxiously waited for him to start driving.

I glanced over at him, after a few seconds of us not moving.

"Good morning, Beautiful." He grinned.

"Hi." I said without enthusiasm. Why wasn't he driving yet?

"Where is it?" He raised his eyebrow.

Confused, I asked, "Where's what?"

"The jacket."

"The-?" I looked down and realized what he meant. Ben's jacket. I purposely chose to wear my own this morning, figuring Josh would have a problem if I wore Ben's.

"Why?" I looked back at him, getting nervous.

"Because you need to bring it to school today." He said.

"Why?" I asked again. Surely, he didn't want me wearing it.

"Because you can't give it back to him, if you don't have it with you."

"But, I'm not wearing it!" I said, feeling panicky. I couldn't give it back. That jacket was all I had of Ben's that I could really hold on to.

"I noticed that." Josh smirked.

"But..." I tried. "I'm not going to. It'll just stay in my room."

"Lizzie, who is your boyfriend?" Josh asked, losing patience with me.

I resisted the urge to wrinkle my nose again. "You are." I said miserably.

"Yes," He agreed. "And my girlfriend isn't going to keep other guy's jackets."

"Can't I do it later?" I tried. "We're gonna be late." Maybe if I didn't do it now, he'd forget.

"Later when?" He narrowed his eyes, obviously not pleased that I planned on seeing Ben later.

I didn't answer. It's not like I had definite plans or anything, yet. But I still had till tomorrow.

"Besides," He grinned again. "I wouldn't want to miss seeing his face."

Of course. If there was a way Josh could rub Ben's nose in this whole thing, he was going to take it.

I looked down and didn't make a move to get out.

"We're not going anywhere until you go get it." Josh finally said.

I looked at him again and felt my hatred for him swell.

He raised his eyebrows as if to say 'well?', but otherwise didn't move.

Knowing I didn't have any choice but to do what he said, I unhappily took off my seat belt and got out of the car.

I wanted to cry as I picked up Ben's jacket from where it was lying on my bed. Why didn't he just ask me to rip off my right arm?

I knew it was sort of stupid, for it to be so hard. It was only a jacket, after all. But it felt symbolic. Like I was symbolically giving up Ben before I had to do it for real. Like he was making me do it twice.

I hugged the jacket for a minute and inhaled the slight remnant of Ben's scent.

When I got back in the car, I glared straight ahead and tried not to cry. I wasn't sure if I wanted to cry more because I was heartbroken, thinking of what I had to do, or because I was angry at Josh for making me do it.

I felt him watching me, but I refused to look at him. And I refused to let him see me cry at the moment. I could at least try to maintain a little of my dignity.

I heard him chuckle softly as he pulled the car away from the curb.

Once the car was parked at school, I tried to open my door to get out. Just like yesterday, it didn't budge. I looked at Josh, more annoyed than anything else, at the moment.

He smiled back at me. "I didn't get to say hello properly." He said, putting his hand under my chin and leaning in.

I didn't want him touching me more than usual at the moment and without thinking, I jerked away.

A few seconds later, he roughly grabbed me again and pulled my face to his.

I winced from his painful grip, but knew better than to try to pull away again. I would probably just make him angry. He was going to do what he wanted anyway.

Josh's hand moved from my chin to my shoulder, after a while, and he abandoned my mouth. When he did, I was able to see all the people that were still outside. I hadn't noticed them before, but some of them were definitely looking at us.

"Josh." I said, placing my hands on his shoulders, but not quite pushing yet.

"What?" He mumbled against my neck.

"People are looking at us." I said, uncomfortably.

"So?" He said, hardly moving.

"Please?" I said, pushing against him. This was bad enough without people being able to see me. And I was worried about Ben walking by.

He ignored me and moved lower down my neck.

"And we're gonna be late." I tried.

He sighed and finally pulled away. "Miss Punctuality, aren't you?"

"I told you, I'm really behind on stuff." I said defensively.

"Yeah, and missing the first few minutes of English is really gonna kill your grade, right?"

He rolled his eyes when I didn't answer. "Fine." He sighed. "I guess we can pick up with this later."

Yeah, I just couldn't wait for that, I thought sarcastically as he released me.

Once outside, Josh came around the car, threw his arm around me, possessively and pulled me into school.

Personal space was apparently not something I was going to be allowed while I was with him. Good thing I wasn't claustrophobic...

The halls were fairly deserted by the time we reached the lockers, which meant that it was probably getting close to the bell.

"No," Josh said, as I was putting Ben's jacket in my locker along with mine. "Bring it."

I glared into my locker for a few seconds before I unwillingly pulled the jacket back out and slammed the door shut, harder than I needed to.

Josh grabbed my free hand, looking satisfied with himself and we walked to English class.

The bell rang right before we got to the classroom door.

Well that was just lovely, now we got to make a big entrance and everyone would undoubtedly be watching us.

Josh didn't hesitate to pull me through the door. I stared at the floor and gripped Ben's jacket as I was led across the room to my seat.

Not trusting myself to look anywhere else, I stared at my desk for most of the hour. I took notes, but my mind wasn't really focused on them. I needed to see Ben, like I needed air. But at the same time, I felt too ashamed to look at him.

Not that I was allowed to anyway.

When the bell rang, I didn't move right away. I guessed that this was probably the time, Josh had in mind for me to give Ben his jacket.

"I think you have something to take care of." Josh said, leaning over to me and looking pointedly at the jacket on my lap.

I glared at him as I slammed my notebook shut and shoved it in my bag.

I got up and made my way over to where Ben and Anna were watching me, curiously.

As I approached them, I saw a tiny bit of hope in Ben's eyes and I wanted to kick myself. He probably thought I was coming to him the way he said I could, last night.

A second later, it was gone. I guess he must have figured out, by the way I didn't look too happy, that wasn't the reason I was coming over.

I looked down, unable to look at his face while I did this.

"I can't..." I said. "He won't let me keep this." I indicated the jacket in my hands.

I glanced up at him when he didn't respond. He looked unhappy but not surprised.

"I'm sorry." I said softly, handing it to him. I was glad the room was still fairly noisy, so at least Josh couldn't hear me.

He shook his head. "You can have it back any time. All you have to do is ask."

I gave him a sad smile.

"Lizzie." Josh called from behind me. It sounded like he was calling his dog. I was almost waiting for him to add a 'here girl'.

I scowled at the floor and took a deep breath before looking back up at Ben to say goodbye.

He was glaring behind me and the phrase 'if looks could kill' came to mind.

I glanced at Anna. She was also staring icily at Josh.

"Bye." I said quietly when their attention came back to me.

I thought I'd have at least a little time with Anna before Algebra. But after pulling me away from her and Ben in English, Josh made me stay with him in the hall while he talked to Matt. 

Once again, I wished I could be invisible as I had to stand there under Josh's arm in the middle of the crowded hall. I stared at the floor to avoid all the curious stares and Matt's uncomfortable one. I didn't even acknowledge that I'd heard them when they started talking about me. Something that they found hilarious.

I didn't really care, though. They couldn't say anything that humiliated me more than actually having to be with Josh.

Finally, with about three minutes to spare - barely enough time to actually get to class - Josh told me to meet him right after Physics, and let me go.

I just had time to take my seat before class started and I guessed that was the way Josh intended it. I was getting an idea of how he planned on keeping me away from my friends. Too bad for him, he couldn't control my schedule too. At least, I'd be relatively free for a few hours during school.

I sat down and gave Anna a grateful smile for still saving me a seat.

She smiled back, sadly as class started.

My 50 minute respite from Josh went much too quickly and before I knew it, the bell rang to dismiss us.

I got up and walked out with Anna and Jordan. I could tell by Anna's face that there was alot she wanted to say, but she didn't. I wondered how long she could hold it in. Anna wasn't the kind of person to keep things to herself for very long.

It was a tense and quiet walk to Physics.

"So, I guess I'll see you for Gym then." Anna said as we approached our classrooms.

"Yeah." I nodded.

Anna got that look again, but still didn't say anything.

"Ok." She said, instead, before we awkwardly separated and went to our respective classes.

It was depressing to think about how that was the longest conversation we'd had today. I felt like I already lost her.

I kept my eyes on the floor as I took my seat and was glad that I would be able to keep away from Josh in this class too. It's not like Mr. Lane was going to change my seat again.

Now that I was making a real effort to pay attention, I realized how confusing physics was getting again. I knew I was going to have problems trying to figure everything out and I highly doubted that Josh was going to let me go to Morgan for help.

At the end of class, I put my stuff away, but stayed where I was.

Morgan stopped in front of my desk. "You're not coming?" She asked when I didn't get up to join her the way I always did.

I shook my head.

"No, she's coming with me." Josh appeared behind her.

We both glared at him.

Morgan looked back at me, outrage clear on her face.

"I'll see you later." I said gloomily.

She shook her head and gave me that look of disappointment and resignation that I'd been seeing alot lately.

Throwing another dirty look at Josh, she left us alone.

"Hey, Beautiful," He grinned and came the rest of the way over to me. "Miss me?"

I scowled at him and got up.

Laughing, he grabbed my hand and pulled me to the cafeteria.

My face got hot as I walked through the lunch room with him. It felt like everyone was watching us. Again.

After meeting a few very curious stares, I decided to keep my eyes on the floor as I was lead to the food counter.

Josh got behind me in line and after a few minutes of staring at my tray, I couldn't take it anymore. I had to look for Ben.

I scanned the room and ignored everyone else as I zeroed in on my friend's table.

Ben was watching me with a serious expression and I did my best to smile, to let him know I was ok.

I received a not-too-gentle nudge from Josh. When I looked at him, he was giving me that warning look again.

Oh, right. I wasn't allowed to look where I wanted anymore. I scowled at the counter and pushed my tray along as I moved up in line.

When I reached the food, I grabbed the first thing that looked mildly appetizing and snuck another look at Ben.

I distractedly followed the person in front of me when they moved up and grabbed a soda.

When I looked down at my tray, I did a double take. I didn't get a salad. I purposely skipped over it because it didn't look very appealing. I could have sworn I put cheeseburger there.

Realizing what must have happened, I looked at Josh, incredulous. Was he kidding? Now I wasn't allowed to decide what I ate?

He was grinning and handing me a glass of water in place of the soda I was still holding.

"Can't have you getting fat." He said as explanation.

Fat? Was he crazy? I hardly ever weighed myself, but I doubted I was much more than 100 pounds. I continued to watch him, disbelieving.

"People are waiting, Lizzie." He said with a look that challenged me to defy him. "Take the water."

I bit the inside of my cheek really hard and gave him a look of pure hatred.

He just grinned at me.

I put the soda back with a huff, grabbed the cup from his hand, and set it down on my tray with more force than was necessary, causing it to slosh over the sides and onto the tray.

I moved up in line and grabbed an orange, deciding it was probably going to be my lunch since I didn't see myself eating much of the salad.

"Is it alright with you if I have an orange?" I asked sarcastically. "Or is that not allowed either?"

Josh smirked. "I guess that's ok."

I slammed it down next to the salad and moved up to hand over my lunch card.

After I moved off to the side, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. What was next? Was he going to dictate when I could go to the bathroom?

I opened my eyes and found myself looking at Ben again. He looked about as happy as I felt at the moment. I couldn't even attempt another smile for him.

"Come on." Josh said, pulling my attention away from Ben. I looked at his tray and noticed that he took pizza and a Coke. Apparently, it didn't matter if he got fat, just me. I glared at him again as he began leading me over to the table full of his friends.

They all stopped talking and watched us as we walked up. Or, more accurately, they watched me. I felt like it was show and tell and I was the new toy, Josh couldn't wait to show the class.

He took a seat and made sure that I got the spot that would leave me facing away from Ben, and next to Matt.

I sighed, sat down, and did my best to stay as small as possible as I began picking out the chicken in the salad.

"So, Lizzie," Eric said, getting my attention. "How much did Josh have to pay you to go out with him?"

I looked down and felt my face heat up as they all laughed.

Josh said something else that made them all laugh again, but I didn't really hear him. I was focusing on Eric's comment.

He almost sounded friendly when he said it, but I knew better than to think any of them were capable of being friendly towards me. And besides, there  was nothing friendly about calling me a prostitute.

But wasn't that was I was allowing myself to become? Only it would be worse than that because I wouldn't be able to leave him afterward. I'd be stuck.

But what choice did I have?

I jumped when Matt leaned over, interrupting my depressing thoughts.

"I'm disappointed, you didn't pick me, Lizzie." He said quietly.

I glanced at Josh. He was busy talking to Nate and wasn't paying any attention to us.

I tried to lean away from Matt, but I didn't really have anywhere to go. I didn't want to lean into Josh either.

"Maybe we can still work something out..." He fingered the hair that was lying over my shoulder.

I shifted uncomfortably and jumped again when Josh reached across me to smack Matt's hand away.

"She's not public property." He said angrily, glaring at Matt until he leaned away, rolling his eyes, and went back to his lunch.

So, at least, it looked like I wouldn't have to worry about Matt or the others around Josh. It wasn't exactly comforting, though, to hear Josh basically say that I was his property.

I ate the orange but left the salad untouched, apart from the chicken that I picked off. I probably should have eaten it, I was sort of hungry. But I really didn't want it after Josh hypocritically forced me to take it. And not eating it felt like a small rebellion on my part.

My 'lunch' didn't take very long to eat, so I had to sit with nothing to do but listen to their irritating and quite often vulgar conversation. I watched the clock until I could escape to Gym.

I perked up when I saw Anna and Morgan at the door, going to class. Anna met my eye and waited to see if I would join them.

I started getting myself together to leave.

"Going somewhere?" Josh asked as I was about to stand up.

"I have Gym." I said.

"Not for like 25 minutes."

"But I have to get ready." I tried.

"It takes you 25 minutes to get ready?" He asked skeptically.

"I-"

"I think you have a little more time to stay here." He said putting his arm around my shoulders and pulling me over to his side, effectively preventing my escape. "Besides, I'm not ready to let you go yet."

I grit my teeth and scowled at the table for a second before I looked back at Anna and Morgan and shook my head.

They both frowned before they turned to leave.

Josh didn't let me go until about eight minutes to class. I had to practically run to the locker room.

I changed quickly and was barley able to reach Anna and Morgan before Coach Greene started class.

I got more of those reproachful looks from them, but they didn't get a chance to say anything.

I'm not sure if they would have at this point anyway.

Not too long after we divided into our groups, I noticed Matt watching me with an almost warning look.

I got the message, loud and clear. After today, I wouldn't be allowed to associate with Anna and Morgan in Gym because he'd be watching me.

I guessed, Josh's unwillingness to let me leave lunch when I wanted to, was more or less planned and would be an every day thing.

Rolling my eyes, I turned my attention back to the volleyball game and did my best to ignore Matt for the rest of the hour.


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