Chapter 36: Studying
"What is this?" Keeley asked flatly the following day at lunch when Aaron dropped a small gift bag in front of her on the table as she was trying to study for her Spanish test.
He settled down in the chair next to her and casually began consuming his meal.
She hesitantly opened the bag to see what was inside and was not expecting to see a large plastic baggie filled with red, green, and purple Skittles. Either he found a place that sold individual colors in bulk or he actually sifted through about fifty packs of Skittles and picked out the citrus flavors by hand. It had to be the first one; she couldn't imagine him doing something so mundane and time consuming for somebody else.
Though it was a gift, it was also a way of rubbing his victory the day before in her face so she scowled at him. "You're the worst."
"You're welcome," he said as if she had just complimented him.
She couldn't believe his ego. It was better to just ignore him. When she did that, he often surprised her by letting her stay quiet and do her own thing.
Sometimes she wondered if he forced her into this simply because he wanted to be next to her before dismissing the thought as foolish. That was ridiculous, sentimental thinking. He wouldn't do something like that.
Keeley was convinced that he had some twisted motive for approaching her all the time. He had to be messing with her; Aaron had absolutely no reason to truly like her. Who would like someone who so obviously resented them?
Even if he did, he would get over it soon enough. He had before. His sincerity was flimsy at best.
She pushed those useless thoughts out of her head and tried to focus on her study guide. She could read Spanish just fine but struggled with verb conjugation when writing or speaking—if you don't use language skills, you lose them, and Keeley hadn't practiced Spanish since high school in her first life before being reborn and having to take the class over.
Part of her test would be short essay questions and it would be a miracle if she could write down a single coherent paragraph. Well, as they say, C's get degrees.
It wouldn't be the end of the world if she didn't do well on that section. Her acceptance to college was still valid as long as she got C or higher in all of her classes and right now she was averaging a B+ in Spanish.
The school year was dragging by so slowly it might kill her. Graduation was June 2nd and it was only the middle of April. It was amazing that she survived this long already with all the crazy people (namely Aaron) around her.
Her grades hadn't even slipped with all of the stress she was under. Studying helped distract her from the soap opera that refused to stop even after living twice.
Speaking of soap operas…a hand slapped down on the table with a bang, startling Keeley so much that her Spanish textbook fell onto the floor.
Aaron remained unperturbed. "What do you want, Lacy?"
She pouted prettily and cozied up next to him. "Our table feels so empty without you so I decided to eat with you."
"Go away. I'm busy."
"With what?" Lacy demanded, clinging onto his arm. "You're just sitting here! She isn't even paying attention to you!"
"Please leave me out of this, I need to study," Keeley said dully as she retrieved her fallen book.
"You can study with him here but not me?"
She felt a headache brewing. Even without the knowledge that this woman had her killed factored in, the girl had a talent for dancing on Keeley's last nerve. Lacy was already out to get her so she had no reason not to speak her mind. She didn't care one whit if her words were offensive.
"He was being quiet; you're not."
Aaron freed his arm and gathered his things, walking resolutely to the chair on Keeley's other side to make his point. "You heard her. Leave."
Lacy turned on the waterworks in an attempt to gain his sympathy. "Aaron, I only wanted to spend some time with you. I miss you."
Too bad he didn't care for weepy females. The chocolate incident was an anomaly. The usual level of iciness he exuded tripled at the sight of her tears.
"I don't like to repeat myself."
"I'll tell your father that you're being mean to me!" she insisted in a quavering voice.
The entire student lounge felt the temperature drop twenty degrees. People sitting three tables away shivered in fear. Lacy realized immediately that she made a terrible mistake but it was too late to take the words back. Even Keeley was afraid she might witness a murder and she had spent over a decade dealing with his mood swings!
"If you say a single word to that man about me, I will not hesitate to destroy you."
His words and the way he stood with his hands flat on the table were threatening enough but his tone...it was indescribable. Lacy visibly shrunk before their eyes.
Keeley would have thoroughly enjoyed the sight if she wasn't concerned about getting caught in the crossfire.
Lacy put on a brave attempt at a smile as she tried to play it off. "Ha…I was only kidding. I would never do such a thing. We should get together later. Bye!"
She scampered away with the shattered remains of her dignity. Everyone in the student lounge had seen him threaten her.
Over the past few weeks, people who sat in the student lounge had gotten used to the sight of Aaron so they were less nervous than before and able to go about their lunch periods as usual when they realized he only paid attention to Keeley.
A single outburst brought back the air of apprehension that permeated the room during that first week. Aaron either didn't notice or didn't care. Once Lacy left, he settled back in his chair as if nothing untoward had happened.
Keeley scrutinized him. He treated the woman he would eventually leave her for so callously. She guessed he was incapable of maintaining kindness to anyone, not just her.
The thought was oddly comforting. For the longest time she believed it was entirely her fault, like her shortcomings had caused him to behave that way.
It was all water under the bridge now. It wouldn't matter how he treated anybody in six weeks. He could do whatever he liked to whoever he liked once she was out of the picture.
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