Run, Girl (If You Can)

Chapter 40: Mind Games
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Chapter 40: Mind Games

Aaron stood frozen in the hallway after Keeley's outburst.

She didn't dare look at his face as she fled to the nurse's office and curled up on a cot to cry after taking the Tylenol.

She couldn't believe she just yelled at someone who could destroy her with the snap of his fingers. Now she'd done it. She was toast.

"You look awful," Lydia noted on their way into the last class of the day.

"I may or may not have lost my temper at Aaron at lunch today…he's going to murder me and dance on my grave."

"First, I can't see him dancing on anybody's grave, let alone yours. Second…are you nuts?! I thought you were going to keep things on the down low until you got him to lose interest?"

Since Lydia was the only person who knew she had any sort of history with Aaron, she felt the need to explain herself when she got stuck eating lunch with him for a whole month.

Her friend didn't understand why it was worse to have rumors about being his girlfriend than it was actually spending time with someone she hated but tried to be supportive anyway.

She even helped explain the situation to a very confused Jeffrey, who nearly had a heart attack when he saw Aaron's public display of affection in the student lounge the first day of the deal.

Lydia was such a good friend!

"I couldn't help it," Keeley moaned, sliding a hand down her face in exasperation. "I had a bad dream last night that mixed in with some of my memories of Aaron…anyway, I kind of cracked when I saw his stupid face."

"He's going to kill you," Jeffrey said pessimistically as he passed them to get to his seat.

"I saw the human blizzard storming down the hallway at the end of lunch and every person he passed practically peed their pants."

"Great," she said feebly.

Now might be a good time to drop out of school and move to Alaska to work on a fishing boat where no one would ever hear of her again.

No! What could he do to her that he hadn't already?

She didn't think he would go after her dad since he had defended Aaron before. She could handle anything he threw at her…right?

Except he didn't throw anything at her. Two weeks passed and he didn't so much as attempt to make eye contact. It was as if she didn't exist at all.

The situation was oddly reminiscent of the cold war that went on in their house the last few years they were married—the only difference was that here they weren't required to speak a single word to each other.

Keeley should have been relieved. This was the result she wanted!

Instead, she found herself worrying that he was planning something even worse and ignoring her was a ruse.

Mind games were a particular talent of his. She found herself sneaking glances at him every so often to check if he was staring at her but she never caught him.

Maybe he really did lose interest! Hallelujah!

===

Aaron's fury ebbed away a few hours after Keeley hurled her insults at him and ran.

She couldn't mean it—things were getting better between them.

Lacy must have done something when he wasn't around. The last time she yelled at him like this was after Lacy confronted her; even going as far as telling him to control his 'girlfriend.'

Once the red haze in his brain cleared and he was able to think rationally again, it was the only conclusion he could come to.

He needed to figure out what exactly Lacy had said but he didn't want to approach her directly. She was the human version of a migraine.

It wasn't like he could ask Keeley though so he found himself at an impasse.

In the meantime, he had an idea on how to get his relationship back on track.

Keeley wanted to be left alone? Fine. He could leave her alone.

He was confident that she would come back to him soon enough, even if it was only because she felt guilty.

The longer he went without interacting with her, the more he noticed her sneaking glances at him. His plan was working. She was thinking about him and might even miss him.

It's basic human psychology; taking away something that had been there consistently threw people off.

Keeley had clearly noticed his absence and seemed uneasy about it. All he had to do was wait for her to make the next move.

Although Aaron didn't like ignoring her, he had a lot of practice.

He did it in his last life to try and push her away after the threats against her piled up too high. The look on her face the first time he tried it still haunted him.

"Aaron, I'm home!" Keeley announced as she set down her purse.

She had been visiting with her father for the better part of the day at their old apartment.

A bit of her old enthusiasm had finally come back after nearly a year of depression following his father and Lacy's first successful attempt to ruin her.

She didn't know she was being plotted against; she thought it was just bad luck.

Unfortunately, that didn't stop her from falling into a haze of sadness that Aaron couldn't break through no matter how hard he tried.

He was grateful she was starting to be okay again but couldn't bear to think of what would happen the next time they succeeded.

Aaron didn't have sufficient evidence or a way to take them down yet.

If he distanced himself from her, they might back off a little while he figured something out. It was his only defense at the time.

Aaron wanted to reach out and hold her in his arms while she was still in a good mood but he resolutely stared at his laptop screen when she sat down next to him.

"What have you been up to today?"

A perfunctory question, but one that made his heart soar. She hadn't been aware enough of her surroundings to pay any attention to him in a long time. But he didn't respond.

She seemed surprised that he didn't answer her question but launched into an explanation of what she did instead.

He wasn't a very talkative person; she didn't sense anything wrong yet.

"Dad and I watched a Yankees game on TV and I made him eggplant parmesan for dinner."

Aaron remained silent. There were always household staff coming and going, all hired by his parents.

He wasn't sure which ones were spies so he needed to get into the habit of blowing Keeley off whenever they were around so his father would be fooled into thinking he didn't love her.

If he didn't love her, she wouldn't be a target.

"Aaron?" she asked, confused.

He finally looked at her and coldly said, "I heard you."

Her expression crumbled and the dullness he hated so much returned to her eyes.

"Oh. Okay."

Keeley got up and left the room, taking his heart with her. The look on her face! But it worked.

The housekeeper lurking in the next room heard everything and saw her leave. Aaron sighed.

He knew there were going to be long days ahead but he never could have anticipated how much damage that simple action would cause.

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