Chapter 2 - Anxiety

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I don't want him, I told myself. But I do.

 The day passed confusingly. I had ran home crying and locked myself in my bedroom. Mom had knocked at my door several times and I tried to stifle my cries as I told her I was having a little stomachache and couldn't go to school. What would she say once she noticed the marks on my face?

 I knew I could lie. I could say that I tripped and fell somewhere. 

 But when Stanley got home from school, he told Mom what had happened. She grilled me with questions, blaming me over and over as she thought I'd picked a fight with Jace.

 I was shivering by the time I went to bed; my skin was dribbling with cold sweat. It felt like I had a fever. I wrapped myself inside a blanket as tightly as possible, trying to find the warmth that I could never have.

 Then I realized something: It wasn't the covers I wanted warmth from, it was Jace's strong arms, wrapped tightly around me, with the promise of love and protection but in the end there was nothing.

 No. I won't let myself get carried away with this. I'll fight everything to rid myself of these feelings.

 I wasn't able to fall asleep until around three in the morning. But then I was swallowed into a nightmare.

 Jace and I were in the forest again, and he was punching me. I was engulfed in terror in the dark, and no matter how much I begged he refused to stop hurting me.

 Mom woke me up when she heard me screaming.

 "Sweetheart, what's wrong with you?"

 "Mom, I—I—"

 The words were drowning in a sea and I couldn't grasp them. I ended up crying into my mom's chest, it hurt so badly and I wanted it all to stop.

 The next day I woke up late and ended up running to the tree house. I didn't climb up; instead I leaned my back against the sycamore's trunk. 

 "Dude," said a voice above me, "whatcha doin' down there? Come on up!"

 Jeff, another guy around the same age as me in the group, was gesturing for me to climb up the tree house. Unfortunately, he was Jace's little brother. I couldn't imagine switching places with Jeff—I would never want to live with the biggest asshole in the world.

 Jeff held out his hand and mouthed as silently as he could, "It's okay."

 But it was not okay. Jace was up there. I didn't want to see him. I wanted to go home and bury my face in the pillow and cry again.

 "Come on," he said.

 Just as I went to take Jeff's hand, the bus honked at us.

 I walked into school after the bus dropped us off. Then Jace ran over to me, shoving into me on purpose. He glared furiously at me before he disappeared from sight. Then Jeff popped up out of nowhere, looking somewhat remorseful.

 "Look, I'm sorry for what he did to you, dude. He's crazy," Jeff said.

 "It's okay." I could only breathe the words out—the cut on my lips were unbelievably painful. If I spoke too much the wound would reopen and start bleeding.

 "What's wrong with you two anyway?" he asked.

 "Nothing, really," I lied.                         

 "He kept thinking about it all night, too. Our mom was furious when she heard about what happened."

 My heart trembled again. I looked at my shoes when Jeff noticed I was crying.

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