Chapter 18

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Evelyn knew it was going to be a long week. Not that she was honestly complaining, a single week of a mild punishment was nothing, especially considering the kind of hell she could have gotten from more experienced punishers. It was more of a mental thing. Take away one of life's little freedoms, even if it's a small one seldom used, and suddenly it seems that single privilege was the most important part of daily life. In this case it was two-fold. Not only had Evelyn lost the freedom to do what she wanted after school, a freedom she had truly never cared about in the first place, but she had also lost the freedom to spend time with the one person she wanted to the most.

The more Evelyn thought about the reality of her newfound frustration, the more she had to laugh. Not too long ago she was a loner, a single girl happy in her solitude. Never once had she even considered the idea that someone other than her parents could suddenly mean so much to her. Sure she would see Brandon at school, both in classes and at lunch, but somehow it wasn't enough. Suddenly those few precious hours of free one on one time at the end of each day felt like a glass of water snatched out of her hand in the desert, held within sight but just out of reach.

The frustration was childish, stupid, yet it was there. Like a nagging insect buzzing continuously just within earshot, yet quick enough to avoid being swatted. The one bright light about the situation was that it re-enforced Evelyn's feelings, crushing any doubt she may have harbored about Brandon into a fine powder on the ground. After that week Evelyn would allow her steadily growing feelings to blossom of their own accord, free of any self-doubt and lingering personal restraints. She just had to get past the next five days.

The next morning at school it became quickly apparent that the already slow march through the week would be made even longer by certain classmates. Jessica appeared Monday morning wearing Derek's class ring on a silver chain around her neck. The moment Evelyn saw it, hanging casually against her chest a small yet powerful omen, she knew things could get bad. Evelyn's only hope was that not even Jessica could be so stupid as to date a guy like Derek just to get revenge. She was wrong.

It started out subtle, as teenage bullying often does. Brandon and Evelyn had no sooner stepped inside the school when she felt the sharp stabbing sensation of impending malice. Before she was able to utter a warning someone pushed Brandon from behind, sending him sprawling to the floor. "Hey!" he called out, muttering a few other choice phrases under his breath. Evelyn tried to hear what he said, but Brandon's voice was drowned out by the laughter that suddenly broke out at his expense.

Evelyn's first instinct was to try to help Brandon to his feet, but she was shoved aside roughly by Jessica's shoulder as she and Derek forced their way between and passed the pair. Derek made sure to push Brandon to the floor for a second time with his foot as they walked by, followed closely by Jessica's friends and a few members of the football team Evelyn recognized but didn't know.

"Bitch." It was the only thing Jessica said, but it was enough. Evelyn glared at her back as she helped Brandon to his feet, her anger boiling over as Jessica made sure to turn around and blow her a kiss. Beside her Brandon was more surprised than angry.

"Who the heck was that?" he asked.

"Derek Jameson," Evelyn hissed, "one of the biggest assholes in school." She could feel Brandon beginning to get mad as the realization of what happened sunk in.

"What's his problem? I don't even know the guy."

"I am." Evelyn sighed. "Jessica went and got herself a new boyfriend."

Brandon was confused. "OK..." he said, "I don't get it."

Evelyn took his hand and led him down the hall, trying to think of a way to explain things that wouldn't sound as childish and crazy as they really were. "Basically, Jessica and I have never really seen eye to eye. She thinks I cost her something big, and she's never let it go."

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