Chapter Twenty-Three

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"Congratulations on the success that your project's launch has brought" Mrs. Fisher says and I smile as she shakes my hand and pats my shoulder. Honestly, I feel like I fit right in at school now, simply because I've earned her respect. I see Mr. Tarker walk by and there is nothing but mockery in his eyes but I couldn't care less at that point. All I think about is that I've shown him like I'll show Mason. Those two would actually get along so well.

I watch everyone closely during our English class to see if our event has had any negative effects on the students' behaviour towards Melanie. But it doesn't seem to be that way. As she asks for a paper tissue, two people who usually make fun of her even offer her one. I smile at her and she smiles back. Maybe this was not as big of a deal as it seemed to be in the start. Maybe this is going to actually make her be more accepted.

Leaving the class, I unfortunately cross paths with Mr. Tarker again. He gives me a bitter smile. "What do you think you're gonna achieve with your little pity parade that you pulled?" "That people won't be affected by the behaviour assholes like you think is okay on a daily basis. Just stay away from me." I hate the fact that he's teaching my class, even though it's just one subject. It still upsets me. But my mood is lit again as I think about what I'm going to do now.

Mason's office isn't too far from school so I walk around the few blocks. I didn't make an appointment and I don't need to make one. I know he'll want to see me. His game is not over, at least he's under that impression. But I'm about to flip the tables and I'm gonna give him just what he deserves.

I walk up the stairs, then stand in front of his secretary's desk until she looks up from her very accurate drawing of his face with very prominent cheek bones. "Beautiful" I say in a mocking tone. "I'd like to talk to Mr. Remford." "I'm afraid you don't have an appointment, Miss Nicholls." "I'm afraid I don't care" I say and give the door to his office a quick knock before just entering. The secretary follows me, almost tripping in her heels that either Mason or his father bought her. "You can't just-..." "It's okay, let her come in" Mason says and makes a motion with his hand for her to leave again. "You could be a little nicer to her, maybe she'll say nice things about you." He gives me a bittersweet smile, gesturing towards the chair opposite his desk. "No, thanks" I reply with the same smile. "What do you want?"

I unzip my handbag and pull out the envelope with the check, slamming it down on his desk. He looks up at me and picks up the envelope, opening it and pulling the check out without taking his eyes off me. "What's this?" he asks as he unfolds the paper in his hands. "You're done. You don't have anything to do with our 'pity business' or whatever you prefer to call it any longer. This is your money, what we owe you, thank you for your help but we don't need you anymore." He puts the check down. He doesn't seem that impressed. "I'm still a part of this" he says and I know he just wants to annoy me now. Why won't he leave me alone? "It's my business and you don't even stand behind it." "It never would've become anything without me." "What? Are you jealous now?" He scoffs. "I'm not jealous. But after the shit you pulled, I'm not gonna let you off that easy." I sigh. "What do you want?" "I'll think about it." "What do you mean? I'm firing you." "You can't, we have a contract. And I don't think you have the money for a lawyer that can even dream of going up against mine." "I'm gonna get rid of you." "Is that a threat?" "Yeah" I reply and turn around, exiting his office, clenching my hands into fists because it's the only thing that can keep my tears from spilling.

I stay that way until I enter our apartment building. I climb up the stairs with all the strengh I still have left, ready to finally let my tears go but then when I look up at the top of the stairs, I see Oli, waiting as he leans against the wall next to our front door. "What are you doing here?" I ask but my voice is just a hint. His face that was cheery at first now softens a little and he takes a step towards me. "How did it go with Mason?" he asks carefully. I shake my hand and unlock the door, he follows me inside and closes it behind himself. Despite the fact that he's right behind me, I can't hold it in anymore and I feel the warm tears run down my cheeks. "Shit" I curse and start wiping them away with my hands but he's already walked around me. He doesn't say anything but just wraps his arms around me. "Shhh..." he says as he pats my back, trying to comfort me. "What happened?" he whispers and I sob. "He's an asshole, that's what happened" I cry. "He just won't leave us alone even though he doesn't care for this project one bit. He just wants to mess with me." "He can't do that." "He can because I don't have a lawyer that costs millions. He does though." Oli kisses the top of my head, then pulls away, taking my hands into his, then sitting down on the couch and pulling me down next to him.

I'm still sobbing but Oli reaches out and dries my tears with the sleeve of his hoodie. I bite my lip and take a deep breath. "I just don't know what to do, Oli..." I say quietly. "I can't stand Mason being part of this, what do I do now?" I look up at him with big eyes and he smiles softly. "Bev, you're Super Girl. If anyone can figure it out, it's you" he says, moving a strand of hair behind my ear. I move my cheek into his touch and he smiles, stroking the side of my face for a moment. I press my lips together and sit up straight. "I'm sorry, that's probably not what you came over for, to see me cry." He chuckles. "No but I'm glad you weren't alone when it happened either, baby girl." I smile weakly before getting up. "Thank you."

"I've actually got something for you that'll probably cheer you up." I follow him to his bag that he's left on the kitchen table and he unpacks his laptop. As we wait for it to turn on and load, I make some coffee and then sit down next to him. "I've got the photos from the event, not only mine but I also downloaded some others from the internet. And since I know you haven't been doing your homework, I did it for you and read some of the critics about the event and I swear, most of it is positive." "What do the negative ones say?" I ask. He raises an eyebrow at me. "Does it matter?" I nod. "Yes, of course it matters." He rolls his eyes. "No, Bev, it doesn't. Just wait until Daley gets home." I laugh because it sounds like he's waiting for his husband so he can prove something to his daughter.

Oli opens one of the photos which I saw in the thumbnail is of me alone. "You worried for no reason, you looked absolutely gorgeous, baby girl." "Don't exaggerate." He grins. "I'm not, Bev, you're killing it on that red carpet, just look at you." "Enough" I decide and click the next photo which is of Melanie who looks as cute as I remember. I bet that's why a few of the boys in class don't want to make fun of her anymore. And honestly, there's never been a reason to either.

We go through the photos and he shows me a few articles covering our event and he's right, they're mostly positive which makes me feel at least a little bit better. But the fear of Mason and what he's going to do, what he's planning, it just won't let me go. "Bev, are you still thinking about Remford?" Oli asks as he puts his laptop away. I nod and yawn, stretching out my arms. "I can't help it. But it's not just that. We have this really awful teacher at school who also started not too long ago and he never did anything about Melanie being bullied when she came into the class, he doesn't care about anything and his favourite thing is to make fun of me. As if we're back in high school." Oli tenses up. "What does he do?" I shrug. "He mocks me, he made fun of the event, he's just rude and offensive, he's not afraid to insult me. I just hate him so much." Oli sighs. "What is it with people, why are they such dicks?" I shrug. "I wish I knew." "Can I talk to this guy?" he asks and seems a little more focused now, slightly angry too. I shake my head. "No, you can't."

We stare at each other for a few seconds, then messes up my hair and I push his hand away. "Hey!" "Let's hit the town." "I don't want to..." "Come on, Bev, I'll buy you a burger." 

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