Chapter Twenty Three

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Days slowly became weeks. And progress was slow. Excruciatingly so.

But at least there was some progress. That was better than nothing. I still couldn't manage to talk to anyone other than Conner, but every morning Conner would call me and say good morning, and he'd patiently wait until I could get the mirroring words out of my own mouth.

And every morning we had school Conner would meet me by the school gates a corner over from where my mum would drop me off, and he'd wrap me into a hug and say the same thing every time – 'fancy seeing you here'. He clearly thought he was being hilarious, and I would always give him the same response.

"Shut up, idiot."

And then he'd kiss me, even though he was always still smiling to himself about how oh-so-funny he really wasn't.

He really was an idiot.

It was the second Thursday after I had returned to school, that the routine broke even slightly.

After my mum had dropped me off at school, I didn't manage to make it around the corner before I felt an arm drape itself over my shoulder.

"Hello, Little Charlotte Grey." A warm and entirely too familiar voice greeted me cheerily. I stiffened, jerking out of Leon's grip, a deep glare on my face. I felt the arms rise on my hairs rise at the ominous grin he was wearing.

Whatever he wanted with me couldn't be good at all.

"Don't look so frightened." He teased.

Fuck you, I'm not afraid. I yelled my response in my head, but no words escaped my lips. I would never ever be afraid of Leon of all people – that would suggest he had some sort of hold over me. Which he didn't.

He was beyond nothing to me.

"I'm just looking for Conner, and I figured the best way to find him would to be to find you. Seeming as he doesn't seem to spending any time with anyone else these days."

My jaw tightened as I harshened my glare.

"So care to lead me to him?" He asked waving his hand.

My blood boiled. I wasn't his bloody pet, and I hated that he seemed to think I was.

But worse...he was Conner's friend. Even if I hated his guts, I wouldn't be one of those girlfriends that told her boyfriend who they could hang out with.

How crazy would that be?

Even if Conner's friend choice was questionable at best.

Pulling a face I jerked my thumb over my shoulder to where I knew Conner to be. And without a word I started to march my way over with a moody scowl. Leon followed me with a pleased smile.

When we rounded the corner it was me that Conner noticed first. A wide smile grew on his lips. "Fancy s-" He started to say before he cut himself off, noticing that I wasn't alone.

He blinked in surprise, before a frown took the place of his briefly lived smile.

"Leon." He greeted stiffly. "To what do I owe the pleasure?"

Leon laughed. "Don't be like that, you know I always make time for my friends. And you know, we're kind of like brothers."
Conner went to say something back, but he shut his mouth again.

I pulled a face of disgust, but I tried to conceal it, facing towards to ground with my grimace.

Seeing how I clearly didn't want to be here, Leon of course dragged me back into the conversation, a smug smile lifting up his lips. "Charlotte, did you know the first time I met Conner he punched me?" He asked me.

I blinked in surprise, jolting backwards.

What? The word almost made it past my lips from the sheer shock alone.

"Because you tried beating me up." Conner interjected giving Leon a glare.

Leon chuckled. "Ah, yes, good times." He mused, and I made an incredulous face.

That was how they become friends? When I had punched him in the face, Leon had responded by pelting me with eggs, not making frigging friendship bracelets.

Double standards much?

Brushing my hair aside, I made sure Leon could see my face as I rolled my eyes, letting him know I wasn't interested in whatever it was he was saying.

Even though part of me was dying of curiosity.

I couldn't have Leon knowing that.

The annoying shit would freaking love that.

But maybe he knew anyway, because he was grinning like he knew a lot more than I did. And I hated it.

I couldn't lie and say it didn't annoy me how close Leon was with Conner. Mostly because I couldn't really understand it.

Right then another person spoke up who hadn't been there a few minutes ago.

"Leon, what are you doing intruding on these two?" Twisting on my heels sharply I was surprised to see Kevin Lawrence and Burt Lee standing side by side by the school gates, looking on at the small scene in front of them with raised eyebrows.

I scowled slightly.

Great even more of them.

It was Kevin who had spoken, he was watching Leon with question.

Leon straightened up his posture, and smiled at his two friends. "Just talking." He crooned like a disney villain.
Kevin's left eyebrow twitched ever so slightly above his right. "And you didn't think that maybe Conner wanted to be left alone with...his girlfriend."

I was surprised that Kevin sounded as if...he was standing against Leon? But then again Kevin was Conner's friend too...

"Just because she likes him? Some might call you a sore loser Leon."

My brow wrinkled in confusion, and Burt elbowed Kevin in the side hard enough to make Kevin wince slightly.

Leon just gave Kevin a bright smile that bordered on threatening. "Not at all." He said shrugging his shoulders. "I was just thinking that Little Charlotte here would like to know more about her boyfriend." The way he said the word 'boyfriend' made my stomach turn colder.

It was Conner's turn to glare at Leon.

"Hey man!" It was Burt's turn to talk, very loudly. "Don't ch-"

Leon rolled his eyes cutting Burt off easily. "I mean as Conner's girlfriend don't you think she deserves to know what she's getting into." Leon said with a grin. "I mean, eventually you'll have to introduce her to your family right? Everyone knows about Little Charlotte's, family, it's common knowledge that she's likely to go just as insane as her dad someday, so doesn't she deserve the same forewarning? What if Conner turns out the same as one of his parents?" He explained looking extremely amused.

And hateful.

"Shut up." Conner ordered quickly angrily. But there was an undercoat of panic in his voice. "You're just being a dick."

Leon laughed. "Alright, I'll shut up... if Charlotte tells me to." He grinned at me. "So what do you say Charlotte? Want to know all about Conner Denison?" He asked me.

"Just stay silent for 'yes'." He chortled.

"Leon-" Kevin started, in a 'you're taking this too far' tone of voice.

"Charlotte?" Leon asked, looking thoroughly impressed with himself. I used his smug expression as motivation for what I did next. I stepped forwards and grabbed his chin to look him dead in the eye.

"I say, go fuck yourself." I answered determinedly before pushing him away with all my strength.

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