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The foundation series bo.., p.7
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       The Foundation Series Box Set, p.7

           Kira Adams

  “This is the best song you, I mean, we have ever written. People are going to relate to you, Peyton. It has such a strong message, I really feel like after tonight, everything is going to change.” He was speaking with such enthusiasm; it was difficult not to feel the same.

  Six: Are You Buying All the Bullshit He Fed You?

  Live Your Life Right

  I once heard a man crying over a dream once lost

  All I could tell him was keep dreaming on

  Life has its turns, this ain’t no surprise

  So keep dreaming on, and live your life right

  Noah had been right; I had been approached by more than ten people letting me know how much of an impact my final song had left on them. Total strangers were coming up to me, letting me in on their deepest darkest secrets as some sort of way to relate to me. It was a magical feeling; none of my other songs had ever created such an impact. I was flying on cloud nine; nothing could bring me down…except the sight of Colton and who I now knew was his fiancée. My mind said the word so aggressively; I had to keep reminding myself I had no reason to hate her. She had done nothing to me. In fact, if anything, I had wronged her. Even though Colton was arm-and-arm and mingling with her, I couldn’t help but notice his glances my way, if almost to keep tabs on me. At least I knew I looked fabulous, I was wearing a dark blue, baby doll shirt that was sparkly and frilly, along with black lace leggings, and my new favorite booties. My hair was curled into loose curls under a black beaded headband that matched my black, beaded bracelet. My make-up was dark today. Probably the most daring I had ever been. The past few weekends Kayleigh and Brooklyn had been giving me make-up tutorials and I was really catching on; I had opted for a smoky eye with just a bit of blue incorporated. I looked smoking, and I knew it.

  “Come on, let’s go talk.” Brooklyn grabbed me by the arm and whisked me outside. “The new song was a hit!” She hugged me, jumping up and down.

  “Thank you.” I let her go and we sat down on the steps outside the building.

  “How are you handling the whole Colton thing? I saw you guys exchanging some lingering looks. What’s the deal?” She glanced at me.

  “It’s hard, I mean, seeing her, and knowing that she is real. That she was real when he kissed me. It’s difficult, but I’m trying not to think too much about it…” I trailed off as Isaiah waltzed straight up to us.

  “You guys were great!” He came up clapping.

  “Oh stop it!” Brooklyn giggled, jumping up and into his arms. They were very affectionate all the time, but were always aware of their surroundings, so after a quick kiss, they asked if I wanted to head out with them, but I decided to stay. I knew I would be alone, without Brooklyn or Madison, and out of my comfort zone, but leaving that early, when it wasn’t even past ten, seemed too cowardly. My parents had set a curfew of midnight for me, and as long as I adhered to it, we had no issues.

  I watched them walk away, then decided I liked the fresh air and might stay put for a few minutes. I sat back down and closed my eyes, just breathing in the air, feeling my surroundings. When I opened my eyes, I noticed that someone had quietly slid right up next to me. At first, I was sure that someone was Jace, but after almost thirty seconds of staring in disbelief, I realized it was Jax, not Jace.

  “Hey,” he greeted me.

  My stomach instantly dropped. He was like a virus I couldn’t get rid of.

  I didn’t even respond; after everything he had put me through, he didn’t deserve a second of my time. I just looked away and then stood to walk away from him. I was not going to give him the satisfaction of a response.

  “Peyton.” He grabbed my wrist to stop me, and before I understood what was going on, I realized Jax was kissing me. Actually kissing me! My eyes were still open due to shock, but he was eagerly kissing me, I didn’t even have time to register a thought.

  I didn’t know what came over me then, but I pulled back instantly, slapping him so hard, my hand was red and shaking.

  He rubbed his sore cheek gingerly. “Ouch, what the hell was that for?”

  “You think after everything you did to me—you can just show up here and kiss me? Well I’m sorry, but I have news for you, that isn’t the way life works. I don’t know what kind of game you’re trying to play here, but I want no part of it.” I stood quickly, my mind still reeling from the stolen kiss.

  “You’re different Peyton…” he exclaimed softly, rising up next to me.

  “What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked, still attempting to contain my rage.

  “It’s like, we’ve gone to the same school our entire lives, and our paths have never really crossed until now, why is that? What changed? It’s like you’ve been standing here in front of me the entire time, but only now am I seeing you clearly.” He ran his fingers through my hair.

  I pushed his hand away from my face roughly. “We have multiple classes together—you know me, and yet, you still treat me like crap. What makes you think you deserve to say any of this to me? Did you suddenly forget what an asshole you’ve been to me; what you put me through? You must have a death wish.”

  My patience was wearing thin. For all I knew he was recording our entire interaction with some hidden camera and was going to put it on YouTube for a chance to humiliate me even further. I had already changed my number because of his rude, snide remarks, and been avoiding him for months, but I wasn’t sure how much further he could take it.

  “Peyton, I’m sorry for the way I treated you. I was an asshole—I know. I’m the quarterback of the football team, I have an image to uphold…you just got mixed up in the crosshairs.” His apology felt lackluster to me.

  “Why now Jax? Why now after all of the pain and agony you put me through should I give you any of my time?” I crossed my arms in front of my body protectively. Maybe I should have left with Brooklyn and Isaiah. Maybe then I wouldn’t have had to deal with the snake.

  “You don’t put up with any of my crap. You are blunt and aggressive and you aren’t scared to say what’s on your mind.”

  “So?” I had no intention of making his apology any easier on him.

  “So, you’re unlike anyone I have ever met before.” He sighed, folding his arms across his chest as well.

  “If you kiss me again, I’ll punch you,” I threatened, still unsure of what to think about the situation as a whole.

  He stepped back, throwing his hands in the air as surrender. “I promise not to kiss you again until you ask for it.”

  Cocky one he was…

  * * *

  Gossip was in high gear when I returned to school that following Monday. I was the main attraction; again. Everywhere I looked people were whispering, pointing, looking. This instance though wasn’t because I was being made fun of, it was because since Jax had kissed me Friday night, everyone, and I do mean everyone was dying to know what his next move would be.

  People who never used to give me the time of day were coming up to me and congratulating me. I got asked to eat lunch with more people than I could count. Everything was so out of control, and I wasn’t prepared for any of it. The only thing that hadn’t changed was Kari Ann’s extreme disgust for me, and oddly enough it was the thing I looked forward to now.

  I was slightly relieved to be able to start my morning off with theatre class. An environment I could hone my craft, and really take my mind off of all of this mess. But I quickly laughed to myself, remembering I had the class with Jace, and it was just a little hard to take my mind off of Jax with his twin brother burning holes into the sides and back of my head. I was dreading the thought of him speaking to me, I knew he had to have heard the rumors…I wondered slightly what he thought about it all.

  It was scenes week in class and to my mortified knowledge, I had been cast in a scene alongside none other than Jace. It was all too much. Glancing over the script I realized it was going to be a romantic scene that Jace and I would have to play and it called for a kiss! Can my life get any more complicated? I sec
retly cursed to myself. As I was digesting what was going to take place, I noticed Jace approach.

  “Hey.” He waved, taking a seat beside me. “So, what do you think about the scene?”

  “Umm, I haven’t really given it much thought,” I lied. “But are we really talking about the scene here or…” I trailed off.

  “What are you talking about?” Jace asked. I wasn’t sure if he was being honest or playing dumb. So I just decided to nip it in the bud.

  “I know you’ve heard Jax kissed me.” I looked up at him through lowered lashes, not sure what his reaction would be.

  “Uh huh,” he replied, almost monotone. “And what does that have to do with our scene?”

  Suddenly I felt extremely stupid. Here I was thinking it was going to be this huge deal to him because it was for the rest of the world, but it was obvious to me now he didn’t give two flying fucks.

  “Nothing,” I responded after what seemed like forever, and we left it at that. I had been so sure he didn’t care one stinking bit that when he finally commented on the situation over an hour later, I wasn’t prepared.

  “Can I just ask you one thing?” He stopped highlighting his script and turned to face me. “Are you buying all the bullshit he fed you?”

  My cheeks were red in a matter of seconds. What if Jace knows something I don’t? What if everyone does? Did I get played by Jax? I wouldn’t put it past him; after all he had put me through. I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before. Jace looked at me with sympathy in his eyes, which just made it that much worse. Tears were forming at the corner of my eyes, but I was determined to blink them back. He probably thought I had something stuck in my eye, when in reality, I was trying not to have a full on break down in front of him.

  “Peyton,” he said softly, rubbing my arm with his hand. “You didn’t do anything wrong,” he whispered. “I just don’t want you to get hurt, especially by him. I haven’t been around him much my whole life, even though we are brothers…but from what I’ve seen in this past year, I just don’t believe he has your best interests at heart. Just promise me you won’t buy everything he says right away. Promise me you will think before moving forward with him, please.”

  “I didn’t ask for any of this,” I said softly, looking down. It was true. All I had ever wanted after everything Jax had done to me was invisibility. I just wanted to be left alone. I never asked in a million years for him to torture me and then play with my emotions.

  “Peyton, you deserve someone who wouldn’t dream of hurting you the way he did. Don’t fall for his lies…he hasn’t changed.” Jace’s forehead looked crinkled and worried.

  I nodded lightly, not even sure what to say. I had never been more confused in my whole life. It’s like I sat there wishing on a star for my prince charming and fate fooled me with three potentials, who probably would not have ever been in my life if I was still the old Peyton. I didn’t know what to think, whom to trust.

  “You deserve better than him, Peyton,” he got out before the bell rang, announcing the end of class.

  * * *

  Lunch had made its appearance, and as I made my way to my locker I caught sight of Jax, leaning there, waiting on me. This time I didn’t book it in the opposite direction. I couldn’t avoid him forever, so I held my head up high and walked directly toward him.

  “Hey,” he said, probably the quietest I had ever heard him.

  “Hey,” I replied back, opening my locker and throwing my backpack inside. “What do you want, Jax?” He had responded so well in the past to my blunt statements, it only made sense to continue down the same path.

  “I thought we could spend lunch together.” He reached his hand up to open my locker wider, his blue eyes suspended on me.

  I laughed out loud, but after looking into his face, I quickly realized he wasn’t joking. “You’re serious?”

  “Yeah, why not?”

  “I don’t want to eat lunch with you,” I answered honestly, before beginning to walk away from him and towards the cafeteria.

  “Peyton, I’m trying to make up for my mistakes here…you have to give me something.” He grabbed my arm quickly, stopping me from my escape. He was basically pleading with me through his intense stare.

  Even though he had been a terrible person to me, his appearance had never changed. He was still the most beautiful boy I had ever laid my eyes on; so deceiving. “Actually Jax, I don’t owe you anything and I’d appreciate it if you left me alone from now on. I accept your apology for your past wrong doings, but I want nothing to do with you.”

  I felt a little pang of guilt as I watched his face fall.

  “Now, if you could let go of my arm, I’d really appreciate it. My real friends are waiting for me.” His grip loosened almost immediately.

  “Peyton, I’m trying to get to know you,” he said softly, after realizing a few peers were watching.

  “Has it ever occurred to you that I don’t want to get to know you?” I snapped rudely back at him before walking away.

  * * *

  That day at my locker was not the first or the last of the Jax appearances. In fact, he had been waiting in that same spot every day at 11:45 on the dot. Eventually, I stopped trying to avoid him altogether, as it became obvious he wouldn’t budge. After a week of his persistence I begrudgingly agreed to hear him out.

  “Let me take you out to lunch as celebration.” He smiled big, baring his pearly whites.

  “What would we be celebrating?” I asked, curiously.

  “That you finally warmed up to me.” He laughed and then put his hand on the small of my back, already pushing me towards the front doors. I wasn’t sure what I should do. On one hand, there was Jace telling me that Jax was full of it, and on the other hand, I could get a glimpse into a world I had only wished and dreamed and hoped to be a part of for as long as I could remember. I would be entering the world alongside the guy I had been crushing on for just as long, and the new Peyton was all about taking risks, so I agreed to let him take me.

  We ended up at a local favorite hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant. It was so authentic and the staff was so friendly, I had become a regular back in my bigger days. The staff had never seen me in there with any guy, other than Liam, so seeing me walk in with such a handsome face, made all of them grin from ear to ear.

  After getting our food, we took a seat across from each other in one of the cozy booths. Jax grabbed my hands in his, and started rubbing them softly. “So I heard you’re in a scene with my brother?”

  I nodded, not sure where he was going with it.

  “Do you have to kiss him?” I was surprised to hear a pang of jealousy come through his voice.

  I nodded again, swallowing slowly. “Okay, well, just as long as it doesn’t mean anything.”

  “Picture time!” Jax exclaimed, scooting out of his side of the booth and next to me. “Smile!” I wasn’t sure what his intentions were with the picture, but I hesitantly smiled as he took a selfie of us.

  After talking and eating, I understood why Jax had asked me out to lunch with him. He was trying to solidify the status of our relationship. Without even knowing it, I had sealed my fate as Jax’s girlfriend. And in less than ten minutes after leaving the restaurant, my phone started going off nonstop. I picked up my phone to see what all the hype was about and was dumbfounded to find Jax had posted our selfie on Facebook and the caption read, ‘lunch with my beautiful lady’. He had basically announced to the world that I was his girlfriend.

  Well that is news to me.

  * * *

  When I made it home that night I finally took the time to sift through my millions of notifications and tons of texts. As I was doing this I came across a text from Colton. It had been from the morning, before the news had even broken. Then, I found two more from him; the second one was a repeat of the first, almost like he sent it again when there was no reply. The third one was more of a plea, it read, Please Peyton, I really need to talk to you. I’m sorry for what hap
pened with us, but please just give me a little bit of your time. I wasn’t sure what he could want, other than just to confront me about the rumors he had heard. But Colton had always been so good to me in the past, and I didn’t want our friendship ruined forever, so I agreed to meet him to talk.

  The sun was just setting when I made it to Winslow Park. I saw a silhouette of someone sitting on the swings, and I knew it was Colton. I approached, hesitantly, not sure what to expect from this mysterious meeting of ours. “Hey,” I greeted him as I plopped myself in the swing seat next to his. “You wanted to talk?”

  “I heard you have a boyfriend, or I should say I read it rather.” He glanced over at me.

  I nodded lightly, still unsure what to make of the entire situation. I never thought in a million years Jax Austin would ever refer to me as his girl. It was something I had dreamt about throughout our adolescence, growing up, but never dreamt would come to fruition. My mind was reeling with a million different thoughts.

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