Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Ella's POV:

On the drive home, I couldn't get what just happened out of my head. I also can't stop thinking about what he said, "Today was only the start." What does that mean? Does he want to hang out with me again?

Still, I can't believe I just hung out with a boy all by myself without having an anxiety attack. I also lied to my mom about where I was going. Well, technically, it was only a partial lie I did hang out with a friend, well, if I can call him that. That was my first time skipping school without having an appointment or anything. Hopefully, my mom doesn't find out because I don't want to have to explain why I skipped.

I pull into the driveway, grab my bag, and head into the house. When I open the door, my mom is sitting at the dining room table, having a cup of coffee. I swear she drinks coffee like it's water.

She looks at me when I step into the house. My clothes are still a little bit damp from swimming, hopefully not too noticeable.

"Where have you been? I texted you like a hundred times. I know you don't like to hang out after school, Ella." She eyes me suspiciously.

Of course, my mom knows I don't like to hang out, but does she have to make it such a big deal. She acts like I have no friends at all.

I haven't been on my phone since I last texted her. I should have told her I had to finish a school project, but it didn't cross my mind at the time.

"I know I haven't been on my phone. I texted you and told you I was going to a friend's house. We had to finish a project because it's due tomorrow. I didn't go because I wanted to. I went because I had to." I say, hoping she will believe the lie. Thank goodness, my voice came out clear.

She looks me over and assesses what I said, then after about five seconds, she nods her head. Good, she believes me. I'm glad she only looked at my face, watching my expressions. If she studied my clothes too, she would catch my lie in a heartbeat.

Setting my bag down, I head upstairs, wanting to take a shower and get out of these wet clothes. The faster I'm out of her sight, the less chance she has of noticing the wrinkles in my clothes.

I walk into the bathroom and start the shower, so it heats up while I get some pajamas. In the shower, I wash my hair and body. After I'm done cleaning myself, I stand under the warm water and think about Declan and that place. How does he know about it?

This isn't me. I don't usually think about boys. I don't want to get close to someone than lose them. Sometimes I wish I could just go back and fix things. My mom thinks I need to talk to someone. She says I'm too hard on myself even though I can see the pain in her eyes.

I need to stop thinking those thoughts. I hate thinking about it. So I keep them buried and try my best to block them out.

Okay, no more thinking about Declan. Hanging out with him was probably only a one-time thing. Tomorrow he'll most likely be sick of me. Either way alone is better, alone is safe.

I step out of the shower after about thirty minutes. It's like a sauna here. The mirror is all fogged up along with the rest of the bathroom. I'm surprised my mom didn't come knocking on the door, yelling at me to get out.

I braid my hair so I can have a decent hair day tomorrow and brush my teeth. Now it's time for Netflix.


On my way to school, I decided to stop and get a coffee. I didn't get much sleep last night. I couldn't stop thinking about Declan's forest green eyes, and his perfect soft curls. How can a person be so beautiful?

I tried so many times to stop thinking about him, but I couldn't. Every time I tried to pay attention to the show I was watching, my thoughts would just drift back off to Declan. So I gave up and just laid on my bed and let my mind wonder about him.


When I arrive at school, I do my usual routine but quicker. I want to be able to walk with Olivia and avoid Declan as much as possible. Not because I don't like him but because I want to be able to think clearly. How could I not like him, he's been nothing but kind to me. But when he's around, my mind goes fuzzy.

I can't just think about him all the time. He probably doesn't even think of me.

When I'm done getting my binders, I quickly skim the hall to make sure the coast is clear, and after I start walking with my head down to meet Olivia at the front entrance. When I get to my usual corner, I take out my phone and wait for Olivia to arrive.

"Hey, girl!" Olivia's joyful voice fills my ears. I don't know how she has so much energy in the morning. It just makes me want to crawl back under the covers.

"Hi, liv," I mumble quietly, so I don't bring any attention to myself. She does that enough for both of us.

Olivia and I are about to go walk the halls, but I hear a smooth, familiar voice call my name, causing me to stop in my tracks. "Ellie, wait up." And of course, it's Declan. So much for trying to avoid him.

Both Olivia and I look back at the same time and see the beautiful boy. Olivia glances over at me with a suspicious smirk.

"O-oh umm h-hey Declan." My voice comes out shy and quiet. Whatever comfort I felt last night has now worn off.

Olivia raises her eyebrows in a questioning look. "Who's that Ella, and why didn't you tell me you were talking to a hot guy." Olivia fakes disappointment.

My cheeks become painted in red. I'm praying Declan didn't hear what she just said, that would be so embarrassing.

"Yah Lil' one. Why didn't you tell your friend here that you were talking to a hot guy?" He smiles widely, copying Olivia.

Oh my god, Declan heard her. Luck is just not on my side. My cheeks burn. Of course, he did, nothing ever goes right for me. The worst part is he's enjoying seeing me embarrassed. Before I can say anything, Olivia speaks up.

"You're on a nickname basis?" Olivia questions with amusement. "Well then, I guess I'll just scoot out of here." She smirks and then leans in close to me, "But Ella, you're spilling all the details later."

I turn to Olivia, and she's looking at me with a wide grin. She knows I'm uncomfortable and finds it funny; she knows just by looking at me that he makes me nervous. She probably is thinking I'm "innocent" right about now. I can practically see it on her face. She then walks away with a pep in her step.

I'm looking at the floor because I don't know what to say. My whole body is on fire from complete embarrassment. I'm afraid if I speak, my words won't come outright. So I just stay silent. After a few seconds, I build up the courage to look up at Declan. He then decides to speak.

"Oh, Ellie, so innocent." He shakes his head and chuckles.

Now Declan thinks I'm innocent too. I don't know what to say to that, so I just stand there awkwardly. Why is it always me that ends up embarrassed?

"Umm, I should u-uhh get to class," I say, just quickly wanting to escape.

"First period doesn't start for another ten minutes, Lil' one. Come on. I'll walk around with you." He offers with a knowing smile. He's enjoying how uncomfortable I am, and he knows I won't deny him.

"A-alright," I mumble, not having an excuse not to. Perks of being kind to everyone...not.

Declan and I are starting to walk around the halls. I see people looking at us, and I look down. I hate being the center of attention. I don't know what to say, so I hold my hands together and twiddle my thumbs. It's a nervous habit I have.

They're probably wondering why he's walking with me and not someone 'cooler.' People like me shouldn't walk with people like him.

"Why do you always look down when you're walking in public? Sure, you're shy, but you shouldn't let that define you."

I stop in surprise and utter shock. Nobody has told me that to my face before. Usually, people talk to me like I'm a kid like I'm going to break at any second. Yet he just says it outright.

"I d-don't know. I g-guess it's a habit." Keeping my head down, I watch the floor. I don't want to talk about this about me.

Declan looks me over and then takes his hand and lifts my chin, so I'm looking at him. "I see you, and I see how you let your insecurities take over you," Declan says seriously. He takes his hand off my chin and says, "Don't let them."

Once again, he shocks me. He doesn't want me to be insecure. But I can't help it. I always let my anxiety get the best of me. It's not something I can control. It's not like there's a switch just to turn it off. They're a part of me.

"I-I don't know how." I fold my hands nervously.

He gives me a small smile, "Let me walk you to class."

I nod my head and let him walk me to class. We don't talk, but I can tell he just wants me to think over what he said, and I do.

I don't pay attention to any of my classes. How can I when I can still feel his hand on my chin? It's like he can see right through me. What I don't get is why he would tell me that. Why does he care? He doesn't even know me. I'm just some girl he just met.

The fifth-period bell rings, signaling the end of fourth. I walk to my locker and get my lunch out. I don't eat school food. It's all processed and gross. The last time I got school lunch, there was hair in my food. I remember seeing it and getting sick to my stomach. After that, I haven't bought a school lunch since.

I walk to my tree and sit under it. The temperature is around seventy-five Fahrenheit, it's not too hot, and it's not too cold. There's a gentle breeze today with the warm sun.

I took out my strawberries I packed and started eating them. I just have four more periods left, and then I can go home. I could always have my mom pick me up, but I don't want her to ask if everything's alright. I don't like to have mental breakdowns in front of people.

Today's been a little stressful. After this morning, I have been on edge more than usual. I don't know what Olivia meant when she said spill the details. I don't have anything to tell.

The rest of the lunch flies by.

It's now ninth period, and I think I'm going to go to the school library. I did most of my homework at lunch. The library helps me take my mind off things. Once I get into a good book, I forget all about everything, and it's a nice change.

I walk into the library and take a seat in the corner. Nobody can see me there because there's a bookcase in front of the chair. I pull out the book I borrowed last week and start reading it.

Reading has always been a safe place for me. The book I'm reading is a typical teenage romance, but I'm a sucker for them. If only life was that easy to live happily ever after.

Schools over and so I gather my stuff and walk out to my truck. On the way out, I noticed my brother Thomas towards me.

"Hey, Thomas," I call out.

"Have you been talking to the new kid Ella? If you are, stay away from him, he's bad news. I don't want him to hurt you." Thomas says with a voice full of concern.

"What are you talking about?" I ask.

"I saw you walking with him, Ella. Look, I don't want you to get hurt. As I said, he's bad news." Thomas's voice comes out quiet, so only I can hear.

He looks genuinely concerned. But I don't know why. Declan hasn't done anything wrong.

"Why? Declan hasn't done anything wrong."

"Ella, just please be careful, I saw him get into a fight last period." He rushes out.

"W-what, is he okay?" I ask, worry settling in my chest. Declan got into a fight?

"He's the one who started the fight," Thomas states, watching me.

Why would Declan start a fight? Thomas is about to walk away but hugs me first, so I hug him back.

Now I can't help but wonder, is Declan alright? What happened? Is he hurt?

Then I continue to walk to my truck and drive home. On the way home, I think about what Thomas told me. Thomas and I used to be close, but then we kind of drifted apart. But he still means the world to me.

When I get home, I go straight inside and make some coffee. I also grab a protein bar from the pantry. No one's home, my mom is working, and Thomas has sports, so the house is quiet.

I go to the living room and turn on the Tv. Sitting on the recliner, I pick up my book and start reading. I can't pay attention to the book though, all I can think about is if Declan is okay. I want to see if he's alright but I can't.

My mom arrives home a couple of hours later with Chinese takeout. I sit at the dinner table, playing with my food. I'm not that hungry. When I have stressful days, I lose my appetite. Mom notices but doesn't say anything. She knows I'm not one to talk out my feelings.

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