It was her turn to look arrogant as she glanced up at him. “I know,” she stated smugly, shrugging her shoulder.
He shoved her playfully but held on to her tightly so that she never really went anywhere. “What do you mean, ‘I know’? What kind of response is that?” His righteous indignation bordered on comical. He pulled her down into his arms so that his face was directly above hers. “Say it!” he commanded.
She shook her head, pretending not to understand him. “What? What do you want me to say?” But then she giggled and ruined her baffled facade.
He teased her with his mouth, leaning down to kiss her and then pulling away before his lips ever reached hers. He nuzzled her neck tantalizingly, only to stop once she responded. She wrapped her arms around his neck, trying to pull him closer, frustrated by his mocking ambush of her senses.
“Say it,” he whispered, his breath warm against her neck.
She groaned, wanting him to put her out of her misery. “I love you too,” she rasped as she clung to him. “I love you so much….”
His mouth moved to cover hers in an exhausting kiss that left them both breathless and craving more than they could have. Violet collapsed into his arms, gathering her wits and hoping that no one walked in on them anytime soon.
The weekend progressed in pretty much the same fashion. Chelsea stopped by once, to check on Violet, which was actually kind of sweet. Sometimes it was easier to be around Chelsea outside of school, when she didn’t have an audience. She brought Violet a couple of magazines, some beef jerky, and two packs of gum, all wrapped in a brown paper bag…stuff she’d gotten from a convenience store on the way. It was her version of a bouquet of flowers.
The rest of the time, Violet’s parents were around, but they were never really around, leaving Violet and Jay on their own for the most part. When it got late, Jay would help Violet up to her room so she could go to bed; then he would head home, only to be back first thing in the morning. Her parents had agreed to let him take Violet’s car back and forth, so he could come and go easily without having to tie up his mom’s car all day.
The only news from Uncle Stephen was that there was no news. They’d gotten no further in determining who the mystery man following Violet in the woods had been. Violet felt bad that she couldn’t help the police in identifying him, since he’d been wearing camouflage makeup when he’d chased her, and all she could really tell them was that he was tall.
By Monday, Violet couldn’t avoid the real world any longer, and it was time to face school again. Pretty much everyone in school had heard about what had happened to her, although none of the details were exactly right, and Violet didn’t bother correcting them.
It was Homecoming Week, which also meant it was Spirit Week, the most important week of the fall quarter. And Violet’s perilous escape from an unknown assailant got lost in the shuffle of Homecoming rallies and pep assemblies, along with the impending announcement of the Homecoming Court and anticipation over the game and dance the coming weekend.
Violet had a hard time being overly excited, knowing that she wouldn’t be able to participate in any of the activities outside of school. She wouldn’t be allowed to go to the game, and even if she could convince her parents to let her attend the dance on Saturday night, there was no point. On crutches she would only be able to sit on the sidelines and watch anyway.
It was too bad, because her dress was amazing…and she would have liked to see Jay in a suit.
She tried not to be too disappointed, and it was made a little easier for her when the Homecoming Court was announced and Lissie Adams was named Homecoming Queen after garnering the most votes from the student body. Several of her perky little sidekicks were named “Lissie’s princesses.” It was enough to make Violet feel ill, and to make her feel much better about not being able to attend the game, where Lissie would be crowned at halftime, or the dance, where Lissie would be the center of attention.
Jay was a huge help at school, and he carried Violet’s backpack as she hobbled from the car to her first-period class. If she’d have allowed him, he probably would have carried her. As it was, he got special permission from the Attendance Office to leave all his classes early so that he could help Violet get from one class to the next.
By the end of the first day, Violet’s arms were killing her, and Jay insisted on making her wait at the curb while he got her car. Queen Lissie surprised Violet by appearing out of nowhere as soon as Jay had disappeared from sight.
“Hey, Violet,” she said, as she eyed Violet’s bandaged ankle and the crutches with spiteful superiority. “Walk much?”
The two bleach-blonde girls with her giggled at their queen’s lame attempt to make fun of Violet’s injury.
She wanted to smack that superior smirk off Lissie’s face. But she couldn’t think of a clever comeback, so she finally just mumbled, “Shouldn’t you be polishing your crown or something?”
Lissie smiled sweetly past Violet, waving her fingertips at Jay as he pulled the car up to the curb where they stood. Her face was the picture of serenity, as if she hadn’t been mocking Violet while he was gone, but under her breath she got in one last barb at Violet’s expense. “Jealous?” But it was a little hard to be overly offended when it was so far from the truth.
Violet didn’t bother responding, and Jay bounded from the car to help her inside.
He gave the briefest of glances at Lissie, barely acknowledging her presence as he gently eased Violet onto the seat. For good measure, and Violet was sure it was premeditated, he gave her a long, sweet kiss before closing her door.