Part II

We did not speak again until our last year of high school. You had moved back from being away and I had thought it would of made you a stranger in our little town, that everyone would either alienate you or your existence would turn into a mere memory. Both of which did not occur. It was as if you never left and I thought this town truly was a product working in your favor.

I was an editor in our school's paper, I had a part-time job at my aunt's café The .li Sky and I had been accepted to go to a university far, far away. I had a plan; I wanted to stick to it but bumping into you was a means to an end.

I thought of the best ways to avoid you, had carefully mapped out the places you'd be and times. and made sure not to cross you. It was for the best really, we were nothing to one another and bumping into you…what would I even say? But of course you managed to out-manoeuvre my planning and once again I was caught.

"Still reading books Noli. Haven't you read them all already?" You said as you took away my Charlotte Mayes book and held it out of reach. I could only sigh in annoyance, not only because you've interrupted the climax but because instead of fading away, all those years had made you look even better. You were taller with a strong set of shoulders that seemed to be made to take on all the weights of the world. Your voice got deeper, silkier; I felt if I closed my eyes it could make me agree to do just about anything. Your face smooth and darken from much sun exposure. Your arms and legs were stronger, thicker and I was overcome by this overwhelming feeling to press myself against you. When that thought came to mind I wanted to poor a bucket of cold water over myself. I was not the type of girl to harbor such thoughts, it was uncomfortable and suddenly, I did not feel like myself. I had hoped to still see you as a child but you were not letting me do that.

I hated you even more.

"Well if you knew anything about books Riley, it's that there is no such thing as being able to read all the books in the world. As soon as you put one down there is always a new one up for grabs." That ground pulling feeling he carried around him was still ever present, it felt as if my being was being pulled towards him and if I wanted to stay gravitated I had to leave. "Now that we've covered the basics give me back my book. Also, perhaps you've forgotten but my name has not manifested a shorter version of itself, so let's stick with Magnolia."

"And my name is Derrick; maybe if you used it then I'd be inclined to do you the same favor." That grin of his was back and more sinister than ever. I could feel my heart beat a little faster and its beats were echoing in my ears. I really needed to leave. He looked completely at ease and I could feel people stopping and watching our interactions. I was not the type of person to stand out in a crowd but I did have an identity, however, when paired with Riley it was too much. He was too much.

"Fine, keep the book I was done with it anyways" I told him hurriedly as I walked pass him down the street and never looking back. I knew he was watching me and if I turned around that only meant he had won…and I wasn't going to give him that.

At the time I couldn't exactly place why Derrick Riley was able to make me feel so out of control and seem so bitter all the time. He was a nice enough person I suppose. He was smart in his own way, had plans in following in his daddy's footsteps as an officer of the law so that made him ambitious but even at that, the irritation I would get from seeing him would fester deep in my stomach. I hated it, I hated it because I couldn't control it and its existence had no origin point. My friend Callie Jenkins thought that what I felt to be annoyance was simply a front for my truer feelings….or something rather. She was an odd being herself so I tended not to rely on her 'words of wisdom'.

It was already late afternoon and brooding on matters revolving around Derrick Riley hadn't ceased and it beginning to make me feel unhealthy. I didn't want to start obsessing on all things Derrick Riley so I thought to take a walk to clear my mind, unknowing that you'd be there standing outside my door. My eyes were wide and fought the urge to pinch myself, "are you lost?"

I don't think I've ever seen you nervous. You were always the boy with something to say and right there at that moment you were silent, awkward even. I wanted to smack you in the face to gain a reaction. But that was barbaric, maybe a little insane of me. Besides, it was best saved for a time when you'll truly deserve it.

"Were you heading out?" You asked the question so calmly as if we were friends and it was in your right to know this.

"No," Here he was in front of my house and every cell in my body was tingling, "I heard a weird sound outside and I wanted to make sure it wasn't a raccoon." That was pathetic. Raccoon? I swore myself to be smarter than that. I knew they didn't even roam around in these parts but maybe you didn't know that.

His lips did an upturn and I could see his old self resurfacing "a raccoon? Really?" There was a silence between us as if you were giving me permission to correct myself. You had seen through my lie, and I could feel my face heating up with embarrassment for myself and my sorry excuse of a cover up.

"That's what I said." There was no way he was going to know, that I know, that he knew I was making up stories. It was my white lie and I was going to stick to it. "What did you want anyways? It's late." I sounded like my aunt and grandmother all mixed in one. This was going exactly how I wanted.

"It's nine-thirty, on a Friday night." his smile was getting wider and that made me furious.

"Get to the point Riley! The raccoon is probably making a nest in the garden while I'm here talking to you." That was it my tempered had flared. Damn him.

He sucked in a breath and pulled out something familiar out of his bag. "I came to bring it back. It was actually pretty interesting." For a long time I was silent as he handed me back my Charlotte Mayes book from this morning. What shocked me even more was that he read it.

"You read?" I heard myself say and mentally slapped myself for that insensitive comment. I wasn't about insulting people and having him know that left me feeling ashamed and disheartened. Which were emotions I did not plan to associate in relation to Derrick Riley. "Uh…what I meant was…" Nope. There was no covering that up.

Derrick shrugged and ran a hand through his ever so silky straight hair. Still shaggy and the only part of his boyish look left. "Look I know I come off as a guy who is always goofing around but I do have my serious side. I've read a lot of books since that time in fourth grade. Not because I had to but because I like to. Had you got to know me you would've known that."

I never thought there could be a time where Derrick Riley would have me feeling like the worst person in the world. I wanted to find that raccoon and have it dig me an even deeper hole and never come out. "I'm sorry. That was very cruel of me to assume you were all jokes and no brains."

"I still think you insulted me there" he said bending down to my level to keep a steady stare.

I wanted to look away. I abhor eye contact but when it was you tapping my eyelids shut seemed to be an effective plan. It felt as if he wasn't looking at me, but through me and that was unnerving. I might well be naked because there was nothing I could hide away from those eyes. "I can't apologize more than I've already done. So thank you for my book and have yourself a good night." It was smooth, polite and no hard feeling were supposed to come of it but your foot decided to place itself in the crease of the door.

"Not so fast Noli," Again with that atrocious son of a nickname, "you have to make it up to me properly. We wouldn't want your aunt to be disappointed in the kind of lady you're turning out to be."

As soon as you said that I felt myself gasping like a fish and suddenly that smack I owed you suddenly seemed due. "You'd snitch on me? What are you five?!" I realized that I was screaming and I don't typically raise my voice at people. I was factual and frank, just what kind of girl were you turning me out to be Derrick Riley? It was then that I noticed his laugh had a pleasant ring. I almost lost a bit of breathing time.

"Oh I wouldn't snitch but my mom does frequent the café, so if she were to overhear that we weren't getting along…ah well, you know parental figures they just love to meddle." You left the comment stand as it was but I knew what you were doing. shocked, that I was, but intrigued that there was a cunningness to you now. That was going to be problem I foresaw.

Blackmail. I was getting blackmailed by a spawn of evil. "What. do you. want?"

He rubbed his chin in thought but he already knew the prize he planned to claim before this little game started. "Next Sunday we are going out."

I paled, though I was already pretty pale but I felt my blood stop circulating and the urge to sit down was urgent. "Not possible pick something else. I am not going on a date with you Derrick Riley I rather die."

"Whoa no need for dramatics." He seemed cool but I knew his ego just took a blow. "It's not a date. It's just two people hanging out for a couple of hours and that's it we'll be even."

I had enough. I remember thinking of all the times karma could of come and bite me. This was it; I was getting the biggest chunk of karma for whatever past transgressions I had done. "Goodnight Riley." I didn't even give him an answer as I quickly shut the door, locked it and stomped over to my room.

The nerve, he actually thought I would comply and go along with his demand? I felt that he was looping me in as one of the other girls vying for his attention. I was not going to just do what he asked; it would only lead to more and his blackmail list would be used against me forever. I'd be his sheep. It was better for me to just forget it ever happened. I would claim my guilty consciousness had fabricated the whole ordeal. After all, it's not like he'd drag me out in public where people would see and then be branded as a deranged being.

I went to bed that night with a smile on my face, sincerely believing all was going to work itself out and whatever Derrick Riley had planned was never going to see the light of day. But there was one thing I forgot to take into account.

He was Derrick Riley and he always got what he wanted.