Jaded Jewels (The Coveted Saga #2)(4)

By: C.M. Owens

My stomach felt like it was flipping inside out. He was really walking toward me, acknowledging me, and this wasn't one of my cruel dreams. It was real.

He stood at least three-feet away when he stopped to speak to me. "Hey, hope you had a good Christmas vacation."

It was as if nothing had happened and we were casual acquaintances. He was so cold and indifferent—even worse than I had just been with McKee. We were suddenly two strangers who had never known each other outside of these hallways. I couldn't believe he was acting this way.

I tried to swallow, but the lump in my throat made that nearly impossible. "I've been trying to call you. I've been worried out of my mind."

I wasn't playing this game and talking about the mundane aspects of my life.

He didn't flinch. His casual tone continued, unaffected by my pain. His eyes were completely devoid of any shred of emotion as he continued speaking to me with his indifferent attitude.

"Sorry, I've been pretty busy. I had a lot to do. I got pretty behind on some stuff, and I went and visited some of my dad's family in New York. One of my cousins was getting his wings, if you know what I mean. They needed a little help, so Des and I went to go talk him through it." The first bell rang, warning us to get to class. Tallis looked around, and then continued speaking with such frustrating casualness. "I hope you have a good day."

That was it? Really?

He turned to walk away and began laughing with some guy who had walked up to join him on the way to class.

Shocked? No, I wasn't shocked. Shocked wasn't an abrasive enough of a word for how completely floored I was. I struggled to even try to process the bizarre and pointless conversation we just shared.

I assumed that he might at least have the dignity to pretend like he cared about the fact I had been utterly miserable and completely destroyed by his absence. I couldn't understand how he could suddenly be so cold. There had been so much passion between us before, and now he was acting as if I was just some random girl he had just met.

Dwelling on it and letting it eat me alive wasn't smart, but what option did I have? Even as I made my way into class, I was still running over every cold and distant word.

English was my first class. Fortunately, I only had three classes this semester. If not for my mother's social experience rule, I'd be home-schooling right now.

So far, the social experience I was having was incredibly heartbreaking. It would never be the same between us now. He wasn't even the same person.

We didn't have any classes together this time, and I couldn't wait to be done with my last class. He wouldn't even look at me during lunch. McKee had returned to his seat—right beside me.

Torture—that was the best word to describe what I was going through. I think seeing him, and being unable to even stand close to him, was worse than him being gone all together.

I was getting the feeling that nothing was ever going to be the same between us again. It certainly wasn't ever going to be better than before.

Chapter 3

Drawn Out Drama

Pain is an emotion that destroys you and makes you feel alive in the same breath.

It was March before I knew it and nothing had changed. Tallis was still barely speaking to me. When he did speak, it was only to say something impersonal or necessary. He would follow me home sometimes, but he would turn around once I was safely down the driveway.

He was just another guy now. It was so hard for me to pretend that everything didn't happen, but it seemed so easy for him. I would rather let puke-faces suck me dry, than deal with this.

Today, Tallis was in the parking lot. He was leaned up against his new, white range rover—like usual. Even his car was different.

He watched me drive away, and I saw in my rearview mirror as he left, too. He followed me down the road to my house. I knew he was just making sure I made it home safely, but my heart felt like someone stabbing it again as I turned in and he turned in behind me.

I thought he was going to stop this time, but he just backed back out and went in the opposite direction—back toward town.

I sat in my car, crying for a moment. I thought of chasing him down a few times, but gradually, my panic attack lessened, and reality reminded me it would be a pointless endeavor. I tried to compose myself before pulling down the driveway.

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