At Any Cost | Book One of Exafortespent

By Alma Azura Celia All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Drama

Forty Eight: The Rules of The Deal

I walk into the class, but the class is not that crowded like usual. I sit next to Chloe, still wondering how can she’s not bored by just playing her phone every morning, not talking to other kids in the class.

“Hey.” I give her a little smile as I put my not so heavy bag and drop myself on the chair. I lean my back onto the back rest and let out a sigh.

“Oh, hi.” She smiles back, setting down her phone on the table. She turns her body and now she's facing me with a smile on her face. I observe the room once again, having this odd feeling in my body at the quiet class as I wonder where are the kids when they're usually already crowding the class with their presence, chatter and laughter. Or sometimes screaming.

“Where are others? This class is oddly quiet for the most noisy class in the whole school.” I keep looking around until my eyes meet Matthew’s. I quickly turn around, avoiding any further eye contact with him.

“I don’t even know.” She shrugs, a little pout on her face.

“Ashley.” My breath hitches for a second at his voice, a little bit surprised by his approach when the last thing he wants was being away from me, moreover talking to me. He said it, or I could say yelled it at my face to never talk and look at him again or I will get the consequences when I break it. But now look who’s the one that breaking his own rules: himself.

I look up to see Matthew, his blue eyes bore into my green ones. His face is expressionless as usual, but there’s something glinting in his eyes that I can’t seem to pinpoint. I let a scowl takes over my face as I stare back at him.

“What?” I snap, scowling a little at him.

“Don’t talk to me like that. The deal, remember? You can’t do a home run which means I’m the one that win. The winner can do whatever they want to the loser, right? So, stop giving me that scowl and keep those attitudes to yourself.” String of words come out of his mouth and when he's finished, his face still expressionless and his cold stare fixed into my annoyed one. Few of his words make my scowl deepen as anger builds up inside my body.

Who does he think he is to tell me what to do? No one! And besides, he deserves all the scowl and glare I gave him because of all the things he done to me.

But he has a point. And that point is the deal. The stupid deal I regret to make. The deal that should not exist but does exist because of me.

“You can’t just tell me to do that. It’s already my nature to scowl and say shits to your ugly face, you grump.”

Why am I saying that? He knows that I know he talks about the deal because he is talking about the deal since he first approach me. But anger get the best of me because of the last few words he said.

“Look at yourself in the mirror and compare your ugly face with mine. It proves you shithead that you’re the one who always scowl at my way. And that too, means you’re the one that should be called the grump, not me.” His voice is calm as he says those words matter-of-factly.

I blow a breath and calm myself down, trying not to strangle him because of his so fucking calm face and words that is silently mocking me. But the scowl keeps itself stay on my face as I stare at him.

“What do you want?”

“After school, meet me in the parking lot.” No expression showing on his face as the words are said by him. And his voice sounds monotonic. And damn, those stare could scare anyone on their way to somewhere and make them stop in their track.

But not me.

“Why should I?”

An exasperated sigh comes out from him as his eyes roll in annoyance because of me that's obviously keep putting his patience on the edge. It’s not like I care about it if he’s angry and fight me. Because as always, I will fight him back.

“Doesn’t you understand the terms of the deal? I win, so you should be doing what I want you to.”

“And what do you want me to do exactly until I have to meet you in the parking lot?” I’m not just going to do whatever he wants to me when I don’t know exactly about what I’m going to get myself into.

What if he wants me to end someone that he hates the most? Kill them? Hell no. And there is a lot more of bad things that he could tell me to do. I don’t want to get myself in trouble. I have too much trouble in life already.

“You’ll know about that soon.”

“No, you have to tell me now.”

“No, I’m not telling you.” He glares at me. “It’s me that ordering you from now on. No complaining from you. So just shut your fucking mouth now, will you?” Now his face is closer to mine, only a few inches away since he keeps leaning down in each second as he lets out those words with anger burning in his eyes.

I don’t want to make any scene this early in the morning. I don’t want my day gets ruined because of this. I want to study in focus and not with a bad mood. I’ll just let him get away with this one.

“Fine. Now go. I need to talk to Chloe.”

“Na uh.” He shakes his head slightly. “I haven’t finished with you. From now on, you have to be by my side all the time, in case I need you.” My eyes widen and my mouth open as words build inside my head very quickly and ready to be spoken by me but before any single word comes out from me, he holds up a finger, enough for me to shut my mouth back.

“No complaining, remember?” He raises an eyebrow. I roll my eyes at his stupid face and let out a sigh. But I stare up at him and just decide to listen so he can get out of my sight pronto.

“Now listen. I tell you what to do, and you do the exact same thing. Do something that’s not the way it’s suppose to be, I’ll be giving you punishment.”

Punishment?! What the hell? So, if he tells me to a glass of water but I only bring him 3/4 glass of water he would give me a punishment that could probably be anything? Hell no. He can’t just decide to do that!

“What?! It’s not fair! Little mistake and I can get a punishment that is worth of an unforgivable mistake? No way!”

Damn, I promise myself I won’t make a scene this early and now I'm breaking it and really doing it. He just gets to the point a little above my patience tolerance. It’s just a little so it wouldn’t make me snap his neck.

“What’s not fair? The deal is I can do whatever I want to you. And that’s one of the thing.”

“What is the punishment even would be?”

“Something you’re not going to like, or you’re going to hate to be precise. Now would you shut up for a few minutes. Any questions about this whole deal, could be ask in the end of the rules explanation.”

“Go ahead then.” I motion him to continue his talk nonchalantly as I lean my back to the backrest.

“The rules are simple. You have to do the things exactly like what I order you to do. If not, you’re going to get punishments you won’t take a liking on.

"The punishment would be simple, but enough for you to suffer. And, don’t ever giving me the glare, scowl, speak to me with raises voice, saying bad things or any cuss words at my way. If you do those things, then you will get punishment to. And it starts from now.”

What?! Punishment for every single thing I do wrong, glaring, scowling, speaking with raise voice and bad things or cussing at him? I definitely would get a thousand of punishment everyday and I will suffer and I will be dead soon.

“Are you kidding me?! Punishment for those things? You must be already out of your right mind, aren’t you?” I scowl at him and remember his exact words before.

Whoops. I just freaking raise my voice and scowl at him. And I will get my first two punishments now. I fucked up already. But who can resist on raising their voices when they're shock and scowl at someone when they’re angry? Definitely no one. And if someone can, they are a very very rare person in the world. And those people are the most patience people ever.

“There you go, you raise your voice, saying that I’m out of my mind which considered as saying bad things about me,” Oh I did not just say that. “And scowling at me. Three punishment already. Prepare yourself for those punishment. It will be coming for you sooner or later.” He warns.

“What?!” My eyes pop out and a gasp escape past my lips.

“Four punishment.”

Damn it.

A deep breath is taken by me in a calming manner but it’s actually not really calming me down, only a little I guess because I still want to strangle this bastard down to the floor and beat all the shit out of him badly.

“I’m calming down now. Can you at least giving me a hint about the punishments?”

“No. Don’t do anything stupid. I’ll be watching you.” He narrows his eyes at my way and I scoff quietly and roll my eyes as I sneer at him.

“Now you sounds like-” I quickly stop myself mid-sentence and seal my mouth shut as my eyes widen a little. Almost got my 5th punishment for that. Oh shit.

“Like what?”

“Nothing!” I shake my head vigorously as I stare at him wide-eyed. He eyes me with suspicion as he narrows his eyes into a slit. He stands straighter, but his eyes still hold a suspicion against me.

“Be careful, Ashley. I just warned you.”

He turns around and walk back to his table and the weird thing is I keep my eyes trained on him. He sits down on his chair, a hint of smirk on his face and I look at him in disbelief. I turn my head around and look down at my table, still can’t believe of what just happen.

What have I done to myself?

“What was that about?” I turn around and see Chloe, looking at me with a complete confusion as she stares back at me with her head is tilted slightly to the side. And what was that about? I’m not really sure about it myself.

“A stupid deal I make with him that ends up bad enough for me to dig my own grave.” I put my elbows on the table and my hand on my cheeks, pouting.

Why did I even make this deal? I already knew that I can’t do a home run. But I made that deal anyway and it ended up pretty bad for me.

“What deal?”

“If I can do a home run, which I cannot even do, I win and can do whatever I want to him. And what happened is the opposite. He wins.”

She lets out a humorless scoff, rolling her eyes as she looks away. She averts her gaze back at my way, smiling bitterly.

“You’re so foolish you know?”

“Why thank you Chloe for the obviousness.” I fake a smile, pretending to be flattered by putting a hand over my chest.

“What has gotten into your mind until you made that idiotic deal?” She frowns. The smile falters off my face and nothing really replace the fake smile, only a dull look on my face as I stare down at the table.

“Anger, I guess. I hate him too much I can’t even think straight anymore. And this deal is not even my idea, it’s my brother’s.” And that is the truth. The fact. One of the fact that make me more idiotic than I have been before because I use his idea to make this deal with him.

“Well, there’s no turning back for you now. I guess the best thing you can do now is follow his rules and games.” Chloe shrugs.

“It’s not like I’m not doing it now.”

“And four punishment? You should be worry for yourself, he could be a little, violence.” She stares at the table with a hint of fright. Her head shakes after a few seconds as she tries to get the thought out of her head.

This has to be something bad. Something bad is going to happen to me and I can’t let that happen.

“Are you serious?”

I mean, he doesn’t seems like the kind of person that would go straight to violence if something goes wrong or not the way he wanted it to be. But that could be one of his hidden personality. The dark side of his.

Damn, why is this making me scared? I should not be scared of him. He’s my target and one thing that I should do is not to be afraid of him.

“Yeah, so, I think you should really watch your own back.”

“Chloe are you really serious?” I stare at her seriously, searching for something in her eyes that would tell me she’s not being serious, and there’s a very little hint of something in her eyes that tells me she’s not that serious.

“Of course not.” She pushes my arms playfully, receiving a weird stare from me. “I’ve never seen him angry. Well, not after you came here.” She frowns. “But who knows the dark side of someone’s, right?” She smiles innocently as she holds up her hands and shrug.

“Now you’re scaring me.” I stare at her carefully, afraid she might joking this thing off again. She closes her eyes for a second and sigh quietly.

“Just do what he wants.”

“But what if he tells me to do something that is very super bad?”

“You still have to do it.”

“Though it’s enough for me to get into jail?” I ask her hesitantly, grimacing at the thought of me getting into jail though I know my father will get me out of there somehow. Not really sure, though.

“No. Of course not. I guess it’s better to get punishment from him rather to live in such scary place as jail.” She nods as she stares back at me with fright.

“Okay then. Wish me the best. Wish me that I won’t be dead.”

“It’s not going to be that bad. I know it.”


“So, what now?”

We stand there in front of his black Audi. I fold my arms in front of my chest as he sits on the hood of his car with his arms crossed too. He looks up at me, unreadable expression on his face as he keeps staring at me.

“Come to my house now.” He says after a moment as he rises to his feet and let his hands fall to his side. “I’ll be waiting for you until 3.25. Now, it’s 3.02. You have to be there on time. I’m nice enough to give you time for a little rest. No excuses for tardiness.” He says, now his face turns serious as he stares deeply into my eyes.

“Why do I have to go to your house?”

“You’ll be working on my homework from now on.”

I open my mouth to protest, almost saying ‘what?!’ with a raised voice that is clearly banned for me from now on or else I’ll get more punishment which is the one thing I’m not looking forward to. I take a deep breath in and clear my throat in attempt to calm myself down.

“But why? I need to work for my own too.”

“We’re in the same class. So you can do yours at the same time.”

“It’s not that simple.”

“It is that simple. I have to go now so, see you later.” He smiles for a second and get into his car. He drives out of the parking lot, and I just stand there, still stunned about one of my task from now on: Doing all of his homework. Yes, we are in the same class but it’s not like he can tell me to do his homework too.

I need to find some excuses to get out from this.

I knock on his front door, suddenly feeling nervousness coursing inside my body when I know I have nothing to say or any excuses to get out of this one nightmare of a task I’m not wanting to do the most.

It seems like I have nothing to get out of this one thing.

He’s smart enough to do all of his homework by his own self but he decided to make me do those shit and make me suffer.

What a lazy ass jerk.

The door open and there he is, standing in front of me already dress in a black t-shirt and a navy blue short. He stares at me in annoyance after checking the time on his watch.

“You’re one minute late.”

“I’ve been here from one minute ago. Waiting for you to open the door.” He do a little shrug and step to the side.

“Come in and close the door. Wait in the living room.”

“Okay.”

He walks into the house and I close the front door of the house and my eyes immediately observing the house for anything suspicious. A table full of photos in frames get my attention. I stop in front of it and look at them. One of the photo catches my attention the most. And that is a photo of Matthew, when he was 9, I guess, dressing as a vampire as he shows his fangs while his sister dressed in an all black clothes, I guess she took a goth theme that time.

That looks so cute.

I smile and shakes my head. I continue to walk deeper into the house and step into the lounge, immediately settle myself down on the comfortable gray sofa. I keep looking up at the little chandelier on the ceiling as I wonder what take Matthew so long upstairs when suddenly a thought hits me.

Wait, if he’s going to make me come to his house everyday, at least I can do and try to hack into his house system and get all of the data. Yeah, that’s a great idea. A very great idea. And going to his parents company building is going to make me get a lot of the information I need. But it’s a next level shit right there. At least I should try to break into the house system first, which was a fail the last time I do that, before going to hack into the company computer, which is going to be a lot more harder than the house system.

I shoot my head up as Matthew walks into the room, books in his hands as he lets out a grumble of cuss words to himself, scowling a little, and set down all the book at the coffee table in front of me. He turns to me and stands straighter as he look down at me.

“Those my books and I’ll be watching you work on it because I know you’ll be messing up with the answers when I’m not. Now shoo, I’m going to lay here.”

What a rude bastard.

I stand up from the couch, not even letting out a single word because I already have enough punishment for today and I’m not planning to get more of it anytime soon.

I make myself comfortable on the floor in front of the coffee table and take one of his book. History. Hmm, I guess this is the easiest one since I can find the answers from the internet.

I flip open his book, admiring on how his writing could be so neat and beautiful, that looks more like a font from the computer, for a boy. My writings is not even close to his. It looks too bad people can’t barely read it sometimes. Especially when I write in a bad mood or in hurry. And how can the teacher wouldn’t be suspicious of this thing? Is he even already think through about this?

I pull my phone out of my pocket, unlock it and type the question on the web browser. I click on a link and scroll down the page, looking for the exact answer for the question. I put my phone down as soon as I find the answer and begin to write down the answer.

“Ashley.”

“Hmm?” I keep writing down the answer in focus with a frown as I look from the book and phone back and forth quickly it makes my head becomes dizzy but I don’t really care about from now. All I care is finish his homework and get back home as fast as I can.

“Bring me a glass of water.”

Doesn’t he see me still working on his homework? It’s not even five minutes yet.

“I’m still working on your homework as you see right now.”

“I’m not blind. I know you’re still doing it but now I’m telling you to bring a glass of water here.” He stares at me, waiting for any answers from me. But there’s none.

“The deal, remember? You have to do all-” I hold a hand up to stop his words that I definitely know where it is going as I nod my head.

“Yeah, yeah. I remember. You don’t have to remind me of that all the time.”

“Then what are you waiting for? Go grab a glass of water.” He says, now look a little irritated by my behavior and I quickly stand to my feet.

“Okay, okay. Have some patience, would ya?”

I go to the kitchen with annoyance inside me, mocking Matthew words and expression silently as I grab a glass from the cupboard and roll my eyes. I open the refrigerator and pour some water from the jug into the glass, scowling. I shut the refrigerator and walk back to the lounge.

I put on a neutral look on my face before I step into the lounge and walk straight toward him, feeling my hand gets a little numb in each second from holding onto the glass full of cold water for a little while.

“Here.” He pulls himself to a sit position and grab the glass from my hand, mumbling a quiet ‘thanks’ before he takes a few gulps of the water, and somehow, just looking at him drinking the water makes my mouth dries up and feel thirsty too. I turn around, deciding to grab some for me, and begin to walk back to the kitchen.

“Where are you going?” I stop halfway to the lounge door and turn to look at him.

“Kitchen.”

“For what?”

“Drink some water.”

“No you can’t.” He shakes his head a little, still look expressionless.

“What? I’m going to die because of thirst if you don’t let me.”

Here I go. Being the little stupid drama queen I always have been since I met him.

“Don’t overreact. You’re not going to die just because of not drinking water for a few hours.” He stares at me like some dumb shit as he scowls.

“I’m going to.” I retort.

“Fine. I give you one minute and come back here, don’t ever think of going out of this house or else.” He threatens but it has no use to threaten me because what is the point of running away when you will be back in here the next day for god knows how long.

“Who even think of that?”

“Hurry. You’re wasting your own time. I’m sure you want to get the hell out of here as fast as you can.”

I let out a sigh and walk into the kitchen, grab a glass and pour some water from the jug into the glass and gulp down all of the water, feeling the cold liquid down my throat and stomach. I put down the glass in the sink and a pain surges through my head.

Brain freeze is sucks.

I walk into the lounge, massaging my head as I still feel the painful twinge inside my head. I perch myself down to the floor, making myself comfortable as I put an elbow to the cold glass table and place my chin on my hand. I continue to write down the answer, frowning a little as I keep myself focused on writing the answer.

Question by question done by me, not even realized by me that now I’m working on the last problem of physics homework. I listen to the song I play through my earphone, tapping my finger on the table in sync with the beat of the music, feeling my eyes about to shut close in any second if I let my focus slip away from me.

I put the book away, stacking it with other books. My hand goes over my mouth as I let out a yawn from my wide open mouth. I stretch my hand and turn my head looking at Matthew, who turns out already staring at me, probably this whole time. And my cheek burns from the sudden humiliation that comes into me.

“All done.” I say, looking at him with my heavy eyes. Another yawn escapes my mouth and I cover my mouth again with my hand. I let out a breath and check the time on my phone. 7.34.

“Now, the punishments. You have four punishment but because I can’t think of another punishments I’m just going to give you two of it.”

Thank god. But still, if he gives me two punishment those are bad things, it will still be hard for me to do it and go home faster.

“And what is it?” I ask curiously.

“Cook me something for dinner.”

Are you kidding me? So now I’m his maid huh? Great. But it’s much better than to kill someone. But why though? It’s not like I will cook him tasty dinner if he acts like this.

Why is he not scared if I could put some poison in his food? Why doesn’t he just order some takeaways for an easy option than have to wait for me finish cooking him his dinner that is way much longer than waiting for takeaways to come?

“Why don’t you just order some takeaways? Who knows I will put some poison into your food. And who knows I’m a bad cook.”

“I know you can cook.”

“How the hell did you know?” I look at him in a little shock. Is he stalking me now? No one even really know I can cook.

“I just know it.” He shrugs.

“And what is the other punishment?”

“I’ll tell you when you done cooking.”

“Ugh, fine.” I groan.

I walk into the kitchen as my hand goes to slip my phone into my jean pocket and open the refrigerator, frowning as I look through all of the ingredients in it, wondering of what I should cook for him.

Why don’t I ask him what he wants? I don’t want to get another punishment for tomorrow because I cook him the food he doesn’t like.

“What do you even want to eat?” I look at him, already making himself comfortable at one of the stool as he stares back at me.

“Pasta.”

Okay, that’s easy. But what kind of pasta he really wants to eat?

“Spaghetti, fettuccine or what?”

“Ravioli.”

Ravioli? Damn, that one is another level cooking shit I should master so I can at least cook it properly.

“I can’t cook that.”

“Then why did you ask me what I want?”

He has a point though. But I don’t want to make something that would make him hate me more than he is now.

“Fine, I’ll just make you some aglio olio spaghetti then.” I shrugs and begin to search though the refrigerator for the ingredients.

“It’s spicy.” I stop looking and think of something else.

“Carbonara it is then.” I wait for him to respond my suggestion as I stand there still looking into the refrigerator.

“Too cheesy.”

“Bolognese then.” I suggested.

“I don’t like bolognese.”

I turn my body around and stare at him in annoyance, not having anything else to make inside my head. “Ugh, then what do you want?” I asked in frustration.

“Aglio olio but not too spicy.” I stare at him wide-eyes in disbelief as my mouth gapes. I shake my head and throw my hands to the air a little and let it falls back to my side as I scoff a little.

“Why don’t you just say it from the start?” I let out a sigh and begin to get all the ingredients I need from the refrigerator and put those one counter. I grab a pot and pour some water into it and put it onto the stove. I turn on the stove and go to the cupboard, taking a pack of spaghetti and rip the pack open and put some into the pot.

I grab a knife and begin to chop the chili and other ingredients, seeing Matthew sitting in front of me as his eyes fixed onto his phone screen in focus and seriousness and wonder why his eyes not watery yet because of the garlic and chili I chop not far from him of him because my eyes burning as hell right now.

Wait, why am I following all the things he told me to do? Why am I not fighting him? This is weird. The real me would be saying curse words on his face as I scowl or glare at him. And the weirdest thing is, I’m doing this willingly. It’s not like I even have an objection to do this such thing.

What’s happening to me? Suddenly, a thought crosses my mind, making a smile appear on my face.

Why don’t I just add more chili and spices into this spaghetti? Maybe I will get another punishment because of this but it’s worth it.

I put a pan on a stove and pour some oil into it and went to the cupboard quickly to get a sieve. I shimmer the spaghetti and put it aside. I put the ingredients onto the pan and saute it. After a few minutes, I put the spaghetti into the pan, mixing it with the spicy condiment.

I turn off the stove and put the spaghetti onto the plate, smiling a little. I grab a fork from the drawer and put the plate and fork in front of him. “There you go. Now excuse me, I’m going home now.” I smile at him and turn around.

“Not until I tell you so.” I turn around again and stare at him in disbelief with my mouth gapes open.

“What? So I have to watch you eating? No thank you.” I turn around and begin to walk out of the kitchen.

“Ashley.” Him calling my name make me stop in my track. “One more step to the kitchen door and you will get another punishment. I haven’t even give you the last one. That means you’re going to have two punishment to get.”

I let out a groan and stomp to the stool in front of him and sit myself down, pouting as I put my chin on my hand. He puts some of the spaghetti into his mouth, chewing it. His eyes darts to me, looking at me with an unrecognizable glint in his eyes.

“You do put some more spices into this, aren’t you?” He raises an eyebrow and suddenly my mouth turns dry, makes me hard to swallow my own saliva.

“No. No, I’m not.” I shake my head.

“Don’t lie, I watch you cook this the whole time.” He scowls. I let out a sigh and look at him hesitantly. “I am. But it tastes good, isn’t it?” I grin awkwardly, waiting for his answer as I curse myself internally.

“It is indeed. I like spicy food, actually. I told you I hate spicy foods to know if you will actually put more spices into my food. And you do. So, if you try to kill me by giving me spicy food, it won’t work.”

He pushes the empty dish away after minutes eating it all and look up at me. “One more punishment.”

“What is it? Hurry up, I need to go home, mom will be very mad if I’m not.”

Aunt Sarah will not actually go mad if I’m not because she knows I’m not going to do anything other than doing my assignments or my job.

“It’s none of my concern if you get scolded by your parents.”

Can’t you stop staring at me coldly, it starting to get me more irritated than ever.

“Just say it already.”

“Kiss me.”

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