At Any Cost | Book One of Exafortespent

By Alma Azura Celia All Rights Reserved ©

Action / Drama

Fifty: None of Your Business

The bell rings, a sign that it’s lunch time and that’s also mean: Food! Finally, I’m starving already, my energy has been drained, and I need something to charge the energy in my body which is food.

Food is everything. Hungry? You eat food. Stressed out? You eat food. Nervous? You eat food. Angry? You eat food. Almost everything that happen makes me want to eat. But probably not all of the people in this big world.

“Ashley.” My eyes roll as I hear that voice. His voice that I hate so much right now I would rather be dead than hearing his voice at all.

“Yes?” I raise my eyebrows at him, faking a little smile as I stare up at him. He stands there in front of me, his gaze trained into mine blankly, his arms on his side, as I stare back at him. His shoulders falls a little as he exhales and roll his eyes.

“Come with me.” He demands, still standing there, staring at me with no expression. I stare at him with the same look on his face, still won’t pick up my ass from the wooden chair. Because damn, why should I go with this boy anywhere he wants? Of course it’s because of the deal you make, you dumbass.

I take in a breath and let it out, calming myself down before I get mad because of my own self. “Where?”

“To the cafeteria, of course.” He scoffs, rolling his eyes at me and look so goddamn annoying I want to rip that bitchy expression off of his face.

“Why should I?” His expression becomes a little serious as if he would kill me and nobody would even find out.

“Just come.”

“Ugh, fine.” I roll my eyes and launch off my chair and walk past him. I walk out of the class, leaving Matthew behind, not like I even care to wait for him. I’m hungry, no one can stop this girl when she’s hungry. Never.

Not really.

I walk into the line with other students there, when he comes and give me his cafeteria card. I refuse to take it from him and stare at him in annoyance.

“Ashley, grab my lunch.” He demands.

“What?” I raise my eyebrows at him and he let out a breath, trying to maintain his composure.

“I said grab my-” I hold a hand up, stopping him from speaking any further. “I heard you before.” Folding my arms in front of my chest, I tilt my head a little and look at him with my annoying look. “But why should I?”

“Remember the deal-”

“Hey. hurry up! We want to eat our lunches too!”

I turn my head only to find lines of kids behind me, staring back at me with scowls on their faces. I give them an apologetic look. “Sorry.” I laugh nervously. I turn my attention back to Matthew and let out a sigh. “Fine. What do you want for lunch?”

“Just like yesterday.” He hands me his cards and when I about to protest and ask what he was eating yesterday, I suddenly remember his lunch yesterday and I take the card from him.

“Okay.” I give him my brightest fake smile and quickly walk and stand behind others.

After grabbing my lunch and his, I walk to Matthew’s table, most of his friends, which also my friends too for now, already there. The seat position never change. Matthew next to Ryan, Parker next to Ryan, Greg next to Parker, Kenzie next to Parker, and Chloe next to Kenzie. And I, of course, always on other table with the boys.

I place Matthew’s food in front of him and begin to walk to the team’s table, which is located in the middle of the cafeteria.

“Where are you going?” I turn and stare at him with confusion. “To the team’s table, of course.”

“No, you’re not going anywhere.” He begins to rise to his feet and ready to drag me back there.

“Na uh,” I raise my hand, stopping him from moving further. “You can’t tell me what to do this time so, goodbye.” I wave my hand at him and continue walking when Matthew calls me again. I let out a sigh, trying to maintain my calm and turn around to see him scowling.

“Yes?” I raise my eyebrow, smiling widely at him.

“Don’t you remember it?” He reminds me indirectly about the deal. I let out a scoff, shaking my head.

“Of course I remember. I don’t care if you going to give me another punishments, all I want to do now is get the hell away from you. Far from you. But thank you for reminding me the obvious.” I smile.

“You’re going to be in trouble, Pemberton.” He shouts, gathering some of the kids attention. I roll my eyes and keep walking to the team’s table.

“I don’t care.” I shout back.

The boys, except Matthew and Ryan of course, already fills in the table. I step closer to them and smile brightly. “Hey guys.” I wave at them.

“Ashley, come take a seat.” Nick says, pulling the chair next to him out for me to sit on. “Thanks.” I put the tray of food on the table and sit myself down, still smiling at them.

“So, when is the final match?” I put a fry into my mouth and wait for their reply.

“In two weeks. We’re going to play against the Redwood High, the school where bratty rich kids go. So, don’t mind them if they like to show things off to you.” Chris shrugs and take a bite of his sandwich.

“Oh. Are they really that bad?” I frown at his words.

“Most of them. Only few that are nice enough to us, and he’s the team captain. We play against them, last year on semi-final, and he’s a fair player. And the pitcher is nice too. But the rest of them are just arrogant, self-centered brats. So yeah, most of them pretty bad.” Chris shrugs.

“Oh.” I nod my head a little.

“Are you ready to hit some balls?” Brodie asks, grinning at my way. I let out a sigh and frown.

How can I be ready for it? I even barely hit a ball on the last game. I need to practice more for my own pride’s sake and the team’s too, of course. I need to make scores for the team.

“No. I need more practice so I can do a home run.” I shove another fries into my mouth and chew them.

“You already did good on the last game.” Brandon assures me, smiling a little.

“Not enough.” I shake my head.

“Okay then, practice after school. Starts with stretching and jogging. And we continue with catch and throw, batting, fielding, and a little game.” Nick informs.

“Alrighty.” I grin at them and continue digging into my lunch.

“Don’t be late. Let’s practice our asses off so we can beat those bratty kids.” Brandon exclaims, punching his fist into the air.

“Yeah.” All of us do high-fives, grinning at each other as we laugh. I avert my gaze around the table and landed on Brodie who looks past me with his eyes wide open and look at me. I give a look of confusion and about to ask him what’s wrong.

“Ashley, I know you’re going to do this eventually but don’t look back.”

“What?” I turn my head, seeing Matthew strides toward blankly. He stands there rigidly with his eyes staring down at me. My neck starting to hurt as I keep staring up at him. I turn my body around, still keeping my gaze at him.

“What did I told you about the punishment?” With his arms fold in front of his chest, he stares at me with anger hinted in his eyes. As he finishes his words, I roll my eyes and turn my attention back to the boys who are already giving my confused looks.

“Go away, Matthew.” I wave my hand dismissively at him, ignoring his presence behind me.

“What is he talking about, Ash?” Brodie ask.

“It’s nothing.”

“Yes, nothing for all of you to know. You already get four of it. So, you better come with me now or you’ll get more of it.” He says and damn, he sounds so fucking serious about it right now. But no, that still not going to get me out of this table.

I actually couldn’t care less about him right now. I just want to enjoy my lunchtime! Why does he have to be so fucking annoying and keep bringing this deal up?

“Just go away already.” I drink my water and put it back onto the table, still trying to ignore him so he could go the hell away from here.

“Five.” I turn my head around and look at him in annoyance. Why don’t this boy just go away already?

“Please just go, will you?”

“Six.” I glare at him and sigh in disbelief. “What the hell? I already ask you to go nicely. What did I do wrong?”

“Seven.”

“What the hell?!”

“Eight. Keep saying those words and stay here any longer, you’ll get a lot more of it.” He says, folding his arms over his chest with seriousness on his face.

“Oh, so you’re learning how to count right now, huh?” I sneer, only to get a glare from him. “Ten.”

Did he just went from 8 straight to ten? Very unbelievable!

“What? You can’t just do that!” I glare at him.

“I told you, you keep staying here and say those kind of words, you’ll get more of it.”

“What? But I-”

“Twelve. It keeps increasing.” He says, smiling at me evilly.

“Where do you even want me to go other than staying here anyway?” I huff loudly, folding my arms in front of my chest with annoyance against him starting to raise up higher inside me.

“To my table.”

“There’s no chair left there.”

He lifts me off of the chair, leaving me shocked with my mouth open wide as he brings my chair to the other side of the cafeteria. I keep staring at him and collect my calmness back, running a hand through my long hair.

What the heck is wrong with him?

Now he’s making a scene in front of all the school kids.

My cheeks feels hot as I realize silence already sweeps across the cafeteria, feeling everyone stares fall to me and Matthew who’s keep dragging my chair across the room, and some of them staring at my way too.

“Is he fucking serious?” I say to myself as I let out another sigh, rolling my eyes at how silly and childish he is acting now.

“Ashley, I guess it’s better for you not to cross him.” Brodie says, looking at me with concern reflecting in his eyes.

“What? Now you’re thinking about the same thing as Chloe? Hand me over to the devil himself?”

“No. I just don’t want bad things happen to you.” He shakes his head, seems very apologetic right at this time.

“Why don’t you just protect me then? All of you?”

“We can. But what would going to happen if we’re not around?”

“Then all of you should be by my side all the time.”

“We can’t, Ashley. I’m sorry.” Nick apologizes.

“Guys?” I look around, most of them avoiding my stare by looking down at the table.

“I’m sorry Ashley. You don’t even tell us what’s happening between you and Matthew. And it’s none of our business to get into your and Matthew’s problem.”

“What is going on with you people? There are so many of you against Matthew, one of him. And you can’t face him? So this means I’m not your friend for all this time?”

“Of course we are friends. Even best friends.” Brandon states.

“If you guys my friends, then you should be the people that helps me. Because that’s what friends, or best friend as what Nick has said before, do. Help each other, be there when needed, be there every time, even if those are bad times. You should be the people that be by my side and helps me.”

“I’m sorry Ashley, we can’t. We don’t even know what’s the problem between you two.”

“You guys so mean.” I stare at them in disbelief, shaking my head as anger and disappointment building up inside me. I scoff humorlessly at them and storm out of the cafeteria. Ignoring all the stares I get from the kids.

After running away from the school building, to the garden in the back of the school. Because I know they would be searching for me in the wood because the last time I run away, the woods was my hideaway.

I climb up the big tree on the garden, and perch myself on the big branch that seems strong enough to hold the weight of my body. I look down at the ground below, and look at the school building.

Sighing, I rest my back on the tree trunk and look up at the green leafs and brown branch blankly. I let my mind turn blank for the past few minutes, not even thinking about things that happened to me. The chirping of the birds, the calm wind blowing at my way and rustles of the leafs accompany me as I sit there quietly and calmly.

“Ashley!” A distant voice calls, but I’m not even bothered to look anywhere and find the owner of the voice.

“Hey, how long are you going to be up there?” A very familiar voice asks, and I just scoff at his question.

“It’s none of your concern to ask about such things.” I reply, avoiding an eye contact with him as I cross my arms in front of my chest and keep my gaze straight at the school building.

“Of course it is.” Brodie states.

“Why do you even care when a few minutes ago you were just saying that the problem between Matthew and me is none of your business?”

“It is none of my business. But I care because you’re my best friend.”

“You don’t even have to go and search for me because when I’m gone it’s none of your business.”

“Ashley, can you stop being so stubborn and get your ass down here?” He asks. He begins to lose his patience, knowing it from his voice. But as much as I don’t want him to get upset, I’m not going to go back there and have to face anyone for the rest of the day.

“No. I’m staying up here.”

“Ashley, you know what? We said that the problem between Matthew and you is none of our business because it is the truth. We know you’re the one that get yourself into this trouble. You’re the one that making the deal with him, aren’t you?”

I only stay there in silence, don’t bother to say a word for his question because, what should I say anyway? Because it is the truth that he’s telling me.

“So that’s why we can’t help you. You’re the only one that can get yourself out of the mess you make and get into yourself. So don’t be a whiny little bitch and face your own problem.”

“I’m not whiny.” I say, glaring down at him.

“Are you?” He raises his eyebrow, scowling a little at me. I break our eye contact, looking back to the school building and sigh.

“No matter what you’re going to say next, I’m not going down there until the school over.”

“But how about the practice? You said you want to practice so you can do a home run for us.”

“I’m not in the mood to go and do some practicing.”

“Coach would be mad at you.”

“I don’t care.”

“You will make him, and others, disappointed.”

“I’m not going to do it today, okay? Don’t force me to do things when I don’t want to do. And I just want to be away from everyone for now.”

“Brodie, what are you doing there? Oh, you find her. Ashley, come-”

“Go away, Chris.” I say, leaning back to the tree trunk as I keep staring forward.

“Come on, Ashley. Get down here. You could get some pretty bad bone fractures, a sprained ankle. Or a bad concussion that could make you fall into a coma. The point is, I don’t want bad things to happen to you.”

“I don’t care. Just go away, both of you.”

“We’re not going to.”

“Chris, come on. Just let her be.”

“What? But what if she falls?”

“She’s not going to.”

“But-”

“Come on, you heard what she said. She wants us to leave her. Now let’s go. We need to study. I can’t risk my grades to fall again.”

“Okay.”

The sounds of their footsteps leaving further away from me make me let out a sigh, feeling guilty and sad for making them sad and upset. Especially Brodie.

I guess it’s better if I go home then.

I carefully climb down the tree and look around, afraid the boys might be hiding somewhere and would drag me back into the class. And then a thought hits right onto me and make me face-palm.

Shit. I forget. My bags in class.

Why am I so fucking idiotic?

I walk back to the tree and sit on the grassy ground.

Now I have to wait for hours until the last subject is over. Fucking great.

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