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Knowing Jude

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"You're not the type of girl I'd usually kiss," he says, his eyes fixed on my lips. "But I'll do it anyway." Then the cocky jerk leans in and kisses me. *** He claims to like her, she claims she'd never be stupid enough to trust a bad boy with her heart. *** After the death of her best friend, Jo Hansen's main goal is to get through senior year without losing her mind. She badly wants a distraction from her dark thoughts...but is tutoring the school's bad boy the solution? Jude Walker's life has never been easy--not since he made a mistake that turned his family against him. His father cut him off at 18, and to support himself, he took up underground fighting, modelling--whatever puts a buck in his pocket. He needs a university scholarship and to fix his Math grade, he finds himself thrown together with a smartass good girl. The two seem so different at a glance. The nerdy girl with a smart mouth and the troublesome bad boy with a different girl pressed against his locker every week. But at second glance, they are not so different. They both have their own trauma, fighting not to drown in their pain. Will they help each other survive, or will they drag each other deeper under the surface?

1. Remind Me Again, What's Your Name?

“My name is Avery Hansen, and I—”

“Yes…”

“Seventeen.”

“No, but…”

“Please, if…”

The line goes dead on the other side, and I slam my phone on the table.

“Where the f*ck do they expect me to get experience if nobody will give me my first chance?” I complain out loud, fighting the urge to hurl something across the empty space and down the library balcony. Which would have to be my English textbook, my essay notebook, or my copy of Hamlet, so no thanks, I would rather keep my anger in check.

My shitty old phone is obviously out of the question. Shitty, old or not, it’s the only one I’ve got.

“Beats me too,” a voice comes from behind me, and I swivel in my seat.

A tall blonde guy is standing behind my chair, carrying a backpack, holding its strap in one hand and a lollipop in the other.

“You are late, Jude,” I accuse, looking at my wristwatch.

We were supposed to meet at 4.00 pm. Not 4.12 pm.

Jude Walker walks forward and drops his bag on top of my books. I push it away.

“God forbid that we all be on time,” he says, taking a seat directly opposite me. His blue eyes rise to mine. “Remind me again, what’s your name?”

What? Really?

“Gotta be kidding me,” I mutter beneath my breath, collecting my English books and stuffing them in my bag.

“No, I’m not,” he answers. “Arya? Angela? It’s got an A somewhere, right?”

I hold my bag on my lap and stare at him, speechless. He is f*ck*ng serious.

Wow.

I’ve gone to the same school as this guy for three freaking years, going on to four, and he doesn’t know my name? Yes, we are not in any class together, but we are in the same year, so what the hell?

He lifts his lollipop and pops it into his mouth. He continues looking at me, waiting for my response.

Hah!

I ignore him and start digging for my Maths book. I place it, more like slam it, on the table, then follow it up with a workbook and a diary. I place my bag aside and grasp a pen.

I look back at him.

“We need to make a schedule,” I tell him.

He frowns, then pulls the candy from between his lips, leaving them glistening and red.

“You’re not gonna tell me your name?”

“What do you want? My name, or help with Maths?” I snap.

“Both.” Then before I can catch on to him, he reaches forward and grabs my workbook. He looks at the cover before returning it. His red lips stretch into a smile. “Ava. Ava Jo Hansen. I knew it had an A somewhere.”

I click my tongue against the roof of my mouth loud enough, so he doesn’t miss the sound. “Congrats on the close guess, genius. How about we work on that schedule now?”

He winks and leans back in his seat, all carefree.

I stare at him and wait for him to say something, but it looks as if he is doing the same thing, waiting for me to say something. Which I already have, but oh well.

“You going to say anything?” I prod.

He leans forward again, twisting the lolly stick between his fingers. “You know, I always thought you were nice.”

I groan and press the heel of my palm against my forehead, fighting a fresh urge.

To throw my pen right between his eyes and see what happens.

“And I always knew you were an annoying *ssh*l*,” I shoot back.

He draws back, his brows actually coming together in a frown.

Did I surprise him?

I know sometimes we don’t realise some things about ourselves until another person points them out, but really? That should have been obvious to him.

“No, I’m not,” he denies.

I throw my hands around, suddenly tired of this pointless conversation.

“Whatever, can we make the f*ck*ng schedule right now?”

He shrugs. “I didn’t know you were the cursing type, either,” he says, his red lips turning up in a smile.

Oh, what the hell.

***

Jude Walker is the classic blond, blue-eyed beauty, trust me when I say.

Don’t go getting any cute boy next door images in your mind, though.

Jude Walker is not cute, and he is not nice.

Well, that last one I don’t know, but judging from my first ever proper meeting with him, which was a Maths study session that ended ten minutes ago—after lasting ten minutes, half of which we argued and the other managed to make a schedule—I can confidently say I didn’t detect a single nice bone in his being.

Jude is hot. Not cute.

He might be a jerk, but I’m a girl with eyes, and when I see eye candy, I name it for what it is. I’ve been around the guy for three years, so I’ve seen his hotness a lot of times, but one thing is certain.

It never diminishes.

Sometimes when you get used to something, it eventually loses its appeal after a while, but this one guy seems to get hotter and hotter as the days go by.

Two days ago, my Maths teacher told me there was a student who needed help with his Maths, asking whether I could offer to tutor him. I’m good at Maths and always welcome a little practice, so I agreed.

I don’t know who I had expected, but Jude had been a surprise.

School football team star Jude Walker, school bad boy Jude Walker.

The moment I left Ms Fernandez’s office, I did a bit of digging here and there.

Jude is not a dumb kid. In fact, I think he has more As on his transcript than I do. I was wondering why he needed my help when I noticed his Maths grades. We are halfway through our last school year, and the highest he has managed is a B, which, compared to the rest of his subjects, is poor.

He is going all out on As. I couldn’t help but admire him.

I was a bit flabbergasted at his high grades, however. Let me confess I was a victim of believing in the stereotype of dumb jocks.

If he wasn’t so annoying, maybe I would like him a little.

We have successfully made a schedule, though I wouldn’t exactly call it a schedule.

We have the days.

Not the time.

Which, if you ask me, makes the whole thing useless and pointless.

We cancelled out the days he has football practice and the days I have club meetings.

Drama and Journalism, which he thinks are too many.

That leaves us with Tuesday and Friday.

“I’m pretty sure nothing will be happening on Fridays,” he says as we head out of the library area.

“Why not?” I ask, irked that he is making this hard, even though it’s all for him.

He shrugs. “I mean, it’s Friday,” he says.

The reason of reasons, if you ask me.

“Why are we restricting ourselves to evenings, anyway?” he asks.

“You want to do it early in the morning before classes?” I suggest.

“Hell no, I barely get up in time for the first class.”

Makes two of us.

“I’m saying four to six. What about you?”

We walk in silence for a while.

“Only four hours per week?” he asks.

“I’m up for more, just give me the time,” I say.

I have all the time in the world since finding a job after school has proved futile for me. I sigh internally as I recall the voice over my phone.

“How old are you?”

“Have you had any experience waitressing before?”

“I’m sorry, in that case, we can’t take you in. We need…”

Like what the heck? It’s a waitressing job in a restaurant at the very edge of town, not a hostess at a five-star spa in the middle of the city or something fancy like that.

“I’ll let you know,” Jude says as we come to the front of the school.

“Cool,” I mumble and head off on my way.

“Hey, wait,” he calls, and I look back at him.

I stand still and wait for him to say something.

“Thanks for taking me up,” he says. His voice is sincere, with no trace of humour.

I shrug. “It’s a way of revision for me,” I answer and turn away. This time round, he doesn’t call me back.

2. Of Evil Little Sisters

Later on, at night, I’m in my room, done with my homework and texting my bestie, Jennifer, when Mum yells for me from the kitchen.

“Jo?” At home, everybody uses my middle name. Unless I’m in trouble, of course. “Aren’t you doing the dishes tonight?”

I put my phone away, cursing. “What? No, it’s Maria’s turn tonight,” I yell right back.

We are not lunatics—communicating across our expansive house just requires a little bit more effort.

“You didn’t do them yesterday,” Maria’s voice joins the clatter.

I leave my room, already guessing how this will end. I go down the hall and through the living room to the kitchen.

“Sam did it for me last night,” I say when I get there.

“You didn’t do it; that’s what matters,” Maria says, turning to face me with a self-satisfied smirk. She tosses her long dyed hair back as if challenging me to say something.

Oh, the little devil.

“I got it done; that’s what matters,” I shoot back.

“Why would y

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