Aaron frowned and tapped his pencil against his arm. Keeley directly challenged him with her impressively fast sonnet about cheesecake.
He didn't even have a topic. It had to be something that would interest her; she might soften a bit towards him if it was about something she liked.
He could have sworn that for a split second that she was excited he recognized her Star Wars reference.
Pop culture was a foreign concept for most of his life since he was raised to be as businesslike as possible. Other little boys ran around playing with their plastic lightsabers while he was expected to learn how to fence with an actual sword.
His father told him that common things were beneath him and for the longest time he believed it. He would never prefer pop culture to business articles but Keeley loved things like that.
He ignored her preferences when they were together before. In his efforts to help her navigate his world, he forgot to try and do the same in hers.
Aaron lived twenty-seven years alone with his regrets before dying from a heart attack caused by overwork. Waking up as a seventeen-year-old with another chance was the best possible thing that could have happened to him.
One of the first things he did was watch all of the Star Wars movies so he would have something to talk to Keeley about once he met her again.
He never would have imagined that she would be so difficult to talk to about anything unrelated to class assignments. It was frustrating beyond belief but he had to keep his temper in check or she would run even farther away.
If he could mix the two together…that gave him an idea. He wasn't able to write his sonnet nearly as fast as she did but the end result should pay off.
"A ship zooms through the endless stars above
It dodges meteors and space debris
A rusty piece of junk that I so love
Though some do not always its value see
The hyperdrive is broken yet again
And yet the ship does not fail to retreat
A perfect hideaway for Rebel men
There are no goals that this ship cannot meet
I won it in a game against a friend
He was reluctant for the ship to part
Eventually he flew the ship again
The ship that had still lived on in his heart
The galaxy is saved because of it
Amidst those happy days in its cockpit"
Keeley laughed hysterically from her place on the floor and Aaron wasn't sure whether to be gratified or annoyed. "You—just wrote—a sonnet—about—the—Millenium—Falcon."
Her words were halting and she barely got the sentence out because she was laughing too hard to breathe. Her face was completely red and she clutched her sides for support.
Aaron hadn't expected such a strong reaction from her. Was this a good thing or a bad thing?
"That should be to your satisfaction."
"No one will believe you came up with that. Everyone's going to think it was me. Who are you and what have you done with Aaron Hale?" She sat up and sobered in an instant.
There was that hesitance again. He couldn't understand it. She kept pulling away from him. She seemed almost…afraid of him.
What could he have possibly done to make her be that way when they had hardly interacted in this life? She seemed afraid of him even before the kiss…
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Right," she muttered to herself. "I must be crazy. Let's get back to work."
For the most part, they worked in silence, stopping only to ask for rhyme suggestions now and then. The other three sonnets took about an hour to complete.
Aaron watched her as she concentrated, enjoying the exaggerated look of focus on her face as she tried to think. It reminded him of happier days. The early days of their relationship when it seemed like nothing could go wrong.
Out of instinct, he reached out to brush a fallen strand of hair behind her ear and she flinched, hard. Aaron drew back instantly, annoyed. She was definitely scared of him.
Keeley was supposed to be the one person who didn't fear him or his family's power. His chest constricted painfully. How had this happened?
"Why are you so afraid of me? What did I do to you?" he asked unhappily.
Panic shone in her eyes for a millisecond before she gave him a blank look. "Everyone is afraid of you. Don't tell me you haven't noticed."
"I have. But I want to know why YOU are afraid of me."
"The same reasons as everyone else. You could wipe any of our families off the map in the blink of an eye," Keeley said without meeting his gaze. "And you're cold as ice. Nobody can get close to you."
He wanted to protest. That wasn't true. Keeley got close to him before…she pushed and pushed until she wormed her way into his heart. She had loved him so much!
It killed him that she was saying these things now in such a detached tone. Not only did she not love him, she seemed to hate him. He couldn't bear her indifference. Karma was a cruel mistress.
"Only because nobody bothers to try," he said eventually.
Keeley tried before. She tried so hard that there was no other option but to succeed.
She ignored that and got to her feet. "I need to go home now. Since I came up with one more sonnet than you, you should type it up and submit it to the teacher."
"Alright," he said dully before calling for Carlton to take her home. Clearly she didn't want him to come with her.
Keeley had changed and Aaron didn't understand why. She had been the only person in his life who didn't care about gaining benefits by association on top of not trembling in fear at the very sight of him.
This would be a lot easier if she actually did want something from him. Unfortunately, it seemed like all she wanted was to be left alone. That was the one thing he couldn't do.