Run, Girl (If You Can)

Chapter 18 - Troubles at School

Keeley had been on edge ever since she noticed Max—her future killer—was tailing her. She wasn't stupid; it was obvious that Lacy put him up to it.

What was she planning this time? The same unoriginal mean girl tricks as her first life? Or did she plan to jump the gun and try to kill her already?

Previously, the 'accident' attempts didn't begin until she and Aaron had been married for a while.

She was so naïve before, believing that all the mishaps she encountered at school were nothing more than coincidences. Lacy wasn't even all that great at covering her tracks. Her false friendliness was easily detectable.

The problem was that Keeley had her motivation wrong. She thought Lacy didn't approve of her because of her social status, not because she was obsessed with Aaron.

It was a reasonable assumption to make since she wasn't the only one at the lunch table like that.

The first day she joined Aaron in the cafeteria should have told her how the rest of their relationship would go. Not one person seemed to want her there.

He only let her tag along because she kept pestering him about it in their shared class right before lunch.

Aaron silently strode through the lunch line as she chattered about how nervous she was that she wouldn't get into any of the schools she applied for.

Eventually he bopped her on the head with his lunch tray.

"Don't be stupid. You don't have bad grades; somewhere is bound to take you. Come on, my table is this way."

Feeling oddly encouraged despite the backhanded compliment, Keeley followed him to a table where four other elites sat talking to each other. They might all be wearing the same school uniform but it was clear that these students were on a whole other level.

Aaron sat down without offering a single word of explanation for her presence and began gracefully consuming his food so she felt the need to introduce herself.

"Hi everyone, I'm Keeley Hall, Aaron's desk mate in literature class."

They all openly scrutinized her. "I've never seen you around. Do you not usually eat in the cafeteria?"

"No, I usually sit in the student lounge."

"Scholarship student," Max scoffed under his breath, making a tan brunette girl giggle.

Keeley heard it and frowned. What was wrong with scholarship students? Most of her friends were here on scholarship and they were great.

Aaron finally spoke up. "She isn't here on scholarship."

"But she isn't one of us either," Lacy said shrewdly. Her first impression of the new addition to the table was already poor. "Aaron, why is she here?"

"I wanted to eat lunch with him so I am," Keeley replied coolly.

It was insulting to be talked about as if she wasn't even there. She pulled out her lunch, intending to copy Aaron and ignore everyone by eating.

"You brought your own lunch?" the tan girl asked with distaste. "Nobody here packs lunches."

"Everyone in the student lounge packs lunch. Just because you don't do it personally doesn't mean that no one else does," she shrugged before taking a bite of her peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

Furious whispers rose up from the other members of the table until Aaron silenced them all with a glare. "Enough. Introduce yourselves properly; you sound like wind rustling through grass."

Everyone muttered mutinously before putting on their best fake smiles and introducing themselves. Benjamin Carver. Rachel von Dyne. Max Lynch. All people who would treat her poorly under a thin veneer of kindness.

Lacy's smile was the least genuine of all. She was threatened by Aaron standing up for another girl in any capacity.

That was the beginning of Keeley's troubles at school. After that, she sat with Aaron's group nearly every day. He didn't speak often but when he did, his remarks were primarily addressed to her, which incensed the others.

Under Lacy's direction, they all purposely talked about rich people things she wouldn't know about in an effort to exclude her.

Keeley was a curious person. She knew they what they were trying to do but was too interested in what they were saying about unfamiliar things to care much. Aaron always said something when they overtly stepped over the line to shut them up.

For the rest of the school year, things fell into a regular pattern at lunchtime. She was just happy to spend time with him since they hardly ever saw each other out of school because Aaron led a busy life.

Rumors about Keeley being a gold digger sprung up as she continued spending time with people others viewed as above her station but she wasn't terribly upset by them.

This sort of thing happened to any regular student who tried to hang out in the cafeteria where the truly rich stayed. She knew it wasn't true so she refused to let it get to her.

The only other incident of note was two days before graduation when Keeley walked past the top of a staircase.

Someone zoomed down the hallway and knocked into her so she fell down several stairs. Thankfully there were enough students congesting the stairway that she was caught by a couple of underclassmen.

She bruised her shin but that was the extent of the damage. For the longest time she thought it was a simple accident resulting from someone else's carelessness.

Hindsight is a funny thing. Keeley never would have connected all those little problems at school if Lacy's designs on Aaron hadn't been so obvious later.

She couldn't help but wonder what happened between the two of them after Lacy had her killed.

Did Aaron treat her any better than he treated Keeley? The thought caused a twinge of bitterness in her heart. All that effort and Lacy got her man in the end.

What was it about Aaron Hale that made women lose their minds?

Keeley abandoned her dignity and her dreams to limp behind in his shadow and Lacy disregarded both rationality and any sense of morals in her own pursuit of the man. He wasn't worth either of their love.

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