Keeley forgot something very important in her quest to avoid Aaron Hale: when they crossed paths in the first place. The first time she saw him was at a basketball game. Their eyes met briefly and she blushed and scurried away to where her friends were sitting in the stands.
She had never seen someone so handsome before—or so cold. The moment their eyes locked was like staring into a dark blue abyss.
She was curious about those eyes but didn't notice them again until the seating chart was redone alphabetically by last name. She froze the moment she stepped into the room and saw him sitting leisurely at the desk next to the one she was supposed to sit at.
Aaron Hale. Keeley Hall. People had teased them when they started dating because their last names were practically the same.
Keeley felt sick. How did she forget that this seating arrangement was coming up?! She was too focused on avoiding all the basketball games in the weeks since she woke up! Her memory got it wrong.
She thought this happened during the last quarter of her senior year, not the third! There was supposed to be more time to come up with a plan. She wasn't ready to face him; not after how coldly he had treated her just before she died so traumatically.
"Mr. Weisz, aren't seating charts a little childish? We are attending a prestigious institution of higher education after all," she tried reasoning.
Private school teachers tended to be proud of where they worked. Public school teachers only cared about maintaining the chaos.
Keeley never would have been able to go to a school as elite as Westwind Academy if her crazy great-great-grandfather's will didn't specify leaving his inheritance solely for the education of his descendants after striking it rich during the Gold Rush.
Her dad held two Master's degrees, completely paid for by the trust. Her cousins, all much older than her, had at least one graduate degree as well. Several had more than one like her dad. That was how the trust worked.
The beneficiaries may as well utilize it properly, which is how the very normal daughter of a civil engineer ended up going to a high school surrounded by children of diplomats and Fortune 500 Company CEOs.
"Seating charts maintain the order of this prestigious institution of higher education, Miss Hall," the teacher countered, seeing right through me. "Take your seat."
"Yes sir," she muttered, defeated.
Keeley would not slump in her seat nor would she look at him. Aaron did not deserve the satisfaction of her acknowledging his existence.
Instead, she took out a notebook and started doodling stars in purple glitter gel pen in the margins of yesterday's notes, pretending to concentrate extremely hard.
"Taking notes before class has even started? Aren't you diligent?" a familiar icy voice sounded in her ear and sent shivers down her spine.
What was he doing? Aaron wasn't interested in Keeley. She was the one who did all the chasing until he finally relented in her first life.
Thinking back, she couldn't understand why he bothered with her at all when he had the likes of Lacy Knighton hanging around him. Her father was a bigshot on Wall Street, like most of the kids here. She would have matched him perfectly.
Well good! She can have him this time! Keeley didn't want him!
"They aren't notes," she said flatly.
He peered at the paper with mild interest before mumbling, "I forgot you used to do that."
That sentence was enough to make Keeley look at him. He had a slight smirk on his face and it helped melt his Ice King demeanor a little bit.
Her heart thudded painfully when she remembered how much she used to love that little smirk. He didn't show his emotions often but that was how she knew he was amused or pleased back then.
"I don't know you. How would you know whether or not I've doodled before?" she asked stiffly.
He shrugged, nonchalant as his older self always was. "We've been in the same class all year. I used to sit a few seats behind you and saw it once."
A perfectly reasonable explanation. Her heart rate slowed. If a younger, more naïve Keeley knew he had noticed her before that basketball game, she would have flipped out with excitement. As things were now, it made her feel a bit sick.
"Right. Don't you know it's rude to call people out on things? It's just random shapes. It isn't hurting anybody."
"I never said it was hurting anybody," he said coolly but the conversation ended there because class began.
Keeley spent the better part of literature class trying not to be aware of the person beside her. Unfortunately, due to years of honing the skill, she noticed it all. Every twitch of his pencil. Every shift in his chair. Every bored sigh.
She wanted to scream. Too close! She was too close to her mortal enemy! How was she supposed to survive the next ten weeks like this?!
When the bell rang for lunch she couldn't escape the room fast enough. It would be easy to avoid Aaron outside of that one class. He always bought his lunch from the high-end cafeteria and sat with a snobby group of friends that included Lacy.
Since her father packed her a lunch every day, she avoided the cafeteria completely and sat with a couple of scholarship kids who also brought lunch out in the student lounge.
"Keeley!" Jeffrey Rosenberg waved her over. He was sitting with their friend Lydia Price at their usual spot.
She smiled brightly and walked over, putting thoughts of Aaron Hale out of her head. She wouldn't let him get to her this time. She would live life for herself and take full advantage of the family trust so she could get her PhD in genetics this time.
She always wanted to be a researcher but once she became the great Aaron Hale's wife, she was forced to give up her dream and become a socialite instead. That was her sacrifice for love and in the end it left her with nothing.