Run, Girl (If You Can)

Chapter 22 - You're Either Brave or Crazy

In hindsight it was fairly obvious that Keeley only came to Boston to be closer to Aaron. Now that they weren't even on friendly terms, she had absolutely no reason not to go to her first choice university. It was a disquieting thought.

She hadn't responded to his last text so he sent a second one. 'Which school is it?' He knew of course but he wasn't ready for the conversation to end. He missed her.


'Which program?'

'Biomedical engineering. Once I get my bachelor's I want to stay on and get my PhD in developmental genetics'

It was the most personal information she had willingly given in a long time. She must be in a good mood.

Aaron frowned. He had no idea she wanted to get a PhD. Had she ever mentioned anything about that in his last life? He couldn't be sure. They got married shortly after graduating from college and she stayed at home afterwards.

'I didn't know that. That's cool'

'Why would you know that? We don't talk. I don't know why we're even having this conversation'

'I told you, I'm bored. Entertain me'

The phone went silent for a few minutes and he thought she was done humoring him before it beeped again. He practically dove for his phone, grateful that no one was around to see his desperation.

'Try solving this riddle. You can look up the answer later online and see if you got it right. I have better things to do' A second text came in shortly afterwards. 'I speak without a mouth and hear without ears. I have no body, but I come alive with wind. What am I?'

Aaron couldn't help but be amused even though she was brushing him off again. At least her offbeat sense of humor hadn't changed.

He figured out the answer about fifteen minutes later and searched it online to be safe. He was right. It was an echo. Had Keeley looked the riddle up just for him or was it already in her head?


"Who are you texting?" Lydia asked when she came back from answering a frantic call from her mother, who didn't realize how long she would be out.

"Someone annoying," Keeley said with a frown.

She wasn't sure why she bothered answering. Maybe it was because she was already thinking of him. Or it could be because she was bored waiting for her friend to finish her rather long phone call. The latter seemed more likely.

"Someone annoying?" she repeated. "Do I know him?"

"He ruined our lunch period a while back."

Lydia gasped once she remembered. "How on earth did you get Aaron Hale's number?!"

"He texted me out of the blue a while back pestering me about going to the dance with him," Keeley said sourly. Lydia knew he stole her away from Jeffrey mid slow song but didn't know that he kissed her.

"He asked you out but you went with just a friend? Are you crazy?! Aren't you afraid he might destroy your life for defying him?"

Keeley scoffed. He'd already done that. Nothing he tried now could be worse than what she had already been through. Besides, the Aaron she knew then and the Aaron now seemed different. He had been strangely docile lately.

He hadn't ruined her for returning all his gifts and she had the odd feeling of being pursued. Aaron Hale chased no one. The whole thing was bizarre. So what on earth was his motivation texting her on a Friday night? Shouldn't he have more important things to do?

"I'd like to see him try," she said defiantly.

Lydia shook her head fearfully. "You're either brave or crazy."

"Let's go with brave. Besides, I've seen his worst. He can't do anything to me."

"When did you see his worst?!"

Oops. She wasn't supposed to know Aaron well. "I share a class with him. Somebody was getting on his nerves one day and he really tore into the poor guy," she improvised. Thankfully Lydia fell for it.

Her friend bit her lip, worried. "Don't be reckless, Keeley. He's the scariest person I've ever met. He could really hurt you if he doesn't get what he wants. What was he texting you about, anyway?"

"I'm not quite sure, honestly," Keeley said, still perplexed. "He claimed to be bored."

"Why would he talk to you of all people if he was bored?! Why not text one of his rich and powerful friends?"

"That's what I asked him."

"You actually asked him that?! Do you have a death wish?" Lydia was aghast.

It certainly looked that way, didn't it? Keeley was afraid of Aaron but not for the same reasons as everyone else. He had already allowed Lacy to kill her father and get away with it. Nothing he could do to her now would be worse than losing her only remaining family to such a horrible betrayal.

"I'm not afraid of him," she lied. "He's nothing to me."

"If he was nothing to you, you would have ignored the text rather than goading him," Lydia pointed out.

Alright, she had her there. Aaron wasn't nothing; he was worse than that. He was a piece of gum stuck to her shoe that wouldn't come off no matter how much she scraped.

Keeley sighed. She was too transparent with her emotions. "Actually, Lydia…he's the guy I told you about." It wasn't like she would say anything about it. She didn't have an in with the rich crowd.

The horror on her face was so exaggerated that it looked like she was wearing a Halloween mask.

"You were together with Aaron Hale? And he cheated on you but now he wants you back?! How did I not know about this? Everyone has their eyes on him at school!"

"It was before high school," she said half-truthfully. At least before high school in this life.

"So you went to the same middle school…" Lydia mused. "That's really bad. Why do you think he wants you back?"

"I have absolutely no idea."

Aaron shouldn't care about her in this life since she made no move to approach him first. She wished she understood his thought process so she could get him to leave her alone.

It didn't even occur to her that he actually liked her—if anything, she believed it was nothing more than a sick game he played for his own amusement. It must be fun toying with the one person who refused to fawn over him.

"If he texts you again, don't respond to him," she said nervously, reaching out to grip Keeley's arm. "I don't want him to hurt you again."

She smiled at her friend's concern. "Don't worry. He's going to Harvard after graduation. I'll probably never see him again once school ends. I just need to hold him off for a couple more months."

Lydia relaxed slightly. "That's true. But hey, does that mean I'll never see you again either?!"

Keeley reached out to pinch her face. "No, because I actually like you. We'll still call and text and hang out when you come home for the holidays."

She knocked Keeley's hand away and stuck out her tongue before smiling. "You better text me a lot. I'm going to miss you."

"I'll miss you too."

Once she got back home again, Keeley crawled into bed exhausted. Tonight had taken a lot out of her between talking to Lydia about her pathetic love life and the object of said love life contacting her out of the blue. She just couldn't escape him no matter what she did. It might be time to change her number. Although, it might be better to wait until after graduation to do that.

Her number would still be in the student directory and with his connections it wouldn't be too hard to get. She imagined that was how he got her number in the first place. It would be beneath him to talk to the few students on campus that had it since they were all scholarship kids.

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