Chapter 2

The rest of the day went without any issues, beside the lingering feeling of confusion caused by a certain green-eyed bad boy.

Once I got home, I began the obvious, homework. About halfway through starting an English paper, I heard the front door close. I powered off my laptop and carefully crept down the hallway.

There he was, my father. He was making a bunch of noise in the kitchen. I looked at the clock, 5:43 pm. He hadn't been home since 3:15 the day before. I tried to turn back around to walk back to my room but he knew I was there.

"Maddie, I didn't think you'd be home," the man who held the title as my father slurred.

I sighed and walked back into the kitchen. "Harry. It's been awhile. How was work?" I knew he hadn't been at his real job but still asked.

He just chuckled, "work was great."

By the way he was talking, the bar was most likely were he had been. That wasn't the issue. The issue was, Where had he been for the rest of the 24 hours that had passed. If I had to guess, he had been staying over at his girlfriend of the month, Nicole's house.

"How is Nicole anyway?" I asked, not at all curious.

He had the decency to look ashamed. "That's none of your business little lady," he growled and I backed off.

"You know, nothing seems like my business anymore Harry," I told him solemnly and then went back to my room to finish my essay.

The next day, my alarm never went off so I woke up 20 minutes later than usual. I was eating oatmeal while putting on my socks. I put on the pair of jeans I wore at least 3 times a week, a plain black shirt and tried to make my outfit less horrible by wearing a pair of black wedges. My makeup was half assed, only going for concealer, mascara and blush which made me sad. It was the best I could do.

I ran down to my car and went 5 over the speed limit, praying I wouldn't get pulled over. I didn't need to make my day even worse than it already was. I made it to first period just as the final bell rang and I sighed, sitting next to Kimmy. What I didn't notice was the boy in front of me until he turned around to give me a confused look.

"You're never late. Were you dolling yourself up for me sweetheart? You know I wouldn't care if you wore a paper bag right?" Ace was trying to keep himself from laughing.

I frowned, "my alarm didn't go off idiot. And I'll have you know, I doll myself up for me."

I could tell Kimmy's eyes were about to burst out of their sockets so I started to say something about (MAYBE) being Ace's fake girlfriend for a few weeks but he cleared his throat. I looked over at him confused. But he looked at Kimmy.

"Nice to finally meet you Kimmy, I'm Ace Craige. Mad here tells me a lot about you," Ace introduced himself with a smile and his hand shot out.

Kimmy reaches out to shake his hand. "I'm very confused," is all she said.

Ace's eyebrows corkscrewed in a mask of confusion. "Sweetheart, you said you were going to tell her." He really should be an actor.

"I never agreed to anything Ace," I grit my teeth, implying I had never even said I'd be his fake girlfriend.

He smiled, "you didn't need to babe, I could tell what you were thinking."

Kimmy whipped her head back and forth, "why does he keep calling you by coupley names?"

"We're... dating," it hurt to say but I somehow managed. The smile that lit up on Ace's face was slightly disturbing, knowing he was getting exactly what he wanted.

Kimmy blinked very slowly before cocking her head to one side. "Since when?"

"Officially since yesterday," Ace interrupted. "I've been pestering her for a week to go out with me and I've finally gotten her to agree."

Kimmy looked hurt, "why didn't you tell me Maddie? I thought I was your best friend." And then she turned in her seat and ignored me for the rest of the period. I sighed and looked over at Ace who had already turned around.

After class, I cornered outside our classroom and started walking with him to what I assumed was his next class. "Why didn't you let me tell Kimmy we aren't actually dating?"

"Not so loud Mad," he told me softly. "Listen, if i'm not going to tell my friends, why would you be able to tell yours? It makes it all the more believable if we are the only people the know the truth."

I sighed, it was becoming my norm. "I wish that didn't make any sense but you're right i guess. Okay I won't tell her."

He nodded, pleased with my answer. "Where are you going? Don't you have math right now?"

"I'm not even going to ask how you know my schedule because i'm sure I don't want to know. I was walking with you to class so I could talk to you but now that that's over-" I started to turn around to walk to my class but Ace stopped me with a hand on my wrist.

"Do you want to meet up after school?" he asked me, shocking me.

I blinked, "why? Isn't this just an in school and at your house thing?"

He chuckled again, like he always does when I talk. "We need to make up something. How we met, how I asked you out, Why you like me..." He trailed off with a raise of his eyebrows.

I rolled my eyes and looked down at the hand still holding my wrist. He let go of it, somehow knowing I didn't like it. "I really don't want to be seen in public with you unless we have to so we can go to my house or... to yours?"

He started playing with a piece of of my hair and I stumbled on my words. "Definitely your place sweetheart. Unless your parents are there. Yeah on second thought, maybe we shouldn't."

"Harry won't be home. He never is," I told him bitterly.

He didn't look at me with pity like Kimmy did when I talked about my dad. I hated when people pitied me so I was thankful for his reaction. He shrugged and kept walking to class, dropping my hair. "Perfect. Text me the address."

"I don't have your number," I realized.

"See you at lunch sweetheart," he yelled, causing everyone in the hallway to look at me. They all immediately turned to their groups and whispered.

By lunch, Kimmy was still ignoring me so I had no idea where to sit during lunch. Ace said he'd see me at lunch but that couldn't mean he'd sit with me, right? But I was wrong. As soon as the 6‘0 boy stood from his usual table and started walking toward me, all eyes were turned.

He stopped in front of me and smirked. "You just gonna stand there sweetheart?"

"I don't know where Kimmy is and I doubt she wants me to sit with her anyway. Thanks for that by the way," I told him, my arms crossed over my chest.

His smirk became lazy and I noticed a dimple that hadn't been there before. "We can sit wherever you want to Mad," he emphasized on the word we. I had decided I'd let him call me Mad if he wanted to. It had a certain ring to it. At least it wasn't Grey.

I once again rolled my eyes. What can I say? He brings it out in me. "Seriously Craige, you don't have to sit with me," I made my voice monotone.

"What kind of boyfriend would I be if I let you sit alone at lunch Grey’?" It wasn't that I didn't want him to sit with me. It was more of the fact that I was super uncomfortable with the amount of people that would stare at us if he did.

"The kind that you are, the fake one," I joked but it was awkward considering it was true.

I was holding the sandwich I had bought in my hand, it was still covered in saran wrap. I started to unwrap it to take a bite hut Ace took it from my hand and bit it himself.

"Hey! That's not your sandwich," my arguing was fruitless.

He finished chewing and swallowing before answering, "sharing is caring Mad."

"I don't care enough to share, asshole." Okay, maybe that was a little harsh but I was mad. The guy had just stolen my lunch and I get mad when i'm hungry.

With one eyebrow raised, he handed me back my sandwich. "You feeling caring enough to share your number with me sweetheart? Or am I going to have to find it out myself? I have my ways."

I took his phone from his hand when he held it out and typed in my number. He did the same.

"Anyway, I have a test to remake so," I lied just to get away from his overwhelming presence.

He tilted his head to the side, adorably. "Since when do you get less than a B+ on a test?"

"Why do you know my grades?" I shot back.

What I did expect was a smirk to form on his face and to make a stupid innuendo. What I didn't expect was the two red spots that formed on his cheeks. "You just look like a nerd," he tried to amend.

I didn't know what to do. I didn‘t want to tease him for his blush but at the same time, I did. "Well, I'm going to the library." I turned around and started to walk away but I turned back. "By the way, you look adorable when you blush," I joked and then bolted out of the room.

I got home that day, totally forgetting Ace was planning on coming over. Paint me surprised when I got a text from the guy at 4:15 saying, planning on giving me ur address anytime soon or?

I yelped and looked around my messy as hell room, sent him my address and started throwing everything into my closet.

I'll be there in 10.

I cleaned faster. There was no way I was going to let Ace Carter see me at my worse, which was in my pig style of a bedroom. Only seven minutes later, the doorbell rang. I ran down the hallway, practically as if there was fire on my backside. I swung open the door to reveal Ace.

His smile was deadly as he leaned against the doorframe. He looked me up and down twice before settling on my face. "Cute pajamas."

SHIT. I looked down and looked at my fluffy heart pj pants and flowery tee shirt. Figures, I'd cleaned my room but had forgotten about my horrid taste in bedclothes. I settled for an embarrassed, "thanks," and let him in.

"If I didn't know any better, I'd think you forgot about our little date Mad," his voice was amused but there was a hint of something else I couldn't identify.

"This isn't a date and stop calling me Mad," okay maybe I had lied about letting the nickname go.

Ace ignored me and looked around my apartment. Harry and I had been living here since my freshman year of high school, only 2 months after Samantha left. I hadn't gotten the chance to clean anywhere except my bedroom so there were beer cans sitting beside the couch and the tv had still been on when I had gotten home.

"You drink?" Ace asked, seemingly trying to lighten the mood. I shook my head, ignoring his humor.

"Harry," is all I said and he shut up. I walked down the short hallway to my room before turning around. "Sorry, did you want anything to drink? We have beer and water." I was only half kidding.

He chuckled, "I think i'm okay.“ And then he gestured for me to open the door. So I did.

My room was plain and scarcely decorated. The walls were white, my furniture was light brown, my queen comforter was blue with little flowers all over it. I had a desk and a dresser and a bed, not much of anything else. "I know it's nothing to what your house must look like but-" I hinted at Ace being rich, just like the rumors.

His eyes narrowed, "what makes you say that?" I shrugged and he moved on. "I like it. It's nice and simple. And it isn't pink," he added with a smirk.

"Hey! I like pink. It was Samantha who didn't like pink," I confessed without realizing it.

His smile sobered a bit. "Who's Samantha?"

"Sorry, I meant my mom. My mother doesn't like pink," I tried to amend.

Ace did what he did best and moved on. "So, how did we meet miss Grey?" He sat on my bed, making it look much smaller than a queen size.

I tried to think how I wanted to weave our story. Did I want to go for realistic and make his family 100% believe in us, or did I want something so outrageous, it would be hard to believe. I tigured Ace would appreciate if they believed us.

"Just say we met in class or something. Like, we were placed next to each other and we just started talking," I threw the simple idea out there.

He leaned back on his hands. "And sparks just flew?" There was laughter in his voice. It bothered me.

"This was your idea Ace, not mine. You need to take it seriously," I crossed my arms.

He fell back against the bed and groaned. "Okay, okay. You're right. Alright, in class, started talking..." He trailed off.

"Okay, how did you ask me out? Where was our first date?" I tried to push him to think. I was not going to be the only person involved in our "relationship."

He was still laying on his back. I could have sworn he closed his eyes as if he was making himself at home. "Well, since we talked in class, I just asked you on a date. I took you on a picnic. It was night time so the stars were out. And since you're a smartie pants, you pointed out all the little constellations." He paused as if thinking over what he had said. "Girls love that kind of crap right?" Ace sat up.

I tried to say something, anything but I couldn't find the words. That was... romantic. I had no idea a guy like Ace Carter could think of something so out of box for a date. I mean, he was a boy. Boys weren't supposed to be good at that type of thing right?

"So they don't like that stuff?" Ace asked me, trying to snap me out of my thoughts.

I finally snapped out of it, realizing I probably looked stupid, standing there with my jaw on the floor. "I mean, I guess."

It probably wasn't the answer he was looking for because he just scratched the back of his neck and looked down at the floor. "Anyway, what time does your dad get home from work?"

"If he went to work, he would have been off at 3 but since he isn't here, i'm guessing he spent his day at the bar." I didn't mean to say it sounding so bitter but it sure came out that way.

"Mom?" Ace asked, uncomfortable.

I sucked in a breath and glanced over at my desk to a picture of her and me when I was a baby. "Samantha left when I was 14."

"What happened?" Ace sounded curious.

I shook my head, "Long story."

"I have time."

I clenched my jaw. "I really don't want to talk about it," my voice went up a few notches.

For once, Ace Carter looked taken aback. "That isn't my business. Sorry."

I moved on again, "the date idea is good but we need more. They're gonna expect more about our relationship than the first time we went out." And so we spent the next few hours planning out our story.

Kimmy finally stopped ignoring me when I got to first period the next day. She hadn't forgiven me yet but at least she exchanged a few words with me. I'll take what I can get. Ace strolled into class, fifteen minutes late and made some kid I'd spoken to a few times in my entire life, move seats. He plopped down in front of me and turned around.

"Good morning babe," his lips spread into a smirk.

I forced a smile while simultaneously clenching my jaw in an effort not to throw up at his pet name. I decided that if he wanted to call me "cute nicknames" I'd ham it up for him. You know, make the relationship very believable.

I leaned forward and pinched his left cheek, "good morning boobear. I missed you!" Ace's eyes widened as I continued to theatricalize my love. "How did you sleep last night cuddle bear? I had a great time on our date last night! Didn't you?"

I could tell he was holding back laughter as he leaned closer to me. "You're overdoing it a bit sweetheart, but please, continue."

"Overdoing What?" Kimmy piped in. Well shoot.

"How much fun she had on our date. It really was nothing," Ace told her. I don't know how he did it but his face filled with a rosy blush, really playing my best friend. He had a serious talent.

The teacher quieted the classroom down after that, ending our conversation.

Throughout class, I watched Ace stare at some girl across the room for a good 10 minutes before I leaned over and smacked his arm. He ignored me but I saw him start to smirk.

After class, Ace didn't even wait for me to gather my things before leaving. I had to jog to catch up with him. When I did, I smacked his arm again. "You know, you're really bad at this whole boyfriend thing."

He looked at me blankly. "How so?"

I rolled my eyes, "boyfriends aren't supposed stare at other girls all throughout class." He chuckled. "Or leave them hanging when they're packing up their backpack."

"Here, I'll make it up to you," he reached his arms out and took my backpack from my hand since I hadn't gotten the chance to put it on properly yet.

I sighed, "there's literally no point to you taking my bag considering we're heading in the direction of your class, not mine." He stopped, spun us around and started walking in the opposite direction. "Where are we going?"

He shrugged, "making an excuse to hold your bag by walking to your class."

Hm, I could get used to him holding my things. "Thank you," I told him. He smiled.

We walked in silence and I realized what a horrible friend I was now that I had a "boyfriend." Just like Ace had left me in the classroom, I had left Kimmy. I resolved to hang out with her at lunch and buy her a cookie to make it up to her. By the time I had sorted out my issue, we were at my class.

"So, they get here on Saturday in the afternoon. Can you do dinner maybe Sunday night?" Ace asked me in a rush.

I had almost forgotten what he was talking about. "Oh yeah, of course. Sooner we get this over with, the better."

He laughed, "just the start of the next two weeks."

While I resisted the innate urge to break out into "Start of Something New," I nodded and took my backpack from Ace's grip. "Okay. See you tomorrow I guess."

"What about lunch?" He asked me, checking his phone, for texts most likely.

I scrunched my eyebrows together, "what about lunch?"

"I won't see you at lunch?"

I shook my head, "I'm gonna hang out with Kimmy. Try to stop her from being mad at me anymore." He nodded and the bell rang. He started walking away. "Where are you going?" I asked when I noticed the way he was going, toward the doors.

"I find that I don’t really want to be here right now. School is boring. See ya tomorrow Madison Grey."

I walked into class. "See ya Ace Craige," I whisp ered to myself.

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