Without You: Book 1 of the Changing Hearts Series (10 page)

BOOK: Without You: Book 1 of the Changing Hearts Series
8.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Mr. Sandhill sighed. “It depends. I’ll remove this incident from your record if there’s no more trouble from you two. An out-of-school suspension definitely will affect your applications, so I’d watch it if I were you.”

Mr. Sandhill finished writing something on a pink slip of paper. Then he slid it towards Ariana. “I need you to sign this. You’ll have ISS next week.”

She signed her name on the bottom of the paper. She could hardly see the line where she was supposed to sign because her eyes were so full of tears. She willed them not to overflow. She slid the paper back to Mr. Sandhill.

He tore off her copy. “You may go back to class. We are in second period now.”

Ariana got up and left without a word. The tears had silently splashed onto her face.


“My parents are going to kill me,” Ariana told Mayra at lunch. She looked down at her tray. Today it was peanut butter and jelly sandwich with some soup. She made herself take a bite of the sandwich, knowing later she’d be starving otherwise. Meanwhile, Lucas was still getting his lunch. She hadn’t told him yet.

“Wendy is such a bitch. So she got one day of ISS too?”

Ariana nodded and looked down at her tray. “They just gave me permission to go out with Lucas, now this.”

“Well, I bet when you explain to your parents what happened, they’ll understand.”

“I don’t know. I’ve never been in trouble before in school. This is bad. I basically started a physical fight. It would have gotten worse, but Mr. Harrison stepped in.” She looked at Mayra. “Believe me, Wendy was getting ready to throw punches.”

Mayra shook her head as she bit into her sandwich.

“I don’t even talk to her.”

“She’s just one of those people who love to talk shit about other people. They thrive on it. She was in one of my classes last year. I let her know early on she wasn’t about to do that around me. I think she just loves the attention.”

Ariana rolled her eyes and stared off into space. This day was not supposed to have turned out like this.

Lucas sat down next to her with a tray of chicken pasta. He kissed her on the forehead and looked at her. They hadn’t really had the chance to talk since Lucas been late to Spanish class and the teacher had put them in different groups for an activity.

“Hey,” he said with a smile. He dug into his food.

She gave a small smile.

“What’s wrong?”

She sighed and looked at him. “Haven’t you heard?”

“Heard what?” he said as he lifted his drink to his mouth.

“I got a day of ISS.”

He almost choked. “What for? I thought you never got in trouble.”

“She doesn’t,” said Mayra.

“This girl named Wendy in my lit class was talking shit about me going out with you,” she paused. “Then she pushed me as she was walking by. And I pushed her back.”

Lucas’s eyebrows furrowed. “Wendy? Our grade? Short hair?”

“Yeah…You know her?”

Lucas played with his food. “Yeah… She’s my ex. I went out with her for a couple of months last year.”

“Seriously?” Ariana just stared with her mouth open. She grossed herself out at the thought of them kissing. Or worse.

“Dude. You just lost some cool points,” said Mayra. She had been trying to act like she wasn’t listening, but obviously she had been.

“I have to agree with Mayra,” Ariana said.

Lucas blushed and put down his fork. “Can we talk about this later?”

Then she blushed. She thought of her ex, Carlos. Wendy was nothing next to him. Carlos had done some really horrible things. Or rather Carlos’s friends. Wendy was just all talk. Mostly.

“Sorry,” she took his hand, which was on his leg.

He took a deep breath. “Don’t worry about it.” He went back to eating, although definitely less enthusiastically. “So what happened?”

“She was talking about me and you and why you’d even want to be with me after…”

He looked at her. She tried to focus on her words, just her words and getting them out. “After what happened last year. With my ex, Carlos. And the pictures from this stupid party.”

“I don’t care about any of that.”

“So you know what happened?” She turned to him.

“Well, yeah. I didn’t know you, but I saw you two together, and he was in one of my classes. I pretty much heard what happened.”

What a horribly, awkwardly small world, she thought.

“Were you friends with him?”

He shook his head. “Never really liked him.”

She nodded.

“You know he didn’t even graduate?” he said as he began eating.

She hadn’t even really thought about that until now. She felt like gagging for some reason. Why did everything feel like her fault?

“So when’s ISS?” Lucas continued.

“Next week. I just hope this doesn’t affect me getting into college.” Tears threatened to invade her eyes again.

Lucas hugged her with his arm and squeezed her. “I’m sure everything’s gonna be fine.”

Ariana was just amazed at how sweet Lucas was after what she and Mayra had said. There was no comparison to Carlos.


Ariana and Jimmy got out of the car and headed inside their house. Their mom was already home, and Ariana was wondering whether she should tell her parents about the day of ISS she had gotten individually or together.

Or not at all.

Jimmy patted her shoulder as she went inside first. She had already told him what had happened, and he’d pretty much heard about it anyways. News traveled fast at school. From what he had heard, Wendy was not happy she hadn’t gotten the chance to fight back.

“According to what I’ve heard, you’re now officially a badass,” Jimmy had said.

“Not the reputation I was hoping for,” Ariana said. The attention she had gotten last year from the drama with Carlos had been more than enough to last her a lifetime.

Maybe she shouldn’t tell her parents. That might just ruin things for her and Lucas.

She put her stuff in her room and followed Jimmy back to the kitchen to see what her mom was cooking. Her second favorite. Tostadas made with shredded pork, lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sour cream, and extra hot salsa.

“How was school?” her mom asked as she cut up the lettuce.

“Good,” Jimmy said.

“Ariana, did you see your boyfriend?”

“Yeah. He walked me to class, and he’s in my Spanish class so we had lunch with Mayra and some other people.”

“Remember, it’s not good to spend too much time alone with boys at your age. You’re still new at this, so it’s easy to get carried away, but what you do determines what kind of reputation you will have.”

She almost wanted to say that this wasn’t her first time having a boyfriend, but she didn’t want to bring up the past. She settled for nodding and staring at the lettuce.

“I got a day of in-school suspension.” There. She had said it. Quick, like ripping off a Band-Aid.

Her mom put down the knife and put her hands at her waist. “You’ve been suspended?” Ariana cut in before her mom got into the full swing of her angry mood.

“It’s in-school suspension. Just one day.”

“What did you do? Does it have to do with Lucas?”

“Some other girl was talking about me. Then she pushed me in front of everyone. So I pushed her back.”

She looked at her mom.

“How did this happen? Why didn’t you just tell the teacher? You should have let him resolve it. Then it would have just been that other girl in trouble.”

“I know. I didn’t think. Not that the teacher would have been able to do much. The other girl, Wendy, would have lied. She lied to the assistant principal’s face.”

Her mom shook her head. “What has this generation come to?” She resumed cutting some lettuce and began on the tomatoes.

“So when do you have the day of in-school suspension?”

“Next week.”

Jimmy was browsing around the kitchen, looking for something to eat. He opened the fridge.

“It’s really not that bad,” he said. “Most people would have gotten out-of-school suspension for being in a fight.”

Ariana stared at him. He had said the word. It had not been a fight. Could have turned into one had the teacher not intervened. But it had not been a fight. No matter what everyone else said or thought.

“And I mean, she had to defend herself, you know?”

“There are other ways to defend yourself. Not just with your fists.” Ariana’s mom turned to her as she put the lettuce and tomatoes in separate bowls. “Is this going to affect you getting into that school?”

“Maybe. I don’t know.”

“Well, if you went to school here, that wouldn’t be so bad. That would be one good thing that came out of it.”

Ariana sighed. “Why can’t you understand that I don’t want to go to school here? The other school’s bigger and better. I’ve researched it. They have really cool dorms, free tutoring, and everything.”

“I guess, in the end, it’s your choice,” her mom said, pinching her cheek. “You’re almost eighteen. We can’t tell you what to do anymore.” She sighed.

chapter nine

Ariana went to her room to lay down until her dad got home so they could all have dinner together. Then, she would tell her dad what had happened. Maybe he would take it as well as her mom had. Maybe.

What her mom had said about her age was true. Her birthday was coming up in like a month. With everything that had happened, she had completely forgotten about it.

She was going to be freakin’ eighteen. Her mom’s words rang in her head.

We can’t tell you what to do anymore.

How had she gone from being told what to do with every second of her life to this? To deciding what her life was going to be? If she got in early to UGA, she had to go there. It was part of the deal for applying early. Leaving her family behind would suck. Not having Mayra along for the ride would suck even more.

Then another thought entered her head.


How could she leave without Lucas? He was smart. Not incredibly smart, but he got As and Bs. Had he even applied to UGA? What if he did but didn’t get in?

They had just started their relationship, and this December when she found out if she got in to UGA might be the beginning of the end of it.

She grabbed her phone and texted Lucas.

Can you talk?

Within a minute, her phone was ringing from Lucas’s call.

“Hey, are you okay?” He sounded rushed.

“Are you at work?”

“Yeah. But it’s not too busy. I have a minute.”

“I just wanted to ask you something.”


She took a deep breath. “What are we going to do in the spring when we go to college? Did you apply to UGA?”

“Um, yeah, I was going to apply, I guess. I don’t think I’ll get in, though. And if I do, I’m not sure I can go anyways.”

“Why not?”


“I can’t afford it. My mom and siblings need me here. She’d never be able to handle everything on her own. Remember?”

“Oh,” was all she managed to say.

“I’ll be right there!” Lucas said to someone else. “Hey, I gotta go, but let’s talk about this later, okay?”

“Bye.” She put her phone on her bed.

She realized her life had just gotten much harder. She almost wished she was still being told what to do.


The next day at school, Ariana and Lucas sat on their own at lunch. Lucas was already there, picking at his taco salad.

“Hey,” he said as she sat down.

“Hey.” She put her plate down and opened her drink before touching her food.

“Sorry I never called you back last night or texted. I got home really late and fell asleep after taking a hot shower.” He put his arm around her and pulled her in for a small hug.

“It’s okay. You don’t have to apologize.” She said it without looking at him, just focused on her food.

“You’re not mad?”

She looked at him and smiled. “Why would I be mad about that? You work. Of course you’re going to be tired.”

He smiled back. “Okay.” He took a bite of his food and a sip of his drink. “So about what you said yesterday.”

She sighed. They hadn’t even been going out a week and already their relationship was in trouble.

“What are we going to do?” he asked.

“I have no idea. I really want to go to UGA. They have the best program for what I want to major in, which is business. And it’d finally be a chance to get away.”

Now Lucas looked away.

“Not from you. Just this. This town. This school. These people. I need that. I need to be independent.”

He nodded.

“I want you to come with me.”

Lucas sat up straighter and stroked her hair. “You’d want to do that? Even though we haven’t been together even a month? Even though we’ve known each other less than two?”

She nodded. “It feels right.”

It was his turn to sigh. She knew what she was asking him. To leave his family behind, one he couldn’t leave behind even if he wanted. How could she ask him to do that? Because she was selfish, she thought.

Lucas kissed her lightly on the head. “Let’s see what happens first, okay? If I can even get in. Then we’ll figure it out. I promise we’ll figure it out.” He kissed her forehead, and she closed her eyes, hoping they did figure their lives out.


That Friday, Ariana looked out her window. Still no Lucas. But he would be here any minute probably. She looked at herself in the mirror one more time. She had looked up some new hairstyles on Pinterest and chosen a cool-looking kind of bun that didn’t look too hard. Mayra had given her some pointers on makeup and helped her pick out an outfit.

BOOK: Without You: Book 1 of the Changing Hearts Series
8.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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