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Nine - Secret Hideout

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*.*.*.*.*.*

Haley

I don't know why I had expected to see Xavier at Nancy's party. It's not important that she invited the entire school as far as I can tell, but to me the party is a drag. Sure, I have fun. I dance with my friends, chat around and even laugh at a couple of flirty guys, but after I get home, I can easily label the party a 'waste of precious time'. 

"Well, what did you want to do at home?" my dad teases me when I express my view to him, and I roll my eyes and push him out of the room before getting in bed.

I don't see Xavier after Christmas eve for the rest of the holidays. I have a strong, overwhelming urge to call him, which I don't obey, knowing Xavier isn't really the calling-texting type as far as I know. I've never seen him use his phone, except that one time when he left it at my house. 

When school resumes, I'm more excited to see him than I am to get out of the house again. The entire school is bustling with activity after the ten days long break which has completely reenergized everyone. Nancy and Odette can't stop talking about the party, and I laugh along and pretend to be on their page at all times. I don't like controversy, and telling them I hated the party would only invite a dozen questions starting with 'why'. 

So before class can start, I let my mind stray to irrelevant things, while on the surface pretending to be like every other person in school.

It isn't until I'm in calculus that my mood lifts instantly when I see Xavier taking his seat next to mine. What makes me glow even more is the sight of my band on his wrist, exactly where I had placed it. 

Yes, I know where I placed it.

He doesn't glance my way as class begins, and leaves as soon as it ends, but his complete ignorance of my existence does nothing to dampen my uplifted mood.

"Hey," Nancy grabs my arm as soon as I'm out of class. 

"Hey," I beam at her, radiating joy.

My smile falls when I see the serious look on Nancy's face.

"That wristband you got ..." she begins, watching me closely. "Who did you give it to?"

"I told you I got it for dad," I lie, hoping she isn't able to tell.

"Really? Because I just saw Xavier wearing it."

"Xavier?" I play dumb. 

"Xavier Hunt, Haley, how many Xaviers do you know?"

"I don't even know one." I shrug. "Besides, maybe it was just identical. The wristband, I mean."

"The saleswoman said it was the last one."

"Yeah, but she didn't say it was the only one," I act smart, glad I have a brain that I can use when I need to. "Maybe he bought it before me."

Nancy doesn't answer, looking at my face with suspicion. It's probably my unusually joyful mood that's making her paranoid, so I put on a serious face that reveals nothing of how happy I am on the inside. 

"Maybe," Nancy finally says.

"Now then that's settled, I have to get to classics," I say to her, quickly spinning around and hurrying down the hall, sighing in relief when she doesn't follow.

*.*.*.*.*.*

"Hey," I greet Xavier excitedly that night as soon as I open the door to let him in.

He's clearly confused by my enthusiasm, but doesn't say it. He passes over the threshold and I take in his appearance; the same black jeans, black shirt, black jacket, and the black wristband in place. I don't know if he does it on purpose, but the black attire and black hair definitely bring out his eyes, grey as the stormy skies.

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