“No, really. It said that the earlier you start smoking, the worse it affects you. You could get cancer. And besides, what would you do if Michael saw you? Or Kenna?” she asked, naming Lila’s younger brother and sister.
Lila shook her head, but she slid the cigarette back into the pack as Jason, her boyfriend, slouched up.
“Hey babe,” he said and bent his lean height to kiss her. She kissed him back, tasting the sweet/sour flavor of pot on his breath.
“Hey,” she said, “You got high during school?”
He shrugged. “Only a little. Got a test in Science. Too tense without a little toke.”
Melanie stood up and brushed the grass off her skirt. “That reminds me. I got a quiz in Algebra. I need to get my notes out of my locker. The bell is going to ring anyway. Walk with me?”
Lila looked from Melanie to Jason and back again. “You go ahead, Mel. I'll be right behind you.” Ignoring the disappointment on her friend's face, Lila wound her arms around her boyfriend's neck. “I got to talk to Jason for a minute first, 'K?”
Melanie shrugged. “Ok,” she said, and hoisted her book bag onto her shoulder.
Lila focused her attention on Jason's lips, and when she looked back, Melanie was rounding the corner.
“Did you get it?” Jason asked.
“No. Marcus said he's going to have a new crop of green tonight, but it's going to cost. You shouldn't be smoking on campus Jason.”
“Neither should you,” he said, and sprawled on the grass, his bloodshot gaze taking in the narrow patch of sky overhead. She sat down cross-legged, her knee nudging his hip.
“I don't get high at school. I'm not that stupid.”
His face darkened, and she scooted a few feet away.
“You saying I'm stupid?” He asked.
“No, I'm saying getting high at school can get you into a lot more trouble than cigarettes. And you don't need more trouble.”
“Won't be no trouble unless you tell someone.” His eyes narrowed as he sat up. “Or Melanie does. Both of you better keep your mouth shut. Things like that get a girl damaged. Know what I mean?”
His voice was hard with anger and Lila's stomach clenched.
“No one is going to tell anyone anything, Jason. Chill.”
He grabbed her arm and Lila fought against the flinch she knew he wanted.
“You better not,” he said.
“Let go, Jason. You're hurting my arm.” She kept her voice neutral, but it didn't do any good.
“Let go, Jason. You're hurting my arm,” he mocked. “I'll do worse than that, you little bitch.”
He cocked his arm, and she ducked, throwing up a hand to shield her face. Instead of punching her, he grabbed her hand and squeezed, drawing a cry of pain from her lips. Her fingers felt hot, tight.
“Stop it, Jason.” The heat in her fingers flared.
Jason snatched his hand away. “What the hell did you do?” He yelped, then shoved her away. Holding his hand up, he examined his stinging fingers, but there was no visible damage.
Lila scrambled to her feet, slinging her book bag over her shoulder as she rose. “I told you if you ever tried to hurt me again we were done.”
Forgetting his injury, Jason stood up. “Ah come on, babe. You know I didn't mean it. You shouldn't make me so mad, saying I'm stupid and stuff.”
“And I’m done with your shady friends too. I was only there for you anyway,” Lila said. He reached for her and she pulled out of reach.
“Marcus ain’t gonna like that,” he said, his voice dropping to a gravelly base.
“I don’t care what Marcus doesn’t like. I’m out.” She shook her head and backed away. “Marcus said to meet him at the old factory tonight. You want to make your deal, be there at six. I'm not going.” She turned and then shot him a look over her shoulder. “Don't call me anymore. I meant what I said. We are over,” she said and left him standing on the faded grass.
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