Still Jaded Page 1

Author: Tijan

Series: Jaded #2

Genres: New Adult , Romance


"Have you heard?" Grace plopped her books on the table beside me. "Bryce Scout is moving back to town. The local celebrity jock is about to 'reclaim his crown.'"

I rolled my eyes. "You're just jealous because Corrigan won't be around to flirt with you as much."

Grace paled. "I am not…" she sputtered, her mouth agape, and then wised up.”You're the one who's jealous because Corrigan won't be spending as much time with you."

I laughed at that one. If only it were true. "Right. It makes complete sense that I'll be missing my time with Corrigan."

Grace pouted and leaned back in her chair. "You don't have to be the bitch you like to be. I'm just saying…whatever. I was just teasing you because, you know, Bryce is your boyfriend and everyone's talking about him, and you're my friend—just shut up, Grace."

"I know," I murmured as our professor entered the room. I nudged Grace's thin shoulder. "But I wasn't joking. You've got the hots for Corrigan."

Grace gasped and wheeled back to me in protest, but the class quieted in that instant and was soon underway. As Miss Connors wrote the first objective on the white board, I tuned the class out. It wasn't that I didn't enjoy our psychology class; it was that Grace was right. Everyone was talking about Bryce's imminent return, and I wasn't sure how I felt about it. I'd gone to Europe with him after high school. He had been going to play professional soccer, and I didn't have anything better to do. Corrigan went too, but he was the first to leave. However, while Corrigan had a legitimate reason since his mother had fallen sick with cancer; I did not when I followed him a few months later.

I stuck around Barcelona, but it was difficult. I wasn't good at making friends, and the only person I knew was busy with training, practice, and games. Then there were the interviews, the team outings for the public, and a whole host of fanatical fans, mostly female.

I'm not one of those self-conscious girlfriends—far from it—but the obsessive stalker types wore on me after awhile. I usually love ridiculing someone in public, tearing her to pieces until she shrivels up in a fetal position, but my run-ins with Bryce's adoring fans were too much. I realized that I needed my own life. So, I went home. That was six months ago…

An entire year passed from when we left to when all of us returned home.

"Sheldon!" Miss Connors boomed my name.

I blinked back to reality and saw my previous high school counselor frown at me. She indicated the white board. "What are your thoughts on the fight or flight instinct?"

I relaxed. Homework be damned, I could handle this question. "I think it's total crap."

Miss Connors suppressed a smile. "And what do you mean by that?"

She knew me so well. "The book says that people either fight or flight, right? They run or they attack? Well, it also says that people 'freeze' when they're in those life or death moments."

"Do you freeze?"

"Hell, no. I'm a fighter," I snorted in disgust.

The class broke out in laughter, but I saw Grace grimace. I wasn't surprised to see the concern in her baby blues.

"Do you think it's wrong to freeze?"

"No. It's just what it is, you know? People freeze. They're going to freeze if they've never been put in that situation, and it happens. The body does weird stuff. It takes care of its own."

Miss Connors snapped her intelligent eyes to me, narrowed them, and mused, almost to herself, "And maybe there's a reason why it shuts down…"


I narrowed my eyes and studied my previous therapist/current professor in return. She looked tired, but no more than usual. Her thin straw-colored hair was pulled into a haphazard bun with strands that teased the tops of her slender shoulders. She wore a yellow blouse pulled out from pressed khaki pants. All that was the same as before, but she'd never started talking to herself in the middle of a lecture.

I glanced around the room and saw more than a few other students confused. That's when I looked at Grace, only to find her concerned eyes still on me.

"I'm fine!" I snapped out.

Miss Connors jumped out of her trance.

Grace bared her teeth. "I can think my own thoughts."

"Not when they're about me," I barked back.

"Sheldon…" Miss Connors frowned as she stepped forward. "Is there something I should know about?"

"No!" I was tired of all the emotional support and crap. It had been a year since I killed the pervert who stalked me. It hadn't changed my life. I'd gone to counseling, more because the court mandated it, but I'd gone. I was fine. People needed to let it go.

Miss Connors looked at Grace. "Is there something I need to know?"

I interjected, "This is class, not Sheldon's personal crisis trauma team. And I'm fine. I'm pissed off because you made me talk in class, but otherwise, I'm fine. And don't talk to Grace. She doesn't have her head screwed on right now. She's got it bad for Corrigan, and he's unavailable, so she likes to turn her attention to me instead."

Grace gasped and pushed up from the table. She gathered her books against her chest, glared once more at me, and swept out of the classroom. Once the door slammed shut behind her, I sat back and waited for the shocked lull in the class to end. And one second later, it did as people eagerly turned to their table partners.

I had just outed Grace…because that's the type of friend I am.

Miss Connors sighed, looked at the clock, and then called out, "Okay, guys. You can go."

I stood up.

"Not you, Sheldon."

I sat down.

When the last student left, Miss Connors crossed the room to shut the door. As she turned, those condemning eyes in place, I snorted, "That's who I am. I'm not very nice at times."

"No, you're not," Miss Connors agreed with me. "But you're normally pleasant, especially with Grace. What's the deal?"

I grinned at her words. "What's the deal? Are you still trying to talk to me in my language?"

"Sheldon," she exclaimed. "You have never outright hurt Grace before. I have known you since high school and counseled you for one of those years. The last time you were a cold bitch to someone like Grace was the same time you were being stalked, and two of your friends were killed. So I'm asking…is there something going on that I should know?"