Chapter 9: I Hate You, Aaron Hale!
When the first slow song of the night came on, Keeley placed one hand in Jeffrey's and the other on his shoulder and they somewhat awkwardly stepped in a tiny circle.
Many other student pairs were doing the exact same thing though some of the higher society students performed complicated waltzes they had learned from private tutors. In her first life, Aaron made her take classes so she wouldn't embarrass him at important events so she was fairly good at it.
Those skills were wasted on Jeffrey but she didn't care about that. She would much rather dance normally with a friend than artistically with a snob.
A minute into the song, Keeley found herself being pulled away by somebody else. Jeffrey's protest was halfway out of his mouth when he realized who it was and shut up.
"You don't mind if I cut in, do you," he stated rather than asked.
Jeffrey nodded mutely. Traitor! Handing her over just like that!
"Stealing someone else's date is rather rude," Keeley spat as she struggled to break free from Aaron's alarmingly strong grip.
Coldness radiated off him in waves, chilling her to the core. "You didn't wear the dress."
"I told you I wouldn't. I still need to give it back to you."
Though he was clearly angry, Aaron's graceful waltz didn't falter in the slightest. Keeley hadn't danced with him like this in a long, long time. When was it? A charity gala when they were newlyweds?
She had been so proud and ready to show off what she learned but Aaron only danced one song with her before going off to talk to business partners for the rest of the night. He didn't compliment her dancing at all.
"Why? Girls like clothes and accessories."
"I already had one. It was presumptuous thing to do without even asking my opinion," she said sourly. "Gifts—especially expensive ones—should not be given to people who are practically strangers."
"You think I'm a stranger? After all the time we've spent discussing Shakespeare and Steinbeck?"
In what world did being stuck as partners in class constitute a relationship? His thought process was mind-boggling. Keeley had to put her foot down.
"We're just classmates, Aaron. It isn't appropriate to spend so much money on me."
"So you would let me spend money on you if we were closer?"
"Ye—no! Are you crazy? I don't want your money! I want you to leave me alone!" she nearly cried in frustration.
Nothing was getting through to this ice block. Why, when she would have twisted herself into a pretzel for a fraction of his attention, did he show no interest but now that she wanted nothing to do with him he showered her with it?
His smoldering dark blue eyes bored into her chestnut brown ones with frightening intensity. "That's not happening."
Keeley wanted to stomp on his foot but her traitorous muscle memory wouldn't let her because she knew all the steps to the dance he was leading.
Why not? What on earth was so appealing about bothering her when he knew she didn't like it?
Men are terrible—they think a woman who isn't interested in them is just playing hard to get and don't know how to accept the word 'no.' No means no, not yes, you idiots!
The song ended but Aaron didn't release her. He had dipped her when the music stopped as a sort of finale and his hands were on her waist even after they straightened upright.
"Keeley," he said seriously.
"Let me go. I have to get back to my friends."
His expression darkened when she tried to leave. "You dance surprisingly well."
"I've had a lot of practice," she muttered bitterly.
All of it had been for him and he only appreciated it now when she couldn't care less. "Can you let go of me now?"
"In a minute," Aaron said flatly before pulling her closer to him.
Before she knew it, he had seized her for a kiss. The second she broke free, Keeley slapped him across the face as hard as she could.
"I HATE you, Aaron Hale!" she seethed before turning on her heel and wiping her mouth furiously.
He had completely lost his mind! How dare he kiss her when, as far as he knew, they only talked in class? How dare he disregard her feelings? How dare he do something like that in public that would put a target on her back? 𝚋𝚎ｄｎｏｖ𝚎𝚕．𝚌ｏｍ
"Um…Keeley…are you okay?" Jeffrey asked hesitantly as she returned to the group.
His voice was riddled with guilt. Good. He should feel guilty for throwing her to the wolf's den.
"No," she said curtly.
"I'm sorry! He's scary; I can't afford to cross him! You understand, don't you?"
The sad thing was, she did understand. "You owe me big time for that."
"I'll buy your pizza," he wheedled.
It still wouldn't be enough to make up for the fact that she had been kissed by the man she had sworn to loathe for the rest of her life. It was even worse because a tiny part of her wanted to respond due to her former love for him.
"Deal," Jeffrey sighed in relief. Angry Keeley could be scary too.
Unfortunately, the rest of the night was ruined for her after that. Especially once she saw the murderous look on Lacy's face that threatened to freeze her from within.
So her enemy saw it. Of course she had—her eyes were always on Aaron. Did she at least see the slap that proved Keeley was an unwilling party in the incident? Or would that make her angrier?
Obsessed people can't be reasoned with. There would be hell to pay for that one unwanted kiss.
If Keeley got her hands on him, he would be dead meat, provided she didn't care about staying alive or out of prison.
Maybe she should start ditching literature class. Call in sick. Pretend to leave the country. Do an independent study. Anything to stay out of that maniac's way for the next month and a half until the seats switched again.