Vanished:A Bad Boy Second Chance Romance

By: Autumn Avery

Chapter 1

Ten Years Ago

Mia, age 16

“Oh God, Mia. He’s looking at you again,” I hear Cassidy say from beside me as I grab my Algebra book from my locker. I know who she’s talking about already; I don’t even have to look. But I do. I turn to find Joey Mason eyeing me from across the hall. He’s been doing this for weeks now, but hasn’t said more than two words to me.

“What is his problem?” Merrell chimes in. “Total stalker vibe.”

He doesn’t even try to look away when I catch him staring. Joey isn’t one of the popular kids at Stonehill High, but there’s still something so arrogant about him, like he couldn’t care less about anyone here, like somehow we could all just disappear from the world and his life would keep on going unchanged. I don’t think he even has a single friend.

I, on the other hand, have plenty. I’m one of the “popular girls,” part of the group of highly coveted sophomore girls that all the senior boys want to date. It’s okay. I like having an active social life, but the rest of the girls aren’t really that…deep. I’m always trying hard not to look bored when the conversation turns to celebrity gossip, rumors about boys, and whatever reality T.V. show is hot right now. I’d much rather be at home curled up on the couch with a good book or working on one of my paintings. Or travelling the world, but that’s a dream that seems so far off right now.

“What is his deal?” Cassidy says, sounding more and more annoyed.

“I feel like he’s gonna like…kidnap you, Mia,” Merrell says. I laugh softly.

“That could be fun. He is hot,” Cassidy says.

“Yeah, like serial killer hot.” Merrell just isn’t having it. She doesn’t want to admit he’s cute. I mean, he is cute. He’s thin, tall for his age, with strong features that almost make him look dangerous. His eyes are intense, almost unsettling, but as I look at him, I am wondering why he hasn’t asked me out yet. It’s obvious he likes me. I mean…what else could it be?

I burst into laughter, and just as I’m about to turn away, Joey makes a face like he’s disgusted by something. I stop in my tracks and frown at him. He notices, and grins at me as he turns away.

“What…” I mutter to myself.

Before I even know what I’m doing, I’m striding across the hall toward him.

“Mia, wait!” Merrell snaps at me. But I don’t slow down. I march right up to him and tap him on his shoulder.

“Excuse me?” I say in my bitchiest tone, crossing my arms across my chest as he turns around. I’d expected him to look surprised, or guilty, or caught out, but when I see his face, he looks…amused.

“Yes?” he says, just as casual as ever.

“What was that?”

“What was what?” He’s playing dumb.

“That! That right there! You gave me a look.”

“What look?”

“Don’t be an idiot. You gave me a look!”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” he says, turning back to his locker. I stare at his back as he packs his bag with books, all second hand and falling apart. I can’t believe he’s ignoring me like this; after standing there staring at me for five minutes, he’s just going to pretend like nothing’s going on? This has been going on for weeks, and I’ve had enough.

“Look, do you—do you like me?”

He stops and turns, still smiling, that cocky grin on his face. I suddenly feel like the dumbest girl in the world for even asking.

“Do I what?”

“Nothing—“ I say, turning to leave. But he calls after me.

“Do I like you?”

I stop in my tracks. That tone. As though it could be impossible. I whirl around and stride back to him, getting right in his face.

“What? Why is that so crazy? All you do is stare at me. I saw you staring at me now, you’ve been doing it for weeks!”

He roars with laughter, and I feel myself blushing. It’s all I can do not to run away, but I know Cassidy and Merrell are watching me, and I don’t want this to turn into any more of a scene than it already is.

“What’s so funny?!” I ask him, fists clenched at my sides.

“You’re a Fleecer,” he says, naming me as one of the popular girls, so named because we like to wear fleece jackets a lot. “I don’t like Fleecers.” And with that, he slams his locker shut and walks away from me, leaving me standing there like an idiot. I’m stunned, and don’t know what to do for a moment, but I finally turn around and walk back to the girls.

“What did he say?!”