Maya

Please note – This scene is unedited.

Deleted scene – Originally this took place after the Gekko Club and before they visit Heeley. I love the pre-kiss banter between Jack and Eliza, but I think this was a bit too flirty. Cutting this scene meant less Maya, but it slowed the pace too much.

As soon as the final bell rang I was on my way to the carpark, when I heard Amy call my name.
I turned to see her and Tasha rushing towards me, with determined faces. Admittedly, I had been avoiding them rather a lot lately and it looked like it had finally caught up with me.

“Hi,” I said when they reached me. There was an awkward pause, something the three of us had never had before.

“Eliza, what’s going on with you?” Tasha finally asked.

“Nothing…honestly,” I insisted when they both peered at me.

Amy folded her arms. “You don’t seem like yourself. You keep saying you are busy but never explain why. Every time I see you lately you’re with Jack but you’re still adamant you can’t stand him. I don’t get it.”

“There’s nothing wrong. You know what things are like at home, I’ve been keeping Daisy distracted while juggling school and work. And the ‘Jack’ thing is completely innocent. He is really annoying but somehow we have kind of become friends.”

Tasha wrinkled her nose. “So there’s really nothing going on between you two?”

I shook my head. “Why is that so hard to believe?”

“Because it is impossible to be ‘just friends’ with someone so gorgeous.”

“Aww thanks Tash,” I teased.

“I meant him.”

Amy remained silent and, while it looked like I might have gotten around Tasha, Amy’s scowl told me I wasn’t getting around her quite so easily.

She fixed me with a stern look. “I came to your house the other day, the day before Heidi’s party. I wanted to tell you about Dane, but Jack was there. I saw him leave your house. You two were as thick as thieves. It looked a lot more intense than a couple of friends hanging out.”

I stared at her, my mind whirling. She’d come to my house? That must have been when Jack told me about my dad, so yes, I expect we did look intense. I couldn’t believe she had kept that to herself all that time.

“How about a coffee?” I suggested.

Amy and Tasha exchanged a glance.

“Please?” I begged, giving them each a careful look. “There’s something I need to tell you about Jack.”

***

“By the way I told the girls you are dyslexic.”

Jack, Callan and I were at Ridgewood having beer and pizza. Jack stopped mid-swig and began coughing, while Callan burst out laughing.

“What? Why would you do that?” Jack spluttered, wiping his mouth on his sleeve.

“Because I had to tell them something. They staged an intervention to find out what was going on with me. Amy saw us together again, so I told them you have dyslexia and I have been helping you.” He stared at me, slack-jawed. “What? It’s better than the truth.”

Jack glowered at Callan who was still laughing. “Couldn’t you just say we were dating?”

I rolled my eyes. “No, because that would result in us having to pretend to date. Besides, dyslexia is nothing to be ashamed of Jack.”

“No, it’s not – if you actually have it!” he exclaimed, sending Callan into a fresh fit of laughter.
Callan finished eating and left, and Jack was still sulking when the front door banged. Freddie appeared in the doorway with a girl behind him.

“Maya!” Jack called.

“Hello Jack,” Maya said with a small smile. She sounded nervous. With long toffee-coloured hair and ice-blue eyes, she was strikingly beautiful. Dressed casually in a flannel shirt and jeans, she wore a black beanie and thick rimmed glasses. I grinned, she suited Freddie perfectly.

Freddie introduced us then disappeared upstairs to get his laptop, muttering something about a programme he wanted to show her. Of course I wasn’t surprised to hear she was a computer whizz just like him.

“I’m so glad to finally meet you, I have heard a lot about you,” I told her.

“Likewise,” she said, her eyes flicking to Jack then back to me.

I pressed my lips together. Goodness knows what they had told her. I didn’t want to know.
Jack shot Maya a knowing grin. “Eliza, how about we go for a drink? Give these lovebirds some alone time alone.”

“You really don’t have to,” Maya said, her cheeks turning pink.

“These old houses have surprisingly thin walls.” Jack’s grin broadened as I gave him a shove. Maya’s cheeks went from pink to crimson.

I gave her a warm smile. “Ignore him, he’s just bitter no one wants to spend any time alone with him.”

He frowned. “Hey, what do you think we’ve been doing all night?”

“Not that kind of alone,” I said, with a sugary smile.

His eyes sparked. “Well, as I keep telling you dah-lin, we can change that whenever you want. Just say the word.”

“And he thinks by constantly flirting-not that I would really call it that-I’ll suddenly jump on him,” I told Maya.

This made him laugh. “A bloke can live in hope can’t he?”

Maya and I shared a conspiratorial smile and she gave me a small nod. The attention had shifted away from her. Mission accomplished.

Freddie reappeared with his laptop under his arm. He took one look at Maya then narrowed his eyes at Jack, who opened his mouth but I quickly covered it with my hand.

“Jack and I were just on our way out,” I told Freddie quickly, dragging Jack out by the arm.

***

As we soon as we were outside I poked Jack in the ribs. “You are so mean.”

“Mean? I think it is pretty decent of me to clear off so they can have the place to themselves.”
“You didn’t have to embarrass her though, the poor girl looked like she wanted the ground to swallow her whole.”

“She knows I’m only mucking around, believe me she’s used to it,” he said, waving his hand. He leaned on the top of his car. “So where shall we go?”

“You can go wherever you want. I’m going home.”

“No way, you have to stay and keep me company. I don’t want to go by myself. Come on Eliza…please,” he said, giving me puppy dog eyes.

I sighed. “One drink. But only if you promise to behave yourself.” I was already climbing in the car.

“Scout’s honour,” he said giving a little salute. Hopping into the car, he started the engine.

“As if you were ever a scout,” I scoffed as we drove away.

***

I didn’t take long to decide on Evil Pete’s. It wasn’t like there were any other options. The place was busy for a Tuesday but we still managed to find an empty booth at the back.

“Maybe we should go to the bar, by the look of it we could be in for a wait,” I said, eyeing the crowd.

“There are plenty of other ways we can pass the time,” he said, raising an eyebrow.

I rested my chin on my hand. “Are you still carrying this on? Y’know if I actually went for it and said yes, then you’d run a mile.”

He leaned in, his face so close that for a split second I thought he was going to kiss me there and then.

“Try me,” he said, his expression serious. His gaze was intense, his pupils dilated and I noticed tiny little sparks of silver amongst the grey, actually if I-

“Sorry for the wait guys, what can I get you?” a voice said, breaking the spell and sending me back to reality with a jolt.

Pulling away from Jack’s hypnotic gaze, I turned to the waitress and cleared my throat. “Coke please,” I said, deciding on a soft drink.

I needed to keep a clear head.