For two weeks she'd been hounding all of his friends and parents, looking for him. Nobody would tell her where he was, not because they were on his side, oh hell no. They were all on team Hayley and they made damn sure he knew that when they managed to get him on the phone. A week ago he finally had enough and threw his phone out his driver's side window somewhere in New Jersey.

When he left Hayley two weeks ago he'd been on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He knew if he'd stayed he would go back to Haley on his hands and knees, begging her to give him a chance, and he almost had. The only thing that stopped him was knowing that Hayley would never want him the way he wanted her.

"You've put your house up for sale," she said accusingly, pushing her glasses back up her nose as she glared at him.

He simply stepped around her and walked out of the teacher's lounge. Of course that didn't stop Hayley. In seconds she was walking beside him.

"Jason, we need to talk."

"I think we said everything we had to say two weeks ago, Haley."

"No, we didn't, Jason. You left before I could talk to you. Look, would you slow down?" she asked, doubling her efforts to keep up with him.

"No."

He didn't want to talk. Hell, he didn't even want to look at her, but he had no choice in the matter. Until his house sold he was stuck working here and seeing her every day.

"Jason, we really need to talk."

"No."

She somehow managed to catch up with him and jump in front of him just as he reached his classroom.

He pinched the bridge of his nose and sighed. "Move."

"No," she said stubbornly.

He didn't have the patience for this shit. "Move out of the way, Haley."

She shook her head.

"Fine," he said, stepping away from her and heading for her classroom, intending on cutting through her room.

"Fifteen people have looked at your house and not one offer. That's kind of funny, isn't it?" Haley asked in an offhand tone, stopping him dead in his tracks. It was the gist of what his realtor had told him last night over the phone when he got in.

"What the hell are you talking about?" he demanded, turning around to glare at her.

Haley made a show of examining her fingernails. "Just that it's kind of funny that no one has made an offer on your house, especially after all the work you've put into it over the past few months." She looked up from her nails, giving him a smug little smile.

"And how exactly do you know that no one has made me an offer?" he asked, narrowing his eyes on her as he took several steps towards her.

Her brows arched up adorably. "A little birdie told me?"

"Uh huh," he said, tilting his head to the side to study her. "And what else did this little birdie tell you?'

"That you won't get one offer on your house until you give me what I want," she said firmly. There was no doubt in his mind what she wanted.

Friendship.

As much as he would love to be able to stay in Haley's life and make sure that whatever lucky bastard ended up with her took care of her, he couldn't. Not when he knew he should be the lucky bastard who was allowed to hold her, love her and be there for her. She was his little grasshopper.

"I can't give that to you, Haley," he said hoarsely. "I wish I could, but....but I just can't. I'm sorry."

"Then you're not going to sell your house," she simply said, shrugging.

"I'm sorry, Haley," he said, walking back to his now unguarded door.

***************

"Last chance, Jason!" Haley yelled through the front door.

Great, he thought, sitting back on the kitchen chair. This was just what he needed. It was bad enough that he was forced to cut Haley out of his life, something that was going to take him a long ass time to get over, but he didn't need her going psycho on him.

Haley was smart and level headed. He never really expected her to land on his doorstep at eleven o'clock at night, demanding to talk to him like so many women before her. At least she didn't sound drunk and wasn't screaming a bunch of bullshit for his neighbors.

"About time," he mumbled, rubbing his hands down his face when he didn't hear anything for five minutes. Although he was glad that Haley had given up, he couldn't help but feel a little insulted. Women he'd only f**ked once or twice were a lot more persistent and demanding than a woman who claimed she loved him.

Then again she only loved him as a good friend, one that she'd apparently wanted to screw around with for a little while, but a friend nonetheless. He'd known the entire time they were together that he wasn't good enough for her, he just never expected Haley to so readily agree with that assumption.

It figures, he thought acidly, tossing his red pen down on the stack of essays he was grading, that the one woman he wanted only wanted him as a f**k buddy. A year ago he probably would have been flattered that his shy little neighbor saw him as a stud. Now he just wanted to put his fist through the wall.

He fought back a yawn as he picked his pen back up and started going through the essays again, wondering what the hell had possessed him to assign an essay quiz on the first day of school. The answer was easy of course. Haley and of course the new biology teacher, Mark Armstrong who wouldn't leave her alone all day were responsible for this simple act of stupidity.

Jason had been forced to watch as Mark flirted with his little grasshopper. When Haley had dropped her notebook in the hallway before first period and bent over to pick it up, it had taken every last ounce of control to stop himself from ripping apart the bastard who licked his lips while he watched Haley's pert little bottom wiggle. Since Jason needed the job and a good reference he refrained from killing the bastard and took it out on his students, who now hated him.

He didn't give a shit.

The only thing he cared about was getting the hell out of here with his sanity intact and he doubted that was going to happen if he was forced to see Haley everyday and watch as other men drooled after her. He'd have to find out from his realtor tomorrow what the hell Haley was doing to scare people away.

Right now he was too damn tired to think of the possibilities. He hadn't been able to sleep much over the past couple of weeks, another thing he was going to have to fix. He felt himself start to doze off as his head dropped forward. This time he didn't fight it.

*************

"Wake up, Jason," Haley's sweet voice had him groaning as his eyes slowly opened. "Good boy," she said, pressing a kiss to his forehead.

"Haley?" Jason asked groggily as his eyes slowly focused on her cute little smiling face.

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