Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Chapter Four

Chapter One can be found here:   http://bloodyroseandthorn.blogspot.com/search/label/Ch%201

CHAPTER FOUR

“What do you think you’re doing, Cheapie?”

Bekah paused in the alleyway leading from one of the school exits to the parking lot. Hoping her frown would set him ablaze, she turned to the blond, green-eyed jock who approached her as though ready to draw a gun from his hip. The stride of the tough guy. The high and mighty jerk who deserved nothing but a good pimp slap to the noggin.

His less threatening behavior over the past couple of weeks probably had something to with Shields’ bribery, but a jerk like Brian could only behave for so long.

She hugged her books more closely, glancing around to find that he’d followed her alone. For a change, the big wimp.

“What do you want, Brian?” The leafy scent from the nearby woods drifted down the inlet and the warm sun stroking her cheek made her long for a glass of cold Coke. Going home to zone out had been on her priority list- not meeting Bozo in the alley.

He stopped, towering over her from only a few inches away, his ball cap shielding his eyes but not hiding his frown much. And the beer on his breath explained everything.

She rolled her eyes and as she turned and said, “Get lost, creep.”

The jolt she received from his fist clamping around her arm forced a gasp which she quickly regretted- even more so than her books tumbling to the ground. Her books falling might have been expected, but the gasp screamed vulnerability.
Digging her short nails into his thick hand, she debated whether to kick his shin, even as he tightened his grasp and growled so closely to her face that she thought his breath would kill her, “I hate girls like you. You tease and then you run. Just like you did to Towers.”

“What?” How did he…? What did he know? He knew something!

She’d managed to curl the tips of her fingers around his, breaking them the slightly from the curve of her arm. “Let go, Brian or I swear…” Her heart pounding harder by the second, she shot glances over her shoulder in hopes of finding Alice- or someone, anyone. Brian had never cornered her like this before, had never come close to real violence.

Despite the sick feeling that she’d been wrong about his inclination to beat a girl, she heard herself snark, “You’d make a terrible husband.”

“Shut up.”

“You shut up, Brian.”

The voice had come from behind the big oaf. Brian snapped his head to the side, straightening his shoulders as though he’d been approached by a drill sergeant. Bekah released her breath as he released her arm.

Geez, what was wrong with her? How could she let him intimidate her like that? Her legs literally felt like they’d ooze all over the asphalt and her heart continued to hammer as she nearly fell to her knees to gather her books. Her breathing may have been loud enough to compete with roaring waves, but a familiar voice managed to carry above it all.

“I don’t know what you think you’re doing, but it’s stopping now. I think you need to visit Hack, Mr. Cruise.”

Hack? That idiot wouldn’t help anything.

Her books in her arms again, Bekah stared toward the rocks that lined the brick walls as though they held an answer to what had just happened. Above her, Brian was insisting that he’d only had a few drinks and Shields chastised him for drinking any alcohol at all- let alone attacking a poor, helpless little school girl.

Her good sense urged her to cut him off but her body remained limp, her gaze plastered on the rock shaped like an Easter Egg while Brian’s words circulated in her head: You tease and then you run. Just like you did to Towers.

She hadn’t meant to do that…not exactly, but how did Brian know? Had he been talking to Towers? How long had he known this tidbit and who had he told?

Acid crept up her throat as memories of Hack’s phone call flooded her head. Her mom’s face paling before her eyes and her father tapping his fingers as he awaited an explanation. Bekah’s blood had been drained by an invisible vampire and she’d collapsed on a dining room chair.

After all this time, knowing that she’d never intended any sort of sexual contact with Towers, she felt guilty for what she’d done. At first, she’d been mortified that her jokes had turned on her. Now she may as well join a convent and repent of her sin for the rest of her life.

Get a grip. This is so not you.


Her breath still sounded raspy when a shadow fell over her and Shields’ face invaded her line of sight- thick brows curled as he waved a hand in front of her. “Are you OK?” he asked.

She blinked. Licked her lips and stilled her breathing- but for only an instant. Soon it became quiet but uneven and she gnawed her inner cheek when the tears began pressing against the backs of her eyes.

“Rebekah?” Shields prompted, looking as worried as her mommy dear the day she’d barfed up a bowling alley ‘special.’

For Pete’s sake, this couldn’t be real.

Somehow she found her feet, though she placed her hand against the brick wall until the spinning sensation stopped.

Peeking at Brian probably hadn’t been a good idea, but at least now her ticked off side seemed to be chasing away the jitters. Seeing his knowing smirk, she imagined plastering him against the building with a single punch.

Shields slid between them. With his hands in his pockets and his navy tie partially undone as the breeze played with his hair, he seemed unaware of Brian snarling at Bekah over his head.
What kept Brian from simply pounding the shorter man into the ground? They both seemed strong, so maybe Bri-Bri was scared?

“Rebekah,” Shields said. “Do you want to come inside with us? Brian needs-”

“No, I’m going home.”  She cleared her throat after hearing the strain in her voice.


Shields shook his head. “I’m afraid you don’t look healthy enough to walk home.”

“Stop mommying me. I’ll be fine, I’m meeting Alice.”

He puffed out his breath and one of his hands landed on the back of his neck in his typical, “what the snot do I do now?” gesture. What, did he need a guidebook on how to deal with stubborn females?

Poor baby.

“See you later, Brian,” she said through gritted teeth, the words, “If you ever touch me again, I’ll tear your face off,” perched on the tip of her tongue.

Shields wagged his head. “You need to step inside and cool off a minute.”

She rolled her eyes, her protest silenced by Shields insisting that, “You look like you’re on the verge of passing out.”

Maybe he was right. The alleyway seemed to shift, her stomach churned and the boldness she’d felt seconds ago drifted into the nothingness. Either she’d been foolish to skip her lunchtime Hershey Bar or Brian’s assault had awakened a sleeping ‘bug.’

No…Brian knew more than she’d realized.

God, say it isn’t true.

Now it totally made sense why he wouldn’t leave her the heck alone. Someone had slipped him inside information and partial truths are partial lies.

That’s what’s wrong, she thought as she swallowed and before she knew it, Shields had gently cupped her arm. Continuing to gaze worriedly, he ushered her toward the door.

She stopped after two steps. “I’m not...I’m not going in.”

“Yes, you are.” Shields sounded more insistent than ever. “Come in and we’ll call your mom. You need a ride.”

“No.”

“Woman, would you stop being so stubborn and come on? You too, Brian, move it.”

She shot Shields a double-take because he’d yet to call her ‘woman,’ nor had he displayed such forwardness during any of their classes. Either he’d found his pair or he’d simply been hiding his tougher side.

But he’d no idea how humiliating this would be…going to Hack’s office- again. To have this subject rehashed. No way in heck. She snatched her arm from Shields’ grasp, her voice catching when he reeled on her.

“You leave this property and you get a detention.” If he glared any harder, the lines at the bridge of his nose would split his forehead in half. Despite the sick humor that normally would spark a chuckle, she shuddered.

“Get inside,” he added with a nod in the direction of the door. “Now.”
Five minutes later found her in the dreaded hotspot.
With a gulp, she folded her hands behind her back, the old iciness welling from her stomach and into her throat as she glanced about the little cave with the tall bookshelves, the brown carpet and the humming machinery. The room smelled just as much like mold as it had before.

Mr. Shields had pulled the gray haired, glasses-wearing Santa known as Principal Hack into another room, leaving her and Brian to cast each other warning glances.

What the heck had driven him to comply with Shields today, anyway? Not only was he a rebel but he was drunk and Shields…despite Shields’ bulging biceps, Bekah believed Brian could whip him.

Beating a teacher probably wouldn’t faze him in the slightest. Very little seemed to faze him, actually.

Brian’s face appeared in the dictionary under the word "Vulgar" and again under "Jerk", and again under various insulting phrases. He’d always been a scourge of Westview Heights, picking on wimps, flirting with girls, upskirting and peeking down blouses, pinching butts as he passed them in the hallway.

Strangely, he was also the popular quarterback and a straight-A student. How one guy could be such a complete ball of creepiness and coolness was beyond her… and while that combination won over pure goody-goodiness, she couldn't imagine getting along with a guy who specialized in bullying the unpopular girls.

And he knew something about the situation with Towers that hopefully the other kids didn’t. The question was…how could she shut him up?

She began fidgeting with the corner of one of the books resting on her lap and wondering why the heck Mommy hadn’t arrived yet. She needed to get out of here. Now. The sooner she began planning her strike back, the better.

Finally, the older men returned. While Shields folded his arms and leaned against a wood-paneled wall, Hack seated himself in his swivel chair across from Bekah. Rubbing his short beard, he pointed his pen across the table at Brian. Just like he’d done to Bekah almost a year ago.

"Saturday School for a month, young man. We shouldn't antagonize little girls who are minding their own business.”

The facetiousness brought her simmering blood pressure to a boil and Freddy Kruger began laughing at her from nightmare land.

Weak little girl, indeed.

“And as for you, young lady,” said the hack. “You’ve got to realize that this is merely the result of poor choices.”

Bekah felt her mouth gape open, a small “uh!” escaping for these mentally challenged men to hear it.

“But we will not tolerate the type of harassment seen here today, not to worry,” the old man added while swiveling slowly from side to side.

To her right, she could feel Brian's smirk so heavily that she formed a fist and clutched the arm of her chair to keep from ripping at him. He knew something and would darn well keep quiet about it. No way would she allow that bozo to start spreading more rumors, true or not.

“Mr. Hack,” Shields interjected. Until then, she’d forgotten he’d remained in the room and felt like tossing her cookies all over her shoes.


The last thing she needed was for Mr. GQ to…do whatever a briber would do with any information Hack had leaked.

What if he was another Towers? What if his nerdiness and infernal Boy Scout side drove him to want to protect her?

God, save her now or else strike her dead with a lightning bolt and get it over with.

GQ had no business in this freaking room!

“Forgive me if I sound disrespectful,” Shields was saying, “but we can hardly blame her for any attacks. Brian is drunk and perhaps deserves more than just Saturday school?”

Bekah tossed him another double-take, but he maintained eye contact with Hack. What in the universe was he doing? Standing there, shoulders squared and gaze completely unflinching, he looked almost like a super hero.

She snorted under her breath, a thousand thoughts running through her mind. Shields wasn’t old enough to influence the principal, but he sure seemed up to the challenge.

A total turn around since the first day of school.


She squinted at him while Hack replied in a low but steady tone, “I understand what you’re saying, Mr. Shields, but we all do pay for mistakes we’ve made.”

Shields went on, “I’m simply saying that-”

“As I said, I understand. And as for Brian…if this happens again, he’ll be suspended.”

That was it?

Bekah swallowed as the oldest man smiled in her direction. “I believe you’re a good kid at heart, Miss Rose…things happen. We should all try to lay them at rest.”

Good night. Would it do her any good to scream in his face that he’d believed only partial truths? She’d tried to explain it before, but stupid people loved abiding in their stupidity, she supposed.  At least the court had given her reasonable doubt.  Her violence-free, non-trouble-making history had helped that, but still...Towers had deserved a worse punishment than he'd received.  What it boiled down to was that no one would believe her and there was no sense pressing the matter in any freaking court room.  Besides, she'd had enough of that crap.


It had been dramatic enough, though only a tad of a newspaper scandal, and had probably helped send her father packing.

Hack dismissed them and Brian lumbered from the office like a drunken ape, nearly running into the door frame on the way. Hack went after him, the popular jock who’d helped boost Westview’s football team to higher ranks.

Idiots deserved each other.

Her teeth clenched, she stood and her stomach flipped when she spotted Shields in the doorway. Studying her with one hand in his pocket and the other resting against his tie, he asked, “Are you sure you’re OK? I didn’t expect you to sit so quietly through all that.”

And again the questions surfaced- what did he want from her? What did he know? Why was he still standing there?

“What do you want?” she asked sharply.

He cocked a half-smile. “Apparently I need permission just to ask a simple question?” He pulled what looked like a roll of Lifesavers from his pocket and began tearing at the paper. “You’ve got a huge chip on your shoulder, you know that?”

“Get lost.”

He plopped a pale pink disk into his mouth and forbade her escape by stepping in front of the door as she marched forward. The rest of the office seemed quiet and she wondered if his weird behavior had drawn any attention.

As though her brain had fled the premises, her breath caught with the scent of his cologne.  Darn him, as if his good looks weren’t enough…
She stood on her tiptoes in hopes of peering over his shoulder.

“Your mother isn’t here yet,” he said. “I called her, she’s on her way, so take a seat.”

His smirk added mischief to his eyes and zapped away any inkling of nerdiness. Something was off with this dude. Did he enjoy antagonizing already ticked off girls or what? Maybe he’d tried to stand up for her but the gods only knew why.

“What is with you?” Somewhere deep inside of her came the question, “Maybe you’re just angry and spazzing out too much?”

“I could ask you the same question,” he countered.

“You already know part of it, so what do you want me to say? I’m sure Hack filled you in.” The sickness gripped her insides again. Why wouldn’t this craziness ever stop?

“I know very little.” His smirk faded and his Adam’s Apple bobbed. “I think you need counseling.”

“Good for you. You want a cookie?”

“Why, you got one?” He tossed the roll of candy to reveal the word, Tums on the wrapper, and then shoved the whole thing into his pocket. “Actually, no, I don’t eat that garbage.”

“What?”

His brief laughter failed to match the blandness of his expression. “Never mind all of that. I’m going to have another talk with Hack.”

“What good would that do? What do you plan to say?”

“Nothing much.”

She screwed her brows up. “Then what the frick is the point?” What was the point, anyway? If he didn’t know much about the situation, then what the-

He stepped back, looking toward the main office entrance and allowing her to finally clear the doorway to Hack’s room.

But she stopped when he whispered just barely loud enough for her to hear: “You’ll find that you often need to say little in order to have a big impact.”


Chapter Fivehttp://bloodyroseandthorn.blogspot.com/search/label/Ch%205

4 comments:

  1. I've been reading from the first and I really enjoy it so far..keep up the good work.

    Jacks Girl Aka
    Samantha Fury

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting chapter! We found out a bit more about this mystery with the previous teacher...

    Curious me wants to learn more! :)))

    Suzie

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  3. Yup, there's more to the puzzle than straight up harassment. :)

    ReplyDelete