Chapter one can be found here: http://bloodyroseandthorn.blogspot.com/search/label/Ch%201
So, she was a sinner. Or whatever one chose to call it. In short, she’d screwed up and brought the walls tumbling down on herself. Any problems not caused by her own stupidity could have been blamed on schmucks such as Brian Cruise, and maybe some of his problems could have been blamed on someone else.
Seemed like a reasonable train of thought, though giving Brian a break had never been high on her priority list.
But the possibility remained that Brian’s bad behavior could, at least to a degree, have been blamed on some other bad boy.
Teacher would be proud of the alliteration in her thoughts, but she wouldn’t be sharing them with him any time soon.
Bekah paused in front of the school’s bathroom mirror to check her sleek make-up job. The black eyeliner made her look evil, she decided, and rightfully so.
She snatched her purse from the counter and nearly twisted her ankle- again- in her borrowed boots, and made her way out the door. A group of freshman girls halted as though she'd smacked right into them. At least four sets of wide, innocent eyes stared back at her.
She rounded the girls, their whispers traipsing after her like a bunch of little puppy dogs, all bouncy and excitable: “Wow, she was really pretty…She looks like a model…” and other crazy talk.
Were they serious? Without her make-up and curled hair, she never received those types of reactions, and wondered if she should inform their naïve little selves that they’d been conned.
Just like her, the beauty they perceived was fake.
She picked up her pace. Judging by the scores of kids flooding into Shields’ room, she’d waited long enough to make her entrance. Normally, she arrived earlier than the others, but not anymore.
Shields and Mommy had hit it off way too well, sipping coffee at the dining room table and deciding for an eighteen-year-old student that she’d be seeing a counselor and receiving after-school tutoring- with Mrs. Cornwell. Shields obviously couldn’t do it, because he needed to rush home to Allie, and no doubt he’d prefer not to stir up any rumors. No male teacher in his right mind would spend after-school time with Cheap Rose.
Maybe that was the real reason he wanted to keep his distance.
With her student-hood ending in less than one year, the possibility of a relationship between them wasn’t so off-the-wall.
But no. He’d rather just cut off any possibilities and why that bothered her was a mystery.
His nerdiness exceeded his cool biker status, and now she could tack “Jesus Freak” onto all the other cruel tags she’d given him.
Her heart in her throat, her purse strap weighing on her shoulder, thanks to all the junk Alice had tossed in there, and her books smashing her chest, she huffed into the room, her desk by the window her goal for the morning. Without thinking, she returned Kevin’s wave and hunkered into the seat behind him. For a change, he didn’t turn around to ask for a summary of her weekend.
Good, maybe the makeover would keep his drooling sensors at bay, since he seemed to prefer the plain as paper version of herself.
Her stomach gurgled and the nausea she’d felt while dressing herself this morning returned. The reason for her upset moved to the chalkboard, seemingly equally unaware of her as she was of him. He could take a flying leap, for all she cared.
So, he’d driven a few good points home. Best to avoid any more trouble makers and get on with her life, already.
The chalk that had been slowly plodding across the board suddenly snapped, a big chunk plunking onto the floor. Most of the kids had seated themselves, but the chatter that still flurried about the room made it difficult to hear Bryson Colt’s comment to Shields. The teacher grinned as he bent to retrieve the chalk and seemed very careful not to even glance in Bekah’s direction.
Of course. We need to keep our distance.
Distant as the sun is from the center of the universe. No problemo, Creep.
As she sat there, fiddling with the corners of her notebook, the orange leaves outside the window stirred in a gust of wind. Jack-o-lanterns graced the front yards of the homes across the street and she felt just a tinge of the familiar, fall-time rush. Halloween had always been her favorite holiday, but this year, her father wouldn’t be there to make the house merry with lots of gory décor.
So much had changed in such short time.
Why she’d want to get mixed up with a teacher, no matter how cool and mysterious and cute-
She couldn’t even make up her mind what to think of him. One minute, he was a nerd and a creep and the next a strong, interesting man with…something. She couldn’t pinpoint it. Whatever she sensed may have been her imagination, but he seemed to be at least mildly loaded with good insight.
Regardless, crying over him was stupid and she wouldn’t allow it again.
But what else might she learn from him that he couldn’t teach in the class room? She was half tempted to read the Narnia books just to keep conversation going, but scratch that idea. She couldn’t keep up with her own school work, so adding more reading to the load seemed preposterous.
Just as she was about to rest her chin on her folded arms, Shields closed the door, as he did at the start of every class, and tugged his blue tie with the embroidered lighthouse. Crossing back to his desk he shushed everyone and announced, “I’m going to pass back your Tess papers and we’re going to go over a few things before we plunge into Lord of the Flies.”
She may as well have been a spider on the wall- completely invisible to him. After all that had happened this weekend, he seemed to have brushed her off far too easily.
So, the attraction that he’d mentioned- it had probably only been lust. Whereas she’d begun to see other things in him that she’d never admit to his face.
Stop, you’re just going round and round and round. What she wouldn’t give to just bury her face against her books.
Kevin spun as Shields began passing out papers. Smiling faintly, he whispered, “How was your weekend?”
A bit delayed today. Why would he wait until now to ask that?
She shrugged. “Weird.”
He frowned but turned a little more to face her and mouthed, “You OK?”
Why she suddenly felt like laying her head on the shoulder of his baby blue dress shirt and letting loose the whole sob story was beyond her.
Kevin’s a nice guy and you give him far too hard a time. In fact, he’s too nice for you.
Shields popped out of nowhere, holding a paper out to Kevin and glancing between the two of them. First acknowledgement of the day, but who was counting?
He stood there, shuffling through the rest of the papers after Kevin had snatched his, and looked a bit perturbed when he extended Bekah’s screwed-up excuse for an essay.
Shaking his head in obvious disappointment, he turned away. Bekah gaped at the 59% marked in thick, red ink at the top of her paper.
Jerk failed her, huh?
Who are you kidding, you didn’t even read the book. How are you supposed to write a decent essay when you didn’t even read the dumb book?
Who cared? She’d heard the class discussion on Tess of the D’Urbervilles and it didn’t seem like anything worth her while. Who wanted to read about a gorgeous girl who got knocked up and fell in love with some jerk who scorned her because she wasn’t a virgin? And then there was the bloody ending.
She stuffed the paper between her books and folded her hands atop the whole mess, and told her heart to stop beating like she’d just been caught robbing a bank. Nothing too horrible had taken place here.
Although she might have wound up failing this class if she didn’t straighten up. And failing Trig. And Physics. And all the other pain-in-the-butt classes she’d so stupidly selected. And if she failed them, she find her butt planted right back here next year.
So much for the idea of graduating and becoming fair game for Teacher.
Would you stop it? You are NOT allowed to think about him anymore! You have more important things to think about!
A thick fist knocked on her books. Bekah jumped, at first thinking Kevin had done it, but the hands were too big- and she recognized those fingers. Glancing up, she swallowed.
“I want a rewrite,” Shields said sternly but not so loudly that the whole room would hear him. “Read the book this time and if you don’t have one, come see me.”
Bekah bit her lower lip as he began to turn away for the second time. He paused, however, and asked, “Do you have an issue with that?”
What the heck was his problem? Suddenly he was treating her like the biggest snot in the school.
“No, Teacher,” she replied through gritted teeth, which apparently amused some of her classmates, because they began to snicker in the rows to her left.
Shields shook his head again and went to knock on another drifter’s desk. However, he didn’t sound quite so ticked when he said, “Try again, Chad.”
His shoes scuffed the floor as he hurried back to the front of the room and began tugging his tie, like he did every flipping day of the week. Why didn’t he just remove the dumb thing? Right now, she thought it might make a great noose.
What was his freaking problem?
It was tempting to ask him after class, but after he’d droned on for half an hour about a novel she’d no interest in, the bell rang and his desk became flooded with his groupies. Kelly, Ashley and a few other nitwits who batted their thickly painted-on eyelashes as they asked if he needed help grading papers.
“I’ve only got study hall next period,” Kelly said. “Can you write me an excuse and I can stay here?”
“Yeah, me too,” Robin Callahan chirped as Bekah gathered her books.
She slowed behind the brats to see Shields’ grin as he shook his head and began straightening the semi-mess that cluttered his desk. “Girls, you need to take advantage of your study hall. I don’t need any help today, but thank you.”
He stopped to look up, his smile fading when he spotted Bekah, who decided to move on. No sense asking about the attitude. Maybe he’d begun to detest her, and did she really need to know about that?
She hurried into the hallway. For all she cared, he could flirt with every girl in the school. No doubt she wasn’t the only one who’d turned his head, anyway. He could keep all of his God-talk, because obviously he was a hypocrite and the last thing she needed was another freaking dishonest guy in her life.
Her father had seemed like the perfect man. For so many years, standing by her mother and working hard as a hospital janitor to earn the money to keep them fed and provide a little bit of fun in the midst of their horrific neighborhood. Now he was gone, leaving her mother stressed and too easily snowed by cute, young teachers.
She’d all but cried on Shields’ shoulder the other night, telling how hard everything had been on poor, lil Bekah. Basically a single parent now, how could Mommy ever keep up with everything? How could she ensure that her EIGHTEEN-YEAR-OLD daughter would stay out of trouble from now?
That’s when Teacher had suggested the after-school tutoring and the counseling.
Ugh, what was she, a baby?
Screw all of this. She felt like kicking the walls until Alice’s boots split in half.
She slipped between two Freshman nerds who were shuffling along like a pair of zombies and then pushed her way around a pack of giggling girls and a corner, mentally chanting, “Men cannot be trusted.”
She hugged her books and prepared to shove her way through the crowd and down the stairs.
“Hey, Bekah, going somewhere?”
Her foot had just hit the top step and she found herself framed by two tall bodies. Two tall, broad-shouldered bodies- green eyes glowing down at her from one side and blue eyes on the other. Brian, the green-eyed monster, had turned his ball cap backwards so that he’d look especially “cool,” while his jerky goon, Morris Welling wiggled a paper bag in front of her. Only it wasn’t just any paper bag. It brandished the name “Karla’s Cakery” in red on the front.
Not until she felt something squish on the top of her head did she recall Kelly’s doughnut from Friday morning. Laughter and hoots mingled with high fives over her head, and she stood frozen as a big dollop of cream hit the space below her. The other kids’ laughter filled her ears and the smell of the wickedly sweet pastry seemed to encompass her, her heart pounding harder than it had in a long time.
Brian was crossing his eyes at her like a Freshman geek and for some reason all she could think of was that kid from A Christmas Story. The famous lines swirled in her head: “We were trapped. There he stood, between us and the alley. Scott Farkus staring out at us with his yellow eyes. He had yellow eyes! So help me, God! Yellow eyes!”
And in typical bully fashion, Brian teased, “Aww, is Cheap Rose feeling cheaper now?”
Who the hell did he think he was?
“Do you honestly think the makeover is going to change anything?” he added in a roll of laughter.
The makeover? The makeover? For crap’s sakes, she’d gone through all of this, trying to attract him so that she could weasel out of him what he knew, but it had only made him nastier.
Why did he care so much about harassing her? What did she ever do to him personally that he couldn’t just drop the issues of the past and move on? What had crawled up his butt and died?
All this friggin’ teasing over a teacher who couldn’t keep his hands to himself, who Bekah had decked and received the blame for something she hadn’t totally invited. Brian may have known a little more than the other students, but didn’t he think she’d suffered enough for her mistakes?
Had she suffered enough?
Bekah’s books hit the floor and she could hear them flip-flopping down the steps. Her fists curled as Brian’s laughter slowly died. Bidding his dingbat friend goodbye, he patted Bekah on the shoulder.
“Lighten up, Bo-Bekah. We’re just having some fun at your expense. That’s all.”
Fun? Did this immature, idiotic, jail-bound jerk really want to see fun?
Bekah's breath, shaky and loud in her ears did nothing to dispel the tears stinging her eyes. Her jaws and lips protested her mean teeth as she formed a fist.
"What?” Brian bent toward her, an obnoxious grin smeared across his face. “Gonna cry?"
"No." Bekah’s fist felt so tight that the blood pulsed wickedly through her knuckles and fingertips, her face hot and the urge to act rising as forcefully as the urge to vomit. Swinging that same fist, she shouted, "You are!" And with that, his shiny, white nose cracked and ejected a stream of blood.
Shaking her hand, Bekah grimaced at the gore, which was hurriedly being patched by the jerkly jock's school jacket, his friends scrambling around him for support.
She stumbled backward, feeling hands around her waist and calling out for help. Her butt plopped onto the top stair and another scream for help died in her throat.
“Relax, Rebekah, it’s OK,” said one of the girls, whose voice she didn’t recognize.
Her fist continued throbbing, Brian was cursing, and the traffic on the stairway had halted. All around her, students gaped at the whole scene.
“You slut!” Brian roared as he leaned over the stairwell with his jacket shoved in his face. His friends' arms looped under his and they dragged him away as he cursed and shouted like Yosemite
Sam. Bekah felt like she should have been laughing, but nothing came.
Her breath raspy and her entire body trembling as though she’d just jumped off of the high-dive at the local pool, she straightened her skirt and smeared some blood along the front. Someone handed her a tissue. She snatched it and began wiping the blood furiously from her paw. More cream slid onto her lap.
Crème-filled. Your favorite.
Kelly…Kelly had either saved that dumb doughnut or had brought a fresh one at Brian’s request.
None of her plans would work.
Forget that now.
Judging by the shouting and the scurrying of the other students, some authority figures had finally found the mayhem. She recognized Mrs. Lola’s voice and Mr. Pierce, one of the history teachers.
Shields probably hadn’t a clue what had just happened. Wouldn’t matter, anyway. Wouldn’t matter.
“Are you OK?” A blond knelt in front of her, pursing her lips and wincing when one of the teachers told her to move on. “I’m Amy Winston- you don’t know me,” she whispered, “But it’s always ticked me off how those guys treat you. Be proud of yourself.”
Proud? Was Bekah proud of what she’d just done?
Amy grinned, handed Bekah a pack of tissues and hurried down the steps.
“Miss Rose?” Mr. Pierce sat down next to her, specks of gray standing out in his black beard.
Bekah had never noticed the gray and laughed choppily because it had struck her at a time like this.
The teacher frowned. “Are you OK, Dear?”
She shook her head and wiped her face, and then gawked at the shiny wetness she found on her palm. As someone handed her a wad of paper towels, she realized she’d been crying and yanked a couple more tissues out of the pack.
The paper towels fell over her boots and scattered a bit down the stairs, so Mrs. Lola bent down to pick them up. Turning, she announced her intent to help Bekah with her hair.
“My hair?” Bekah ran her hand into her curls, pulling out goop and crumbles. What she needed was some shampoo, not some dry towels.
She snickered into a tissue.
“Hey, Shields!” Pierce called over his shoulder and Bekah jerked so forcefully into an upright position that someone may as well have lassoed her.
“Can you snag the nurse for me?” Pierce asked and she heard Shields reply, “Sure thing, Man.”
Oh, my gosh, he knows. He probably thinks you’re nothing but a big bag of trouble.
What’s it matter?
For a few moments, she sat there hugging herself in the hazy light pouring from the nearby windows, while Shields sought unwanted help and Brian bled his butt off in some unknown corner of the school.
Mrs. Lola had gathered her books and squeezed her shoulder. “She’s shaking like a leaf,” she told someone behind her and Bekah thought she must have appeared like a complete nutcase to them all.
Goop in her hair, blood on her throbbing hand, shaking and hugging herself.
Get it together already. You’re not dying here.
The sunlight smacked her eyes when she attempted to lean forward and her head felt like it would explode. Had someone hit her over the head? Was she bleeding to death, was that why everyone was making such a big, freaking fuss over her?
Running her clean hand through her hair produced no blood. She grabbed her books.
This whole thing couldn’t have been real.
Pierce and Lola grabbed her by the elbows as she stood and once they’d turned, she could see the nurse jogging toward them and Shields stalling about ten feet away. She couldn’t read his expression and shook the teachers off of her arms.
“I’m OK,” she told them as the nurse bent to look in her eyes. “I’m OK…I just…I didn’t think I’d do that…I’ve never done that…” Not to Brian, anyway.
“Do what, Dear?” the nurse asked. “You’re bleeding.” She lifted Bekah’s hand and began to study it, pushing here and pushing there until Bekah let out a yelp.
If she’d thought her knuckles hurt before, now they were absolute hell. Her books slid down her front and she hugged them closely as she bent to keep them from pouring all over the place.
Before she knew it, she was being escorted down the hall and all she could do was peer helplessly over her shoulder.
Looking like a shadow with the light against his back, Shields stood at the corner near the staircase, hands in his pockets as he watched her being ushered away.
Chapter Fourteen, Part One; http://bloodyroseandthorn.blogspot.com/2011/07/just-note-see-my-tab-at-top-labeled.html