Home > Breaking Him (Love is War #1)(15)

Breaking Him (Love is War #1)(15)
Author: R.K. Lilley

It wasn’t an exaggeration on my part to say she didn’t like me.  More so than any kid in this school, I did nothing but make her job harder, but it felt to me like it went beyond that.  She almost seemed to get a strange kick out of putting me in my place.

She was a thin, middle-aged woman with steel gray hair that she kept so short that a lot of the kids had taken to calling her Mr. Colby.  At least that’s why I thought they called her that.  I wasn’t friendly enough with most of the other kids to ask if that was the reason for it, so I just assumed.

“As usual, your grandmother couldn’t be reached,” she began with.  “And knowing her, it doesn’t matter.  She hasn’t shown her face here once, no matter what you’ve been up to.  So your punishment for this is, clearly, going to be at my discretion.  Before I begin, do you have anything to say for yourself?”

"I-I-I—, h-h-he—" was all I could get out.  I never got much farther, especially with Ms. Colby.  My stutter was particularly vicious with me when it came to her.  The injustice of it, the fact that I could never voice my side of things out loud, only seemed to make the problem worse.

“There’s nothing you can say that will excuse what you’ve done.  You can save your pathetic, stuttering breath today, Scarlett.”

My shoulders hunched up, eyes pointed at the ground.  The pathetic comment really got to me, but it was more or less in line with the things she usually said to me after I’d gotten into trouble.

I resigned to just stand there and take it.  It usually lasted awhile.  She’d basically find several interesting ways to tell me I was troublesome, worthless, and a nuisance to the school.

And with any luck, she’d kick me out.

But something happened.  Something pretty amazing.  Before she could get any further, a furious Dante came storming into the office.

He went off on her and it was a glorious thing.  He was foul-mouthed and surly when provoked, and he was plenty provoked just then.

“What the hell is wrong with you?” Dante raged at her.  “A boy attacks her, she defends herself, and she’s the one that ends up in your office getting reamed out?  Are you even kidding me?”

He was the opposite of me.  I stuttered hopelessly, and he seemed to have a talent for saying what would make everyone around him shut up and wait in stunned silence until he was finished.

Ms. Colby seemed to be no exception.  She was just staring at him.  I didn’t think she could believe what she was hearing.  Kids did not talk to her this way.

“He threw a trashcan on her head!”  Dante screamed.  “He’s twice as big as her and he punched her in the face!  What the hell is wrong with this school that she’s the one in trouble for that?”

I watched him without blinking; my heart so full, I felt it would burst.

The entire terrible day had been worth it for this moment.

Without looking at me he grabbed my hand and started to tug me out of the room.  “You know what?” he snarled at a still mute Ms. Colby.  “We’re done here.  I’m fed up with this shit.  This school is out of control.  Whatever you’re going to try to pin on Scarlett, you can just go ahead and take it up with my gram.”

Something moved on Ms. Colby’s stunned face.  Something that I liked.  Dante had clearly struck a nerve.

Dante saw it too, and he smiled unpleasantly at her.  “Don’t like that, huh?  Well, like I said, you can take it up with my gram.  I just called her from the reception desk and let her know what happened.  She’ll be here in fifteen minutes.  Good luck.”

He gave her a mocking little wave and tugged me out of the room, then the building.

“Where are we going?” I asked him when we’d crossed off school grounds and had moved into the forest.  I was pretty sure I knew.  This was a familiar path.

“Home,” he replied.  He stopped suddenly, turning to me.

I was looking way, way up at him, thinking that he was the most beautiful boy in the world, and it was only as he touched my cheekbone that I remembered I’d been punched pretty hard earlier.

“Are you okay?  Does it hurt?” he asked.

“It’s fine.  I was so pissed off I barely felt it.  And I did punch him first.”

“Yes, I know, tiger, but he attacked you first.”

“Who told you about it?”

“Nate Becker.  He got a hall pass and got himself into trouble flagging me down in the middle of Mr. Jameson’s history lesson.”

I tried to keep my face impassive.  Nate seemed like a nice enough kid, but I was savagely territorial where Dante was concerned, and I hated the idea that he might be making a friend aside from me.

“And then you got yourself into trouble storming Ms. Colby’s office,” I said, smiling up at him, my heart in my eyes.

“Well, yeah, but that was after.”

I blinked a few times.  “After what?”

“After I stormed into your classroom and gave Tommy Mann the pounding he deserved.”

My jaw dropped.  “We’re both going to get expelled,” I breathed, but not like I was sad about it.

He shrugged.  “Either we will, or Gram will take care of it.  My money’s on Gram.”

I squinted at him.  “She’s the sweetest woman on earth.  Ms. Colby’s going to chew her up and spit her out.”

He threw his head back and laughed and laughed.  “Oh, you haven’t seen her when she’s mad, Scarlett.  And you know she has influence over the school board.  She donates a lot of money, money they won’t want to lose.  Just you watch.  There’s finally going to be some justice at this stupid school.”

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