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Chapter 28

Henry wrapped his arm around Shyla’s waist as they walked down the street. They had the day to themselves, and were wandering the streets, lacking anything better to do. They soon found themselves in the same park it had all started. Shyla spotted a nearby bench and sat, turning her face to the sun. Henry sat on the grass in front of her and rested his head on her knees. The sun was warm, and it shone off of Henry’s curly black hair. Shyla absentmindedly ran her fingers through his hair. “I love you,” Shyla whispered. “You know that, right?”

“Of course.” Replied Henry, confused. “Why wouldn’t I?”

“It’s just…” Shyla fumbled her words. “You know I went to see Shaun last night.”

Henry pushed himself up onto the bench next to her. “What happened?” he was slightly apprehensive.

“Shaun agreed to not tell anyone.” Mumbled Shyla, looking down. “And he also told me he didn’t love me. Not the way I needed.”

Henry frowned. “He said that?”

Shyla nodded. “Confused the hell out of me too. But he and I came to some sort of agreement, where he wouldn’t tell anybody and I would try be some sort of a friend to him.”

Henry ran his fingers tenderly down her cheek. Shyla glanced up at him, losing herself in his eyes. He bent down and gently pressed his lips to hers. She slid her hand into his hair and pulled him closer. The kiss deepened, and Shyla could hear her heart hammering in her chest. Henry slid his hand to her waist, gently pulling away. She stretched up and softly kissed his angular jaw line.

Henry stood up and pulled Shyla to her feet. He bent down to her ear. “I’m proud of you, and I love you.”

They kissed again, then Shyla turned and walked down the path towards the mall. Henry followed, curious. He knew Shyla hated shopping, so he was confused as to why she was going to her own personal hell. “I need to buy a new pair of boots.” She explained, examining her tatty pair of knee-high grey, rubber-soled boots. The amount of walking and running a ninja did meant they wore through shoes four times faster than normal people did.

The boots matched her inconspicuous grey shirt and short black shorts. She looked like any other girl in the mall in summer, which was the best thing a ninja could do. As they wandered the busy arcade in search of a shoe shop, small groups of guys eyed out Henry. They were looking at Shyla too, but were too nervous to approach her. The fact that Henry was six ft two, with muscle to match, seemed to put them off.

Shyla chose to ignore them, and finally found a small shoe shop next door to a big grocery store. After trying on several pairs of boots, she settled for a pair of knee-high black boots with rubber padded soles and a low, pointed heel. That would have seemed counterintuitive to many people, but it made perfect sense to a ninja. She could use the rubber to grip, and the heel was useful for gripping ledges and for combat.

After paying at the check-out counter, she and Henry wandered towards the nearest exit. The same group of guys wolf whistled as she walked past. Shyla scowled at the group, ready to fight.

“What?” one of the guys stupidly asked. “What?”

“My girlfriend.” Muttered Henry, turning away. He didn’t want Shyla to fight, because he would handle this himself.

“And?” the guy asked, his friends sniggering around him. “What you gonna do about it?”

“Wrong question.” Shyla countered. “It’s what I’m gonna do about it.”

Henry put his hand on her tense arm. “Allow me,” he whispered so only she would hear him.

Shyla stepped back, gripping her shopping bag in one hand. The guy who had spoken stepped out of his circle of friends and folded his arms, grinning. Shyla took one more step back, giving Henry room to move. Henry threw his weight behind an uppercut to the jaw. The guy crumpled to the ground, unconscious. Shyla knew Henry had a knockout punch, but this was the first time she had seen him use it.

The group of guys turned pale as one, and two of them grabbed their friend and dragged him up the arcade, still out cold. Shyla turned away and dragged Henry from the mall. She knew they needed to keep a clear head for that evening.

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