Fighting Fire

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Chapter 12

Eric’s POV

I was fuming by the time I reached the courtyard. My face was red, chest heaving, fist balled, teeth clenched and mind racing. Grabbing a cigarette and lighting it, I suck it down in just a few breaths before immediately lighting up another one. Taking a deep breath, I move over toward a tree and slide down the rough bark running my empty hand through my hair. Seeing him close to her and touching her, It took all the self control I had to not go over there and rip him off of her to knock him out.

None of this made sense to me. Yes she was a gorgeous badass, yes she had a sassy mouth and great taste in cars, but she would not leave my brain. I toss the butt on the ground crushing it, and lean my head against the tree trying to take deep breaths and calm myself down. I was so caught up in my own head I never heard anyone approach.

“Mind if I bum another one of those?”

Letting out a long breath, I recognized the voice. Slowly opening my eyes, I look up to see the flaming hair blowing across her face from the wind and her piercing eyes looking down at me. I lean my head back against the tree and close my eyes. “Ryder smokes, why don’t you ask him?”

“I wasn’t aware he smoked, am I supposed to play 20 Queastions with everyone I meet?”

My eyes shoot open and I glare at her response, while she just stands there relaxed and slightly amused. It didn’t matter that I was pissed, I still wanted her to stay. Whilst hating myself, I take out a cigarette and hand it to her. She takes it and my lighter and sits down next to me against the tree. My breath hitching in my throat, I can practically feel her body heat reaching for me. I can’t help but watch as she lifts the stick to her lips, taking a deep breath before releasing it into the air. Everything she does is so enchanting, and I can’t take my eyes off of her.

Turning her head to say something, our eyes lock and all the remaining air leaves my lungs. Maybe my hope is tricking my eyes, but I swear I see her breath hitch in her throat as well. Sitting next to each other against the tree we are so close, yet not close enough. All I want to do is pull her onto my lap, against my chest and hold her there. What the fuck is that feeling?!

Athena’s POV

“Mind if I bum another one of those?”

His eyes slowly open, anger, confusion and something I can’t pinpoint dance in his eyes. “Ryder smokes, why don’t you ask him,” he spits out before once again closing his eyes.

I raise my eyebrow in both confusion and amusement. What was his problem? “I wasn’t aware he smoked, am I supposed to play 20 Queastions with everyone I meet?”

His eyes shoot back open as soon as my snarky response leaves my mouth, sending a glare my way. I continue watching him, he seems to be in conflict with himself about something, but in the end he hands me a cigarette and his lighter which I take before sitting against the same tree. Drawing in a breath of smoke, I realize I probably intruded on his space due to my lack of people skills, and decide to apologize. Turning towards him, I stop short when our eyes connect, showing he was already looking at me.

Time stopped, nothing else existed as we held each other’s gaze. What was this connection, this feeling between the two of us? Whatever it is, is so strong that I lose awareness of my surroundings and I can barely remember my name. I can’t afford the distractions this boy seems to provide, I don’t have the privilege of being a normal college student, but worst of all I can’t seem to look away. This was different than what I felt with other men, Ryder included… No matter what I always had my wits about me. Drawing in a shallow breath I continue to stare into his impossibly deep, golden eyes. This is a different type of connection, this is more than magnetic, this is dangerous. Ryder was different, all that’s between us is some low level lust stemming from my boredom. But this… This was more, and it was making me nervous.

Am I crazy? Was he feeling this pull as well? Either way, I had done this to myself. Ryder would have been a safer choice, but instead I had made an excuse as to why I couldn’t join him for lunch. When I saw Eric make a quick exit, something in my chest tightened and soon after I was following after him. When I walked through the school’s front doors I had found him sitting against a big tree at the end of the courtyard, pushing a hand through his already messy hair trying hard to control his breathing. I couldn’t just walk away, I had to make sure he was okay. Unfortunately that objective went out the window when he copped an attitude, and my stubbornness took over.

It felt like mere minutes had passed since I intruded/joined him, but I soon found out that much more time had passed.

“Eric!”

Both of us jump in surprise as a loud scream breaks whatever trance we were in. My breath starts to quicken as I realize how unaware I was of how much time had passed, what could have been happening around me, or could have gone wrong in that time. How could I have let that happen? I was never caught off guard, I couldn’t be! Whether it be fighting my opponent while simultaneously watching the crowd, or gathering intel on targets while sitting a few tables away on a “date”. All that, yet on my third day at this school, I had allowed a stranger to wipe the whole world from my view. My mind was running rampant about all that could have/may have gone wrong while I was drowning in those liquid gold eyes, and I was slipping into a panic attack. I have to get out of here.

Quickly gathering my shit I get up and straighten my clothes, trying not to show how much my hands are shaking. I shoot a quick ‘Thanks’ to Eric, not trusting myself to make eye contact as I do so, and make a quick exit towards my car as I decide to skip the rest of school. Forcing myself not to run, I brush passed Alex as he is making his way over to where the two of us were.

“Uh, Athena?”

I hear the concern in his voice as he looks from a confused and stunned Eric, then back to me. “I’ll catch you later Alex, I’ve uh… I’ve got to go, bye.” I know my voice is shaking by now as I continue to panic, but I’ll backtrack later and find a cover. As for right now, I can’t stick around. What feels like an eternity later I reach my car and pop the trunk. I know it’s not smart with my ribs in this condition, but I really need to beat the shit out of a punching bag right now.

I was burning up amidst the panic attack , so I decided to get partially changed before I head towards my gym. Not giving a fuck who watched, I lifted my band tee over my head and tossed it, along with my bag into the trunk. Sitting on my bumper I carefully unlaced my boots before pulling off my socks, my stockings following soon after. Leaning my elbows on my knees I rest my head in my hands trying to control my breathing, even knowing the punching bag is the only thing that can help that. I rake my hands through my hair, tying it in a ponytail and stand up, slipping my boots back on. An exasperated sigh escapes my lips as I slam my trunk closed and hop behind the wheel, quickly speeding out of the parking lot and away from my newest problem.

Eric’s POV

What the actually fuck? Hold up… I had seen her with Ryder and stormed out of the school pissed off. Why? No idea. I was smoking outside when she came to join me, in between the two I had no idea how much time had passed. Although I was still pissed at her for whatever reason, I let her join me… Now I was lost in a dark green forest, and honestly at this moment I don’t care if I ever find my way out.

“Eric!”

I can hear my best friend’s voice from somewhere in the forest, but before I can find him the whole thing goes up in flames. Quickly blinking my eyes, I realize that the burning forest I’m lost in is actually Athena’s hair falling over her eyes. I watch as she too shakes out the trance, her breathing picking up the slightest bit. Before I can gain control of my tongue, I watch as she gathers her things and quickly walks towards the parking lot. As she walks off I see Alex making his way towards the previously twice occupied tree, the evil smirk slipping from his face when Athena bumps into him. I’m too far away to hear their exchange, but the entire time they’re talking she continues to walk toward the parking lot backwards.

I can feel Alex’s hand on my shoulder as he joins me at the tree, but my focus is still on the retreating redhead who I can no longer see while sitting against the tree. Standing up, I abandon my bag and take a step forward. Standing in front of her popped trunk, the world once again goes blurry as she lifts her band tee over her head revealing a lingerie corset in dark gray lace. Tossing the shirt and bag in the trunk, she takes a seat on the bumper to unlace her combat boots before removing her socks and tights. Thank god everyone was at lunch, or class, or… How much time had passed? Either way, the girl was stripping in the parking lot and thankfully I was the only one in the courtyard. Well, me and my best friend, but I would be killing him later or at the very least blinding him. Left in just the corset and leather skirt, I watch as she rests her head in her hands. Something was wrong and I had to go make sure she was okay, but Alex’s hand rests on my shoulder to stop me.

“What are you doing?”

“Something’s wrong and I’m going to make sure she’s okay.”

“Eric, she walked away man, let it go!”

Spinning around I glare at him, “She made NO move to leave before you showed up!”

“Woah. Why would I be the reason she made a panicked exit?”

“I don’t know, and I don’t think you were… Regardless, she’s upset.” Having made my decision, I head toward the parking lot before Alex can try and talk me out of being there for her. Granted I don’t know her and have only seen her a handful of times in three days, but I had never seen that firecracker so vulnerable. Raking her hands through her hair, she ties up her beautiful locks before stepping back into the boots and closing her trunk. Realizing she’s about to leave, I speed up. I can’t just let her leave, let alone when she is obviously upset. Unfortunately, I’m not fast enough. Stopping in my tracks, I watch helplessly as she slides behind the wheel and guns it down the road.

I refuse to move from my spot, instead I decide to replay what had happened again, desperately try to figure out what went wrong. As I come up empty handed once again, I feel Alex walk up behind me and hand me my backpack.

“Come on Eric, we’re late to class. I know you want to find her, but you know as well as I do that we can’t ditch.”

“I’m already going to be in trouble for being late, I might as well go all in!”

“You’re not in trouble at all actually. Your dad called me, after your teacher called him.”

“He has professors calling him now?!”

“Apparently he put them on the payroll after your third meeting with the dean went nowhere.”

“Of course he did… Wait, what do you mean I’m not in trouble?”

“Why would you be? It was my fault for forcing you to study with me in the library! The bell doesn’t ring in there, and because I took your phone so you’d pay attention, we lost track of time.”

Slowly turning towards Alex, my smirk meets his wide grin. “God I love you!”

“Shhh… don’t let Athena hear you, she’ll get jealous and I do not want to be on her bad side!”

“Ha! Right. Well one, I don’t think she’ll be able to hear me given how fast she ran and drove away. And two, even if she did hear me, I highly doubt she’d give a shit.”

“I don’t know man, whatever was happening between you two seemed pretty intense…“

“Regardless of whatever the hell that was,” I sigh while jabbing my thumb over my shoulder towards the tree, “she couldn’t get away from me fast enough. Infact, the end of the courtyard wasn’t enough, the girl had to leave the whole fucking school!” Throwing my hands in the air I realize my confusion and shock has been replaced by anger, and right in time for class.

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