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- Chapter 19 | Fight For Dominance


IT FEELS SO GOOD to be in control for once.

Rueben has always been one step ahead and I know what that means even though I don’t want to believe it… There’s a leak in the Royal Reapers.

It can’t be any of my friends because this problem with Rueben has been going on since I was 10-years-old and he was officially kicked out of the gang by my father.

The only reason this mission was successful is because I kept it quiet. My team consisted of the younger members who were all sworn to secrecy. That’s how I’m doing things from now on if I want to end this problem once and for all.

It’s been a few days since everything went down with Rueben and I wish I didn’t have to go to school, but I’ve called in sick three to many times in my first week back.

Looking into the mirror I see a broken, scared girl looking back at me. A girl with purple and blue etched into the skin of her jaw and a cut lip that’s finally beginning to heal.

Sometimes I don’t feel like I’ve ever taken off my fighter mask because that’s the person everyone sees when they look at me.

Every day I put on a mask to hide what’s really going on inside from the people I love. Although they know about the things that go on, they don’t know half of what goes on in my head.

I’ll never admit it out loud, but I’m terrified.

Terrified of what Rueben can do even though he’s currently behind bars from when I left him stranded the other night. He won’t be there much longer and I know it’s only a matter of time before he retaliates against me.

Terrified of losing the people I love. I’ve already lost two people I love and I don’t think I could handle losing anyone else. I especially wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I’m the reason someone I care about gets killed.

That is why I need to wear my mask. Why I need to be strong all of the time… Because he cannot see that I am afraid or he would win.

Having to pretend that I’m the same weak little girl that I used to be really isn’t something I want to do for very long. There’s only so much I can take before my bitchiness comes out.

I’ve only been pretending for one day, but I’m already over it. The more I pretend to be weak, the more I feel like I really am…

After changing into my usual school attire which consists of a big black hoodie, some baggy jeans, and my old worn out dirty converse sneakers, I made my way downstairs.

“Morning mom,” I say as I enter the kitchen to let her know that I’m going back to school today.

“Good morning, Anastasia!” she says in an overly cheery voice as she dusts off the flour from her apron.

“I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to school now, I’ll see you later. Love you.” As I turn around to leave, she abruptly stops me.

“Excuse me, young lady! You will not be leaving this kitchen without having some type of breakfast.” I guess she’s right because I am going to be hungry soon. “Try one of these blueberry banana bread muffins, I just finished baking them!.”

Taking one off of the plate she held out to me, I took a bite and had to hold myself back from spitting it out. Holy fuck, I don’t know what she put in this but it does not taste as good as it looks. “Thanks mom, I got to get going now if I’m going to make it on time.”

“Oh yes! Right! I’ll see you when you get home dear,” she says as I turn around and when I get out of the kitchen I hear her cough before saying to herself, “Oh nuggets, I think I mixed up the sugar with salt.”

That’s what it was!

My mom always seems so cheerful, but I see through it. I know she’s hurting just as much as me. She lost her husband and firstborn son way too soon.

Everyone deals with pain differently and for her, she busies herself with working as a nurse at the hospital taking the longest shifts and when she’s not working she’s baking even though she doesn’t really know how to cook all that well.

I’m just glad that she’s still there for Kai. Even though she busies herself with everything else she always makes time for him and that’s what truly matters. In a way, I think he helps soothe her pain because he reminds her of the good times she had with his father.

I know she will be okay though. We’ll all be okay. Eventually…

It didn’t take long to get to school and the moment I stepped through the big red doors, the two-minute bell rang. I was getting pushed and shoved as people rushed past me to get to class.

Since I was trying my best not to be noticed, I kept my head down with my hood covering most of my face and it worked.

I made it into class just before it started and walked towards a seat in the far back corner of the room. On my way there, a few people took notice of who I was and someone even attempted to trip me by sticking their foot out, but I saw in time and was able to step over it.

When I got to my seat, I slouched a lot, hoping that the teacher wouldn’t notice me or the fact that I’m breaking school policy by wearing my hood up.

The teacher, Mr. Strickland, was looking down at some papers as he started class. “Okay everyone, please take out your notebooks as we will be going over a power— Anastasia Stone, no hoods are allowed in this classroom.”

Why did he have to look up?

Almost immediately everyone turned to stare at me and I sighed, not liking the fact that it’s only first period and all the attention is already on me… “I need it.”

“No, you don’t. Now take it off.” Just as I was about to reply, he continued, “Rules are rules.”

“I seriously can’t take it off, sir,” I reply, shrugging my shoulders which only seems to aggravate him.

“Fine then. Detention today after school.” What the fuck?

“But—“ he cut me off before I could continue.

“If you do not take it off now, I will be forced to send you to the principal's office!” He nearly yelled and I sighed, giving in because I don’t want my mom to have to deal with a call from the principal.

So I reach up and pull down my hood as I say. “Fine.”

Gasps could be heard around the classroom from everyone including Mr. Strickland when they get a look at my bruised jaw and cut up lip. Everyone began whispering about the possibilities of what happened to me and I know that people outside of class are going to hear about the apparent new gossip.

People are so annoying, I thought as Mr. Strickland resumed class by turning on a powering for us to take notes on. It wasn’t long before the classroom door suddenly opened and someone came in late.

I didn’t look up nor pay attention to who came in as I was trying to finish taking my notes, but that was until they came and sat in the seat next to me.

I assumed it was going to be Ryder or one of his friends, but oh how wrong I was… It’s Kendall?

In an attempt to ignore his presence, I go back to doing my notes but I can’t stop wondering why he sat next to me when there’s so many open seats in this class. If he’s doing this because he wants to be rude to me some more then I’m going to be pissed.

“I’m sorry…” My head snaps in his direction the second I hear those words. He didn’t say that, did he? No, no, I’m just hearing things.

You’re losing your mind, Anastasia.

“Ana, please don’t ignore me.” Okay, I’m definitely not hearing things.

Turning towards him I ask, “What do you want, Kendall?”

Honestly, I didn’t think he’d care about my bruised face, but the moment I saw his eyes harden as he stared at my jaw did I realize my mistake.

“Who the fuck did that to you?” He asked and I turned away.

I couldn’t stand to look into his deceiving eyes. He looked at me like he actually cared, but I know better than to trust him. “Nobody.”

“Bullshit, was it Grimaldi? If he touched you, he’s fucking dead.” He says as the bell rings signaling the end of class.

Packing up my stuff I hurry to get out of the class, but he won’t let me go without a reply, “No, Ryder didn’t do anything.”

I finally made it into the hall and just as I was about to go to my next class, he grabbed my wrist, forcing me to turn towards him as he asks, “Are you lying?”

Why is he doing this? He doesn’t get to care about me after all the shit he put me through.

“I’m not!” I say, forcibly tugging my wrist out of his grip as I turn back around to go to class, but luck just doesn’t seem to be on my side today as I bump into a hard wall.

A whimper escapes my mouth at the unexpected pain that shoots up my jaw and Kendall immediately pulls me to him. His hands go to the sides of my head as he examines me and asks if I’m okay which I respond to with a nod.

For a moment, it felt like things were as they used to be. At least until the moment was ruined by the person I bumped into, who, surprise surprise — turned out to be Ryder. He’s alone though so I wonder where his friends are since they’re almost always attached at the hip.

“I see you’re trying something new Kendall, helping a charity case. Didn’t know you had it in you.”

Kendall was fuming in anger and it seems like Ryder knew exactly how to push his buttons. Do they not like each other? You’d think that because they’re both at the top of the high school social ladder that they’d at least be somewhat friends, but they definitely don’t seem like friends.

“Stay away from her, Grimaldi.” Kendall says with clenched fists as he stands, sort of protectively in front of me which I don’t really understand why…

“Or what, Hart?” Ryder says, taking an intimidating step forward and to my surprise, Kendall doesn’t seem at all scared of him like most people usually are.

“This.” Kendall responds before punching him in the face and that’s when…

The guys’ fight for dominance begins.

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