I kept my gaze level at him, daring him to do his worst in front of all these people around us. I want to see him try.
He lowered his head on mine, his grin widening at the expression on my face.
Where was Harry when I needed him?
Abe withdrew back and his deep chuckle sent chills down my spine.
“So,” he dragged out on that smooth baritone of his.
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
Everyone’s attention turned to Miss Hollis as she entered the classroom.
“Ah, mister Cristo. Yes, I have been informed of your arrival. Everyone, let us all give a warm welcome to mister Abraham Cristo to Citadel Montessori School,” her words were loud and clear but I’ve muted them out in favor of the pulsating beat ringing on my ears.
Abe’s looming presence inches away from me wouldn’t allow me, though.
“Would you like to share a few words with the class before we begin?”
Miss Hollis always tried to make everyone feel comfortable in her class. I doubt that Abe would even bother but nice try, anyway, Miss Hollis.
My cousin shook his head, gaze still holding mine, and to my dismay, took a seat right behind me. I followed him until he settled on the empty chair which belonged to Marc.
Damn him for choosing this day out of all days to be absent.
The duration of the lesson I was in a constant state of panic, like I was about to pee every minute. His eyes bore into my back, his feet brushing the bottom of my chair from time to time, making me all the more anxious.
Of course, he’d be in my class. I wouldn’t put it past him not to pass his subjects. He must have failed and had to repeat a year. Just my luck.
It had taken all of my will to control the restlessness of my legs, and by the time the bell rang, I grabbed my stuff and jumped out of my chair before the teacher even bid farewell. I ran straight to the lavatory, dry heaving on the toilet seat a couple of times. I didn’t even bother to lock the cubicle door.
There was a sound of giggling on the outside of the stall and I took a moment trying to even my breaths as I let their voices go in one ear and pass onto the other.
However, one single name stood out from the otherwise mundane conversation. My ears were helpless, listening unintentionally to early morning gossip.
“But, he’s like, sort of a bad boy. And I don’t mean like just a typical high school bad boy but he’s actually in a gang.”
The last word was whispered as if saying it would cause a jinx or something. There was a collective gasp, then a series of oh my god’s and really’s until the next girl spoke.
“And he’s a million times sexier than Harry. I could tell just by looking at the outline of his abs against his tight shirt. The guy’s ripped. And trust me when I say, Harry didn’t have six’s.”
I thought I knew who the voice belonged to and my suspicion was confirmed by another girl squeaking, her high pitch reverberating painfully in my ears as it bounced off the walls of the bathroom, echoing.
“You lucky bitch! I knew you slept with him! When? I didn't even know he broke up with Hannah. Oh my god. He didn’t, did he? Don’t tell me he cheated on her with you, Kim.”
She talked so fast, without any pause to take a breath, which I found both amusing and worrisome.
Beside the fact that these girls were talking about Abe being associated with some kind of gang, they were also talking about Harry cheating on his girlfriend.
I’d never actually seen them together longer than a few minutes. I knew they were dating but like I said, ever since that one fateful night when I walked in on him and his then girlfriend Pauline, he consciously avoided being seen with them whenever I was around.
Kim was an entirely different story.
Most of Harry’s girlfriends were nice. There were a few who were snobs but none had been worse than Kim.
She didn’t want to break up with him and took it upon herself to gather her loyal minions and bully me in retaliation.
They’d do it when nobody was around to help me.
I tried to keep myself on steady footing but he and Ophelia fought back, too.
When they catch Kim’s minions being mean to me, they’d immediately step in between us. Still, they didn’t know of the rest of the bullying done, the torturous moments when they weren’t there to rescue me which was most of the time.
Not that I needed them, I could fend for myself albeit not as well as they could, but at least I tried.
“What can I say. I always was the better lay,” said Kim haughtily.
I couldn’t ever imagine Harry cheating on Hannah. I don’t know her personally but just from seeing glimpses of her from time to time was enough to give me a positive feeling about her.
She seemed reserved and quiet. Honestly not someone I’d think to be Harry’s type but maybe he wanted to date someone different from the others he previously did who almost had similar personalities.
I prayed for them to just leave. I don’t want to hear any more of this. One of Kim’s friends had other plans.
“Details! And please don’t spare us anything. You know how we love hearing how he was in bed.”
I almost vomited.
Did these girls seriously share those kinds of private information?
There was a few seconds of pause before Kim barked out a command. “Stall check.”
I hurriedly folded my legs to my chest, arms spread at the width of the cubicle as I balanced myself on the toilet seat.
“Sweep done. Now, onto the juicy parts of Harry’s juicy part,” reported the same girl who asked Kim for details.
Thank god she only looked under the stalls and didn’t open each or else I’d been busted. In hindsight, maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing after all as I squatted there listening to Kim recount her night with my cousin.
“It was just a quick fuck, you know,” she began. “I started with a bj, as always.”
“Ever so gracious,” said one of the girls that made the others giggle.
“Thank you,” replied Kim. I could almost imagine her with a hand on her chest, faking gratitude at the recognition of her underappreciated generosity.
She then went on, “Things got hot pretty fast. You know how I love sucking a good dick and his was the best I’d ever had - “
“Not until we find out how thick and long his cousin’s is,” interrupted someone who spoke up for the first time. With the addition of her voice, I counted about five of them in the bathroom.
I imagined Kim glaring at her for being cut off but being the gracious leader that she was, she held her composure. “You’re not wrong, and it will only be a matter of time before I get to discover that.”
Great. What is it about my cousins that got all these girls horny?
I almost laughed to myself.
Here I am chastising sexually active teenagers for expressing and being open about their physical needs when I myself was a virgin and hadn’t been touched by anyone else.
“Back to my story.” Kim sounded a little impatient. It was clear that she did not enjoy having the spotlight taken from her.
One of my sneakers slipped from the brim of the toilet and it almost landed on the bowl. I held my breath to see if any of the girls heard the squeaky sound but they were all immersed in Kim’s story that none of them had taken notice of.
Or so I thought.
At five foot five, I stood no chance at all with Kim and her tall statuesque clique.
All gorgeous with bodies to die for and impressive flexibility that made them queens of the school for all the glory they brought from cheerleading competitions. Their direct counterpart was the football team who also won back to back championships every season.
Most of the girls in the cheering squad had football players for boyfriends but somehow, Kim was only fixated with Harry. When he dated her was the only time that she took notice of me as nobody ever paid attention to the golden boy’s wallflower cousin.
Just the way I like it but perhaps it was the reason Kim resented me too much.
My feet touched the cold tile floors, my slightly trembling knees locked into place.
A small gust of wind blew the loose strands of hair out of my face when the door was pushed open.
Brianna Hale stood before me. Behind her, Crista Long, Harriet James, and Roxane Johnson formed a half circle, leering at me with their arms crossed below their ample bosoms.
“Look who we have here,” Brianna spit out.
The girls parted and Kim walked between them like the ringleader that she was.
Fiery red hair curled to perfection up in a ponytail and a sharp angular face painted as a work of art, Kim was the picture of a living goddess. Her arms hang casually on her sides, hips swaying as she closed in on me.
“Oh, what the cat has dug out from the litter.”
I wasn’t sure there was such an expression but I chalked it off due to nervousness instead of critically thinking about it. This girl could say that the grass is blue and people would believe her.
It was futile to resist but I still made a run for it.
“Not so fast, imp.”
Time froze upon hearing those words and it was like I was transported back under the murky depths of the lake, lungs about to explode from the algae water filling them.
It could easily have been a coincidence that they associated me with the title or Abe had already begun his world domination and obtained followers.
With my short legs, there wasn’t even a challenge for any of the girls to catch me, and the next thing I knew, there was an extremely sharp pain on the right side of my head and warm liquid was trickling down my eye.
The hard grip on my arm loosened and I lost my balance, falling on the floor, dizzy. My arms went out, reflexively trying to cushion my fall. I vaguely felt my glasses slip from my nose, hearing it hit the marble tiles.
My vision darkened and I had no choice but to close my eyes tightly, warding off the unbearable hurt spreading on my skull. Slowly, I rest my head on the disgusting bathroom floor, curling on my side as I will the swirling colors behind my eyes to settle.
I heard the door to the bathroom opened, followed by a deep, demanding voice.
“What the fuck happened here?”
It was the last thing I heard before I lost consciousness.