Trouble in Paradise?

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Chapter Thirty Two

Scratch that. That is not the correct way to make tacos.

“These tacos taste like shit.”

“Maybe because you were the one that burned the meat.”

“You were in charge of the meat.”

“Yeah, but you distracted me!”

“I’m just too handsome and charming,” Ethan said, wearing a smug look. I chucked a piece of lettuce at him, which he dodged.

The girls had settled on snacking on other foods for the night once they had seen the state of the meat. Almost blackened. Still edible, right?

... Nope.

“Can we just, go to McDonald’s or something?” I asked. “I can text my mum and say I’ll be getting home a bit later.” My stomach growled as if on cue.

He shrugged. “Sure, but I’ll have to bring the girls.” I nodded in agreement. “Also, you will be wearing my clothes there. And they’re a bit big.”

I shrugged this time. “I’m fine with that. They’re comfortable.” And they smelled good.

I didn’t mention that last thought. Obviously. Then I bit my lip, wondering if my mother was going to kill me. The answer was most definitely a yes.

Ethan grinned, throwing me a wink before walking into the girls room. They were probably meant to be in bed, but they were even more excited when Ethan told them that we were going on an ‘adventure.’ They, having put on new clothes, rushed out into the living room and jumped up and down. I walked in, and Ethan grabbed his keys, wallet and phone.

We left the house and drove to the fast food place, it only being less than five minutes away. The girls kept trying to score themselves an ice cream with chocolate fudge, but Ethan denied. We drove into the car park, and decided to just go inside and order.

“Do you want me to go in and order?” I offered, seeing that it was a little too crowded inside for the girls.

Ethan nodded. “Yeah, thanks.” He listed off what we had all decided on ordering, and I made sure I remembered it before getting out of the car.

I walked in, in Ethan’s baggy clothes, and strolled up to the cue. The place was full because of the hour, but people were filing out every minute. Once the line had thinned, only three groups of people remained at the tables. It was finally my turn to order, and I repeated the memorised order perfectly before paying for the food. Ethan had handed me money, but I had used my own.

I also added four ice creams to the list. Those girls were just too cute.

I waited for the number on my order ticket to pop up on the screen. More people walked out of the place. I then noticed a few familiar faces from school. Veronica, Belle, Kaitlyn and a few douchebag guys sat at a table. Oscar was one of them, a guy who had I had managed to piss off some time ago. However, he was a bully just like the rest of them.

I spun around quickly, wishing in my head repeatedly. Don’t notice me, don’t notice me!

I decided to quickly look back, making sure that the attention wasn’t on me. Veronica was swapping saliva with Oscar, a sight that I wished I had never seen. I hadn’t known they were dating.

Belle, unfortunately, had noticed my glance and shoved her hand in the air with a wave. “Look who it is! Stephanie!”

“Shit. Balls. Shit motherfu-” I muttered to myself before they all looked up and stared straight at me. Keep it cool.

“We haven’t seen you in ages! Where have you been? Rehab?” Veronica snarled, grinning from ear to ear at her clever joke. “Pregnant? Wouldn’t be surprised honestly.”

I wanted to retaliate, but I was frozen. I didn’t know why, but I couldn’t speak. The whole group was looking straight at me, giggling and chuckling at the insulting joke. My usual witty responses had left my brain, and I was left with a humiliated facial expression and cheeks red from embarrassment.

“So she was pregnant!” Belle squealed nastily. “Pregnant while in rehab? I think I’ve nailed it, guys.” She gained giggles. “Who’s the father?”

“That isn’t- I’m not..” I fiddled with my jumper in a panic.

“Always knew you were a whore with a facade,” Veronica stated smugly. “Even Oscar said you were bad in bed.”

I had been looking at the ground, my hands and legs shaking. It was as if time stopped, and my body froze again. Not in panic, but in pure rage. I looked up slowly, my eyes narrowing dangerously at her. “What the fuck did you just say to me?” Anger caused my blood to run cold, and my body filled with adrenaline.

“I said that you’re a slut,” Veronica repeated. “A hopeless waste of space and time, while taking advantage of those around you at every turn. Like the boys. They are mine. I will not have your sloppy seconds, ever. Just leave and become the prostitute you really are.” The boys laughed and stood up, Oscar making his way over to me.

“Upset, baby? Want to cry? You could cry on my shoulder, like you have before.” He grinned, placing his hand on my hip. “Maybe you could suck m-”

My vision almost seemed red, and my armed spasmed on it’s own. My fist was clenched, and it headed straight for Oscar’s nose. I was glad the restaurant was now empty, as I punched him repeatedly until he fell to the ground.

Strong arms wrapped around me from behind, pulling me back as I crawled to cause him more pain. “I’ll fucking kill you!”

“Stef, stop,” I heard Ethan grunt in my ear as I accidentally elbowed him. Veronica had rushed to Oscar’s aid, claiming I was a ‘crazy bitch.’ Blood rushed from his nose as he swore at me, again with more threats.

I was panting hard, and my arms had gone limp. Ethan took me outside, sitting me down on the curb. I spotted the girls in the car, oblivious to what was happening.

“I’m getting the food, stay right here,” he said quickly before rushing inside. I looked down at my bloody hands, angry at them and their stupid mouths.

I never cried. Not in movies, not in real life. But now I really felt like letting everything go, and collapsing forever. At that thought, the tears rushed to my eyes as I attempted to hold them back.

Ethan came back outside, placing the food on the ground. He kneeled in front of me and gripped me tightly, my face resting on his broad shoulder. He rocked back and fourth as I calmed down, only allowing a few tears to escape. On the inside I felt pain and hurt.

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I should have gone in,” he said, grabbing fistfuls of his shirt that was on my back. “I’ll fucking kill them, I swear.”

I didn’t say anything, only holding on to him tighter. It was getting even darker now, and the food was losing it’s warmth.

“Can we get into the car?” I said in a quiet voice, shivering from the cold, after a few minutes.

He nodded, handing the food to me before he lifted me up, bridal style, and carried me to the car. I gave the food to the girls, them ecstatic over the thought of ice cream. My mood was painful as I bit into a fry. Ethan pulled out of the parking lot and begun to drive us home.

He rested one hand on my leg for the whole drive home. When we pulled up in his driveway, the girls rushed out and managed to open the locked door. Ethan had instructed them to go inside, claiming that he would be there soon.

“This was my fault,” I finally said, breaking the sad silence. “I shouldn’t have antagonised them.”

“They would have done it to countless others. Its how they think, what their morals are, that make them do that awful stuff. There is a difference between mean and cruel, and they have crossed it too many times,” he replied, holding my hand. “I should have gone in with you, or gotten there sooner.”

I shook my head, squeezing his hand. “No. I shouldn’t have lost my head. I was just so damn angry. They make up so many lies, and it isn’t fair,” I said, frowning.

He turned to look at me, leaning over slightly to connect his lips to mine. It was softer, gentler, than before, and it showed nothing but care and compassion.

We finally went inside, and I relaxed in the living room while Ethan tucked the girls into bed. I pulled out my phone, and sighed.

I didn’t want to go home, so I prayed that my mother would be okay with me staying at Ethan’s place. After several text messages trying to argue my point, she finally allowed me to stay as long as I was back in the morning before ten o’clock.

“My mum finally allowed me to stay the night,” I informed Ethan as he walked back in, plopping himself on the couch next to me before putting his arms around my shoulders.

“That’s good,” he said, blowing a puff of air out of his mouth. “What a fucking night.”

“You got that right. It started out wonderful though,” I mused, making him smile slightly. He smiled a lot more now, more around me than anything.

“Are you going to come back to school?” His smile was gone now, replaced with a thoughtful.

I frowned now, guilt filling my chest. “I don’t know. I might be suspended now.”

“He deserves to be the one suspended, not you. All of them deserve some karma.” He furrowed his eyebrows and gritted his jaw with anger. “I’ll kill them for hurting you.”

That sentence made my heart swell, even with the violence and all.

“Are we going to tell the others?” I asked him, resting my head on his shoulder. It was amazing how close we had gotten in the span of such a short time, although there had been a build up.

“I’ll tell them at school,” he said. “They might not be as furious as I am right now, but they will want to defend you and I won’t be able to stop them. Or myself,” he admitted.

I nodded, not entirely wanting them to stop themselves. A burning hatred to Veronica and her friends was growing inside of me, and more frustration was following as I was useless against them.

We fell asleep like that, bundled in warmth.

Another visit to the hospital to pay off the bill for Ethan’s mother, who I hadn’t actually met yet. It was his business, and I was just helping out. I would meet her when it suits the family well.

I held the paperwork in my hand as I walked back through the hospital on a late Wednesday afternoon. I was reading some fine details on the paperwork when I bumped into a familiar chest. I looked up into the eyes of Ethan.

“Stef?” he asked in disbelief. “What are you doing here?”

I had dropped half of my paperwork when I had stumbled, and I scrambled to pick it up before he laid his eyes on it. “Just a doctor’s appointment. These are my medical records.” I held them up, hoping he couldn’t read them. I was majorly panicking on the inside, and I hoped that my half jumbled words were making a bit of sense and keeping my cover from being blown.

“Oh, alright. I have to go now, but I’ll see you soon, yeah?” He kissed me on the forehead before wearing a charming smile as I laughed and said goodbye.

I didn’t notice the one piece of paper missing from my pile. I didn’t notice it lying on the floor, nor did I notice the mysterious person who picked it up.

The next Monday was the bearer of bad news. My mother received a phone call from the school, and they were not happy at the least.

My bad attendance, although I had a reason, combined with the new story of the fight landed me in huge trouble. Add the bonus of Veronica twisting the story to make me seem like the crazy attacker, and you have yourself one messy situation.

They wanted to speak with me in two weeks after the incident occurred when everything had settled a bit. My mother immediately begun lecturing me, as they do, and I was sent to my room as if I hadn’t been there for the past weeks.

I was nervous, as I hadn’t gotten in a lot of trouble before and I didn’t want to be suspended or expelled. Believe it or not, I liked my school record the way it was.

I hadn’t spoke to Ethan since the hospital, and I hadn’t spoken to the other guys since before that. It was beginning to look like a lonely slump, and my only reprieve was going to work for my shifts.

Strangely, my phone wasn’t exploding with countless amounts of texts or calls anymore. Maybe the kids at school had finally accepted my absence, and Ethan had probably reassured the guys that I was fine. I wonder if he told them about what happened between us.

Speaking of which, I still had yet to figure out what that had made us. Boyfriend and girlfriend? Friends with.. kissing benefits? I had no clue, but I was game enough to promise myself to ask him the next time I saw him.

The days passed by quickly, and I was easily keeping up with my work due to the large amount of spare time that I now had. I didn’t see anyone from school, and I didn’t really socialise with anyone other than my parents and the people at my job. Even Christen seemed busy. Rude.

I contemplated buying eight cats most of the time, while also eating unhealthy amounts of sugar. Which caused my acne to flare up. Thanks, teenage years.

So, I was now an introvert who was possibly about to be suspended. Great. Oh, and what happened next?

Well, it fucking sucked.

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