Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 11

Mike


Stomping my way through the halls, I stroll to the pathetic English Lit class taking my seat behind Elena’s assigned seat. I tap my pencil on the desk, waiting for her and Doug to make their way in. I hate leaving her like this. With him. I saw those long skinny, twig fingers on her shoulders, and I about lost it. If I didn’t leave when I did, his face would be molded into the hallway floor by now. But I did leave. If I don’t give her some space, she’ll flip out on me again. I simply can’t afford that.

She needs to trust me. If giving her slivers of space throughout the day will make that happen, then so be it. I gave her more than enough space this past week, but perhaps it was too much space. How much longer can I take this? I’ve nearly avoided her for eight days – the longest eight days ever. I could tell it bothered her; I could tell that she felt she did something wrong. She didn’t, but I made her feel like she did.

Today, I decided that the slivers of space should be good. Detective Cobra and I have been talking on the phone every day about my lack of attempts to get closer to Elena. I let out a huff, last night he dangled my freedom in front of my face; it helped me out of my stupor. For the past week, I buried my frustrations between the legs of that blond from the bar in the efforts of replacing Elena’s face from my mind. The Bar Blond had to go and ruin for it for me. I made it perfectly clear that it won’t turn into anything, but last night she started to become clingy and wanted to stay over, so I had to shove her away. No one stays the night – too intimate.

​ “Do you mind?” A squeaky voice yanks me out of my thoughts. Glaring to my left, the student sitting next to me – Olivia? Olive? Can’t remember, starts with an ‘O,’ I think. She has auburn hair and big round blue eyes with a massive number of freckles covering her face and shoulders. She’s kinda cute.

Somewhat familiar.

​“What?” I asked, albeit rather harshly. What did she want from me?

​Aggravation clear in her tone, “Your pencil tapping is loud; can you please stop? I’m trying to concentrate”.

​“Oh...sorry.” As I set my pencil down, she comes walking in. Straight away, I notice the boy that sits next to her look up to watch as she and Dickhead pad their way further into the classroom. I notice two other guys in the room look up at her, along with my own eyes. She doesn’t know just how stunning she is; she is even hotter in that sweatshirt. My sweatshirt. I don’t even try to hide the smirk on my face. She looks so damn good in that hoodie. I don’t even care that it’s rather baggy on her, covering her curves. No one should be looking at those curves anyway.

She blushes when she sees me - becoming strawberries and cream all over again. I love what I do to her. The effect that I have on her is like a drug - and I’m addicted. The thought of her wearing nothing but whipped cream and strawberries dominates my thoughts...

​They take their seats in front of me. I watch her as she sits. Her hair is pulled by gravity as she leans her way into the chair. Such luscious golden hair - I want to twirl it in my fingers to feel how soft it is. It sways every time she turns her head to look at D-bag.

​“Seriously, you should think about going with me on Saturday,” I hear him say. Go where? What is this weasel trying to get her to do? Her body language tells me she isn’t so sure. My blood is starting to boil – their date.

​“I don’t know. I already have homework this weekend.” She’s being nice. Too nice. Just say no, Elena. End the discussion.

​“The party will be a great way for you to meet new people in our grade. All the seniors are going,” he presses. It’s peer pressure Elena – I want to scream. She cannot go to a party. If she goes, then I must go. I do not want to be in a room filled with immature children with their out of control underage drinking, body grinding, and childish games. Would Elena drink? Does Dickhead plan on grinding up against her? I’m not sure I want to find out. I would be a little disappointed in her. The thought of Dipshit putting his skinny hands all over her is pissing me off. Red is starting to take over my vision. I need to breathe.

​Mr. Sullivan starts the class talking about the book we are all supposed to read. I’ve read it a few times; practically know it by heart. Instead of listening to him, I try to scoot closer to Elena to overhear what she’s going to say about this damn party. She whispers, “I’ll think about it.” I must have let out some type of noise. Not sure what noise I made. Everyone is looking at me, including Mr. Sullivan, with his hideous brown sweater vest, along with the only eyes I care about – Elena’s.

​I look around the room. “What?” I ask. What did I miss?

​“Mr. Gilbert, it sounds like you have something to say. Do you care to share with us what your interpretation of this book is? Perhaps some symbolism you’ve found so far?”

Ah hell.

​I didn’t see this coming. Good thing I am familiar with this book. Thank God it’s not Wuthering Heights or some shit. Those Bronte chicks go on and on about a love they can’t have because they are too stubborn.

It turns out I might have more in common with them than I thought...

"Lord of the Flies: evil has always been inside them. The civilization that they were taught and grew up in was the very thing that ruined those kids. Throughout the whole book, they grow filthier, which I believe reflects who they truly are. I believe the book is saying that people are inherently savage.” I lean back in my chair. “When put in a situation of survival, with no rules – like these boys – you do what you need to in order to survive. Sometimes, that means letting your dark side come out on top.”

​Mr. Sullivan nods his head. Elena turns around in her seat once again and gives me an interesting look like she is trying to figure me out. Not sure what to do, I wink at her, and she smiles. A grin approaches my lips. Before she’s able to turn around, I see the light blush rise in her cheeks. She loves it when I wink at her.

​“So, you believe that people are born evil?” Mr. Sullivan puts me on the spot again, causing my sights to tear away from Elena’s golden locks.

​Clearing my throat, I think: born evil, not sure, but maybe. “Yes,” I say. “We all have that part within us that will want to destroy someone else to survive or become someone in charge. Whether it’s to kill, lie, steal, or cheat, we are all capable of it. For some, it doesn’t even have to be survival, just a way of life.” I’ve seen it firsthand running a club full of delinquents – which is one of the reasons why Lord of the Flies appeals to me. I relate to those poor fictional lost souls.

​“So, you don’t think that the book is just warning society about how children are being raised? You think that it’s innate?”

​“Yeah,” I say, annoyed that he’s still interrogating me about the damn book.

​Thankfully, he leaves it at that. When the lecture begins again, I look down at my table and realize that my pencil is broken in half. When did that happen?

Class ends, and I follow Elena out into the hall. To my surprise, she pushes skinny fingers along and hangs back to walk with me. She appears a little nervous as she hugs her books against her chest. I love those rosy cheeks of hers. Beautiful.

​“D-do, you really believe that everyone has evil in their hearts?” Her question doesn’t really surprise me, given the topic of the earlier conversation.

​“Yes, in most people.” Honesty is the best policy. Really Mike? My eyes do an internal eye roll at the irony of this whole messed up situation.

​As we push ourselves down the hall, she asks, “Why do you believe that?” I turn to look at her wide eyes of interest.

​Taking a deep breath, knowing that this isn’t the time or place to get into what I believe, I give her a simple, quick answer. “I have my reasons,” I tell her. With a shrug of my shoulder, she looks down at the floor while she walks alongside me.

​“So...I hear there’s a party this Saturday night. Have you heard anything about it?” I ask as nonchalantly as possible. Hopefully, between the start of lit class to now, she’s made up her mind about not going.

​“I kind of do want to go, but I’ve never been to a party before. I won’t know anyone besides Declan...” she pauses and rests her eyes on me. Is she hoping I’ll go? Why would she want me to be a third wheel on her date? When she looks away, she continues, “So, I’m not sure what I’m going to do. Are you going?”

​My eyes cut in her direction then look away at anything but her. Shrugging my shoulders, I say, “Probably not.” Noticing out of the corner of my eye, her shoulders slump. Is she disappointed?

I clear my throat, “Unless you go.” Please don’t want to go.

​“Really?” she asks, with a smile.

Relief is clearly written all over her darling face. Good. She likes me – my plan is starting to work, but this means I’ll be a tag along with her date. Oh, joy. Unless...

There’s a buzzing in my pants, cutting off my thought.

​“Uh yeah, sure.” Taking out my phone, I see it’s Detective Cobra. “I’m sorry, I need to take this,” I excuse myself leaving her to head for her next class without me. As fast as my feet will carry me, I stroll down the hall and find the courtyard. After making sure no one is in earshot, I answer the call.

​“Mike, how are things going? Are they any better? You had me worried with your attitude recently,” Cobra voices his concern in my ear. The memory of the blond from the bar invades my thoughts; the effect has me cringe. I started second-guessing myself about this whole job. This morning, I decided to do whatever it takes to keep Elena close to me, so I can keep an eye on her. If that means getting her to fall in love with me, then so be it.

I don’t want to hurt Elena, but I need to keep her close. Her father is very clear about that, and this is the only way I can think of doing it. If I concentrate on her, then her dad can concentrate on Marcus. Her dad won’t like it, but...

​“Yeah, better. She wants me to go to a party she’s thinking about going to this Saturday with Douche Declan,” I force through my teeth. Maybe he’ll not want her to go to a party, so I don’t have to go.

​“A party? With that boy you don’t like? She’s never been to a party before...” He doesn’t sound happy. Good.

​“Yup,” I say, kicking at a little gnome statue. Why people like these creepy little things, I’ll never know.

​“I don’t think it’s a good idea for her to go to a party, not unless you’ll be there. How is she invited to one already? She’s been here for only a couple weeks,” he’s shocked. Quite frankly, so am I.

​“She kind of wants me to go. I don’t think she should go, not if Marcus is out there to get her. Does he even know what she looks like?”

​“I don’t think he does, but I know he has spies everywhere and a son that goes to that school. I can’t keep her locked up in the house all the time; she’ll get suspicious. If she goes, you go,” he pauses. “She wants you to go on the date with her?”

​Rubbing my fingers over the scarred tissue of my knuckles, I ask, “I take it you’re not any closer to finding him, are you? Did you try the warehouse I told you about?” I purposely avoid his last question. The warehouse on the outskirt of town is abandoned, and it’s where we had our conversations and dealing – aside from that, I’m lost as to where he’d be. He is a very secretive, selfish, and filthy bastard.

​There is a long dragged out sigh from Detective Cobra. ”No, not yet. I did. There are no leads.” Wonderful. “Just continue to keep an eye on her. Hopefully, this will all be over with soon.”

Click.

​Guess we are going to that party. If Marcus’ son goes to this school, he’ll be there. I’m sure if Marcus knows that she is around, he’ll have his son attend the party to try and fish her out. He likes to use someone else to do the dirty work. The quicker I can figure out who the tard is, the quicker I can stop all of this.

I need this to be over. If I have to be stuck babysitting his precious daughter, I’m going to have a little bit of fun, or I’ll go crazy - if I’m not already there.

After a long antagonizing day of lectures that don’t matter and halls that are filled with more gossip than any People’s magazine out there, I find Elena at her locker. Watching her push books in her bag, I realize that I haven’t seen her smile. A genuine heartfelt smile. What better way to a woman’s heart than laughter? Besides great sex, which is off the table – unfortunately. For now.

​“Hey!” I surprise even myself with the cheery overload as I walk up to her.

​“Hi,” she smiles. That’s not the smile.

​“So, I’ve been thinking- ”

​“Uh oh,” she teases, cutting me off.

​Grinning from ear to ear, I continue, “I’ve been thinking that you should probably go to that party.”

​She freezes. “Really? Why?”

​“Well, Denny and I can’t be your only friends around here forever, right?” I chuckle. Her glare is strong from me purposely saying his name wrong.

​“His name is Declan.” She crosses her arms.

​“I don’t care,” I honestly say as I lean against the row of lockers. “Besides, I’ve decided to go to the party. It’d be nice to see you there. There will be dancing. You like to dance, don’t you?” I ask curiously, trying not to imagine those curvy hips sway.

​“I-I don’t know how to dance.” Her voice is quiet, almost embarrassed.

​“Oh, come on. You can do the Macarena, can’t you?” I start break dancing in the middle of this hallway, doing the Macarena.

​She giggles. “What are you doing?”

​I continue with a serious expression and shake my ass after the turn. “Hey, Macarena,” I sing. She starts to laugh, and it’s a beautiful sound. That’s the smile. People are staring at me, but I don’t give a shit - I’m making this beautiful girl laugh. She’s embarrassed as hell, but she’s laughing.

Elena holds her stomach. ​“Stop... it,” she says between bursts of laughter as I switch to the snorkel dance.

​“Not unless you say you’ll go.” I start the imaginative lawnmower.

​“Fine, fine!” She grabs my hands to stop me from further embarrassing her, and we both try to settle ourselves from laughing. It worked, though. She did it. I got that genuine smile where her eyes sparkle, her cheeks are sore and red from laughing so hard. Her small soft hands grip me so lightly, I can hardly feel her. She’s tracing her tiny fingers over the tattoo on the top of my hand. It feels good. I never had anyone do this before - her touch is scorching throughout my body. I’m feeling warmer than usual.

​Without looking up at me, she asks, “What does this mean?”

​She’s a curious little thing. I counter her question with another, “Can I show you something?” Her blue-grey eyes stare up at me as she cocks her head.

​A small grin plays on her perfect pink lips. “If I agree, will you tell me what this means?”

​Letting out a sigh, I look into her eyes. “I’ll think about it.”

“Okay,” she agrees. I give her a crooked smile then grab her bag. She closes her locker and follows me to my truck.

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