Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 25


The moment I have not been looking forward to has arrived: Declan walking into English lit.

With an apologetic smile, he sits next to me. “Hey, how are you doing? I heard Mike got in a fight with Zack, is everything okay?” he whispers low.

In a whisper of my own, I respond with, “Yeah, he did...I’m okay, just...”

“Psst,” I hear someone behind me say.

Turning around, I see Ovid with her wavy red hair, big blue eyes, and a generous amount of freckles.

“What?” I ask quietly, expecting a crude remark from her too.

“Is it true that you didn’t sleep with anyone that night?” Ovid investigates.

The news caught on quickly from the fight, though, I’m not surprised.

I lower my eyes to focus on her pencil resting on the desk and nod. “It’s true...I- never...”

“She just drank too much. Nothing happened.” I glance up to see Declan glaring at Ovid.

Her tongue clicks on the roof of her mouth as she stares at me. “Huh. Interesting, because you, Declan, got your ass kicked by Mike. You, Elena, were seen being carried out with a shirt on when you arrived in a dress and Mike was shirtless...What the hell happened then?” She doesn’t buy it.

“Look,” Declan sneers. “I did not have my ass kicked...that... was a misunderstanding. I was with her; she got a little drunk, so what? I’ve seen you drunk, Ovid; you don’t have any room to talk here. She isn’t a whore like your sister. Feel free to tell Miss Gossip Queen to stop the rumor she’s spreading, or I swear I will make you both pay.” Ovid’s eyes widen nearly at the same moment as mine.

“Alright, class, we’ll start where we left off; chapter 10,” Mr. Sullivan interrupts the tension that has expanded between the three of us. Silently, I face the front of the classroom and open my book.

Ashley’s scowl hardly leaves my line of vision while enduring fifty-two minutes of a cell biology lecture on mitosis. If mitosis weren’t so boring, then maybe I would not notice her at all.

“You expect me to believe that nothing happened?” Ashley inquires like an annoying reporter.

Oh, if only she really knew what happened...

I suck in my bottom lip and nod my head while trying to focus on the board filling up with scribbles and notes.

“I can’t believe someone like him would be dating someone like you,” she spits.

That hurts.

The fact that he had pulled away twice from kissing me proves that I’m most likely not his type so that jab hits a rather sore spot.

I turn to look at her and decide to give her what she wants – maybe then she’ll leave me alone.

“He’s not my boyfriend. He’s just a friend and my neighbor. You can have him if you want.” Bringing my focus back to the scribbled whiteboard -I know I am so going to regret this.

“Really? I thought you were together.” I know her eyes are lit up.

Popping the ‘p,’ I assure her with a “Nope.”

The next week, I walk out of the school’s blue double doors and see Ashley hanging on the driver’s side door of Mike’s truck. Her hot pink t-shirt and faded blue jeans really pop against the black finish. She is twirling her hair and giggling loud enough to the point where I can hear her from nearly fifteen yards away--where my feet seem to be bolted on the cement.

All week I’ve been witnessing Ashley’s flirting attempts with Mike. Though he seems to feed her appetite for attention – I’m not sure anything will come from it; for his sake, I hope not.

“Hi Elena,” Ashley chirps with a smile as I close the distance between me and my ride home. It’s as if she is pretending that she has not been spreading rumors about me.

“Hey, Ashley...” I greet her with the effort of not shooting her with daggers from my eyes.

As I climb into the truck, I notice that she gives Mike a yellow-lined piece of paper.

“Call me sometime?” she suggests in her best seductive voice.

“I just might, darlin',” Mike says with that dimpled smile as she turns away. I roll my eyes. No guy in this school has been able to turn Ashley down, why would Mike be any different?

I pray that he crinkles it and throws it on the floor, but instead, he reaches for the center console and puts it in there as he faces me.

“Ready?” he asks.

Nodding my head, I shoot my eyes to the center console between us, wishing I had the same power as Cyclops from the X-Men so I can torch the phone number.

To break the silence and not obsess over the tiny lined paper inches away from me, I apologize, “I’m really sorry that you got suspended.”

Mike shrugs his shoulders. “Eh, it’s not that big of a deal. It’s only for a week; besides, I’ve been able to get a lot of hours in at the shop,” he says as he stops at a red light.

“...But you’re missing all your exams,” I say, a little on edge. What if he’ll be unable to graduate because of this...because of me?

“I’m not worried about it. I can always make them up – I’m sure. Don’t forget - I’m a great test taker.” He winks. There doesn’t seem to be a worried bone in his body for missing all his finals...

A pause falls between us while I try not to think about his academic situation; it is just making my head swirl with confusion as he accelerates on the gas.

“Has anyone else been giving you any trouble?” he inquires.

I shake my head. “No - thankfully...I think you and Declan put a stop to those rumors rather quickly.” I turn to look at my driver. “I really am sorry, Mike. I feel terrible about what happened between you and Zack. If I never-- ”

“Elena, for the millionth time, it’s not your fault. I told you, if anyone gave you any problems, I’d deal with it – and I did...” The darker tone in his voice has me zip my lips shut.

His voice softens, “Have you found out anything more from Dillweed?”

I sigh, “Declan. No, I haven’t. Whenever I’ve tried to get more out of him about those guys, he finds some way to change the subject. Or he says that they aren’t exactly friends, and if he shares anything more about them, they’ll come after him.”

While fidgeting with my nails, I continue as we turn on our street. “I’m scared, Mike. What kind of trouble did I get myself into? What kind of trouble is Declan in that he doesn’t feel safe to talk with me about this? Then there’s you – ”

“Stop,” he says with his hand up as we pull into his driveway. “I got you, okay? I won’t let anyone hurt you. Everything will be alright.” I feel like he’s more so reassuring himself than me.

“Okay,” I say. Opening the door, he grabs my backpack and slings it over his shoulder as we both hop out of the lifted truck. As he’s carrying my backpack, I notice that he keeps a hand behind his back-probably resting it in his back pocket. “Thank you for still taking me to and from school,” I mention as we walk across the lawn to my front door.

“No problem at all,” he smiles.

“You know, rumors are going around about you, too.” A part of me feels like he should know. He hasn’t been around all week to hear them, and last week, he was too busy fighting off my rumors – literally.

“Oh yeah? Like what?” he asks, interested.

Sliding my key into the door, I unlock it and turn around at the man with the most amused expression on his face.

“People have been saying that you started fights with random people, that you clobbered a guy just for looking at me.” Mike chuckles. “That you carry brass knuckles with you, you had a gun that night; you are a dangerous guy...” I say, and he laughs.

Nervously, I continue, “That you’re a jealous boyfriend who deserves a better girlfriend...” his laughter comes to an abrupt halt as he looks at me. His expression goes from amused to serious in a blink of an eye.

“They are just rumors, Kitten. Don’t worry about any of it. I’ve had worse said about me.” He takes rumors a lot better than I do. Taking off my backpack from his shoulder, he hands it to me.

“They think we are together?” he asks, a little uneasy.

My grip on my backpack tightens. “I guess they do...” I admit.

He clears his throat. “Well... if I had you as my girlfriend - know that you would be more than enough for me...” he flirts. My heart skips a beat as he finishes, “It would be you, who would deserve a better boyfriend. But-” he takes a deep breath, “on a side note, I have a question to ask you.”

“...Okay,” I say, not sure what to expect.

“Do you have any plans tomorrow night?”

Still not sure where this is going exactly, I say, “I’m pretty sure my dad is working, so I don’t believe I have any plans. Why?”

“Well...would you like to have dinner with me?” he asks with a twinkle in his gaze. Adoration?

My heart is pounding so hard. Is this really happening? “Yes!” I about squeal.

Removing his arm from behind his back, he leans into me then places a kiss on my cheek. As he moves away, he gives me a rose from the hand that he kept behind him.

“I’ll see you tomorrow then,” he says with a wink, then flashes that crooked smile that perfectly shows off his dimple. Leaving me on my doorstep in complete awe, I watch my knight in leather armor stroll away.

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