The Girl Next Door

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Chapter 18: I Dare You

One week later

I spent the night at Nick’s house because my dad was in a rage.

“Nick? Can you promise me something?” I asked as we sat on his lawn smoking.

He took a drag then looked at me. “Depends on what it is?”

“Will you and Jack help me keep Shaina safe?” I asked turning to look at him.

Nick looked out at the street before asking, “Why do you care about her so much, man? You’re not one to get attached. You sleep with ’em, you move on. What’s so special about Shaina?”

I snubbed out my cigarette and flopped back into the grass. “What’s so special about Shaina?” I repeated, “She’s different, you know? Now don’t go around saying I’ve gone soft but I really care about her Nick. She’s smart and beautiful and she cares. She genuinely cares about me and my well-being. Besides you and Jack, no one cares what happens to me. I told Shaina my life the other night. Like everything. And she took it and she hugged me. She didn’t say sorry or patronize me. She hugged me and told me I’d make it. She actually listened. She’s just...”

“Perfect?” Nick asked.

I looked at him. “Yeah, man. She’s perfect.”

The next day

It was Shaina’s first day back since the injury. She kept telling me she was ready but I highly doubted it.

“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” I asked her for the millionth time since we had gotten in the car.

She sighed sounding kind of annoyed, “Yes, Matthew. I’m fine. I haven’t had to take my pain medication. I feel great. I’m ready.”

I raised an eyebrow at her. “Shaina, you know that’s not what I meant. Are you ready to face them?”

Shaina sighed again. “Yes, Matthew. I can handle a few b****es.” She said it confidently but I could see the fear written across her face.

I pulled into the parking lot. It was like déjà vu.

“Let’s do this.” I heard Shaina mumbled to herself.

I grabbed her wrist gently to stop her from getting out of my truck. “Hey, I’ll be right here. And Nick and Jack will too. No one will hurt you.”

Shaina gulped audibly and climbed out of the truck.

I walked around the truck and found Nick and Jack talking to Shaina. I greeted them.

“Alright. Ready to face hell?” I asked.

Jack clapped his hands. “Let’s do this.”

We walked into school and I felt like a body guard. I had Shaina on my right and Nick and Jack flanked us. Everyone watched us as we walked down the halls.

“First period,” Shaina sighed when we got to her locker, “I don’t have you to protect me.”

“I can change my schedule.” I offered again for probably the fourth time since we’d walked in. Nick rolled his eyes and Jack snickered.

“Matthew,” Shaina said as she closed her locker, “I’ll be fine. I’ll see you guys after first period.” She started walking away down the hall.

“At least let us walk you to class!” I hollered after her as we ran to catch up.

Shaina rolled her eyes and laughed. It was so nice to hear her laugh. Her face brightened and she looked even more beautiful, if that was even possible.

We stopped at her English class. “Okay guys. Go to class. I’ll be fine.” she reassured me for the billionth time.

I reluctantly left her in Nick’s care with a light kiss on the forehead.

“Dude, you are in way deep.” Jack teased as we walked away to our algebra class.

I shoved him brotherly. “What makes you say that?”

He looked at me. “Dude, don’t try to hide it. I’ve known you since we were five and I have never seen you look at a girl the way you look at Shaina.”

“So what? Shaina is Shaina. She’s amazing.”

Jack laid a hand on my shoulder. “Man, stop before I puke.”

I shrugged off his hand. “Whatever.” I laughed. Jack and I walked into Algebra and took our seats at the back of class.

I distractedly watched the clock the entire class waiting for the bell. Jack had to constantly tell me to quite tapping my pencil against the desk. I couldn't help it. I had to see her. I had to make sure she was okay.

As soon as the bell rang, I sprang from my seat and practically ran from the room.

Jack ran to catch up with me. “Calm down, Matt. She’s fine. Don’t worry.”

I hooked a left into the Commons Area and scanned the room of students looking for Shaina and Nick. They were no where to be seen.

Jack bumped me and nodded to the door. “They’re coming in.”

I turned around and saw Nick leading Shaina in the door.

“Where were you guys?” I asked rushing over to them. “I was starting to worry.”

“Chill, Matt.” Nick reassured me. “She’s fine. I was with her the whole time.”

I nodded a thanks to him and turned my attention back to Shaina. “How was English?”

“Uh fine. I’m gonna stay a little late today so I can catch up. You don’t have to wait for me.” she told me.

Ha, no way. “Yes, I do.” I said firmly leaving no room for her to argue. The tardy bell rang. “To chemistry?” I asked her. This was the one class we both shared with Alice. It should be interesting.

Shaina nodded.

We walked into class together. Alice immediately glared at Shaina.

“I’m going to go sit down.” I murmured lowly to her. I knew this was something her and Alice had to battle out.

She nodded still holding Alice’s stare.

I took my seat at the back of class and observed.

Shaina went towards her seat but before she got there a guy grabbed her wrist stopping her. It took everything I had not to intervene but I knew Shaina wanted to try to handle it on her own and prove to Alice she was strong.

“Are you as good in bed as everyone is making you out to be?” he asked laughing.

Shaina flushed a dark red color.

“Of course not, dude!” the guy next to me yelled back. “She’s a nerd. All she does in bed is studying!” He snorted cackling. I smacked the back of his head. He glared at me.

“Yeah well you know what they say,” the guy holding her responded, “shy in the streets, sexy in the sheets. Ain’t that right?” He looked her up and down.

I clenched my fists. If this didn’t stop soon I was going to be knocking some heads.

Shaina yanked her arm away but lost her balance and hit the ground. Alice stood over her. “You know what I heard, Shaina?” The whole class went dead silent captivated by what Alice was going to tell them. “I heard you were meeting Mr. E in his classroom after school today. What are you going to do? Try and get a better grade by su-”

That was enough. Alice took this way too far. “That’s enough, Alice.” I gritted standing up.

“Come on, Matthew.” she whined as I stepped by her to get to Shaina. “We were just having a bit of fun.”

I ignored her and helped Shaina to her feet. “Are you okay?” I asked her gently, pushing hair off her face. She refused to meet my eyes. She shoved me away and ran from the room.

“You are such an attention seeking b****.” I told Alice as I turned my attention to her.

Alice stared at me open mouthed stunned I had spoken to her that way. “Matt-” she started.

I held up my hand. “Shut. Up. You’ve done messing with Shaina." I growled before grabbing my bag and stalking from the room in search of Shaina.

I wandered the halls a bit and still couldn’t find her. I located Nick’s history class and knocked on the door.

His teacher opened the door, “Can I help you?”

“Yeah, the nurse needs to see Nick.”

He nodded, “One moment.” he disappeared and Nick appeared at the door with his backpack.

“Matthew.” he seemed a little surprised to see me.

“Come on. Shaina ran from chemistry because Alice was a total b**** to her and I need help finding her. What class is Jack in?”

“Health.”

We collected Jack from health. “Hey guys. What’s going on?” he asked as he closed the door.

“It’s Shaina.” Nick answered. “She ran out of chemistry and now we can’t find her.”

“S***!” Jack mumbled.

“What...?” I asked him slowly.

“Ian.” Jack sighed. “I saw Shaina walk by the door and then Ian asked to go to the bathroom and that was twenty minutes ago. I didn’t think much of it! But he’s Kyle’s friend.”

“Damn it.” I ran a hand through my hair. “We've gotta find her.”

They both nodded and we set out down the halls. We were about to give up when I heard a hiccuping sob come from down one of the back halls.

“Guys!” I hollered to Nick and Jack who had gone ahead. “This way!”

We turned down the hall and I saw Shaina pinned to the lockers by Ian. My heart began to race. “Shaina!” I yelled racing towards her.

She turned a tear stained face towards the direction of my voice. Her eyes were wide and fear filled them. Ian let go of her and she slid to the floor and sobbed. His two friends took off running in the other direction.

“Oh look. Matthew plays the Knight in shining armor. How ironic.” Ian sneered.

“Back off her, Ian.” I growled.

Ian knelt down beside Shaina and reached out to touch her. She shied away from him and I took a menacing step forward. “No way, Knight.” he said staring at Shaina. “I was given a job. And unlike my friends, I finish the job.”

“Alice paid you didn’t she?” I heard Shaina ask in a faint whisper.

“Oh yeah, Sweetheart.” Ian replied with a nasty grin. “And I likemoney.” Ian reached for her arm and that snapped me. I grabbed him by the front of his stupid Varsity letter man jacket and hauled him into the lockers across the hall.

“Tough her again,” I boomed. “I dare you.”

All of Ian’s confidence drained from his face and he just looked scared. “You know what, I’m good.” he responded his voice shaking. “I’ll just be getting back to class.”

I released him. “If I ever see you or any of your friends touching Shaina again a you’ll wish you weren’t alive.” I growled.

Ian nodded and scampered down the hall.

I slid to my knees in front of Nick. “What happened?” I demanded.

Nick looked at me. “He touched her.” he responded disgusted.

My heart broke for Shaina. I took her from Nick and tucked her into my side. “She, Sweet Pea. Sh.” I murmured placing gentle kisses on her hair, “You’re okay now. You’re safe.”

“Just take me home.” she mumbled in a tiny voice. She sounded so broken. It physically hurt to see her this way.

I nodded and helped her stand up. She leaned into me as I walked her to my truck.

The drive to her house was silent. Neither of us made an attempt to speak.

I pulled up outside of her house and started to climb out of my truck when she laid a hand on my arm. “I just want to be alone. Go ahead and go back to school. I’ll be okay.”

I stared at her. At a moment like this, she did not need to be alone. I was about to object when her eyes turned pleading, “Please, Matthew.” she begged. “Please. I just want to be left alone.”

I didn’t want to upset her more so I just nodded. I leaned forward and placed a gentle kiss on her forehead. She jumped down from the truck and trudged inside.

She closed her front door and I realized I had wanted to say something when I kissed her forehead but the words died on my lips.

I love you, Shaina.

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