Anything To Protect Her
Anything To Protect Her
Day by day, night by night, I was trapped within those same stone walls. The only memory that I had of what life was like before, was the old, golden pocket watch on a chain that I kept around my neck. The unstable bed creaked as I shuffled in my sleep, and to this I would always wake. My eyes were blurry as I looked around the musty, unwelcoming dorm that I unwillingly shared with nine other socially awkward 15-year-old girls.
As usual, I could hear Miss Cablitzky, the baker’s daughter, stomping up the hard stone path leading to the unpleasant building as she came thundering along in her ordinary temper. With her basket filled with a great many humpy bags of flour and yeast, she wrapped hard on the heavy front door with her large, flabby hand, making the whole building quake.
“Open up! Open up!” she yelled, as if every second of the business was wasting her precious time. I crept over to the one, dusty dorm window and peered down to see Miss Cablitzky, a red faced, angry old flea and her plump, round stomach that never tried to hide her considerable weight. Miss Cablitzky was only one of the many things that the girls had to deal with every day.
Breakfast was a normal rush that most girls quite frankly couldn’t wait to be over. As the loud, shrill bell sounded in the main corridor, the girls (including me) groaned, then a whole whirlwind of shouting, shoving and hair pulling began in the supper hall.
The hall was lined with four, stretching oak tables that went from one end of the hall to the other. Two of the tables were used by the girls, but the others were horded by the boys. This is the first time I’ve mentioned the boys, and that’s a story and a half, believe me! The reason was that they were all a great stinking bag of nothing to me, and nothing could change it. Or so I thought…
“Get in line, get in line!”
Now barking orders was Mr. Henry, the head of the orphanage. He was a miserable old humbug, I hated him the most! (I even hated him more than Miss Cablitzky and that’s saying something!) Anyway, I don’t have time to rant about all the good-for-nothing teachers now, so I’d better get back to the story. Where was I? Oh yes, my breakfast.
I didn’t have many friends in these years of my life. Correction, I didn’t have any friends. I mean, there was this one girl that I used to hang out with but she got adopted, being the prettiest, most innocent girl in the whole orphanage, so now I officially have no one. I sat on my own at the table, pushing my cold porridge around with my spoon. I wasn’t surprised that no one had come to sit with me - as this was how it always went - but I was still lonely, no matter how many times this had happened to me. I mean, why would anyone bother to befriend the tiny, ginger girl with stupid, wiry hair and ugly freckles sitting on her own at the back; with the bewitching green eyes? Why would they bother to waste their time talking to the freaky Alyssa Hardy? Sometimes I dream that the perfect little family walks through those big front doors and takes me away to a world of happiness.
The days came and went, spent cleaning over-large staircases and scrubbing every wooden floorboard in the great supper hall. The other girls always made fun of me, and made me do the extra chores each week. I thought that today would be just the same, but then…
He came through the door with a shadowy look on his face and dark circles under his hazel-brown eyes. He was skinny, but looked strong and nimble. He blew his untidy black fringe out of his eyes, and his expression was bored, as if this happened regularly. The large Miss Cablitzky was towering behind him holding her wooden cane, holding the mysterious boy by the scruff of his neck with the other firm hand.
“Here’s another one for you, Sir. A right scoundrel he is too, one to keep a close eye on I should think. Caught him stealing from the bakery, Sir.” Miss Cablitzky puffed as if she had just finished running a marathon. “I’ve been tryin’ to catch the thief all week, Sir, this isn’t the first time. Remember last week when the bread was missin’? That was ’im!”
Mr. Henry was next to speak, “What is your name, boy?” he hollered.
The boy rolled his eyes.
The boy muttered some forbidden words before growling, “Jonathan King, what’s it to you?”
Miss Cablitzky went pink and scowled. And with that she was off and the filthy boy was left alone in the supper hall, with all the girl’s eyes pinned to him. Everyone apart from me, that is. This happened too often for me to take much notice.
Over the next few weeks I had the strange feeling that I was being watched. Jonathan had been stalking me, following me, sneaking into the girls’ building just to watch me. If not physically, he was always following me with his eyes. He seemed to have noticed I was the only girl who ceased to pay attention to this boy, but somehow he found it amusing, intriguing even. He probably found it suspicious that I refused to make eye contact with him, whereas the other girls were all batting their long lashes, all trying to get his attention. He didn’t try to bother me, but he must have noticed I found it annoying, so started to take it to another level. At lunch, he came over and stood behind my chair, putting his hands on my shoulders. I huffed and went to sit at another table, but he pushed me back down into my seat and trapped me in with his arms.
“Why?” I heard his smooth, carefree voice behind me.
I knew who it was, but I didn’t even turn to face him. “Why what?”
“Why do you ignore me so unlike others?” his breath was hot on my neck, his hair so close it tickled.
“There are so many scruffy street kids that get caught here every day. You were just another.” I found it hard to concentrate with his body so close to mine. I pulled away. I gave him an accusing stare and our eyes met for the first time.
Jonathan frowned, then smirked. I had never seen a more annoying expression. This was the first time I had actually studied his face. It was pale, and he had beautiful, deep brown eyes and a caring, yet intensely powerful smile. I was trying desperately to hide the fact that he was devastatingly gorgeous. His untidy black hair fell into his sparkling eyes, eyes that looked deeply interested. I couldn’t stop myself from blushing a little.
He chuckled, “You just can’t handle me.”
“Not true!” I fired back at him, trying to hide the uncertainty in my voice.
Jonathan only grinned, “Want me to prove it?” He pulled me back into his firm grip against his chest. I froze and stopped breathing. I struggled to get out of his grasp, but it was the firmest hold I’d ever been in; it only made him grip tighter. “See now, gorgeous?”
Gorgeous? Really Jonathon? He had been here for less than two weeks and he was already calling me gorgeous. I was half filled with pride, as no one had called me that before - and probably never would again - and half annoyed at how he was obviously right. I was only hoping that ‘gorgeous’ would be a one time thing. An incredible sensation rushed through me at that moment and that was when I knew - I kinda liked him. Ok, ok! I loved him! It was a strange, but comforting feeling, like no other. But of course, I wouldn’t tell him that.
I rolled my eyes, “Go sweet-talk some other girl.”
His eyes flashed and he leant closer to my ear, sliding his hands down my shoulders, “Wouldn’t you rather come with me, gorgeous?” he whispered. His touch made my whole body tingle and I shivered. Again with the gorgeous! I raised my brow. Suddenly he looked hopeful, but then I shook my head.
“No thanks, but I’m sure any one of the other two-hundred girls would love to go with you.” he looked around the great hall, where all the other girls were slowly studying his face. The expression he made made me laugh: it looked disgusted and annoyed, as if I were some sort of a challenge to him. I looked up at him, wearing an innocent smile upon my lips. He brushed a lock of hair away from my face softly and stole a quick kiss on my forehead, with that he was gone and let me out of his grasp. I turned around hoping to see him walk away, but he had already vanished. I soon felt the loss of his touch on my skin, but I went on with the day pretending nothing had happened.
Across the next few days, the other jealous teenage girls pretty much made my life a living hell. They were constantly tormenting me, accusing me of ‘stealing their guy’ just because some silly boy seemed to actually notice me. They always ‘accidentally’ knocked things over just to make me clear it up, and pushed me out of my seat at meal times just to be near Jonathan. That night, I stirred in my sleep, but woke to the creek of weight on the end of the bed.
“Sleep well?” came a smooth, calm whisper.
I jumped. I opened my eyes to see Jonathon gazing at me from the end of the thin mattress, leaning on the bed posts. I felt embarrassed that I was only in my bed clothes. I felt completely exposed to him at that moment.
“Come with me,” he said slowly. I stared at him blankly, stuttering.
“Come with me.” he said again, but more of a command this time. I was half reluctant, but I followed him up the wooden steps to the roof hut. It was small, and I wondered how we would both fit up here, but to my surprise he leapt up onto the slanted, tiled roof through the window. He held out his hand for me to follow. I gingerly took it, pondering whether this was a good idea, but then the chilled breeze hit my face and I sighed heavily at the relief the breeze gave me.
We sat down on the top edge of the roof.
“You’re causing me a lot of trouble, you know.” I huffed, trying not to get caught up in the feel of his breath on my ear, “I didn’t want anything to do with you.”
He grinned and made the most adorable face I’d ever seen, “What kind of trouble?”I flushed red as he slid his hand down to my waist and pulled me closer.
I didn’t look him in the eyes when I said this, or I would probably turn as scarlet as one of the summer roses. “All the other girls want you, and accuse me of ‘hoarding’ you. Really it was only you who came running to the girl who wanted you least.”
“Least? So you even want me a little.” I opened my mouth to protest and tell him he was missing the point, but Jonathan just smiled in the moonlit evening, and chuckled, “They’re jealous of your beauty, not because you have me.” I wanted to believe him, but he didn’t look me in the eye.
Not because I ‘have him’, what’s that supposed to mean? I didn’t own him. I wondered if he got that floating feeling too. The feeling I got when I was around him. Like I was floating up and up to a cloud. I was laying on his arm as we spoke for hours past midnight on the highest turret in the moonlight. I felt comforted towards him, but I forced myself to blame it on the fact that it was late, I was tired and in the very few films I had seen, moonlight was supposedly romantic. Then, I drifted off into a deep slumber, Jonathan holding me in his comforting arms.
When dusk bled into dawn, I awoke with a start at the sense of Jonathan stirring. For a second I was blissfully unaware of last night’s events until I remembered where I was and who I was with. I had just about wriggled out of Jonathan’s reach enough to slowly slip away, back safely in my dorm. I fell straight back to sleep and my sound slumber lasted until seven in the morning when the morning bell woke us all.
When we all went to breakfast, I didn’t see Jonathan. This was a great relief for me, as I was embarrassed about last night and felt I could do with some time without him. Though, I became increasingly suspicious when he didn’t show up during the whole eating session. I chose to think nothing of it until I was walking back to the dorms to get ready for the day.
Suddenly, I was shocked to be pulled into a narrow, unlit corridor. It was shady and filled with eerie shadows. The light turned on with a snap and I felt myself collapsing into a warm embrace. I knew who it was because as usual, I felt myself float. Jonathan! I recognized his firm grip, his smooth skin, his scruffy black britches. I finally felt safe once more. “Miss me?” I said with a sly smirk. “Where were you anyway? I’ve been looking all over!”
“I- Ummm… I got caught up in woodwork. Mr Henry caught me… Stealing?” He didn’t meet my eyes when he said this. I gave him an accusing stare, raising my brow. I wasn’t about to fall into a trap, no one could lie to me. I may be short but I wasn’t stupid! “I’m serious! Where were you? And don’t bother lying again.” I said that last part maybe a little too sternly, and as if to agree he gave me a look that I knew meant he didn’t want to talk about it. So, I gave up.
“What did you pull me into this wretched corridor for then?” I wondered if he was too annoyed with me to answer.
“Oh…I- Ummm… Just wanted to…Ummm… Ask you if you wanted to ditch this horrid place and… Maybe…”
“Come with you instead?” I finished his sentence for him since he kept stammering. This was the first time I had actually seen him nervous. He was usually so confident. I wondered if this had something to do with his sudden disappearance. Or maybe it was the floating feeling? I couldn’t tell.
“Exactly.” he smiled. Suddenly, I was caught in a symphony as he spun me around and hoisted me up by my waist. At that magical moment he pulled me into his arms and his lips finally met mine. The kiss seemed to last forever but at the same time ended in a flash. I didn’t want it to stop, so I fastened my hands around his neck and pulled him in closer. It was unlike anything I had ever felt before. “Let’s go then.” He turned and started pulling me along.
“What, now?” I pulled my hand away, shocked out of my skin. My eyes flitted to his, and I was confused to see his desperate, needy face searching mine. “Look,” I said to him, calmly, “I’m only gonna say this once so I want a clear answer.” His face looked concerned, I whispered the next part. “I like you a lot. And I am just as keen to get away as you are, but I can’t run away and spend the rest of my life with a boy I’ve only known for two weeks who is keeping secrets from me. What are you hiding?” This question didn’t seem to take him by surprise and I watched him search for another lie to tell in silence.
The silence ached, like a horrible case of the flu. “Well?” I pressed? He didn’t answer. The silence continued as I searched his eyes for an answer. “Ok. You got me. I’ve been… I’ve been… Busy.”
“Busy doing what?” I began to show my annoyance in my tone.
“My business. Not yours.”
I groaned, and turned around to leave, but he grabbed my arm and pulled me back into his muscled stomach. This time he had his hands clasped behind my back, so I couldn’t escape. I pushed at his chest but he didn’t even stumble. He nestled his face into my neck.
“I’m sorry I’m not being open with you, but I fear you’ll never trust me again if I come clean.” he placed a slow kiss on my neck. I tried to pull my head away, but one of his hands crept up my shoulder and held it in place. “Promise if I leave there won’t be anything between us?” he asked.
“You’re already thinking about leaving again?” I yelled, “This is what I mean by keeping secrets. I slapped him on the side of the head. Taken by surprise, he stepped back, and I took the opportunity to leave there and then.
I didn’t speak to him for the rest of the week, whenever we saw each other, I snarled and started walking in the other direction. He kept on chasing me around but I didn’t take any notice. I didn’t want to, if he wanted me, he’d have to come clean with whatever it was he was disappearing to do. Even if I was annoyed with him, I still missed his touch, his hands on my waist, those gentle kisses on my neck. But it wasn’t enough to make me come running back to him, not after what happened. I couldn’t bare to be in a relationship with a foundation of lies. Even if that boy is adorable. Even if our fight meant no relationship at all.
It was another boring day of chores, scrubbing the floors, mopping the stairs and polishing the silver. At mid morning meal time, Jonathan followed me around the supper hall as if he were a lost puppy and I were his owner. Today I thought I might tease him in finding some other street rat boy to talk to. I chose Cole, another passable boy the same age as me. I giggled whenever Jonathon got near, and I could feel his stare burning into the back of my head. I looked over my shoulder at him and winked, smirking. He was already a bright pink colour but at his action he turned as red as a tomato. I didn’t really enjoy hanging around with Cole, I’d prefer to be with Jonathon - but I couldn’t look him in the eye right now. It was especially funny, now that I was out of the way, to see all of the other girls climbing all over him and him trying to push them away so he could get to me. That was just another of the barriers he would have to pass through to win me back.
That night, he came to my dorm room. He was obviously experiencing a hard time right now, and most of that was probably down to me.
“Having fun with Cole lately?” he scolded sharply. I was about to make up something that would annoy him, but he stopped me. “Save it, gorgeous, you’re just going to tell me something I don’t want to hear.”
Well, he was right.
“You’re annoyed that I’m hanging out with Cole, aren’t you?” I smirked. He stared at me coldly, telling me it was a definite yes.
“Just… Stop hanging out with him.”
I gave him a piercing look. “And why should I listen to you?”
“He doesn’t deserve you. And I’ve been working through some stuff.” he ran a hand through his hair.
“Stuff like, I don’t know, me?” I accused.
“On a low term, yes.”
“And how does this have anything to do with Cole? I mean, we were never a thing.” He looked hurt as I said this. I sat up more, still in bed. His eyes were sparkling.
“Never in a thing, huh?” it was his turn to smirk, “Would someone who was ’never a thing’ do this?”
He took me by surprise when he did this. Without a second’s thought, he lunged forward and planted his lips on mine. I surprised myself when I didn’t stop him. I closed my eyes as I let my feelings flow. When I opened them again, he was gone.
The next morning, I found myself angrier at Jonathan than I was before. I had convinced myself that it was because he kissed me unexpectedly and kept hissing at me about; telling me whether or not I could hang out with Cole. But really it was because he was obviously right. I did miss him.