Wolf's Lullaby

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Testicle tattletale and Mad Max on steroids

TARA

“Mother fluffer what did he do?” I bet my left ass cheek it was Ivan who attacked first, and I bet my right one it wasn’t unprovoked. I turned to Philip, finding him staring at me, a brow cocked, a smirk threatening to turn into a full on smile. Realization poured over me like hot tea. “Did I just say that out loud?”

“Yep,” he popped the p at the end. “Such language Lady Shrimp, I’m scandalized.” He pulled on the inside of the piercing studs with his teeth, trying not to laugh, but failing miserably.

I just nodded, and sighed, already resigned to the fact that I was a lost cause, “While we are on the subject of scandal and ass and my idiotic self has no filter... Can you please do me a favor and tell the geography teacher I have a case of a particularly nasty explosive diarrhea and it will take me a while to go to class? I need to go check on my two idiot friends…” I didn’t wait for him to answer, I darted away as if my butt was on fire… What was with me and the ass today?! Philip’s laugh echoed through the hallway, so I picked up my pace.

I said that… I really did… Explosive diarrhea!

Snipe me! Snipe me now, God! End the joke of my existence!

I rounded one corner at the end of the hallway, and as I was nearing another corner I stopped dead in my tracks at the angry familiar voice, “The fuck is wrong with you?!” Mina spat.

There was no immediate answer. As much as I knew it was wrong to listen in on a private conversation, I sneaked closer. Peering behind the wall I almost lost an eye to a giant leafy potted plant that chilled in the sunlight coming through the massive arched windows adorning the entire wall opposite of me. Ooh, good! Camouflage!

Ivan and Mina stood at least five meters away. Mina faced in my direction while Ivan’s back was turned to me. Daniel was nowhere to be found. I figured he was the first one to enter the principal’s office at the end of the hallway as the big mahogany double doors were closed.

Ivan’s shoulders tensed, and he folded his arms over his chest, his irritation palpable, “The asshole bruised you!” he all but growled. What?!

“For fuck’s sake, I told you it wasn’t on purpose! And he apologized! But no! You had to go all big caveman protector on him! You have no fucking right Ivan!” Mina was furious. Even from here, I noticed her nostrils flaring. She was ready to breathe fire.

By Ivan’s stance, the set of his shoulders, a vein pulsing in his neck, I could tell he was equally pissed, “Are you fucking kidding me now?! The guy’s a fucking snake, Mina! You two were fighting in the parking lot. He pulled and squeezed your arm like a maniac when you tried to move away! I don’t give a shit about his “sorry”! And that,” he pointed at her blouse, “What’s with what you are wearing? Your hair? His idea, I presume. It’s like he’s fucking trying to mold you to fit him! He doesn’t like you for who you are!”

For a fraction of a second, Mina looked stricken, hurt and... shamed? But all too quickly, her features darkened, her brows furrowed, and she was back to pissed.

“It’s not like that! You don’t know crap! So. Back. The Fuck. Off!” she punctuated the last bit by poking his chest. Ivan grabbed her by the hand, abruptly surprising her so she swayed on her feet a bit.

He held her gently, tracing his fingers lightly over the giant bruise on her forearm, that vein in his neck throbbing more intensely. For a moment Mina flushed, her expression softened as she looked at his down-turned face as he inspected her bruise. Her bottle green eyes followed each stroke of his fingers with so much yearning… It baffled me… She clearly still had feelings for him. Why Daniel then?

“I have every right Mina... I’m…” Ivan lowered, softened his voice as he searched for his next words, “I’m... your friend.” he chose those in the end though it seemed to me he wanted to say something else. Something more.

Mina’s expression shuttered the moment he uttered those words and lifted his head. She pulled her hand from his grip. “And that’s all you are. A friend. So don’t meddle in what doesn’t concern you. I’ll deal with my own shit.” She said the last words with finality. Turning away from him, she sat in one of the chairs in front of the principal’s office. From my angle, I caught Ivan’s shoulders sagging for a moment, then tensing up as he balled his hands into fists at his sides, taking a seat further away from her.

I was just about to reveal my shameful self and get out of my hiding spot when I caught a movement in the corner of my eye. Turning, I met disapproving gray-blue eyes staring down at me. The color very familiar though lacking their usual warmth on a familiarly structured face. High cheekbones, square jaw, close-cropped blond hair. The face was older, the lines of it gave the person a stern look. It was a face of someone who rarely smiled, if ever, and the glint in his eye made me immediately straighten my spine. It wasn’t just the glint, either. His size. The man was both huge and wide. The black tailored suit he wore seemed as if it would rip at the seams any minute. That and the way he held himself, exuded intimidation and demanded respect.

He narrowed his eyes at me, regarding me in a way that made me feel like I was nothing more than black under his fingernail. And without a word turned his head and rounded the corner, but as he passed me, I glimpsed a part of a tattoo on his neck. Two red vertical lines poked over his shirt’s collar. Something about them… I saw those before…

Lowering my head in shame that I got caught being a sneak and eavesdropping, I followed behind the man when I heard him bellow, “Ivan!” At that, I saw both Ivan and Mina jump to their feet from their chairs. Both paled in the man’s presence, lowering their heads.

There was a beat of a very pregnant, tension filled silence before the man spoke. “I was unpleasantly surprised to get a call about you having a scuffle in school Ivan…” Though the tone was even, bored almost, the pressure in his deep voice was immense as he turned his gaze to Mina, “I see what the problem was now. How disappointing.” The low rumbling words had a sting of a scorpion, not even trying to cover up the blatant disdain.

Ivan stiffened but hadn’t lifted his head nor looked at the man as he said, “I’m sorry father, it won’t happen again.”

Belinski senior scoffed, and without even knocking, opened the principal’s door, his frame blocking my view of the office.

“Oh my, Belinski, sir, you already arrived!” the principal’s voice pitch higher, and something cluttered to the floor. Ivan’s dad was a big, important scrotum around here, it seemed.

“I don’t have the time for this nonsense, so I’ll get straight to the point. Give Ivan and the other one what punishment they deserve and let’s be done with this.” Ivan’s dad demanded, but it sounded more like a command.

“Oh, yes, sir…” the principal tripped over his words, “that would be a week suspension.” Senior coughed.

“Oh, two-week suspension!” the principal amended hastily. Yeesh, daddy have mercy!

“Good.” was all Belinski senior said. Clearly, the important scrotum was used to getting tickled his way frequently.

Turning around to leave, he paused. His eyes briefly skimmed over me, then he looked back at the principal. “I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but this place needs more discipline. I found that loitering about the corridor during class time.” The big bully pointed the accusing finger in my direction. Oh, that close cropped, almost bald testicle tattletale! The audacity!

Our principal, a scrawny, older gentleman with receding gray hair, narrowed his beady eyes at me. “You! What are you doing here?! Go to class immediately!” the principal screeched, making me flinch. Mina and Ivan looked at me. Their eyes widened for a second. Awkwardly, I waved at them, an apologetic smile on my face. The two of them looked at each other than back at me, both trying to convey to me to scram. I took their advice and turned tail, but not before I mouthed out ‘sorry’. Talking to them would have to come later.

As I rounded the second corner, I ran straight into a wall. Nope, not a wall, muscle. There was a hint of that woodsy citrusy smell I liked as my nose collided with a solid chest. Deja vu much? Two powerful hands grabbed me and steadied me before I fell flat on my glut.

“Oh, we have to stop meeting like this Lord Crabby Pants.” I said, rubbing my nose as I looked up at Philip.

He grinned. “Certainly.” I stared at him a second too long before it dawned on me that he shouldn’t be here, so I slapped him on the arm.

“Hey! What’s that for?!” he chuckled, rubbing his arm as if my hit actually hurt.

“What are you doing here?! Aren’t you supposed to be in class and telling the teacher I’ll be late?!” His grin widened, and I remembered the exact words I used to ask him for that favor. Poof! My head was on fire!

He shrugged, “By the way, that was a grade above a mosquito bite, you should work on your upper body strength Shrimp.” I looked him dead in the eye and pinched his hand, hard. “Ouch!” he yelped, but a smile still played at the corners of his lips.

“That’s what you get for teasing a master of pinch-no-jutsu. Don’t mess with me, your Lordship!” I crossed my hands over my chest, raising a haughty brow.

“My apologies master.” Philip did a mock bow with a smirk, but the smirk soon fell, his eyes roving my face, scanning, analyzing. “What happened? Your friends ok?” Oh… did he wait for me to see if everything’s alright? That was… sweet. But the question opened a can of very annoyed worms.

“Ah, yeah... Nope. Ivan got suspended, and I didn’t get to talk to either of them, because a high level testicle showed up and told on me to the principal! Like, why?!” I complained, exasperatingly throwing my hands in the air.

Philip blinked at me, “Please... Oh, please elaborate.” I opened my mouth, ready to make a detailed explanation, when heavy footsteps sounded from the direction I came from. Without thinking, I grabbed Philip’s hand and pulled him with me, not paying attention to where I entered. I peered through the crack in the door just in time to see Belinski senior stomping down the hallway, with Ivan following close behind him, his head hung low.

“Why are we hiding?” Philip whispered in my ear, the husky note in his voice causing immediate cardiac arrest, an avalanche of pleasant shivers down my spine as his breath tickled the outer shell of my ear. Not able to form a sentence as I didn’t trust my voice, not daring to turn my head, fearing we might come face to face, and my heart wouldn’t survive the proximity, I just pointed the finger at the reason for hiding.

“Ah, Belinski’s father. So he’d be the testicle you talked about?” His voice sounded further now, so I turned to him.

“Yeah, you met him?”

Philip pushed his hands into his pockets, a frown on his face, “I had the displeasure of meeting him, yes. He’s my father’s associate.” He wasn’t Seniors fan either, that was obvious. Then that made me think… Ivan’s family was affluent… Was Philip also in the “privileged ass” category, as Mina would say? Speaking of Mina, at that moment my phone buzzed with a text, telling me she’ll be taking Daniel home and staying with him for a while, so we’ll see each other later. I frowned. That troubling, disconcerting sense of unease weaved its web in the pit of my stomach again. I didn’t like the situation my friend was in, and my dislike for the guy she’s dating grew.

“Something wrong?” Philip’s voice burst through the bubble of my thoughts, and I snapped my eyes to his.

“Ah, no. Nothing’s wrong. It’s Mina. She took Daniel home, so I’ll see her way later.” I grimaced as I said his name.

“Correct me if I’m wrong, but by the sour expression on your face, I’ll wager you hate the guy?”

“That obvious, huh? I mean, hate is a strong word, more like immensely dislike. But what I dislike more is that she can’t seem to face the fact that he is being kind of a douche. What magical glasses and earplugs is she wearing around him?” I heaved a defeated sigh.

Philip watched me, pensive, before he shrugged. “Guys like that will slip up in a big way. She’ll see him for what he is, eventually. You guys just make sure to be there when she does. That’s all you can do for now.” I gave him a small, tense smile. He was right. We couldn’t force the matter, unfortunately.

He pulled on my sleeve as he opened the door, “Let’s go.”

We were met with two wide-eyed, shocked girls on our way out and it clicked that in my scattered-brained haste I took us to the girls’ bathroom. I confirmed my suspicions as my eyes scanned the sign above the door. The girls scooted away, whispering something I hadn’t been able to catch, earning a glare from Philip. They flinched and squeezed past us into the room. Well, this will be interesting gossip fodder. I winced at the thought.

Philip pulled me down the hall, carefully matching my strides down the stairs and through the main entrance.

“Wait, why are we going outside?!”

He turned to me, an impish grin on his face. “I excused us for today. Apparently, we both have a case of explosive diarrhea. Let’s go live a little Shrimp!” He pulled me down the steps towards the parking lot.

“We’re ditching?! Why, Crabby Pant’s, you’re a bad influence!” I giggled as I followed along. I have never ditched school, but there was a first time for everything. Then I remembered a very important detail. “Ooh, shoot! Wait! Lola!” I stopped, pulling my phone out, hastily typing a message telling her not to worry if the school calls, that I decided to be rebellious for today and play hooky, also that I was deeply sorry and it won’t happen ever again. I didn’t want to cause trouble for Lola. The reply came sooner than I thought and I breathed a sigh of relief.

Lola: Okay kiddo, but no turning ‘playing hooky’ into a regular thing!

Me: Promise! I’ll make muffins to make up for it!

Lola: Ah, you know my weakness ;-)

I smiled.

“Wow, you are killing this living it up thing, Shrimp.” Philip deadpanned, leaning on his jeep.

“Yeah... well, I have to tell her. I don’t want to be a bother to her. I’m already feeling like a burden…” the truth of those words settled over me like a weighted blanket. Philip regarded me for a moment, a pensive, solemn expression on his face.

“This may be out of line, but what happened to your parents? You don’t have to answer if the question makes you uncomfortable.”

I shrugged, “It’s fine. As far as I know, they are dead. No, mom definitively is. She died when I was a baby. Gran said there was a fire in our old home, so… mom didn’t survive. And dad, well... Never knew him. He wasn’t in the picture. Gran never talked about him, said he was a lowlife ass-wipe.”

Philip’s expression was sympathetic at first, but his brows furrowed quickly, turning his face back to its signature frown. “Guess we have that in common. Huh?” he said as he walked to the passenger door of his Jeep, opening it for me.

“Hmm?”

“Our fathers being ass-wipes. We have that in common. Let’s go.” Philip moved to the driver’s side, promptly shutting down any further conversation on that subject. He was about to get in, but seemed to think of something, as his green eyes narrowed, and he jutted his chin at me and asked, “You drive?”

“Yeah, why?”

“Wanna take the wheel, Shrimp?”

“Ooh, I can?!” I clapped my hands excitedly. It’s been a while since I sat at the wheel, but I loved driving.

“Sure.” he threw his keys to me, which of course slipped through my fingers like flour through a sieve, and I hunched down to pick them up.

“Wait... why do you want me to drive... It feels like a trap.” I raised a suspicious brow in his direction.

“Nope. No trap. You know how to drive, right?” He tilted his head, uncertainty dancing on his features.

“Of course! Yay!” I scurried to the driver’s side, bouncing in on the seat, running my hands over the steering wheel, then turning the key in the ignition. “Hop in! We don’t have the whole day Crabby Pants!” I said excitedly.

This was going to be so much fun!

*****************************************************************************

PHILIP

This was a nightmare.

I regretted everything.

The excitement should have been my first clue. Nobody got that ecstatic over the prospect of driving. Then there was the fumbling with pedals, another clue, but I let it slide. Why? Because she looked so pumped, and her dimples were flashing so much they blinded me. Again, an oversight on my part. Then she peeled off the parking lot with a somewhat subpar skill since she grazed the light-post as she was backing up, giving me an apologetic grin and I still said nothing, though uneasiness pecked at my bones.

Fifteen minutes later, the uneasiness unfurled into a full-blown dread as I gripped my seat, poking holes underneath it with my claws, gritting my teeth, holding on for dear life, my stomach lying somewhere around my ankles.

The girl drove like a fucking lunatic, crashing through the gates of the asylum, escaping as the orderlies give chase! Her face all scrunched up in that focus mode of hers. Gods, she looked adorable… But that was beside the point! As we swerved on the road, an indescribable urge to call upon the Primordial Gods aid surfaced, the likes of which I haven’t felt since Anna chased me and Luca, (age 7), away from her garage when she caught us playing dueling knights on her motorcycles as we flailed two short swords from her antique weapons collection. I chanted the Gods’ names in my head, uttering a small silent prayer to each.

Shamarash, All Father, please protect me!

Ishaba I love life, protect that love!

Yulfi... I’m traveling. Protect the traveler!

Null, I give a solemn oath to dedicate my next fight and victory to you, so I hope you don’t unalive me by then! Please keep your arrows pointing in a different direction and pretty please keep Moraga on a tight leash! I don’t wish for the hawk’s talons to pierce my chest and run off with my heart and soul to your freezing halls anytime soon.

Just as I finished my pleadings, Tara took a sharp turn, propelling me towards a very intimate encounter with my jeep’s window.

“Oh, soot, sorry! You ok?” she asked, all innocent apologetic hazel eyes.

“No!” did I just squeaked that out? I did, I fucking did. I cleared my throat and tried again not to sound like a scared little girl. “No, I’m not ok, so stop the car.” Ok, good. I infused more testosterone into those words. She did what I asked and parked by the side of the road.

“Philip, what’s wrong? Did you hit your head too hard? Sorry, there was a bump I couldn’t evade. Let me see…” she blurted, reaching her hand out to my face, catching me off guard.

She brushed the hair away from my forehead gently; her face in a worried frown as her eyes glided over my skin in search of an injury. My heart tripped, fumbled in my chest for a few beats as the touch sparked to life images of a dream I had last night. A slightly inappropriate one. The softness of her skin under my fingers, the heat of her body pressed to mine, her pulse fluttering as I kissed up her neck, the feel of her lips yielding to a brief press of mine… Embarrassment flushed my face. The pull to lean into that touch was terrifyingly strong, so I resisted and backed away from it. There was a dash of pink to her cheeks, and a twinge of something akin to disappointment?

I might have imagined shit as I came down from the fight-or-flight high.

“No, that’s not the issue.” I said, as I leveled her with a narrowed stare. “Who on Earth thought you to drive?!”

She furrowed her brows, confused. “I had lessons in Whiteridge. I passed my exam almost two years ago. Why?”

I nodded acknowledging her answer, biting the inside of my cheek, “That person needs to have their teaching license revoked, and YOU, Lady Shrimp, should NEVER, EVER under any circumstances sit behind the wheel. Ok?” I declared, opening the door to get out.

The V between her brows deepened and her lips formed a pout. “I’m not that terrible of a driver!” she defended.

“Not terrible?! Really? This was some next level Mario cart shit Shrimp! It’s a fucking miracle you didn’t kill us!”

Tara’s pout turned defiant. “That’s mean! Why give me your keys then?!”

“Because I didn’t think you’d be driving like Mad Max on steroids!”

“I did not! I might have had little experience and practice, that’s all! Gram’s Volkswagen was a piece of junk I dared not sit inside it! It was a death trap!”

“My point exactly, so is your driving! You need more lessons.” I rounded the Jeep, opening her door. “Switch.”

Tara’s defiance deflated, and she sagged in the driver’s seat, sighing, “Damn it! Now I need to save money for a driving instructor. Great! There goes more money away from my gap year plan!” she mumbled as she scooted over to the passenger side.

“Gap year?” I asked as I buckled myself in and turned the key in the ignition.

“Yeah. We are seniors come September. I have no fluffing idea what I want to do after, so I’m saving money to go traveling for a bit before I enter university. I... I’m a travel virgin, you see.” A what now?! To my confused and equally amused expression, I assume, she continued to elaborate, “My grandmother wasn’t big on travel, so she rarely let me go on school trips, let alone go out of the country. I loved the woman, but she could be so stubborn sometimes. She didn’t like me being too far away from her, where she couldn’t monitor me… It gave her anxiety and she worried waaay too much. Excessive, I know but… My mom’s death left those kinds of consequences I guess… So my grand plan was when I finished highschool and turn18, so technically become an adult, that I would sit her down, have this serious conversation with her about my future where I had planed out all the answers, had all the counters to all of her arguments ready… But now… it’s all a moot point. I don’t have to ask permission or anything…” she whispered the last words, voice almost breaking, her gaze lost somewhere far beyond the dense forest or the road splayed in front of us. I hesitated a moment or two before I reached out with my hand, lightly squeezing her tiny one in a clumsy attempt to comfort her. She looked at our joined hands, the sadness on her face melting, giving way to a small bashful smile as she muttered, ‘thanks’ placing the palm of her other hand on top of mine, squeezing back. We drove like that for a while, in silence… a comfortable silence. My hand a willing hostage to hers, with no desire to be removed from its confines.

“What about you? Do you have any plans?” Tara asked, pulling my gaze from the road to her.

Plans?

Shit... I wish I did.

I wish I could make plans.

There was no way in hell for me to leave Blackwood. Not next year, or any other. It would be too dangerous…

For both myself and anyone else I come in contact with, since I would be unsupervised and unmedicated. My fate sealed, I had to remain in the pack, uncertain of my future position in it, but unable to just go like ‘fuck this’ and disappear.

But she was free to leave…

At that realization, the peacefulness that had settled over me a few moments ago burst like a soap bubble.

She’d leave in a year…

I wouldn’t see her anymore…

That thought soured my mood, making me frown.

“Oh, was I not supposed to ask that? You seem angry.” Tara’s voice brought me back from my darkening thoughts.

“Ah… No, it’s ok.” I slowly removed my hand from hers, ignoring the protest of my quickly cooling skin to the lack of her warmth, the lack of contact. “No, I have no plans. Not yet. Maybe I’ll take a gap year too, till I figure my shit out.” I answered her question, plastering a tight smile on my face as I fumbled with the radio.

“Ooh, leave that on! I love this song!” she swatted my hand away from the controls, beaming at me.

“You like AC/DC?”

“Yep, I like a shit ton of different music. Now shush, I love this part!” she bobbed her head, singing along with Brian Johnson to ‘T. N. T’. Her impression of him coaxed a smile to my face.

We didn’t go anywhere, just drove around for an hour or two as Tara held a mini concert in my jeep. She wasn’t kidding. The girl knew a shit ton of songs in a variety of genres, tempting me to change her nickname to Shrimp Jukebox, but she vetoed me. Her high energy infected me too, as I also dared to sing along. All the creeping unsettling feelings I had before vanished, muffled by her contagious laughter, drowned out by her singing voice, that peacefulness clicking back in place once more.

“Well, this was fun, Crabby Pants! We shouldn’t ditch school, but we should definitely do this again!” Tara said, smiling as she unbuckled her seat belt as I parked in front of her home.

“Sure, but I’m not giving you my keys ever again.” I shuddered at the memory, and she stuck her tongue at me, making me chuckle.

“Though if you want I can give you a few extra lessons you know…” She snapped her eyes to mine, a huge ass smile on her face. An epitome of a happy baby seal she was back clapping her excitement one second, the next she threw her hands around my neck, giving me a peck on the cheek, surprising both of us. Then she thanked me multiple times as she moved further away, failing to open the door to leave on the first try, and with each thanks, her face grew redder. As she ran up to her porch, she was as red as a tomato.

Long after she closed the door to her home, I sat there in a sort of daze, before I caught my reflection in the review mirror. I had the dopiest grin on my face as I held the cheek she kissed, the soft press of her lips and the tingling sensation they left still lingering.

At some point, the two still functioning brain cells I had moved my muscles, turned on the engine and safely got me back home.

I was so fucking screwed.

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Hyeloo lovely Inkies! Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed the chapter. As always feel free to post your thoughts on it in my comments, leave likes and if you feel so inclined a review. Any sort of engagement is much appreciated since WL is entered in an Inkitt contest. It would help a ton! 😊😁🧡🧡🧡

Anyhooo, what are your thoughts on our precious idiots and their shenanigans? Do tell as I keep repeating myself I love the peek into your thought 🧡😁

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