“Well done, baby. I didn’t think you’d be able to do it, but that was hot.”
I stared in astonishment at the three boys. I then looked down at Justin, and the knife in my hand. Oh. My. God. I dropped the knife to the floor and stepped back until my back hit a tree.
They all laughed and I felt like screaming. I couldn’t get my words out, I couldn’t even breathe properly. I watched Justin stood up, his pain subsided. He picked the knife up from the floor and put it in his pocket steadily.
I was so confused.
“I-if you hurt me don’t think I w-won’t scream.”
“Shut-up, Cassidy. No one’s going to hurt you.” Justin yawned.
“You can’t really talk. You just had a knife against my throat.”
“Then trust us. We won’t hurt you.” Ashton cut in.
“Yeah, I can trust you for sure. You watched the whole thing.”
“It was training. You told me you could take care of yourself, I wanted you to prove it.” Nate told me, walking closer to Justin. “This one wasn’t in on it until you told him the exact same thing today at school.”
“Aren't you supposed to be enemies or something?” I watched them suspiciously.
“Keep your friends close, your enemies closer. My Number 1 rule.”
“No, that's not it.” Ashton said, hitting Justin over the head.
“As if you’d know my rule.” Justin scoffed.
“No you dumbass I mean that's not why we’re all working together. It’s because we all have one common goal, and enemies or not, we need each other.”
“Common goal?” I asked.
“Protecting you.” The still unfamiliar boy answered. Now, up closer, I could see his features more clearly. He had black, dark hair that was cut short, dark eyes and flawless, pale skin. He had a jawline cut from marble, but didn’t look as old as the others. He looked to be 16, not much older. He obviously had an obsession with black, as that was all he wore, matched with a black ear-piercing. He may have a baby face, but he was eye-catching all the same.
“And you are?”
Justin and Nate sniggered shamelessly at my vulgar approach.
“I’m Noah. I’m a part of Justin’s-“
“Friends. He’s one of my friends.” Justin cut Noah off, glaring at him menacingly, his laughter gone.
“Ah, yeah.” Noah scratched the back of his head in a nervous manner.
I rolled my eyes. “Whatever. I’m going home.” The sun was setting, I didn’t want to be walking home in the dark. Especially after what had just happened to me.
“Wait – you can’t go yet.” Nate argued, running to grab my arm.
“And why is that?”
“Because, I need to make sure you’re okay.”
“No I mean-“
I saw Justin roll his eyes. “You’re so bad at this.” He mumbled to Nate before grabbing my arm and dragging me with him. The other three followed. We ended up in Ashton’s car, all five of us. Noah, Nate and I sat in the backseat, me in between the two of them.
“Look up, babe.” Nate mumbled. I tilted my head only to hear a sharp intake of breath.
“What’s wrong?” I heard Justin ask from the front seat. Nate ran his fingers over the small, thin cuts on my neck. He pulled my chin back down, before kissing me lightly on the cheek.
“Her neck. She looks like someone tried to butcher her.”
“Someone did.” I spat, rolling my eyes.
“Get over it. It’s part of your training. You’re alive, aren't you?”
I crossed my arms and leant back in my seat.
“If I didn’t think he would help, I wouldn’t be letting him near you.” Nate mumbled so only I could hear. I nodded in response. “I love you, I would never let anyone hurt you.” I froze in my seat. Was he for real? What am I supposed to say to that? I thought he wasn’t going to say it again until I did. I smiled cheerily at him despite my thoughts.
“I know. Don’t worry about it.”
We were silent for a while, the sound of traffic and the air conditioning filling the car.
“Training?” I suddenly asked, remembering it being mentioned before. The boys on either side looked at me curiously, but Justin answered as if he’d expected it.
“I’m training you, the others as well. Not Nate, because we didn’t think much would be accomplished with that.” Nate gripped the seat harshly, his fingers digging into the soft leather. “Today was a test, one you wouldn't expect, so we could decide if you really could look after yourself. Obviously you can’t, considering you wouldn’t stop bloody crying. So yeah, training. Running, shooting - stuff like that. To help you, if something ever really happened to you.”
“That was hardly a fair test. I spent the whole time before crying because I failed a math test and then you showed up with a knife on me-“
“Do you really think someone who wants to kill you is going to wait till you’re having a good day? No. They’re going to want you weak, distressed, unable to think straight so you can’t get away. If I had have actually wanted to kill you, you’d be dead right now.”
I flinched at the harshness of his words. It was true, and I knew it. I just didn’t want them to be.
“We start tomorrow. Running, before school. You’re fast, but not fast enough. And you can’t rely on pure adrenalin to get you out of situations, you have to be able to do it in your sleep.”
I nodded again, pissed off that I actually had failed Justin’s test.
“Don’t worry,” Noah said to me, “I failed my test too. My brother tried what Justin just did to you. Probably not as harsh though.”
“What did he do?” I asked.
Noah shook his head. “The bastard put a gun to my head when I had my back turned, then told me to try and get away without making a scene. I just ran away, but that wasn’t good enough. If it had been a real danger, he would have come after me. Training makes you stronger, faster. It’s easier to walk around once you know you’re not a weak link.”
I thought that I probably liked Noah the best out of Justin’s friends.
“I suppose.” I mumbled. “Did you really all follow me from school and see everything?”
“Uhhh.” Justin, Nate and Noah exchanged glances. Ashton looked at me in the mirror with a questioning look. “Yeah. We did.” He answered, before looking back at the road.
“Great.” I rolled my eyes, pissed off.
“It’s okay, it was just a math test.” Nate tried, rubbing my arm. I shook him off and looked straight ahead.
“I failed too, cutie.” Justin told me.
“Shut up, Justin.”
“Where have you been?” Aunt Steph asked me as I entered the kitchen.
“Out. I already ate, don’t worry about it.” I replied.
“Alright. Your mom called again, but I told her you were busy. Apparently, your dad is coming back for Halloween. That’s nice, right?”
“Yeah, hopefully he can make it.” I mumbled. I really was genuinely happy that my dad was coming home, especially on Halloween. When I was younger, my father had been the reason we even celebrated the day. It was his favorite holiday and growing up, it became mine too. I just really didn't feel like a meeting with mom after the events of last time we saw one another.
“Just 6 weeks, that's so soon isn’t it!” She continued. I nodded, not really listening. The home phone rang, cutting off my thoughts and our conversation.
“I’ll be out later, I have some homework to finish.” I mumbled as my aunty picked up the phone. She nodded, and I walked quickly into my room. I pulled out my math textbook and began all my revision – that was the last test I was going to fail. Whether it counted toward my grade or not – I couldn’t deal with failing. As a child, my mom never had a really great interest in me. Now, I understand why, but it doesn’t change how I felt or the impact it had on me. I thought that she didn’t think I was perfect enough. So I got excellent grades, perfected every sport and made sure I only spent time with the other girls who were of our social status. People she couldn’t complain about. When none of that pleased her, I tried harder and harder to be perfect and I never could reach her standards. Failing was never, is still not, an option. No one could change that, and I certainly wasn’t going to let Nate or Justin or whoever, ruin my chances at being perfect.
A/N: OH. MY. GOD.
I want to thank you all so so much. I had so much feedback on the last chapter it literally made me so happy. I hope you like this chapter! i love you all so much, hearing back from you and what you thought, even just telling me to update, makes my day. Hell, someone even reading my story makes my day. Thank you again. xx