Why Me?

Ty, just another skateboarding high school junior, was minding her own legal business when she gets stuck in the middle of a mafia fight with guns, knives, and potato launchers, while only armed with her trusty skateboard. What does she do? Runs for her life only to get captured and asked (read: commanded) to marry one of the three sons of the don. And then people want to kill her. Obviously.

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11. Chapter Eleven

Roberto smiled and shook hands with the last of his guests, thanking them for attending. When they had all gone, he sighed heavily and loosened his tie before shedding his tuxedo jacket. Lorenzo did the same and leaned against the wall, thankful that the party was finally over.

"Papà, please tell me we won't be having another one of these anytime soon," Carlos pleaded. Like every other member of the Rizzo group, he had discarded his tie and jacket, already undoing his cufflinks and vest buttons, yearning for his regular clothes.

"I won't be hosting another one until at least Halloween if I can help it," Roberto promised. These formal parties were just a requirement, one that he absolutely loathed but keeping up appearances did have its prices to pay. He looked to Lorenzo with tired eyes, "Lorenzo, we still have some details to discuss."

Lorenzo nodded, knowing exactly what those details Roberto wanted to discuss comprised of before they all crashed for the night. He slung his jacket over his shoulder and followed Roberto to his office, the information he received from Ty's boys still stored in his head.

Dante ruffled his hair and dragged his hand down his face, groaning, "This was one of the worst yet."

Carlos nodded in agreement though he was more focused on Lorenzo and his father's retreating figures.

"How come you weren't stalked this time?" Dante muttered.

"What?" Carlos turned to his brother to see him with his back against the wall and head tilted upwards.

"Adreana," he spat, "She was hounding me the entire fucking night!"

Carlos snickered, "Well, I made sure to avoid her and her little lackey at all costs. Also, I'm not the one who actually slept with her. What the hell were you thinking?"

Dante growled and pushed off the wall, "Shut up, stronzo. I thought it'd get her off my back."

Carlos followed Dante upstairs but instead of turning towards the direction of his room, he went towards Luca's. During the party while he was socializing, avoiding and putting on a decorative smile, his thoughts constantly led him to his little brother, Ty's sudden disappearance and a certain adorable redhead who in Carlos' opinion was just too cute for his own good.

Those freckles that are scattered artfully across his cheeks and nose, lively light brown eyes that puts melted chocolate to shame, not too muscular but not twiggy frame with just enough skin to... No. Fermati. Get that boy out of your head right this minute, Carlos. He forcefully shook the images from his head and increased his pace to Luca's room.

Stopping right in front of the closed door, Carlos put his hand on the door handle, but hesitated. After a moment, he let go of the handle and rapped his knuckles against the polished wood, calling out, "Luca?"

After receiving no reply, he tried again, "Fratellino?"

Carlos was about to just try the door handle but the sound of stumbling, scuffling and the thud of falling objects made him freeze for a second and tense in preparation. Not a moment later, the door slowly opened just far enough for Luca to stick his head out and Carlos' muscles relaxed once again.

Luca's hair was all over the place, spiking out in various directions with a pair of black safety goggles pushing his wayward locks out of his eyes. Charcoal black smudge marks decorated his cheeks, forehead, nose and even his neck. The discoloring also faintly outlined the area that his goggles protected when in place.

"It's over?" Luca questioned, his ears noting that the house no longer resonated polite laughter and soothing music that aided in numbing his brain in a drowsy manner.

"Yeah, what've you been up to?" Carlos tried to peek over Luca's head into his room.

Luca narrowed his eyes suspiciously, "Did Papà put you up to this?"

"No, I was just worried about you," Carlos frowned.

Luca scoffed, "Worried? Rizzos don't worry about each other." Without another word, Luca turned his back to Carlos and went back to his work desk, snapping the goggles over his eyes, but he left the door open.

Carlos took the unclosed door as an invitation and stepped inside the cluttered room. He vaguely realized that the last time he had ever entered one of his brothers' rooms was back when Luca was only four years old. When their mother was still with them.

Pushing the fragmented memories away, he looked around Luca's room noting how completely disorganized and different it was compared to his own. Where Carlos had books upon books, a mounted plasma screen TV connected to a state of the art laptop and two other 20x30inch monitors, Luca had blueprints, gizmos, gadgets, partially constructed or deconstructed machines and thick notebooks, some opened to detailed sketches of weapons and contraptions. He had two desks, one hidden under the aforementioned notebooks, papers, blueprints and a laptop while the other was the only organized item in the room, tools and a half assembled handgun neatly arranged upon it. Even their walls were completely different. Carlos' had bookshelves at every corner and tacked up sheets of coding while Luca's were covered with pinned up blueprints and yet more sketches and diagrams along with some black markings that undoubtedly came from small explosions of some kind. There were even a few bullet holes with some of the bullets still lodged in place.

"How on earth do you even manage to do whatever it is you do in here? It's a mess, Luca," Carlos stated, walking up to Luca who had returned to the only tidy area of his room. He was already deeply engrossed with his latest project, modifying a gun that Dante had yet to notice was missing from his personal collection thanks to a rambunctious brunette who – though very unwilling – was thrust into their lives.

"It's an organized mess and I can navigate it just fine," Luca replied. He turned the gun over in his hands and when he seemed satisfied, reloaded it and set it down on his workbench. He pulled off his black mechanic gloves, laying them with the gun, and turned around to stare his brother down with his arms crossed over his chest, "What do you want, Carlos? And don't bother with the 'I'm just checking on my little brother' bullshit. I'm not in the mood for it."

Carlos' eyes widened slightly at Luca's grouchy behaviour. He couldn't remember the last time he had seen Luca so annoyed, although seeing as how estranged the brothers were it wouldn't make much of a difference if he had. He frowned, "Are you really alright?"

Luca opened his mouth to reply, but held his tongue and sighed, removing his goggles and laying them down beside the gun and gloves. He picked up an old hand towel from the side of his desk and rubbed the smudge marks off his face tiredly, "No, I'm not. If messing around with Dante's guns, fixing some mechanical glitches and drawing out a couple designs for some sort of weapon doesn't cheer me up, then I know I'm in a horrible mood. Now that you know, go away."

He dropped the towel with his gloves and goggles before pushing Carlos away from him, and went to his bed, stripping down to his boxers and pulling the covers over his head with his back to Carlos.

Carlos went to the bed and picked up the discarded clothes he had never seen Luca wear before though they were clearly often used. Stains similar to the ones on his hands and face were permanently emblazoned into the worn cloth. He put them on the back of a chair that seated books on mechanical designs and copies of yet more blueprints Carlos couldn't even begin to understand. Computer coding, hacking and literature, he got. Mechanics? Not so much.

Luca felt his bed sink under a new added weight, but didn't turn around or move his head from under the covers. He wondered why Carlos had suddenly taken such an interest in him when they'd rarely swapped a normal greeting not even two weeks ago. He chuckled to himself, The days before Ty. She's changing us somehow and doesn't even realize it.

Luca felt Carlos shift himself so that he guessed Carlos was now sitting with his back against the headboard right beside Luca with his feet stretched out in front.

"I know you're not asleep yet," Carlos' voice was slightly muffled to Luca's ears. Luca remained unresponsive, hoping Carlos would go back to normal and head back to his own much more meticulously put together room and lose himself in his coding and books.

Unlike the rest of the household, Luca knew almost exactly what his family and the other members of the Rizzo group who took up residence on the third floor (Lorenzo, Mario and Luigi included) did in their rooms. Just a few months ago, Luca was bored one afternoon while the rest of the household was out attending to business, some legal others not so much. He had gone through one of his notebooks jam-packed with a clusterfuck of sketches and decided to construct a small camera that was virtually undetectable. It took him most of the day with no breaks whatsoever but he managed to create the first prototype. After relieving himself and fulfilling some basic needs he had ignored, Luca had then planted the device in Dante's room. The following week, he monitored the device and to his delight, it only bugged out a few times but otherwise worked perfectly and Dante was none the wiser. Luca had then created more of the devices, improving on each one until he had successfully planted one in every bedroom of the mansion, a feat that took him multiple sleepless nights for over a week. So, whenever he was bored or curious, he'd turn on a certain room's camera and spy over whoever was his victim. After a while though, spying got boring (not to mention slightly awkward at times) so now the main function of the cameras was to determine whether or not someone was in their room, particularly Dante so Luca could swipe a gun for experimentation every once in a while without getting caught red-handed and receiving a bullet through his dirty blond head.

Carlos sighed and Luca thought he was finally going to leave, but for once, his older brother took him by surprise by saying, "Ty sure is different, huh? And she's got some sort of deep dark secret, something to do with her parents. She seems to completely hate them and not just in the way every angst-ridden teenager does."

Luca still stayed silent, but his eyes were now open, staring at the darkness under his covers. Is he drunk? No, Carlos is a sleepy drunk not a talkative one. High? No, Papà would murder anyone in the possession of drugs like those; he doesn't even allow tobacco.

"She freaked when she saw the dress Papà bought her," Carlos continued, not in the least deterred by Luca's lack of response as he stared at the ceiling. "It was a Heather Jackson Limited."

Carlos snuck a peek down to the lump that was his little brother. He knew that Luca had not yet fallen asleep. He remembered when they were younger, much younger, Luca had a lot of trouble falling asleep, often needing their mother to read to him. When their mother couldn't, Carlos was the one to read him to sleep, but that stopped soon after their mother was gone.Christ…that was so long ago, I almost forgot.

Carlos sighed after casting one last glance at Luca and then got off the bed. It had been a rather long day and if he didn't get to his room, he'd fall asleep in Luca's and he figured Luca wouldn't have appreciated it.

He was halfway to the door when he heard Luca quietly call out, "Jackson? So you think that she's some super famous designer's daughter. If she is her daughter, then that means her father is the CEO of Speeding Motors."

Carlos turned back around and nodded, seeing that Luca had come out from under his covers, "Jackson is a very common name but she had quite the reaction. It was almost like it was at school when she got that call from her mother. I had even checked to see if there was some sort of party being held tonight hosted by Heather Jackson and there was."

Luca furrowed his brows in thought before sighing tiredly, "I guess we'll figure her out sooner or later. She's not going to escape Papà's grasp that easily and I for one don't really want her to leave."

Carlos smirked, "Does little Luca have a crush on our fidanzata?"

Luca rolled his eyes, "She's interesting and different. Great entertainment value, that's all. What about you?"

Carlos shrugged noncommittally, "I agree that she is definitely interesting, but she's not really my type. More like a little sister."

"Then what is your type?" Luca questioned, curious. Even though he spied on his family he didn't really know much about them and with all the weird behaviour going on with Carlos, completely of his own accord, coming to check on him, Luca figured acting like brothers wouldn't cause much harm.

Carlos thought for a second, ready to say raven or chestnut haired with pale green eyes since that was his usual type, but an image popped into his head that almost made his pants a bit too tight. "Redheads," he blurted. "Redheads with light brown eyes and freckles."

Luca raised a brow. That's pretty specific. Instead of vocalizing his thought, he echoed, "Freckles?"

Carlos shrugged, "They're cute. Anyway, it's late and we have school tomorrow. Night, Luca."

"Night, Carlos," Luca nodded and crawled back under his covers. Once he heard Carlos shut his door, Luca reached over the headboard and pushed a secret panel he had installed to the side. He felt around the switches, each with an embossed symbol to remind him what each switch was for even though he had them memorized. He found the one for his door and flicked it, hearing the locking mechanism activate along with a slight clunking that sounded like a pebble being tossed around in a fan. Making a mental note to fix it eventually, he flicked another switch that turned off all the lights before pushing the panel back into place and closed his eyes, knowing that sleep would not come to him for a few hours at least.

X

"Vicky, get out of the bathroom already! You're gonna make us late!" Jimmy banged on the door of the bathroom with one hand while the other was clutching his crotch as he shifted his weight between his feet.

"Actually, you're the only one who's going to be late," Fred snickered, tugging his backpack over one shoulder and adjusting his grip on his skateboard. The rest of the gang had woken up earlier than Jimmy, and Fred – still a bit peeved off at Jimmy for eating Ben & Jerry's Chunky Monkey two nights before and robbing him of his sleep – decided it was perfect payback to wake Jimmy up after Jimmy's older sister Victoria. It was perfect timing considering Victoria was in her third year of university at UCLA and was visiting for three weeks.

Moments later, Victoria Jenkins, basically the female version of Jimmy but with longer chocolate hair that curled at the bottom halfway down her back and a California sun induced golden tan, opened the bathroom door and looked up irritatedly at her younger but slightly taller brother, "Can it, Jimmy. And you should have woken up earlier."

"Well why the hell are you up so early? Crap, just get out of the way!" he shoved her to the side and ran into the bathroom, slamming the door shut but forgetting to lock it as per usual.

Victoria looked to Fred with a resigned sigh, "What did he do this time?"

Fred chuckled, "You know us too well. He had a pint of Chunky Monkey when he stayed over the night before."

Victoria nodded and rolled her eyes. She knew exactly how her brother got with Chunky Monkey ice cream. If you didn't, you were one lucky son of gun.

Just then, Ty and Grant appeared from the staircase hollering, "Red! Jay! Get your asses down here for food!"

They caught sight of Victoria in her purple plaid pajama pants and dark purple tank top. Ty grinned at her, "Mornin', Icky!" She usually wasn't so chirpy in the mornings but two large mugs of hot chocolate with more than enough sugar to make coke sound healthy could do miracles.

Victoria rolled her eyes, "Hi. Aren't you guys going to be late?"

"Nope, your mom's driving us to school so we have another ten minutes," Grant answered and then pulled Ty back downstairs when they heard Drew and Henry call out saying that they'd finish all the pancakes if the others didn't hurry up.

"Wait, what?" Victoria frowned, "Mom said I could take the car out. Get back here you twirps!" She ran down the stairs and Fred followed at a more casual pace, commenting under his breath, "You're one to call us twirps when we're all taller than you." Jimmy was the shortest of the gang and even he was taller than his sister, but Fred knew better than to let said sister hear him.

In the kitchen, Drew and Henry were busy munching on pancakes slathered with maple syrup, Ty was making a triple decker pancake sandwich with strawberry jam, powdered sugar and chocolate chips, and Grant was drinking a cup of coffee. Victoria was whining at her mother who was flipping more pancakes, knowing that the gang had enormous appetites.

"Sorry, Vicky, I forgot," Mrs. Jenkins lied unconvincingly. "Oh I know! Why don't you drop the kids off to school on your way?"

"Mom," Victoria complained.

"Victoria," her mother parroted with authority as she placed two more golden pancakes on a plate, only for them to be snatched by Grant and Henry.

Victoria grumbled and went back upstairs to change, barely avoiding Jimmy as he barrelled his way downstairs yelling, "DON'T EAT ALL THE PANCAKES!"

The household laughed and Henry snickered, "Yo, Jay-Jay, I think you're forgetting something."

"You've also got a little something stuck under your foot," Grant pointed out.

Jimmy frowned and patted himself down. When he came to his pants, or lack thereof, and plucked off the sheet music that was stuck under his foot, he grumbled in frustration and ran back upstairs only to return a few seconds later, hopping on foot as he tried to shove one leg through the leg hole of his shorts.

"Shut...up," he muttered when everyone began to laugh at him again.

Victoria came down a couple minutes later dressed in what the others recognize as her date outfit; black skinny jeans, a blood red babydoll shirt with a cropped black jacket over her shoulders, silver bangles, dangly black earrings and minimal make-up. She ruffled Jimmy's hair and grabbed the keys to their mother's car from the counter, calling back, "C'mon brats, I have a date and you suckers have school."

They raced after her, grabbing their unfinished food, bags and skate gear. They paused a second to throw quick goodbyes and thank-yous to Mrs. Jenkins who waved them off with a smile. Jimmy quickly snatched the last of the pancakes and kissed his mother's cheek before just barely making it into the car with the others.

Victoria instantly stomped down on the pedal and they drove to school, bickering and laughing the whole ride. When they stopped at the school gates and the gang got out of the car, Victoria leaned out of the window and whistled, "Hot damn, you didn't tell me there were new kids."

The gang turned to the direction Victoria was looking at and groaned in synch.

Jimmy huffed, "Don't you have a date, you old cougar?"

"I'm not that old, twit, and there's nothing wrong with admiring three hotties, brothers to boot. Besides, I've still got some time for my date, so who are they?"

As if knowing that people they cared to identify were discussing them, the brothers instantly looked towards Ty and the gang. Luca grinned and walked over with Carlos following close behind. Dante grumbled, debating between being attacked by the more forward girls in school or following his brothers. He chose his brothers.

I had enough of Adreana and the likes last night, he thought, casting a distasteful gaze to an overly perky bleach blonde who was staring at him like he was the last morsel of food on the planet.

"Ty!" Luca cheered, ignoring everyone but her.

"Good morning," Carlos greeted, nodding to the gang as well. Dante didn't say a word, simply stuffed his hands into the pockets of his dark jeans and behaved like a shadow. Unlike his brothers, he was not a morning person and did not get his daily cups of coffee before getting kicked out of the house to get to school on time.

"Oh, hey," Ty wearily responded, the gang just nodded in acknowledgment, slightly on their guard. They didn't know if the brothers knew why Ty had run off the night before and were still quite wary of them. Especially now that they knew how powerful the Rizzos truly were.

Victoria cleared her throat and smiled at the three, "So, who're you boys and when did you transfer to Brick Road? You definitely weren't here the last time I visited. I'm Victoria, Jimmy's smarter and infinitely sexier older sister."

Jimmy pretended to gag and indiscreetly coughed "cougar" into his fist. Victoria reached out of the rolled down window to punch him directly along his spine and looked back to the brothers for their answer.

"I'm Carlos and these are my younger brothers Luca and Dante. Yesterday was our first day at Brick Road. It's a pleasure to meet you, Victoria," Carlos smiled warmly.

"Hmm. Polite, not too shabby looking, muscular, good clothing style, judging from your accent you're Italian...damn. Where were people like you when I was in high school? All I had were basketball jerks and football pigs," Victoria grumbled pensively. "Well, boys, maybe one of you can turn Ty into an actual girl and then I can finally dress her up for dates."

Ty groaned, "Icky. I can dress myself for dates just fine."

Victoria snorted, "Old jeans and a t-shirt is not proper date clothes. And when was the last time you even went on a proper date? And date as in with a boy who is not Henry, Grant, Drew, Fred or my dork of a brother but someone you'd consider banging or at least some major making out."

"Three weeks ago," Ty retorted after a second of thought. "And I wore my newer jeans that didn't have holes in them and it was a nice t-shirt, thank you very much. Now get lost and go on your coffee date. Careful not to get an STD, Icky."

"Alright, alright, fine. I'm going. I'll see you brats when you get home and it was nice meeting you three as well. Have fun at school." Victoria rolled up the window and drove away down the road, the gang giving small waves of goodbye.

Ty turned back to the Rizzos and grimaced, "Why do I have to see you three so early in the morning?" Her eyes widened slightly as she looked past Dante and exclaimed, "Shady!"

Ty pushed past the brothers and stopped in front of Shady who greeted her with a grin, "Morning Tyler, you're that excited to see me?"

Ty rolled her eyes and dug her wallet out of the back pocket of her jeans, handing him a five-dollar bill, "Here ya go, Shady. For yesterday."

"Tyler," Shady frowned, ready to hand her back the bill. "One cig is only one dollar, you know that. This is worth a third of a pack."

Ty pushed the bill back to him and grinned, "I don't have change so just take it. The extra four can be interest for late payment."

"What the hell kind of interest rate is that? Even loan sharks don't charge that much," Shady replied, but pocketed the bill. It wasn't the first time Ty had given more than she owed and he had never been able to win against her in an argument. She was the most steadfast person he had ever met but he knew she meant well. She didn't try to help him out of pity.

His phone buzzed and after checking the text quickly he smiled apologetically, "Well I gotta go, booze to sell in bulk and you'll probably hear about a house party at the Hendricks' this weekend. I'll see ya later, Tyler."

"Later, Shady, and thanks," Ty waved as he made his way towards the gymnasium.

She turned around to face her friends when she met with Dante's chest instead. She groaned and moved to the side but Dante grabbed onto her elbow and kept her fixed in place.

"Let me go, Dante. I am so not in the mood to deal with you and your assholery," Ty glared directly into his blank eyes.

"Even though I don't care what you do with your time, Papà will not be happy that you've been running around with some random guys behind our backs," he stated.

Ty raised a brow incredulously and scoffed, "Look, I don't give two shits about what your dad wants. He can shove his happiness up his ass and leave me alone. I can go out with whoever the hell I want, so piss the fuck off." She jerked her arm out of Dante's grip, or attempted to anyway. His hold on her was firmer than a starving lion with a slab of meat from a fresh kill.

They glared at one another, the air around them growing tense. Onlookers held back, sensing a fight about to break out. The only thing that prevented such a spectacle was the shrill ring of the 5-minute warning bell.

Dante hesitated a second before releasing Ty and stiffly headed inside the school. Ty winced, cursing Dante's strength as she rubbed the area he had held. "Goddammit, why the hell is he so fucking strong?" she grumbled.

"When he's not doing work for Papà, he's training," Luca answered with a roll of his eyes. He never could understand his brother's fixation on training till his sweat was sweating. Luca grabbed Ty's arm and smiled slightly in relief when he saw that a bruise was not forming. Her previous injuries were still in the middle of healing, her jaw and neck no longer startling shades of blue and purple but now significantly faded.

Ty snatched her arm back, "Jeez, what is with you guys and unnecessary arm grabbing?" She turned her back to Luca and speed walked into the school, the gang catching up to her. They were on their way to their lockers to put away their boards and gear when a slimy laugh stopped them in their tracks.

"Well if it isn't the whore and her bitches," George Friedman sneered. He was pretty much the same as the night at the park where everything started to go downhill for Ty, and his two followers, Bruce Harrison and Stan McPherson, both beefy, slightly miniature copies of George were flanking him.

Ty sighed, more than slightly annoyed and turned around, smirking, "And if it isn't Captain Dick for Brains and his two underlings, Dumb and Dumber. How was your two weeks of suspension?"

Bruce frowned in thought, something that most would think him incapable of. He glared at Ty and asked, "Hey, who's who?"

The gang snickered behind her and Ty forced herself not to do the same, only letting her lips twitch slightly. She winked and stuck her tongue out mischievously, "You're gonna have to figure that out for yourself, Harrison."

Stan snorted obnoxiously, "Well it's obvious that I'm not Dumber."

Bruce swivelled to scowl at his fellow lackey, growling, "Well I'm definitely not Dumber."

The two glared at each other and ended up shouting about whom Ty referred to as Dumber. They started grabbing at each other, throwing punches, biting and arguing, yelling out, "No, I'm Dumb!"

Those who had temporarily forgotten about classes, opting to watch chaos unfold, stared in silence, too afraid of George to laugh at the spectacle. Ty and the gang on the other hand couldn't care less and openly showed their amusement, laughing heartily with tears in their eyes from the laughter pains in their stomachs and sides.

"Shut up, you idiots!" George thundered at his two buffoons. They ignored him until he forcefully pulled them both apart and threw them to the floor. He disregarded their groans of pain and walked towards Ty until he was right before her, glaring down with undisguised hatred.

Ty wasn't exactly short by any standard, but George was almost in a league of his own. He towered over her frame, his beefy build seeming to give him an extra foot in height. He could easily be mistaken to be a stereotypical footballer with his physique but he didn't have the minimum C+ average required to participate in any school team to match the assumptions.

Henry and Grant, being the tallest of the sextet, flanked Ty while Drew, Fred and Jimmy stood a little behind, instinct making them stand in a way that made them appear larger than their current predator. They would have stood in front of her, but that would only give George an opening to further insult Ty and consequently fuel her short temper. As long as Ty did not deliver the first blow and was only acting in self-defence, she wouldn't get in trouble with the school and their zero tolerance for violence. It was how George and his buddies had been suspended multiple times while Ty had only received detentions, though a majority of them were for continuously being late, not doing homework or pulling pranks on teachers.

Ty placed one hand on her hip, putting her weight on one foot as she looked up at George with a toothy grin, "Well then, Georgie? You walked all the way over here, what can I do fer ya, pal?"

George snarled, "You can shut up, you little bitch!" He raised his fist making the gang instantly go on guard and Ty tense in preparation to duck, dodge and deliver a knee to a crotch followed by a whack with her board if necessary. She was mildly surprised he had already snapped when it usually took a lot more than a simple, sarcastic, rhetorical question to make him violent.

Just as George was about to use his unclenched hand to grab Ty so he could pummel her to the ground, another hand latched onto the wrist of his fisted hand in a bone-crushing grip. He turned to see who was stupid enough to interfere but was jerked off his feet, his arm being pulled behind him as he was shoved to his knees on the floor. He bit down a yelp as pain shot up his restrained arm, certain that his shoulder was going to be wrenched out of its socket.

"I said to make sure she didn't get hurt, not break his arm or dislocate his shoulder," Carlos chided. He leisurely walked up to the scene and crouched down to be eye-level with George who was grimacing in pain. Carlos narrowed his eyes ever so slightly and held George's chin with his thumb and forefinger, forcing him to hold eye contact. "I don't know who you are but I'll warn you right now. Harm Ty or any of her friends and a dislocated shoulder will be the very least of your worries."

Carlos released George's chin and stood up, nodding to Dante to let go of George's arm. Dante did so wordlessly with a light shove that sent George falling forward to the floor, just barely reacting fast enough to use his uninjured arm to halt his fall.

George got to his feet and clutched his aching arm, glaring at Dante, Carlos, and then Ty. He was about to speak when the shrill ring of the bell rang through the halls, instantly reminding everyone that they had class to attend and now twenty-something people were officially late to first period.

"I'll get you motherfuckers," George promised before walking away, pushing past the onlookers who scurried to class. He kicked Bruce and Stan up and they followed him out of the building to the back of the school frequented by the school stoners and junkies. In seconds, the gang and the Rizzos were the only ones in the hallway.

The gang eyed the two brothers wearily, knowing that they had to get to class soon but not wanting to leave Ty alone with them. None of them had first period with her and were very reluctant to leave her in the Rizzos' company. They were averse to leave her alone at all, especially with what had happened the day before.

"Where's the other one?" Grant questioned, noting that the youngest Rizzo was nowhere to be seen. It was his first time not seeing all three brothers together.

"Oh who cares where Luca's gone," Ty interrupted before Carlos could answer. She glared at Dante and his brother, poking each in the chest, "What the hell was that? As much as George is an annoying piece of shit, you almost broke his fucking arm!"

"You're pissed that I stopped him from punching you in the face?" Dante asked sceptically and slightly frustrated. I save her and she's pissed at me? There's seriously no pleasing thisstronza.

"I've been handling George and his buddies just fine for almost four years now, jackass. I don't need help, especially yours," Ty spat. "And how many times do I need to tell you to leave me the fuck alone."

Ty pushed past Dante and Carlos, marching to her US History class with her gear and board. The others just watched her disappear down the hall.

"Well we should get going too, we're really late," Grant commented, turning to head to his class. The rest of the gang followed his lead and when Carlos called out for them to wait a moment, they sprinted down the hallway, shoes slapping against the floor and squeaking against the linoleum floor as they made sharp turns towards their respective classes.

X

George fumed openly, barging through the hallways of the school until he came out to the school parking lot followed by Stan and Bruce. He led the way to the old boys' bathroom that was aptly named Dealers' Dump since before he began to attend Brick Road High.

If you were ever looking for a way to get high or some relatively cheap booze, that bathroom was your best bet on campus for instant delivery. It was also the home base of the school junkies.

That specific bathroom's use was for dealing weed, alcohol, condoms, and also a place for the occasional quickie with some stalls reserved for such activity. The school had gotten remodelled a few years ago, and that bathroom had been more or less excluded from the new school plans. It was now completely out of the way, perfectly secluded and out of most minds.

Dan O'Reilly, a senior who had been a senior for three years and was going to be expelled if he didn't graduate this year, ran it though he got most of his booze supplies from Shady. Dan was Shady's top customer even though Shady didn't particularly like the loathsome twenty-one year old. They had grown to be civil with one another over the years of their businesses but Shady still charged Dan more than he did most others. Not that Dan had figured it out yet and even if he did, Shady was the one with the supplies.

The trio walked around to the back of the dilapidated bathroom, moving the crumpled plastic bags, empty bottles and condom wrappers from the floor as they plopped down.

"I'll fucking get that bitch," George vowed.

"But you've been sayin' that since ya met her, George," Stan commented.

Bruce whacked him upside the head without holding back, scolding, "Damned idiot!"

Stan yelped and went to punch Bruce but George growled, "Both of you knock it off, or I'll shove your faces into the other's ass."

Bruce and Stan immediately obeyed and sat still, watching George to make sure he didn't go through with his threat.

"Good. Now which one of you boneheads has cash?" George demanded, pushing back his unruly brown hair from his forehead. His arm still hurt from Dante almost breaking it and he grimaced slightly.

"I've got a few bucks," Bruce answered. Stan nodded in agreement, taking out his wallet to double-check.

"Great," George smirked, "I need something to drink. Something strong."

The two less than intelligent brutes looked at their leader quizzically. George gritted his teeth in irritation, "Go buy me some booze, idiots!"

The two quickly got to their feet and scurried back around the bathroom to find Dan, knowing well enough to do as George ordered before he completely exploded.

George grumbled to himself, mentally planning out Ty's complete and utter demise along with her friends and the new boys with the amber eyes.

"That blond haired one...who the fuck does he think he is to threaten me?" George snarled at the memory.

"That would probably be Carlos Rizzo."

George snapped his eyes up and jumped to his feet. "Who the fuck are you?" he questioned angrily.

Seeming to come out of nowhere was a man in a black suit with a metallic grey vest, crisp white dress shirt and matching grey tie. He also wore a black fedora over his head, hiding his eyes and most of his short, wavy black locks.

The man smiled coldly, stopping a few feet from George, "Someone who can help you get your revenge on the brothers as well as the little brunette they are protecting."

George eyed the stranger. Something was off about him. For one, he was dressed much too formally and was apparently some sort of stalker. For a moment, George thought that he could be a cop of some sort, but a cop wouldn't be offering to help a high school thug beat up a couple of people. Nor would he have such a threatening aura that made George slightly uneasy.

"What's the catch?" George may be an idiot, but he wasn't completely stupid. There was no way some random penguin-suited stranger was going to help him extract his four-year revenge without wanting something in return.

The man smirked, still hiding the upper half of his face, "Not much. My boss just wants a bit of you and your two followers' help. We have very similar goals in mind."

George let his guard falter slightly. He pursed his chapped lips and asked, "What goals exactly?"

"Simply to rough up the Rizzo brothers, and the little brunette will be very handy," the man answered smoothly.

The man's trouser pocket buzzed and after checking his phone, he reached into the pocket inside his tuxedo jacket and pulled out a card with a ten digit number scribbled on it in blue ink. He handed the card to George saying, "I've run out of time, I'm afraid. Call this number when you come to a decision. My boss shall be eagerly awaiting your hopefully positive answer. Good day, Mr. Friedman and I hope to hear from you soon."

When George took the card, the mysterious man tipped his hat slightly and walked away. George managed to see him leave the school grounds and enter a sleek navy blue car that quickly zoomed down the road, soon out of sight as if it had never been there in the first place.

Moments later, Bruce and Stan returned holding two bottles of beer and one of vodka, handing the opened vodka bottle to George.

"What's that?" Bruce asked, noticing the small card that George was staring at intently.

George pocketed the card and took a swig of his drink, relishing the burn as it trailed down his throat. "A new friend," he answered simply with an almost sinister grin.

X

The first two periods went by without much disruption, only the usual whispered glances due to the commotion caused by Ty, George, his brainless followers and two of the new brothers, and it was soon lunch.

Ty packed her things away, chattering with Henry who had charcoal smudges and paint marks all over his arms and face. The paint marks were courtesy of Ty in the beginning of class when they were getting their supplies, not yet actually getting to work. Ty never bothered Henry while he worked in art class or when he was painting or drawing in general. She and the rest of the gang knew how much Henry loved art and could get lost in a swirl of colors lines very easily and happily. Art was the one thing he loved more than skateboarding.

The Rizzo brothers were a big hit as was predicted, a lot of the other students and even the teacher himself asked them to be models for the figure drawing unit that was coming up after spring break. Dante refused immediately and brooded the entire class, silently planning multiple murders with Ty at the top of his list, while Luca ignored them, more interested in his blueprints, and Carlos politely declined and set about starting the current ongoing assignment with an occupied mind.

Henry carefully put his drawing in his cubby. It was a charcoal sketch of the gang he had begun that class with only the basic outlines and half of Grant's face completed. He had already completed and handed in his final piece for the unit they were still on and was getting a head start in the figure drawing unit. Art was the one class he took with absolute seriousness and his parents were fine with it as long as he didn't completely ignore his other classes.

"Rinny," Ty whined, "Hurry up! We're gonna get caught in the lunch rush."

"Yeah, yeah, I'm coming," Henry rolled his eyes, shrugging his bag on his shoulder. They walked out of the classroom and made their way to the cafeteria, completely ignoring the Rizzo brothers who tried to escape the masses of people who tried to get the boys to sit with them.

Henry and Ty had just reached the cafeteria. They were in the middle of groaning at the huge line when Grant waved for them, hollering their names across the busy room.

"Buzz, you wonderful little motherfucker, I love you!" Ty exclaimed when she saw that he had already gotten her and Henry's food. She ran up to their table with Henry close behind and slung her arms around Grant's neck, grinning before plopping down beside him in front of the untouched tray, Henry sitting on her other side.

"But I thought you loved me," Drew pretended to sulk. He put down his sandwich and stood up, slamming his hands down on either side of his tray with startling force, and bellowed, "I demand to be loved! LOVE ME, TYLER! I ORDER IT!"

Their table laughed, as did a few others who were used to the groups' antics and she gestured for Drew to sit back down before one of the supervising teachers decided to give them detentions for being disruptive, "Alright, alright, I love you as well, Callahan. You are loved, my transgendered, blond haired, brown eyed Trixie Tang."

Drew grinned happily like a little boy who had just been given a toy he had been asking for since forever (which in little kid time is one week) and went back to eating his sandwich. The gang fell into mindless conversation and while they were on the topic of planning their weekend, three bright red trays were plopped onto their table.

Carlos smiled in greeting, Luca flashed a grin to Ty and Dante grumpily plopped into the standard cafeteria seats, glaring at the sandwich on his tray.

Ty groaned and scowled at the brothers, "Really? Jesus cock-sucking Christ, you guys are clingier than a starved leech with superglue on its teeth."

Before the brothers could retaliate, a newcomer came up to the table, slightly nervous as he grinned, "Hey." Belatedly feeling the slight tension in the air between the gang and the brothers, he backed away slightly, "Er, or maybe I'll come by later." And just when I grew a pair too, he thought slightly bitterly.

"No, it's fine, Davie," Ty smiled up at him, completely ignoring the Rizzos who gave the strawberry blond distrusting looks. "What's up?"

Davie frowned slightly in surprise, "Wait, you know who I am?"

Ty gave him a confused smile, "Yes? I mean you were in my English class both freshman and last year and we've got PE together. And, you're with Buzz on the soccer team, though the season ended last semester. You were one kickass goalie."

Davie blushed slightly, clearing his throat, "Oh. Right. Sorry and thanks. Well anyway, I just wanted to say that it's pretty cool how you can stand up to George like you did this morning all the time and was sort of wondering if you wanted to hang out after school today. Catch a movie and then maybe some food?" Davie shifted on his feet, feeling an unnerving amount of eyes on him. He nervously looked at Ty's friends who were sizing him up with mostly blank faces, but their protective nature was still quite evident.

Oh god, what the hell was I thinking? Davie was about to try and save himself some face by turning his ask for a date into a joke, but was pleasantly surprised when Ty said, "Sure. Sounds like fun."

"What?" Davie asked, not sure he heard correctly.

Ty grinned, "I said, yes."

"Why?" he frowned.

Grant laughed, "Dude, you trying to make her change her mind?"

"Shut up, Buzz, and the rest of you quit smirking," Ty punched Grant and Henry making them grimace slightly and cradle their attacked shoulder. She turned back to Davie with a smile, "Don't mind those losers, I'd love to watch a movie with you, Davie, as long as you don't mind your date wearing ripped jeans and an old, ratty t-shirt. And possibly a bit sweaty from PE."

Davie, finally out of his stupor of not being rejected, grinned, "You wouldn't be you in skirts and crap. So, you wanna just meet up by the locker rooms since we've got PE last today?"

Ty nodded, "Sounds like a plan."

"Great, I'll see you and the guys in PE then," Davie waved goodbye to return to his table where his friends clapped him on the back and his cheeks turned a light pink.

"You're not going on that date," Dante stated, still looking at the sandwich with distrust.

"And why the hell not?" Ty asked, trying to rein her temper.

"Because," Dante looked up at her, amber eyes locking with her flaring greys, "You've got three fiancés and Papà doesn't like polygamous relationships, stronza. Even if at least one is unwilling."

Ty's eyes widened and she looked around to see if anyone had heard Dante, but thankfully he hadn't spoke loud enough for his voice to travel through the boisterous cafeteria. She glared at him murderously, "Listen up, pissfuck, your dad can go and fuck himself over with his damn pigheadedness and you can follow his lead. Quit stalking me and just stay the hell away from me and my friends. You don't want this as much as I do, so you should be on my side for this one thing, assface."

Knowing that her restraint was reaching its limit, Ty picked up her belongings and her sandwich and marched out of the cafeteria, heading towards the field in the back of the school. She smiled wryly, I'm storming off all over the place lately.

X

Everyone in the cafeteria had seen Ty storm off and were now whispering amongst themselves as the table now only had the gang and the brothers.

"Look at what you've done now," Drew grumbled.

Dante scoffed, "I didn't do anything. The stronza just has a really short temper and ridiculous mood swings."

"Yeah, yeah, but jeez lay off would you? She's got enough shit to deal with without you three and your dad adding to it," Grant said, packing his things like the rest of the gang. The first two stages have already hit and there's still a bit more than three more weeks left, he internally grimaced.

"Wait," Luca sat up. He had been silent the whole time, seemingly uninterested in the arguments. "What happened before with that George person Davie mentioned?" Even though Luca had been speaking with his father over the phone at the time, asking if he could switch one of his classes to a robotics class that the school offered, he heard the whispered gossip that quickly spread amongst the student body. Dante almost breaking a boy's arm and Carlos threatening said boy being repeated and retold multiple times enough to pique his interest.

Carlos nodded in agreement, "Tell us and then we'll 'lay off' for a bit."

The boys shared glances before coming to a silent agreement. George, as clichéd as he was, would follow through with his lame threat and try to get back at Ty. Telling the Rizzos didn't seem like it would cause much harm, instead, they could probably be rather helpful in situations relating to the beefy senior.

"George has had it out for Ty since freshman year, though it could be since the moment they met when we were in our last year of middle school and he was a freshman," Henry started explaining.

Grant nodded, continuing, "Let's just say that George is still stuck in the medieval ages where he believes that women can't do shit and was justly showed up at the skate park by Ty. He called her lucky and downplayed her victory also insulting her, which earned him a bloody nose and we left after that before there'd be an all out fistfight. Fast-forward to our first few days of freshman year, George didn't recognize Ty or us and asked her out in front of a rather large crowd. Unlike his shit memory, we remembered him and she refused, calling him an array of cusses including 'a chauvinistic, fuckfaced, cocky prick that can piss off and suck his own dick if he could find it'."

"And then she reminded him that she was the middle schooler who kicked his ass the previous year at the skate park and well, now you have him hating her guts," Jimmy finished, shrugging his bag over his shoulder with his and Ty's trays in his hands to put away.

The rest of the gang had packed away and made to dump their trays by the trash bins, Fred saying over his shoulder, "Guess we'll see you in Ty's other classes. We've all got PE together."

When the gang was gone, Carlos stared quizzically at Dante who had shifted his glare from his sandwich to the path Ty had marched off in.

"Dante?" Carlos waved his hand in front of Dante's face to get his attention.

It worked. Dante scowled slightly at his older brother, "What?"

"I thought you hated her," Carlos stated, though his tone made it sound more like he was asking for reaffirmation.

"If we're banned from messing around, so is she," Dante answered, sending a heated glare towards Davie and his table.

Davie, as if sensing someone was mentally murdering him, turned to glance at the table and caught Dante's burning amber eyes with his own startled blues.

Dante narrowed his eyes threateningly and Davie only lasted a second longer before abruptly turning his head back to his friends, trying to get them to stop teasing him about actually getting a date with Ty.

Luca and Carlos traded glances, eyebrows raised slightly at Dante's behaviour.

"Fucking stronza," Dante grumbled, pushing off of the table and marching out of the cafeteria in the opposite direction Ty and her friends had gone.

He clenched his fists, once again cursing his father for not letting him bring any firearms to school. He also cursed himself, having no clue as to why he was so affected by the simple knowledge that Ty had a date. Had dates in the past, one not even a month ago.

"So she can smile like that, huh?" he murmured, remembering the way she had looked up at the fidgety blue-eyed blond and how he felt searing anger flood his system. He stopped in his tracks, stunned. Anger? At what?

Frustrated, he turned his body and smashed his fist into the locker nearest to him, creating a deep dent in the metal. His knuckles throbbed slightly but he easily ignored it and continued walking down the hallway, the destruction of school property only slightly alleviating his pent up anger.

After lunch, one student was forever going to wonder what happened to his locker and a new school rumor would drift about the halls, exciting the occultists and superstitious folk of Brick Road High.

___

Italian Lingo:

stronzo - asshole

fermati - stop

fratellino - little brother

fidanzata - fiancée

stronza - bitch

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