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.


13. Chapter Thirteen

Thursday morning went surprisingly calmly for Ty even if the weather looked ominous with dark clouds rolling in, promising an onslaught of rain, wind and lightning in the near future. When she and Jimmy skated to school, they were not ambushed and managed to be early for class instead of just barely on time or late.

George and his two faithful, idiotic followers more or less left her alone even though they had run into each other while getting to their first period classes. He simply sent her creepy glares and greasy grins as if he had something over her. She just ignored him as usual though.

Even the Rizzos seemed to be keeping their distance. None of the brothers had said a word to her other than a small nod or smile of acknowledgment in the morning and they did not follow her and Fred as they went to the soccer field to hang around during their free period.

"They have got to be planning something," Ty concluded, plopping down on the bleachers with Fred sitting next to her. Technically, the second period hadn't started yet, but their math teacher had let them out ten minutes early since the class had been surprisingly productive. Luckily for his students, Mr. Bennet had forgotten that his clock was already ten minutes ahead, so the class was out twenty minutes early.

"And what makes you say that, Jackie-Tyler?" Fred asked, reaching into his bag for the manga he had bought yesterday, preparing to lie down on Ty's lap and read.

"Well for one, Foxie-Fred, yesterday they actually didn't make me stay and argue. And secondly, they haven't ambushed me all day so far. So, they're obviously planning something. It's the calm before the storm, I'm telling you."

Fred laughed, settling his head on Ty's legs and holding his manga at an angle so that he could read it without hurting his neck, "You're just overly paranoid, Ty, that's all. Calm down and enjoy not being hounded. Besides, of the Rizzos, Carlos isn't that bad, he's actually pretty cool."

Ty looked down at him skeptically, "Okay, I know you are one of the most gullible and easily trusting people I know, but when did you join team Carlos?"

Fred let his manga lie flat on his stomach as he rolled his eyes, "I'm not that gullible or trusting and I'm not on anyone's team. I just sort of hung out with him for a bit yesterday when you were on your date with Davie."

"Wait, what? Explain!" Ty demanded, both curious and surprised. Is Carlos already making a move? Damn, he works fast.

"I was running some errands and I saw him while I was looking for a few books. You know I don't really like being alone, so I asked him to give me some company. We talked, I finished my errands, and then we ate some ice cream before he dropped me home." He wisely avoided mentioning just why Carlos was there in the first place. Saying that Carlos was stalking Ty during her date would only go against Fred's case, even if he was acting under his father's orders.

As he mentally recounted the events of the previous day, a certain incident in the pharmacy replayed in Fred's mind. He remembered Carlos' firm body holding his captive as Carlos demanded for Fred to forgive him. Heat rose to Fred's cheek and Ty noticed the obvious change.

"Holy shit, what happened?" No way. Is Red really... Did Carlos...?

"Nothing!" Fred denied quickly, far too quickly. He hastily sat up, keeping his back to Ty, drew his knees up and pulled his book up to hide his face, but his bright red ears were a dead giveaway.

"Fred Fox, what happened yesterday?" Ty questioned, her tone stern and insistent. She was not going to allow the redhead to change or downplay the subject.

"It really was nothing. We just hung out and it was fun. That's all," he insisted, still hiding behind his manga and refusing to turn around and face Ty.

"Doesn't look like it was nothing if you're hiding things from me and turning redder than a brand new fire truck. What did he do, Red?" Ty pressed.

Instantly, something clicked in Fred's mind. He dropped his manga and swiveled to face Ty. "Ty, who was guy who you said was checking me out at the Rizzos' party?" he asked, his tone serious.

"Um, uhh, I..." Ty ducked her head and winced apologetically, "I promised I wouldn't tell anyone his secret."

Fred's Adam's apple bobbed nervously, "Is...Was it...?"

Ty's silence confirmed his thought. "Wait, so when you...when you asked, it was because of...?"

"I'm sorry, Red. I kind of figured it out and then confronted him and he's kept it a secret for his whole life. I was the only one who knew, though I guess now you do too."

Fred furrowed his brow in thought and Ty recognized the betrayed look that flitted across his face.

Feeling the urge to defend Carlos and get that look off her close friend's face, she put a gentle but firm hand on Fred's shoulder to get his attention, "Red, listen to me. I'm certain he didn't use you. Whatever happened that made you turn your favorite color was not some sort of ploy or whatever. You said it yourself; he's pretty cool. For a stubborn, stalking Rizzo, anyway. Like I said, it's his deep dark secret, and I think he actually does like you. A lot. The dude can't keep his eyes off of you and it doesn't look like it's only lust."

Fred looked at her suspiciously, "Ty, are you by any chance trying to set me up with your fiancé?"

"Um...not directly?" she shrugged guiltily with a small smile. "And he's not my fiancé!"

Fred was about to retort, but Ty held up a hand in silent request for him to let her continue, which he did so reluctantly. "So maybe I thought it was kind of cute that he's crushing on you and you know as well as I do that I'm incredibly meddlesome, and—"

"You think that I might be interested since I haven't gone on a date since that horrible one during freshman year that Drew made me go to, and I just blushed which I never do without reason," Fred finished.

"Well, you also—"

"Haven't been interested or shown any interest in a girl since you've known me and you and the guys have had your suspicions that I might be gay or even asexual."

Ty gaped at him then huffed and pouted, "Jeez, could you not keep interrupting me?"

"But I hit the nails right on their heads," Fred pointed out, slightly smug.

Ty pouted a moment longer before making a face at him, reluctantly murmuring, "Yes. Stupid, psychic, red haired twat. But seriously, Red, you know that the guys and I are totally supportive of whatever you want to do, right? Well, if it's drugs or cannibalism or something, then we won't be that supportive and will probably book you into a mental ward, but you still get the point."

Fred reached out to ruffle Ty's hair, earning a glare, and chuckled, "Yeah, yeah, I know, Ty. Just don't go too overboard with it, please. I know if I ask you to stop, you won't because you're you, but I really am not that interested in a romantic relationship or whatever. Never have been really. And I'm not really – I don't really want to try and… experiment… right now."

Ty opened her mouth to speak, but Fred cut her off, "Besides, my parents may be pretty open-minded and chill about a lot of things, but you know they're kind of homophobic. And, why aren't you meddling with Rinny's love life? He's also a V-card holder and hasn't gone on or even seemed interested in a date since forever."

"Rinny's got that slightly creepy fixation-slash-crush on that substitute art teacher we had way back in November and then again for three weeks in January. The brunette with neon colored highlights and she was like twenty-three or something, fresh out of some fancy art college that he would not shut up about. He still talks to her through Facebook under the pretense of art help."

Fred groaned in defeat, "Aren't you supposed to be practically a dude?"

Ty grinned, relieved that she had won this round, "I'm allowed to have my guilty pleasures, one of which that just so happens to be messing with my best friends' love lives or lack thereof."

"Shouldn't you be more focused on your own? You have three fiancés, Italian mafia brothers at that, to deal with," Fred pointed out.

Ty flicked his nose and stood up, "Firstly, they are not my fiancés. Two, meddling is fun. And finally, focusing on other people's problems and issues is a much better alternative to focusing on mine."

"Where're you going?" Fred asked, only just barely deciding against questioning her if she was okay. Even if he did, he knew Ty would have just brushed him off saying she was perfectly fine.

Ty was known to bottle up her problems, stubborn beyond belief, and refused to lay them out to the gang despite their badgering and worried pestering. But, they were always there when the pressure became too much and finally exploded. It was almost comical how predictable her explosions were but the reason was far from funny.

"Rizzo hunting," Ty answered. "I've got something to discuss with one of the brothers and I'll give you one guess as to who."

Fred frowned for a moment before guessing, "Dante?"

Ty gave him a funny look as she shouldered her messenger bag, hoisting it high on her shoulder to keep it in place, "Dante? Why the hell would you guess him? And I thought I was the idiot of the group after Jay-Jay. Anyway, I'll be back, Red."

Ty jumped down the bleachers, stumbling her landing, and sent Fred a raspberry before heading towards the main school building. She sped through the halls, not running to avoid getting called out by a teacher, but not necessarily walking either. She checked the cafeteria, the lockers, the library, and even stalked some of the boys' bathrooms, but none of the brothers were to be found.

"Jesus, where the fuck is he?" Ty grumbled impatiently. She stopped in the middle of the hallway of the Humanities department and looked around, frowning. "Fucking Rizzos."

Ty walked out to the student parking lot and ran her hand through her hair in frustration, "Why is it so hard to find one friggin' person?"

"If you're looking for Fred, he's reading on the bleachers by the soccer field."

Ty whipped around and pointed, "You! Okay, how come you jackoffs can find me whenever you want, but when I need to find one of you it takes me almost thirty fucking minutes?"

Carlos bit down a smile and quirked a brow, "You were looking for one of us? Never thought the day would arrive."

"Oh shut up, Carlos. I wanted to talk to you. Come with me." Ty grabbed Carlos' wrist and pulled him after her towards the far corner of the student parking lot. She stopped at a shiny blue car that belonged to a senior who was a drama fanatic.

"So, what is it that you needed to talk about," Carlos asked, curious. If Ty had actually searched for one of them, it must have been important especially since it was no secret she did not like the brothers all that much.

"Well, it has to do with your secret," she started, looking up at him carefully to gauge his reaction.

Carlos frowned, "My secret?" What secret?

Ty rocked her head slightly, "Yeah, um... Red kind of figured it out."

His eyes widened in realization and horror but Ty quickly continued, "I swear I didn't tell him! He told me that you guys hung out yesterday and then he blushed and refused to tell me what happened, and I may have pushed too hard because Red's smart despite what people say about my friends—well except for Jay 'cause he really is an idiot—but anyway, then he kind of figured out which team you play for, but then he had this betrayed look on his face and I hated seeing him look like that so I may have said some nice things about you like how you weren't using him and you sincerely like him and stuff and I'm sorry but basically, Red knows you're gay and have a thing for him."

Ty watched Carlos for his reaction, the only thing that barely alleviated the tension in the air being her heavy breathing from her rushed explanation that left her winded.

"Betrayed?" Carlos finally responded.

Ty gaped at him, "From that entire fucking run on sentence, that is all you took from it?"

"Well I am a bit wary of seeing Fred now because it is sure to be awkward and I am kind of prepared for his disgusted gaze, but why did he have a betrayed look when he figured it out?"

"I guess he thought that yesterday you were just using him or were planning to use him after gaining his trust, which you did by the way, gain his trust. He thinks you're pretty cool and defended you while we were talking. And he is not disgusted by you, Carlos, in fact, because I'm a meddlesome bitch and I haven't seen him blush like that before, I have another thing to tell you."

"And what's that?" Carlos asked, trying to keep his cool. His heart had swelled when Ty said that Fred was not disgusted with him and that he had blushed from thinking about the other day. A small spark of hope lit up inside him.

Ty put her hands on her hips, pressing her lips in a firm line and locked gazes with Carlos. "Red is one of my best friends. He's naïve, easily trusting, and quite gullible but he's an amazing person and I would do anything for him. He's got one hell of a temper when someone calls him cute and can talk forever about a book he really liked or absolutely hated. He bitches about his hair in the mornings, loves to tease and his laugh is contagious." She stepped up close to Carlos, ignoring the idea of personal space and jabbed his chest with her finger, "If you hurt him in any shape, way or form, I don't care if you're some big bad mafia kid, I will make you beg for death, if the rest of the gang doesn't get to you first. Got it?"

Carlos nodded. "I wouldn't dream of hurting him," he stated truthfully. He may not have known Fred for long, but that was the point of pursuing an interest, to learn. And so far he was growing to like each new detail he learned about the freckled boy. "And did you just give me the 'Don't-Hurt-My-Daughter' speech?"

Ty's stern expression broke into a grin as she flicked Carlos' nose, "More like the 'Don't-Hurt-My-Best-Friend-or-I'll-Kick-Your-Ass-S ix-Ways-From-Sunday' speech."

Ty stepped back and put her weight on one foot, crossing her arms lightly over her chest as she smiled up at Carlos, "I guess you're not that bad. For a Rizzo. I'll see ya 'round and don't forget what I said today, alright?"

Carlos nodded and returned the smile, "You're not too bad yourself. For a crazy and possibly deranged skater. And don't worry, I've got your threat stored right up here." He tapped the side of his head and grinned as Ty chuckled.

Ty turned her back to him and waved over her shoulder, "Later, Carly."

Carlos watched Ty saunter off back into the school before making his own way back. He couldn't stop the spark of hope he got from her words. Fred knew. Fred knew that Carlos was gay, had a thing for him, and still considered Carlos cool. He didn't think Carlos was disgusting and as much as he hated himself for it, Carlos was, quite deep down, sort of happy that Fred had felt betrayed. It meant that he cared and, Carlos hoped with a strength he didn't know he had, that maybe Fred liked Carlos in a way that would make Carlos unbelievably happy.

As he re-entered the school, he saw Dante leaning against his locker, scowling at the floor.

"Dante? What's wrong?" Carlos questioned, walking up to his younger brother.

Dante looked up and his scowl only deepened much to Carlos' confusion and surprise.

"Nothing," Dante grunted. He pushed off the lockers and stalked away, leaving Carlos to wonder what on earth happened to make Dante so angry. He could only think it was one of two things. Either Dante had a run-in with Ty, or he saw Ty laughing and joking around with another guy.

He's so possessive and jealous it's ridiculous. And, to make it better, he doesn't even know, Carlos chuckled to himself as he made his way to the library which had a splendid view of the soccer field and coincidentally, where he could have his fill of watching Fred.


By the time lunch rolled around, Fred and Ty were already halfway through their sorry excuse for a meal, their conversation about Carlos not forgotten but simply put to a halt in a pleasant place.

The rest of the gang had dumped their bags at the table before making a mad dash to the lunch line. The food may have been questionable, but food was food to starving teenagers.

"Hey! Hands off!" Ty swiped at Fred's hands. "Get your own damn carrots!"

Fred pouted and whined, "But you got like twice as much as everyone else! That lunch lady wants to fatten you up before she eats you so really, I'm saving your little ass by taking your carrots."

Ty just gave him a droll stare, eyebrow raised by a fraction of a centimeter, before deliberately munching on a handful of carrot sticks in an overly obnoxious manner, right in Fred's face.

"Ew! Jesus, Ty, really?" Fred backed away, grimacing in disgust.

Ty grinned, bits of chewed carrot visible between her teeth making Fred shake his head, "And you're supposed to be the high society, purebred, classy, well-mannered girl of the group. You're almost as bad as Jay."

"No she's not," Jimmy dropped his tray with a loud clatter next to Ty.

"Do you even know what we were talking about?" Fred asked with a knowing smirk.

Jimmy munched on a carrot and proudly denied, "Nope. But whatever it was no, no one beats me at it." As he spoke, tiny bits of saliva coated carrot pieces sprayed from his mouth and onto the table and his tray.

Ty raised her brow at Fred and pointed her thumb at Jimmy, "I am nowhere near Jay-Jay's level."

"Jay's usually in a league of his own," Grant gave his two cent's worth, settling down next to Fred with Henry and Drew plopping down soon after.

"How did you guys get your food so fast?" Ty questioned, glancing back at the lunch line to see it at its usual long length.

Drew grinned secretively and shrugged noncommittally, "We know a guy."

Fred and Ty rolled their eyes and Fred had to ask, "How long have you been waiting to use that line?"

Drew shrugged again, still grinning before he zeroed in on what the school claimed to be meatloaf surprise. The surprise was that no one got food poisoning and keeled over.

"Oh hey, guys, I need a favor," Henry spoke up. They all looked at him, waiting for him to continue which he did after swallowing a bite of the suspicious meatloaf, "I'm doing a little project, and I need an item you guys truly value, like an object that you would murder someone for breaking or touching. All I need is at least a picture or two if you don't want to give the actual object to me."

The gang nodded, Grant clapping Henry on the back, "No problem, Rinny. But do we get to see this 'little project' of yours or are you going to hide it away in your attic-slash-studio?"

"You can see it when it's finished. But I need the objects by the start of spring break at the latest. I really want to get a start on it as soon as I finish my other works in progress. And don't just give me some bullshit object, guys. It needs to be something you would consider giving your life for," Henry added seriously.

"Don't worry, Rinny. We may be assholes but we're not complete scumbags," Drew stated.

The gang knew how much Henry's art meant to him and have always given him their full support. Under their light teasing, they admired their friend's talent, love, and dedication for creating amazing pieces of art with his own hands. The five of them were already thinking about what to give Henry for his secret new art project.

Their thought processes were disrupted by the intercom system that played a melody that sounded similar to the one played before boarding announcements at airports. A bored old woman's voice drawled through the overhead speakers, "Tyler Jackson. A Miss Tyler Jackson, report to the office immediately. I repeat, Tyler Jackson, report to the office immediately."

The cafeteria was silent save for the melody that played at the end of the announcement and all eyes were on Ty.

"What'cha do?" Fred asked, slightly worried.

Ty shrugged, equally clueless, "I haven't done anything lately. I'm not dumb enough to try something this close to spring break."

She stood up and slung her messenger bag over her shoulder, "I'll see you guys later and if I'm not back in ten, you can steal the rest of my food." She waved to them and made her way out of the whispering cafeteria and calmly headed towards the office.

She entered the intimidating room and was immediately ambushed by the stares of the school administrators.

"Um, Tyler Jackson? I was called in like two minutes ago?" Ty spoke when no one else did. She hadn't been called to the office in a rather long time and even then she wasn't alone, having at least one partner in crime, or if it was a fight, the other troublemaker was glaring at her.

The secretary, as the nameplate on her desk stated, drawled in a nasally voice, "Just a moment, sweetie. Wait right there for a moment."

No sooner had Ty been about to take a seat in the uncomfortable plastic chairs lined up against the wall did the doors to the principal's private office open and reveal a clean cut man. His caramel locks were gelled back and he wore a pair of spotless black dress pants paired with a shiny black vest over an off-white dress shirt that was void of creases. He even had a plain black tie, silver cufflinks, and a cold, emotionless green gaze.

"Miss Jackson," the man greeted with a practiced bow.

Ty's stance turned guarded as she eyed the man suspiciously, "What are you doing here, Andrew?"

Andrew Lowe was the Jackson family's private chauffeur. He was the one who drove Ty's parents to places of importance from work to social gatherings to charity dinners to golf dates and business brunches. He was also one of Ty's least favorite people under her parents' employment. He was heartless, robotic, and downright creepy in the way he listened and followed every syllable uttered by her parents. When Ty was younger and refused to listen, he would drag her, kick, biting, screaming, and shrieking, to fulfill his employers' wishes.

"Your parents wish for you to return home. I have already retrieved your belongings from your friend's house and they are in the car," Andrew answered. The only change in his otherwise monotonous tone was when he revealed his negative opinion in Ty's choice of companionship.

"What?" Ty glared at him. She could only image poor Mrs. Jenkins' reaction to Andrew entering her home. Knowing him, he probably rang the bell and entered without being invited after stating his intentions.

He gave her cold smile, "Your parents have requested that you return home at this moment. Now come along, Miss Jackson. Your parents would be very disappointed should you make a scene."

Ty knew his words were calculated and cruel. He would drag her by her teeth if she refused.

"I need to get my stuff from my locker."

Glaring at him with complete and utter hatred, she fought the rising bile in her throat and stiffly walked out of the office, heading for her locker. She angrily opened her locker, taking out her skateboard and placing her helmet on her head, ignoring Andrew who grimaced in distaste. She slammed the metal door shut, the sound echoing through the halls and stormed to the school's entrance. Her hands were clenched tightly around her board, her knuckles turning chalk white and numbing.

Andrew followed her quietly and made her stop at the steps of the entrance so he could bring the car up front. As soon as he brought the shiny white Porsche up to her, she climbed into the back of the car without a word and stared resolutely out the window, gripping her board tightly as it lay across her legs. The sky was darker than that morning, almost perfectly matching her current mood. She was waiting for the skies to crack open and wreak havoc on the earth.

They reached Ty's apartment complex in a matter of minutes, traffic for once not being an issue just to spite Ty. During the short, silent and tension filled ride, Ty's phone had buzzed in her pocket a number of times but she didn't dare take it out to answer. Andrew would have listened in if it was a call, reporting every word to her parents or he would confiscate the phone and deliver it to her parents who would demand to read any and all texts sent and received from the time they left the school.

Ty jumped out of the car without waiting for Andrew, knowing he would be following her with her duffle from Jimmy's house. She just wanted to get away from him and rushed to the elevator, quickly getting inside and repeatedly pressing the 'close doors' button after jabbing her floor number. She only relaxed when the metal doors slid shut and she felt the light stomach dropping feeling as the elevator ascended.

When the elevator dinged at her arrival, she was tense yet again. She stepped out and pulled her key out of its hole, entering her house with a grim expression.

Her parents were sitting on the couches in the living room, the TV turned off like always. Ty stepped into the house, shutting and locking the door behind her. Andrew had his own key and she wanted as much time as she could get to avoid having the three people she hated the most in the same room with her.

"Tina, darling," Mrs. Jackson smiled sweetly at Ty, getting up off the couch with Mr. Jackson trailing after her. Ty clenched down on her jaw, enough to make it hurt so she didn't do something that would land her in prison.

Heather Jackson was a gorgeous woman; anyone would have to admit that. Her long brown hair was held up in a perfect bun with the grey streaks of age somehow complimenting her prim and proper appearance. Her grey eyes that Ty had inherited were framed by extended lashes that must have taken at least thirty minutes to perfect along with her business-like make-up. She was dressed in a black pencil skirt that reached her knees paired with a white blouse and formal black heels. Her slim wrist was decorated with a thin silver watch that cost more than all of Ty's skate gear put together plus a few of her t-shirts, and a matching silver necklace adorned her neck. Mrs. Jackson was nothing if not picture perfect in her appearance and fake personality. Her only redeeming feature in Ty's eyes was that her mother did not scientifically enhance her body to be as plastic as her personality.

John Jackson was a rather handsome man himself. His dark brown and lightly greyed hair was gelled back with a few strands artfully left loose around his forehead. He wore a pair of classy, black rimmed glasses over his light brown eyes. He had a strong, square jaw and broad frame to add to his confident demeanor. He was dressed to match his wife, a pressed black suit with a crisp white dress shirt, silver cufflinks, gleaming black dress shoes, and a grey striped tie.

Ty crossed her arms over her chest and glared at them, disgusted by the fake smiles that adorned their faces even with no spectators, "What do you want? What's so important that you had to pull me out of school?"

Mrs. Jackson's mask slipped for a moment before she pulled it back up and widened her smile, "Oh, we just had to tell you something, but we found these in your room, on the floor."

Mrs. Jackson walked to the dining table that was used every other blue moon and held up an albino teddy bear in a purple dress and a silver necklace with a red garnet pendant. "Where did you get these, Tina?" Mrs. Jackson questioned.

Ty's eyes widened at the objects. She had completely forgotten about them. Ty shrugged, "It was a present or something. Came in the mail a couple days ago with no return address or anything. The box is probably still in my room. And it's Tyler, not Tina."

Mrs. Jackson frowned, ignoring Ty's correction, "Who would send you these?" She eyed the necklace with interest, the teddy bear already forgotten.

Ty shrugged again, replying shortly, "I don't know. Is that all?"

Her mother went back to the dining table to place the stuffed animal and necklace back where she had picked them up from, leaving her father to continue, "Your mother and I are going to Portugal for a month."

Ty waited for her father to continue and only nodded slowly when he didn't, "Yeah, and? You never say anything when you guys go off and do whatever. If you haven't realized by now, I barely even spend any time in this stupid house and I always avoid you two."

She had noticed the packed suitcases that were by the door, waiting for Andrew to bring them downstairs to one of the family cars. Her parents were always going off to random countries and those were the happiest times of Ty's life.

Mr. Jackson narrowed his eyes at Ty before calming himself and continuing on as if Ty hadn't spoken, "Your spring break is going to start soon, and we reserved a ticket for you to join us as soon as your break starts. We'll be spending the entire break in Portugal with some family friends."

Family friends? Doesn't that require a family and oh I don't know, friends? Or is 'friends' the new adult slang for money pawns? I see, you need to keep up the illusion and what better way than a 'family trip' to Portugal. Fucking brilliant idea. Ty scoffed, "Yeah? Guess what, I don't care."

Mrs. Jackson had returned to her husband's side and reached into her overly priced branded purse and pulled out an envelope, handing it to Ty, "Here are your tickets. Andrew will drop you off at the airport and we'll see you in Lisbon. Don't cause him any trouble."

Ty stiffly took the tickets and moved aside so her parents could walk out the doors. Andrew had made it up and was silently taking the suitcases out of the apartment. He had set her duffle more inside the house, up against the wall behind her parents' bags.

Ty simply watched them walk out, ducking away when her mother tried to kiss her head for show. Ty glared at them and smiled smugly when their façade fell for a moment so they could glare at her for humiliating them in front of Andrew and one of the staff from the lobby who Andrew had bullied into helping take the Jacksons' luggage.

Her parents gave their sugar-coated farewells while Ty remained silent, impatiently tapping her foot and waiting for them to finally leave. As soon as the door shut with a click, she threw the tickets onto one of the side tables that had fake fruits in a decorative basket and pulled out her phone, quickly finding a number and tapping the call button.

After a few rings, she heard a "Hello? Tyler?"

Ty sighed, happy to hear a voice she could stand, "Hey, Shady, yeah it's me. Look, I was wondering if you had a client that wanted to go to Portugal for spring break. I've got one set of tickets to and from Lisbon."

"Lisbon? I'll get word out about them. How much do you want if someone wants them?"

"Nothing. I don't want anything to do with these tickets. You keep all the profit, Shady, and don't even bother arguing with me about it. I am seriously not in the mood."

"Okay, but are you alright, Tyler?" Shady asked, worry evident in his tone.

Ty sighed, this time just mentally exhausted, "Yeah, I'm alright. Just…a lot of shit to deal with, that's all."

"Okay. I may not be one of your best friends, but if you need someone to talk to, I'm there if you need me, Tyler."

Ty smiled, "Thanks, Shady. And by the way, I do consider you a close friend even if I don't know your actual name. I'll give you the ticket tomorrow at school and you can do whatever the hell you want with them."

"Small problem with that. School's cancelled. Someone planted a series of stink bombs in the ventilation system and they went off soon after you got called to the office. It's gonna take tomorrow and the weekend to get rid of the smell."

Ty laughed, "Well then. That's something. Alright, then how about Monday? Or are you going to be working at the skate park tomorrow?"

"I've got some deals at the skate park, so I'll probably see you there. Anyway, I gotta go, it's gonna start pouring any second now. See ya, Tyler."

"Wait, before you go, I was wondering if you wanted a weekend job. I could ask Travis, my boss, if he wants an extra hand. The pay is great and everyone there is super nice and helpful."And it's completely legal, she added silently and Shady picked up on it.

Shady was silent for a moment before he finally answered, keeping his emotions out of his voice, "What exactly is this weekend job?"

Ty smiled, but tried to keep her voice composed, "Travis owns Blue Moon, and I've been working there on weekend nights as a waitress. I could convince him to hire you if you don't mind being a waiter for a bunch of snotty rich people."

"I'll…I'll think about it," Shady answered and Ty had to bite down on her cheeks to prevent from jumping around and cheering at her victory. If she pushed just a little more at another time, Shady would be saying yes and it would be easy enough to get Travis to hire him. Working at Blue Moon would be enough for Shady to stop dealing, as the pay would be almost as much or even more than he earned from dealing. He needed a more stable and less risky form of major income.

"I really do have to go now, Tyler. I'll see tomorrow."

"Alright. Bye, Shady, and thanks."

As soon as the line got cut, Ty instantly called up another number.

This time, the other person picked up after one ring with a loud, "TY! WHAT THE FUCK HAPPENED?"

Ty winced, clutching her ear that was now throbbing before she answered, "Fuck, Jay, I like having my ears intact."

"Yeah well I like knowing what happened to my best friend," Jimmy snorted. Ty heard scuffling and a couple of yelps before she heard Jimmy again. "Alright, alright, jeesh! I'm putting it on speaker, hold on, dickwads."

After Ty heard a small beep, she was accosted by a mesh of yelling by five different people.

She couldn't help it. She laughed.

The yelling ended and soon they were all laughing.

"Glad that you're okay, Ty," Grant finally spoke when they stopped laughing.

"Yeah, I'm fine. I heard about the stink bombs. Guess I was lucky to miss that, huh?"

"Lucky bitch, it smelled so bad I could taste it, I still can't get the taste out of my mouth," Drew gagged.

"Wait how'd you know about the stink bombs?" Henry questioned. She heard more shoving as the boys tried to keep Jimmy's phone in a place where they would all be able to hear and talk.

"I called up Shady right before you guys and he told me," Ty answered.

"What? Shady? What about us? Are you replacing us? " Fred gasped in mock-hurt.

"It's because I'm black, isn't it?" Grant added solemnly, holding back a laugh.

Ty laughed and she quickly explained what happened from the moment she was called to the office to the present.

"Wow," her friends breathed.

"Yeah. I just can't get a break, huh?"

"Do you want us to come over?" Henry asked.

Ty shook her head, "Nah, it's gonna storm pretty badly and I'm fine. I just really want to sleep and watch some TV or something. I'll see you guys tomorrow."

"Alright. See ya, Ty," they said in sync.

Ty chuckled, "Later, losers."

As soon as she put her phone back in her pocket, she picked up her duffle and dragged it upstairs, dumping it in front of her bed before flinging her own body across her bed and sighing heavily.

Just as she closed her eyes, her room was illuminated by a bright, brief flash of white light and her ears registered the sharp crack of thunder not long after.

She smiled humorlessly up at her ceiling, "Ah, there's the pathetic fallacy." She chuckled, "Red'll have a field day knowing that I actually remembered something from English and used it in real life."

Ty rolled over onto her side and brought her legs up in a semi-fetal position as she stared at her door and the curved wood at the foot of her bed. Unable to stay still, she sat up and threw her phone on her bed, turning it off so no one would bother her, and started unpacking her duffle before taking a soothing, long hot shower and changing into her comfiest laze-about outfit, falling onto her bed and watching TV.

Hours later when the storm was still raging and the sky was hidden behind the blackest of clouds, Ty was still lying, stomach down and absently kicking her legs, on her bed, watching TV when the doorbell rang.

She frowned, rolling off her bed and made her way downstairs, curious as to who would be at her doorstep during a storm like this and at around nine at night. Whoever it was wasn't patient in the least, as they were repeatedly pressing the button, not giving the circuit any rest between each ring.

"Jesus, hold your fricking horses," Ty muttered, jumping down the stairs to get to the door faster so that the incessant ringing would stop.

She reached the door and unlocked it, the ringing stopped to her relief. She had an idea as to who could be behind the door since she only knew five certain lovable idiots who would brave a storm to make sure she was alright even when she had specifically told them not to.

Ty opened the door, sighing and rolling her eyes, "Seriously guys, what kind of stupid, moronic idiots are you that you'd—What the fuck are you doing here?"

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