Ty barged out of the councilors' office silently fuming with shaking fists. The few stranglers who were rushing to class ignored her as she went in the opposite direction, more focused on not being late for the nth time than the rather pissed of Ty. She passed her US History classroom, instead of going in it, and saw Drew just about to head to his own class.
"Ty?" he called out, noting the I-will-murder-something-with-a-spork vibe she emitted.
Wordlessly, she caught his gaze and he completely understood the silent message she unintentionally sent. Reading one another and passing wordless messages was a skill they all had developed over the years.
"Want me to join you? Ditching is more fun with company," he offered with a small grin.
Ty shook her head, slightly calmer, "You and I both know you can't afford to skip math today, Drewbie. You have to get at least a C on today's test or it'll be summer school for you and you'll probably be murdered by your parents. I'll be fine alone and I kind of want to just forget the world exists for a couple of hours."
Drew relaxed after hearing her call him Drewbie. From the moment they met, she was peeved that Drew's name couldn't be shortened to an annoying pet name that she liked and took to calling him Drewbie when she was in a teasing or annoyed mood. Either way, it meant she wasn't about to go and do something more recklessly stupid than her usual stunts.
"You planning on coming back?" It was only the beginning of second period; they still had lunch and two more classes until the day was over.
"No. I'll see you and the others after school. Later, loser." Drew waved and ducked into his classroom, right before the bell declared him late, while Ty went to her locker to grab her gear and board, the only things she ever put in there.
Without much care as to whether she was seen or not, Ty marched out the main building and straight out the school gates. Brick Road High had pretty shitty guards, so it was relatively easy to ditch school in the middle of the day. Lunch was the easiest time since the guards all either slept in the afternoon sun or were too busy eating and gossiping like 50-year-old rich housewives to notice a gang of high schoolers leaving the school grounds.
As soon as Ty set foot outside the school gates, she dropped her board to the floor and immediately skated down the sidewalk in the direction of the skate park.
After about 15 minutes of non-stop skating and many angry pedestrians cursing delinquent high schoolers, Ty stopped in front of the skate park. She had been there so many times, even spent entire nights, that she had memorized every bit of graffiti on the walls and floors of her haven. There was a section of wall that she and the guys had claimed as theirs and tagged their names with spray paint, each with their own color that matched their board. Well, they say 'they' when it was really all Henry. The rest of them just threw in a series of ideas that Henry made sketches of before making their mark on the corroding wall.
Dropping her bag to the floor carelessly, she made a beeline for the skate bowl, dropping in and losing herself in a series of tricks and the sound of rolling wheels. Slowly, her anger faded and she began laughing, a grin etched into her face. She then attempted to perfect tricks or try out new ones, specifically a certain jump in which she repeatedly lost her balance and crashed to the floor. She tried it continuously, not taking any notice of her surroundings, her mind wrapped around her board, feet and the floor that she kept on meeting, three out of four times flat on her ass.
"Try shifting your weight forward a bit more while you're in the air. Find your center and you should be able to not crash to the floor," a voice called out right before she began her umpteenth attempt.
Without looking to see who it was, Ty followed the stranger's advice and landed, stumbling slightly but this time actually landed and not crashed to the floor in an embarrassing heap on her already probably bruised behind.
Grinning broadly she turned to thank the stranger, "Yes! Thanks man, I—! Holy crap...! Y-you're Jake Sanders!"
Ty froze, her eyes widened to their limit, clearly expressing her amazement and disbelief. The young man before her was dressed quite similarly to her in loose, worn out jeans and a simple t-shirt with a jacket over, the hood pulled up. He pushed the hood back to reveal his not too long but still not considered short, choppy, platinum blond hair that was tousled and messy while his pale green eyes were clear and alive, openly amused at Ty's reaction.
"Yes I am, and I'm guessing you're a fan?" he grinned teasingly.
"A fan? Dude, the only thing separating me from a crazy, asylum resident, I-will-hide-you-in-my-nonexistent-basement stalker fan is that I don't have a shrine of you in my closet that I give blood sacrifices to every new moon. Can I poke your arm?"
Jake laughed, surprised by her choice of words and rather odd question, "What?" Did she just ask if she could poke my arm?
With complete seriousness, Ty answered, "I'm having a really hard time believing that someone I practically worship, one of the skateboarding kings, 22 year old Jake Mother-Effing Sanders is right in fucking front of me. I need to verify that I didn't fall one too many times and am hallucinating."
"Haha, I'm one hundred percent sure I'm not a hallucination, kid. Here," he held out his right hand which Ty hesitantly took, afraid that she was indeed hallucinating the meeting.
"Oh my god, I'm shaking Jake Mother-Effing Sanders' hand. I can die happy now," Ty grinned broadly, not believing her luck. "You, my good sir, have just made my shitty day a bajillion times better."
"You know, I don't really remember my middle name being 'Mother-Effing'. I don't remember having a middle name at all actually," Jake smiled, releasing Ty's hand. He had been watching her for a while, hiding when he saw her enter the skate park. She had talent and it was clear to any spectator that she loved skating. But, he wondered what she was doing at the skate park since the usual crowd should have been in school.
Ty scratched the back of her neck, smiling embarrassedly, "Er, yeah, sorry. I was excited and couldn't believe it. Still can't even though I've actually shaken hands with you. Mind if I ask what you of all people are doing here?"
"Me of all people?" Jake gasped in mock hurt before grinning, "I had some free time and decided to check out the closest skate park, wasn't expecting anyone here since this is generally a high school hangout. By the way, you know my name but I've got no clue who you are."
"Oh right, sorry. I'm Ty, Ty Jackson and yeah this place is empty during school hours except for the occasional person or people who decide to ditch or fake sick."
"Ty, short for Tyra?" Jake questioned, deciding to avoid the topic of her reason for being here. When he had first spotted her, she was scowling, obviously quite pissed off for some reason. But as she carelessly tossed her bag to the floor and began doing a series of pretty advanced tricks one after another, her scowl turned into a broad, elated grin then to a frustrated grunt as she failed the trick she had been trying to execute successfully prior to his interference.
Ty shook her head, expecting the guess, "No and you wouldn't believe me even if I told you. You're also not the first to guess that."
"Try me," he dared.
"Alright fine," Ty put her hands up in surrender, "But don't say I didn't tell you. My name's Tyler."
"Yeah, right," Jake immediately responded skeptically.
Ty smirked, "Told ya you wouldn't believe me. Hold on a sec." She left Jake to retrieve her bag and dug around for her wallet. She found the simple black and green fake leather and pulled out a plastic card to hand to Jake.
"No way," Jake said under his breath in disbelief as he read the laminated plastic. It was a student ID card and right there in black capitals read TYLER JACKSON with a picture of her sticking her tongue out and crossing her eyes on the side.
He looked up at her with a question on his tongue but Ty beat him to it. "It's a long story that involves a grandpa who I haven't seen since I was six and parents who I'd rather not think or talk about right now. Especially since my sole reason for coming here and ditching school was to forget."
Jake hummed in understanding and realization, "Ahh the rebellious teen years. I remember those. Good times, good times."
Ty rolled her eyes, "You were my age only five years ago, Sanders. You're a couple of years younger than one of my friends and he behaves like a damn forty year old half the time. Or an overprotective dad."
"Oh so last names now is it, Jackson?" Jake tried to raise a single brow but failed and ended up making his eyebrows dance like they were drunk and high at the same time while his face contorted into amusingly unflattering expressions. Ty lasted barely a nanosecond before bursting out in laughter. Jake gave up trying to raise one eyebrow and joined Ty in her fit of laughter.
"But really," Ty started when she could breathe again. "What is the Jake Sanders doing in a little place like this? Don't you have some promotional stuff to do or chill in your big-ass mansion or something?"
"Alright you got me. I am actually here on business promotional stuff. I've got a promotional video that I have to do but we're trying out something new with it."
"Really? What?" Ty asked, tilting her head in thought. What hasn't been done yet? Skateboarding in space with a hula-hooping kumquat? "Or is it all top secret, hush-hush stuff that you can't disclose to a random fan?"
"There's no harm in a little early warning, you'll be hearing about it really soon anyway. Think of it as a heads up. In a couple of weeks the company is going to be hosting a skateboarding competition for anyone who isn't famous. Right here in this very skate park, actually. I came by to check things out before the adverts go out later today. The prize for the winner is an autographed skateboard by the hosting company, 500 bucks in cash, and the opportunity to be in the promo video with me," Jake explained, grinning. "The idea was an instant hit and I'm looking forward to the competition. I'm one of the judges and it's open to anyone who loves to skate as long as they are not already sponsored."
Ty's eyes sparkled with excitement, "That's sounds fucking awesome! The guys and I will definitely be signing up. So who's the hosting company?"
"My main sponsor, Factory Skateboards," Jake answered, watching Ty for her reaction. In the ten or so minutes he had spent with her, he already learned she was a very animated human being. Open and sincere with a wide range of expressions.
"You're shitting me! Factory Skateboards, really?" Ty exclaimed. Factory Skateboards was one of the best skateboarding companies in the US with at least one branch in practically every country in the world except for Antarctica. One of the reasons Jake was her idol was that his first sponsor was Factory Skateboards. It was seemingly impossible that an unknown rookie at only 16 would get his big break by attracting the eye of a company in the top three, and the fact that he did only made her admire him all the more. He was living her dream.
Jake grinned, "I shit you not." He chuckled, adding, "You're so expressive and open."
"Yeah," Ty nodded, slightly embarrassed. Did I go over the top? Not like I can help it, he's Jake Sanders! "I've been told I tend to be a little too blunt and expressive, especially when I'm nervous, excited, really happy, or really pissed. Sorry."
"No, no, you don't need to apologize. It's a good thing, well in my opinion," Jake said, not knowing why she was apologizing for being a joy to be around. She just had this vibe or aura that seemed to bring a smile to those around her and her personality was something he didn't think he would get annoyed or tired of either.
Ty didn't respond, just flashed him a small, warm smile and her eyes drifted back to her forgotten board.
Jake noticed and tilted his head towards the skate bowl, "You can go if you want, and don't bother denying it, your gaze has been shifting to your board unconsciously for a bit now. I'm not some attention-whore and I actually liked watching you skate."
Ty's smile widened and she jumped over to her board and ran to the rim of the bowl. She looked back and tilted her head, confused, "You not coming?"
Jake shook his head regrettably, "Don't have my gear and I wasn't planning on hanging for a long time. Someone might recognize me and then I'll have an army to run away from."
Ty sympathized with him. She didn't know about running away from fans who begged to be impregnated or pleaded for autographed skateboards and gear, but the feeling of not being able to skate with an empty park right before you was a form of cruel and unusual torture.
"Oh!" she exclaimed, eyes widening. "One last I'm-your-number-uno-psychopathic-almost-stalker-like-mental-patient-fan act." She dashed back to him with her board in hand and asked with a bashful smile, "Could you please sign my board?"
Jake laughed and took the board, "Of course. Got a Sharpie?"
Ty nodded furiously and ran to her bag, pulling out her pencil case and rummaging through it until she found the extra fine point silver Sharpie she had conveniently forgotten to return to Henry. He had a million anyway so he hadn't really missed it the last few weeks. She ran back to Jake, tripping in her haste but catching herself before she could face plant in front of her idol.
He uncapped the pen with a laugh, placed the board across his knee and looked up with the pen cap in his mouth. "What and where do you want me to sign?"
"Er, under the skull I guess and I don't really care, just as long as your signature is on it so I can stare at it endlessly," she answered, unable to stop her grin from taking the likeliness of a dolphin's.
"Alright then." He looked back down at the board and signed as he spoke, "Ty, great meeting you and no, I'm not just saying that to be nice. You are seriously one awesome and wacked up dude. You ever quit skateboarding and I will personally hunt you down and superglue your feet to your board – Jake 'Mother-Effing' Sanders." He even added a smiley face with its tongue sticking out next to his name before recapping the pen and giving both objects to a very happy Ty.
"Oh my god, can I hug you?" she said, staring at the new silver writing on her board. "This is my final fan girl act, I promise."
Jake grinned and spread his arms out, "Who would refuse a hug from a girl such as yourself? C'mere and give me some fan love."
Ty laughed and put her board down to fall into Jake's friendly embrace. He wrapped his arms around her waist and she wrapped hers around his shoulders. When they released each other Ty heard her name being called. She turned her head to the sound to see two boys who should have been back in school walking towards her.
"Carlos? Luca? What're you guys doing here?" Ty asked, frowning.
Carlos gave her a disapproving look when he noticed the still very close distance between her and blond boy he did not know. She ditched school to go on a date with some blond haired knucklehead? He is pretty cute though, but still.
"What?" Ty recognized the look but had no idea why he was giving it to her. She'd received it many times from various people and could point it out in almost any face.
"Shouldn't you be at school instead of here?" Carlos pointedly asked, ignoring Ty's question. He gave Jake a suspicious glance. They were now within punching distance.
Ty rolled her eyes, "When did you become my dad? And I could say the same to you, Carly. What are you two doing here?" And there goes my chance at apologizing for being a bitch on Sunday. I'm an idiot. Even if I did apologize it's already Tuesday.
"We heard you left suddenly after first period and decided to see if you were okay," Luca answered. His gaze traveled between Jake and Ty as he added, "Looks like you are."
Unlike Ty, Jake was not so oblivious to the minor glares he received or the questioning glances. He stepped forward with a small grin and held out his right hand, "Hey, I'm Jake. I just met Ty here and she is pretty cool. So, which one of you is the lucky guy?"
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, wait! Hold up there, Sanders," Ty held a hand up, stopping Carlos and Luca from speaking. "What the hell gave you the idea that either of these bozos is my boyfriend? I am a single, skating, salty French fry."
Carlos quirked a brow, "A French fry? Where is this analogy going, principessa?"
"Shut up, it works," she stuck her tongue out though she actually didn't know how being a French fry fit in. She was hungry and Sal's was sounding pretty good about now. "Er, well, ha! I'm a French fry free to mix myself with anything, be it milkshakes, coke, ketchup, tartar sauce, or fro-yo, or whatever," she grinned proudly at being able to come up with something logical enough in barely any time.
"Fries and fro-yo?" Jake grimaced at the thought.
"Hey," Ty semi-sternly stopped him. "Don't knock it till ya try it. And it tastes best with regular fro-yo."
Jake put up his hands in defense, "Okay, don't shoot. But I still think it's disgusting."
Ty shrugged, "Your loss." She turned to Carlos and Luca, and said, "You guys should head back to school, I'm gonna keep skating. And yes, I know I'm being hypocritical but guess what, I don't care."
Before Carlos or Luca could argue, Jake's phone rang and he winced in apology before moving a little away and answering the phone.
Once he was busy with his call, Carlos and Luca sternly looked at Ty.
"What?" she asked defensively. Even though she wanted to apologize, her guilt had taken a backseat to her anger and irritation and stress.
"You're ditching school to go on a date?" Carlos questioned, though it was more like an accusatory statement.
"This was not a date, I met him by accident. I wouldn't ditch school for something as stupid as a little date, even if he is my skateboarding idol," Ty explained, slightly insulted that Carlos and Luca would have thought she would do something like that. "I just needed to cool down and get my mind off of things. Personal things," she added, implying that she was in no mood to share anymore.
"Next time you need to cool down and get your mind off of things, take one of us with you. You know you're in danger and this was extremely reckless," Carlos scolded.
Ty glared at him, "And whose fucking fault is that? And nothing's been happening and nothing happened so it's fine. No need to have a bitch fit about it."
Jake had finished with his call and could feel the tension between the brothers and Ty. Carefully, he cleared his throat to get their attention and smiled apologetically, "Well it was nice meeting you, but that was my manager who is kind of pissed at me for running off, so I gotta go. Again, great meeting you and I do hope to see your name as a contestant, Ty."
Ty grinned, "You can bet on it along with my friends. It was amazing meeting you and thanks for the autograph and fulfilling my fan girl wishes. I'll see you on the day of the competition, Sanders."
"Same to you, Jackson," Jake smirked. He shook hands with Luca and Carlos, feeling their distrusting stares, and left the skate park with one last wave, disappearing at the corner as he pulled up his hood to hide his face.
"Ty," Carlos tried as the brunette turned her back to him and his brother, heading for the biggest ramp in the park.
Ty didn't have it in her to argue and blow another fuse at him when she heard his concerned tone. She stopped and her shoulder drooped as she turned back around.
The brothers could see how weighed down Ty was, her grey eyes no longer stormy and filled with determined energy. She was tired.
"Why don't we go to that diner you and your friends always go to?" suggested Luca. "Carlos and I promise not to nag if you come with us. You must be hungry."
Carlos wanted to hug Luca for thinking of the simple yet effective idea but he didn't. He simply smiled at the girl who he already considered a sorellina that he wanted to protect. "That's a great idea. The walk there will also let us cool down so we don't start tearing throats out," he joked lightly.
Ty cracked a small smile, "Sure."
Almost fifteen minutes later, the three of them entered the not so crowded Sal's and the man himself frowned at seeing Ty during school hours.
"Mija," he began, temporarily putting off serving a dish to a customer. "You have school."
Ty gave him an apologetic smile, "Yeah, it was too much for me today."
Sal stared at her for a moment and then at the two boys with her before sighing, "Fine. Do you want your usual?"
Ty shook her head, "I'm feeling like chili fries and a coke." Ty looked to the two brothers and remembered that Sal didn't know them. "Oh, and these are Luca and Carlos. They're…some new friends."
"It's nice to meet you, sir," Carlos and Luca said, smiling politely and shaking Sal's hands.
Sal narrowed their eyes at the brothers, "And why are you two not in school?"
They both ruffled Ty's hair, making her grumble and pout though she was smiling through it, as Carlos answered, "We were worried when we heard she suddenly left the school, so we followed her and found her and now we won't be leaving her alone."
Sal nodded and then left the three to find a table and for the brothers to scan the menu for something to eat. In the end, Carlos decided on a burger and root bear, and Luca went for cheese fries and coke.
"So what happened?" Luca asked, locking his amber eyes with Ty's greys. They were sitting in Ty's usual booth, the brothers on one side and Ty on the other with her skateboard and gear beside her.
Ty heaved a sigh and looked to the table, "It was just my parents spewing bullshit to the counselor about college and stuff via video chat. My patience ran dry and I couldn't stand hearing them pretend to care when it was so painfully obvious that every word they spat was a boldfaced lie." Ty's hands were clenched tightly on her lap and she closed her eyes to try and count and calm down.
Luca jumped over to her side and rubbed her back. Up, down, up, down, slowly and soothingly until he saw her unclench her fists.
"Are you okay?" he asked.
Ty let out a shaky breath and tried a smile, "Better. Thanks. And I'm really sorry for snapping at you two over the weekend. I've just been really stressed out."
Carlos reached over the table to ruffle her hair and tap her cheek with two fingers, "It's alright, dolcezza, we understand. But you really should be more careful."
Luca nodded in agreement, "Yes, you have to have at least one of us with you at all times for at least until we get Bellini."
Ty sighed but nodded, "I know, I know. I'm sorry."
Luca squeezed her shoulder, "Good. We want you safe."
From that point on, the three delved into lighter conversation filled with teasing and laughter. By the time their food arrived, Ty was already in a much better mood.
They were in the middle of talking about a prank a freshman pulled on one of the French teachers when the doors to Sal's opened and a rather murderous looking Dante stepped through.
He caught sight of Ty mid-laugh with his brothers and stalked over to their table.
"What the fuck are you doing, stronza?" he demanded.
Ty opened her mouth to respond defensively but Dante cut her, snapping, "You stupid, stupid, imbecille. Cosa cazzo stavi pensando, tu idiota?"
Ty blinked at Dante, half a fry in her hand. "What?" she finally asked.
Dante ran a hand through his hair in frustration and glared at his brothers, "And what the hell are you two doing here?"
"We were keeping an eye on her," Carlos explained.
Luca munched on a fry, "She is safe, so you don't need to worry about il tuo piccolo amante."
Dante spluttered at Luca and scowled, "Lei non è la mia piccola amante!"
"Fine," Luca conceded before a full-grown smirk stretched across his lips. "Il tuo presto per essere piccolo amante.
Ty looked between the brothers with a puzzled frown on her lips, "What the hell is going on?"
Carlos only chuckled and Luca grinned knowingly while Dante scowled at them all and with a frustrated huff, stormed off, grumbling under his breath about how he would never, not in a million years, ever have Tyler Sierra Jackson as his little lover. He completely ignored the odd way his heart palpitated at the thought, writing it off as disgust or something like it at least.
George cursed when his phone began to ring. The number was blocked and he knew it was the mysterious man who he was temporarily working with.
"Hello?" George said into the receiver, faking casualness.
"Why haven't you caught her?" the man went straight to the point, his tone laden with anger.
George cleared the fear from his throat as he answered more meekly, "By the time we found out she left school, two of the brothers had already gone after her."
There was silence on the other side and George felt his anxiety rise by the second.
"You've let one golden opportunity slip past already but I'll forgive it this time since I've been informed that she was not alone when she ran out of school. You would have had a witness."
George felt his body deflate in relief but soon tensed when the man continued coldly, "Don't fuck up next time. I have a special method to deal with incompetence."
"Y-yes, sir," George stuttered and the line went dead. He had wanted to ask why the man didn't just have his men capture Ty since he was apparently watching her, but didn't dare for fear of his own life. It was clear that the mystery man with a vendetta against the Rizzos was not one to be questioned and George had enough sense to realize the fact.
Mija - Spanish slang for daughter when not biologically person's daughter
Principessa - princess
Sorellina - little sister
Dolcezza - sweetheart
Stronza - bitch
Imbecille - imbecile
Cosa cazzo stavi pensando, tu idiota? - what the fuck were you thinking, you idiot?
Il tuo piccolo amante - your little lover
Lei non è la mio piccolo amante! - she is not my little lover!
Il tuo presto per essere piccolo amante - your soon to be little lover