Michael was a nice guy. Really, he was. I sighed thinking about how student-teacher relationships never end well when I got knocked into a wall.
“Watch where you’re going ass-hat.” I spat at the guy standing in front of me.
“What did you just say slut?” uh oh… I recognised the voice immediately. Bryson, Melissa’s boyfriend.
“Nothing.” I mumbled trying to walk away, but his hand slammed against the wall blocking my way.
“Well, if it isn’t the little puppy trapped in a corner.” Melissa purred from Bryson’s side. “It wasn’t very nice of you to insult me like that in front of Michael. Now you’re going to pay.”
“Give it a rest Melissa! You have a boyfriend and he’s just as fake as you are. Fuck, you’re so fake, Barbie is jealous.” I spat at her.
“Shut up you whore!” she yelled.
“Funny how I’m a whore when I’m still a virgin, shit-for-brains.” I said rolling my eyes.
“Babe, do you want me to rough her up a little?” he asked her.
“Booboo, she called me bad names. Hurt her for me.” She pouted and I almost gagged.
A palm struck my already bruised cheek and I bit my lip from crying out. It didn’t end with just that. She said hurt, and that’s what he did. Bryson flung his fist into my side and something made a cracking noise. I yelped as the sharp pain took my breath away for a second. He seemed to freeze, but Melissa took over for him. She punched me in the stomach and I called out for help. No one seemed to notice that she was beating the crap out of me blow by blow. I tasted the faint traces of blood in my mouth and knew something wasn’t right. I slid down the wall like a sack of potatoes where she continued to kick at me. The bruises that were already there were getting banged up even worse. I kept crying out and hoping someone would help me, but I was beginning to lose hope.
Suddenly they were being pulled off of me. I faintly heard a bell ring signalling a new period was beginning and the halls were emptying which I was grateful for. I saw his blue hair before I really saw him. He was holding Melissa back and Mr Irwin, the English teacher, was holding onto Bryson. I didn’t care about what was being said, I was just glad the beating came to an end. I coughed, blood spilling from my mouth and mixing with the tears that were streaming down my face.
“Ash, take them to the principle. I’ll take care of her.” I heard Michael say in a panic.
“Call if you need help.” He said to Michael.
I was losing consciousness fast, but was still aware of the pair of strong arms that were wrapping gently around my waist and under my legs.
“Hold on Jessica… Everything’s going to be alright…” I heard him say soothingly before I blacked out.
My head was pounding when I finally came to. I curled into a ball clutching something fluffy and cuddling it. My body was sore and it wasn’t easy to move. My muscles had gone stiff in some areas. A muffled cry escaped from my lips as the pain in my side became evident again.
“Shh… you’re safe now.” I heard him say softly as he gently pulled my hair back.
“Mr Clifford…?” I asked too tired to open my eyes.
“Please, call me Michael, but yes, I’m here.”
“Wh-where am I?”
“At my place. You’ll be safe here.”
I’m at his place? Wow. I cringed when I opened my eyes. He quickly closed the curtains and looked at me apologetically.
“What happened to me?" I asked making a mental evaluation of my injuries.
“Your sister.” was all he said and sat down at the edge of the bed.
I sighed. Well great. Now he knew how weak I really was.
“We tried calling your foster-parents, but they didn’t answer. Seems that they’re out of the country. I didn’t want to let you go home, she might try something again; and you need someone to look after your injuries. A cracked rib, busted lip and some head trauma. They really did a lot of damage.” He said becoming sadder and sadder.
“You really don’t need to look after me, Michael. I can take care of myself; I have been for years now. Thank you for the offer though.” I said appreciatively trying to sit up without cringing.
“Jessica, are you sure? You can barely sit up.” He asked noticing the pain on my face.
“I don’t want to be a burden to you…” I mumbled.
“You won’t be a burden. We had a doctor check you out and you’ve been given a week off school to recover. I’ll have to go to school during the day, but one of my friends will be here to help you with anything you need. Daniela is really nice and she was abused when she was in school too. I think you’ll get along just fine.” He said glancing at my bear arms. I was wearing a black tank top underneath my hoodie, but there was a reason I chose to cover my arms. The scars on my wrists were hideous, not to mention the ones on my forearm.
I was fiddling with my fingers when he sat in front of me; he placed his hands over my arms and scars and looked me in the eye.
“I’m so sorry that you’ve been through so much and that you had to resort to this to take your pain away.” He said softly.
“D-don’t be…” I stuttered. It tingled where his hands touched my bear skin. I felt a blush starting to creep up to my cheeks.
“You’re cute when you blush.” He chuckled.
“Noooooooooo.” I said embarrassed as I covered my face with my hands.
“Yeeeeeeeeeeesss.” He said laughing, trying to take my hands off of my face.
“Nope. I’m not cute. I'm punk rock.” I shook my head when he removed my hands.
“Jess, you’re beautiful no matter what.” He laughed gazing into my eyes.
“T-thank you…” I stuttered. He gave me the weirdest feelings.
“Would you like something to eat?” he smiled.
“Oh no thanks. I’m not hungry yet.”
“It’s almost 7. You’ve been out since this morning. Are you sure you’re not hungry?” he frowned.
“I’m fine. Honest.” I said giving him a reassuring smile.
“Alright. Well, if you do get hungry there’s some pizza in the kitchen.” He said just as the doorbell rang. “That should be the guys.”
“The guys?” I asked.
“Yeah, Calum and Luke. Band practise and all.” He shrugged and stood. “You can join us if you feel up for it.”
I considered it for a second before I replied, “I’d love to join you, but I need to go home for a few minutes just to get some stuff.”
“You can’t walk home though. It’s too dangerous and neither of us has a car. Daniela can take you tomorrow if you can wait till then.”
“Oh yeah, sure.” I smiled. I kind of wanted to rip a Taylor Swift poster into tiny little pieces every time he spoke of her. “I’ll be out in a bit.”
“Yell if you need anything.” He said closing the door behind him.
I was glad that I didn’t need to go home, but I needed clothes if he wanted me to stay here. I needed things like a phone charger and a toothbrush. I guess I just had to wait for Daniela. I sighed tying my hair into a ponytail with the hair tie around my wrist. I couldn’t do much else. I found my hoodie on a chair next to the bed and pulled it on. I didn’t need other people seeing my scars. No one would love a girl with scars anyway. I ran my fingers through my fringe to tame it and walked down the hall. My tummy rumbled and I knew I was hungry, but I didn’t want to eat in front of a bunch of guys. I heard loud laughter coming from the end of the hall and smiled. I couldn’t remember the last time I heard a bunch of guys laughing. It was always just the girls and I.
“Guys what are we starting with?” I heard Michael ask.
“I kinda wanna try Teenage Dirtbag.” Someone’s voice I didn’t recognise.
“I should check on Jessica…” Michael again.
“Jesus, Mike. Chill. She said she’ll join us in a few, didn’t she?” Another voice I didn’t know.
“Yeah, but I’m worried. She could have broken something. Well, technically she did crack a rib...” He sounded very concerned.
I felt like a weirdo just standing around the corner eavesdropping, so I decided to join them. Michael lit up as soon as he saw me and patted the space next to him.
“Jess, this is Luke, Calum and Ashton. You might have seen them around school.” He said going around the circle.
“I don’t know, I don’t stick around much, remember?” I said playing with my fingers.
“I teach English.” Ashton said from the top of his box drum.
“P.E.” Luke said pulling a cringe worthy face.
“Math for me.” Calum said.
“And you know what I teach.” He said smiling at me from behind the acoustic guitar.
“I do know all of you. My friends won’t shut up about you when we’re together.” I said.
They looked at each other for a few seconds before Michael cleared his throat, “How about we get started then?”
They nodded and Ashton started the beat. Michael started strumming his guitar and Calum started singing. They weren’t bad. Not at all. When they got to the chorus, Calum kept quiet and Luke and Michael took over. His voice was heavenly and because I was seated right next to him I could hear more of it than Luke’s. Michael’s gaze caught mine causing a blush to creep onto my cheeks. I smiled shyly and Luke continued with the song. Michael kept smiling at me throughout the rest of the song, I thought it was really cute, but he was my teacher. Weren’t student/teacher relationships against the rules? Did it really matter anyway? I was in my final year and not at school much, so the chances of getting caught would be minimal, right? It didn’t matter anyway; he might not even like me.
My tummy decided to rumble again and I immediately got pulled from my thoughts. I waited until they finished the song before I poked Michael in the side.
“Heyyy!” he jumped and clutched his heart. “I’m ticklish…”
“Good to know.” I laughed at his reaction. “Is there still some of that pizza you mentioned earlier?”
“Oh, yeah, of course. It’s in the fridge.” He smiled.
I got off the couch and went to rummage through their fridge.
I watched her walk into the kitchen smiling like an idiot.
“Mike and Jessica, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g. First comes love, then comes marriage.” Ashton whispered.
“Shut. Up.” I said my eyes wide with horror. They just laughed at me. Bastards.
“You like her Mike, it’s kinda obvious.” Luke said chewing at his bottom lip.
“Well duh, but can we have this convo later? Like when she’s asleep or something?” I asked looking at the kitchen doorway every few seconds.
“Sure.” He shrugged just as she came back with a plate piled high with pizza.
“What are we talking about?” she asked taking a bite from one of the slices.
“Uhm, how are you going to eat all that?” Ashton asked looking at her plate.
“What? I’m hungry and it’s not that much. Just five or six slices.” She shrugged blushing slightly. She was so cute.
“Which is, like, half a pizza.” Luke laughed.
“Aren’t girls supposed to eat less? Being worried about their figures and all?” Calum asked and I really wanted to bitchslap him. I kept a close watch as her facial expressions changed from confused to slightly pissed off.
“If I wasn’t black and blue right now, I’d show you why I don’t need to worry about that. No, wait. Fuck my bruises.” She said placing her plate on the coffee table in front of her. She stood yanking her hoodie off. I watched their faces, their reactions when they saw her scars. She lifted her top over her head and stood holding it in her hand motioning to her stomach. I bit my lip so hard I think I drew blood. She definitely wasn’t like all the other girls I knew. Not even Daniela had the body Jessica did. She stood with only her bra and sweatpants. They clung to her hips in that perfect way where it seems as if they’d fall, but they won’t , exposing just enough of her stomach and she had abs for Christ’s sake. She wasn’t thin, but she wasn’t what guys would call fat either. She was perfect. I couldn’t help stealing a glance at her breasts. They were big, and I mean DD big. They completed her perfectness. She scoffed and returned to the room when we were left speechless.
“And guys wonder why we don’t want to eat in front of them!” she yelled at us before I heard the door close. She didn’t slam it, but it wasn’t closed softly either.
“Well done.” I sighed shaking my head.
“Sorry…” they mumbled.
We didn’t see her for the rest of the night. We played a couple more songs, but that was about it. They knew I wasn’t happy with what they did to her. I took a break an hour later. Picking the plate up from the table, I stood and went to her. I knocked softly, but no answer.
“Jessica?” I asked softly. Still no answer. The door clicked open when I tried to knock again. The lights were off making the room pitch black. I walked to the bed and placed the plate on the side table. I could make out a shape under the covers, but it wasn’t moving at all. Not even the tiniest bit.
“Jess?” I asked shaking what I thought was her. I flicked the light on. The old pillow trick. “GUYS!”
There was a ruckus as I heard someone fall in the hallway and they piled into the room.
“MEGAN FOX?!” Everyone stared at Ashton.
“Dude… what the fuck?” Luke asked. He just shrugged.
“Anywayyyy… Jessica’s gone.” I said.
“Gone where?” Calum asked looking around like an idiot.
“How should I know? She probably went home.”
“I didn’t see her leave.” Ashton spoke up.
“Window. Someone check the window.” Calum said in a panic.
“It’s open.” Luke said.
“I told you we should’ve gotten the third floor apartment. Then this wouldn’t have been a problem.” Ashton shrugged.
“Now is not the time, man. She’s out there alone. Not to mention the fact that her sister is practically plotting her murder. Who knows what’s going to happen when she gets home?” I said frantically grabbing my jacket from the closet and heading for the door.
“Are you going to walk after her? You don’t have a car remember.” Luke said as they followed behind me.
“I was gonna ask Daniela if I could borrow her car. I’ll call when I find her.” I said disappearing around the corner and headed towards Daniela’s apartment. I knocked on her door and waited… and waited… and waited.
“Dani!” I yelled knocking again.
“Jesus… I’m coming!” her annoyed voice made me chuckle. “What is it Mikey?”
“Woah…” when she opened the door she barely had anything on. “You have company?”
“No, I was having me time. Of course I have company! Now, what do you want?” she asked trying to tame her hair.
“Can I borrow your car? Jessica’s gone.”
“Fine. Here.” She through me the keys and slammed the door. I walked over to her Audi and made my way through the late night traffic. She had to be here somewhere.