Milton 'n' McGold


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1. Chapter One

A black eye. Great.
Abbi Milton studied it in the mirror, lightly probing the developing bruise. Ouch. The strip of light flickered over the wash basin, making her reflection blink like the end of an old newsreel. The tap squeaked a protest as she dampened a cold compress.
"You look about seven years old," she told her mirror-double. Ten years on from the school yard of scared knees and minor bumps, Abbi considered the injury more a humiliation than a pain. She tugged a curl of her spiralling black hair over her face but it sprang back, refusing to hide the cloud gathering around her left eye. She wondered whether she could hide out in her room until it faded...?
Not possible. All the students were expected to attend the welcome back supper and her absence would be noticed. Anyway, she threw her compress back into the sink, why give her enemies the satisfaction of knowing they had driven her out so easily? Cowardice was not part of her character resume. She had far too much pride to allow it.
Abbi stripped off her tennis kit and pulled on a towel robe. She tossed her dirty clothes in the laundry basket with a snap of the lid as it fell close. It was tough keeping her promise to her self: to be strong; it would be easier once she had someone at her back. But the second bed in the room was empty; no heap of untidy belongings or suitcase at the end of the bed as she had expected. What was keeping Jenna? She was the only one Abbi wanted to see, to talk about what just happened. Abbi gave up and flopped on her bed. How had it come to this in a few hours? Until the black eye, life had been going smoothly, well as smooth as school could go, after years of rough times. Parton, as run by head teacher, Miss Harper, had been weird sometimes, putting emphasis on wealth and parents, celebrity pupils and privacy, but teaming up with Jenna, Abbi had been able to laugh most of the absurdities off. She would have said no one in the school wished her ill, in spite of her grandfather's presence on the staff, the other students had not appeared to mind her numbering among their privileged ranks. Now she knew much better.
The realization had come out of no where, like the tornado spiralling off the Dorothy's house off to Oz. When Abbi opened the door to the changing rooms, everything went skipping down the yellow brick road to Crazy Town.
Tori's question sounded totally, well, normal. "Hey, where's my Chloe tote?" She looked around the locker room. The other girls getting ready for the tennis competition had made a brief search among their belongings. Abbi had not even bothered that; her tiny sports bag, a mocked airline freebie, was much too small to hide a bulky leather shoulder bag. Tori had been showing it off all morning like a fisherman displaying his prize catch. Tori had got it in the sale but that was still more than Abbi's grandfather made in a month as the school's caretaker. Something so pointless and so expensive had to been a rip-off
"Hey. Milton, I'm talking to you." Abbi felt a sharp tug on her elbow. Standing on one foot to tie her tennis shoe laces, she toppled to one side. Why had Tori suddenly taken to using her surname?
"Whoa, Tori, careful!" Abbi balanced herself against the wire mesh dividing the changing areas and tied off the bow. "You almost knocked me over."
Stick thin and a flow of golden locks all the way down to her annoyingly tiny waist, Tori reminded Abbi of a police dog but for shopping. Sharp nose pointing to the next bargain, a determined little notch in her chin. Tori placed her hands on her hips. "Where have you hidden it?"
"What?" Abbi was too surprised to realise what it was that Tori was accusing her of. "Me?"
"Yes, you. I'm not stupid. I saw you looking at it. It had my phone, my make up, my money, my everything is in that bag."
Abbi tried to keep a lid on her anger and ignore the hurt she felt in her gut of being accused with no evidence. She had enough of that in her last school she had attended in England before coming here. She tried being reasonable. "I haven't done anything with your bag. Where did you last see it?" She tried to keep a contempt smile off her face.
"At the lunch table. Don't pretend you don't know." She sighed out of impatience.
The changing room fell silent as the other girls listened to the heated conversation. A flush of shame crept over Abbi's cheeks even though she knew she was innocent, memories of standing before the principal in her old school rushed back. She felt dizzy and sick at the thought of deja vu.
"I'm sorry. Are you saying I stole it?"
Tori lifted her head back so she could look at Abbi down her long nose. "I'm not saying, I know you took it!"
Abbi dragged her thoughts away from the past to her accuser. What on earth happened to Tori? She had missed most of last term and had come back with, what seemed like, a personality transplant from clingy, irritating whining minor to slutty major league bitch. Abbi told herself not to back down; she'd been falsely accused before and come through, now she was not a scared little girl. What could Tori do to her? Wave her mascara wand at her?
"So you think I took it? Based on what? On the fact that I looked at it? Looking doesn't mean stealing! And I think you'll find if you go on the assumption." Abbi looked around the locker room to appeal for sympathy and for other to find this accusation absurd. She looked around to find watchful and carefully selected neutral expressions. Well thanks a lot.
Then Tori's friends began to join in the fun. First Beth.. "There's no point in saying you're innocent. We know you did it. Things started to go missing last all term." Slightly shaking her head as if she didn't agree with what she was saying; she took some human behaviour courses during the summer. She seems to be pretty good at it.
"I had nothing to do with that! Remember, some of my stuff went missing too."
Then Summer, "We all noticed small things going missing last term but we didn't like to...I mean we guessed it was you but...we kinda felt sorry for you, so..." She waved her hand as if to say, that was then this is now and we're gonna get you.
"Sorry for me?" Abbi's usually happy face turned into one of hatred and anger. One thing she never wanted but always got was pitty. Even at her lowest moments, after her parents died, she never asked for that.
Tori got right up in her face, "But taking my brand new Chloe Tote? That's taking things way to far. Now give it back Milton."
Abbi turned around so she didn't have to look Tori in the face. "And what am I supposed to be doing with the things I am stealing?"
"Your grandfather had a new car."
"If you can call a Prius a new car." Another snide comment from Beth. She's so gonna get it. Abbi took several deep breaths, this is what her grandfather told he to do when she was angry or upset. It was hard to remember that when all she wanted to down as ouch the person square in the face. Tori could say all she liked about Abbi but bringing her grandfather into it. That was taking it to a whole new level.
"So I...what? Steal from the rich and give to the poor? Now why didn't I think of that? Such a clever idea Tori. Don't get many of them do you?" Abbi couldn't help but smile to her self.
Tori was seriously angry now, you could see her face turning a shade of red. "Stop denying it. I want my bag and I want it now."
Abbi turned around to fiddle with her bag, hoping that if she didn't engage ion conversation with Tori she would get bored and leave her alone.
Tori grabbed her shoulder to turn her round to face her once again. Well that idea hadn't worked. "Don't ignore me!" With a grunt of fury Tori shoved Abbi hard into the mesh and a peg caught the corner of her eye. Even though the blow was blunted with coats on the peg Abbi still saw stars. Clapping an hand to her face Abbi swung round, temper reaching the limit and spilling over board.
"Listen Tori and listen carefully 'cause I'm only gonna say this once," She'd heard it in a film and it sounded threatening so she thought she'd try it out. "I don't have your stupid tote bag. So leave me alone." She stood in a defensive stance. One her father had taught her before he.... Abbi had to be careful about what she did next, knowing she could do a lot of harm. It had been a lot of help fending off bullies in her American public school, but she guessed if she used it her at Parton it would be frowned upon and earn her a...reputation.
"Yes. You. Do." Tori shoved Abbi in the chest with each word, putting more emphasis  on each word as she carried. Some of the girls giggled nervously as two students ran out of the rooms, presumably to get the PE teacher.
That was enough, more than enough. It was time that Tori learnt there was one girls in the school she couldn't bully in submissiveness. "I've had just about enough of your idiotic-"  [push]  "-accusations!" Abbi thrust Tori back with the same amount of force she applied on her.
The Tori went for a handful of hair. Big mistake. Huge mistake. "Just leave me the hell alone!" Abbi grabbed Tori's wrist and executed a sharp defensive twist-and-bend move. This was no fair fight though. Summer grabbed a handful of Abbi's hair and yanked hard, while her nails raked the side of her neck. Abbi shoved Tori back and broke Summer's hold by chop to her elbow making her arm go dead. She grabbed a tennis racket from the pile and swept it in front of her, back and forth, like a samurai sword, fending off both attackers.
"Touch me again and you'll be sorry."

Summer and Beth both took one of Tori's arms to hold her back from attacking Abbi again, "Tori back off. She means business, just leave it alone." Tori struggled against her two friends, trying to break free of their grasp. After a minute she calmed down and was released by Summer and Beth. Tori desperately tried to keep her anger under control; you could see her taking deep breaths to try and stay calm.

But Tori had not given up on her search for her missing bag; Tori went for a direct attack for Abbi's belongings. "Think you can steal from me?" She tipped Abbi's bag upside down so the contents fell out. Abbi's phone slipped out and smashed as it collided with the floor. "There. Suck on that bitch!"
"What? No!" Abbi dived to the floor to pick up the remains of her phone, before someone trod on them; it had to be fixed, it just had to be. She couldn't afford a new phone.
Tori finished the rampage by throwing the bag at Abbi's face, whipping her across the cheek while it fell to the floor. "That will teach you to steal form me. I still want my tote back!"
The door slammed open. "What in gods name is going on in here?" Miss Perri, head of PE, had arrived and was standing, cross armed, by the entrance to the changing area.
The girls that were all huddling around the crime scene scattered and returned back to what they were doing before the fight started. Like a flash mob once the dance had finished.
"Miss Abbi dropped her phone." Beth said spitefully.
"That's not fair. You all saw Tori do it." Abbi looked around the room for someone to back her up, but no one spoke up. Another slap to the face she would have to deal with later, when no one was watching. "She tipped my bag out 'cause she thinks I stole her bag."
"I am so not interested in phones or bags. I was told there was a fight going on in here?" She raised her eye brows at Abbi and Tori.
Tori passed the racket Abbi had held to Summer. "No Miss. Just Abbi causing a fuss." Tori rolled her eyes; making it sound like a reoccurring offensive.
Miss Perri peeled her eyes away from Tori to look at Abbi as she cradled the remains of her phone to her chest. "I don't know how many times you girls have been told this. The school is not responsible for private property, be it bags," She gave Tori a stare. "or phones." She turned the stare from Toni to Abbi. "I swear this school would be so much better if those monstrosities were banned. We'd all be far better off. Now hurry up and get outside all of you."
The girls filed out quickly after Miss Perri, leaving Abbi shaking with fury.

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