A huge thank you to my rock star editor extraordinaire Flip McHooter. Thanks for the help and support in getting this story out and moving. It wouldn't be the same without you.

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Copyright 2013, 2014 Black Arrow

 

The life and times of a teenage Russian spy stationed in the US of A.

 

Chapter 9

RED

 

It was hardly a figurative expression. Not an exaggeration of any kind. Seeing Mason's head snap to the side as his body fell and collided with the ground had unspeakable consequences on me. The scene as it seems to be the case whenever I had a rush of adrenalin appeared to have happened in slow motion. I felt as though, had I just moved fast enough, I could have caught that punch before it met with Mason's jaw.

My Mason.

My hawk-like senses honed and located my newest target.

Code red.

Action: Annihilate.

The roar of the students present faded to obscurity until it became a faint white noise. Negligible static. I was transported out of my surroundings, no longer conscious of my limits. My self -imposed restrictions. No longer shackled. I was uninhibited by a singular motive. Hot. Seething. Burning.

Rage.

By the time ape man himself acknowledged my presence, I had completed the motion of crashing my elbow against his nose. I dimly recall hearing an almost inaudible crack emit from moment of collision. He stumbled back and grabbed his nose, howling in pain. I watched as he looked up at me with a fierce anger of his own. He took a step back to build up momentum and threw a left hook with sloppy form my way. I side stepped to his inside and used his forward motion to fling him over my shoulder and onto the nearest lunch table which buckled almost completely in half under his muscular weight.

I could hear the gasps and shouts of shock from the surrounding students but I couldn't be deterred from my new mission. It wasn't enough. He needed to get his turn too. He had to learn.

I stalked on over to him. He recognized now that I wasn't some mediocre lunchroom fighter he was used to. I was here, to kick his ass. His eyes bulged at my sudden approach. The lower half of his face was covered in a runny red substance. That must have been the noise I heard earlier. I broke his nose. I tilted my head to the side hardly satisfied by that minute revelation.

He looked up at me with a defeated expression. He wasn't going to put up a fight any longer. Tough. He must have mistaken me with someone who gave a damn. I wasn't nearly done with him yet. I grabbed him by his collar and in an act that still astounds me today- threw him across the floor to the opposite side of the circle of students. He skidded on the linoleum floor of the cafeteria until he came to a halt at the fringe of the circle. Students rushed to get out of the way of the hurling jock missile that raced across the floor.

As the apex predator I am, him lying exposed on his back, is the prime position to finish of a kill. Vital organs, soft tissue all in a single localised area. He was so dead.

"What's going on here!" a deep male voice boomed instantly quieting the whistles and chirps of the massed congregation.

I shrugged him off; he had little to do with my cause. I started walking towards the splayed jock to finish of what I had started when a hand suddenly caught my bicep from behind. Bad move.

Never. I mean never. Grab an assassin from behind.

I circled my hand, like a claw on that wrist and spun round to come face to face with large brown eyes. Those eyes warm like the sun but possessed the powerful pull of the moon. I was the ocean that danced to its chords.

"Hunter it's okay. I'm okay, let it go."

My anger fizzled as soon as I locked eyes with him. My heart beat began to steady. My breathing declined in pace. He was okay. He was okay... I repeated to myself.

Then the weight of the situation began to sink in. Mother fucker. What was I about to do in front of virtually the entire student body?

"Someone tell me what the heck is happening here?!" I heard Mr. McMullen, the principal call out in the background. I wasn't completely present yet because Mason was yet to break contact with my arm and I was still hypnotized by his eyes.

"You alright?" he asked caringly, dipping his head down a bit to give me a better look.

Having to locate the linguistics archive in the back of my head and speak broke the veil that had sheltered us both from the chaos unfolding all around us.

"Uh, yeah. You?" that was the question I really wanted answers to. As illogical and grossly overstated as my reasoning was- I was truly concerned for him. I had gone into an all-out panic and that any kind of grievous injury, which could lead to paralysis or death, could have been a very real possibility.

He smiled a relieved smile that reassured me that the self -perpetuated tailspin I was victim to was totally unjust in this case.

"Guys, we have to go to McMullen's office," I looked up to see Justin standing right next to us. A quick once over showed he had no signs of being caught in a brawl, except for his torn t-shirt. Lucky bustard. I hadn't even seem him approach us. He placed a protective hand over my shoulder as if I was the one who got socked in the jaw.

"You good?" he asked with an apologetic look on his face. One thing about my older brother, he may have been the most immature, chest beating, show off know to modern civilisation but he was fiercely protective of me and Tori and that appeared to be the frontal instinct on his mind as he looked at me.

I nodded in response which seemed to release some of the tension he seemed to be carrying.

 

 

I never imagined that I would ever be in the principal's office under these circumstances. And these circumstances were awfully strange for a number of reasons. Foremost was that now occupying four seats in from of Mr. McMullen were Justin, Mason, myself and...Tori. Yeah, my straight A, future valedictorian, squeaky clean sister Tori. How was she involved?

Well story turns out Marcus Keslin was being a dick to her. She put him off the clean-up crew for one of the many events she spear-headed because he wasn't pulling his weight. He needed the extra credits it brought and thought he could just slide by. Well not under Tori's watch. He got upset and called her a volley of simple minded profanities in the cafeteria when she refused to put him back.

Not that I doubt Justin's motives. I'm sure defending his twin's honor was part of it but it was no secret among the students that he and Keslin, the two big shots on campus hated each other. He just needed a valid excuse to go at him. With that said, I'm getting off my high horse now because I believe if roles were switched, I would have done the same. I sort of did in a way.

So yes, now Mason along with both of my siblings and I were in the principal's office for starting a riot.

"I must say I never thought I'd see the day where I'd have the entire family in my office. I was accustomed to only one bad seed," he said passing Justin a stern look. The situation had been explained by Tori in her most dignified, articulate manner, squeezing every drop of her influence and good favor amongst Collonade high staffers.

She really was a well-poised, level headed young woman. Even I had a hard time finding fault in what she was saying. She took control of the situation immediately to the point that all the rest of us had to do was sit still and nod when cued.

"Yes, but be that as it may, Ms. Haynes. We do not condone violence and especially of this scale from any of our students, particularly from the senior class. It's a terrible example for young, impressionable minds and I'd hate for great potential to go to waste," he said as his eyes lingered on me. Was he calling me impressionable?

"Yes, of course, sir. My brother is keenly aware of that and will take whatever punishment you give with no complaint," Tori answered sincerely. I was impressed. She was playing this to the t. I have no doubt in my mind she didn't believe half the junk she was spewing but she sold it none the less

Mr. McMullen eyed her for a while over his owl -rimmed glasses, seeming to put into consideration what she had just said.

"And what about these two? Their involvement?" he asked.

"Excuse me if I speak out of turn, sir, but my kid brother and his friend here just came in to break up the fight," interjected Justin with a dignity I wasn't aware he possessed.

And secondly my shock? Say what? Yes Mason was there to break up the fight. That bit was true. I on the other hand was the sledgehammer.

I looked at him and shook my head trying to dissuade him with my eyes. If he was found out to be lying he'd be in twice as much trouble as he was now.

"Alright, I'll take your word for it. I'll have a word with Mr. Keslin in a day or two after he's seen the nurse. A week's detention for you Justin. I won't have to remind you that a couple more transgressions and you will have a hard time playing this coming season. Key player or not. This school has rules and I expect all students to abide by them."

"Yes sir," he responded. I was under no illusion; we had all gotten off lightly thanks to Tori and the aided benefit of having parents who were generous donors to the school.

Mason's mom was listed as all of our emergency contact. Well, my third if mom and dad were unavailable at the time. She arrived at school and fixed us all with a look before going straight into the office while we waited outside. She certainly didn't look very happy.

Now being raised the way we were-Mason's parents were like a second set of parents for us, so I had the good sense to look ashamed when she eyed us before entering the principal's office.

I looked at Mason nervously tapping his left heel against the wood floor.

"Quit doing that," I whispered.

He looked at me, "You know she's gonna think that this was my fault."

I understood his concern. Mason was an all-round friendly guy. Got along with almost everyone and had a large circle of admirers. But underneath that cheery exterior, he had a bit of a temper. He was a hot head and easily set off. That was a problem for a while when we were younger and he'd get into fights on playgrounds all the time. Often foolishly thinking he was defending me but school yard brawls were his thing. It lasted until middle school, when I finally figured out that I was the only one who could calm him down once he had reached the incredible Hulk zone.

Much like he did for me in the cafeteria.

That was a role reversal I had never seen coming.

"Nah bro, it's all on me. I needed an excuse to deck that asshole. I didn't figure you guys would get pulled in. I'll take the blame," answered Justin once again acting like the eldest in our family for a change. This was scary. Where did this selflessness and maturity sprout from. He's always been protective yes, but this martyr personification was unnerving to me. More than enough weirdness had gone down today.

"Thanks for covering for me Tor," he spouted out next. So the Keslin story was exaggerated for McMullen's benefit after all. There were a lot of cover-ups going on in this band of four. If I hadn't known any better, I would have called them the FBI.

Tori had been quiet this entire time as we sat outside the office. She seemed deep in thought. I guess abusing trust didn't rank high in her agenda so now the guilt and ramifications were setting in. But fact of the matter was she did it. For her jug head twin brother and even if the story had been tipped a bit to our favor, I believed he still had solid ground to stand up for his twin.

She lifted her eyes of the ground. Her blue orbs matching his identically- carbon copies. A slow grin crossed her face.

"He really is a jack ass though," she said and the tension in the space dissipated instantly. After all, we were all in this together.

Anne Crawford stepped out of the office in her crisp white blouse and high-waist black pencil skirt and sleek black heels. Her brown hair in a bun and looking all the part of a high ranking advertising exec that she was. Luckily for us, she looked considerably a lot less peeved than before.

"You're all going to give me grey hairs way before my time. Listen, I need to get back to the office. Go home, Mason go with them. I'll talk to Katharine when I get an opening," there we go getting the drill orders. She tended to be like a drill sergeant at times. You get used to it. She isn't always so serious, but together with my mom, their complete goofs. They'd been best friends since their sorority days.

"And Tori dear, could you do something about that nasty bruise on Mason's brow?" she asked as she cupped Mason's cheek and inspected his face.

"Of course Aunt Anne," Tori replied but was interrupted by the phone that began ringing signaling her time away from the office had expired.

"Okay, I really have to go," she said before kissing us all on the cheek, much to everyone's dismay except Tori who even hugged her back.

"We'll talk tonight, okay?" she said addressing her son but gave a reassuring smile that he had nothing to be worried about. His life sentence wasn't getting delivered. Just yet.

 

As soon as we got home everyone dispersed to their respective corners of the house, I assume to decompress. I led Mason to the kitchen to take care of the cut he had above his eyebrow. He went and leaned against the kitchen counter while I fixed everything I needed to aid that gash that was beginning the transition to an ugly shade of purple now.

"Let's see your eye," I said facing him. I turned around to see the dreaded return of angry Mason. The one I'd had to deal with the whole of today. Not the guy with the affectionate eyes who stopped me from committing murder in front of the entire school.

"I'm fine," he answered before grabbing the ice pack out of my hand and thrusting it with a bit too much force against his face.

"Mother fucker!" he hissed.

Yeah he was totally fine. There was a marked different between then and now. I think the fight unleashed the bottled up of hostility he was suppressing before. He repeatedly kept denying his clear dissatisfaction towards me. Why wouldn't he just admit it when we could all see it?

"Give me that," I said as I reclaimed the ice pack. I held it against his face with a kinder hand than he showed himself but my actions seemed to piss him off more. I could literally see his face ascend the color wheel into varying shades of red. I did mention he had a loose lid before, right? But I'd never been on the receiving end of it until now.

"I just don't get it," he said through clenched teeth and staring daggers into me. I actually drew back a bit because this was a side of him I wasn't used to. Good news? At least we were done hiding.

"Help me understand," the tone may have suggested that it was a question-implying the response was open ended, but I had a feeling that nothing I said would suffice.

"You're mad," I deadpanned. Not one of my finer moments but I needed a second to think and collect myself.

"No."

I sighed, he was being so stubborn. This pointless back and forth where he'd act out in clear signs of anger but then deny it when you call it, "Mason, just admit you're mad."

"I'm not mad! Damn it, why does everyone keep telling me that?!" he had raised his voice considerably at this point.

I stood a foot away from him and quite frankly didn't know how to handle this. I don't remember him ever raising his voice at me before so I was lost as to how to get my old Mason back. I numbly fingered the ice-pack in my hand for something to do.

He took a deep breath and looked to simmer down some but I could still see the shadow of contempt on his face.

"This guy hasn't been around for two weeks and already you're dumping your friends to be with him. I just don't get it," he said in an exasperated voice. He looked exhausted as he unloaded this like he had been wracking his brain trying figure that out.

Wow. So this is what it was all about. I felt pang in my chest which was growing increasingly familiar now though it didn't soften the blow any. I felt it twice over in regards to the unresolved matter of Ryan and whatever we may or may not have. And then Mason. He sounded cut up about this. I finally understood, from his perspective he believed that I had stood him up twice for the same guy- one I hardly knew. Like years of friendship was rendered obsolete.

I didn't know how to fix one without treading the dreaded waters of the other. I had spent the better part of today avoiding Ryan because I hadn't a clue how to deal with him and all that he came with.

"Sit," I said gesturing to a bar stool and back to analysing how bad his cut was. It was a clean cut and wouldn't need any stitching. I touched the surrounding area gingerly and traced the delicate flesh only guided by his breathing. We did this with a none to peaceful silence. It was pregnant and screaming with all the words unsaid between us.

"I'm your best friend and you don't tell me anything."

"I tell you plenty," I replied coolly as I applied anti-bacterial salve around the affected area.

"You can't even tell me where you were last Friday."

I got irrationally angry at this point. He was poking and prodding around a tender topic right now and wouldn't drop it.

"Honestly Mason, I don't know what you want from me."

"I'm starting to wonder that myself..." He trailed off.

Okay I snapped. That wasn't fair. This wasn't how you mend fences. Damn it. After cleaning out the area I began to apply anti-inflammatory cream.

"I'm sorry, okay? About everything, "I hoped he understood what I meant. I couldn't do anything right today. Not even give a due apology to my best friend. As if I needed any further reminder of what a lousy person I was. I was no good. I'd always end up hurting someone, case in point Mason. The last person I'd ever want to hurt yet here we were.

"This might sting," I warned as I carried on working aiding his wound.

He was intent not to let his discomfort show. He held his face in a tight, stoic pose. This topic already stung me in more ways than I could count. To help Mason I'd have to suffer.

"Where you with him during the weekend?" he asked in a much calmer tone. But it just indicated his insistence on getting an answer. He refused to let this go. His eyes were intense and seeking my own further backing up my thoughts.

Working so close to him I couldn't help but get a full dose of his heady smell. The aromatic high he possessed and induced without knowing his innate toxicity to my system was as potent as ever. Did I find angry Mason attractive? Like more so than usual? That was an interesting if not somewhat disturbing find. I absentmindedly pushed back his hair hanging loosely on his forehead.

"No," I answered meeting his eyes. I answered gently, "Only Friday."

"Why didn't you tell me?" he asked looking genuinely interested. The answer mattered. What I said next would weigh heavily with him. I had to pick my words carefully.

"Because then you'd ask me questions I don't have answers to," I looked away from him as I finished my job on his brow.

"Like what?"

So we were actually doing this? I let out a heavy breath of air as I stole my nerves, "Questions like- do I like him? Would I see him again? I can't answer any of that."

"Why?"

"Because...because I don't know. I'm not normal Mason-I'm mystified by my own feelings, let alone how anyone else could be stupid enough to like me. I'm moody, I'm withdrawn...emotionally unavailable on so many levels. Because I'm broken."

I let out in an earnest confession that surprised even me. I had no idea that was what was swirling around in my head. Not the fact that I had a cover to maintain or that my agency wouldn't approve of me getting attached. It's the scarier eventuality that- that concern would be in vain because I believed it improbable for anyone to like me. Only me and all of me. It was too much baggage for any one person to handle. It was selfish of me just thinking anyone could be that generous of themselves.

I went still as a rock soon after large hands wrapped around my own stopping my movements. His grip firm and unyielding. His familiar touch calmed me and helped me steady my breathing which had become ragged.

We eased into another silence but this one contained a considerably weakened amount of bite but the intensity that Mason looked at me with threatened to make me lose my breath again. I could tell from his body language that he had acquiesced a lot of his anger.

"I don't think you're broken," he rasped with resolute determination in his deep voice. He said this as his right hand let go of mine and rested firmly on the small of my back. The touch was supernaturally powerful like electric currents igniting my flesh.

I took a sharp breath in as I felt his nose run ever so slightly against my neck. He was still seated on the bar stool so from this angle I was a little less than half a head taller than him for a change. His hot breath etched its own path in a swirling blaze across my collar bone and the sensitive skin that lay there. I wasn't aware of how close we were while I was cleaning out his cut. The barely there-whisper of a touch was doing so much more to my body then any tryst I had ever experienced.

I dared enough to look down and meet his eyes which were long ready and seeking mine. There I recognized that intense stare I couldn't explain earlier. The pull of his eyes was so powerful I don't believe I was breathing at all during that moment. My hand subconsciously dropped from his forehead and cupped his stubble filled jaw, every inch of bodily contact we made possessed a unique charge of its own.

I saw his steady but determined approach, as his face closed the distance. There was no amount of universal energy ever existent-dead or alive that could have given me the strength to resist. The pull, his lunar attraction to my raging ocean was at its pinnacle.

"So what Pizza topping do you guys want?" Justin asked entering the room.

I pulled away as quick as I could and straightened myself while Mason gave an awkward cough. We continued to stare at each other both with regret of what could have happened but also surprise. Did I almost kiss my best friend?

"Hey an answer would be great," demanded Justin impatiently.

"Anything, Mason's easy. I'll find something else to eat," I responded still not moving my eyes of his.

"Hey Tori, make it peperoni!" Justin shouted before making his way to the overly stressed atmosphere of planet sexual tension.

Inhabitants: two.

Success: null.

I let out a nervous laugh but Mason was still looking at me with those passionate eyes. He was studying me like he had discovered something new that hadn't been there before. His gaze was penetrating and if I didn't break the tension Justin was soon going to pick up on it.

"We seriously need to work on your reflexes," I said finishing up my job and placing the band aid over his brow before smoothing it out with my thumb.

"My reflexes are just fine," he mumbled petulantly. A sure fire way to get a reaction out of him. Mason didn't like getting teased by me, particularly about his athletic prowess.

"He sucker punched me, had I seen it I would have pummelled him."

I smiled at his bravado. It was all very juvenile. The need to reaffirm one's masculinity by dominating another male publicly. But it was a fad Mason fell victim to and I knew it better than to question it. Whether I believed or not that he could have beaten Keslin in a fair fight was beside the point. He needed reassurance.

"I believe you," I said not trying antagonise him too soon since I was still technically in the doghouse. In all honesty, I knew he could be right. They seemed equally matched but I just didn't share the same importance in it. I guess it all should seem trivial from my indecently qualified perspective. I was a killer-they were high school boys- we were leagues apart. And for the first time today I got a full megawatt smile from Mason, dimples and all.

"Man, when I see that idiot Keslin I'm gonna break his neck," Justin said as he re-entered the room and looked at Masons new bruised eye. The swelling had gone down some but it was still pretty visible.

"You already have detention for two weeks," I said matter of factly. Was he campaigning for suspension?

"Nah bro, I'm good," Mason said in an attempt to placate my brother.

"He wasn't even supposed to get involved," Justin gestured to Mason looking at me.

"Let it go Justin," I responded in a sing-song voice because the whole day had been exhausting, and we didn't really need to hash out the merits of retribution on this stupid feud.

He fixed his bright blue eyes on me for a while in an almost interrogative stare before he broke out into a huge grin.

"Yeah, let's talk about the mad ninja skills you showed off, Bruce Lee."

I internally cringed; I lost control in a public place. Of course that wouldn't be easily forgotten. What frustrated me even more was that I couldn't say with all certainty that I would have pulled off sans Mason's involvement. He anchored me in a way I couldn't begin to describe in words.

"What happened? I missed everything because of..." Mason trailed off as he motioned to his face.

"Get off it. I took taekwondo when I was a kid, you know that." which I truly did. I needed an outlet but grew increasingly frustrated with the dojo because it was unreasonably tame, so I quit.

"Dude that was years ago!" Justin said sounding unconvinced.

"Ever heard of muscle memory, dipshit?" I retorted.

"Hey, that sounds familiar..." said a pensive looking Justin.

Mason rejoined the conversation at this point, "What? Muscle memory?" he asked to no one in particular.

"No dipshit. He gets called that a lot," answered Tori right on cue as if this was staged. She walked into the kitchen at that point because it was a universal law, that when Justin had to be insulted-the punch line would come by way of his twin.

"By the way the pizza should be here any second," she finished.

After that the question of my advance fighting skills got no further attention. I had successfully deflected. The kitchen broke out into menial chit-chat with Tori fussing over Mason and him getting agitated by the attention because she was messing up his macho appearance.

After the pizza was consumed and a brief burping contest between Mason and Justin-neither of which became the ultimate victor though. That title belonged to the only lady present. As poised and graceful as Tori may appear to everyone outside of this home, she did grow up with a bunch of boys and it showed at times like these. She knew how to kick back and be one of the guys. I stared in awe at the sheer rumble that belch possessed. I knew she could out do pretty much anyone but that one froze my appetite in place.

 

Dinner that night was an awkward affair. The `rents were upset that Justin got two weeks detention. Cherry on top, Tori and I were also involved but it was more from mom than dad. He actually took some pride in the fact that his son stood up for his twin sister. Almost in a chivalrous way. I don't think it's in accordance with any law of physics or ethics to use chivalrous while referring to Justin but that's where we were.

The only sound that could be heard was that of the silverware scraping plates. I was particularly wary of my parents finding out how deep my involvement was. I did after all break a kid's nose. For a while afterwards, just hanging out with Mason, I'd almost forgotten how I'd ebbed so close to reeking serious damage to my cover. Cold blooded murder in broad daylight, with an audience of high school students to boot.

My dad had the hardest role to play this evening. He didn't want to seem encouraging of violent behaviour as he and mom had to present a united front on this. That had always been ground one of their parenting techniques. They seldomly contradicted each other. He seemed more amused by this situation than anything else.

The only person unaware of the tension at the table was the youngest of the family, Mathew. He kept asking if we're eating magic beans. He didn't want a stalk growing out of his belly.

"Now I want you all to know that your father and I do not approve of violence. It isn't the way to resolve a matter. That is not how you were raised."

There was a chorus of yes ma'ams around the table.

"With that said, you stuck up for each other. That's not something we can fault you for. So you're all expected to pull your weight more around the house as your punishment. No one's getting grounded, especially with me and your father away next weekend. That wouldn't be practical."

"Kids, you know the importance of family in this household. Although there are better ways of handling situations, it's reassuring to know that you have each other if gods forbid something happens to us." Dad finished sharing his wife's sentiments.

"Aw dad stop, nothing is going to happen to you two. Who else is going to take Justin in? I'm not!" Tori gushed lightening the mood.

That got a laugh from everyone except Justin who scowled at her.

The tension in the room began to oust and so the regular, incorrigible Katherine Haynes showed herself when she wanted to know how it all went down. My parents ditched their disciplinarian hats rather quickly since they don't often have to play that role for their kids, except Justin. The rest of dinner went on without any further incidence.

"Wait? Where are you guys going next weekend?" I asked having a delayed reaction to this news. It mattered to me for one reason in particular. The team party I was hosting.

"To your great aunt Caroline's, we spoke about this weeks ago. She's having her seventieth. You three moaned and groaned when I suggested we go as a family. So I'm taking your dad and my baby," mom answered while ruffling Mathew's hair to his chagrin.

Dad let out a groan of his own. This wasn't optional for him like it was for us. Husband duties, obligated to do things you don't want to.

"Yeah, bad luck pops. That woman still treats me like I'm ten, besides I have to get ready for try outs," prattled Justin. As if those mattered for people like him, he already had a guaranteed jersey on the team. The same one he's worn for the past two seasons.

"I have debate Club," Tori broadcasted soon then after. This seemed to be the moment everybody gave in their excuses for good measure. We really didn't want to go there. Only our old, southern relatives lived down there. Humoring old people wasn't at the top of my favorite activities.

Mom turned to me expectantly. Great Aunt Carolyn thought she was at a petting zoo every time she came in a five foot radius of me. It was uncomfortable to say the least. In her defense she was from Wes Des Moines, Iowa, not many people of color there so that had to play a role in her Hunter fascination.

"Conference is a week after that. I can't afford to miss practice- and I'm old lady catnip. No," I said shaking my head. That got a hoot from my dad and the rest of the table.

Mom laughed the hardest though because she knew it was true but felt the need to defend her side of the family.

"She's not that bad hun," she said very unconvincingly. I bet she had a hard time even saying it.

"Uh mom, she asked him to teach her the Charleston when he was like ten," Tori pointed out.

"Or that time she said he'd make a great basketball player just because he's black," Justin said in between chuckles.

She was so old and animated that she had no idea that she said things that were latently racist. Her intentions were good but fact withstanding. Old people were creepy.

 

Later that night I sat on my bed finishing my reading for English. Justin walked in and stood by the door just staring at me.

"Are you looking for something?" I asked not looking up.

"I didn't need your help today, you know...or your boyfriend's for that matter," he had a stern look on his face. I sighed; here we go with this macho bull. I didn't have the energy for this and why does he keep calling Mason that?

"He's not my-," I let it go, it didn't help fighting this. Justin had been referring to Mason this way since we were kids. It had stuck. Somehow it just bothered me more when he did it now, especially if Mason was within hearing range. His blue eyes that were trademark in my family bored into mine as I was anticipating an outburst stemming from his bruised ego. This was the Justin I was more accustomed to.

"But you busted his nose real good right? Did you see the look on his face? Man I wish it was me who knocked his nasty mug," he grinned.

I let out a small smile. This was strange. What do you say to that? You're welcome?

Then I remembered a more serious part of this debacle that had been neglected up until now. Justin lied for me. Keslin could talk the next time he sees Mr. McMullen and expose my involvement and that would get my brother in even worse trouble, maybe even suspension with his record.

"You didn't have to cover for me," I said.

"Of course I did. You're my brother and you had my back-I have yours" he said with a warm smile on his face. This was the first moment resembling a heart to heart I've ever had with my older brother. I ducked my head when he said that. I suddenly felt really uncomfortable with the sudden change of direction this talk was taking. I hadn't exactly done it for him-it was for Mason. That made me feel like some kind of fraud for misleading him. But then again, I guess from his perspective it didn't matter, he couldn't reach his arch nemesis and I could? Like some phantom baton had been passed on. But now knowing what had led to the fight, I don't believe I would have acted out any differently.

"You're going to be in worse trouble when Keslin talks."

"Don't worry about Keslin, I'll handle him."

"Justin, you already have two weeks detention," I warned. The way he said that just implied he was going to do something stupid.

"Hey, what do you take me for? I've got other ways to deal with that dbag. Besides, I think he'd have a better time admitting I broke his nose than my sixteen year old kid brother," he said that with a chuckle while shaking his head in disbelief of his own. He actually seemed to like the sound of that.

"I'm gonna go crash, so good night bro," he finished.

"Night."

He gave me a parting smile before closing the door. That was weird. A good weird, but still weird. I suddenly felt extremely tired from the events of the day and decided the rest of my homework could wait. It wasn't even due for tomorrow so bed it was.

The only good thing that came out of today was fixing my issues with Mason. Minus all the strange stuff that happened in the process of goal. Now that still left one mozzie flying around my head and I wouldn't be at ease until it was swatted. I needed a plan that was direct and full proof.

How to get rid of Ryan?

 

 

Well that was chapter 9! How did it fair? Let me know how you feel. My email address again: blackarrow070@gmail.com

Next installment coming soon...