Echoes of silence unquie.., p.20
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       Echoes of Silence (Unquiet Mind Book 1), p.20

           Anne Malcom

  Jordan stepped closer to me and Sam’s face turned into a grimace at this. Jordan gave him little notice.

  “Look, just between us,” he stage whispered, “I know you didn’t actually have mono.” He raised his eyebrows knowingly.

  My stomach dropped and I swallowed lead. But something about his tone made me realize he didn’t know the real reason. Jordan wasn’t callous enough to bring up the subject if he knew about Steve and Ava. He thought it was something else.

  Sam stepped forward, his hand on my elbow. “Okay, we’re done here. You’re late for your steroid injection,” he informed him.

  Jordan finally glanced at Sam. “What, now Killian’s dropped her you trying to get in there?” he asked with callousness I previously had thought him incapable of.

  Sam dropped my hand and tried to get around me, his face wild. I’d never seen him angry. I didn’t realize my carefree friend could even muster up fury. I knew now, he could. I quickly put my hand on his chest, stopping him.

  “Sam, don’t. It’s not worth it,” I murmured.

  Sam’s nostrils flared and his eyes were locked on Jordan. “Trust me, Lex. It’ll be worth it,” he informed me. His voice was injected with fury, but he didn’t push against my hand.

  I met his eyes. “Go and sit down,” I ordered, nodding to our empty table. Noah and Wyatt obviously hadn’t arrived yet.

  Sam’s face turned hard. “I’m not going anywhere until he goes,” he hissed through his teeth.

  “I need to have a chat with Jordan, and you need your hands in order to hold drumsticks. You don’t need to break them on his head,” I told him.

  Sam gave me a long look before he cursed under his breath and reluctantly turned to our table.

  I whipped my head around at Jordan, who had held his ground, his chest all puffed up, grinning at Sam’s retreating form. “What’s your deal, Jordan?” I hissed at him.

  Jordan’s grin left and he stepped forward to me, right in my space. His hand came to my elbow. “I’m just trying to look out for you, Lexie,” he informed me. “You’ve fallen into the wrong crowd since you got here.”

  A raised a brow. “And you’re assuming you’re the right crowd?” I asked sarcastically.

  Jordan’s hand tightened at my elbow. “I’m not a criminal, like your biker ex.”

  My hackles rose and I tried to pull out of his grip unsuccessfully. “Kill is not a criminal and this conversation is over,” I informed him.

  Jordan looked genuinely surprised at my anger. “You’re still defending him after he used you?”

  I paused, stopping my struggle. “Used me?” I repeated. “He didn’t use me. I have no idea what you’re talking about,” I said, genuinely confused.

  “He did what he always does. He took what he needed from you. You held out longer than most, I’ll admit. But when you gave it up, he gave you up. Don’t worry. I would never do that,” he promised.

  I gasped. Blinking rapidly at him as the meaning of his words shot through me. That’s what he thought? That’s why everyone had been staring at me in the halls? Because they thought I’d had sex with Killian and he dumped me, and I’d been wallowing in my sorrow ever since? Tears prickled my eyes. This was too much. My emotions were raw, exposed to the nerve. Something that normally wouldn’t affect me, the opinions of small people, threatened to bring me to my knees. I was about to rip myself out Jordan’s grasp and run from his ugly words and attempt to run from my own feelings, but someone else beat me to it. In an instant, his hand was gone, and before I could understand what was going on, he was on the ground, clutching a bleeding nose.

  “What the fuck…?” he mumbled out through the weird gurgling sound.

  Killian’s body obstructed my view of him, and his hands cupped my cheeks. “You okay, Freckles?” he asked softly, fury dancing in his eyes.

  I nodded silently. He had just punched him. Right in the face. Right in the middle of the cafeteria.

  Killian’s head turned but his hands stayed at my cheeks. “You breathe in her fuckin’ direction again, I’ll break both your kneecaps,” he growled, promise in his tone.

  Jordan was being pulled up by his friends and silence had hung heavy in the previously bustling cafeteria. They all glared at Killian, shifting from foot to foot like they were going to turn this into a full-on brawl. My stomach dropped, but Killian didn’t seem to flinch.

  “I’d take another step forward only if you want to forfeit this season on account of the team’s asses being handed to them,” a casual voice said from behind me.

  I turned my head in Killian’s hands enough to see Wyatt, Sam, and Noah standing slightly behind us. Wyatt’s stance was almost relaxed, but his face was carefully blank. Sam was the same; his fists clenched to the side. Noah was the worst. The veins in his muscled arms protruded from the tension he was holding in his body. He was glaring in a hate-filled gaze at the team. I didn’t know if this was on account of things that happened just now, or more deep-seated issues he held close to the chest.

  What I did know was my boys were standing up for me, having Killian’s back. It petrified me, the thought of them going to blows because of me.

  “Kill—” I began in a whisper, intending to try and stop the epic stare down going on.

  “What’s going on here?” a sharp voice cut through the air, and the crowd of students parted as Mr. Hazelton descended upon us. His eyes ran over Jordan, his bleeding nose, then Killian.

  “My office. Now, Mr. Decesare. Mr. Louis, get yourself to the nurse then the same for you.” His gaze flickered to me. “And you Miss Spencer.”

  Killian’s form tightened. “She has nothing to do with this,” he ground out.

  Mr. Hazelton narrowed his eyes. “I didn’t ask you to speak, Mr. Decesare. My office. Now.”

  Killian stared him down for a long second then moved his hands down and clutched my shaking fingers, pulling me gently along beside him.

  Dread pooled in my stomach, not for me, for Kill. Mr. Hazelton had it out for him, and I worried this might be the last straw.


  I was sitting on the bench outside the vice principal’s office, fiddling with my hands, staring at the closed door both Killian and Jordan had disappeared behind. Jordan’s nose had stopped bleeding but it was swollen, and blood spattered his white tee. He hadn’t even glanced at me as he walked past. He became very fixated on the very door I was willing to open with my mind. I jumped when it did just that. Jordan emerged first. This time he looked straight at me. I was surprised to see a sort of apology in his eyes. It was followed by a mouthed, “I’m sorry,” before Killian pushed past him and came to kneel in front of me.

  “Are you kicked out?” I whispered in worry.

  To my surprise, he grinned. “Nah, babe. They’re not gettin’ rid of me that easy, not when I’ve got renewed motivation to go to all my classes,” he murmured, his hand at my neck.

  “Mr. Decesare, if you’d release Ms. Spencer, I’d like to speak to her,” Mr. Hazelton stated, distaste clear in his tone.

  Killian stilled slightly at the voice and didn’t comply immediately. He gave me a long look. “I’ll be right here, waitin’ for you, Freckles,” he promised.

  “I’ll be fine,” I reassured him.

  He stood, pulling me gently up. “I know,” he agreed, “but I’ll be here just the same.”

  He gave my hand a squeeze before taking the seat I had just vacated. Mr. Hazelton held out his hand, gesturing for me to go into the room.

  “Firstly, I have been made aware of the reason for your absence, Miss Spencer. I’m sorry for your loss,” Mr. Hazelton said to me as he sat across from me at his desk. He sounded anything but sorry, but it was obviously the required start to this conversation.

  My heart stuttered and I glanced around the room. Everything was painfully arranged and organized. Not a speck of dust anywhere. No photos either. Figures. You’d have to be crazy to want to be married to... that. I swallowed my distaste for the man an
d met his eyes.

  “Thank you,” I replied, jutting my chin up.

  He laid his hands out on the desk, his beady eyes running over me. “Mr. Louis has informed me he slipped in the cafeteria, and that’s how he sustained his injuries. Mr. Decesare merely helped him up. Is that what happened, Ms. Spencer?” he asked. “Before you answer, I will let you know that lying to authority figures is not a good habit to get into. I know that must have been encouraged, given your... connection to Mr. Decesare, but I’d advise against it,” he warned.

  My hands balled into fists on my thighs. I met his gaze. “And how would my connection to Killian have anything to do with honesty?” I asked tightly. “He’s the most honest person I know, and I don’t think a teacher implying otherwise is professional. Or appropriate,” I added icily. I had never spoken this way to anyone in my life, but I found myself burning with the need to defend Killian, regardless of the hierarchy in the situation.

  Mr. Hazelton leaned back, raising a brow. His mouth turned into a thin line at my words. “Careful, Ms. Spencer,” he warned. “I understand your situation, so I’ll let that comment go. Answer the question,” he ordered. “Is Mr. Decesare and Louis’s recounting of the incident correct or not?”

  I sat up straighter. “Yes,” I replied. “That’s exactly what happened.”

  Mr. Hazelton stared at me for a long moment, then shook his head. “We both know that’s not what happened, Ms. Spencer. Though there’s not much I can do about it considering the two involved parties aren’t telling the truth. I’ll be watching Mr. Decesare carefully. Very carefully. And by extension, you, Ms. Spencer,” he promised. “I’d hate to see a young woman have her record tarnished by a troublemaking boy.”

  “Watch away, Mr. Hazelton,” I replied, standing. “If that’s all, I’ve got classes to get to.”

  He narrowed his eyes at me, and his nostrils actually flared in fury. Then he relaxed, waving his hand at me. “Go, go,” he almost spat. “I’d be careful who you spend your time with, Ms. Spencer, it could ruin your entire future,” he warned as I turned to the door.

  I paused, glancing back at him “I wholeheartedly agree, Mr. Hazelton. I’ll be sure to keep away from Jordan,” I replied sweetly. I didn’t wait for a response, merely pulled the door open and left the room.

  Kill pushed off the chair the moment the door shut behind me. “Are you okay, Freckles?” he asked, putting his hands lightly on my hips when he made it over to me.

  I smiled at him and nodded. “Fine. But Mr. Hazelton is an asshole,” I hissed the word.

  Killian reared back in surprise and slung his arm around my shoulder, directing us out of the office. “That he is,” he agreed. “The asshole didn’t do anything that requires me to call Bull and suggest we take a visit to his house later on tonight, did he?” he asked.

  I glanced up at him. “No. Nothing that I couldn’t handle,” I added.

  Kill nodded, his jaw hard.

  “You’re joking, though?” I asked. “If I had said yes, you wouldn’t actually do that, would you?”

  Killian glanced down at me. “I look like I’m joking?”

  I gaped at him. “But... he’s a teacher.”

  “He’s an asshole. One who hurts my girl. Doesn’t matter the job title, age, or anything. Anyone who does that answers to me,” he declared.

  Okay, wow.

  He sat us down under what I had considered “our tree” out on the quad. I was thankful he didn’t take us anywhere near the cafeteria or anyone in there.

  “That’s why you punched Jordan,” I surmised, still confused over the reason for the fight in the first place, the things he said.

  Killian’s jaw tightened and he flexed his fingers. “That’s why I’m plotting Jordan’s murder,” he ground out.

  “Okay, now you’re joking,” I teased, looking up at him. I gazed into his ice blue eyes. They were hard. “You are joking,” I pressed.

  His hand went to my cheek. “Freckles, you’ve just been through a week of hell, just been broken, and he spews that shit on you?” He shook his head, eyes dancing with anger.

  “Yeah, he didn’t know that,” I said in a small voice, unsure of why I was defending him.

  “Doesn’t matter,” Kill bit out. “He should never have spoken to you like that in the first fuckin’ place.”

  “Yes, but I feel like murder is a little obscene,” I joked. I paused, glancing at him. “Please don’t murder anyone on my account,” I requested, half serious.

  Kill’s hands tightened. “I’d do anything on your account.”

  My heart clenched in my chest. We stared at each other for a long moment. “Why did Jordan lie for you?” I asked.

  Killian sighed, pushing his hands through my hair. “’Cause despite his actions, he’s not a complete idiot,” he declared. “He may be a tool, but he’s not a nark.”

  I raised my eyebrows. “Is this some kind of bro code?” I joked.

  Kill gave me a serious look. “No one narks on the club. Even Jordan knows that.”

  I gaped at him again. “This has to do with the club?” I asked in disbelief. “But this is high school.”

  Kill shrugged. “Doesn’t matter. It’s about principle.”

  “Okkkaayy.” I drew the word out, trying to grasp the concept in my mind. I knew the club had pull in town, respect, but I didn’t realize how far the arm extended.

  “The stuff Jordan was saying, where did that even come from?” I asked, changing the subject.

  Kill’s face turned to granite. “No clue. But I intend to find out.”

  “Thought you two would be here,” a voice interrupted Killian’s no doubt Liam Neeson worthy speech.

  We both glanced up, and Wyatt, Sam, and Noah all deposited themselves on the grass.

  “So, that was fuckin’ intense,” Sam declared, grinning. “You expelled, bro?” he asked Kill.

  Kill shook his head.

  Sam’s face fell. “Well, that sucks,” he murmured.

  I sharpened my gaze. “How exactly does Killian not being expelled suck?” I asked him sharply.

  “Isn’t it obvious? He has to stay in this red brick prison for six more months,” he declared, pointed back to the building.

  I couldn’t help myself, I laughed.

  Wyatt rolled his eyes. “Jordan didn’t roll on you?”

  Kill shook his head again.

  “Smart,” Wyatt murmured.

  “Obviously not that smart. He said that shit to Lexie in the first place,” Sam bit out, humor gone from his face. “You okay, babe?”

  I reached out and squeezed his hand. “I’m fine, Sammy. Just confused. Where did all that garbage even come from?”

  All three of my boy’s faces hardened. “We can answer that,” Wyatt interjected, his voice tight. “A certain empty-headed teenager took it upon herself to put two and two together and get crazy. She took your absence and Killian’s damn near murderous disposition and made her own conclusions, which she spread around the school as fact.”

  “Stacy,” I hissed, a red film dispersing over my eyes. “That little troll.” I stood rapidly, my eyes glued to the brick building. I was halfway across the quad before Kill caught up with me, stopping me.

  “Whoa, Freckles,” he murmured, standing in front of me.

  “Get out of my way, Kill,” I ordered, trying to squirm out of his grasp.

  “Not until you tell me what you’re plannin’ on doing,” he argued.

  I met his eyes. “I’m going to have a long overdue conversation with a member of the student body.”

  Kill fought a smile. “Is this conversation going to involve hair pulling?”

  “If it is, you have to wait for us so we can film it,” Sam called from behind Kill.

  “I’m not going to pull her hair,” I told him. “If I was going to do anything, I’d chop the entire lot off,” I corrected, and Kill full-on smiled now. “I’m going to educate her on what is and is not her business. You and me being firmly not.”
  Killian’s smile left him. “I’ll be doing that,” he gritted out. “Don’t you worry. I got you, Freckles, and I’m not going to let you dirty yourself by stooping down to her level. I’m more than happy to do that.”

  “This is a girl thing,” I told him. “It’s got to be me.”

  Killian frowned. “Lexie, this is your first day back. You shouldn’t have to deal with this shit.”

  “I shouldn’t,” I agreed. “In a perfect world, I wouldn’t. But this isn’t a perfect world. I’m more than aware of that. Now please let me go so I can go and unleash a can of verbal whoop-ass on a certain biatch.”

  Kill regarded me, then he complied. “My kitten has claws,” he murmured.

  “You haven’t seen the half of it,” I promised, then resumed my journey.

  The bell had just sounded and I knew exactly where Stacy would be, which was perfect, considering I had a shadow following me back into the building. Any other time, I’d be happy for Kill’s presence, but I was telling the truth. This was girls’ business. So it was more than appropriate it would happen in the place Stacy reapplied her makeup at the end of every lunch break. Kill didn’t even get to stop me as I strolled in to the girls’ restroom, his face tight and slightly helpless as I closed the door. Stacy was leaning forward into the mirror, touching up her eyeliner. Her eyes cut to me the moment I stormed in.

  Her face turned soft. That kind of false soft it had when she approached me at my locker those weeks ago. “Lexie—” she began.

  I advanced on her, glaring. “Nope,” I hissed, getting right in her face. “You do not get to speak in this moment. You don’t get to spew any more of your lies or false concerns,” I declared. “I have no friggin’ clue what your parents did to screw you up to the point that you think it’s appropriate to mess with other people’s lives.” I looked her up and down purposefully. “Or whatever issues lie underneath all those overpriced and honestly tacky clothes. That’s not for me to waste brainpower on. That’s for you to pay thousands of dollars for therapy in the future. What I’m here to tell you is that my life and my relationship with Kill is none of your business.”

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