Storm Page 40

’’Too bad,’’ snapped Quinn. ’’I think we should do a public castration right here ’’

’’Quinn.’’ Becca sighed.

’’Hey,’’ called a guy in the crowd, some senior that Becca didn\ know. ’’Look. It\s McRapist.’’ Then he punched Drew in the shoulder, hard.

’’Yeah,’’ said another guy. ’’I liked the hottie\s idea of a little public payback.’’ Then he shoved Drew.

And suddenly more students were crowding them, full of catcalls and anger.

Drew set his jaw and glared, but Becca saw him flinch.

And something about that spoke to her. She knew exactly what it felt like.

’’Come on,’’ she said to him. ’’You have five minutes.’’ Then she looked back over her shoulder at Hunter, who already stood poised to follow. ’’Stay.’’

The night air had chilled a few degrees, full of dampness that promised rainfall wasn\ far off. Dozens of kids were on the quad, so despite the darkness, she didn\ feel alone with him. Still, Becca shivered and wished for a sweater.

Drew\s hands were shoved into his pockets. He was walking along the face of the building, and she kept pace with him, glad to be moving.

He didn\ look at her. ’’You know half the school thinks I\m a ra**st.’’

’’Huh,’’ she said. ’’What\s that like? For half the school to think something about you that isn\ true?’’

’’Don\ be like that, Becca.’’

Unbelievable. What an ass**le. ’’This is one hell of an apology, Drew.’’

’’Just what are you telling people?’’

She rounded on him. ’’I\m not telling anyone anything,’’ she snapped. ’’I\m not like you. I don\ spread lies about people.’’

’’Yeah, poor baby. You know what you did. And now you\ e walking around, acting like I didn\ do exactly what you wanted.’’

That stung, like he\d struck her.

He started walking again, toward the dark corner by the edge of the building.

She paused before following him. There were still kids out here, a few standing under the trees smoking.

’’Why\d you do it?’’ she demanded. ’’Do you know the last six weeks have been hell for me, Drew? Do you know people think I slept with half the school ’’

’’Maybe you did, Becca. Who knows?’’

’’I do.’’ She pointed to her chest, feeling her eyes burn. ’’I know.’’

He glanced off into the darkness. ’’Whatever. Like it matters.’’

’’It matters to me.’’ Her voice broke. There had to be a reason why he\d done it. Had to be. Would he have spread such vicious lies for nothing more than a stupid whim? That was almost more crushing than everything else.

She swiped at her eyes and forced her voice to be strong. ’’It matters to me, Drew.’’

He didn\ say anything. She heard the distant thrum of music from inside the gym, occasional bursts of sound as students came and went. Wind looped between the buildings to lift her hair and cool her neck.

Just when she was going to give up and go in, Drew spoke.

’’I thought you were going to press charges.’’

It took a minute for this to sink in. Then she wanted to explode with fury. ’’But I didn\ ! I didn\ want anyone to know! And then school started on Monday, and everyone everyone knew. They knew about you and me, and all your friends. But they thought we\d they thought ’’ She shoved him in the chest. ’’Why would you do that? Why, Drew?’’

’’Don\ be stupid, Becca. I have a scholarship to Virginia Tech.’’ His voice was cruel, his eyes hard in the night. ’’I wasn\ going to let some silly girl who couldn\ hold her liquor f**k that up.’’

Then she got it.

He\d thought she was going to report him. So he\d made her look like a tramp and got his friends to back it up. So if she ever tried to go to the cops, no one would believe her. He was Drew McKay, captain of the soccer team. Who was she?

Just Becca.

And all for some stupid scholarship.

’’Now everyone thinks I raped you,’’ he said, his voice vicious. ’’Coach kept me on the bench for the game. It\s my senior year. Vickers is on my case. People are calling the house, leaving messages. Someone spray painted my car, Becca ’’

’’Sounds rough.’’ She started to turn.

’’Well, I\ve made a decision.’’ He grabbed her arm.

She glared up at him, feeling his fingers pressing into the muscle. Other students remained nearby, and she made her voice strong and clear. ’’Let me go, Drew.’’

It worked. One of those figures by the tree straightened and headed their way. A cigarette flared red in an arc to the ground, where it died under a shoe. ’’Hey.’’

Drew\s hand tightened on her bicep. ’’I think it\s time to level the playing field.’’

’’Let me go,’’ she said again. ’’Right now.’’

Another student moved toward them.

Drew dragged her close, and for the first time, she felt fear slide around her chest and jerk tight.

’’Isn\ there some stupid saying?’’ he said. ’’Something like, \If I\m going to do the time \ ’’

’’Shut up!’’ She swung her free hand, driving her fingers at Drew\s throat the way Hunter had shown her. She felt the swing all the way up her arm, strength and power conspiring to put him down.

But arms wrapped around her from behind, a hand sliding over her mouth, beefy hands trapping her arms. Someone large, strong. Way bigger than she was.

’’Hey, Becca.’’ Hot breath on her ear. She knew that voice.

Tommy Dunleavy.

She couldn\ see the others yet, but now she knew. Those weren\ just other students at the trees. Those were Drew\s friends.

She screamed or she tried to. That hand clamped down on her mouth, preventing any sound from getting out. She struggled, but he was too strong. They wrestled her around the corner of the building, where it was truly dark. The music from the dance was too loud. Even if she screamed here, no one would hear her.

Drew stroked a hand down her side, the feel of his hand hard through the thin material of the dress. She squealed and squirmed away from him.

’’Yeah,’’ he said. ’’If I\m going to do the time, I\m sure as hell going to enjoy the crime.’’

And then he grabbed hold of the front of her dress. And began to tear it free.

CHAPTER 31

Chris drained the soda from his cup and swirled the ice around the bottom. Monica was yammering about something to do with her nails or her dress or her friends, but he had a pretty low tolerance for stupidity, so he\d tuned her out fifteen minutes ago. The only reason she was hanging off his arm was because her kon***head boyfriend had stepped out for a smoke. Did she think Chris was so clueless he wouldn\ know that?

He was only putting up with it because Monica made for a good cover.

Becca had seen him. She\d seen him and then she\d kissed Hunter.

Crystal clear.

He had enough to worry about. He shouldn\ be watching Becca. He shouldn\ give a crap.

He just couldn\ help himself. He\d watched the little drama unfold with Drew.

Stalker, he\d told himself, but it didn\ matter, because Becca had Hunter. He\d stop her from going with Drew. Or follow. He\d keep her safe.

Chris had waited, but no one followed. Becca had walked out of the gym with Drew while Hunter stood with Quinn and stared at the door.

What a jackass. When it was obvious Hunter wasn\ going to do anything, Chris slammed his cup on the table and moved to follow.

Monica giggled and hung onto him. ’’Wait you wanna go watch or something?’’

God, it was like she didn\ have an off switch. He wished there were some way to take out her batteries.

Then he realized what she\d said.

He stopped and looked down at her. ’’Watch what?’’

She staggered a little and dug her nails into his jacket. She\d been drinking a lot. ’’Ohmigod, I told Tommy we should get a video. Chandler thinks she\s the shit all of a sudden, but everybody knows the truth about her ’’

Chris shoved her away from him, making her sit down hard on the bleacher seat. ’’What are they doing, Monica?’’

She giggled again. ’’It was Drew\s idea, but it\s gonna be epic ’’

He grabbed her arm. ’’What are they doing?’’

She hiccupped and looked at his hand. ’’Ow, Chris ...’’

God, what did it matter? They could be hurting her right now.

What if they\d gotten her into a car?

He turned on his heel and made for the door. What would Drew have said to get her outside? Why would she trust that ass**le?

Then again, Becca had a core of kindness no, of empathy behind all those walls and defenses. Chris was living proof of that.

If that guy hurt her if he touched her Chris would kill him.

He felt the humidity in the air, even here in the gym. It wasn\ anywhere near as good as rain or mist, but it was enough to let power flicker beneath his skin.

He and his brothers were already marked for death. What was the worst that could happen?

He wished he could spot the twins. They were out in the crowd somewhere the humidity told him that much. But it wasn\ enough to send power through the room, to throw up a flag of warning.

He couldn\ waste time looking. There were at least five hundred kids in the gym.

A hand closed on his arm. ’’I told you to leave her alone.’’

Hunter. They were closer to the door;Chris could feel a storm brewing outside. ’’Yeah, alone isn\ what she needs right now.’’

’’I think Becca can take care of herself.’’

’’I bet she\ll thank you for that.’’ All he needed was someone to open the door. Just one little surge of water in the air. Maybe it was even starting to rain. He gave Hunter a little shove. ’’Get your goddamn hands off me.’’

Hunter held fast. Bastard was strong. ’’Or what?’’

The door opened and some laughing girls poured through. It wasn\ raining, but misting. Chris could see it. Better, he could feel it. He rallied the moisture in the air, calling it to him, training it on Hunter. Maybe it was his fury, maybe it was the tension of the last few weeks, but this power felt good. Strong. Focused. Like millions of tiny ice daggers, too small to see.

With this much clarity, Chris was almost afraid to turn it loose.

Something like shock flickered in Hunter\s expression. ’’Water,’’ he said.

Chris almost lost control right there. For all the moisture in the room, he suddenly had to wet his lips to speak. ’’What?’’

Hunter was staring at him, his eyes too wide, his breathing too quick. ’’You\ e Water. But then there\s not only one.’’ He didn\ look frightened he looked stunned. Like life had just yanked the rug out from under him.

Chris understood the feeling. ’’What the hell are you talking about?’’

’’Chris.’’ Nick came up beside him of course, he\d probably felt the power in the air. ’’What\s going on?’’

Hunter glanced up at him, and Chris watched something settle in the other boy\s face. Not anger. More like ... resolve. ’’Now I get it,’’ said Hunter. He let go of Chris\s arm and made to move away.

’’Wait a minute.’’ Chris grabbed him.

And wham. All that power hit Chris right in the face, and knocked him back. It was like taking a snowball to the face. A frozen one. Backed by a baseball bat.

He shook his head to clear it, feeling like his brain was rattling around inside his skull. He wiped at his eyes and his fingers came away with ice crystals. He could barely feel his face.

But he could see. Hunter was gone.

Nick swore. ’’What the hell was that? Did you lose control ’’


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