Home > Breaking Her (Love is War #2)(4)

Breaking Her (Love is War #2)(4)
Author: R.K. Lilley

Every inch of her tiny frame read:  This girl is tough and she does not plan to deal with your shit.  Do not mess with her. 

So why was everyone always messing with her?

They loved to tease her about the trashcan stuff, and I thought that was about the most messed up thing ever.  It set my teeth on edge.  What an awful thing to tease someone about.     

No part of me understood, but then, I'd never felt like someone who fit in, either. 

They were serving cheese zombies and tomato soup for lunch, one of my favorites, and I waited in line just watching her and not particularly paying attention to anything else. 

I couldn't help but overhear the boys in front of me, though.  There were two of them and they were snickering.  It was the type of laugh where you knew there was something bad behind it.  Something mean, and so I focused on them, listening as they revealed themselves to be just the kind of little shits I had no patience for. 

"I swear to God, Jason," one said to the other.  "I have five dollars in my backpack, and if you do it, it's all yours." 

Jason laughed harder.  "I'll get into trouble." 

"It's five bucks!  Just say you tripped and spilled it.  Hell, some tomato soup on her head might make her smell better."

They both went into loud peals of laughter.  I thought they sounded like nasty, little hyenas. 

I felt sick.  I didn't even have to hear any more, I knew what they were planning and to whom, but I did hear more, I listened and collected my food, then quietly followed them. 

I set down my tray on the first table I passed. 

Jason's giggling friend sat down at the next one and waved him on. 

With an evil grin, Jason approached Scarlett from behind, still holding his tray.       

With quick furious steps I caught up to him, grabbed his tray, stepped on his foot, and sent my elbow hard into his chin all at once. 

He went down with a gratifying cry. 

Very calmly, I took his tomato soup and poured it right into his bratty, dismayed face. 

"Is it funny now, you little shit?" I spat at him right before a teacher started dragging me away. 

I glanced at Scarlett as I went. 

She'd turned at the commotion, looking bored with only a touch of interest in her big, dark eyes as she looked at me, but no comprehension on her face that I'd just saved her from a headful of soup. 

Still, that didn't deter me.  Her plight ate at me.  I'd lie in bed, hands clenched into fists, and stew about it.

I was a lonely, solemn boy, more sensitive than I'd ever admit, and I couldn't stand what was happening to her.   

Anytime something was really bothering me, I took it to Gram. 

"It's not right," I told my glamorous grandmother.  "It's wrong, the way she's being treated.  The kids are monsters, and the teachers don't care until it's gotten so bad that Scarlett gets herself into trouble.  It's every day, Gram.  Every day she has to put up with these little shits picking on her."

She was studying my face in a way that I liked, the way she always did when I was reminding her of Grandpa.  She didn't even reprimand me for cursing, that's how intently she was listening to me.   

"You've gotta help her, Gram.  It's bad enough the way they talk, but she's got no one at home taking care of her.  She needs clothes.  Soap.  Someone to wash her hair and brush her teeth, or yanno, teach her how to do it."

She touched a hand to my hair, purest love pouring out of her eyes.  "Yes, yes, of course she does, Dante, my sweet, sweet boy.  We will work on all of that."

"They're awful at school.  They won't let up on her.  Maybe if you talk to her about . . . taking a bath or somethin', it'd make it easier on her."

"I will.  I absolutely will, you darling boy.  I'm ashamed that you even had to point it out, but you leave it to me, okay?"

I nodded.  I had absolute faith that Gram would do anything she promised, so I was done worrying about that part of it. 

"Thank you," I told her.  "But . . . what should I do?  How do you think I can help her?"     

"How about just being her friend?  Friends can make life a lot better."

I flushed and looked down, embarrassed to tell her that the girl I was so worried about would barely say two words to me.  "I'll try," I muttered. 

"And Dante?"


"You're strong.  And brave.  I have faith in you. I know you will find a way to help her.  If you see she needs defending, defend her.  Do what you think is right and you won't have any regrets." 

A few weeks later, I pounded a guy that I heard making a joke about her, and I got my first smile out of her.

I loved that smile that seemed to belong only to me.  I felt like I'd been invited into a special club that consisted of just the two of us, and I wanted to stay there.  It was the only place I wanted to be.  

From that day forward, it was my job to protect her.  Her feelings.  Her body. 

Her freedom.

I look back on it all often, I think about it too much, and my life has fallen into categories—in spite of everything—gradations of her. 

Life before Scarlett.  Life with Scarlett.  Life after Scarlett. 

Wanting her.

Needing her.

Having her.

Losing her.

But always, always, there was a cloud looming over our heads, a storm on the brink, and in my mind, at least, there is only one person to blame for it.

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