The warning bell rang, prompting the couple to move away out of sight. Callie sighed heavily, the sound going unnoticed by Brandon, who was immersed in his work and busy making notes on his music sheet.
“I’ll see you in Algebra,” She said with a smile, wanting the time to compose herself before English class with Timothy. And Wyatt. And Talya.
Mentally bracing herself for another Monday first period filled with the snide girl’s sly comments and Wyatt’s ongoing silent battle of wills with Timothy (he was still refusing to do the assignments on time and in class), she pulled the door open and hurried to her seat just before the final bell rang.
It was just as she had feared. Wyatt ignored her through the whole period, but during Timothy’s assignment of a free write on the topic of trust, had some very snide comments about girls who were so damaged that they shoved away anyone who tried to help, without explanation or apology.
Callie gritted her teeth and remained silent, even as a small spark of anger grew. Talya’s smug expression was torment enough, but Wyatt was the last straw.
As soon as the bell rang she moved, grabbing his arm and dragging him outside to the courtyard, ironically in almost the same spot that he and Talya had been in not two hours earlier.
“Let’s get a few things straight.” She snapped. “One: no. I don’t trust you. I don’t trust hardly anyone at this school. And while you may have been the only person who hasn’t shunned me for whatever reason, that does not give you access into my life history. You are a slacker, wanna be rebel, and occasionally a selfish jerk who still doesn’t think beyond himself about how his actions have consequences that affect others.” She raged, her eyes snapping with fury. “I told you to back off with Liam, and instead you deliberately baited him online and then tackled and started punching him! If you won’t listen to me when I explicitly tell you not to get involved, how the hell am I supposed to trust you with the full story?”
“You trusted Brandon.” He shot back.
“Brandon is my foster brother!” She cried. “How many times do I have to say that before it gets through your thick skull? And he came with me to rescue my brother, even only knowing me for 24 hours. And he listens without judging, which is what you’re doing right now.” Her voice dropped to a tired tone. “I will say this one more time time. There is nothing going on between me and Brandon. He is too good of a person to be tainted by the likes of me, and I will not risk jeopardizing the best home Jude and I have ever had. And, unlike with you Wyatt, I trust that Brandon cares enough about me to not put me in that position either. I don’t know that I could say that about you, if our situation was different.”
She shook her head as her own words sunk in. She liked Wyatt, but she didn’t trust him. Not completely. And that had been her instinct from day one, she realized. His mannerisms, the occasional flashes of passive aggressive personality, and the whispers and gossip that she had overheard had set her on edge, consciously and unconsciously, but she hadn’t acknowledged the warning until now.
“Fine.” He spat, venom coloring his voice. “You’re a frigid bitch anyway. I could’ve spent my time elsewhere, instead of genuinely making an effort to get to know you like I did. You are one damaged piece of work, Callie Jacob. You’ll fit right in to that freaky, unnatural so-called family. You and your little twink of a brother.”
CRACK! The sound of her palm connecting with his cheek echoed through the air.
“Callie!” Brenda, her photography teacher, hurried over and grabbed her by the arm. “What is going on over here?”
“It’s not Callie’s fault.” Callie’s head whipped around in surprise to stare at the owner of the voice. Lexi gave her a small smile, before turning her attention to the teacher. “They were arguing, and Wyatt said some really hurtful things that I won’t degrade myself by repeating.” She glanced over to where Mariana was holding back a furious Jesus with one hand. Brandon was standing next to her, his face dark with fury, but he was listening to his sister at least, and remained where he was. “Personally, I would’ve decked him for the things he said, plus being an all around ignorant jackass.”
“Lexi!” Brenda scolded with a sigh. “Is this true, Wyatt? You know the school’s policy about discrimination here.”
He rolled his eyes, unrepentant. “It’s not a slur if it’s true.”
Callie clenched her fists, and Lexi put a gentle warning hand on her other arm.
“Wyatt, Callie, detention. After school. Callie, you will serve yours with me. Wyatt, see Timothy.” Brenda frowned darkly. “This is your only warning. Callie, leave the punishment to the teachers, not your fists, please.” She raised her brows, waiting until the girl nodded reluctantly. “Wyatt, I don’t care what the situation is, there is no reason to use that type of language about anyone, for any reason. Now.” She eyed the boy’s cheek, which was turning bright red with the promise of a lovely bruise. “You better go to the nurse for an ice pack. The rest of you, off to class. Now.”