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|Fall From India Place(On Dublin Street #4)(8) by Samantha Young|
“We just want tae talk.” Jenks sneered at me. “So f**kin’ stuck up. But ye always were.”
Jenks’s friend Aaron punched him playfully in the arm. “She got f**kin’ tasty, though. I’d shag it.”
I blanched, taking a step back.
Jenks grunted, glaring at me. “She’s still a f**kin’ swot.” He took a step toward me. “Maybe a guid pumpin’ would loosin ye up, though, eh?” He reached a hand out to grab at my waist and I stepped out of range.
I felt the blood rush in my ears at the decidedly dark turn of their bullying. “I’m going home.” I tried to inject authority into my voice, but the words came out in a trembling tone.
They laughed and Jenks grabbed for me again.
My shriek of alarm was immediately quieted at the sight of Jenks crashing like a rag doll into Aaron. They almost fell to the ground, only barely catching each other. Their other friend, Rube, stumbled back, too, and my eyes went from them to the person who had shoved Jenks.
My gaze traveled upward in surprise.
Towering over us all was Marco.
A very angry Marco.
His menacing glower was fixated on Jenks.
“Whit the f**k?” Jenks pushed himself off Aaron and scowled up at Marco. “Who the f**k dae ye think ye are?”
I was astounded that he’d be so aggressive with Marco. Even Rube and Aaron looked unsure.
“Get out of here,” Marco said quietly, calmly, his words soft and rounded with an accent. “I see you try this shit again and you’ll be dealing with me.”
Jenks opened his mouth as if to fight, but Marco was suddenly flanked by two friends. Seeing they were definitely not going to win against the older boys, Jenks spat at Marco’s feet and marched away, fists clenched at his sides.
I shuddered at my near escape.
“You missed the bus?”
Taken aback, I realized Marco had directed the question to me. His voice was rough, gravelly. I stared up into his blue-green eyes, eyes that were startlingly beautiful against his dark lashes and caramel skin, and I forgot to breathe for a minute.
He was gorgeous. And there was something about him… an aura around him that made me wish I were closer to him.
I nodded, still too awestruck to speak.
His eyebrows drew together. “Where do you live?”
Not awestruck enough to be stupid, I gave this person I didn’t know a suspicious look. To my surprise his lips twitched like he wanted to laugh. He held up his hands as if in surrender. “I’m not going to hurt you.”
Going with my gut instinct, I replied, “Stockbridge. St. Bernard’s Crescent.”
He glanced back at his friends. “I’ll see you later.”
They gave me curious looks but nodded and turned away, walking up the street in the opposite direction.
I was left standing in the street alone with Marco – alone with a six-foot-something seventeen-year-old boy after having been accosted by mean boys. I should have been afraid, but when our eyes met again, I felt the complete opposite. I felt safe.
“Come on,” he said gruffly, walking past me.
Baffled by my feelings, I hurried to catch up to him. “What are you doing?”
“Walking you home. I don’t trust those idiots not to come back. They bother you a lot?”
“At school sometimes. They pick on my friends and me, but they’ve never tried to…” I grew quiet. I couldn’t quite say the words out loud. I actually couldn’t believe they’d even threatened me with rape, much less that they might follow through.
I looked up at Marco to find him giving me a dark, warning look. “You need to be careful. Jenks is a soulless little shit. He shouldn’t have been here. He’s suspended from school.”
“Really? For what?”
He studied me a moment before finally deciding to tell me. “The police are investigating him. He’s been accused of raping a girl.”
My mouth fell open as my heart sped up again. “Honestly? Why haven’t I heard of this?”
Marco shrugged. “Don’t know. Just be careful though, okay?”
I nodded. I would definitely be careful from now on. I felt a little sick.
We fell quiet as we walked side by side toward my house. I was tall for my age, but still nowhere near Marco’s height. He was athletically built, with strong forearms showcased by his rolled-up shirtsleeves. His size made me feel strangely protected and, for the first time ever, dainty.
Intrigued by my brooding would-be rescuer, I found that my curiosity overcame the self-consciousness I usually felt around people I didn’t know. I tucked my short blond hair behind my ears and looked up at him again.
“Where are you from? America or Canada?”
Marco looked down at me, bemusement in his expression. “Most folks just assume I’m American.”
There was a question in his tone, so I answered, “I read a lot and, well, you know, a lot of Scottish people immigrated to Canada, so it would make cultural sense that you might be a Scottish-Canadian.”
He studied me, a small smile playing in the corners of his mouth. “How old are you?”
“You’re pretty smart.”
I grinned at him. “That’s what they tell me.”
This made Marco laugh. Triumph swelled in my chest. I’d never seen him laugh and felt sure he didn’t do it often, since there was something kind of sad in the back of his eyes. “You look older than fourteen.” His gaze flicked over me quickly. “You’re not in any of my classes, so I knew you had to be younger. I didn’t think that much younger, though.”
I liked that he thought I looked older. I didn’t like the fact that he thought fourteen was young. Technically, I was fourteen and a half. I wanted to say that to him but was afraid it might come off as childish. I pondered how to casually slip it into conversation but came up blank.
Realizing we hadn’t spoken for at least thirty seconds, I said, “So… are you Canadian?”
“Nah. American. Depending on the area, a Canadian accent is different from an American accent. And then there are different accents in different places in the U.S. You just have to listen carefully. I’m from Chicago.”
Soaking up this new information, I replied, “That’s really cool.”
He shrugged, shoving his hands into his trouser pockets.