“Can we cut the formalities? I have school in an hour.”
“Yes, that’s right… For a high school boy, you sure have your hand in a lot of jars. What can we do for you today?”
“I have information you’ll want to hear, but it comes with a price.”
“Are you here to confess.”
“Yes. I am.”
The looks on their faces were priceless.
* * *
After carefully arranging all the pieces of the puzzle, phase one of my plan was in play. I pulled into the school parking lot with twenty minutes to spare. The coach including the entire team called a meeting this morning, and for some reason, I was expected to attend.
I’d already resigned myself to never playing on the team or any college team after. College scouts were no longer interested after my status as the only suspect in a double murder went national. There was even a petition to have me removed from the school, but it never generated more than a few signatures. The murders would always hang over my head like a dark cloud.
As I stepped from the car in the mostly empty parking lot, my gaze zeroed in on a familiar form entering the school.
What the hell is Fitzgerald doing in town? Better yet… Why is he at the fucking school?
He had no family here or any real friends other than Monroe, so if he was in town, then he was no doubt here to see her. Had she called him? If she had, then Monroe had bitten off more than she could chew. Fitzgerald was a no safe zone. I didn’t know him, and I damn well didn’t trust him.
I rounded the corner to find where the shit had disappeared to, and I was nearly knocked on my ass.
Fitzgerald was pinned against the lockers by Q as they devoured each other’s lips. Fitzgerald is into men? I didn’t even know Q was into men. I’ll be damned if that didn’t explain a lot including the day Q brought him to the jail.
I still didn’t want him anywhere near Monroe. There was no give where she was involved. I realized I was being completely unreasonable and selfish, but I couldn’t bring myself to care. I backpedaled around the corner and tried to erase the last thirty seconds out of my head. I wasn’t homophobic or anything, but some shit I just didn’t care to see.
If Jesse played for the other team, then that meant I could put Quentin on him, though it looked as if he might have been way ahead of me. I made a mental note to ask Q about his relationship with Jesse and why he had never mentioned it before. The last thing I needed was any more cards being dealt under the table along with my own.
“Have you heard?” Willow asked as we sat down with our lunch trays at our normal table.
“Yes, unfortunately. It’s all over school that Mrs. Needleman didn’t wear a bra today and gave everyone a clear view of her nipple rings.”
I had no clue if that’s what Willow was talking about, but I prayed it didn’t have anything to do with Keiran. After he used me and discarded me like yesterday’s trash, I’d pretty much wished every bad thing in the book on him.
“Eww. Seriously, she’s like sixty with nipple piercings. Gross. I just wonder why she wouldn’t wear a bra especially since her shirt was transparent.”
“Maybe they’re new and she wanted to show them off,” I guessed. I bit into my carrot and willed my eyes from straying to the other side of the room where Keiran sat with his usual horde of elite friends. I regretted deciding to eat in the cafeteria. My determination to not let Keiran affect me was hopeless.
“Anyway, that’s not what I meant. The school and basketball coach let Keiran back on the team.”
Apparently, God was busy today.
The carrot fell from my fingertips and landed in the tray as I stared at Willow. “You’re kidding.”
“Nope. Besides, Mrs. Needleman’s nipple rings, it’s all anyone’s been talking about. Apparently, the school cares more about making it to the Championship this year than they care the guy is practically an axe murderer.”
“Anyone ever tell you that you have a flare for being dramatic?”
“Pffft. Have you seen the way I dress? If that doesn’t do it, then all is lost for humanity’s brains.”
“Why would they let him back on the team?”
She shrugged and bit into a chicken tender. “No one really expected him to be kicked off the team permanently. He’s the school’s golden boy. Not even a double murder could taint that.”
“This is bullshit.” I threw down my third carrot and stood up, pushing my chair back roughly and letting it scrape across the floor. Willow looked up at me and stopped mid chew.
“Where are you going?” she mumbled around a mouthful of chewed up chicken.
“I’m going to see what the hell is this school’s problem.” I moved for the door without waiting for her response. I knew she would only try to talk me out of it and tell me it wasn’t a big deal. Nothing Keiran did seemed to be a big deal.
He must have sensed something was wrong because I felt his gaze following me. Against my will, I stopped at the door and looked over my shoulder to see him watching me. There was no way he could have known what I was up to, but his gaze challenged me anyway. His lips were set in a hard line. What did he have to be angry about? He’d gotten his way once again.
Time seemed to stand still during the battle of wills as we each silently fought for power. His head lowered predatorily, and his gaze darkened in a way that was meant to strike fear. Three months ago, it would have.