Chapter no 4 – Faceplanting Johnny

Binding 13

With a great deal of effort and a surprising show of otherwise absent self- control, I managed to respect her wishes and walk her to the office – when all I wanted to do was scoop her up in my arms and run for help.

I was panicked and worrying, and every time she groaned or sagged against me, the higher my anxiety grew.

However, having spent the last ten minutes outside the principal’s office, listening to Mr. Twomey rant and rave, I was all out of that precious patience.

Why wasn’t he taking her off me?

Why the fuck was I still standing outside his office holding up a half comatose girl?

He was the adult here.

“Her mother is on the way,” Mr. Twomey announced with an exasperated sigh, sliding his phone into his pocket. “How could this happen, Johnny?”

“I already told you. It was an accident,” I hissed while I continued to hold the girl up, keeping her small frame tucked into my side. “You need to get Majella to check her over,” I repeated for the fiftieth fucking time, “I think she has a concussion.”

“Majella is out on maternity leave until Friday,” Mr. Twomey barked. “What am I supposed to do with her? I have no first aid training.”

“Then you better call a doctor,” I shot back heatedly, still holding onto the girl, “because I broke her fucking head.”

“Watch your language, Kavanagh,” Mr. Twomey snapped.

I rolled off the standard, “yes, sir,” not really giving a shite and not feeling particularly sorry either for that matter.

My role in the rugby academy meant that I was given a lot of leeway in this school, a lot of preferential treatment that other students didn’t get, but I wasn’t going to push it on my first day back.

Not when I’d used up my quota by maiming the new girl.

“Are you okay, Miss Lynch?” Mr. Twomey asked, prodding her like she was an uncooked turkey he didn’t want to catch salmonella from.

“It hurts,” she moaned, sagging into my side.

“I know,” I soothed, pulling her closer. “I’m so fucking sorry.”

“Jesus, Johnny, this is all I need,” Mr. Twomey hissed, running a hand through his salt and pepper hair. “It’s her first day. Her parents coming here tearing up the school is the last thing I need.”

“It was an accident,” I bit out, angry now. She groaned and I made a conscious effort to lower my voice when I said, “I hardly meant to hurt the girl.”

“Yes, well, tell that to her mother when she arrives,” Mr. Twomey huffed. “She was already pulled out of Ballylaggin Community School for being verbally and physically attacked. And what happens on her first day at Tommen? This!”

“I didn’t attack her,” I spat. “I made a bad kick.”

Shifting her under my arm, I glared at the so-called authority figure. “Hold up,” I snapped, registering his earlier words. “What do you mean

she was attacked?”

I looked down at the tiny little female under my arm. Who could attack her?

She was so small.

And frail.

“What happened to her?” I heard myself ask, attention back to the principal.

“I think I’m going to fall,” she croaked out, distracting me from my thoughts. Reaching up, she clutched my forearm with her small hand and

sighed. “Everything’s spinning.”

“I won’t let you fall,” I automatically replied in a soothing tone. “It’s okay.” I felt her slip and pulled her upright, holding onto the tiny thing for all I was worth. “I’ve got you,” I coaxed, tightening my arm around her. “You’re good.”

“Look, sit down with her,” Mr. Twomey ordered, gesturing to the bench that lined the wall outside of his office. “I’ll go and find a compress or something.”

“You’re leaving me with her?” I demanded, mouth hanging open. “Alone?”

The principal didn’t answer me.

Of course he didn’t, the fucking coward, because he was already miles down the corridor, desperate to get away from the type of responsibility he was paid to stand over.

“Spineless eejit,” I growled under my breath. Frustrated, I walked us over to the wooden bench.

Dropping her schoolbag on the floor, I carefully lowered our bodies onto the bench until we were sitting side by side.

I kept my arm wrapped around her bony little shoulders, not daring to leave her side for fear of her falling.

“This is just great,” I tutted, sulking. “Fucking wonderful.”

“You feel so warm,” she whispered and I felt her cheek nuzzle against my bare chest. “Like a hot water bottle.”

“Okay, you really need to keep your eyes open,” I told her, panicked by her words.

Knees bouncing nervously, I turned her in my arms and caught hold of her face between my hands. “Hey,” I coaxed, giving her face a little shake with both hands. ”

“Hey…girl?” I added lamely because I didn’t even know her name. I’d almost killed the girl and I didn’t know her fucking name. “Open your eyes.”

She didn’t.

“Hey – hey!” I said louder now. “Look at me.” I shook her head. “Look at my face.”

This time she did.

She opened her eyes and fuck me, I unintentionally sucked in a sharp breath.

Jesus, this girl was beautiful.

I’d noticed it earlier of course, she had a striking look about her, but now, seeing her up close like this and being able to count the freckles on her face – eleven by the way – it was hitting home just how striking she was.

Her blue eyes were big and round and fucking beautiful, with small hues of yellow dotting through them, rimmed with thick, long lashes.

I wasn’t even sure I’d ever seen that shade of blue before. It certainly didn’t shake anything up in the memory bank.

Hands down, she possessed the most gorgeous pair of eyes I’d seen in my life.

She had long, elbow-length, dark brown hair that was thick and curled at the ends.

And hidden behind the mountain of hair was a small, heart shaped face, smooth, clear skin, and a tiny dimple in her chin.

Perfect shaped, dark eyebrows that arched above those killer eyes of hers. A tiny button nose, high cheekbones, and these puffy, swollen lips.

Lips that were a natural rosy red color and kind of looked like she had been sucking on an ice pop or something – which I knew she hadn’t because I’d spent the last half hour trying to keep her awake.

“Hi,” she breathed.

I blew out a relieved breath. “Hi.”

“That’s really your face?” she asked, eyes drooping, as she studied me with a vacant expression. “It’s so pretty.”

“Uh, thanks?” I offered uncomfortably, still cupping her cheeks in my hands. “It’s the only one I have.”

“I like it,” she whispered, “it’s a good face,” just before closing her eyes again, sagging forward.

“No, no, no,” I coaxed, jolting her roughly. “Stay with me!” Moaning, she blinked awake again.

“Good job,” I praised with a heavy exhale. “Now stay awake.”

“Who are you?” she croaked out, depending entirely on my hands to keep her head upright.

“I’m Johnny,” I told her, biting back a smirk. “Who are you?”

“Shannon,” she whispered. Her eyelids drooped a little but quickly sprung back open when I nudged her cheeks. “Like the river,” she added with a small sigh.

I chuckled at her response.

“Well, Shannon like the river,” I said brightly, desperate to keep her focused and talking. “Your parents are on the way. They’re probably going to take you to the hospital for a check-up.”

“Johnny,” she groaned and then winced. “Johnny. Johnny. Johnny. This is bad…”

“What?” I urged. “What’s bad?” “My dad,” she whispered.

I frowned. “Your dad?” “Can you save me?”

I frowned. “Do you need me to save you?”

“Mmm-hmm,” she mumbled sleepily. “Rub my hair.”

I balked at her request. “You want me to rub your hair?” She nodded and sagged forward. “It hurts.”

Shifting closer, I adjusted her body so that her head lolled against my shoulder, and while cupping her face with one hand, I used the other to stroke her hair. It was an awkward position, but I managed.

Jesus, what the fuck was I doing?

I shook my head to myself, feeling like an eejit, but continued to do what she asked anyway.

It was going well – right up until she face-planted on my dick.

Jerking at the insanely intimate contact, not to mention the sudden jolt of awareness in my dick and the scorching pain in my groin, I attempted to move her face from my crotch, but she groaned loudly in resistance.

And then she pulled her legs up on the bench and settled herself down for a nice, old kip on my cock.

Fuck my life.

Holding my hands up in the air and far away from her body, because I needed a sexual harassment accusation like I needed a hole in the head, I looked around for someone to help me, but no one came.

The hallways were conveniently void of adults. Fuck this school.

I thought about making a run for it, but I could hardly throw her off me. Yeah, because breaking her head wasn’t fucking bad enough.

So, I just sat there with her head in my lap and her cheek nuzzling my dick and prayed to god to give me the strength to ignore the feelings growing inside of me and not get an erection.

Other than the obvious reason of horrendous timing, my cock was broken.

Well, it wasn’t so much my cock being broken as it was the surrounding area, but getting hard could result in me passing out right alongside her.

But then she whimpered and the sound brought back the worry and concern, disaster averted.

Like it had a mind of its own, my hand moved to her face.

“You’re okay,” I coaxed, battling down my anxiety, the urge to nurture this girl both a new and equally terrifying feeling for me. “Shh, you’re okay.”

Brushing her hair back off her cheek, I tucked the dark brown tendrils behind her ear and then I resumed stroking her sore head.

There was an impressive lump forming on her scalp where the ball made contact, so I stroked the area with my fingertips, using a featherlight touch. “Is this okay?”

“Mmm,” she breathed. “It’s…good.”

“Good,” I mumbled, relieved, and continued with the stroking. A faint scar caught my eye where her temple met her hairline.

Without thinking about what I was doing, I trailed a finger over the inch-long indent of skin and asked, “What happened here?”


“Here.” I trailed my finger over the old mark. “What’s this from?” “My dad,” she replied, breathing out a heavy sigh.

My hand stilled as my brain registered her fucked up answer. “Come again?”

When she didn’t respond, I used my other hand to gently shake her shoulder. “Shannon?”


I tapped the old scar with my fingertip and said, “Are you telling me that your dad did this to you?” I tried to keep my tone calm, but it was a challenge with the sudden urge to maim and kill bubbling up inside.

“No, no, no,” she whispered.

“So, your dad didn’t do this?” I asked for confirmation. “He definitely didn’t?”

“Of course not,” she mumbled.

Thank fuck for that.

I released the breath I hadn’t realized I’d been holding.


“It’s Johnny.”

“Oh. Johnny?”


“Are you mad at me?”

“What?” The question, spoken so quietly, threw me and I stared down at her, feeling a pang of protectiveness in my gut. “No. I’m not mad at you,” I told her, pausing for a long moment, fingers stalling, before asking, “Are you mad at me?”

“I think so,” she whispered, nuzzling resuming. My eyes rolled back and I bit back a moan.

Ah fuck!

“You can’t do that,” I bit out, holding her head still.

“Do what?” she sighed contently, then rubbed her cheek against my thigh. “Be mad?”

“No,” I choked out, holding her head still once again. “Be mad all you want, just stop grinding your head on my lap.”

“I like your lap,” she breathed, eyes closed. “It’s like a pillow.”

“Yeah, uh, well, that’s nice and all –” I paused to still her face with my hands once more, “But I’m sore, so I need you to not do that.”

“Do what?”

“Rub me,” I croaked out. “There.”

“Why are you sore?” She sighed heavily and asked, “Are you broken, too?”

“Probably,” I admitted, shifting her face onto my good thigh – well, good being the one that hurt less. “Stay there, okay?” It was more of a plea than an order. “Don’t move.”

Complying, she didn’t move her head again.

Using my free hand to press against the tension forming at my temple, I thought about how much shite I was going to be in.

I was missing class. I was hungry.

I had club training tonight.

I had a gym session arranged straight after school with Gibsie. Physiotherapy with Janice after school tomorrow.

I had a school match on Friday.

I had another training session with the youths at the weekend.

I had a busy fucking schedule and I didn’t need this drama.

Several minutes passed in pained silence before she moved again, and in that time, I debated all the ways Mr. Twomey was an incompetent principal.

I had a list as long as my arm when she tried to sit up again. “Be careful,” I warned, hovering over her like a mother hen.

I helped her into an upright position and managed to slide off the bench in the process.

Every muscle south of my navel screamed out in protest, but I didn’t move away.

Instead I continued to crouch in front of her, keeping my hands on either side of her waist, waiting to catch her. “Are you okay, Shannon?”

Her long brown hair fell forwards, cloaking her face like a blanket. She nodded slowly, brows furrowed deeply. “I…I think so.”

I sagged, my relief palpable. “Good.”

She leaned forward then, resting her elbows on her thighs, eyes open and staring into mine, and all at once she was far too close for comfort – and that was saying something considering no less than two minutes ago she’d had her face in my lap.

We were too close.

Suddenly, I felt very exposed.

My hands moved from her waist to her thighs, an automatic reaction to having a female lean her face towards mine.

I quickly checked myself, pulling my hands away to rest on the bench instead.

Clearing my throat, I forced a small smile. “You’re alive.”

“Barely,” she whispered with a wince, blue eyes burning holes in mine, studying me with more clarity now. “You have a terrible aim.”

I laughed at her words.

They were so far from the truth that I couldn’t help it.

“Well, that’s a first,” I mused. “I’m not used to being criticized about my ability to kick a ball.”

I wasn’t a natural ten, but I had a decent aim and the ability to kick from long range when necessary.

“Yeah,” she croaked out. “Well, your ability to kick a ball almost killed me.”

“Fair point,” I acknowledged, cringing.

Without thinking twice about what I was doing, I reached up and tucked her hair behind her ears.

I felt her tremble from the contact and quickly scolded myself for the move.

Don’t touch her, dickhead. Keep your hands off.

“Your voice is strange,” she announced then, blue eyes locked on mine. I frowned. “My voice?”

She nodded slowly, then groaned and cupped her face once more. “Your accent,” she clarified, breathing hard. “It’s not a Cork accent.” She was still clutching her head but she was more alert now.

“That’s because I’m not from Cork,” I replied, unable to stop myself from reaching up and smoothing back a piece of her hair. “I was born and raised in Dublin,” I heard myself explain, tucking the rogue tendril behind her ear. “I moved down to Cork with my parents when I was eleven.”

“So, you’re a Dub,” she stated, clearly amused at the information. “A Jackeen.”

I scoffed at the term and tossed back one of my own. “And you’re a Culchie.”

“My cousins live in Dublin,” she told me. “Oh yeah? Where about?”

“Clondalkin, I think,” she replied. “What about you?” “Blackrock.”

“The southside?” Her smile widened, eyes more alert now. “You’re a posh boy.”

I cocked a brow. “Do I look posh to you?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know you enough to say.” No, she didn’t.

“Well, I’m not,” I added, uncomfortable at the thought of her making a preemptive judgement of me.

I shouldn’t care.

Hell, I never normally cared.

So why was I sulking over it now?

“I believe you,” her small voice broke through my thoughts. “You could never be posh.”

“And why’s that?”

“Because you curse like a sailor.”

I laughed at her reasoning. “Yeah, you’re probably right about that.”

She laughed right along with me, but quickly stopped and groaned, clutching her temples.

Regret soared inside of me.

“I am sorry,” I told her, tone gruff now and thick.

“For what?” she whispered, seeming to lean closer as she chewed on her bottom lip.

“Hurting you,” I replied honestly.

Christ, my voice didn’t even sound like it belonged to me. It was strained…raw.

I cleared my throat and added, “It won’t happen again.” “You promise?”

There she went with the promises again.

“Yeah,” I said, tone thick now. “I promise.”

“God,” she groaned, grimacing now. “Everyone’s going to be laughing at me.”

Those words, that small fucking sentence, brought to life some weird fucking emotion I hadn’t experienced before.

“I’m so embarrassed,” she continued to mumble, eyes cast downwards. “I’ll be the talk of the school.”

“Look at me.” She didn’t.

“Hey –” I paused and tipped her chin up with my thumb and forefinger. Once I was satisfied I had her attention again, I carried on, “No one is going to say a word about you.”

“But they all saw me –”

“Nobody is going to open their mouth about it.” Realizing my tone was bordering on angry, I brought it down a notch and tried again. “Not the team, Coach, or anyone else. I won’t let them.”

She blinked her confusion. “You won’t let them?”

“That’s right,” I confirmed with a nod. “I won’t let them.”

“You promise?” she whispered, a tiny smile pulling at her swollen lips. “Yeah,” I replied gruffly, feeling like I would promise all the fucking

promises in the world just to make this girl feel better. “I’ve got your back.” “No, you got my head,” she croaked out. She glanced down at her body

and sighed. “Actually, I think you ruined all of me.”

Thank fuck for that, because you’re ruining all of me right now, I thought to myself.

Jesus, where the hell did that come from?

Blinking away the thought, I settled on a safer, “I’ll have my people call your people to work out the bill,” comment instead.

That drew a smile out of her, a proper smile, not a shy one or a small one.

It was an honest to god megawatt smile. She was just so fucking pretty.

I hated that word, pretty was a pussy word used by women and the elderly, but that’s what she was.

Fuck, I had a feeling that her pretty face would be cemented in the fore point of my mind for a very long time.

But it was those wild eyes that really struck me and I had this crazy urge to google eye color charts just so I could figure out the fucking color blue in her eyes.

I would do that later, I decided. Creepy or not, I needed to know.

“So,” I pressed my luck by asking, “It’s your first day?” She nodded again, smile faltering ever so little.

“How’s it going for you?”

A small smile tipped her lips upwards. “It was going just fine.” “Right.” I cringed. “Sorry again.”

“It’s okay,” she whispered, studying my face with those big eyes. “And you can stop saying sorry now. I believe you.”

“You believe me?”

“Yeah.” She nodded then exhaled a sharp breath. “I believe you when you say it was an accident,” she squeezed out. “I don’t think you’d intentionally hurt anyone.”

“Well, that’s good.” I had no idea why she would think otherwise, but I wasn’t about to question the girl. Not when I had half-mauled her. “Because I wouldn’t.”

She grew quiet again, withdrawing from me, and I found myself racking my brain for something to say.

I had no explanation for why I wanted to keep her talking to me. I guess I could scratch it down to needing to keep her conscious.

But deep down I knew that wasn’t the reason.

Scrambling through my brain to find something to say, I blurted out, “Are you cold?”

She looked up at me with a sleepy expression. “Huh?”

“Cold,” I repeated, resisting the urge to run my hands up and down her arms. “Are you warm enough? Should I get you a blanket or something?”

“I’m…” she paused and glanced down at her knees. Releasing a small sigh, she looked back to my face and said, “I’m actually hot.”

“Completely fucking accurate assessment.”

The highly inappropriate response was out of my mouth before I had a chance to filter myself.

I quickly followed it up by touching her forehead, my pathetic attempt at checking her temperature, and then nodding solemnly. “You’re definitely warm.”

“I told you.” Her big eyes were wide and locked on mine. “I’m really, really hot.”



“So,” I tossed out casually, trying to distract myself from my wayward thoughts. “What year are you in?”

Please say fifth year. Please.


Please god make her say fifth year.

“Third year.”

Yeah, and that was that. She was in third year.

And just like that, I watched my five-minute dream float out the window.

Fuck. My. Life.

“What about you?” she asked then, voice soft and sweet.

“I’m in fifth year,” I told her, distracted by the sudden and prominent pang of disappointment churning around inside of me. “I’m seventeen –and two-thirds.”

“And two thirds,” she giggled. “Are the thirds important to you or something?”

“They are now,” I muttered under my breath. Sighing in resignation, I looked at her and explained, “I should be in sixth year, but I repeated sixth

class when I moved to Cork. I’ll be eighteen in May.” “Hey – me too!”

You too what?” I asked cautiously, trying not to get my hopes up, but it was a hard thing to do with her sitting so close.

“I repeated a class in primary school.”

“Yeah?” I straightened up, a sliver of hope sparking to life inside of me. “So that makes you how old?”

Please be seventeen.

Please fucking throw me a bone and tell me you’re seventeen.

“I’m fifteen.” Fuck my luck.

“I can’t think what the fractions are for turning sixteen in March.” She frowned for a moment before she added, “I’m bad at math, and my head hurts.”

“Ten-twelfths,” I reeled off glumly. Ugh.

Just fucking ugh.

I would turn eighteen in May and she’d still be sixteen for another ten months.


No way in hell.

Not happening.

Bad fucking plan, Johnny. “Do you have a boyfriend?”

Now why in the holy hell did I have to ask that?

You are almost two years older than this girl, asshole! She’s too young for you.

You know the rules. Stand the fuck down.

“No,” she replied slowly, cheeks turning pink. “Do you?” “No, Shannon.” I smirked. “I don’t have a boyfriend.”

“I didn’t mean –” Pausing, she exhaled a sigh and gnawed on her bottom lip, clearly flustered. “I meant –”

“I know what you meant,” I filled in, unable to stop my smile from spreading, as I re-tucked that wandering curl behind her ear. “I was just messing with you.”


“Yeah,” I teased. “Oh.”

“Well?” she pressed, voice small. She glanced down at her lap before returning her attention to my face. “Do you –”

“Shannon!” A panicked female voice called out, distracting us both. “Shannon!”

I swung my gaze to the tall, dark-haired woman hurrying down the corridor towards us, sporting a small baby bump.

“Shannon!” she demanded, closing in on us. “What happened?”

“Mam,” Shannon croaked out, turning her attention to her mother. “I’m okay.”

Highly uncomfortable at the sight of her mother’s protruding stomach, I took this as my que to get the fuck away from her minor daughter.

Pregnant women made me nervous, but not nearly as much as Shannon

like the river did.

I stood up and made to move away, only to be cornered by what I could only describe as a deranged mother bear.

“What did you do to my daughter?” she demanded, prodding my shoulder with her finger. “Well? Did you think it was funny? Why in god’s name are children so fucking cruel?”

“What– No!” I shot back, hands up in retreat. “It was an accident. I didn’t mean to hurt her.”

“Mrs. Lynch,” the principal coaxed, stepping between the woman and me. “I’m sure if we all just sit down and talk about this –”

“No,” Mrs. Lynch barked, voice thick with emotion. “You assured me this kind of thing wouldn’t happen at this school and look what happened on her first day!” She turned to look at Shannon and her expression caved in pain. “Shannon, I don’t know what to do with you anymore,” the woman sobbed. “I really don’t, baby. I thought this place would be different for you.”

“Mam, he didn’t mean to hurt me,” Shannon stated, pleading my case. Her blue eyes flicked to me for the briefest of moments before returning to her mother. “It really was an accident.”

“And how many times have you spun me that line?” her mother asked wearily. “You don’t need to cover for him, Shannon. If this boy is giving you a hard time then say it.”

“I’m not,” I protested at the same time Shannon shouted, “He’s not.”

“Shut up, you,” her mother hissed, shoving me hard in the chest. “My daughter can speak for herself.”

Gritting my teeth, I did, in fact, shut up.

I wasn’t going to win any verbal disputes with her mother.

“It was a complete accident,” Shannon repeated, chin jutting out defiantly, still holding her head with her small hand. “Do you think he’d be here helping me if it was on purpose?”

That gave the woman pause for thought.

“No,” she finally admitted. “No, I don’t suppose he would – what in god’s name are you wearing?”

Shannon looked down at herself and flamed scarlet. “I ripped my skirt when I fell down the bank,” she said with a deep swallow. “Johnny…uh, gave me his jersey so everyone didn’t see my…my…well, my knickers.”

“Uh, yeah, here,” I mumbled as I pulled the scrap of grey fabric from the waistband of my shorts and held it out for her mother. “I, uh, broke that, too.”

Her mother snatched the skirt from me, and I took a safe step back.

“Let me get this straight,” her mother demanded, her gaze flickering between Shannon and me. Recognition flashed in her pale blue eyes, of what I had no fucking idea because I was feeling clueless right about now. “He knocked you over, tore your clothes off, and then he put his jersey on you?”

I muttered a string of curses and ran a hand through my hair.

It sounded so fucking bad when she said it like that. “I didn’t –” “He helped me, Mam,” Shannon snapped.

She moved to stand up, and like the asshole I was, I moved to help her, catching a narrowing glare from her mother.

I went to her anyway. Fuck them all.

I’d seen this girl half mindless an hour ago. I wasn’t taking any chances with her.

“Mam,” Shannon sighed. “He was football training and the ball hit me–” “Rugby,” Mr. Twomey interjected proudly. “Our Johnny’s the finest

rugby player Tommen College has seen in fifty years.” I rolled my eyes.

This was not the time to be talking me up – or the company.

“It was an honest mistake,” I added with a helpless shrug. “And I’ll pay for her uniform.”

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” her mother demanded. I frowned.

“It means I’ll pay for her uniform,” I repeated slowly. “Her skirt –” “And tights,” Shannon interjected.

“And her tights.” I flashed her an indulgent smile then quickly sobered my features when I was met with a death glare from her mother. “I’ll replace everything.”

“Because we have no money?” Mrs. Lynch barked. “Because I can’t afford to clothe my own child?”

No,” I said slowly, confused as fuck by the human incubator declaring silent war on me. “Because it’s my fault they’re ruined.”

“Well, no thank you, Johnny,” she huffed. “My daughter is not a charity case.”


This woman was something else.

I tried again, “I never said she was, Mrs. Lynch –”

“Stop, Mam,” Shannon groaned, cheeks burning red. “He’s only trying to be nice.”

“The nice thing to do would have been to not assault you on your first day,” Mrs. Lynch huffed.

I stifled groan.

I wasn’t going to be winning any popularity contests with this woman, that was for sure.

“I’m sorry,” I rolled off the word for the hundredth fucking time. “Johnny,” Mr. Twomey said, clearing his throat. “Why don’t you go

back and change into your uniform and get to your next class.”

I sagged in relief, delighted at the prospect of getting away from this crazy fucking woman.

I took a few steps in the direction of the front entrance, then paused, hesitating.

Should I leave her? Should I stay?

Walking away didn’t feel like the right thing to do.

Unsure, I moved to turn back but was shot down with a barking order. “Keep walking, Johnny!” her mother ordered, pointing a finger at me.

So I did.

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