I registered the audience’s sharp intakes of breath and their shocked laughs, but I didn’t care. I glared down at Piper, who was trying to hold her face and stand back up at the same time.
Pulling my hand back to deliver another blow—hey, she deserved it—I felt myself being lifted off the ground.
I tried to wiggle out of the grasp of whoever had me, but when I heard Jared shushing me in my ear, I eased up.
“What’s going on here?” A male voice interrupted us. I looked over to see Dr. Porter, coffee-stained beard and all, looking between the two heaps on the floor. I grimaced. There was no way I was getting away with all of the damage I’d done today. And thank you Jared for stopping me before Dr. Porter saw!
Madoc cleared his throat. “Dr. Porter. Nate and Piper bumped into each other.”
Oh, my God. I was convinced. Madoc was an idiot.
“Mr. Caruthers, I’m not stupid.” Dr. Porter glanced around, trying to make eye contact with anyone who would talk. “Now what happened here?”
No one spoke. No one even breathed, I think. The hallway was silent, and I merely waited for Nate or Piper to break the silence.
I was going to be in so much trouble.
“I didn’t see anything, sir,” a male student piped up, giving Dr. Porter a blank stare.
“Me either, Dr. Porter,” another student followed suit. “Probably just an accident.”
And I was blown away as everyone either lied or remained silent, covering for us. Okay, they were covering for Jared, but I was going to take what I could get.
Dr. Porter looked around, still waiting for someone to tell the truth.
He was right. He wasn’t stupid, and he knew something was fishy. I just hoped he didn’t call on me. I liked the guy and probably couldn’t lie.
He sighed and rubbed his scruffy jaw. “Alright, you two.” He gestured to Nate and Piper. “Get up, and come to the nurse. Everyone else. Head home!”
Piper grabbed her purse, slammed her locker shut and stalked off down the hall, while Nate held his bloodied nose and followed Dr. Porter.
As everyone dispersed, no one said anything to me. No one gave me snide looks or cruel snickers. Jared circled his arms around my neck and pulled me to him, enveloping me in the safe, warm wall of his chest. I closed my eyes and breathed him in as a wave of relief flooded me. I had him back.
“I’m so sorry about not trusting you. And about what I did to your car, too,” I said into his hoodie.
He laid his cheek on the top of my head. “Tate, you’re mine, and I’m yours. Every day you’re going to realize that more and more. When you believe it without a doubt, then I’ll have earned your trust.”
“I am yours. I just…wasn’t sure if you were really mine.”
“Then I’ll make you sure.” He kissed my hair, and his body started shaking with laughter.
“You’re laughing right now?” I looked up at him, confused.
“Well, I was kind of worried about my anger issues, but now I’m kind of worried about yours. You like to hit people.” His perfect mouth grinned with pride.
I rolled my eyes and pouted. “I’m not angry. She got what she deserved, and I was attacked first.” She got off lucky, actually. After the shit she pulled, Piper was lucky I didn’t take a flame thrower to her entire halter top collection.
He lifted me by the backs of my thighs, and I locked my arms and legs around him as he carried me off.
“It’s your fault, you know?”
“What?” Jared asked. His breath hot on my ear.
“You made me mean. And now I pummel poor, defenseless girls…and guys.” I tried to make my voice sound accusing and innocent.
Jared gripped me tighter. “If you beat metal long enough, it turns to steel.”
I buried my nose in his hair, kissing the ridge of his ear and joked. “Whatever helps you sleep at night, you big bully.”
Cool air caressed my back, sending chills down my arms. My eyes drifted open at the draft, and an uncontrollable smile crept across my lips.
“You better not be asleep.” Jared rustled behind me as I lay in bed, probably removing his boots.
A silent laugh escaped my lips as I turned onto my back and faced him. Hovering over me, the moonlight poured over his beautiful face, and his hair glistened with droplets of rain from the light drizzle outside. I couldn’t get enough of the sight of him.
“You came through the tree…in a storm,” I stated as he crawled into bed and immediately positioned his body on top of me. He still wore his clothes.
My dad had arrived home last week, and it went without saying that Jared was not welcome for any overnight visits. Of course, Jared and I already assumed this. I knew my dad loved Jared, but he wasn’t going to put up with finding him in my room either. That was understandable.
Resting both arms on either side of my head, Jared gazed down into my eyes. “Yeah, we used to sit in that tree all the time when it rained. It’s like riding a bike. I never forget how good it felt.”
Tears welled in my eyes. The years that separated us had hurt, but how quickly they’d passed. We were together again. We’d never forgotten how to be together.
“Do you like your car?” He smiled and started nibbling my lips with soft, teasing kisses. Giving me little pause, I could only nod.
Last weekend, after my dad had gotten home, we all took a trip to Chicago and bought my G8. I’d owned the sleek, dark metallic silver car for only a few days so far.