Sweat doesn’t drip from a body attuned to enduring marathons, and so in the same way pain should have at least given me the same grace, but no she was my best friend, and I was not exactly accustomed to her not so subtle cold shoulder. She was my best friend, and here she was with her-the skank in our grade, and for what? - To make me wish that I hadn’t gone with Jasper to New Port? I sighed, well if she could stoop the low to blow me off, then I didn’t need her. I squared my shoulders, and tried to place one foot in front of the other as I headed off toward chemistry, hoping beyond hope that Jasper would be here. I wouldn’t be able to stand Brittany’s blow off if he wasn’t here, somehow he made me feel relaxed and calm and in control. I staggered a little under the weight of my backpack but somehow kept my balance on the cool tile floor. I felt a hand slip under my slim frame, and shuddered, but then relaxed as I figured out whom it was. “Hi Jasper.” So much for practicing being cool and everything, my words slipped out eagerly and way to fast, as I dropped an arm as to let it rub against his fingers that enclosed my side. “Hey.” The voice was husky, and non-familiar. I tried to slide out of the grasp I found myself in, but it wasn’t working, and before I knew it, I was pinned up against the locker facing Jason Atwood, Lysonville High Quarterback, and one of the hottest guys ever, so he was accustomed to girls throwing themselves at him; but he was also accustomed too drinking way to much. This was the first time he had ever dared lay a finger on me though. I wanted to scream, but I became numb, my teeth chattering in my mouth so loud I was sure my jaw would pop as I tried to protest, but my pleas ended in one single weak shriek. “Shut up b**ch.” A hand covered my mouth as he worked to move his fingers from my side to my hips. My eyes began to roll backwards, and I tried to struggle, but coordination had never been one of my things. Frantically I bit his hand that covered my mouth, and then kicked him in the groin. Immediately he doubled over in pain, and I tried to step over him, but tripped, landing on top of him and sending my book bag flying. “I knew you’d come around.” His voice was low and husky, and before I knew it he backhanded me across the face, whipping the wind out of me, and leaving a bruise. I gasped in pain, and tried to move, but knowing that I would be stuck. Where was everybody? The halls were empty, and I guessed that class had probably started already. I had never been late before. I could hear Jason still groaning about getting hurt, and I tried to pick myself up, but found myself tripping again. Where was Jasper when I needed him, then I remembered, he wasn’t going to be at school today because he was going to be surfing in California. A tear dripped down my face, and I sent a silent prayer to God to save me, help me, anything. My right leg was cramped from Jason’s weight, and I knew within seconds he would turn his attention to me again, and that was when I remembered, the silver necklace Jasper had given me that was shaped like a locket, but didn’t open. “Squeeze this love, and I’ll be there, no matter what.” His words echoed in my head, and I lifted a hand to it, and squeezed. Please, I begged, wondering why at least a teacher didn’t find me. It was then that Jason remembered me, and shifted his weight, dragging me upwards into his arms, and down the hall towards the bathrooms, and that was when I blacked out. I awoke to the sound of fighting, and that was when I saw them. I lay in a heap on a floor, it was wet and smelled something awful. My world spun as I looked up at the two above me. Jason’s face was bloodied and he narrowly dodged a punch from my unseen hero…Jasper. I stared at him, his face black with rage as he hit Jason again and again. “Stop.” My voice came out in a whisper, and my head hurt. “Stop. Stop. STOP!” I shifted, and gazed up into their faces, as they stood frozen staring down at me. “Stop it Jasper. Stop it.” While I spoke, Jason took his leave, tearing from the room, and I sat there dazed, looking up into my beloved’s face. Before I could speak again, he was down on his knees, picking me up into his arms. “Don’t look in the mirror, we are going to get you through this okay? Just don’t faint, just look at me, okay?” I tried to stare into his beautiful eyes as his cool breath washed over my face, as he slowly began to walk. I could feel my eyes wandering though, as he reminded me again to look at him, and then finally cupped a hand around my chin. “Stay with me, okay? I’m so sorry.” “What?” My voice was rough and I tried to take a deep breath, but my throat killed. He opened the door, and it was then that people surrounded us. Some glanced at me, some glared, while others outright exclaimed, “Wow Jasper that’s awesome, scoring during class eh bud?” “Jasper that’s number what…?” The jokes followed us, and I could feel Jasper’s hands trembling, feel his rage as he carried me. “Just look at me. Don’t pay any attention to them you hear me?” His voice was rough, and his fingers tightened under my chin. A shiver shook my spine, and I tried not to move because it hurt to move. “What happened?” My voice was thin, and I could feel myself shaking despite my best attempts not to. I could see the pain in his eyes as he stared back into mine, and I couldn’t fathom what had happened. We stepped outside, and I could feel him visibly relax a little bit, but the intensity never left him. “That bastard tried to take you.” His voice was incredibly even, and I tried to understand what he was saying. Then it hit me: rape. I began to scream and cry, as every shake that my body emitted racked my body with pain. I looked into his eyes as I panicked, hitting at him with my hands and kicking my feet out as I screamed and cried, probably scaring the living crap out of him, but he calmly held me tighter, pulling me against his chest as if this was an everyday thing. I sobbed, my tears pouring down my face and soaking into the thin layer of shirt that covered his muscular body. I glanced down at my body, and noticed now why people had been glaring at me. My shirt was ripped, buttons were missing, and blood droplets littered my jeans, or what was left of them, as they too looked like a lion had tried to maul me. My tears grew more abundant as I looked at myself, shame filling me, and I tried to wriggle loose from Jasper’s hold, embarrassed that he had to see me like this. “Hold still...” He hissed, and then in an afterthought he turned his great big beautiful eyes on me, and inserted a, ‘…please,’ as well, but I couldn’t; somehow I was too far gone for him to have any effect on me. I continued to struggle, until he was forced to tuck my legs under his arm and sprint the remaining distance to his car. “Now will you please stop being so stubborn and hold still?” He questioned, opening the door, reclining the chair and laying me carefully onto the seat as if I was a fragile doll. I nodded, glancing up into his face and his shoulders dropped into a more relaxed position. Before I knew it, he was in the car, sitting beside me and we were cruising along the road. “What happ…” my question hung in the air as he abruptly shut me off, “Save your energy, try not to talk.” He warned, pulling a blanket from the backseat and somehow still managing to tuck me in with it while still driving, and maintaining a steady speed of lightening fast. “I’m going to take you to my house, where maybe Dowan can fix you up, you hit your head pretty bad, and I think that your still in a lot of shock and your ankle is broken.” His voice tensed as he listed my injuries, and I couldn’t help but ask a question. “Did he succeed in hurting me? What about you” “HURTING YOU?” His voice exploded into the air. “Hurting you? Do you think that I just list off those things as if they don’t hurt you, and yet you ask me still? He tried to rape you; he nearly succeeded… I almost didn’t get there in time, and just seeing that, that thing touching you…” His voice broke off, and I could hear him take a deep breath. A curse slipped into the air, and he suddenly looked over at me, compassion filling his eyes, “I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have said that, I should be quieter, are you okay?” A hand gently touched my forehead, and then slid down to my chin, cradling it. “We’ll be home soon, I promise, and I’ll take care of him. You don’t need to worry, nobody will ever hurt you again, you got that?” I tried to nod, but my head throbbed with every movement. Concern etched itself into the fine lines of Jasper’s face, and I tried to say something to get our minds off what had just happened. “It’s okay…” I began, but I could hear a faint growl emit from his throat, and I knew I had started that sentence wrong. I prepared myself for him to give me another speech, but he held it in, and so I tried to start again. “I know that everything will be okay.” I said, trying to believe my own words as they hung final in the air. I saw him shake his head, and turn aside, facing once again the road, as he made a last second turn. I tried not to scream, his reckless driving habits never ceasing to stun and worry me. Nausea crept into my throat, and I tried to close my eyes, but it was too late, and then I was throwing up, somehow out the window, and he was cradling me. Anguish burned into his eyes as he spoke, “my fault love, I should have paid more attention to you, I’m sorry. It’s all my fault.” His fingers squeezed into my sides, and I could feel the rush of his blood flowing through his pale fingertips as they bit into my flesh. I took a deep breath, and tried to lay still in his arms, daring to gaze up into him, his eyes a wreckage of sorrow and anger. “I’m thirsty.” I croaked, needing water to clear the bitter taste of bile from my tongue. Before I knew it, water was pouring into my mouth, and I was lying flat in the car again, speeding with him once more towards his house. The next thing I knew, we were pulling in, and he was cradling me in his arms as we walked up the steps. As soon as we entered, I could see his family sitting around a huge table, as if expecting me by the amounts of pillows they had on hand, and covering the table. “Dowan?” Jasper’s voice was dry and low, and suddenly everybody was moving, getting into action as I was laid onto the table. I felt like a new doll that everybody was suddenly interested in getting to know. “Jordan?” Dowan’s voice nestled in my ears, and I tried to relax as his ice-cold fingers touched my ankle. His cold hands felt so good around my ankle as they numbed the beating pain that overtook me like a knife. “Yeah?” “We’re going to give you a couple of shots to take away the pain, and then I’m going to set your ankle. You’re going to have to lie very still.” I nodded and closed my eyes. “Give her something to kill the headache too,” whispered Jasper. Good ol’ Jasper, always looking out for me I thought. A sigh escaped me, and then I was falling asleep. I awoke, not quite alert. In that place of semi-consciousness, where you can hear voices, but not quite talk. “Did anything happen to her?” Dowan’s voice was low, and severe. “No. Not that I came upon, though I don’t think I would have been able to stop myself from killing that bastard if he would’ve... It’s hard enough as it is to control myself; especially to think that he touched her!” Jasper’s voice was quiet and I could hear the anger mounting behind his words. A shiver chilled my spine as I tried to block out today’s events. “And why did he pick her?” “God knows why. Why does it seem like trouble is following her everywhere? It’s like she has a sign on her back, alerting all creepers to follow her.” His voice tightened, and I realized that I had been holding my breath. I sucked in air, and tried to speak, but a weight felt like it lay on my windpipe, instead all that came out was a cough. “Jordan?” I could hear his footsteps toward me, loud and clear on the perfectly spotless wooden floor. He laid a hand on my forehead, and I opened my eyes. “Well the headache’s gone.” He remarked, and I blinked. He never failed to astound me at how acute he could sometimes seem to read my mind. I tried a small smile, and he smiled back, though it didn’t quite reach his eyes. “Can I move now?” “No need. Tell me where you need to go, and I’ll carry you.” “The bathroom.” A blush spread on my cheeks, and I lowered my eyes. I sat up, but way to fast, the world around me spun as if on an axis, and I could feel myself falling, but I landed into his arms. “As I said, let me carry you.” He lifted me once again into his arms, and before I knew it, he had set me in the bathroom. “Do you think you can manage?” He asked, complete seriousness filling his face. I nodded, but immediately proved otherwise, as I came down hard on my left ankle, tripping once again. “Oops.” The word slipped out of my mouth, and I prayed that he would just leave, so as I would not embarrass myself anymore, but he didn’t seem to take the hint. Slowly, he picked me up, and placed me on the toilet. “Now I am going to turn around, and you can do your business.” He promised, his voice especially soft and low. I blushed even deeper. “Can you stand outside the door, maybe?” I asked, and he complied, bowing slightly in his leave. I gingerly pulled at my jeans, and winced in pain as my ankle throbbed. I didn’t know how much more of this I could take. It was already one thing for him to be constantly trying to rescue me, but I felt like an infant not being able to do anything. I wasn’t being fair to him, he had to bend over backwards all the time for me, and I was consuming him. Somehow, I would have to let him go, though I didn’t even know the first place to start.