Count On Me

By: Melyssa Winchester

Prologue



Kayden



I need to keep walking.

Just keep my head down and walk to my car. Go home. The one thing I’ve been dying to do since Coach finished giving me the weekly after practice speech.

I don’t need to be getting involved in this even though it’s my friends that are the ring leaders. I need to pretend I can’t hear or see any of this and keep walking until I’m safely locked away where none of them can get to me.

That would be the smart thing to do, but let’s face it; I never do the smart thing. I do the one thing that’s sure to land me in the most shit once my brother Dean gets wind of it.

“Hey Kayden, you want in?” Dillon yells, motioning toward their latest project.

“Nah man, this one’s all yours.” I say, forcing a laugh so he gets the idea that I’m cool and not bothered by what they’re doing.

I am though, bothered by it. It’s one thing to pick on some nerd walking the halls with their nose in a book, but Isabelle? Everyone knows the girl has issues, so why do this stupid game with her?

“Your loss bro.” he calls back and I start walking again, more determined than ever to just get to my car and get the hell out of here.

It’s a game to us. We take one kid every couple of months and torture them in a bunch of different ways until they break under the pressure. I say us because I’ve been part of it before, more than a few times actually. It’s not that I think it’s right, but it beats turning them down and becoming the one they attack.

I don’t want to be a part of this though and not because when Dean finds out he’ll kick my ass. Truth is, he’d do that anyway. This time I don’t because of who it’s happening to.

Isabelle Reagan.

The blonde haired, blue eyed Senior I’ve lived across the street from since we were in diapers. Before my mom split, we used to spend a lot of time over at their house. She used to call it tea time, but I swear with the way they used to act, I’m pretty sure there was something other than tea going into those cups.

Isabelle was always super quiet and I remember thinking it was kind of creepy, the way she’d almost look through you, yet never say a word. When she did manage to interact, it was always in really weird ways too, like she wasn’t normal. Mom took off, leaving me with Dean and I was happy about it. It meant I wouldn’t be forced to spend any more time with the weirdo next door.

Yeah, I know, I’m an asshole, but that’s not exactly news.

I won’t be in on this because despite the way I used to look at her and maybe still do, I know things now. Dean ended up explaining a lot to me a few years back when he had to pick her up from school because she had an accident and the school couldn’t reach her mom. Attacking her didn’t hold any appeal for me.

It’s when I hear her cry out that I stop. It’s not the cry of someone being bullied like we’ve done before. This is different. It’s almost like it isn’t human at all, but the cry of a wounded bird.

Keep walking. Don’t look back. Just keep walking.

I don’t do it. Instead, I turn around and take in what’s going on around me.

Her backpack is on the ground ripped apart, judging by the papers and books spilled out all over the place. Her hair, which was in pigtails earlier, is now half hanging out, which only made the knot in my stomach tighter.

It’s hard to tell from here, but it looks like she’s got tear stains under her eyes, which means Dillon and the others are getting exactly what they want. I’m about to turn around again, but before I can, Dillon gets one of the girls to hold her arms and her eyes lock on mine.

Shit.

Why did they have to grab her and turn her in my direction? Don’t they realize I can’t handle the emptiness I see staring back at me?

Fuck.

“Look at this Amy, she’s crying again. What a freaking baby. Is the little retard scared? Is she gonna piss her pants again?”

The minute the words come out of his mouth, I’m done. I’m a first class asshole, but I’m nothing like Dillon right now. What he’s doing, the things he saying, there’s no way in hell it’s right. Everything about this is just wrong.

“Maybe she wants you to kiss it better Dillon. I’ve seen the way she looks at you when she doesn’t think anyone can see. She totally wants your lips on her.”

“I think you’re right, Ames. Maybe I should give her a little something to remember me by.”

I watch as he moves closer and Amy drops the hold on her arms. He reaches out and grabs her. As I try to get my legs to move, Isabelle struggles against him and her shirt rips. Before any of the idiots I call friends can say anything though, it gets worse.

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