First chapter of Christmas beyond Christmas

Prologue

Greg 

2007

 

The pain in my legs increased as they were pushed unceremoniously into the locker, the jeering getting louder.

“It’s too fucking funny man, how tiny you are,” Ray mocked.

“Come on, get him in before anyone catches us,” Billy said, a hint of apprehension in his voice as he held onto my ankles while trying to use his free hand to push my head in the locker.

The other three guys laughed as they finally managed to squish me into the small space meant for my books. The metal edges dug into my hips, my head hitting the back with a thud as the door was slammed shut and darkness descended. I blinked and tried to get a little more comfortable, not knowing how long I’d be in there.

I’d long since passed the point of trying to fight, because what was the point? They’d still win. I’d still find myself in the locker, only with a lot more bruises.

 If you’d been paying attention instead of having your nose stuck in a book, you might have noticed Ray and his gang of dumbasses.

My brother’s voice in my head overrode my thoughts and I sighed because he was right. I tended not to notice what was going on around me once I was lost in the pages of a book. They made a shitty school life better. In fact, they were the only thing that helped me survive the torment of being the smallest boy in school. It didn’t help that I had blond curls and blue eyes with long eyelashes that the girls always complained weren’t fair for a boy to have. And the boys just thought I looked gay. I’d discovered over the last year that they weren’t wrong, my body starting to take notice of… Will.

Heat suffused my face and I squirmed in discomfort at the thought of the huge giant who was my older brother’s best friend. The guy was a mountain. He’d started to grow rapidly at the age of twelve and hadn’t stopped since. Now, at eighteen, he was the biggest guy in school, as broad as he was tall. No one messed with him. He was five years my senior and I worshipped him, not that he knew that.

As if I’d conjured him up, a deep voice I’d have recognized anywhere shouted something outside the locker, the door wrenched open a second later. I blinked owlishly at him as the light blinded me.

“Why is it that the minute I turn my back, you find yourself in trouble, Tiny?” His large hands took hold of me as he carefully lifted me out of the locker and placed me on the floor. His hands lingered on my waist as I found my footing.

My neck craned backwards so I could look up at his face. There was a familiar glint of anger simmering in the sea-green eyes. “I’m a magnet that shitty people stick to, what can I say?” I muttered, doing my best to keep the heat creeping up my neck from climbing any higher as Will took it upon himself to dust me off.

No matter how many times I told myself Will was just acting like one of my brothers, my heart didn’t listen as it leapt with joy at his actions.

“If you took your head out of those damn books for a second, you might notice what’s going on around you,” he growled as he stood to his full height, towering over me.

His brows drew together and I braced myself for the lecture that was coming my way.

“I’ve told you before, you need to learn some self-defense. That way you can stop those dicks from hurting you. You have to stand up to the bullies. Neither me nor Neil will be here next semester to stop this shit from happening.”

The genuine concern in his voice continued to play havoc with my heart as it swelled with teenage love and gratitude. It wasn’t the first time that either him or Neil, my brother, had offered to teach me some basic moves. The problem was, I was about as coordinated as a piece of cooked spaghetti, which moved in any direction but the one I wanted it to. I didn’t need to humiliate myself further by failing and having them witness it.

His broad shoulders stiffened as he stared at me as if he could read my mind.

“There’s no point, Will. Whatever you teach me won’t be enough to defend myself from Ray and his dick friends. Besides, they’ll only be here for another year and then they’ll be gone the same as you and Neil.” The sadness in my voice caused the furrows on his forehead to deepen.

I forced a smile as I patted his bulging forearm. “Don’t worry, I’ll be fine.”

His brows arched up in disbelief as he looked at the locker I’d been crammed into only minutes before. “Yeah Tiny, like that’s true.”  He turned his head, his eyes narrowing as he scanned the nearly empty corridor. The remaining few girls that lingered in the halls at the end of the school day paid me no mind. Their gaze was for one person only—Will.

Why would you want them to look at you? You don’t even like girls.

Most of the time, I was invisible to everyone. A nobody until the bullies decided to humiliate me. 

Will, on the other hand, was someone everyone noticed—boys and girls. It wasn’t just his size that drew their attention; it was his sheer magnetism. It was captivating in so many ways. Add in the fact he was a genuinely nice person, able to laugh at himself and he became irresistible.

Whatever Will was thinking was masked as he turned back to me. “I’ll speak with your brother. I'm sure we can come up with a plan.”

My stomach churned. “Plan for what?” I squeaked out, balling my hands into fists to stop myself from covering my mouth like a complete dork.

“Don’t you worry that pretty little blond head,” he muttered distractedly, his hand touching that same blond head as he ran his fingers through my curls.

He’s your brother’s best friend, nothing more. He’s straight and would never be interested in you.

My shoulders slumped at the thought and I had to work hard to stop my lips from turning down at the corners.

“Let’s go. I’ll walk you home to make sure you don’t get yourself into any more trouble. Your brothers would kick my ass if you did.” His fingers tugged once more at my hair before releasing it and strolling away, with me having to run to keep up with the length of his strides.

 See, he’s only helping you because of your brothers, not for any other reason.

A boy could dream; there was no harm in that.