Home > Griffin (Hope City #11)

Griffin (Hope City #11)
Author: Maryann Jordan

 

 

1

 

 

“Stop! Stop right now!”

Damnit! Caitlyn raced out the door, turning at the last second to shout in her most authoritative voice to the others behind her, “Stay where you are!” She should have saved her breath for all the good it did as they crowded behind her, pushing through the doorway and out where the crowd was gathering.

The two boys in the hall were already throwing punches, fists hitting hard enough that blood spurted from one’s cut lip and the other’s nose was bleeding. Cringing at the sound, her stomach churned.

“Stop now!” she shouted again, her heart slamming against her ribs. More teenagers rushed into the hallway, and a brief image of the bloodlust from the ancient Romans watching the gladiators ran through her mind. Another hit knocked one of the boys backward as well as jolting her thoughts back to the happenings in front of her. Some spectators yelled, “Fight!” with exuberance while others shouted for whichever one they hoped was winning. Where the hell are the other teachers?

She moved closer to the action, trying to get them to stop as her adrenaline spiked. Shouting usually worked with guys. She found they were less likely to keep fighting with a female teacher intervening. Now, girls fighting? Not so much. They’d keep punching, slapping, scratching, pulling hair, and whatever else they could do and never gave a damn about who was around!

Having no recourse but to physically intervene, she saw her entry and darted. The two boys separated just long enough for her to place her hands on the chest of one, and she looked over her shoulder in gratitude to see one of her students, a huge football player, try to grab the other. The student she hoped was under her control lashed out one last time just as she attempted to move to the side. Her head snapped back as his fist connected with her face, and for a second, she felt nothing as she dropped like a stone, straight to the floor, landing on her ass. An exploding pain slammed into her, and the breath left her lungs. The world became black other than the dots of lights flashing in front of her. Stars… fucking stars!

Her hand clutched her face as she attempted to draw air into her lungs but found the pain kept her from doing anything other than gasp. Barely aware of the sounds around her, she caught lots of ‘Shits’, ‘damns’, and ‘fucks’ from the students, with a few voices chiming in with, “Oh, my God, you hit Ms. McBride!”

She no longer heard fists hitting flesh but no longer cared if the two boys pummeled each other into oblivion. She’d never been hit in the face before, and the pain sent nausea flooding over her. Please, God, don’t let me throw up. Tears fell unbidden.

“Get back to your classes!”

Finally, the orders from more faculty could be heard through the cacophony of other sounds. Hands reached down to her, and with her one good eye opened, she managed to see a few of her students gathered close.

“Ms. McBride, you gotta breathe.”

She recognized another student, concern plastered on his face, but couldn’t focus through the pain. Turning her head slightly, she saw two male teachers with the fighters in tow, hauling them down the hall. One of the fighters looked over his shoulder and cried out, “I didn’t mean to, Ms. McBride! Fuck, I’m sorry!”

“Someone get the nurse!”

She looked back at the student in front of her as he called for the nurse. He was shifted out of the way, and another face filled her vision.

“Hey, Caitlyn, let’s see what we’ve got.” A man squatted in front of her, and she stared at him from the one eye that still seemed to work. “How many fingers am I holding up?”

“Um… three…” she managed to grunt.

“Who am I?”

“Ja… Jamie.”

“Good girl. Now, did we ever go out on a date?”

“Ugh…”

He laughed as he gently pulled her hand from her face, and she squinted before glancing around to see that the other teachers mostly had the students back in their classrooms. One of the administrators stood to the side, and the nurse hustled down the hall toward her.

“Gonna have a shiner there, Caitlyn. And for the record, I thought our date was good,” Jamie said, bringing her attention back to him.

Not in the mood for anyone’s humor, even a good friend who’d once been on a not-so-good date, she fought back the tears that were falling, afraid sobbing would hurt more. He was pushed aside as the nurse knelt in front of her.

“Oh, dear,” the nurse muttered, holding Caitlyn’s chin and turning her head from side to side. “Let’s get you into the wheelchair.”

“The boys… they were bleeding,” Caitlyn mumbled.

“They’ll live. The admins and security officers have them in the clinic right now. My assistant is checking them out before their parents are called.”

“No wheelchair,” she moaned, standing with the nurse and Jamie’s assistance.

“Sorry, dearie, but school policy. You might have lost consciousness.”

Her ass landed in the wheelchair, and she winced, both at the movement and seeing students still peering out of classroom doors to see what was happening. “My class—”

“Department chair will cover,” Robert said. As one of the assistant principals, he was there to make sure the halls stayed cleared, her class was covered, and the nurse was getting her to the clinic. He placed his hand on her shoulder. “You know the drill, Caitlyn. You’ll have to see a doctor per policy. And you’ll have to write an incident report even though a review of the security cameras will take place.”

“Um huh,” she mumbled, pain and embarrassment vying for dominance. Okay, seriously, it’s the pain that’s winning out. Soon, they arrived in the clinic where the nurse followed the concussion protocol and gently probed her face before giving her an ice pack to hold on her eye.

“Well, the good news is that you don’t seem to have a concussion—”

Caitlyn snorted, then winced again. “God, this sucks.” Looking at the nurse, she sighed. “Okay, Louise, lay it on me. What’s the bad news?”

“You’re definitely going to have a black eye. Although the kids will just think you’re even more badass.”

Before she could respond, Frank, the school’s security officer, came in, anger vibrating from him. “Their parents have been called. The admins have suspended both of them. The one that hit you probably won’t be allowed back.” He shook his finger toward her. “And you’re gonna press charges, right?”

Not able to think past the pain, she attempted a glare in his direction but was sure it fell short if his grimace was anything to go by. “No, I’m not.” She sighed. “It was an accident.”

“An accident?” he shouted.

She sighed again. “Yes. He didn’t try to hit me. I got in the way.”

“Christ, you bleedin’ heart teachers,” he groused, stomping out of the clinic.

Watching him leave, she noticed her good friend, who was one of the teachers, standing in the doorway. “Hey,” Barbara said softly. “How are you?”

“Peachy,” she groaned. “My face hurts. I have to see a doctor. The kids in my class are probably freaked. And I’m no longer a favorite of our security officer.”

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