Author’s Note: I wanted to share this for clarity. This is the one that reminded me of Cress and Enya in this scene.
Relieved to have one night without hours worth of homework for a change, Candelaria reached up to put her text book in her locker. She hadn’t thought it would be this bad so early in the year, but then she’d managed to get herself into three advanced placement classes, so it was her own fault.
The door slammed into her hand, making her cry out as she dropped her book on the floor. The metal bounced back and then someone shoved it shut. She looked over at the jocks and sighed. Not again. What was with them? She’d never been in one of those stupid high school movies before this year—no popular crowd or mean girls—but for some reason, she was living it now. She supposed it was because things were almost too good at home with the Howells and had been for a while.
“This is a senior hall. You should go back where you belong, little girl.”
“Just because I don’t pretend I’m Barbie like your girlfriend does not make me a ‘little’ girl. Emotionally, I’m more mature than any of you.”
“You still don’t belong here. Why don’t you go with the freshmen, huh?”
“Because she’s a junior.”
The jock turned around, laughing. “Well, now, if it isn’t big brother come to protect his baby sister. You gonna pick a fight with me, too, Howell?”
“I’m not a Howell. I’m not her brother, either, but if you don’t move out of the way of my locker, I’ll move you, and you’ll get your fight.”
Candelaria almost groaned. She didn’t know whose brilliant idea it was to have her locker next to Quinn’s, but it had caused her nothing but problems since the school year began. “Just go.”
Quinn gave her a look, and she didn’t care if he included himself in that message. She didn’t understand why he was even there. He hadn’t gone to any of his classes this week, and the Howells had grounded him, but all that meant was that he kept ditching.
“You don’t scare me, girl.”
She rolled her eyes. At least he wasn’t being racist, though that was bound to come up if one of the others started speaking. He was in her Spanish class and kept telling her she should already know this because she was from Mexico, right?
She didn’t know where her parents were from, and she didn’t care. She never had.
Quinn put a hand on his locker. “I’m going to open this right in your face if you don’t move. Last warning.”
The jock grunted. “You don’t scare me, either. Everyone knows you’re all talk and no action. You talk all tough, but you’re not even standing up for your sister. You’re just a coward.”
Candelaria kicked him in the shin. “That is for shutting my locker on my hand. I don’t need anyone to fight for me. I just want to be able to get in and out of my locker without you.”
The jock moved back, cursing her, and Quinn moved in to open his own locker. She picked up her book and started turning the dial, putting her combination in a second time and trying not to curse as she did.
She didn’t even realize she’d said anything until Quinn responded to her “thanks for nothing.”
“Like you need me to fight your battles. Or wanted it.”
She pushed her calculus book into her locker and sighed. “I don’t, but I wish you’d stop making it so tense at home. They’re only worried about you, you know. It’s not like they’re really trying to hound you every second.”
He put a hand on her door, leaning against the lockers. “I told them three years ago that I had no interest in their lies, and I still don’t. Just be glad that by the end of this year, I’ll be eighteen. I won’t be anyone’s problem soon enough.”
She reached up, putting her hand next to his. “You are only a problem because you constantly make yourself one.”
“Yeah, well, the three of you—you’ve got the good two shoes roles more than filled, don’t you?” He said, prying her fingers off the locker and shutting it. “Tell them I don’t plan on coming home all weekend, will you?”
“You are such a jerk.”
He smiled, adjusting his backpack on his back as he turned to leave. She shook her head, but then he said something to the jocks and they jumped him, knocking him back against the other set of lockers. She cursed. Yeah, sure, he’d be gone all weekend—because he was going to put himself in the hospital again, the idiot.
“You need to lose to a girl again or what?”
“Aw, is little sis going to protect the big brother now?”
“He’s not my brother. My brother is younger than me—which is why I always have to fight dirty,” she said, hoping she sounded more convincing than she thought she did. She wasn’t like Quinn. She didn’t even fight with Beacan.
Quinn used her distraction to nail the jock, punching him right in the face. The jock covered his nose, cussing up a storm. Candelaria figured he’d gotten what he deserved, and Quinn must have, too, because he started to walk away from the others.
“That is it, Lockard! You’re suspended.”
Turning back to the principal, Quinn laughed. “I haven’t been here all week. You think that’s really going to bother me?”
“I don’t know why they bother with you. You’re going to end up in jail, and there’s nothing the Howells can do to stop it.”
Candelaria grimaced. She had a terrible feeling that he was right about that, and she didn’t even think Quinn cared.