Home > Dare To Love(7)

Dare To Love(7)
Author: Lylah James

I dropped my fork with a loud clank. “Put. The. Apple. Down.”

Maddox was unfazed. “Or what?”

“You’ll regret it, Coulter.”

He let out a deep chuckle, as if my threat meant nothing to him. “You’re all bark and no bite, Sweet Cheeks.”

Sweet Cheeks? Excuse me…?

“You know what you remind me of? A little chihuahua trying to fight a bigger and stronger dog when she knows she can’t win. Careful or you’ll end up with a nasty bite, Garcia.”

I snatched my apple from his hand and leaned forward, bringing our faces closer. “Did you know that chihuahuas are known as an aggressive breed when they’re moody, and when they do bite, they bite hard. Careful, or you’ll end up with a nasty bite, Coulter.”

I brought the apple to my mouth and took a bite before I realized what I was doing. Maddox’s eyes flared before his lips quirked up. “I think we just shared our first indirect kiss.”

Oh, for God’s sake!

Colton snickered before stealing a brownie from Riley’s tray. She hissed, and her eyes hardened with a glare. The girl before Jasper would have exploded. The new Riley? She stayed quiet.

“That was a lousy kiss. You can do better than that, man,” Colton said, his six-foot-something frame shaking with mirth.

Maddox grabbed my chair and pulled me closer to him, the four legs making a loud screeching sound. The whole cafeteria was watching now. I could feel their stares burning into me.

“What do you say, Garcia? Shall we put on a show for these asswipes?” His voice lowered, holding a suggestive tone.

“Not interested. Your lips probably hold more disease than a pig’s asshole.” I handed him back the apple, giving him my best smile. “Consider this charity. Next time, I won’t be so gracious.”

The boys hollered at my response.

Maddox stared, his blue eyes pointedly holding mine. He was still grinning. I didn’t know why he kept doing that – smiling like he was having the best time of his life verbally sparring with me.

I found it neither entertaining nor funny.

Pushing away from the table, I stood up and grabbed my empty tray. Riley followed suit, and we left the cafeteria.

Maddox and his buddies didn’t follow.

 

 

Mrs. Levi gave me a nod of approval, and I let out a relieved sigh. “That was a fabulous explanation, Lila.”

“Thank you.” I started to take my seat, feeling quite pleased with myself. I had spent two hours last night writing my essay, rereading all my notes and writing out this analysis.

“I disagree.” A deep baritone voice interrupted my happy moment.

Heat crept up my neck, and I flushed under the sudden scrutinizing stares coming from the rest of the class. Including his.

“Excuse me?” I said through gritted teeth, turning around to face Maddox. He was sitting, laid-back, in his chair.

Maddox leaned forward in his chair, crossing his arms over the desk. When he spoke, his tone was flat and disinterested. “Sometimes we’re thrown into a difficult situation where we need to make a difficult choice. Sometimes, it’s not the best or the right choice. But maybe, it’s the only option we have.”

“Could you elaborate on that, Maddox?” Mrs. Levi demanded.

“Throughout Greek history and mythology, Medusa has always been viewed as a villain. You made a good point that Athena is an anti-hero, but you also went ahead and painted Medusa as a villain, yet again. Medusa was once a very beautiful woman - one who was an avowed priestess of Athena. She spent her days and nights in Athena’s temple. Here’s what we all know… she was punished for breaking her vow of celibacy. Athena cursed her, and Medusa became the woman with serpent heads. But… was it really her fault? History said she had an affair with Poseidon. Some say he seduced her, but the article that Mrs. Levi assigned us to read revealed that it was a lie to hide the fact that, in reality, Poseidon had raped her. She was never given the chance to plead her case or to speak for herself. Poseidon said Medusa seduced him, and in a fit of anger and jealousy, Athena cursed her. Once turned into a monster, she brought terror to the temple and anyone who stepped foot inside was instantly turned into stone. Now, it’s easy to categorize Athena as the antagonist. After all, she was the one who gave the magical mirror to the warrior, which was used to turn Medusa into stone and eventually killed her. But could it be an act of mercy?” Maddox paused, cocking his head to the side, thoughtfully. “Maybe Athena regretted turning Medusa into a monster. Maybe Athena discovered the truth about Poseidon. Maybe… killing Medusa was the only way of granting her peace. Neither Medusa nor Athena is a villain. I would say they’re both anti-heroes who were thrown into a very shitty situation.”

“Wow… umm that’s a very interesting way of looking at it, Maddox. A very in-depth analysis, I have to say.” I could hear the shock in Mrs. Levi’s voice. She probably wasn’t expecting that.

Me? My whole body strummed with embarrassment.

“Your analysis would have been better if you took a moment to think outside the box. Consider this constructive criticism,” Maddox said, his gaze on mine. “I hope you don’t mind my little tip.”

I bit on my lip, trying so hard to hold back from saying something stupid in front of the class. “Thank you.” The words tasted bitter on my tongue.

Pressing my lips firmly together, I retook my seat.

I was hyperaware of Maddox staring at me. He hadn’t skipped one English class since he made it his goal to irritate me. Maddox made sure I could feel his presence at all times.

He didn’t want me to forget – I was the prey; he was the hunter.

As soon as the bell rang, I was the first one out of class. It was hard to admit… but I was running away.

Riley was already waiting for me in the courtyard. “Uh oh. That expression tells me Maddox pulled another one of his asshole moves again.”

I threw my hands in the air, holding back a frustrated scream. “He embarrassed me in front of the class.”

“What did he do this time?”

Riley and I settled down, cross-legged, on the cold grass. I handed her the sandwich my grandma packed for us this morning, Riley’s favorite. Turkey, lettuce, cheese and homemade smoked mustard. We bit into our sandwiches while I recounted what happened in class.

“Are you pissed that he was right and made a smarter analysis than you… or, are you pissed that he called you out in front of the class?”

“I–” My mouth snapped shut because Riley…was right. She knew me so well. I’d always been competitive by nature.

I made an aggravated sound at the back of my throat before admitting the truth. “Okay, fine. I’m pissed he had a better analysis, and I’m annoyed he called me out like that. And, he called it constructive criticism. Maddox can shove it up his ass. He was trying to embarrass me.”

“We’ve established that. You’re on his shit list, but you’re letting him get to you, babe.”

I chewed aggressively around my last bite. “I’m not.”

Riley was right, though.

Maddox Coulter, with his pretty smirk, pretty eyes and surfer hair, was having the time of his life messing with me, and I was letting him.

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