I've never considered myself to be a knight in shining armor. Hell, if it ever came down to it, I was more likely the antagonist, and I'm actually pretty content with that. It's who I am… but I won't lie. My hands itched the moment I saw Allie Kennedy get pushed into the side of her boyfriends Mustang. Fucking asshole, that guy.
I nearly crunched the cup of beer in my hand – nearly, being the keyword. Beer saved, I decided taking a swig of the cold liquid and enjoying the show, was a much better idea. Allie was after all a big girl – she could take care of herself and if there's one thing I knew about her, it was that she gave as good as she got. That's one of the many things I liked about her.
"Ah, wouldn't be a real party without your little Alley cat getting a few scratches," Ryan said as he walked up next to me.
I downed the rest of my beer and couldn't help but smirk as I watched Allie shove her boyfriend off her while shouting something unflattering at the jerk. There was no doubt in my mind that he deserved that… and then some.
"She was never my Alley cat."
Ryan merely gave a slight huff and took another drag of his beer. No need to spend the rest of the night discussing that topic. I might have given her the nickname, but that didn't make her mine. Everyone knew she belonged to Eric, and yes, belonged to as if she was his property. But they were probably meant to be together. He was the quarterback and she was the head cheerleader. Couldn't get more stereotypical than that.
"So…" Ryan started thoughtfully. "Why aren't you drunk beyond reason or busy talking the skirt off of some sophomore?"
I shrugged and leaned my shoulder against the porch's wooden pillar. "I could ask you the same thing."
"Oh, I plan on getting there soon enough. The night's still young." Ryan gestured his beer toward the skies. And as luck would have it, a group of girls slowly walked up the stairs, giggling and blushing the moment Ryan and I turned our attention to them.
"Evening, ladies," Ryan raised his beer and greeted them with his trademark smirk.
"Hi Ryan. Hi Deacon," they all spoke in unison and erupted in a fit of muted giggles.
I didn't recognize any of them, but then again; Ryan Albright and Deacon McCallen were names known to most people around campus. I honestly didn't give a shit, but popularity came with the labeling of being a good-looking jock. I'm not complaining or even bragging about it – I would have done fine without it, but I guess it did have its perks.
Before the small entourage of girls disappeared into the house, one of them; tall, pretty and blonde, turned around and sent me that devious come-hither-look only a few girls manage to perfect. This girl had it down to a T.
Biting her bottom lip and smiling seductively, she slowly looked me up and down as if I was a prized stallion and I could only assume she wanted a ride. Then, with the blink of an eye, she turned around and disappeared into the crowd of people and music.
"I bet she's hoping you'll follow," Ryan grinned, elbowing the side of my ribs.
"Which is why I won't, so hey, if you'd rather–"
"I've never been someone's consolation prize. Ain't about to start now," Ryan snorted, shaking his head. "Your sister on the other hand…"
I raised a threatening brow at my friend. "I suggest you choose your words wisely from now on."
"Oh relax, Deac. Peyton's a McCallen for Christ sake. She's not exactly a saint and she stopped being your little sister the moment–"
I took one step towards Ryan and he immediately clamped up, his brown eyes narrowing in spite. And just like that, the conversation was over. We'd had this talk before and even if there were a sliver of truth behind the words and it was said –mostly– in a half-joke, she would always be my little sister – off limits.
It's not that Ryan is a particularly bad guy. I'm actually sure he would treat my sister with the dignity and respect she deserved, but I was still not about to let my best friend add Peyton McCallen to his list of conquests. If Ryan had a sister, the same rules would have applied for me. I'll just never know if I would have followed them, though. Hypocrite, I know.
"Let go of me, Eric, I mean it!"
My jaw tightened at the angered sound of Allie's voice. I looked back, wondering what the hell Eric was thinking. If he was stupid enough to lay a hand on her, not even his big shot dad of a lawyer could help him.
"Shut up, you little bitch! You wanted this all along, didn't you?"
Eric had her cornered against his Mustang, a vice grip around her cheek, his face inches from hers. Up close and personal. Threatening.
If he kept this act up much longer, it would only be a matter of seconds before some wannabe hero would appear and try to 'save' her. Word spread quickly in a party like this and there was already a small crowd that seemed to have noticed their little lovers quarrel. Unfortunately, my sister was one of them.
She immediately sobered up when she stepped up next to me, a look of worry and anger plastered across her face. "Dammit Deacon, not this shit again."
"What?" I arched an eyebrow at Peyton, feigning innocence. "You make it sound like I got something to do with it."
"Wouldn't surprise me if you had," she muttered sourly.
Ryan gave me a quizzical look but I merely shrugged it off.
"Thanks, sis… never knew you had such high thoughts of me."
Peyton rolled her eyes and pushed passed me with an exaggerated sigh.
Oh, great. Here came the hero. Peyton had already put on her imaginary judge wig. Next she was going to try and Dr. Phil her way towards the struggling couple.
I quickly grabbed her arm and pulled her back. "P, this is not your fight–"
"She's my friend, Deac. I'm not going to sit back and let that douchebag treat her that way. I'm not like you."
"Again, thanks… but this is not your decision to make. Heck, for all we know it's their way of foreplay."
The sound of a loud smack whirled my attention back to the couple in question. Suddenly it was as if the music stopped and people around us froze. Even from our long distance, I could vaguely make out the surprised and hurt look on Allie's face. Her mouth formed a small 'o' at the realization that she'd just been backhanded across her face by the guy she'd once told me she loved.
"That sonofa…" I dropped Peyton's arm and quickly beelined my way toward the lot, ignoring the silent gasps and whispers around me.
"…something's going down!"
"…oh my gawd, oh my gawd!"
"…quarterback vs. the basketball captain."
"…20 bucks, McCallen wins…"
"…50 bucks on Eric."
I felt a quick pull at the back of my shirt, followed by Peyton's worried voice behind me. "Deacon, please… be careful–"
"I'll be fine."
"I don't think it's you she's worried about," Ryan translated dumbly.
I've long had a reputation of being intimidating enough to keep testosterone-filled brawlers at bay–well, most of the time, but I'm not invincible. Punch me and it fucking hurts. Cut me and I bleed. Luckily, my opponents did too.
I had no intention to fight Eric, but I'm sure he felt very differently about that topic. The moment he saw me heading in his direction, he almost looked relieved. Well, pissed and irritated as well, but relieved nonetheless. I'd just given him what he wanted… an outlet for his pent-up rage. It was hardly the first–and probably not the last time, either–we'd be standing face to face, throwing punches, curses and whatnot until half of the football and basketball team would split us up. But maybe, just maybe it wouldn't have to come to that. If I just ignored him, then maybe he'd leave it alone. Admit defeat and go.
But then he opened his mouth and spoke.
"Well, speak of the fucking devil," Eric slurred, pointing at me as if he'd been expecting my arrival all along. "Deacon Scott McCallen; the knight in shining armor–"
I walked past him, ignoring the bait. I've always been taught to never turn my back on an enemy, but right then I honestly didn't give a rip. My attention was focused solely on Allie. When I reached her, I instinctively cupped the side of her neck and saw the freshly red handprint on her left cheek.
"You ok?" I whispered, tilting her head up to meet those glassy, brown eyes.
She swallowed hard and nodded, a frightful yet feisty expression on her beautiful face. "Don't do this, Deacon. Just walk away. He'll–"
Eric casually started chuckling behind me. "You know, it's quite rude to touch another man's girlfriend, but then again… wouldn't be the first time, would it?"
I narrowed my eyes at Allie, arching a brow in curiosity. I don't know what they had been arguing about, but I'd be surprised if I had something to do with it.
Giving me the only answer she could without the use of her voice, Allie met my eyes with a sad but urgent expression. I've never been able to read minds, especially not something as complicated as a female's, but I heard everything Allie wanted to tell me, but couldn't.
Too bad I've never been good at following orders.
Reluctantly, I decided to take the bait. "What exactly are you implying, Eric?"
He snorted dryly, clicking his tongue for emphasis. "Don't try and deny it, Deacon. I know you… and I know my girl, too. " He paused and lowered his voice in despise. "…that little slut."
Somehow, I kept my calm, distracting myself by closing my eyes and inwardly counting to ten. My forehead barely touched the top of Allie's and I realized we probably looked just like the lovers Eric believed us to be. But he was so far off the truth. I might have fucked a few girls who weren't necessarily single, but Allie weren't on that list.
Sharing a sideways glance at Ryan and Peyton, I calculated the situation in their eyes and nodded in acceptance. We all knew shit was about to get ugly.
"I don't know where you've heard this Eric, but I haven't–"
His heavy footsteps was what gave him away and I reacted purely out of instinct, turning and countering the attack before he managed to land a solid fist at the back of my head.
"You piece of shit liar!" he growled and before I had the chance to collect myself, he charged into me and didn't stop until my back hit the Mustang with a heavy thud.
I might be 6'2" and have 7 years of experience in self-defense, but Eric Stratton was built like a bull and he tackled me like one too. I immediately buckled over. The air got knocked out of my lungs and a sharp pain drilled itself into my back as I got thrown into the vehicle–not once, but twice–for good measure. As a result the side view mirror flew off like the cheap plastic it was.
"Deacon!" my sister shouted for lack of better words. "Seriously! Deac, Eric – stop it dammit! Now!"
"Eric, listen! Don't do this!" Allie joined in. She was seconds from jumping in between us to stop the fight, but luckily Ryan and Peyton were there to drag her away from the scene.
"Is this what you've been fighting over?" I yelled, clutching my stomach as I tried to buy time. "A fucking rumor?!"
"It ain't a fucking rumor!" Eric spat.
He aimed a clenched fist at my face, but I caught his wrist with my hand and twisted his arm in a move used mostly by cops. He groaned in pain and struggled to get out of my hold, but I only pulled harder at his arm, forcing him into submission.
"That shit don't work on me," he groaned and true to his word, he threw both of us to the ground, freeing himself and gaining the upper hand once more. The guy was 200 pounds of raw quarterback, for Christ sake.
I didn't even get a chance to get up, before he shoved me back down and landed a hard blow on the side of my jaw. I immediately tasted metal and turned to spit out blood. Gravel painfully bored into my back and I vaguely noticed Allie free herself from Ryan and run towards Eric, trying but failing to stop him.
"No!" she screamed, grabbing his arm in desperation, but the gesture only backfired.
High on adrenalin and anger, Eric barely noticed her as he pushed her away, sending her toppling backwards. He didn't even bat an eyelash as she fell.
I did, though. It was almost as if I saw her fall in slow motion, but the second she landed on her side and flinched, I decided I'd had enough.
"Hey Stratton," I spat the words out menacingly, catching his attention and head-butting him right in the face. "Fuck you!"
I got up before him, grabbing him by his collar and slamming him into his precious car. It probably left a dent. He struggled to find his balance and almost fell to his knees before I grabbed him again and finally returned the favor, landing a perfect right hook the same place he'd hit me. He went out like a light but awoke the moment he landed on the ground, groaning and coughing in pain.
"Such a waste," he moaned into the dirt and then laughed manically. "You would've made a good quarterback."
I snorted ironically and wiped the blood off my mouth with the back of my hand. "Yeah, well… wouldn't want to steal your title."
"So stealing my girl was enough, wasn't it?" he responded as he got up on his knees.
I looked over at Allie, wondering if she knew why her boyfriend seemed so convinced that I'd stolen her from him. Seeming to have read my mind, she just shook her head and slowly got up, wincing as she rose.
"You need to get your facts straight, Eric. There's nothing between me and Allie. Never has been, never will be."
"Oh yeah?" he countered, disbelief written all over hos face. "Then tell me, Deacon… which one of us was stupid enough to knock her up?"
I felt my eyes widen at the revelation, and I literally stopped breathing for a while.
A/N: For those of you that are also reading The Brightest Blue - this is as much a stand-alone (short)story as TBB but it's also a sort of origin story of Deacon. Here you'll learn why and how he turned into the guy we all know and love/hate. This is "college Deacon".
For those of you who ain't reading TBB... well, enjoy :) I'll try to make this classy, but with a lot of drama, love, clichés and teen angst.
Let me know your thoughts on the male POV, or if there's something you liked/disliked - reviews are deeply appreciated.