The metallic taste of blood filled Theo’s mouth as he swiped his tongue across his lower lip. He didn’t need this s**t today, not after the hell he and Jonah went through to get the gig at The Southern Way nightclub. The last thing he wanted was to show up sporting a swollen lip—or a black eye—which would be the case if Parker Pearson swung at him again.
What he wanted was to render Parker unconscious with one quick but powerful punch in the mouth. He would do just that if he weren’t already in a shit-ton of trouble with his old man. Getting into a fight before the gig guaranteed one thing. He wouldn’t get to go. It sucked being on the edge of eighteen, almost an adult, but still living at home and f****d to abide by rules.
No way was he missing a chance to perform. If he and the guys were ever going to get discovered, it would be at The Southern Way. He owed this to Jonah. His big brother had always stuck up for him but was the first to kick his a*s if he needed it, and he’d been in dire need of it lately. Jonah got his s**t together. So could he.
Then again, Jonah was changing for Ally, whether she realized it or not.
Glaring at his classmate, he fought the urge to lunge at him and grab his throat. Asshole. He was just like the rest of the morons at the high school. All the jocks had a holier-than-thou attitude. Luckily, Theo had a couple more weeks before he could kiss this place a final goodbye, never to walk the halls again.
Of course, he wouldn’t get to see Cassie anymore, which may not be a bad thing considering where he was standing. In reality, he couldn’t blame his current predicament on her when he would come to the defense of any other girl at this school. God knows Parker made his rounds, using his athleticism and popularity to get what he wanted, from as many girls as he wanted.
Cassie was one of the few that rebuffed him. What a beautiful moment it had been, too. He loved every second of seeing her size up Parker before she went into a rather comical explanation of why she would rather dance in a mound of fire ants, butt n***d and drenched in molasses, than go out with him.
Yet the second Parker gripped her arm and pushed her against the wall, Theo was finished watching.
This was his fault anyway. If he’d behaved last weekend, Parker wouldn’t be on the hunt for a new babe-of-the-week. They wouldn’t be standing in the hallway, near the cafeteria, arms drawn defensively.
His eyes darted toward the media center where he spotted Cassie. He hated that she was witnessing his humiliation of having another guy smash his fist into his face.
The thought was short-lived. He ducked in time as Parker swung his arm again. “Come on, you chicken s**t,” he taunted. “What’s the matter? You afraid of getting your a*s whipped in front of the whole school or your little girlfriend?”
When Parker tilted his head in Cassie’s direction, Theo glanced at her again. She’d left the opening to the media center and stepped into the hall. Her head swayed side to side as she looked right then the left. He didn’t doubt she was searching for a teacher or possibly Jonah. Either would stop the altercation between him and the school’s star running back.
“She’s not my girlfriend,” Theo grumbled, but Parker was far from finished.
“No s**t, dude. Who’d want to date your sorry, non-talented a*s? Has anyone told you that you sound like a donkey braying when you sing?” The slur won him a few laughs from his friends, who hovered nearby. “I’m serious, man. You sound like something that needs to be put out of its misery.”
Theo chuckled, meeting the glare from the prick in front of him, and then the blonde, blue-eyed bombshell sitting at a table not far from where they stood. Becca Holstein was one of the many people watching the confrontation, but Parker’s ex wasn’t staring at him. She was staring at Theo. Perfect.
“Maybe I do sound like s**t. Hell, maybe I don’t have any talent. It still doesn’t change facts.”
Parker’s chest puffed out further. “What facts?”
Theo grinned, even though his lip burned from the newly formed split in the center. “Say what you want about me, but it doesn’t change the fact that I wasn’t the one, uh…singing last weekend.”
Parker’s attention went to Becca and then back to Theo. “So you’re the asshole that broke us up?”
“No, you’re the asshole that caused your breakup. I was just the rebound guy. By the way, I loved hearing my name on Becca’s lips when she came.”
Theo didn’t miss the punch Parker threw this time. He didn’t miss the disbelief in Cassie’s eyes as she stood watching, mouth gaping. More importantly, he didn’t miss connecting his fist to Parker’s face once more.
The punch sent his nemesis to the ground, stealing his chance of victory. Consequently, it stole Theo’s as well…