Number Thirteen Page 1

Author: Bella Jewel

Genres: New Adult , Romance

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PROLOGUE

WILLIAM

My boots crunch the yellow autumn leaves as I walk towards the schoolyard. I didn’t want to come today, but Momma told me I had no choice. She said school is for smart kids, and if I don’t go, then how am I ever going to get smart? I could get smart; the man on the television tells me everything I need to know. But she claims that I can’t make friends with the man on the television, and that the only way to make friends is to go to school. I could have told her that I don’t need friends to be successful, but she’d only tell me I was being silly.

So I came to school.

I didn’t tell her that there are bullies here, or that every day they push me around and shove me into lockers. That would make me sound weak, and now that my dad is working, and my brother is away because he didn’t like the school here, I’ve had to become the man of the house. There’s no room for weakness.

Momma tells me bullies pick on the kids who are victims. I think she’s wrong. I’m not a victim; I’m just a kid. They pick on me because I’m different. I don’t look at the girls like they do; I don̵dn&; I don7;t try to sneak out to parties. I’m only thirteen. I’m just there to learn, then I go home and I take care of my family, because I’m the man of the house.

Like I said.

The shrill sound of the school bell ringing tells me I’m late. I pick up into a jog, rounding the corner, and heading into the schoolyard. It’s a cool winter day, and I have to pinch my coat together to stop it from flapping in the icy breeze. I can see the students piling in the front doors, and I turn my jog into a run.

I’m so focused on the doors that I don’t see them. A strong hand lashes out, catching hold of my sleeve, and tugging me into the alleyway that runs down beside my school.

I always knew this alley was dangerous.

My body is slammed against a hard wooden fence, and I set eyes on my bullies. Four of them. They’re all bigger than me, all of them on the football team. They’re a few grades up, and they’ve just turned sixteen.

The leader of the group, Marcel, steps forward first. He scrunches his nose in disgust, as if I’ve just dragged myself out of a gutter, as if I’m offending him. He leans in close, and I can smell cigarettes on his breath.

Smoking is not cool.

“You’ve been trying to avoid me, Will. Did you really think you could hide at home with Mommy, and never come out again?”

I stare at him, wondering why he chose me to pick on. I didn’t even know his name until he flagged me down and shoved my head into a toilet six months ago. I was just a kid, keeping my head down, studying and learning like I should. Now here I am, pressed against a fence, wondering why they decided I was good enough to take extra special effort to attack.

I don’t bother answering him; it’ll only make it worse. My answers won’t make a difference. If I answer, I’m wrong. If I don’t answer, I’m wrong.

“Are you fucking mute, you little cunt?”

My body jerks. I hate that word. It’s so...vulgar. I let my eyes move to the four other guys, standing like protective pack animals around Marcel. I don’t know their names; they’re not significant enough. The tall boy with orange hair looks nervous, as if he knows what’s about to happen could put him in a world of trouble—but he’s still here, still making the choice to stay. The other two guys are stony faced, and fully aware of their part in this attack.

I still don’t answer him. If I just let them beat me, it’ll go away quicker.

“You’re a freak, Will, do you know that?” Marcel hisses, leaning in closer.

Of course I know that. I wouldn’t be pinned against a fence if I didn’t know that.

Bullies are so dumb.

Marcel raises his fist, and brings it down over my face, cracking my nose so hard blood spurts onto his shirt. I don’t cry out, because that’s what he wants, but the pain radiating through my head is nearly enough to make me beg. Nearly. Marcel takes hold of my shirt, and his grey eyes scan my face. He’s panting, as though I’ve shoved him into the alley and challenged him. Like this is my fault. The world is twisted like that, and it’s a lesson I’ve learned the hard way.

“You know,” he growls, locking eyes with me, “I heard my girl saying how handsome you were the other day. Do you know how much it sucks to have my girl saying that a freak is handsome? Especially a freak hislly a fthat’s only, what? Thirteen years old? Your dick would be no bigger than a tube of damned lipstick, yet she thinks you’re handsome.”

I wouldn’t know how much it sucks to have a girl say that because I don’t have a girl.

Again, bullies are dumb.

“Don’t answer me, you little twerp. It doesn’t matter. By the time you leave this alley, I’ll make sure you’re not handsome anymore. I won’t have my competition being some little weasel that can’t even speak.”

Blood fills my mouth, and my nose is pounding so heavily I’m almost sure I can hear my own heart in my head. I don’t take my eyes from Marcel. They say look danger right in the eye; it gives you power and strength. I don’t feel powerful right now. In fact, I don’t really feel anything. Someone like me doesn’t fight. I’m the underdog, and underdogs are weak. Everyone knows it.

Marcel reaches into his back pocket, and pulls out a little vial of something, I don’t know what. The heart that feels like it’s in my head begins thumping even harder.

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