sunday-inquirer

Fists & Knives - Chapter 9

“I knew she was a fucking snitch from the moment she walked in this house,” Harry said, his grip around my throat.  Since my vision was fuzzy and fading in and out, it took me a moment to realize that he was talking to Louis and Arnold, both sitting in the living room with newspapers and magazines all around them.   When they saw Harry nearly choking me, both of them leapt up and shouted at Harry, but not before I kicked him straight in the groin with my foot.  His grip immediately released from my throat and he collapsed onto the ground, groaning in pain.  I was pleasantly surprised and when neither Louis or Arnold said anything to defend Harry, but both shrugged and returned to their comfortable positions on the couch. 

I rubbed my throat and looked down at Harry, still curled up on the floor.

“Grab my throat again and I’ll kick harder next time,” I warned darkly.  Harry didn’t look up at me.  I stepped over him, almost worried that he might grab my ankle and trip me, but he didn’t.  I walked into the living room and looked at the papers and magazines all spread out around Arnold and Louis, each telling a different story about Harry, all negative publicity.  I dropped the magazine I had just purchased on the pile and sat down on the couch myself.

“You didn’t speak to the paparazzi, did you?” Arnold asked me, but I knew it was half-heartedly.

I shook my head. “I promise.  I haven’t even told my boyfriend who I’m working for.”

Louis was scratching his greasy-looking hair under his beanie.  For once, he looked tired and pale.  I could only imagine his and Arnold’s job was ridiculously stressful.  “I’m sure it was Marcus.  Maybe he paid off that maid we hired three weeks ago to tell someone about Harry,” Louis said, exhaustion clear in his voice.

Arnold frowned.  “I thought the maid didn’t speak English.”

Louis shrugged.  “She could be pulling our legs.  I'mm pretty sure I heard her speaking perfect English to someone on her cell phone one day when she was leaving.”

“Why wouldn’t Marcus just tell the magazines himself?” I asked, glancing back over at Harry as he finally managed to sit up and glare at me.

Harry grunted and looked reluctant to tell me.  “He can’t admit that he paid me to lose and got his guys to beat me up.  It’s illegal.  He would be thrown out of the league for bribing.”

I nodded and chewed my lip as I looked back at Arnold.  His eyes were wide as he stared across the room at the wall, lost in deep thought.  “Fire the maid.  If it wasn’t Kennedy, it was the maid.  Don’t ask her anything, don’t tell her anything.  Just get rid of her.”

Louis nodded and disappeared into his room. 

I continued to watch Arnold as he sighed and ran his fingers through his hair.  The numbers on my phone glowed 1AM, and I couldn’t help but think of Arnold’s wife.  How did she put up with him being gone like this in the night all the time?  I wondered if Arnold’s wife ever cheated on him while he was away.  “Harry, I think you’ll be able to go out of the house now.  There is no point in hiding anymore,” Arnold said, lazily gazing in Harry’s direction.

Harry’s face lit up as he heard the news.  Had it not been 1 in the morning, I’m sure Harry would have been out the door in a second.

“BUT-“ Arnold started, his face suddenly becoming serious. “You will tell the paps – if you decide to say anything - that you were jumped in an alley by 5 people after going out one night.  You don’t know who it was.  Someone just… cornered you, I guess.”

I frowned again. “Why don’t you just tell them it was Marcus?  Get him thrown out of the league?”

Arnold shook his head. “We can’t say that because we would be essentially admitting to accepting Marcus’ money.  We would be just as guilty Marcus and could get thrown out.” Arnold covered his face with his hands. “I wouldn’t have accepted the bribe if I knew Harry was going to get the shit beat out of him.”

“HEY!” Harry shouted defensively.

Arnold simply rolled his eyes and checked his watch. “I’m going home.  I’ll be back over tomorrow.  Don’t go anywhere until I get here,” he instructed Harry.

I could have ratted Harry out for the face he made behind Arnold’s back and the middle finger that he pointed in Arnold’s direction, but Harry had already called me a snitch once that night and I didn’t feel like giving him a reason for that to be true.  I had hoped that Louis was coming back out of his room, but when I looked over at the hallway where his room was, the lights were all off.  He must have gone to sleep.  I shifted my eyes back to Harry and tried not to lose my cool when I saw he was sitting on the floor with his arms wrapped around his knees and his fingers woven together.  The way he was sitting showed off all of the muscles in his shoulders and the backs of his arms.  His head was cocked and his bright eyes were studying me closely.  “Didn’t I fire you?”

I shifted uncomfortably on the couch and swallowed, thinking about how, theoretically speaking, I quit.  I didn’t want to tell him that, though. “No, you just sent me home early for the weekend.”

“Is it Sunday?” Harry inquired, though I knew he was just trying to make a point rather than actually figure out if he had missed the weekend.

I sighed. “It’s Saturday morning, if we’re going to be technical.”

“Then technically, you shouldn’t be here for another… what, 40 hours? Maybe?” He stood up from the floor and wiped his hands on his shorts.  Judging from the fact that I couldn’t see his black boxers hanging out of his shorts, he was lacking underwear, as usual.  Harry took a few steps toward me on the couch, but my eyes followed the trail of hair that lead down from his belly-button into his shorts instead of following his feet.  I felt my cheeks get hot when I spotted the smirk plastered across his face. “Why are you here, Kennedy?”

The way he emphasized my name each time he said it made the hair on my arms stand up. 

I tore my eyes from his and pushed myself off of the couch before he could get closer to me.  I could hear the uneven beat of his feet on the tile as he followed me past the kitchen to the stairs that dropped into my room.  I wondered why he wasn’t wearing that stupid boot on his broken leg. 

“I left something in the shower,” I lied, finally answering him.  I had taken all of my belongings with me to the apartment when I left that afternoon.

“And it couldn’t wait until tomorrow?  You had to come get it at one in the morning?” Harry asked.  I groaned softly when I heard him following me down the stairs.

“Yes, I need it.”

“Well what is it?”

“It’s just something I need.”

“At one in the morning?

YES!”

A vibrator?”

I twisted my neck to allow Harry to see the disgusted look on my face.  "Pervert…“

“Then what is it?” Harry asked.

“Harry…”

Kennedy…”

Taking advantage of Harry’s injury, I jumped down the last four steps and hurried into the bathroom, slamming the door shut before he could get to it.  I pretended to search around under the sink, knocking toilet cleaners over and slamming the cabinet doors.  I leaned back against the wall beside the door and waited for a moment, listening for Harry.

“I’m still here you know,” he said through the door after a silent minute.  I grumbled to myself.

“Did you find what you were looking for?” Harry asked. 

I grumbled again. “No.  No I didn’t.”

“Perhaps you took it back to your apartment.”

“Perhaps,” I sighed.  I wished he would just go away.

“Are you sure that’s why you’re here?”

I rubbed my eyebrows with the tips of my fingers before answering. “Yes.”

A soft but dark chuckle came from the other side of the door. “You seem a little preoccupied, Kennedy.  Did something happen at home?”

Yes.

“No.”

“Are you sure?” Harry asked. “Sure you didn’t just need to make a little getaway?  So you came here to escape your problem?”

I leaned my head against the wall.  “No, Harry.  I don’t have a freaking problem.”

I heard something clinking against the lock on the door.  I furrowed my brow for a moment and watched the door handle jiggle, but by the time I figured out Harry was picking the lock, the door was already open and he was already inside.  I squealed as he gripped the back of my neck like he had the night of Marcus’ and Niall’s fight and forced me to look at him as he pushed me into the wall. “I don’t like liars,” he breathed, his eyes burning down into my own.

“Well my problems are none of your business,” I spat back at him.

He grinned. “So you do have a problem.  A boyfriend problem?”

I closed my eyes and tried to release some of the tension in my neck, hoping that if one of us relaxed, this position would be less painful.  Thankfully, feeling my body relax seemed to help Harry relax a bit too. 

“Did you walk in on your boyfriend with another woman?” Harry asked, but more in a taunting way than anything.  He knew what happened and it seemed like he just wanted to hear me say it at this point.  It was killing me.

I tried to shove Harry back away from me, but he wouldn’t budge.  He was too big.  Too strong.  His fingers squeezed the back of my neck slightly as I shoved him again and again until finally, I was punching him in the chest over and over and over. 

“Just – leave – me – alone!” I heaved with each punch.

Harry laughed.  He was actually laughing at me.  I stopped and watched him as he threw his head back and relaxed his eyebrows, which were normally scrunched together.  His smile was almost too handsome.  God, was he even human?

When he looked back down at me, I didn’t know what to do or say.  If punching him made him laugh, I was scared to slap him across the face or kick him in the groin again. 

A wave of goosebumps covered my skin as Harry reached up and ran the pad of his thumb over my bottom lip. “You’re terrified of me, aren’t you, Kennedy?”

My breath hitched in my throat.  I tried to swallow, but there was no saliva in my mouth. “I’m not afraid of anyone.”

Harry grinned. “I think that used to be true.  I think I make you nervous.”  His eyes flickered down to my lips.

“You don’t,” I croaked, but I knew I wasn’t convincing Harry of anything.

Harry leaned so close to my lips that I nearly melted.  He held my chin between two fingers and allowed his bottom lip to brush mine where his thumb was just seconds before. “No?  Not at all?”

“No,” I breathed. 

Harry chuckled and backed away from my face just enough to stare directly into my eyes.  It made me uneasy the way he could just stare for so long without blinking.

“I’m glad you’re back, K.”

My body remained frozen against the bathroom wall as I heard Harry’s footsteps on the stairs.  I began to relax, but tensed again as Harry called down the stairs to me.

“Let’s go out tomorrow.  You and me.  We’ll go for lunch.  Bring that shitbag cheating boyfriend of yours.  I want to meet him.”

I started to protest, but Harry was already gone.  A headache started forming in my head.  Harry was strangling me one moment and teasing me with his lips the next – either way, I was breathless.  One moment he wanted me out of his sight, and the next he was telling me we were going on a date with my boyfriend as the third wheel.  When he talked about inviting Clark, Harry almost sounded pissed off… or defensive… of me?