The Bully, written by Dan Kirk was posted by a fan. Original story can be found at: Some people call me dumb. That's alright, really, if they think me dumb. It's not like I'm ever gonna go to college anyway. Mom and Dad got married right out of high school, mostly because she was already pregnant with my older brother, Mike. At least Dad got a job in the silver mine right away, and he's always brought home enough money to pay the bills, and maybe once in a while get something nice. Like, for instance we had dinner last night at the Owl Club in town. That was real nice. Now that Mike's moved out of the house, shacked up with that Jeannette bitch who wrapped him around her fingers just by opening her legs wide, there's a little bit more money in the house. Dad said that with there being a football team this year in school we can afford for me to play this year. He doesn't mention that all the money would come from my own bank account, with the money I made by working for Grandpa, but that's just dad. The man tries to forget my grandparents ever help us out in any way. That's good that we can afford more stuff this year, because I like football. It's way better than basketball where I'm nothing more than a big lug who can scare the shit out of the other team's players until he fouls out, or Track where the only real good events for me are shot put and discus. Well, I'm decent at the long jump too, but shot put and discus are the good ones. Baseball, well I can catch pretty good, and any poor bastard trying to rush a play at home plate learns better. I heard one of them talk about it being like hitting a brick wall and that put a smile on my face. Plus, I'm pretty good at bat most of the time, unless the pitcher gets tricky with me. Football though, where you can feel the impact of the other person's body, hear the thunking sound as you hit them, feel them go down beneath you, and see the fear in their eyes as this huge six-foot-four, two hundred and thirty pounds of muscle faces off against them - now that is a man's game. Defense is my game, even if I'm not all that fast on my feet. Usually there's few people who can stop me when I get going, and not even a foot-quick quarterback can dodge me for long. Not only that, I can jump, which if I could also shoot would have made basketball more fun, but I can't shoot worth crap. 'Eddie, get your butt in gear!' Dad's voice was loud from the living room as he called out to me. Our house, on a corner of one of Grandpa's fields wasn't huge, but it wasn't a dump either. Hell, half the kids in school lived in trailers, single or double-wide, but we lived in a real house, built by all the men in the family, with only a hired plumber and a hired electrician helping. It was a long, one-story building with five bedrooms, a family room, a real dining room, a big kitchen for mom, a huge game room with a foosball table, a pool table, two dart boards, a poker table, and another table for other board games, dad's den, mom's sewing room, a bedroom for them, a bedroom each for Mike and me, and two more guest bedrooms. Dad always said he'd never have been able to afford the house on his own, and at times he seemed to get ill about how it was Grandpa Betschart that gave him the land, but then he'd remember that all the men from both sides of the family had helped build the house, and he'd take pride in it again and everything would be good again. I was just glad they planted all the trees around the house because during the summer, after twenty years of growth, they were tall and their shade kept the house cool a lot easier. Dad would never waste money on an air-conditioner. 'Eddie, you have two minutes!' Mom's sweet voice rang out and I let out a sigh, looking at my reflection in the mirror one more time. It was on the back of the door, and I could see almost my entire body in it. I was dressed and had just been staring off into space, like I do sometimes, but now I focused on my reflection. Some people might think that being as tall and built up as I was that I'd be good-looking, but that just wasn't so. My face was just to big, with a long, flat nose that looked like a big rudder in the middle of my face. My brown eyes were too big as well, and I had to keep my brown hair cut short or it'd curl up and make me look all faggish. It didn't help that a couple years ago I'd gotten a bad case of acne and now had all these little pucker scars along my broad jaw line. I knew people laughed at my cleft chin and big ears, but they'd long since learned not to laugh where I could hear them. At least my big, thick arms showed people right off the bat that they couldn't laugh at me and get away with it. 'Eddie, we're leaving!' Dad's voice rang out with a little bit of anger in it and I knew I had to get going or he'd get mad. Sure, he was six inches shorter than me, and weighed about sixty pounds less, but a lifetime in the silver mines had made him strong, stronger than I could ever be, and it hurt when he got mad at me. I was dressed though, wearing the black slacks, white dress shirt and a blue tie, ready for the day. All that was needed was my 'mess with me at your own risk' expression and that came easily after years and years of practice. 'I'm coming!' I yelled as I opened the door and headed out of my cramped, messy room. It was cramped because of the king-sized water bead, desk, dresser, and the trophy case with all my trophies. The piles of clothes, papers, and other junk around the room didn't help because all the floor space was covered with that junk. The rest of the house wasn't nearly as cluttered. Mom kept a tight ship, with everything all neat, dusted, and well cared for. Sure, very little of what we had was new, my bed had been bought used when I was a kid, and was probably ten years older than me, but everything was nice and cared for in the house. 'Get a move on.' Dad said gruffly as I met them near the front door. He was all of five foot ten, and had short brown hair. I knew my hair's curliness came from him, because mom had long, straight brown hair that she had done up today in a bun, all under a wide-brimmed blue hat that matched her pretty blue dress. Dad's broad shoulders and thick arms were covered in a dark-blue suit that matched nicely with mom's lighter-blue dress. She always did a good job in making us look nice for Sunday. 'You look good honey.' Mom said with a smile, as she looked me over. Her words almost brought a blush to my face but a scowl got rid of that easily as she took my arm. She was the same height as Dad, and still had a nice figure unlike a lot of the other housewives at the church. It was too bad I'd been such a big kid and made it impossible for her to have more children. She'd always wanted a big family, which is why there were five bedrooms in the house, but after me the doctor had told her she couldn't have more kids. That had always made me feel bad, that I'd ruined her dreams like that. 'Thanks, Mom' I replied in my deep, gruff voice. Someone had once told me my voice sounded like a bunch of rocks falling down a hillside. He'd been the last person to tell me that. 'My sweet little boy is almost all grown up.' Mom gushed, threatening another wave of red to come to my cheeks. Biting my tongue got rid of that as we moved out of the house, closing the door behind us. We got into Mom's old brown Buick, although Dad was driving like he always did when we went together as a family. He pulled out, past his big F-250 pickup and past my Wrangler with the oversized tires and roll bar with the fog lights, and headed left on Silver Spring Road. Grandpa Betschart lived a mile down the road in the other direction. Mike had set up his house another half-mile past that. All the fields in a four-mile radius belonged to Grandpa Betschart, who was one of the biggest independent farmers in the area. He'd wanted Dad to take a portion of the land but Dad didn't want to live as a farmer all his life. My father had chosen the silver mine instead. Uncle David and Uncle Jason worked the eastern fields while my brother and I had always helped Grandpa with the western fields for as long as I could remember. At least Grandpa paid good money for my help, and Dad let me keep it in my own account. That was how I'd gotten the Wrangler, paying for it with my own money when I turned sixteen last year. Grandpa was even talking about retiring in a few years, and turning over half the western fields to me, splitting his original plot of land into four equal fields for me, my brother, and my two uncles. Grandpa had told me I could marry whatever girl caught my eye at school, the family would build us a house like Dad's, and I'd have a field of my own to work. Too bad it wasn't likely any girl at school would ever catch my eye, but I'd pick one anyhow. 'I'm so excited to see the new preacher and his family.' Mom said as dad took a left on Eighth Street. The church was actually on Betschart land, since Grandpa had given them a corner for free, writing it off on his taxes as a donation. The old pastor had moved off to Reno after his wife divorced him. She'd hated it here. That was one of the problems with the church, it was fifteen miles from town, and the town itself was right small. City folks move out here, all goo-goo-gaw-gaw over the beautiful scenery of our valley with its fields and looming mountains on each side, but when the reality sets in that this was all there was, that there were no bowling alleys, that television only worked half the time, and that the town's single theater never showed a movie that wasn't months old, they went stir-crazy. 'You done heard him twice already.' Dad stated gruffly. 'You mean you're excited to actually meet his wife.' 'Well we are practically their nearest neighbors.' Mom groused. 'I'm going to make sure this new one - what's her name again?' 'Cindy.' Dad answered. 'Right, well I'm going to make sure this Cindy doesn't fall into the trap that old Mrs. Martin fell into.' Mom said with a shake of her head. 'We're going to be friends from right off, so she won't feel all lonely. I just know if I'd invited Mrs. Martin over more instead of leaving her cooped up in that parsonage all alone she wouldn't have ran off like that.' 'Well Pastor Pemberle and his family aren't quite city folk.' Dad reminded her with a frown that I could see from the rear-view mirror. Sitting in the back seat did have some advantages. 'You heard him when he came out here, that they're from a small town out in California, not a big one. They had lots of farms and stuff out there.' 'Far be it from me to tell you men anything.' Mom snorted. 'You didn't check on that town did ya? It might be small by California standards, but they have over a hundred thousand people in his old town. His son was going to a high school with twice as many people in it as the entire county here!' 'Don't worry, Mary, they'll adjust.' Dad told mom who snorted again. She straightened up though as we pulled into the church parking lot, which was half-full already. It was a gravel lot, and as we claimed our usual parking space I looked over at the church parsonage on its lot of green grass and eyeballed the yellow Ryder moving truck there. Dad and a couple of other men had gone over yesterday to help the new pastor unload the truck. I'd have gone too, but one of our swathers had broken down with a bad hydraulic line that had to be replaced. Even Grandpa Betschart knew I was better than anyone in the county when it came to fixing any kind of vehicle. Next to the Ryder truck was a tiny blue Mazda pickup, one of those new city jobs that wasn't really a pickup. It wouldn't last ten days on a real farm, and I knew it would be having trouble before long. The little white sports car on the other side made me sigh. It must be the pastor's wife's car, a little RX-7. I'd heard about them, and that they had some type of new-fangled rotary engine. Maybe I'd be able to find a book in one of the bigger town's auto parts stores that would teach me how to work on it since I knew for sure no one within two hundred miles of here would have any idea what to do when it broke down. Mom was right, dad was wrong. These folks were city folks, and I'd be joining mom in betting they wouldn't last more than a year out here. As mom and dad walked side-by-side towards the church entrance, I followed behind them, ignoring the grade schoolers who were busy on the edge of the grass talking to a girl who looked like she was about twelve. 'That's the pastor's daughter, Melinda.' Dad said to mom, nodding to the girl. She was pretty tall for a twelve-year old, and some might call her pretty with her long, curly black hair and sunflower dress. I was certain the guys in her grade at school would be happy to have her there. 'They have three kids, right?' Mom asked for confirmation, even though she knew as much about the Pastor's family as everyone else in town. Ours was the only church that could afford a full-time pastor, and that was in large part thanks to Grandpa and a few other farmers in the church. 'Yes, another little boy whose just entering kindergarten.' Dad answered with a long-suffering sigh. 'His name's Jamey. The other boy is fifteen. Daniel's going to be a senior this year.' 'Don't you mean junior?' I asked with a snort. 'Nope, he was put ahead a grade when he was younger.' Dad said, telling me something new. Great, the guy was probably another geek like Scottie. Well, he'd learn just like Scotty did. The memory of teaching Scotty a lesson about who was really superior at school put a smile on my face. Scotty was tall and rail thin, with big black glasses. His geekiness rolled off of him in waves, and I'd enjoyed the feel of him squirming against me as I dunked his head in the toilet and flushed the thing. He'd cried for twenty minutes after his swirly, getting an 'F' for the day because he missed gym. Some kids in school might have gotten in trouble for it, but I was grandson to THE Betschart. Grandpa had given the school the money for the new gym floor, or at least covered what the state didn't pay for out of the maintenance funds. He'd also used his connections with a state senator he'd helped elect to get funding for the new football and track field. When it was finished next month, we'd be one of five schools in the entire state with a real rubberized track instead of clay or dirt. Yeah, I'd ended up with a detention for giving Scottie the swirly, but anyone else would have been suspended. 'Good morning, Pastor.' Dad said as we reached the entrance where the new pastor, his wife and two sons were greeting people as they entered. The Pastor was about the same height as Dad, and maybe a few years younger. He had dark black hair, a mustache, and a fairly big gut. His wife was standing next to him, a short woman, barely over five feet, dressed in a pretty brown dress, with a brilliant smile on her face. She was also very skinny, and provided nothing to hide behind for the small boy that was holding on to her while peaking out from where he was trying to hide behind her. The older son stood next to her, and I had to repress the urge to let out a growl. Like all the children in the Pastor's family, he had long black hair that nearly touched his shoulders. I couldn't believe a Pastor of a god-fearing church would let his son walk around with long hair, but then again the hair was just perfect. It was wavy, and the bangs feathered to show off the guy's nice forehead. His crystal blue eyes were almost shocking in their brightness, but they paled in comparison to the blinding white, perfect teeth he showed when he smiled. The guy was tall, and thin, but his entire body was completely in proportion. His nose had this cute little button look to it, his skin was creamy, not pale, not pallid, just a beautiful creamy texture. It looked like he'd never even had to deal with a single pimple in his life. I hated him instantly. 'Brother Hathaway!' Pastor Pemberle responded to my father's greeting with a smile and good 'ole Baptist hug. It was faggish to hug other men, unless it was another Baptist and you were both at church. 'Thank you for your help in unloading yesterday.' 'Not a problem, pastor.' My father said with a rare smile. We rarely got those smiles directed at us, but he gave them out like candy to other people. 'I believe you've met my wife, Mary, and my son Edward.' 'It's good to see you folks again.' The Pastor said with a smile. 'This is my wife Cindy, my oldest son Daniel, my youngest Jamey hiding behind his mother, and of course my daughter Melinda is over there getting acquainted with some of her year-mates.' 'It's a pleasure to meet you, dear.' My mom said to the pastor's wife with honey dripping out of her tone. The small woman beamed at my mother and nodded her head. 'I love your hat.' The Pastor's wife said and mom beamed right back at her. Yep, they were actually going to get along. Anyone who complimented my mother on her hats got a point in her book. I mean that literally. Mom has a book she keeps with the names of all the women in town and the surrounding farms. She kept track of the points for each woman whenever they were nice or insulted her in some way, and she used that to determine who she'd invite over for tea. Or who'd she complain about to Grandma. Yeah, Dad's salary kept us going, but we weren't rich. Grandpa and Grandma weren't exactly rich either, but by the standards of the town they were fairly affluent. If Dad hadn't been so stubborn about supporting his own family, we could have a lot more, but he'd almost always refused anything but physical help from Mom's family. 'Edward, aren't you going to be a senior this year?' Pastor Pemberle asked me with a friendly smile. 'Yes, sir, I am.' I answered politely as dad had taught me. My jaw would ache at the mere thought of being disrespectful to certain adults. That list included the Pastor of our church, whoever it was that year. 'I think you're about the only one here who'll be in the same grade as Daniel.' The Pastor said and I let out a sigh. Sure, I might not be the brightest bulb in the world, but even I could see what was coming. Part of me wanted to make sure I set this kid in his place right away, but Dad and Mom both would expect me to 'play nice' with him. 'You're going to like the school.' I said to Daniel, meeting those piercing blue eyes for the first time, instead of responding to the Pastor's statement. It was true; none of the other seniors went to this church: three were Catholics, four were Mormons, two were Jewish, and the other four had families that didn't bother with church at all. 'How many seniors are there?' Daniel asked, speaking for the first time, and I wanted to curse, but this was church. His voice wasn't exactly deep, but it practically sang as he spoke. Something told me he'd be singing the hymns in church really beautiful, unlike my gravelly, tone-dead singing. 'Fifteen now including you.' I said as I moved aside a little. Some more families were coming and being greeted by the Pastor. I wanted to escape inside with my parents, but Dad shot me a stern glance that told me I was supposed to stay and make friends with the kid. Daniel moved a little away from his parents, so we could talk without really disturbing the people coming up to speak to them. As we did I noticed the little glances of curiosity from kids who were in other grades. A quick glare sent their attention elsewhere. 'Wow, I don't think I had a single class at my last school with fewer than thirty people in it.' He said with a shake of his head that caused his raven black hair to ruffle slightly. I wondered how it'd look after a swirlie, and had to turn my thoughts elsewhere as I thought about him struggling in my grasp before I flushed the toilet. 'Homeroom's always the biggest class of the day.' I said with a shrug. 'Well, except for P.E., which we have to take with younger kids.' 'How many years of P.E. are required here?' He asked with a frown. 'All four.' I answered with a snort. It was hard not to laugh at the look of surprise and dismay on his face. He didn't like it at all. 'That sucks' Daniel said with a pouty look that I wanted to wipe off his face with my fist. It was too damn cute. 'So, what do you do for fun around here?' 'Once harvest is over and school's going, we have a few parties out at the old quarry where we sit around a fire, drink and tell stories.' I answered, watching his face for a reaction. I was good at reading expressions and he wasn't disgusted by the implied drinking of alcohol, but rather like he was dismayed at something he thought was probably boring. 'If you're really adventurous, we'll sneak into the old Maddison house for the night. It's on the far side of town and said to be haunted. The theater opens up two nights a week and whenever there's a new movie we'll go see that.' 'Oh.' He said with a frown. 'So what do you do during the summer until school starts?' 'Work.' I answered with a shrug. 'You see all that hay out there? It has to be harvested, you know. We'll get it all cut and bailed before school starts, and then I'll be working on tilling and planting in the mornings before school. We're actually going to have a football team this year and Grandpa said he'd hire a hand to cover the afternoon stuff until the final harvest so I could play.' 'What do you mean you're actually going to have football?' Daniel asked with a frown. Figures an artsy fartsy type like him wouldn't know squat about sports. 'We're a small school and until this year we haven't had enough to field a team.' I said with a shrug. 'The mine's opened up a new shaft though, and that brought in a dozen new kids, mostly juniors and sophomores. That means we should have enough for an eight-man team this year.' 'That's good, I like football.' Daniel said, earning a snort from me. I gave him a look filled with surprise and he actually had the gall to wink at me. 'Yes, I play football.' 'What, cheerleader?' I couldn't help the derision that came into my voice. At least I said it quietly enough that his parents couldn't hear. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jesse McClain coming towards us, but a quick glare sent him running inside with a pasty face. That soon-to-be sophomore had learned as a freshman not to bother me. 'No, quarterback.' Daniel said with insufferable pride. 'Like hell, Joey's our quarterback.' This time I did snarl and he had the gall to smile! My hands balled into fists, but I let them relax. Dad would kill me if I roughed up the preacher's kid, even if he had it coming to him. 'We'll see.' Daniel said cryptically, making me madder. 'I think we should head inside.' 'Yeah.' I said as I followed him inside. His parents were already halfway upstairs to the main congregation area while we went to the left and down the stairs to where the Sunday School classes were located. Old Mrs. Harding was our teacher, and as we read a lesson on Abstinence (a regular topic at least once every other month - and about as effective as trying to drown an ant - even most of the freshmen had gotten blow jobs from girls already). I learned that Daniel was as insufferably smart as I'd expected. He quoted the bible passages from the lesson without even looking in his leather-bound expensive-looking bible. What really bugged me though was the idea of him playing football. Even for a quarterback he was too... delicate. He had a thin body with a creamy complexion that made me think of a porcelain doll more than anything else. The mere idea of him in pads, getting hit by someone my size made me squirm in my seat. At least most people would think I was squirming at the topic of the lesson, instead of worrying about the artsy-fartsy preacher's son getting creamed by a defensive lineman. 'So, Eddie, why is it important that we save ourselves for holy matrimony?' Mrs. Harding asked me, pulling me out of my daydream helping a hurt Daniel Pemberle off the field. That earned a frown from me because most of the time she knew better than to call on me. 'Our bodies are holy temples for the Lord and to have sex outside of marriage is to defile that temple.' I quoted from the last pastor for our church. Sure, I'd already had plenty of blow jobs, and even fucked a few times, but like most adults in town, she'd believe us when we denied doing anything sexual. Besides, the last time I'd enjoyed sex was three years ago. Sure, I'd had a few blow jobs and a fuck since then, but it just wasn't the same. 'Very good.' Mrs. Harding said with a proud smile as I scowled at the thoughts running through my head. I knew better than to think about that wonderful year so long ago. That pastor, like all the others, had moved on, taking his family and the best year of my life with them. Sunday school ended after what seemed like half the day had passed, and we made our way upstairs for the main service. Grandpa and the entire family sat together as always on the left side of the church. The main chapel had two sets of long pews with an aisle on each side and down the middle. All of us together took up two whole pews, and we always took the second and third from the front. The Pastor's family, except for the youngest son, sat in front of us in the first pew, giving me a view of the back side of Daniel's dark hair. He had almost elfin ears, poking in little points through his dark hair. When it came time to sing hymns, I kept my off-key rumblings as quiet as I could and cursed the fact that his singing voice was every bit as beautiful as I had imagined it would be. When it came time for the preaching, I was surprised that the Pastor's message didn't have some relation to our Sunday School lesson. Usually they ran along similar themes, but not today. Pastor Pemberle instead gave a sermon about the church and its role in the community. For the first time in years, I found myself really enjoying the sermon, even though I knew I wasn't the type of person who'd be found just helping others because I wanted to do that. After the sermon, and the obligatory 'call to salvation', pretty much everyone went back downstairs for the 'reception'. Most of the families, including Grandma Betschart had brought tons of food that was quickly arrayed on several tables. Unsurprisingly, Daniel and the rest of his family moved among the various church members, getting to know them, so I went to a corner and just watched, scowling at anyone who looked my way. While there were no other seniors in our church, there were plenty of juniors, sophomores, and freshmen, who all took turns talking to Daniel. Sure enough, more than a few would look my way cautiously while whispering to Daniel. It was to be expected they'd talk about me. When the food was ready, and the pastor had given a prayer of thanks, I pushed my way through the line and picked up a plateful of food before returning to my corner and munching my way through the plate. I was concentrating on the plate, and the sour feeling in my chest, so much that I didn't even hear him approach. 'I think I'm going to like it here.' Daniel said with a happy tone in his voice that set my teeth on edge while I resisted the urge to jump in surprise. He was standing on my right side, with an impish grin on his face. 'That's what they always say.' I said with a shrug, surprised at the bitterness in my voice. 'Who always says that?' Daniel asked. 'The new preacher's family.' I grunted after taking another bite of food, chewing it and swallowing. Even now I could feel Dad's eyes on me, and I knew there'd be a price to pay for talking with my mouth full if I did that. 'How many have there been?' Daniel asked. 'Most of them only last a year before the family can't take living here anymore.' I grunted sourly. No one would ever see me with tears in my eyes. 'There's been four new preachers, including your old man, since I started high school.' 'That's rough.' He said with a shake of his head. 'I think you'll find we're different.' 'Why's that?' I asked him. 'Mom was tired of all the crap in California.' He said with a sigh, and just a trace of bitterness. 'At first, I thought I'd hate it... and I know I'm going to miss stuff, but you said there's football, and next year I'm off to the Academy.' 'See, you're only going to be here a year anyway.' I said with a grimace. 'Yeah, but the rest of my family will still be here.' He said with a shrug. 'I've been dreaming of going to the Naval Academy since I was real little. I'm going to be an aviator, fly planes for the Navy. Still, I know when I come home on leave, this is where I'll be going. Mom's already fallen in love with the place. Little Jamey's all excited because a kid in his Sunday School class has already invited him to come over and see their horses and Melinda is delighted to be the big fish in a little pond.' 'So you'll suffer through a year and then be gone while the rest of your family has fun?' I asked him sourly. 'I don't know, I've already made at least one friend, even if he is the school bully.' Daniel's grin was wider now, and there was mischief in his blue eyes. 'Who said I was your friend?' I asked him, unsettled by the mischief there. It called up too many painful memories. 'Don't be such a spoilsport, Eddie.' Daniel said happily. 'Don't call me Eddie.' I growled angrily, seeing red for a moment. I let no one but family call me that name... at least for the past three years. 'Only my family calls me that.' 'Your family and your new friend.' Daniel said playfully. 'Shut up, Danny.' I growled. 'Well, if you're going to call me Danny, I'll call you Eddie.' He pushed and it was all I could do not to hit him, just to knock that smarmy grin off of his face. 'What do you think you're doing?' I growled in a low voice at him. 'I know you talked to the other guys from school, I saw them looking at me while they whispered to you, so you know what happens to people that piss me off.' 'I know what happens to other people who piss you off, but I'm willing to bet you can't do anything to me.' His grin was wider and his eyes practically twinkled as I looked into them. 'I know you know why Mom wanted to leave California so bad, and I also know that this church is growing desperate to find a pastor who will make a life out here instead of leaving after a year or two. My dad will be that Pastor, given half a chance.' 'So?' I asked him bitterly, surprised at how much he already knew. He really was a smart guy. 'Well, I know you get away with a lot because of who your grandpa is in this town, but I also know he's the most influential person in this church.' Daniel continued, earning a deeper frown from me. 'He also knows of your... violent tendencies... and he lets you get away with a lot. They told me you're his favorite kin, and your mom believes you're the sweetest child. One even said you use to be a really good guy that everyone liked, but a couple of years ago you turned mean.' 'How dare they!' This came out a little loud, and I drew some looks, including a stern look from both my father and my grandfather. My cheeks were red, not from embarrassment but from anger, and my fists were clenched. My gaze fixed on short little Michael Bettencourt. I'd drag his spic ass out behind the church and beat the information out of him on which one of his little friends had shared that with Daniel. Then I'd make an object lesson of the one that had actually blabbed his mouth. 'Chill out, dude.' Daniel's voice whispered into my ear sent shivers up my spine after he leaned in towards me. My anger fled out of me all at once. I'd known he was tall, but this close I realized he was just an inch shorter than me, although nearly eighty pounds lighter. If I wanted, I could probably squeeze his skinny frame in half without half-trying. 'Believe it or not, they were trying to be helpful. Not one of them was meaning to hurt you, just to warn me to be careful with you and most of them wished you would be like you use to, when you were younger. For some reason they still like you.' 'Shut up.' I growled, not wanting to hear that, but his words echoed in my head over and over. Across the room, my father and grandfather were talking to the Pastor about something, and I turned to look at Daniel, whose eyes met mine easily, with his lips still curled upwards. 'I've got your number, Eddie.' Daniel said calmly. 'You aren't going to dare pissing off your grandfather and father by beating the shit out of me, so I figure it's up to me to show you how to be a good guy again.' 'Piss off, Danny-boy.' I growled, and saw red again as he smiled wider, showing off those damn fucking perfect teeth again. 'I'll see you on Sundays and Wednesdays at church, I'll see you at school, and I might see you on the football field, but that doesn't mean I'm going to be your friend. You might not have to worry about me beating the crap out of you, but I'm not going to be your friend.' 'I...' Daniel started to respond, but he was interrupted by the approach of his father, along with my father and grandfather. The smiles on their faces were unsettling. 'Daniel, do you mind if we interrupt you and your friend.' Pastor Pemberle asked with a smile and I resisted the urge to blurt out that Danny-boy wasn't a friend of mine. The warning look in Dad's eyes helped me keep my mouth shut. 'Sure, dad, what's up?' Daniel asked. 'Well, I've been talking with Brothers Betschart and Hathaway here, and while there's just a few weeks left before school, I'm afraid there's not going to be much for you to do until then. Brother Betschart has kindly offered to give you a job helping Edward here with his duties around the farm.' 'I'll be happy to pay you twelve dollars an hour, although it's going to be hard work.' Grandpa said seriously and I nearly gaped. He didn't pay me that much until I'd worked for him for three years! Then I realized the import of his words, if Daniel accepted, it'd mean I'd be spending a lot of time with him until school started. 'It's really hard work, Danny.' I said gruffly, trying to dissuade him. 'I know it's not all that hot here compared to some places, but when you're out in the fields for hours and hours, it gets bad. Plus, you get calluses on your hands, and with your skin, you'd probably burn to a crisp.' 'I don't know, Eddie.' Daniel responded with an impish grin that made me want to cuss, preacher or no preacher standing in front off me. 'Sounds like a lot of fun.'


ANDREW (bigtool4u89)

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