Home > Shielding Rosie

Shielding Rosie
Author: Alexa Riley


Chapter One






I put my hands over my ears to try and drown out the sound of the headboard hitting the wall, but still I catch small grunts. My only choice is to turn on the light next to my bed and find my headphones. After I do that, I scroll through my phone and find the playlist of my favorite piano pieces. With a few clicks, “Moonlight Sonata” fills my ears.

Glancing back to my bedroom door, I double-check that it’s secure. I not only locked it but shoved a chair under the handle. I’m not sure who my mom might come stumbling home with, but lately it’s been the same man. There’s no telling how long it will last, and she could have a new one in there right now. I won’t know for sure unless I run into him in the morning, but it doesn’t matter. None of them stick around. The most recent one is creepier than the others. I hope she gives him the boot sooner than later. He likes to stay around in the house, but not in a good way.

Stupidly I thought that moving to a nicer part of town would force my mom to fish from a pool of men that wouldn’t make my skin crawl. I guess it doesn’t matter where she is because most men are the same. They use her, but at least my mom uses them right back. It’s only when I get caught in the crosshairs that I care.

I flip the light off and try to catch some sleep. Tomorrow is my first day at a new school. It’s bittersweet because here no one knows us. We’re over a hundred miles from my old school, so the word whore won’t be carved into my locker and boys won’t make comments that I’m a slut like my mom.

At least not for now. One year is all I have left. I just have to make it through my senior year. I’m sure a lot of the anger and bullying I got at my last school is because my mom slept with more than a handful of other students' fathers. While some of them were very married. My mom isn’t picky when it came to those details. All she cares about is what she can get from them.

A few times she got tangled with a man she thought might give her everything, but that never played out. That hasn’t happened in a while, and a chill has settled inside her to make sure she doesn’t fall for any of them anymore. My only hope is that none of the men she’s met over the last few months are fathers of anyone at my new school.

She settled into Noblesville rather easily. It’s a big-small town where you don’t know everyone but you recognize their faces. When we lived in the city, that wasn’t the case. This could make things messy for not only her but me. If gossip can travel in the big city, it will be a wildfire in this town.

A year, I remind myself. That’s all I have left. Then, well I’m not sure, but I won’t have to go into a building every day where people glare and whisper. Once I’m finished, I can take whatever path I want. How I get there, I’m not sure.

When I was little, I loved Noblesville. It was a cute town, and my mom would sometimes drop me off to stay with my grandma over the summer. That came to an end a few years ago when my grandma didn’t want to let me go back with my mom. When she showed up at the end of the summer to collect me, my grandma tried to keep me. My mom took me away, and after that, I didn’t get to see her again. Not until she was in the hospital with days to live.

I grip the locket around my neck and think about my grandma. She gave it to me before she passed, and I miss her so much. My world was completely different when I spent my summers with her, and I wish I could have stayed.

My mom isn’t the best, but she loves me in her own way. Now I’m back in the house I longed to live in, but my grandma is gone. It’s not the same. It’s my mom and me, and our new life is already starting to feel a lot like our old life. I’m not sure why I thought anything would change.

I haven’t spent a full day inside my new school, and I can already see the cliques around town. To make matters worse, I had a strange run-in with a guy and a few of his friends. I could tell by the letterman jacket he wore, even while it was 90 degrees out, that he was on the varsity football team. The numbers on his shoulder let me know we were both about to be seniors.

He tried to chat me up in the grocery store, and I was polite. He said his name was Jack and then asked me out, but I guess I wasn’t nice enough when I turned him down because he didn’t like it.

It’s hard to engage with new people because I’m on the shy side. I try to keep myself out of view and not draw attention.

He said it was some kind of end-of-summer party, and maybe I should have gone. I could have met some of the people I’d be going to school with, but it didn’t feel right.

When it comes to people, I trust my gut. With all the men that have come and gone through my mom’s door, I’ve learned to read people pretty well.

It didn’t help that Jack had a few friends with him that chuckled when I turned down the offer. I could hear them teasing him as he walked away muttering a few choice words about my looks.

So far, I’m off to a banging start. He probably won’t remember me, or worse, he's the most popular guy in school and makes my life hell.

Rolling over, I pull my blanket tight around me and let the music flow through my thoughts. Everything drifts away, and I’m at peace.

At least for now.



Chapter Two






“Drink, drink, drink!” The chants coming from the back of the house are getting louder, and I check my watch. I’m only here to make an appearance and then I’m going home. I promised Coach I’d show my face, but I’ve got to get to bed. Five o’clock comes early, and I need to go.

“Don’t tell me Tate Albright is gracing us with his presence tonight,” Desha says as she pokes her boyfriend Shaun.

“Nah, he’s not staying.” He shakes his head before coming over and greeting me with a hand slap and a half hug. “The king doesn’t have time for peasants.”

I nod toward the back of the house, where I see Jake outside doing keg stands. “Be careful, or he’ll hear you.”

“That captain badge isn’t going to last much longer, and we all know it.” Shaun takes a sip from his plastic cup and then puts his arm around Desha. “Coach send you tonight?”

I nod and move closer. “But that’s between us, okay?”

“You think the guys don’t know what’s going on?” Shaun smiles so big it shows off his straight white teeth. “Come on, Tate. We all know Coach is making you captain this year. After last season and Jack getting arrested, there’s big changes coming.”

“Having a few bad games is part of playing. It’s not the end of the world. And everybody knows his dad got that arrest taken care of and hushed it up, so technically, it never happened.”

“Then why are you here?” Desha pipes up, and when I look at her, she lets her eyes slowly move over me.

Shaun and I have been friends since second grade when his family moved down the street from mine, but I know he hasn’t always had the best taste in the girls he’s dated.

“Hey, babe, grab me a drink, will you?” Shaun says, and Desha rolls her eyes. “Let me talk to Tate for a second.”

“Fine.” She takes his cup and walks off without another word, and I give him a look that says I told you so.

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