Lucas smiles down at me, but there’s nothing sweet about it. The smile is all hunter, mean and precise. The smile of a hungry predator with its prey in reach.
“Because what I say fucking goes around here. If I want you to come sit in my lap, you’ll do it. Do you need another reminder of who’s in charge around here?”
Who the fuck does this guy think he is?
“Did a football hit you too many times in the head?”
A confused wrinkle appears on his forehead.
“No,” I say slowly, so he understands. “I don’t want to sit with you. I don’t want anything to do with you.”
Lucas tugs sharply on my braid. He literally pulls my hair, like the bullying boys that girls are always warned about.
A scoff of amused disbelief leaves me. “Did you really just…?”
“I’ll give you one more chance, Gemma.”
Lucas’ playful demeanor and big-man-on-campus act has vanished. Now he’s deadly serious as he stares at me.
“Or what?” Sheer astonishment at this whole situation bleeds into my voice.
“You don’t want to know that. You’re either with us or you’re against us, and you don’t want to be against us. Just accept it, like everyone else does, or you’ll face the consequences.”
With us or against us. Consequences. Lucas sounds like some power-hungry mafioso rather than a high school quarterback.
“You’ve gotta be kidding me. I said no, you bastard.” My voice raises. “Back off, or I’m going to dump my lunch tray on you! I don’t think gravy stains will go well with your expensive tailoring.”
He drops my braid, but I don’t get the chance to move back before he grips my hips, his fingers digging at my skin through the material.
I mash my lips together to withhold a grimace.
“What is your problem? You can’t just manhandle me into getting your way,” I grumble. “Do you not understand what no means? That’ll get you in trouble with the law someday when your power trip goes to your head.”
Lucas rears back with a shocked look. Then his eyes narrow to dangerous slits.
“Jesus, I’m not a rapist, you little—”
I hoist my tray threateningly and he cuts off.
“Leave me the hell alone, Lucas! I don’t want jack shit to do with you or your lousy friends!”
Hushed mutters breaks out around the room. A few phones are held up, capturing the drama as it unfolds. They’ve got proof of me denouncing their king.
It’ll be all over Snapchat and Instagram stories within minutes, spreading like a fatal forest fire across the school, no doubt.
“You’re going to regret that,” Lucas promises in a rough, dark voice.
Those proverbial gallows feel like they’re snapping around my neck and wrists.
But I won’t bend the knee in fealty to this asshole.
Who would want someone like Lucas? Not me, that’s for damn sure.
“See if I give a shit. Go ahead and throw a tantrum.” I jerk my head back at my table. “I’ll be over there enjoying my lunch.”
Before the spectacle continues, I spin on my heel to end the conversation.
Lucas hooks his foot around my ankle as soon as I take a step and fucking trips me up. I stumble, but I don’t go down. My water bottle is the only thing to topple from my wobbling tray. I meet the eyes of a few people nearby and can sense the hunger for blood.
No one’s satisfied that I didn’t crash to the floor face first into my lunch.
I bend to retrieve the water bottle and when I rise, Lucas is two steps closer, lurking right behind me like an imposing shadow.