Byron paused on his walk. He was sure there was a girl crying in that little alcove behind the bushes, but he wasn't sure if he should intrude. He saw the retreating back of one of the bigger football players and decided to forge ahead through the shield of green.
"Hey," his tone was soothing and served to calm the tempestuous storm which raged behind the girl's dewy eyes, though she started like a wild deer when she heard his footsteps.
"Oh." She tried to dash the water from her cheeks.
"Umm, here." Byron fumbled in his pocket for the folded tissues he always carried. His jaw became firm and solid at the red mark on the side of her face.
"Who did this to you?"
She hung her head. "I can't say," she mumbled softly.
"Would he do it again if you told me? You should get protection. Like, I'm sure you could tell the authorities here. They'd be able to do something about it, sure."
"No. No, it just isn't that simple. I can't."
He put his index finger under her chin and tipped her face to where he could look square into her eyes.
"Listen here. You call me if he ever tries to do that to you again. I'm going to give you my phone number. Text me now so I'll know you got it. There. And I'm not being creepy or weird; I won't use you. I promise. I just believe that men are suppose to protect women; not hit them. I promise I won't call or text you unless I have your permission."
She fumbled to wipe away fresh tears.
"I, I don't know how to thank you."
"It's sickening that you have the need to. I'll kick that dog's tail if I ever see him lay a finger on you or any other woman on campus or off, whoever he is."
"You're wonderful," she breathed. "You're the kind of friend I've prayed for."
"God always hears our prayers. My name is Byron, by the way. Seriously, feel free to call or text me for anything. Anything at all."
"I'm Kris, and I will."
He stood up and smiled down into her dark green eyes.
"Good. I've gotta catch my next class or I won't be here to don my armor when you need it."
He winked, and she laughed. It was beautiful to him. Melodious.
"Fitch!! Sit over here with us."
"No, join me! Come on, man."
"Fellas, I already asked him to sit with Breck and me."
Hands waived and beckoned from every side. Byron laughed before sliding into an empty bench.
"You'll have to race if you want to sit near me. Hey dude! What's up, bro? Long time no talk."
"Hey man! Stoked to see you. How was practice this morning?"
"It was pretty good," Byron grinned. "I'm looking forward to summer break and late mornings, though."
"I bet. Don't look now, but I see Dickson headed this way."
Byron frowned. "Shucks. I can't stand that guy. He's such a self-righteous jerk."
"What's up, Dickson?"
"Next time I lose a race it better be fair and square."
Before Byron could speak up there were half a dozen voices chiming together in his defense.
"Seriously? You're the one who tried foul play this morning."
"That's your word against mine."
"No, that's your word against the rest of the team. You know as sure as you're alive that the whole team stands behind Fitch. You'd never get anywhere with your slander."
Rodney Dickson stood still in a haze of Rath for a few minutes before stalking away in a huff.
I'll probably come back and edit somewhat later. Enjoy!