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Angelo – The Marchesi Family
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Cameron didn’t realize how much he loved his grandparents’ bakery until Angelo Marchesi, a man he’s hated since high school, threatened to take it away.
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I closed my locker and turned to go to class, but there he was, like a brick wall in front of me. Angelo Marchesi. All six foot three of him, looking so much older, so much more muscular than he should at sixteen. He was dangerous, an asshole and a troublemaker, yet he made my skin flush every time he came near me. He’d pushed up the sleeves of his uniform jacket as usual, rolling his shirtsleeves over them. His tie hung loose, and he hadn’t bothered to button his shirt all the way. I had to look away from the exposed slice of tanned skin and clear my throat before I could speak. “Excuse me. I need to get by.”
“Hold up, genius,” he said, placing a hand on my chest. It was enough to immobilize me. If a person were being kind—and most weren’t—they would refer to me as lean. I was scrawny. But Angelo had one thing right. I was a genius. That was how I’d gotten to St. Margaret’s. Natural intelligence plus some hard work.
“I don’t want to be late.” For some reason, a few weeks into the school year, Angelo told the rest of the school bullies to back off. He said if I needed to be put in my place, he would do it. He’d occasionally tease me by calling me “Genius” or “Nerd Boy.” One time he threw an apple core into my locker as he walked by, but mostly he left me alone. I didn’t trust him, though. I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, for him to say I owed him.
Angelo huffed. “Why the fuck do you care? You got As in everything, and all the teachers love you. You could tell them anything, and they’d believe you.”
Unlike Angelo who was on pretty much every teacher’s shit list. If it wasn’t for all the money his father gave to the school, he’d have been kicked out months before.
“Sit next to me in math,” he demanded.
“Devil always sits next to you.”
He grinned. “Nice to see you noticed.”
If this were an alternate universe, I would think he was flirting with me. But he was straight, and no matter how much the kids speculated about me being gay, I wasn’t stupid enough to be open about it. Besides, if a guy like Angelo was actually flirting with me, it would only be because he wanted something.
I knew where everyone sat in every class. I knew most of their schedules too. I remembered things easily. I always had. But Angelo didn’t need me to explain that to him.
“Are we clear?”
“You’re not copying off my test.” Even as I said the words, I knew I could be in big trouble. It was best to do what Angelo and his cousin asked. Bad things happened to people who didn’t.
“Come on. I’m going to fail that class. If I get kicked out of here, my dad will fucking kill me.”
I wanted to remind him that if he didn’t skip class all the time, talk back to the teacher, and fail to do his homework most nights, he wouldn’t need to worry. “Why do you care? It’s not like they’re really going to kick you out.”
Anger burned in his eyes for a moment, but then he turned on the charm again. “I made a bargain with my brother. If I can bring my grades up, he’s going to do me a favor.”
I didn’t want to know what sort of favor one Marchesi brother would do for another. “I can’t help you. Not like that. If I get caught cheating, I’ll get kicked out. You know I’m here on a scholarship.”
Everyone knew. I didn’t have the things the rest of these kids did. I didn’t fit in with any of them. Being at St. Margaret’s was giving me a chance to go to college. If I kept my grades excellent and made a good impression, I could get a scholarship to college too, and then I could escape the hell that was my family life. I wasn’t going to fuck that up, not even if it meant Angelo would beat the shit out of me.
“At least let me copy your homework then. There’s no way the teacher will see that.”
“Don’t you think she’ll wonder when suddenly you have it done right?”
“I’ll fuck a couple of the problems up. It’s not like I’ve got to get an A. I just need to do better.”
“No. I-I can’t.” I hated how my voice shook. Any second, the bell would ring, and I was going to be late. Angelo was probably right. I’d be forgiven for that, but I needed my teachers to trust and respect me.
Angelo smacked his hands against the lockers, caging me in. His dark eyes burned into mine, and I couldn’t look away. “I could just take it from you.”