The Iron Tiara:A Nine Minutes Spin-Off Novel(5)

By: Beth Flynn

Albert made sure that none of the other girls played with her or accepted her into their friendship circles. She wasn't the only child at the school without a father. But apparently, she was the only one whose mother, Rosemary, was a sixteen-year-old who'd been sleeping with somebody's husband. Her family kicked her out when they discovered the pregnancy. Rosemary had been taken in by an elderly widow who'd later passed away, but left her home and meager belongings to the young mother and her illegitimate daughter.

Nisha lived in an isolated, run-down house on the outskirts of the reservation. If it hadn't been for Robert Bear, it probably would've fallen into disrepair years before. He was the Tribal Chief and had done his best to help out the single mother and her daughter over the years. Unfortunately, Rosemary had continued to make some wrong decisions. It was downright sad that Nisha felt the impact of her mother's indiscretions.

Nisha flinched and could almost feel the burning of her own scalp when she saw Albert grab the new kid by his hair. She was surprised when anger started to spark deep within her and she'd decided that no, she wouldn't pass the gauntlet to a new victim. She would do what she'd always done. She would fight back. With a new resolve, she clenched her fists and started moving toward the boys when she stopped dead in her tracks and caught sight of something that caused her eyes to widen. She tried to hide the small smile that was growing broader. Anthony had managed to land a punch to Albert's stomach. As the boy fell to his knees and gasped for breath, Anthony pushed him down into the dirt, grabbing Albert by his hair and grinding the boy’s face hard into the rich, gritty earth.

She wondered if things would've turned out differently for her if she'd known how to defend herself properly. She always fought back, but Albert still got the best of her, making sure to always unleash his cruelty away from the eyes of an adult who could've prevented it or intervened. It no longer mattered. Albert had finally gotten what he had coming. She wished she could've been the one to put him in his place. Maybe now he would know what it felt like and leave her alone.

It had been wishful thinking. After having been humiliated by the new kid, Albert had gone back to tormenting Nisha and a week later he took the opportunity to let loose more of his viciousness when their teacher stepped out of the room.

"Continue working on your handouts," she announced from behind her desk. "Today's room monitor is..." The teacher hesitated as she scanned the room. "Nisha. It won't take me long to run off some copies, and when I get back, I'll collect your handouts."

Nisha looked around nervously. She saw Anthony working on his handout. Her eyes slowly landed on each child in the room. They were all doing what the teacher had requested. A prickle of fear combined with irritation ran up her spine when her gaze landed on Albert, who sat two rows over from her. He was staring at her with hatred more intense than she'd ever witnessed before. He was obviously fuming about the beating he'd taken a week ago, and she knew he was going to take it out on her. Again. She gulped as Albert got up from his desk and strode toward her. The other kids, noticing movement, looked up from their worksheets.

Nisha quickly stood up, bracing herself, and wondered if she should stop trying to defend herself. Albert seemed to enjoy it when she fought back. Maybe if she didn't put up any resistance, he would get bored and leave her alone. Her mind was racing as she tried to figure out the best course of action, when she caught sight of Anthony. He'd looked up and was watching her with a curious expression on his face.

Anthony frowned when he realized Albert was approaching Nisha, the girl with the long dark hair and big brown eyes that were filled with fear and determination. He'd watched Albert bully her a few times in the past week. He couldn't be certain, but he thought she'd started to come to his defense the first day Albert had tried to intimidate him. He'd considered more than once about intervening on her behalf, but being the new kid, he didn't want to bring unwanted attention to his family. Even though he was positive he would never fit in at his uncle's home, he was grateful to have been taken in.

Anthony had to admit, he admired Nisha. He'd watched all week as she stood her ground against the school bully. She was on the losing end every time because she didn't know how to defend herself properly. He would make sure that changed today.

Before Nisha knew it, Albert was in front of her. He was making nasty comments about her clothes, but she barely heard him. From the corner of her eye, she saw Anthony stand up. When Anthony knew she'd seen him, he pointed to his right knee and lifted it high. He then pointed at his crotch and nodded at her.

Nisha looked back at Albert when she felt the hard pinch to her arm. Stifling a cry, she lifted her knee like she'd seen Anthony demonstrate and connected with Albert's groin. He bent over in pain, and once again she glanced Anthony's way. He nodded and motioned for her to grab Albert's head and bring her knee up again. Without hesitation she mimicked Anthony's movements, and when she looked back at him, she could see the admiration on the new student's face. She knew deep in her heart that they would become friends. Inseparable, lifelong friends.

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