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Fight Me

By´╝ÜLacey Black

Fight Me



2014 Lacey Black

Prologue


Erin

20 Years ago



I stand in front of my mirror, getting ready for my first day at yet another new school. My dad is a career officer in the military and it seems like every time I start to adjust to a new school, a new town, it’s time for us to move on to someplace new.

I try to tame my frizzy red hair by pulling it back in a neon blue and green scrunchie that matched my favorite t-shirt with the rad dog and mountain of books. I push my large plastic glasses back up my lightly freckled nose and give myself one last look over. Well, seventh grade…here goes nothing.

My mom pulls up in front of Rivers Edge Junior High while kids run around and talk with all of their friends. “Do you want me to go in with you, sweetie?”

“No thank you, Mom. I can manage.” I’ve been managing for a couple of years now. I’m lucky to make it through an entire grade at the same school before we’re packing up and shuffling along to another town, another military base. Fortunately, my family doesn’t have to live on base, but we have to be close enough for my dad to drive every day. Mom wanted a smaller town so they chose Rivers Edge which is only a thirty minute drive to St. Charles for my dad.

“Okay, well, have a great first day, sweetie.” Mom leans in and plants a kiss on my cheek. I pull away quickly as I throw open the passenger door on the family station wagon and pray that no one saw that embarrassing display of affection. I step out and square my shoulders. Ready or not, Rivers Edge. Here I come.

I step into the busy halls of my new junior high school and look around for the office. Fortunately, it doesn’t take me very long to locate it. Inside, there’s a plump older secretary lecturing kids on running in the halls. She finishes her lecture and sends them on their way before noticing me for the first time as I patiently wait in the back of the room.

“Can I help you?”

“I’m Erin Anderson. Today is my first day.”

“Oh yes! Your mother enrolled you yesterday. I’m Mrs. Deany and we’re so happy to have you with us at Rivers Edge Junior High, Erin. Here is your class schedule and your locker assignment. Lunch is at eleven-thirty in the cafeteria and…” Mrs. Deany’s voice trails off as she focuses her attention behind me. I turn around and get my first glimpse of the boy who just walked in the office. He’s super tall with blond hair and pretty blue eyes. I can’t help but stare at his striking features. He notices me staring at him and gives me the cockiest smile. I look away quickly and redirect my attention back to Mrs. Deany.

“Jake Stevens, what did you do this time?”

“Mrs. D, I didn’t do anything. How could you possibly think I would do anything to warrant a trip to the office?” The boy, obviously named Jake, gives the secretary a big, charming grin as he strolls up to the counter next to where I’m standing.

“Oh, I don’t know, Jake. Maybe because you are in this office at least twice a week?”

“Mr. Thomas was going to drop his books. I thought I’d be a stellar example to my fellow classmates and help him before he could drop them. It’s not my fault he was caught off guard and tripped, spilling his coffee all over the books he was carrying and his starched white dress shirt.” Another big smile from this boy who apparently has more charm and charisma than any boy should be allowed to have.

“I’m sure it was a complete accident on your part that he spilled his coffee everywhere,” she says, voice dripping with sarcasm.

“Completely not my fault. He was a little upset so he sent me down here to say hello to you.”

“Jacob Stevens, what are we going to do with you?” Mrs. Deany sighs and rubs her forehead, fretting the start of a headache. She then turns her attention back to me. “I know what you’re going to do. This is our new student, Erin. You are going to give her a quick tour of the school and show her where all of her classes are.”

Jake gives me the once over before his big smile returns to his face. “You got it, Mrs. D! Come on, darlin’. Let’s go.”

“Ten minutes and then you better be back in Mr. Thomas’ class, Jake!” she yells as we head out the office doors into the now barren hallways.

I follow closely behind Jake. He’s super tall compared to me and lanky, but not in that awkward way that so many other junior high boys are. I’m lucky to hit five foot, but he seems to stand almost six foot tall already. I bet he plays basketball. He shows me the gym, the cafeteria, and the library. As we’re heading back down the seventh grade hallway, he takes my schedule from me and starts to point out all my classes.

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