Authors: Amber Garza
Amber Garza on Smashwords
Copyright © 2012 by Amber Garza
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This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
To Andrew, my best friend, soul mate and love of my life
Thank you to Eli and Kayleen, you are my precious gifts from God. I love you so much, and I’m so proud to be your mom. Dad, your unconditional love is the reason I am whole and able to write what I do now. Mom, your belief in me is the reason I have been able to reach for my dreams. Matt and Kagen, I’m so glad you’re my brothers! Karissa, thank you for your support. Thank you, Malerie Plaugher, for your Washington expertise. Grandpa, thank you for teaching me what it means to work hard and do the impossible. You inspire me. A shout out to my steadfast fans, Rocky and Auntie Boo. You guys are the best. Thank you to Amy Flores, Shelly Frost and Stacy Sterling for the invaluable edits and suggestions. Lisa Eneqvist, you rock with your amazing cover art, sister! Book club girls, I love you and we still have to come up with a name for our group! Crystal Prescott, thank you for being patient with America’s-most-awkward model. I couldn’t have done this without each and every one of you. I love you!
James 1:14 - but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
“I can’t believe we’re finally seniors!” Haley exclaimed as we walked through the school parking lot amidst a sea of students.
“I know.” I adjusted the strap on my backpack as it slipped from my shoulder. A cool, fall breeze blew over my arms, causing goose-bumps to rise on my flesh. “Just think. Only nine more months til we’re outta this place.”
Haley smiled. “And in college.”
“Hey, why are you already talking college?” Ian sidled up against Haley. Her pale cheeks flushed in his presence and she nervously twirled a strand of bright red hair around her finger.
Ian wrapped an arm around Haley’s waist, and pulled her toward him. “Why are you in such a hurry to graduate? We’re seniors, babe. This is our year to party.”
Haley giggled, and I rolled my eyes. I could not understand what she saw in him. When I returned to Washington a week ago after spending the summer at my grandma’s house in California, Haley told me all about her new boyfriend. She made him sound so amazing that I couldn’t wait to meet him.
I was majorly disappointed when she finally introduced us. He was a total loser with his limited vocabulary and pension for partying all the time. And to top it all off, he wasn’t even that cute, with his shaggy brown hair and scraggly body. Ever since I met him I’d been convincing myself that he wouldn’t last long. Everyone knew that rebound guys were short-lived. She was devastated after Derek broke up with her, so it made sense that she’d date the first guy who took an interest. My game plan was just to keep my mouth shut and wait it out.
My phone vibrated in the pocket of my jean shorts, and I snatched it out. The excitement of finally owning a cell phone hadn’t worn off yet. I could hardly believe that Mom actually bought me one a couple of days ago. She said it was a senior present but I suspected it had more to do with the fact that she was worried I was going to take off to California. The thought had crossed my mind once or twice since coming back.
I lowered my eyes and read the text.
I smiled and quickly texted back.
Miss you more.
“Is that Isaac?” Haley asked, peering over my shoulder. As a slight breeze kicked up, I caught a whiff of her apple shampoo. It was a welcome distraction from the asphalt and burnt rubber smell.
I nodded. The phone vibrated again.
“Man, you guys have it bad,” Haley said. “That’s the reason you can’t wait ‘til senior year is over. So you can move away and be with lover-boy.”
“Maybe.” I shrugged, pushing the glass door open to the main school hallway. The truth was that I probably would move to California after graduation but it wasn’t certain. I knew long distance relationships could be hard. No telling what would happen over the course of the year.
“Whatever. You know you totally…” Haley’s voice trailed off. She froze beside me.
I glanced up to see what was wrong. A few feet away, Derek and Chelsea stood against a row of lockers. They were holding hands and chatting. My heart squeezed for Haley. I knew it would be hard to watch her ex-boyfriend and former friend hanging on each other all year. I would be devastated if Isaac broke up with me for someone else, and we had only known each other for a few months. It’s not like we were going out for a year like Derek and Haley.
“Sorry Hales.” I squeezed her shoulder with my hand.
“What’s going on?”
Surprise, surprise, Ian was clueless.
“Nothing.” Haley forced a smile and leaned into Ian’s shoulder. Just then, Derek glanced in our direction. Without missing a beat, Haley leaned over and planted a kiss on Ian’s mouth. He returned it with a little too much vigor, causing my stomach to churn. Like I said, this was just the rebound guy. I gave him another two weeks, tops. Haley was just using him to make Derek jealous. Which seemed like it worked based on how red Derek’s face turned.
The bell pealed. Students flew past us in a rush of colored backpacks and squeaky tennis shoes. Deodorant, floral perfume and strong cologne swirled in their wake. After Haley and Ian said goodbye to me, I pulled the crinkled schedule out of my pocket and smoothed it out. It sucked that Haley and I didn’t have any classes together. I wouldn’t see her again until lunch time.
I trudged down the hallway to Mr. Wilson’s history class. Mr. Wilson had a reputation for being strict and handing out way too much homework. I prayed the rumors were wrong. I waved to a couple people I knew as they hurried past. They were all just acquaintances. Haley was my only real friend at the school. By the time I made it to the classroom I had one precious minute to spare. The classroom had already filled up with students. There was only one seat left toward the middle of the room. I weaved my way in and out of desks, and snagged it. Just as I sat down, the bell rang.
Mr. Wilson introduced himself in a nasally voice and then passed out the syllabus.
“Here you go.” The guy next to me nudged my arm, as he flashed a paper in my face.
“Thanks.” I took the paper in my fingers and looked up. My heart stopped. It was Tanner. I hadn’t seen him since last year and I forgot how hot he was with his blond hair and blue eyes. The minute the thought entered my mind I scolded it away. Sure, I’d had a crush on Tanner since junior high but I was with Isaac now. I shouldn’t even still be noticing other guys.
“Hey, Kenzie. How’ve you been?” He grinned, forming dimples at the corners of his mouth.
“Not bad.” I stared down at the syllabus in my hand, trying to focus on the class.
“I heard you spent your summer in California. That’s cool.”
“How’d you know that?” Tanner had never taken an interest in my whereabouts before.
“You weren’t at any of the parties this summer so I asked around. Found out where you were.”
My head snapped up. “Why were you looking for me?”
“Miss Smith, is there something you’d like to share with the entire class?” Mr. Wilson asked me.
I clamped my mouth shut, and shook my head.
My palms were sweaty. I wiped them on my jeans. Why was Tanner asking about me this summer? More importantly, why did I care? I remembered Haley telling me Tanner and Scarlet broke up which was weird because they’d been together for, like, all of high school. Not that it mattered. I was with Isaac, and anyway, Tanner was part of my old life. I’d changed over the summer. I was a completely different person now.
Fighting a demon all summer and finally kicking his butt, will do that to a person. The thought of Wesley made me shiver. I closed my fingers around the cross necklace that Isaac gave me on our last morning together. It was a simple reminder that Wesley had no control over me now. I belonged to someone much more powerful.
Twirling the cross in my fingers, I tuned out Mr. Wilson’s long-winded speech. Man, I couldn’t wait until lunch time. My fingers itched to text Isaac, but I knew if I got caught I’d get my phone taken away and that’s a chance I couldn’t take. It was my ticket to communicating with Isaac whenever I wanted. I pictured my boyfriend’s tanned skin, dark hair and eyes. I longed to feel his arms around me, his lips on mine. When I glanced back over at Tanner I realized that he wasn’t nearly as cute as Isaac. He may have been the cutest boy in this high-school but he didn’t hold a candle to my man. Besides, Tanner was a bad boy and I was finished with those. Isaac had rescued me from that. I wondered if Isaac was as bored as I was at that moment. More importantly, I wondered if he was thinking of me too.
Finally the bell rang and I shot out of my chair. That had to have been the longest hour of my life. I was glad art class was next. That would at least be somewhat fun. Mrs. Carrington was pretty cool and I liked to draw and stuff.
“Hey.” Tanner approached me as I zipped up my backpack. “What class do you have next?”
“Art,” I responded wondering what spurred his sudden interest in me. In years past, I would have given my right arm for one conversation with him. Now that I finally had a boyfriend he couldn’t stop talking to me. What was going on?
“Hey, me too. Wanna walk together?”
I shrugged. “Why not?”
As we left the classroom side by side, I thought of Isaac and felt a stab of shame. But that was silly. I was just walking with another student to my next class. I had nothing to feel guilty about.
The cafeteria was a mad house. The thunderous chorus of voices rose to the ceiling, and bounced off the walls. The normal cliques were in place. The jocks and cheerleaders at one table, the band and chorus kids at another. I noticed Derek and Chelsea at the jock’s table. When Haley and Derek were together he sat with us, even though he played football. In fact, Chelsea sat with us too. She had been our friend before she stole Derek from Haley. Now they glared at us as we walked past. I rolled my eyes, so glad to almost be out of this place. The whole social scene of high-school was nauseating.
Haley and I wound through the room, found an empty table and scooted in. I dropped my lunch bag on the table, dipped my hand inside and pulled out a ham sandwich wrapped in foil. Haley did the same. I wanted to say something to make her feel better about the whole boyfriend stealing thing, but nothing came to mind. Instead, I bit into my sandwich. Tangy mustard coated the inside of my mouth. Before I could swallow, Ian showed up like an annoying fly. Were we going to have to eat with him, too?
“Hey, baby.” He bumped Haley, almost causing her to spill her bottled water. But she just chuckled and leaned into him.
I shoved more food into my mouth. Just when my cheeks were thoroughly stuffed and puffing out like a chipmunk, Tanner walked past. He threw me a smile and a wave before making his way over to the jock’s table.
Haley threw me a confused look. I lowered my head and continued chewing.
“What was that about?” Laughter erupted from the table next to us, where a boy snorted milk out of his nose.
I shrugged. “What do you mean?”
Haley’s eyes bugged out. “Tanner just
waved at you and you’re acting like it’s no
“It’s not. We have a couple of classes together. That’s all.”
Ian popped the top of his soda can. “So, what’s up with this Tanner guy? You got a crush on him or something?”
“Only, like, since she was seventh grade,” Haley shared.
My cheeks flamed.
“I went to a couple of parties with him this summer.” Ian said. “We sort of became friends. I can put in a good word for you.”
I shook my head. “No, I don’t like him. I have a boyfriend. Remember?”
“Oh right, the guy a million miles away. How could I forget?” Ian chuckled.
Did I mention I didn’t like this guy?
My phone vibrated in my pocket.
My heart sped up.
Hey. How is your day going?