Authors: Sophia Duane
About the Author
First published by The Writer’s Coffee Shop, 2012
Copyright © Sophia Duane, 2012
The right of Sophia Duane to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by her under the
Copyright Amendment (Moral Rights) Act
This work is copyright. Apart from any use as permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part may be reproduced, copied, scanned, stored in a retrieval system, recorded or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the publisher.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people living or dead, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
The Writer’s Coffee Shop
(Australia) PO Box 2013 Hornsby Westfield NSW 1635
(USA) PO Box 2116 Waxahachie TX 75168
Paperback ISBN- 978-1-61213-095-8
E-book ISBN- 978-1-61213-096-5
A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the US Congress Library.
Cover image by: © Bolotov
Cover design by: Jennifer McGuire
Sophia Duane is a thirty-something writer from the heartland of America. She grew up tel ing stories and creating characters to pass the time. She enjoys books, movies, music, and yoga. An avid lover of history, art, and people-watching, she is interested in the study of what makes people tick.
I cringed at the sound my locker made. I hadn’t meant to shut it that hard. About half the kids in the hal were looking at me now—the exact thing I didn’t want. The time I spent putting my books away in my locker was the most vulnerable time for guys like me. Usual y I was with my friends, so any attention directed my way would be spread out over three or more people.
Geeks tended to travel in packs since there was safety in numbers—just like gazel es. We were always the prey, and the predators were the cool kids. Not al of them, but most of them. Usual y, it wasn’t physical threats. Our school system had grown too hip to al ow hazing or outright bul ying, so it was mainly harsh words and cruel names.
Luckier than my friends, I had a brother who was popular. He was friends with just about everyone on the planet, so I slipped under the radar quite a bit. I stil had my share of run-ins with the cool kids who didn’t like, or were jealous of, my brother, Aaron.
My friend, Casey, made his way over to me and I instantly breathed a sigh of relief. Never liking to navigate the hal ways alone, I was thankful for the company.
“Oh my God, Adam, have you seen Hannah today? She’s wearing that purple shirt thing. I just . . .” Casey kept going, but I stopped listening.
He’s been in love with Hannah Newsome for five years.
The “purple shirt thing” he was talking about was this little wrap-around fabric that tied at the neck and lower back. I didn’t know how she got away with wearing it since it was total y outside of dress code for showing al of her back. When she wore it, there was no way of ignoring the fact that she wasn’t wearing a bra.
I agreed with Casey—the girl was hot, but there was no reason to keep obsessing over every little thing she wore. Besides, Aaron had gone out with her last year. It wasn’t like we were tight or anything, but I’d spent enough time with her to know she was pretty vapid. Even my brother couldn’t stand talking to her much and he could usual y withstand an extreme amount of useless chatter when it came to girls.
“Are you even listening?” Casey asked.
Drawing my attention back to my friend, whose shaggy black hair covered half of one eye, I cocked my head to the side and asked, “Are you saying anything new or are you continuing the same verbal vomit over Hannah you normal y spew?” He sighed, narrowed his dark eyes at me and drew his already thin lips into an even thinner line. “Probably the normal spewage.”
“Then no, I’m not listening.”
“Find a girl you could actual y get, and I’l listen to you wax poetic about the curve of her shoulders, but you have
with Hannah. It’s painful to listen to you talk about her.”
Casey rol ed his eyes then ran a hand through his hair, final y it away from his face. “You’re an ass.”
“No,” I countered. “I’m a realist.” I checked my watch. We only had a minute to get to our favorite class of the day—Physical Education. Actual y, it was my least-favorite class, but sarcasm helped me survive the hour.
Casey and I went to the locker room but it wasn’t until we’d changed into our black and gold gym clothes. “I hope Coach Martinez has us on the same field with the girls. Hannah always rol s her shorts down and knots her shirt in the back. You get to see her ab—” I placed my hand on his cheek and shoved him gently. It was just a little push to tel him I didn’t want to hear it. He laughed, and I shook my head. I bet when we leave for col ege he’l stil be talking about Hannah Newsome.
Dinner at home was the usual. My dad, John James, always tried so hard to make us good, nutritious food. His cooking skil s had developed over the years and I suspected he received the help of Rachael Ray on a daily basis. My dad worked nights now that Aaron and I were old enough. He left for work every night at eleven and got home in time to see us off to school. I didn’t know what he did during the day beyond sleep, but I was pretty sure it involved cleaning and various cooking shows.
I didn’t think he was a domestic by nature, he just had no choice.
Dad was very athletic—not only in his youth, but now as wel . He was on his factory’s softbal team, and he was always tossing some kind of bal around with Aaron. He went to every single one of Aaron’s games, even if he had to work that night. He knew everyone in town because his high school popularity had fol owed him into adulthood.
Basical y, my dad was an older version of my brother. Sometimes it was awkward for me to interact with him. I thought my dad tried hard enough, but somewhere in our relationship things just didn’t connect for us like they did with him and Aaron.
I wished things were different, but it was something I got used to. To his credit, my dad never stopped trying to understand and be interested in my activities.
“So, Adam, tel me about your classes.”
I looked up at my dad from my plate of meatloaf. He’d just been engaged in a conversation about footbal practice with my brother. I hadn’t been listening, so the switch in conversation took me by surprise. I nodded in response, even though he wasn’t asking me a yes or no question. “They’re okay.”
“ ‘Okay?’ You’ve been excited about the Advanced Placement classes since freshman year, and now you’re tel ing me that they’re just ‘okay?’” It was only the first week of school, so it was hard to tel which classes I’d real y like, but it was obvious my dad wanted more detail, so I shrugged and said, “I real y like history. We’re not studying events chronological y.”
“But, it’s history,” Aaron said. “Isn’t the point to look at it chronological y?”
“Not in this class. We’re looking at it in terms of significance to the modern world. Right now, because of the war and stuff, we’re studying U.S.
My dad nodded. “You like that, though, right?”
“Yeah, it’s good,” I answered for lack of better words.
“And what else?” Dad took a bite of potato. “You in biology again this year?”
“Yes. Col ege level. It’s al right. We have to dissect a fetal pig and a cat.”
I looked over at my brother and rol ed my eyes. He could say it was awesome al he wanted, but the smel would be enough to make him puke.
When we had Biology together our sophomore year, he’d nearly chucked when we dissected the earthworm. “I like A.P. Physics better.”
“Why?” my dad asked.
“More math, less latex gloves.” I focused down at my plate and pushed the peas around until it looked like I’d eaten more than I had. “May I be excused? I have a lot of homework.”
“Oh! Me, too?” Aaron said, his excitement apparent. My attention was drawn to him. “I wanna go hang with Kel y.”
“Kel y Volk?” my dad asked, as if he didn’t know that Kel y from down the street was Aaron’s new interest. Aaron nodded. “What’s her dad up to? Haven’t seen much of him since he got laid off.”
Aaron shrugged. “I don’t know. I think she said he got a part-time job at the McDonald’s. She’s total y mortified he works there.”
“A job’s a job, Aaron.”
was my brother’s response to my father’s admonishment.
“Dad?” I said, hoping to remind him that I’d asked to be excused.
“Right. Clean up, and you’re free to go. Don’t you have practice?” he said, referring to marching band. I was in the drumline.