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Authors: Liz Botts

News Flash

BOOK: News Flash
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News Flash

by Liz Botts

Published by Astraea Press

www.astraeapress.com

This is a work of fiction. Names, places, characters, and events are fictitious in every regard. Any similarities to actual events and persons, living or dead, are purely coincidental. Any trademarks, service marks, product names, or named features are assumed to be the property of their respective owners, and are used only for reference. There is no implied endorsement if any of these terms are used. Except for review purposes, the reproduction of this book in whole or part, electronically or mechanically, constitutes a copyright violation.

NEWS FLASH

Copyright © 2013 LIZ BOTTS

ISBN 978-1-62135-280-8

Cover Art Designed by AM DESIGN STUDIOS

To my daughter, Addie. To my nieces, Simone, Samantha, Sophia, Reagan, and Jacie.

Chapter One

I fidgeted with the bright blue folder in my lap as I waited my turn to see the guidance counselor, Ms. Lewis. The top left corner had been worn down to the point that in another minute it would rip right off.

The minute hand on the clock above the secretary's desk gave a soft tick as it moved ahead. No one else was even in the office, so what could be taking so long? The note I had gotten while in Pre-Calc had said to come to the office immediately, and to bring my transcripts, college acceptance letters, and any recommendations I had, as well as info on my internship.

My first thought had been what an absurd request, because who keeps all that stuff with them at school. But then I realized that I was one of those people—my mom called me Type A, whatever that meant—so I hauled my butt to my locker then to the office.

When Ms. Lewis called me in, I held the folder just a little tighter. Getting called to the counselor's office was never a good thing, and from the grim set of the woman's mouth I knew I was right.

“What's wrong?” The words left my mouth before I could stop them. My mom constantly lectured me about tamping down my anxiety. She told me I came across as crazy when I started jabbering about all the possibilities of the things that could happen. I chewed on my lip as I waited for her to answer.

Ms. Lewis looked down at a file on her desk. When she looked up, there was a softer look in her eyes. “It seems that during your freshman year, the study seminar you took did not count toward your total credits for graduation.”

I stared at her, hoping against hope that she wasn't saying what I knew she was saying. When she tapped her pencil against the desk, I knew she already heard my unspoken question. She continued, “That means that you are point five credits short. You can't graduate unless we figure out a solution.”

A cold chill raced along my spine. “I don't understand. I've got all my paperwork right here. My transcripts are complete. Look. Look at them!”

The blue folder spilled across Ms. Lewis's desk, knocking over her paper cup of coffee. I stared in horror as the dark liquid oozed over everything in its path. “I'm so sorry,” I said in a choked voice.

Ms. Lewis grabbed a handful of tissues, and blotted at the caffeinated mess on her desk. The look she gave me was enough to cow anyone into submission. She took a deep breath and moved her lips as if she was silently counting to ten. I wouldn't have blamed her if she was. My mom always told me that I came on a little strong.

“Now, as I was saying,” Ms. Lewis paused. “We only have a few options to remedy this situation. Fortunately we discovered it at the end of the quarter rather than the end of the semester. There's still a chance for you to get into a class to earn that credit.”

I settled back into my chair, knotting my hands together on my lap. “I'll do anything. I have to graduate on time.”

The tight lipped smile that Ms. Lewis gave me made me feel like a toddler being reprimanded. “Of course you want to graduate on time, dear. Now Mr. Carson's special event planning class has a few openings. If you join now, and fulfill all of his requirements, you can earn the half credit by the end of the school year.”

“Special event planning class? Wait, you mean the one that plans the dances? I can't…” My voice trailed off as I tried to come up with a good argument to get myself out of the class. Everyone knew that Mr. Carson's classes were full of the snotty girls who liked to pretend that they were popular but actually weren't. I knew that sounded like a lot of bull, but the truth was I just didn't want to be around those girls. They made me feel inferior, and I tried to make it a point not to be around people like that. Plus why would I want to hang around with airheads?

Ms. Lewis leaned on her elbows on her desk, steepling her fingers in front of her face. “Miss Jones. Allison. You don't have a choice. Without that credit you will not graduate with the rest of your class. You will have to go to summer school, and all of this may jeopardize your college plans. Frankly, you are lucky we even have a solution.”

I swallowed hard against the lump in my throat. “All right. Sign me up.” The resolve I faked in my voice came without my usual vibrato.

****

“Oh, come on. It won't be that bad. I'll sign up for the class, too, if it'll make you feel better.” My best friend, Jake, tossed an orange to me from the breakfast bar in his kitchen.

I squinted through the curtains toward my own house, where my mom was out in the garden planting early bulbs. “My mom thinks it'll be a good way for me to socialize. Can you believe that? It's ridiculous that I even have to take the class. The stupid school made the mistake so why should I be punished for it?”

“Al, I will seriously take the class with you.” Jake crossed over to the family room carrying a huge glass of milk with his own orange. He flopped down onto the sofa beside me.

“Naw, you don't have to do that. I'm just mad that it's going to cut into my internship time. I should be focusing on my future, not just planning some stupid dance.” I dug my nail into the orange skin. “Ugh.”

“It could be fun.” Jake pulled the peel off his piece of fruit, filling the small space with an intense citrus smell.

“Are you serious? Planning prom is not fun.” I leaned back on the couch and stared up at the ceiling. Why was everyone being so positive about this ridiculous turn of events? Prom was just another silly distraction that made up the very fabric of high school. Only the morons that thought of high school as the best time of their lives got excited by stuff like that. I wanted to get out and grow up, pursue my career in journalism. Life was waiting for me just outside the cinderblock walls of James Buchannan High, and I didn't want to waste time planning a dance.

“Look, Mr. Carson's a pretty fun dude. I worked with him freshman year when I took yearbook. I'm positive he'll make prom planning great.” Jake grinned at me. “Besides if you don't plan the prom, I can't ask Mary Beth Johnson to be my date. And if she isn't my date, how else will I—“

“Don't! Don't even go there,” I said as I sat up so fast I knocked my orange and a throw pillow on to the floor. “There is nothing about the way you end that sentence that would make it okay.”

“What?” Jake gave me his best innocent look, one I had seen many times before. “I was just going to say, how else will I be able to show off my awesome dance moves?”

“Sure. That's totally what you were going to say.” I groaned, rubbing my fingers against my temples. “I just don't care about it, you know? It's just a dance. People spend hundreds of dollars just for a chance to get…close, shall we say. And then what? Everyone goes off to college, hopefully never to see each other again.”

Jake stuck his lower lip out at me in a mock pout. “That's not very nice. What are you going to do when you have to see me every day next year?”

“Jake, I see you every day right now.”

“Look,” he said, his face getting serious. “Do you want me to join the class or not? I'm serious about the offer. I have a free period this quarter, and you know I'd never let you do something awesomely lame without me.”

Chagrined, I chewed on my lower lip. I could be such a jerk to Jake because he always let me. If I talked to any of my other friends that way, they'd call me on it good. And with my mom? Forget it. I hadn't even tried to convince her of the absurdity of me being on the prom planning committee. She would pull her approval for my internship at the news station faster than I could blink. Mouthing off was not acceptable, but then again neither was calm, logical discussion. Pretty sure she should have lived during a time when it was all the rage for kids to be seen and never heard.

“Fine,” I said with a resigned huff of air. “I'd love for you to take the class with me.”

Chapter Two

The chaos of the newsroom always got my adrenaline pumping. Despite the fact that our city was fairly small—only about seventy thousand people—there were two news stations. The one I interned at was by far the better of the two, not that I was biased or anything.

“Hey, Allie.” Marika, the intern coordinator, handed me a stack of papers to file. I knew the drill. “Get to the floor early tonight. John and Bonnie have some stunning announcement.” She made a face that made me giggle, and I went to the big back office to the bank of filing cabinets.

Even though the work was monotonous, when I got into a good rhythm I got a very Zen-like feeling. I always rifled through the stack of papers before I filed them. On the surface that seemed like a good way for an intern to get fired, but I knew so much about the goings-on of the newsroom. For instance, I knew that John and Bonnie, the lead anchors on the six o'clock news, had been chastised by HR more than once for overly-flirtatious comments made on air. That was a lame example, though, because everyone knew that those two were dating behind the scenes but refused to publicly acknowledge the relationship. Their reasoning? They didn't want HR to get involved in their personal lives. Whatever.

I had been working at the station for only a quarter. With one more under my belt before graduation, I hoped to be able to apply to the state university's journalism school early. Normally for admission to the program, one had to be at least a sophomore with a semester internship completed. Early acceptance to the program would mean that I'd get a jump on my career, and might be able to land a really choice internship with one of the big stations my senior year in college.

“Oh my gosh, what do you think Bonnie and John are announcing?” Chloe, the actual college intern, skirted in to the back room out of breath. She dropped down on the lone office chair, and spun around a few times.

“Maybe they'll tell us all that they're engaged.” I stuffed a file in a cabinet, and sat back on my heels to look at her. We were work friends, just like I had school friends. She and I came from such different worlds that we would never spend time together away from the studio, but we got along well nonetheless.

Chloe shook out her long blond hair before gathering it back into a messy bun. “They'll never admit they're together. It's like their mission in life to keep their relationship a secret.”

I filed a few more things while I mulled over what Chloe had said. Bonnie and John were a favorite topic of conversation around these parts, but we all had to be careful not to be caught. Gossip was severely frowned upon. I got the reason behind it, of course, that sort of behavior wasn't professional. But I was a senior in high school, and Chloe was just a senior in college. We hadn't grown into professionals yet, at least that's what I told myself to alleviate any residual guilt.

“Still, I think it might be kind of romantic. Especially if they declared their love on air.”

“If they weren't so old, I'd say they were cute. “ Chloe wrinkled her nose.

I giggled. “They aren't that old, and I don't think Bonnie or John could be referred to as cute. Abrasive maybe, but never cute."

We chatted a few more minutes before Chloe schlepped back off to her official duties as go-fer. I finished my filing and stood. Stretching, I glanced around the little back room where I spent so much of my time. Not many of my peers would understand what I liked about this so much. Being part of something larger than myself made me excited. I wanted to produce the news someday, not be in front of the camera. Anchormen and women were a different breed of journalist. They had to have something else about them that normal people just didn't possess.

As I did most days, I paused at the edge to watch the activity of the newsroom. People were everywhere getting the days' shows ready to air. I loved the rush, especially on a breaking news day. Then everyone scurried to and fro, barely avoiding collisions with one another as they relayed the most current information.

“Are you done already?”

I jumped as Marika came up behind me. “Yeah, there wasn't that much today.”

BOOK: News Flash
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