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Authors: Eve Silver

Tags: #Speculative Fiction

Rush

BOOK: Rush
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DEDICATION

TO
DYLAN
, MY LIGHT;
SHERIDAN
, MY JOY;
AND
HENNING
, MY FOREVER LOVE

CONTENTS

Dedication

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Acknowledgments

About the Author

Back Ads

Credits

Copyright

About the Publisher

CHAPTER ONE

MIKI
.

My head jerks up. My attention narrows. I push off the chain-link fence that marks the limit of school property. My friends are sitting cross-legged on the grass a few feet away under the massive oak tree we’ve claimed as our little corner of the field.

Actually, Glenbrook High has a ton of fields: two softball, two baseball, five tennis courts, track and field, the discus/hammer throw, four general-purpose fields, and the football turf with the thousand-seat bleachers. Our spot is at the edge of an all-purpose field, chosen by my friends for the excellent view of the track and the tennis courts. They like to watch boys in shorts.

We’re here pretty much every day after school. Definitely days when there’s track. No track today, just a lone boy running laps.

Miki
.

There it is again, a boy saying my name. Like he knows me. Like he expects me to listen when he speaks.

I can’t place the voice and I can’t see the speaker. Last year, a girl in my class had this creeper guy following her home. I hope I haven’t acquired a shadow of my own. The possibility sends a chill crawling up my spine despite the late-afternoon sun that’s warm on my face.

I take a couple of steps toward the path that runs from the school fence to the street—one of several that fan out from the school like the spokes of a wheel. The path’s more of a small park that sits between two houses, a narrow strip of asphalt bounded by wide strips of grass. Trees rise on either side, their branches forming a green canopy. It’s not quite fall yet; the leaves won’t change color for a few weeks.

I wander to the edge of the small park and stop half a dozen yards from my friends, a dozen yards from the street.

There’s no one on the path.

But
someone
said my name.

From where I’m standing, I can see a handful of little kids being ushered across the street by the crossing guard in front of Oakview Elementary a block away. I watch for a few minutes, until no more little kids wait by the side of the road and the crossing guard gets ready to leave.

“Miki!” This time, it’s my best friend, Carly Conner, calling my name. She’s stretched out on the grass, her long legs crossed at the ankles. The weight of her torso rests on her bent elbow, her #11 Extra Light Blond hair falling in a sleek curtain just past her shoulders. I like it better than last month’s #100 Bleach Blond.

At five feet six, I’m a shade taller than Carly. My hair’s as dark as hers is pale. My features reflect the fact that my mom’s dad was Nisei—second-generation Japanese-American—but my eyes are my dad’s mom’s unique shade of indigo blue. Every time people tell me I look “exotic,” I have to resist the urge to kick them in the shin.

Carly’s brows lift. Her unspoken question hangs between us:
Why are you over there instead of over here?

I open my mouth, but before I can say a word, Deepti Singh asks, “Did you see him?”

“See who?” I ask, too sharp, thinking she knows something about the boy who was calling my name.

“What bug crawled up your ass?” Dee snaps back at the same time as Carly pushes upright and says, “New guy.”

Then Kelley Zimmer chimes in with, “Incredibly hot new guy,” and I realize we’re talking about completely different things.

Dee crosses her arms over her chest and presses her lips together. Hurt feelings. I sigh. Carly gives me her
make nice
look. She’s a middle child. Always the peacemaker.

“How do you know he’s hot?” I ask, more to mollify Dee than from genuine interest.

Success. She perks up and says, “We heard from Sarah. She saw him. Sort of. His profile, anyway.”

“I got to see more than his profile.” Carly draws out every word, playing Dee and Kelley like the keys of a piano. “I took the attendance sheet to the office for Ms. Smith during last period, and he walked in just as I was walking out. We were practically chest to chest.”

I know Carly might be exaggerating just a little. She probably saw him from across the office, but her modified version makes a far better story.

“And?” Dee asks.

“Let’s just say his guns”—Carly strokes her fingertips along her biceps—“ought to be
licensed
.”

I snort at the outdated expression. Carly shoots me a look and waggles her eyebrows. Of course, she’s pushing all Dee’s buttons, and Dee plays right into her hands.

“Oh. My. Gawd.” Dee’s eyes widen, and she claps her palms together.

“Describe him. Every detail,” Kelley demands.

Carly reaches into her backpack, pulls out a lighter, and flicks it. The tip of her cigarette glows red. My gut clenches at the too-familiar sight. A white curl of smoke drifts from between her lips, and I look away before I say something I’ll regret.

She knows my history, but she’s smoking anyway. Preaching won’t make her do anything differently. It’d probably just make her dig in her heels. Been there, tried that when she went through her emo phase, then her multiple piercing phase, then her drinking phase—which ended in a puddle of puke right in front of Principal Murray’s office, a one-week suspension, and a monthlong grounding.

I stood by her through all of it.

She stood by me through worse.

Miki
.

With a gasp, I spin around to find empty space behind me. The only boy anywhere near me is the one running laps on the track, and he’s too far away to be the one saying my name. I watch him for a bit, watch his arms and legs pumping, and I know what he’s feeling: endorphins racing through him. Runner’s high. Crack of dawn five days a week I’m there, in my zone, alone with my music and the rush I get as my feet slap the ground.

The boy on the track slows. Stops. Walks over to the grass and grabs his water bottle. He’s tall, dark haired. The distance between us is enough that I can’t be sure, but I think he’s looking at me. Then I
know
he is because he offers a terse nod.

Luka Vujic. We were friends about a million years ago, until . . . when? The middle of fourth grade? He wasn’t at Glenbrook last year as a sophomore—I think his dad was transferred somewhere out west. Now he’s back, and he’s changed. It isn’t just that he’s taller and leaner. There’s something in his eyes that wasn’t there before.

Now those eyes are fixed on me. I bob my head in reply and turn back to my friends.

“Oh. My. Gawd,” Dee says. She’s an equal-opportunity oh-my-gawder. “Is that Luka?”

They all turn their heads and stare.

“He is so cute,” Kelley says.

“So cute,” Dee agrees. “And so much more mature than his friends.”

“You think?” Carly asks.

Dee shrugs. “He doesn’t burp and make fart jokes. Not in the caf, anyway.”

Now there’s a recommendation of maturity if ever I heard one. But I do think Dee’s right. Despite the fact that he’s easygoing and friendly, Luka always seems to hold himself apart somehow, even in a crowd.

Carly watches Luka for a moment, and then she says, “He’s not just gorgeous. He’s smart, too.”

We all stare at her. That isn’t something that usually impresses her. She’s more of a solely-interested-in-cute-face-and-lots-of-muscles, all-the-better-if-he-has-a-car kind of girl.

“What?” she asks, eyes wide. “It’s hard to miss. He’s in my chem class and he pretty much skates through every question without a hitch.” She smirks. “He sits next to me and doesn’t seem to mind explaining stuff.”

“But you’re good at chem,” I point out. “Why do you need him to explain stuff?”

All three of them look at me like I’ve grown a second head. Then I get it. “Right. It isn’t a question of need—”

“It’s a question of want,” Carly finishes for me with a grin. “So far, I have Luka helping me in chem, Darnell helping me in Spanish, and Shey helping me in geometry.”

“Shey,” Kelley says on a sigh.

“You don’t need help in any of those classes,” I say.

All three of them roll their eyes at me.

“I do,” Carly says, with a lift of her brows. “I really do.”

“I hope the new guy’s in
all
my classes,” Kelley says. “Was he in any of yours today?”

“I don’t think he started classes yet,” Carly says. “I think he was just meeting with Principal Murray when I saw him in the office this afternoon.”

“I guess it’s a paperwork thing.” Kelley sighs again. “Now we have to wait till Monday to see what classes he has.”

And they’re off, talking about him again, speculating on how his schedule might overlap with theirs. My attention wanders, but I catch the words
hot
and
old-school aviator sunglasses
. They jump to the next topic: the Halloween dance. It’s still weeks away, but it takes time to plan a good costume.

I haven’t yet put much thought into mine.

I wish I could. I wish I thought it mattered. My friends all get so excited about things like movies and dances and shopping; they
feel
things so intensely. I go through the motions and bluff extremely well, but I’m not like them. I haven’t been for almost two years. And that kills me. I just want to be . . . normal again.

I stand by the fence, watching them, far enough away that I’m part of their group, but not.

This time, the chill crawls up my spine
before
I hear the words.

Miki Jones
.

Better and better. He knows my last name, too.

“What?” I ask under my breath, scanning the trees, the garbage can, the fence. I’m annoyed now. Someone’s hiding somewhere. Voices don’t just materialize in a person’s head. But my friends are focused on one another, not one of them noticing that someone’s calling my name, and I have the horrible thought that maybe I
am
hearing voices, like that guy in the movie about the beautiful mind.

Not liking that possibility, I decide it’s a prank. “Having fun?” I mutter as I spin a slow circle and end up facing the street again. The crossing guard’s gone. There’s no one else around. Except—

There’s a girl, a little girl. She’s squatting in the road in the middle of the crosswalk. Doing what? Picking something up? I expect her to stand up and move along, and when she doesn’t, wariness shoots through me.

BOOK: Rush
10.62Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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