The Academy - Introductions

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“Come on...” Victor urged under his breath, his hands
twisting at the wheel.

 

Silas and Kota both appeared at the doors
and stepped out. They tried to look casual but they were walking double time and
went right for the car. Silas climbed in back with me and Kota took the front
seat.

I turned, putting my knees in the seat and
facing backward to look out the rear window, watching for any sign of Greg or
his friends.


Are they
out there?” Victor asked.


I don’t
see them,” I said.


I think
we lost them,” Kota said, sounding breathless, leaning against the seat.


Sang, I
think we're safe. You can sit,” Silas said. His finger jabbed me in my side.
Unfortunately it was the side that was bruised and I wasn’t expecting it. I
winced and cried out an ouch before I could catch myself.

Silas’s eyes widened. His large hand
pushed me back up against the seat. He lifted my blouse away from the top of my
skirt. Cool air caressed the bruise and I shivered.


Where did
that come from?” he demanded.


I...”

He let go of me, turning his body to face
the door. His hand clutched the handle. “Turn the car around.”


Silas,”
Kota started.

His fists clenched and he spoke through
his teeth. “I said turn it around.”

 

T
he
A
cademy

Introductions

 

Year
One

Book
One

 

 

 

Written
by C. L. Stone

Published
by

Arcato
Publishing

.

Copyright ©
2012 C. L. Stone

http://aclstone.tumblr.com/

Published
by Arcato Publishing

http://www.arcatopublishing.com

All
rights reserved.

ISBN:
1481814915

ISBN-13:
978-1481814911

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.

 

Other Books By C. L. Stone

 

Smoking Gun

Spice God

 

From The Academy Series:

Introductions

First Days

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

 

Thank
you, Terese, for beta reading and being awesome.

Thank you,
Chrystal, for putting me on the path for the best thing I've ever done. Writing
will forever be different for me.

Thank
you, Karin, for being the best cheerleader ever.

Thank
you, WPLH, and all friends for putting up with our craziness – Monday through
Weekend Warrior Days.

 

Thank you, Chad, for putting up with my obsessions.

(Turtles!)

.

 

 

M
ax

 

 

M
y heart thundered under my breast. I was sure my parents
could hear me, asleep in their beds inside the two story, gray-siding clad
house on Sunnyvale Court.

Rain puddled at my feet, soaking the dirt of a thousand
walks into my off-brand tennis shoes. I usually enjoyed the rain. I liked the
feel of walking barefoot in puddles in the grass and the smell of rain mixed with
pine trees. Tonight, the air was cool and the rain was crisp against my skin
for an early August in South Carolina. I would be out all night, though, so
this was completely bad timing.

With my toes pointed out to the street, I stood at the edge
of the long driveway. A cool wind split through my dark poncho. I wanted to
shiver, but I steeled myself and ignored the cold.

This is it
, I told
myself.
If you’re going to leave, you need to do it now.

A new house sat half-finished around the bend of Sunnyvale.
I explored it yesterday while on a walk and discovered the back door was
unlocked.  

My hand gripped the straps of my overloaded backpack.
One
night,
I told myself. One night where I’m not sleeping under the same roof
as my parents.
I’m not going to die like my mother seems to think would
happen if I did.
I knew that normal people, everyone else in the world,
they weren’t all murdered and raped the moment they went outside.

Thoughts of my bedroom in the house behind me flooded my
mind; the soft green comforter, the mauve pink carpet, the warmth of the cotton
sheets, a quiet symphony playing from the stereo. I shook my head at the
thought, lifting a hand to my brow to flick away the collection of water there.
No. I had already made the decision. Besides, it was too late to turn back.
Sneaking out of the house was hard enough to do at night. I wouldn’t want to be
caught trying to sneak back in.

I forced my leg up and out to step foot on the dark
pavement of the road. My parents’ house was the newest on the half-circle
street, tucked away behind a forest near a new highway. There were only twenty
homes in the neighborhood. In front of my parents’ house was an empty lot, room
for one more house but the land was still undeveloped. The rest of the street
had several middle income homes and made for a very quiet neighborhood.
Unfortunately the street light was never installed in front of my parents’
home. Even though I knew the blacktop was flat, it made me nervous that I might
trip on a stick -- or an ax murderer.

I stomped my other foot onto the road, turned left and
started walking. The wind swept up around my face, and I tucked my head down to
brace myself against it. I fell into the deeper shadows of the road, shielded
from the glow of neighbors’ outdoor lights. I shivered as a breeze picked up
around me.

Even as my heart continued to pound, I moved forward. Every
second I envisioned my sister or my parents waking to find me gone and glancing
out the window to spot me. Only I knew better. They probably wouldn’t notice
until well in the afternoon that I was nowhere around. The reluctance I felt
was only the whispers of my mother echoing in my head.

A slippery thudding sound started racing toward me. It was
so soft at first that I thought it was my own heart. The sound drew closer. I
imagined some maniac running barefoot toward me. I stared out into the dark,
trying to use the light from the house further up the road to catch whatever it
might be.
I should move
, I thought.
I should get out of the way.
I willed myself to turn around. A gust swept into my face. My eyes watered.

A mass hurled itself at me and I fell back. My book bag
slipped away from my body and I crashed onto my butt and my left arm. My hand
and wrist scraped against the street. Something heavy and wet sat on top of me.
A warm, salty breath filled my nose.

The wild of my imagination ran through every possibility.
Rapist. Murderer. The instinct to scream swept through me but my throat caught
and I only gasped. I was paralyzed.

A slobbering tongue licked my arm and then a soft, cold
nose nuzzled it. My heart continued to beat but I finally took a breath,
relieved.

“Hey,” a shout came from up the road from the direction I
had been heading. “Are you okay?”

My whole body went rigid again. The sound of footsteps came
closer and I tried to angle myself out from underneath the dog. The dog
wouldn’t budge and instead continued to sit on my legs. It barked and then
licked my arm again.

“I’m sorry,” said the voice. “Max, get off of her.” In the
shadow of the street, I couldn’t tell who it was. I wasn’t that familiar with
the neighbors anyway. The voice was smooth, masculine. While his tone was
gentle, there was a strength hidden behind it. Since he wasn’t shouting at me
or telling me he would kill me, I tried to calm my heart.

They’re not as bad as she thinks, I told myself. People
aren’t all evil.

The dog was pulled away from me. The guy knelt by my side.
An arm went around my shoulders, lifting me slightly. “Are you hurt?”

His touch around my shoulder sent a shiver through me that
I couldn’t control. It was such a warm gesture and I wasn't used to people
touching me. Through my shivering, I felt the pang at my hip where I had
fallen. Pain seared through the scrapes on my arm. I coddled it to my chest.
“I’m okay,” I said through my teeth. “It’s fine.”

“No, you’re not,” he said. The strength in his voice
shining through more. “You scraped your arm.” He put another arm around my
waist and prepped his knees. “You can stand, right?”

My cheeks flushed so hot, I could have been glowing. As
much as I felt awkward, I was scared to admit that this stranger’s kind hands
on me felt so reassuring. “I think so.”

He pulled me up gently with him until we were standing
together. The wind whipped around us. My poncho flew like a flag behind me. He
turned his body until his back was against the wind, protecting me from the
worst of it. He brought his hands up to cup around my face. “I’m going to take
you to my house.”

It was the first time I noticed the glasses. The light from
up the road reflected in them. I still couldn’t guess his age. From what I felt
of his body, he was easily a head taller than me and there was some definition
to his muscles.

I blushed at the thought that I had been touching his
chest.

He bent over and picked up my book bag. He grunted at first
as he lifted it.

“Let me take it,” I said.

“No.” He heaved it over his shoulder. With a free arm, he
wrapped it around my shoulder and guided me up the street. “Let’s get out of
this rain. We’ll access the damage inside.”

“What about your dog?”

“He’ll follow.”

My heart pounded again as I followed him up the street. My
hands shook, my knees quivered. I tried to think calmly, that this was just him
being nice. My mother’s voice shot through my head, all her warnings swirled
through my mind.

I could only hope that I wasn’t on my way to die.

 

 

 

K
ota

 

 

H
is house
was the first one on the right after the empty lot. I remembered seeing it from
my bedroom window. It was a one story, brick, ranch-style home, with a finished
room over the two-car garage. The garage door was open, with one car parked
inside. Another car was parked in the corner of the wide driveway toward the
back. A safety light flicked on automatically as we crossed into the garage,
revealing the green poncho he wore. The hood covered most of his face. If I had
seen that coming toward me in the night, I would have run screaming. I wondered
if it was wise now to follow him into his house.

The dog followed us and he sat by a crate that was leaning
against the wall. He waited, waging his tail. In the shadows, he looked so big,
and I could smell the heady wetness of his fur, making my nose tickle.

“Not right now,” the guy said, waving his hand at the dog.
The dog sank to the floor, head on top of one of his paws. The guy hit the
button for the garage door to close and the light went out, sinking us deeper
into the dark, so much that I was blinded by it.

“Come on,” he said. He took my uninjured arm and pulled me
inside. I stumbled in behind him.

Once we entered the house, there was a short hallway with a
wood floor at our feet. The house was dark and I crept along behind him,
keeping close to his back so I wouldn’t get lost. I caught a glimpse of a
dining room beyond the hallway. Before we got to it, he opened a door to the
left just before the end of the hall. It opened to a stairwell, with light blue
carpeting covering the steps. There was a dim light on somewhere above.

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