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Authors: W.B. Kinnette

Waiting Fate

BOOK: Waiting Fate
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Waiting Fate

By W.B. Kinnette

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.

 

WAITING FATE

Copyright © 2013 W.B. KINNETTE

ISBN 978-1-62135-163-4

Cover Art Designed by AM Designs Studios

 

To my hero. You moved the clouds for me.

 

Prologue

 

Ten years ago — Seventh Grade

“Archer, right?” She smiled as she swung open the locker next to the one he leaned against.

“Yeah…” He looked over at the pretty brunette. He’d seen her around but had never talked to her before, and he couldn’t say for certain he knew her name.

“We went to elementary together.” She didn’t look at him while she dug through her locker, emptying everything into the bag sitting at her feet.

“We did?”

“Yep.”

“I… don’t remember you.”

She grinned as she rose to her feet. “They moved the school boundaries and transferred me halfway through third grade.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Kinda like they’re doing now?”

Her grin faded and her face fell. “Yeah.” It was the middle of their seventh grade year, but because of boundary changes again, half the school was being transferred to a brand new junior high across town.

The hall looked dimmer without her bright smile, and he wanted to bring it back. “But it’s only two years, right? Then we’ll be together again.” Realizing what he was implying, he felt his cheeks flame. “I mean, we’ll
all
be together again. In high school.”

That mischievous grin erupted across her face and made her big, dark brown eyes sparkle. “Of course.”

“Hey, Ivy.” Archer’s best friend, Austin, leaned around him to wave. His short, spiky blond hair poked Archer in the side of the face.

“Hey, Austin. Sorry you’ll have to get a new locker neighbor. Not my choice,” she said.

“Yeah, it sucks. Wish you weren’t going,” Austin said, and Archer wondered why Austin had never talked to her while he was around before.

“Have you been locker neighbors all year?” he asked.

“Yup. He’s gonna miss me quite a bit.” Ivy’s eyes sparkled again.

“Of course I am,” Austin said.

“Ivy! Come on — the bus is leaving!” A blonde girl, one whose name Archer did know — Gigi, called as she bounced on her toes by the doorway.

“Oh crap. I gotta go.” Ivy threw her arms around Austin and then Archer. “I’ll see you both in two years. Don’t forget me!” she called over her shoulder as she snatched up her bag and raced down the dull green-tiled hallway.

“She’s cute,” Archer said, watching her go.

“Yeah, she is. You should have decided that sooner.”

“Yeah, well, you could have introduced me sooner.” Archer frowned at him.

“Dude, did I not ever introduce you? How did that happen? I thought I did.”

Archer shook his head, his eyes following her tiny form as she disappeared in the crowds.

****

Three years later

Sophomore year

“Did you hear Ivy and Shawn broke up?” Austin said as he set his tray on the table and scooted a chair out with his foot. Archer sat in the cafeteria, surrounded by his four best friends — Austin, of course, Jay, Gunner, and Max. Archer looked up from his tray but said nothing.

“Yeah, I knew a few days ago,” Gunner said glumly, pushing his fork around his tray.

“Let me guess. You asked her out already,” Jay said and Gunner glared at him.

They all burst out laughing and Gunner forced a smile. “Yeah. She told me she wasn’t ready to date anyone else yet.”

“Well, yeah, dude. Ivy and Shawn were together for over a year. She’s not gonna date someone else the next day,” Austin pointed out.

“It’s fine. I’ll wait,” Gunner said.

Across the lunchroom, Ivy appeared in the doorway, glancing uncertainly around the room before retreating out of view. The breakup seemed to throw her out of her comfort zone. Every time Archer had seen her since, she’d been nervous and uncomfortable.

“I’m asking her to prom,” Max said.

“You’re what?” Gunner yelled.

Jay started laughing. “Gunner, you don’t have dibs on her.”

“I’ve liked her longer than anybody. You can’t ask her to prom. I’m going to ask her to prom!”

“It was my idea!” Max retorted, color rising to his already ruddy cheeks. His brown curls seemed to stand more on end than usual. Archer sat back, watching with interest.

“Well, that might not be true,” Austin said with deceptive mildness, his one brown eye and one green eye sparkling like he was excited at the prospect of a fight. The table fell silent as they all looked at Austin.

“What’s not true?” Max asked.

“That Gunner’s liked her the longest.” Archer’s eyes widened as he realized what Austin was about to say, but he wasn’t fast enough to cut him off. “Archer liked her in seventh grade. Maybe even since third grade. We can’t remember.”

Every pair of eyes turned on Archer and he glared, furious, at Austin.

“Have you ever even
talked
to her?” Max asked.

“Yeah, I have. We have history together.” Archer’s voice was a guttural growl, even to his own ears.

“Yeah. Ivy thinks me and Archer are the nicest guys in school. Unlike Jay, who moved her car so she couldn’t find it after class,” Austin said, tossing a piece of ice at Jay.

Jay threw back his head and laughed. “Don’t forget the time I took her spark plugs out.”

“And then you wonder why she said no when you asked her out.” Austin started to laugh.

Jay’s face, though, was nearly as red as Max’s. Austin’s laugh gurgled to a stop in his throat.

“When did you ask her out?” Gunner asked, brown eyes wide and confused.

Jay glared at Austin. “You said you wouldn’t say anything.”

“Dude. Sorry — I didn’t mean to.”

“Austin seems to be having a hard time keeping his mouth shut,” Archer muttered.

Gunner and Max still stared at Jay, waiting for an answer. “I asked her out when she broke up with Shawn a few months ago.”

“They broke up for a week,” Max said. Jay shrugged, looking away, and Max chortled, a high-pitched, obnoxious noise that grated on Archer’s ears. “So pretty much you’re telling me every one of us wants her?” he asked.

“Not every one of us. She’s like a sister to me.” Austin shook his head.

“Then… how do we decide who asks her to prom?” Gunner frowned at all of them, as if sizing up his competition.

“We race. Whoever asks first, wins,” Max said, already rising to his feet.

“Shouldn’t she get to decide who she goes with?” Jay asked, also rising to his feet, but neither of them moved away from the table.

“She’s too nice. She’ll go with whoever asks her first,” Austin pointed out, leaning back as he waved a breadstick through the air like a scepter.

“Then it’s whoever gets to her first.” Max stumbled over his chair and Jay grabbed him, thunking him into his seat. Gunner, too, was trying to weave his way around the tables, but Max grabbed his leg, tripping him. Gunner swore as he fell to the floor, and laughter erupted through the cafeteria.

“You guys are idiots. You’re gonna scare her half-to-death.” Austin cackled as he watched the mayhem.

“Do you have a better idea? How do we decide who dates her?” Jay asked, shoving Max away from him.

“We don’t,” Archer said, speaking for the first time in several minutes. They all froze.

“What do you mean, we don’t?” Gunner asked.

“We’ve been friends for a long time. We don’t let a girl come between us. Remember?” Archer’s voice was deep but quiet, and they all had to strain to hear him, which was how he liked it.

“But —”

“No buts. If we’re gonna fight over her, we don’t date her,” Archer said. All three of them righted their chairs, which had toppled over in the chaos, and took their seats.

“Yeah, I guess he’s right. She’s just a stupid girl,” Jay grumbled.

“Yeah,” Gunner said glumly.

Austin grinned at Archer, but Archer only shook his head. It wasn’t an agreement he was happy with, either, but he wasn’t going to risk his friends. No girl was worth that, no matter how sweet she was, or how pretty.

****

“Hey, Archer,” Ivy said with that same smile Archer remembered from the day she’d left in seventh grade. She dropped her history book down on the desk next to his and slid into the empty seat. A week had passed since “the agreement” with his friends, and Archer was as miserable as ever. “Do you think Mr. Greene will let us leave his class alive today?” she asked, oblivious to his pain.

Archer forced a smile. “Depends on how much energy he thinks he’s wasting on us.” Mr. Greene was an odd man. He didn’t turn the lights on in the class, even on dark, stormy days, because he said it was a waste of energy. He was also grumpy and didn’t seem to like high school students much.

Except Ivy. Everyone loved Ivy.

“He was pretty angry at our test results last week.” Ivy shook her head, pushing brown silky hair out of her face and tucking it behind her ear. Like they did whenever she was near, Archer’s fingers itched to brush her hair back for her. But he kept his hands on his desk and pretended not to notice.

“Hey, Ivy,” A kid named Conner, if Archer remembered correctly, squatted next to her desk on her other side.

“Hey, Conner. You aren’t… in this class.” Ivy frowned, glancing back at the door. If Mr. Greene walked in, he’d behead them.

“I know. I just needed to ask you something,” Conner said. He didn’t seem worried about Mr. Greene’s legendary temper at all.

She smiled, mischievously. “And it couldn’t wait ‘til after class?”

“No. Do you wanna go to prom with me?” Conner asked in a rush, his words blurring together. Archer felt pain lance through his chest.

“Oh. I’m sorry, Conner. I… can’t. Max already asked me a few days ago.”

“He what?” Archer gasped. Conner frowned.

Ivy’s smile faded. “Yeah, Max already asked me.”

Archer struggled to control his reaction. He wanted to punch something; if he were to be specific, he wanted to punch Max in his fat face. Swearing would make him feel better, too, but he couldn’t do that, not in front of Ivy. He doubted she’d ever even heard a vulgar word in her life.

That son of a…
even in his head he couldn’t swear with her around, trailing off at Ivy’s expression. She was watching him, genuinely worried, as Conner sat behind her, forgotten. Mr. Greene exploded into the room then, and Conner snuck out without Ivy even noticing he was gone.

“Are you okay?” she asked, her voice low as she stole nervous glances at their teacher.

“Yeah.” Archer nodded, but he didn’t feel okay. History passed in a red-hazed blur.

****

“You lying, sneaky —” Archer jerked Max out of his seat at lunch, spinning him around.

“Archer!” Austin cut him off before Archer could finish his insult, breaking between them.

“What’s going on?” Jay asked as the rest of the cafeteria watched with interest.

“He asked her. After we agreed, he asked Ivy to prom.”

Gunner, still sitting at the table, looked like he’d been punched. “Why would you do that?” he asked, his voice strangled.

Austin dropped Archer’s arm like it was hot, which in Archer’s mind gave him permission to punch Max.

Jay stepped between them, pushing Max back, away from their table. “You shouldn’t have done that.”

“What’s the big deal? She’s just a girl.” Max crossed his arms over his chest and glared at them, not about to admit that he was in the wrong. Also not about to admit that he was about to get beat up by his three best friends.

“The big deal isn’t Ivy, Max,” Austin said, glancing at the others before continuing. “The big deal is that we agreed and you did it anyway. Our friendship means a lot, obviously.”

“Oh come on! Are you serious with this?” Max threw his arms in the air and rolled his eyes.

Gunner and Jay picked up their trays and walked away, moving to another table. Archer clenched and unclenched his fist, debating on whether he could still punch Max and get away with it. Austin gave him a look, and Archer sighed and turned his back. Seconds later, Austin followed him, and they left Max standing alone in the cafeteria.

 

Chapter One

 

Present day

Furious, Ivy scrubbed tears from her cheeks, trying to see through her watery eyes that were, at the moment, pretty worthless. Driving blind along the Alaskan Highway, even in late June, was dangerous. Eleven o’clock at night and the sun was still up. For that, Ivy was grateful. She didn’t see well in the dark, even with her glasses on.

BOOK: Waiting Fate
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