Authors: Bria Quinlan
Copyright © 2013
Cover by Okay
Edited by Harris
All rights reserved. Without
limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication
may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or
transmitted, in any form, or by any without the prior written permission of
both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of
fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual
events, locales, or persons, living or dead is purely coincidental.
Seven lockers down Chris Kent was making out with Cheryl,
the way-too-perky head cheerleader.
I tried not to stare, but when his hand slid past her waist
and over her hip, I slammed my locker shut and stormed off in the opposite
direction. Not that anyone noticed.
only was I that gorgeous jock’s secret girlfriend—I also had a secret power.
. But, in the not-so-mythical land of
where blending in equals obscurity, I rated a
negative seven JD on the Jane Doe to Lindsay
Visibility Scale. I’d have been the first to tell you I didn’t mind. Well,
I’d made a deal with the devil… I mean the boy… and stomping
away was the only thing I could do.
Chris Kent? Yeah, he and
his Plan might just kill me where Advance Trig had failed. But, with my dream
guy as the self-proclaimed prize, what’s a girl to do?
I’d been only too happy to sign onto The Plan. And, since tryout
sessions were closed, little Miss
Wave-My-Butt-Around-In-My-Too-Short-Cheer-Skirt couldn’t show up to practice no
matter how much she fluttered her eyelashes.
You see, I’ve been in love with Chris Kent since fifth grade
and, as senior year was about to start, he was finally all mine—well, sort of.
All I had to do was follow The Plan until after Homecoming,
track the soccer team’s stats with the same dedication Aunt Susan counted
Weight Watcher’s points, and not kill Cheryl.
But as I stalked down to the field, I fought the picture of
my boyfriend’s mouth being confiscated by that social-climbing cheer captain.
Unfortunately, killing his public-image girlfriend
outside the stupid plan.
I mean, The Plan—note the capitals.
I totally got that Chris needed to get into Monroe State.
After meeting with an alumni, he’d become absurdly focused. Apparently, no
matter how many years you played in the Jr. Olympics, the school wanted more.
Chris had gotten it into his head that matching his senior
year resume to that alumni’s would be the key to the golden acceptance letter.
Homecoming was the first step. Prom King was the last.
rung in between was weighed against that alumni’s perfect
And what was I supposed to say? Every time I tried to push,
he’d answer with something like,
totally on board with this
isn’t arguing about not spending time with that guy she met at
. So, if Cheryl could be 100% behind the
charade—I mean The Plan—I should have been too.
was getting her
popularity quota filled. Having Homecoming Queen under her belt would make her
a shoe-in for Most Popular when yearbook came around. Chris said she lived and
breathed yearbook slots. Best Looking was her Holy Grail.
And yet, I’d quit cross-country to become the soccer team’s
stats girl so I could see him every day. That was pretty on board.
Of course, part of it was that my no-longer-team was filled
with insanity. Not the good kind. With last year’s seniors gone, no one was
fast enough to train with me and it was frightening to have a flock of
backstabbers running behind you. I could run on my own, without the drama, and
get bonus Chris Time.
But Chris’s farce of a relationship with Ms. Popularity was
a little too much.
Especially now when he and I weren’t
working at the
evenings together after work. No more post-camper brownie binges. No more
How was I going to handle being his
girlfriend once school started in a week? Pre-school tryout,
Day One: Emotional Torment was deadly enough.
At the bottom of the hill, the soccer fields were empty
except for the coaches. The older boys were too smart to show up before roll
call and the younger ones too scared. What did that say about me?
practicing his scowl while he flipped the pages of a huge, beat-up binder on an
old card table. The JV coach scanned a list, making little marks next to names.
Their assistant hovered nearby, looking a tad bit lost. It was clear who the
Captain Kirk of this group was.
I knew I’d stand there all day before anyone noticed me—you
know, the whole invisibility thing—so I cleared my throat and hoped for the
looked at me as if
I’d interrupted a Presidential speech instead of a coaches’ pre-tryout meeting.
“You the new stats girl?”
of growled the question.
Wow. No wonder the team played all-or-nothing hard. I was
scared to death of him already. He was a legend at the school.
On the field and off.
His team and the student body
understood his word was law. Even the parents felt it. If he ran for school
council, they’d probably skip right to electing him mayor.
Amy Whalen,” I added as
an afterthought since he probably had no idea who I was beyond “stats girl.”
The look he gave me held equal parts disgust and annoyance
with a smidgen of hopefulness thrown in.
“You know you’re here because Kent spoke for you. If you
can’t count or you spend all your time doing your nails and flirting with my
guys, you’re out. Understand?”
I nodded and held up my hands nails-forward for him to see
the gnawed mess they were, the cuticles stained with thick, overlapping oil
paints. “I also don’t flirt.”
Yeah. As if I really looked the type.
His mouth quirked before tightening into
its normal flat line.
“Good girl. These binders are your responsibility.
Keep them current, accurate, and confidential. Anything less and you’re out.”
I nodded again.
Piece of cake.
been tracking our team—okay, mostly Chris—in my head since junior high. Binders
were just a formality.
“Other than that, you’ll be fine.”
And with that, I was dismissed. He turned his back and
barked orders at the assistant as boys began drifting down from the school.
One of the things that made our soccer team so great was
that the coaches placed squads by ability, not grade. So, if you were a
freshman and could dribble circles around a junior, you got his spot. It made
for a seven-year state championship dynasty. It also made for some nasty feuds
passed down from one brother to the next.
The guys circled up, eyeing each other as Coach
handed me the roster sheet and started calling
The litany went on for three times as many boys as spots.
Guys bounced and juggled balls, showing off skills and keeping themselves busy.
Nervous glances shot toward the gym door faster than Beckham
acclimated to the LA lifestyle.
“Friedman,” Coach bellowed. “Where the hell is Kent?”
Chris’s best friend eyed the lower fields where cheerleading
tryouts were just getting Rah-rah-rambunctious. Ambling up the hill, Chris
glanced at the cheerleaders again before raising his hand and jogging the rest
of the incline.
“Hey, Coach.” Chris slid past him to file in with the other
Even in the throng of baggy soccer shorts and school
T-shirts, Chris stood out. It was like watching a movie star try to blend in
with a group of math teachers. He had a body to rival an MLS player—taller than
most guys with a lean cut, strong legs, and slightly broadened shoulders.
Not to mention, sun streaked blond hair and Starbucks green
“Kent, do you know what time tryouts start?”
threw his clipboard
down in my general direction.
explain to me why it’s—” He glowered at his watch and raised a red-hazed glare
to meet Chris’s eye. “Eight-oh-seven and you’re just joining us?”
“Sorry, Coach. Mrs. Carr asked me to carry the cheer team’s
tumble mats to the lower fields. I didn’t think you’d mind me giving them a
Coach ran his hand through his thinning hair and glared at
his watch again.
“Any more helping the ladies happens on your own time. Run
laps while I finish roll call.”
Without a word, just a quick wink at me, Chris took off
around the field, his hand sweeping along the edge of the netting as he passed
behind the goal.
“Where the hell is my clipboard?”
I snatched it off the ground and handed it to Coach before
easing into the background again.
And on it went.
Coach shouting names.
Boys shouting ‘here’.
Laps that is.
The list came to an end and Coach jerked his head toward me
in what could only be considered a command for attention.
Thank goodness I’d counted the boys there out of curiosity
before he’d started.
seven more guys than names
on the list.”
He ran his hand though his hair again, giving it a sharp
yank before dropping his arm and studying the boys. “Whose name did I
Six hands rose slowly.
yeah, only six.
I glanced around wondering who the coward was.
“You better have a darn good reason why you didn’t sign up
ahead of time like everyone else.”
The crowd surged back, guys shifting away from un-signed-up
Coach pointed at an
“Name and excuse.”
I glanced at the new guy, pegging him for a goalie because
of his height. He probably had two inches on Chris. He was as lean, but where
Chris was all golden, he had dark hair that almost flopped into his eyes.
I expected the new kid to stutter a reply and hope Coach
moved on to the next tardy applicant. Instead, he answered as if there wouldn’t
be any shouting coach-wise.
“Luke Parker. We moved here two days ago. The school said to
just show up.”
The small circle surrounding New Kid Luke Parker shifted
farther away from him.
Some in awe, most in horror.
Coach slammed the clipboard against his leg and practically
snarled, “Did they?”
I think it was the “sir” that stopped him. “What position do
you play, Parker?”
The team—using that well-honed collective instinct—all
glanced at Chris as he passed the corner cone on the far side of the field.
“Well, Parker, that slot is all but filled.”
“I’m sorry, sir.” Luke Parker’s mouth twitched into a
lopsided grin, the right side hitching his lips a tad bit higher. “I thought
this was tryouts.”
I didn’t think boys did things like gasp, but the whole
group sucked their breath in as one and then, under the stillness, a voice
“Parker, do you want to join Kent in laps, son?” Coach
sounded angry. But something about the way he rubbed his hand across his jaw,
hiding his mouth, made me think he was more than a little amused.
“I’m not afraid of work, sir. But I do play left forward.”
“I’ll decide if, when, and where you play. Hand your waiver
form in to the stats girl and make yourself scarce until it’s time to show me
what you’ve got. Everyone else who isn’t signed up, get your waiver in
” Coach waved me forward without
looking my way. “
Which reminds me.
We have a new stats
girl. Paperwork, sick calls, all your numbers go through her. You have an issue
with grades, she needs to know. If you think you might be sick three weeks from
now, she needs to know.
I held my breath. Eyes flickered over me and back to Coach.
Coach slammed his clipboard
down on the card table. “Line up behind the cones at midfield.”
As the guys began to drift away, one set of eyes rested on
me longer than that blink of a moment and I knew who they belonged to before I
raised my own to meet his.
The new kid.
Luke Parker obviously had his own superpower. He could see