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A Prequel from the
Sentinels of New Orleans series
Copyright 2012 Suzanne Johnson
The Picayune Memorial High School Maroon Tide expected to have a helluva season, and I was determined to be part of it, sophomore or no sophomore. I planted my feet on the grass field, brown from the blistering August sun and dotted with muddy patches from a recent rain, and watched as the ball arced high into the air and fell in a graceful spiral toward my chest.
My cousin Jake’s head butted into my gut, the pigskin bounced off his helmet, and we crashed, mud splattering our jerseys. The helmet went flying and I got a mouthful of blood when my teeth cranked down on my lower lip. One shoulder pad stuck out the neck of my shirt.
Folks who say blood tastes like copper are fools. It tasted like iron and, today, black south Mississippi dirt.
You think a skinny-assed sophomore’s gonna earn a startin’ spot, hotshot?” Jake ripped his own helmet off and tried to crack me in the head with it, but he’d forgotten my summer growth spurt. He might be a junior and I might be skinny, but I was taller than him now and stronger for reasons he’d never understand. I flipped him easily and shoved his face in the mud hard enough for it to plow through his nose and out his ass.
“Warins—Alexander and Jacob. You damn-fool rednecks get to my office now.” Coach Bo Dean—we all called him Jethro—charged toward us with sweat rolling down his face and piggy brown eyes screwed up tight.
I rolled off Jake and he sat up, spitting mud on my arm. “Good job, dickface. Now look what you done.”
I was still scrambling for a comeback when meaty fists the size of hamhocks grabbed a handful of Jake’s blond hair and my dark, hauling us to our feet. Jethro was righteously pissed.
“Office. Now, ladies.” He shoved us in the direction of the high school gym.
We made the walk of the damned in silence, except Jake kept slipping looks at me out the corner of his eye.
What?” This was his fault, but I knew he’d figure out a way to pin the blame on me.
You cut your lip when I clocked you,” he mumbled, too low for Jethro to hear. “I saw the blood.”
So, why ain’t it cut now?”
I slid my tongue to the corner of my mouth and found it unmarked. Shit. Jake wouldn’t let it drop; he was like a freakin’ bulldog. All of a sudden, a fistfight was the least of my worries.