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Corner Rat Race

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Corner Rat Race

You know that moment when you wake up naked in Audra Marks' bed on a Sunday morning and don't remember how you got there? No? Well be glad, because that was me, six months ago.

McKayla Newton and I had just broken up and I'd totally stolen a bottle of brandy out of my dad's liquor cabinet the night before that. Let's just say that telling my mom I needed to get tested for the possibility of an STD was easily the most humiliating moment of my life. At least until three weeks later when my parents started talking about sending me off to a Military School in Georgia for my senior year.

Needless to say, I straightened up fast.

Military was not something that I was planning in my future. No sir.

I had actual goals, and those goals didn't include a three year stint in Iraq trying to get sand out of uncomfortable places. It was why I hunkered down and started focusing on school. I had a goal, valedictorian. I knew if I could get that very singular title then I'd have my pick of colleges, could learn the craft of being a news anchor, and return to Texas in style.

The problem with my detail oriented planning … six months later and I was bored of it. I had no time for friends, no time for a love life, no time to do anything but study and homework. Even my part time job and the local grocery store was a chore I could barely fit into my schedule. All because if I slipped up even a little then I was going to lose my spot to Erica Yorkie or Becca Cheney who were both tied in second as dual salutatorians.

Then there was McKayla, who I missed everyday, and who there was eons of space between us in spite of the fact that we were in four of the same classes and sat next to each other at lunch every day. In spite of the fact we both spoke to each other on a regular basis.

It was the only excuse I had for what I said on that first Monday in February when I sat down at lunch to eat with McKayla, Becca, Erica, Kane, Taylor and Logan. Our friend, Allen, visibly missing, as he had been since school started back up after winter break, because he was now at Bakke Graduate University in Seattle.

"Chief Swan has a girlfriend, I swear it," Kane said quietly, glancing at the tables around us.

"I don't think it's called a girlfriend when you get to his age," Logan said.

"Yeah, I mean he's like... fifty or something," Taylor chimed in as she rested her head on Logan's shoulder.

"I think the word you are looking for is lover," Erica said astutely.

"That's crude," Becca said.

"The correct terminology is lady friend," I muttered, not really wanting to go down the rabbit hole we were heading down. As I knew it was a one-way ticket straight to a conversation about Beau. He was dead, likely on purpose, and he still got more attention than me. It was annoying.

"Just who is the chief dating?" McKayla asked.

"That woman in a wheelchair from the res. Something Black."

"Bonnie." It was out of my mouth before I could keep it shut.

"They could just be hanging out," Becca said. "They have been friends for decades."

"Or... she's manipulating him into a relationship now that he's grief stricken over the loss of his son," McKayla said animatedly.

And there was the bottom of the rabbit hole.

Several of the people at our table rolled their eyes while I prepared to stand and leave.

"And I know that some people say he killed himself, but I still say he wouldn't have been on that road if Edythe hadn't run him out of town. So I still say it's all the Cullens fault. I was actually thinking of going over to their old place some day after school and doing a little damage. Anyone want to join me?" McKayla continued.

Taylor's eyes glinted slightly, like the idea intrigued her, until she looked at Logan and saw his face. She quickly shook her head. No one else volunteered.

McKayla towards me and I opened my mouth to tell her to get off it already, but what came out was, "It sounds like fun."