Troy Knightly

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14

RING! The bell sounded loudly in Studman’s classroom.

“Ok, that’s all the time we have for today,” the bald man said. “Read the first three chapters and be prepared for a pop quiz later this week.”

The class groaned.

“Hey, at least I warned you,” Studman said as he wiped the board with an eraser.

Troy shut his textbook and threw it into his backpack.

Kip grabbed his notebook and got up from his chair. “Gotta bounce, my man. Meet me at lunch.” Kip strode towards the door, but then stopped and spun around.

“Oh, and take the back table by the windows. That’s where the team sits.” With that, he hurried from the room.

Troy smiled. The school was the friendliest place he’d been to in a while. He walked out in to the hall and took the stairs down to his locker.

His thoughts were broken by a sudden shove from behind. Troy found himself slammed into a row of lockers, his books scattering across the floor.

“Watch where you’re going, pretty boy.”

From his place on the floor Troy squinted up in pain at a large fellow with fire engine red hair and blazing blue eyes. Troy groaned. It was Red Adams, the school troublemaker.

“Get his books, Skinner. Let’s see if the dude’s got any brains so we know whose homework to steal,” Red snickered.

Red’s dorky sidekick, Skinner Marsblat, laughed like a hyena.

Troy recognized Skinner, too. He was the greasy kid Troy crashed into that morning. Skinner’s tiny eyes flicked over Troy as if he were a rat on the ground. He grabbed one of Troy’s notebooks in his sticky fingers.

“Ick, math,” Skinner said, tossing it back at Troy.

Just then, someone approached Red from behind.

“Knock it off, Red.” It was the most beautiful voice Troy had ever heard.

The girl looking down at him was the striking strawberry blonde.

Troy then heard the squeaking of sneakers and a form twice the size of Red hovered over him.

“What the heck, Red, you dumb slob. Get outta here or else you’ll taste pavement for lunch.”

Kip scooped Red up by the collar of his shirt until Red’s feet hung helplessly in the air.

“Oh man, sorry Kip! I didn’t know he was with you. Swear it’ll never happen again.” Red whimpered pitifully.

Kip glared at him and then put Red down hard on the ground. Red gave a big “oomph” and hurried off.

“I’m watching you too, Skinner. You losers try anything on Troy and you know what’s coming.”

Skinner gave a scared hiccup and took off after Red.

Troy jumped quickly to his feet, flinging his backpack over his shoulder.

“Well hello, gorgeous,” Kip said, smiling at the blonde girl. He pulled her into a side hug. “This here’s Troy. He’s new to our town. Make him feel at home will ya?” Kip grinned.

The girl turned to Troy and smiled. “Nice to meet you, Troy. We don’t get many new faces here at Mavericks, so it’s always a surprise when someone does show up.”

Troy had gone speechless. She was even more beautiful than he realized, with those same shocking blue eyes.

“You have great eyes,” Troy breathed. He turned bright red and stammered, “Sorry I meant I just haven’t seen eyes that color before and they’re...well great.”

She looked at him thoughtfully. “What did you say your last name was?”

Just then, the bell rang for next period.

She smiled, brushing her hands nervously across her dark blue skirt. “Guess I’ll be seeing you around, Troy.”

He gave a slight wave. “Um, yeah, sure. Wait, I didn’t catch your name!”

She didn’t seem to hear him as she walked away.

“Nameless beauty,” Troy thought feeling light headed. What was it about girls anyway?

They could just look at you and BAM, they had you -- hook, line, and sinker.

***

The cafeteria was already packed full of kids when Troy got there. Half of them waited in a line that wound the whole side of the room. A dozen tables stretched across the floor.

After Troy got his lunch, he glanced around and spotted Kip huddled in the corner with a group of guys all the same body size. Their ties were pulled loose and hung sideways across their button downs.

Kip grinned when Troy approached. “Team this is Troy. Troy, team.”

Troy shook a number of outstretched hands.

A group of girls squished in beside him.

“So you’re the New Guy,” one of the pretty Asian girls purred. “I was feeding the fish in the front office when Margaret told me about you. I’m Avery Larkins and I’m captain of the cheerleading squad.”

A black girl beside Avery stuck her painted nails out to Troy. She shook his hand enthusiastically. “And I’m Dominique Scalewood, also on the cheerleading squad.”

Both girls’ eyes glowed that shocking blue color. Maybe something was in the water?

Kip interrupted. “So you met Jessa, did ya? What do you think, oh Troy, my man? She’s something isn’t she?” Kip and the other guys laughed.

Avery glanced at Dominique beside her and both rolled their eyes. “Jessa Baylor-Trixosilkayton is the most perfect girl ever,” Dominique said.

“Yes, except for that imperfectly long last name,” Avery joked.

“Jessa...” Troy breathed. So that was her name. He suddenly felt lightheaded.

“Now eat up, man,” Kip said. He stabbed a fork at Troy’s forgotten lunch tray. “You need your strength with these baked beans and bits of old hot dog to handle us later in soccer practice.”

Troy gulped. Soccer practice? It was only his first day.

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