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Chapter 3

I ran so fast I thought my lungs were going to give out.

I knew that if I slowed down even for a second, whoever was chasing me would definitely catch up and end it all faster than I could say mosquito.

So, I pushed my legs even harder, jump-dodging one of the attempted slide tackles.

With the ball still somehow stuck to my feet, I got into the striking position, ready to score. I was no Messie, but I was pretty confident that the goalkeeper, Mary-Ann, didn’t stand a chance. On the rare occasions that I actually managed to outrun other players, I generally put the ball in the back of the net. This time wasn’t going to be different.

Or so I naively thought...

I never got the chance to even get surprised when somebody sent me flying.

In one second, I was about to chip shot with my preferred left foot, and in the next, I was in the air flapping my arms like a chicken, trying to tell the sky and earth apart.

And then I hit the grass.

My left shoulder collided with the ground with such force the air whooshed out of my lungs, and I gave out an uncontrollable cry of pain. I couldn’t say for sure, but I thought I heard the bone breaking. Though, I might have easily made it all up when my left temple followed said shoulder and kissed the dirt hello.

I saw stars.

“Jesus, Keeley, are you out of your fucking mind?!” Emmie caught up to us and immediately got in Keeley Anderson’s face - the apparent cause of my present distress.

Keeley, being Keeley, didn’t even seem fazed. Usually, I was more than happy to have her on the team. She was a mean left-wing defender, although, with her petite frame, you wouldn’t believe it until you saw her play. She was small, remarkably fast, and had a fiery temper that matched her shoulder-length, curly, copper hair. As it happened with most of the Upton Hill girls’ soccer team players, she was also a part of Bennett’s elite group of dickheads and the best friend of Queen B, Sydney, so we weren’t close. But we had worked out begrudging respect for each other.

Or not.

“It’s not my fault she’s too slow,” smirked Keeley, licking a bead of sweat that gathered above her heart-shaped upper lip.

I decided I had quite enough of lying down, so, still dazed, I got myself to a sitting position. That, however, wasn’t the brightest idea. The pain erupted in my shoulder again, sending a radiating wave of hot lava down my arm. I hissed and sucked the air through my clenched teeth, blinking tears away. Not that any of the girls paid attention. Or our coach, Mrs. Evanson, for that matter.

Speaking of whom... Where was she?

“She’s not like us!” Emmie hush-growled, her voice too low for anybody else to hear. Hell, even I could barely catch what she said despite being only a few yards away.

“Yeah, exactly. But you prefer to shit on it when convenient, don’t ya?” Keeley sneered, her green eyes flashing yellow and her face contorting into something grotesque straight out of horror movie...

Wait, what?

I blinked and the girl’s face went back to normal. I must have hit my head harder than I thought.

I looked around and noticed that we had gathered quite the audience. The boys, who took the pitch right after us, came from the stalls to gawk at the upcoming catfight. Bennett, too, was hanging just outside the circle, already wearing the school’s tight-fitting, black and yellow soccer uniform. Flanked by Jackson and Dwight, Emmie’s cousin stood with his legs slightly apart and arms crossed over his broad chest, seemingly unimpressed. His chilly gaze briefly flickered to my injured shoulder and then focused again on the scene in front of him, clearly dismissing me.


“She made a fucking flip, Keeley! A flip!" Emmie fisted her hands, trembling, and brought me back to the siuation at hand.

“Emmie, it’s okay...” I decided to butt in, given how Mrs. Evanson was nowhere to be found. I tried to stand up, but the world almost immediately started to spin, so I gave up.

“Yeah, you’ve heard Matthews. She’s alive, isn’t sh...”

Emmie didn’t let Keeley finish - she pounced at the redhead with a bizarre roar. Her fist smashed the left side of Anderson’s jaw, forcing her to stagger. And none was the wiser.

Keeley, still slightly bowed from the impact, touched her swollen cheek and looked daggers at my friend from behind a veil of red curls. Her green eyes gleamed viciously.

“Oh, you so didn’t...” Was all she said right before she launched herself at Emmie, shaping her hands like claws.

Somebody whistled. Somebody yelled: ”Catfight!“.

I stopped breathing for three alarmingly long heartbeats...

And that was when Dwight and Bennett jumped in. Just as Keeley was about to land a hit, Dwight had her at her waist. Bennett lock-hugged Emmie from behind and begun to frantically whisper something in her ear. Not that it mattered. Both girls were too consumed by rage to even pay attention to what was going on around them. The redhead was waving her arms like crazy, trying to land a blow on anybody now. Dwight, the easiest victim, got elbowed once or twice. Meanwhile, Emmie jumped around, kicking and screaming obscenities, scissoring the air in front of her and clearly pissing her cousin off with her bizarre behaviour.

That was exactly when Mrs. Evanson decided to make a sudden appearence. The earsplitting whistle pierced through the chaos, stopping everyone in tracks.

“Alll-right! The show’s over! Girls, changing room! Weston, Anderson, to my office, now!” The coach bellowed hoarsely. “And for God’s sake, somebody take Matthews to the nurse!”

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