All right... So you've all be super awesome, commenting on my posts, liking my things, and sharing around. So, for today's teaser, I'm giving you ALL of chapter two which is from Luke's POV. He's awesome, and I literally am in love with him. I'm sad I can't write with him more :( Anyway, enjoy and don't forget to pre-order.
Only THREE MORE DAYS until release.
My alarm clock buzzed from beside me. Out of instinct, I wove my arm out from under my pillow and slammed my hand on where I suspected the clock to be, but my fingers hit only open space.
Frazzled, which I rarely was, I sat up and looked around through the fog. I was so used to being in my college apartment that I forgot that I was staying at my parents’ house, until, of course, I saw the Maserati posters and naked girl calendar on my wall. I sighed and dragged my hand through my unruly way-too-long-for-a-teacher hair.
“Fuck,” I muttered as I spun off the bed and hit the clock. I sat at the edge of the bed and rested my elbows on my knees. I started my new job today, and I was way too hung over to be dealing with the faculty. The kids I could handle.
It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the job because I did. But I wanted something different. When I forsook my parents and changed from being on the fast track to becoming a lawyer to starting from scratch in hopes of being a teacher, I was all but banished from their favorite country club—not that I was complaining.
But I wanted to make a difference in children’s lives, not teach in an upper-class town just for the six figure pay. Although I knew there could be a child like me in the mix who really needed help, which was the sole reason I took the job. I wished a teacher had noticed the bruises on me as a child and interfered, putting a stop to my problems before they got worse. The mere fact that I wasn’t teaching at my own prep school was enough to create drama within the Wilson crew.
I got up from the bed and rummaged through my suitcase on the floor for a button up shirt and khakis. From what I could tell from the professional meeting, the other teachers thought I had bought my job, so I at least had to act the part.
I stared at the Maserati poster that covered a punch hole from years ago. Just looking at all of the frozen memories made my blood heat. I quickly grabbed my leather briefcase, which had a stack of plain papers in it and nothing else, and bolted from the room.
“Good morning, Lukey Pukey,” my youngest sister sang, although the sarcasm was not lost on me. I smiled down at her and ruffled her perfectly-brushed hair that I was sure she spent hours primping. From the flare of her nostrils and squint in her eyes, I knew she was pissed. But I liked getting a reaction out of her. The girls in this family were all too stuffy and snobby.
“How’s it going, Lilly?”
“You woke me up when you came home at one, so let’s just say, not great.”
“Sorry ‘bout that.”
“I’m sure you are.” She brushed past me down our long hall, her elbow catching me right in the gut before she descended the curved staircase that led to the bottom level. “Hey, when are you moving out?” She stopped at the bottom step and looked over her shoulder, flipping her hair with a flick of her wrist.
“Not soon enough, Lil.” I noticed as she looked up at me that there was a mark on the side of her face. “What happened? You scratch yourself?”
“Oh.” She pressed her palm to her face, her cheeks reddening. “I just, like, hit it on the mirror. It’s no big big deal.” She turned to walk away, but I needed to know if it was him.
“He slapped you, didn’t he?” I grabbed her shoulder to stop her from running away. There was no way I could leave now. All my searching for my own place and personal hatred of living here had to be squashed to protect them.
“It was just once and I failed my summer course.”
“What summer course?” She was sixteen. She shouldn’t have even been in a summer course. She should’ve been out having fun with her friends and being young. I knew they were putting too much pressure on her, but I had no idea it was this rough.
“Well, I took a college level writing workshop to help with papers and stuff.”
“Luke, I know you want to protect us and all, but it’s okay. Trust me. I love you. I’ll visit you when you have your own place, okay?” She smiled and I could tell from the pained look in her eyes that it was fake. But I let it go for now.
I followed her, but with a much slower pace while I prepared myself for the unknown of what was happening in the kitchen. Some mornings, everyone got along, all happy on their Xanax and caffeine; other mornings, it was World War III.
From the outside of our house—my parents’ estate sat on sixteen acres of perfectly cut grass mowed to a precise quarter length—a passersby would never suspect the mayhem that reigned within. While the inside was so fancy it felt like a museum and large enough to have echoes, I gave my parents’ partial credit for the size since there was six of us kids.
“Give it to me you prick!” Lilly yelled at who I guessed was Liam. Liam and Lilly were the last two of us in high school. They were closest in age, which made their personalities clash. They loved to mess with each other and hardly ever got along. At least it entertained me.
“It’s my fucking cereal. Ask nice and I’ll give you a cup.”
“Liam, don’t swear!” my mother scolded. I walked into the kitchen and saw the chaos unfold. Lilly and Liam were sitting at the marble counter in their usual spots on the bar stools. The square counter protruded from the center of the room, making a statement with a classic basket of fruit in the middle.
My mother sat in the corner of the room at the perfectly white six-person table. The circular table didn’t fit us all, so it’s only use was for morning coffee. Lisa and Lauren sat beside Mother, sipping coffees, fully engaged in their iPhones 6s.
The three were identical. Lisa was twenty and Lauren was twenty-five, but you could hardly tell the difference. We all had similar light eyes that came from my father’s green and my mother’s blue. They only varied in shades. Mine were the most offensive and unique. My mother tried to convince me it was because I was a boy, but then Liam came around with aqua eyes and her theory fell through.
All the girls, despite all the coloring they’d had done since the age of thirteen had dirty blonde hair. Lauren’s was lighter than Lisa’s, whose was lighter than Lilly’s. My oldest sister, Lindsay, had more of a reddish tone to hers. Lindsay was my favorite, and everyone knew it. I wouldn’t say that to them, though.
I shuffled over to the refrigerator and pulled out the half and half. I knew Mother made a large pot of coffee, and as I found my way across the room to the pot, I noticed both of the high-schoolers with large cups in front of them. Cora, our nanny and the woman who raised us, must have gotten tired of saying no.
“Are you excited for you first day, Liam?” Mother said without tearing her eyes from her magazine. She had her reading glasses on, low on her nose. Her legs were crossed, one over the other, her light brown stockings bunching at the knee. She was dressed like a professional despite the fact that she had never had a real job. And raising us didn’t count since we had two nannies who were with us twenty-four seven and a maid who cooked our food. I doubted she changed us once in her life. Cora was more of a mother figure than her—plus, I actually respected Cora.
“Me?” Liam asked, pointing to his chest as he held the box of Lucky Charms in his other hand. Lilly was dragging her nails down his forearm, attempting to get them from him so she could eat. A trail of red followed her fingers.
“I meant Luke.” Mother rolled her eyes, still glued to her magazine, not bothering to care that she didn’t know our names. It wasn’t even a normal slip-up like real mothers have. I could handle that. She just didn’t give a shit which one we were. Like we were below her.
We all used that to our advantage numerous times. Mother would forget who was who and who was oldest when we were younger, and when one person snuck out, the others would cover. Of course, it only worked for the girls, so I was shit out of luck.
“Yep. Super excited.” I shook my head as I sipped my coffee. I looked at the large pendulum clock next to the fridge. I wished another ten minutes would just magically pass.
“Don’t take that tone with me. I know you’d rather be elsewhere, but this is best.”
“Best for who, exactly?” I asked as I circled both my hands around the warm mug. It was hot, but it felt good. I glared at Liam, and he smiled at me, mocking mother with his pointer finger wagging at me.
“You, of course.”
“Right…” I muttered, shaking my head. I was tired of the same old story.
“Give it!” Lilly screamed, her voice screeching and vibrating along the hollow ceiling. She apparently had had enough. She slapped Liam’s shoulder and then sunk on the stool. She rubbed the back of her neck as she stared straight ahead of her.
“Damn it, Liam. Just give it to her.” I pushed off the counter I was leaning against and stole the box from him. I flipped open the box, poured a generous amount into Lilly’s empty bowl, and then gave the box back to Liam. He pulled it out of my grasp and tucked it under his armpit.
“You don’t have to be such an ass. I was just messing with her.” Liam pressed his lips together, frowning at me.
“Whatever. I’m leaving.” I poured the rest of my coffee in the sink and left the cup upside-down. I grabbed my briefcase from the entryway and hightailed it out of the house. Mother said something behind my back on my way out, but I ignored her and decided to go to the nearest Starbucks for a much needed cup I could actually enjoy.
Because I decided not to take the job at Wallingford Prep, I had an extra half hour drive, longer in the morning when commuters were going to New York City. But it was worth it in my mind. I didn’t want to work for an even more prestigious group of families, but more so teachers. I had to grow up with them. That was enough community service.
Woodbury Elementary was about as close as my parents would let me downgrade. Instead of just being another prick who could be bought off for an A, I wanted to make a difference in kids’ lives. I wasn’t what everyone thought. I wanted my teaching and my lessons to make kids realize their dreams, or at least open up their eyes about something they loved.
I just hoped that Woodbury would allow me to do that. If not, I’d have to figure out a new plan. And I really hated planning anything. My first goal was to join one of the programs that lets new teachers teach English at schools across the globe. But things had gotten worse at home during my last semester of school. I couldn’t leave while my siblings were still in high school and living in that house. They needed me more than I needed to leave.
I parked my graduation present, a black Ford F250, in the faculty lot in the back of the school and locked the doors just in case. I wasn’t really attached to the thing, but I did like having my own truck in case I needed to make a quick exit. ‘Always have an exit strategy’ was my main motto to live by.
The hallways at Woodbury were very different from W Prep. For one, they were white and blue tiled, alternating in an oldies kitchen style. And they were small. I felt huge walking to my office even though I was average sized for a man. Six foot, but not large by any means.
The good thing about being a gym teacher was that:
1. I was the only one in the school, which meant that I managed myself. My biggest deadline was submitting lesson plans and such to Principal K, who honestly acted like he didn’t care. I’d find out soon enough.
2. I was a gym teacher. There wasn’t much paperwork to do, and all I had to do was make children’s days more fun. I liked helping people understand their athleticism and teaching them new things.
I unlocked my office and went over the schedule and rosters for the day. I was able to create a schedule that allowed me to take classes at Western for my master’s degree. My prep periods and lunch were all at the end of the day, so on Tuesday’s and Thursday’s I was able to leave early without it disrupting my full load of teaching.
Of course, I couldn’t just enter Western and begin my master’s with perfectly transferred credits. Nothing in education was that easy. I had to take two lower level classes that were prerequisites for my Child Psychology classes. UConn never made me take them and now it was biting me in the ass and setting me back a semester. Hopefully, a higher degree would open up more options for me down the road—like teaching in a faraway land.
A knock sounded at my office door, and I stood from behind my crammed desk of papers I had put off reading and opened it. I had a mini room, so I didn’t have to go far. Mrs. Kellar, the school counselor, stood before me with a stack of papers held to her chest.
She was attractive enough, not that I was really looking. Her hair was like my sisters’, dirty blonde and clearly artificially colored. She was a bit too plain for my liking, but it’s not like I was going to sleep with her.
“Come on in,” I said, gesturing for her to enter. My office sucked, but it was mine, so I wasn’t too bitter about it. I had an empty bookcase, a desk, and two chairs. That’s it.
“I just wanted to let you know about one of your students.”
“Okay,” I said as I pulled out the stack of rosters I was given. “Which student?”
“Well, it looks like he’s in your fourth period class,” she said, biting her lip. She shuffled through her own stack of papers. They weren’t in a pile but stacked haphazardly, corners sticking out from the group. “Yes, his name is Asher Larken.”
“Okay, what about him?” I asked.
“His family died in a car accident last year, and it looks like he’s been in therapy, but his guardian stopped by this morning. I told her that we’d monitor him a bit more closely and just make sure he’s doing fine.”
“What exactly is wrong with him?”
“I guess he exhibited some anxiety and depression last year right after their passing. She said she hadn’t noticed anything lately, though. Like I said, it shouldn’t be a problem, and he doesn’t need extra help, but I felt bad for his guardian so I said I’d tell the teachers, so that’s what I’m doing.” She bit her lip, bouncing in the old chair like she was excited for the first day of school. Maybe nervous.
“Okay. That sounds fine. I’ll keep my eyes open for you. I’ll let you know if anything seems off.”
“Great. Well, I hope your first day is spectacular.” She flashed me a thumbs up, and I had to hold back a chuckle because of how cheesy she looked. What a strange woman. I put a little asterisk next to the boy’s name, Asher, and then prepared for my first class of the day.