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Authors: Kate Benson


BOOK: Ignite
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Kate Benson



COPYRIGHT © 2015 BY KATE BENSON ALL RIGHTS RESERVED NO PART OF THIS BOOK MAY BE REPRODUCED OR TRANSMITTED IN ANY FORM OR BY ANY MEANS, ELECTRONIC OR MECHANICAL, INCLUDING PHOTOCOPYING, RECORDING, OR BY ANY INFORMATION STORAGE AND RETRIEVAL SYSTEM WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION OR THE AUTHOR, EXCEPT FOR THE USE OF BRIEF QUOTATIONS IN A BOOK REVIEW. This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. Editing and formatting by Chasing Sophie Publications ©


For Daddy.


Thank you for teaching me that in the midst of chaos,

you can always find beauty

in gazing at the stars…

“Love is a friendship that has caught fire.”

~Ann Landers



July 14, 1999


As her small hands brush through the wiry, tawny fur, she stifles a sob, not bothering to dry her tears.


She loves that dog.


Ever since her mama left the year before, she's relied on this dog to be her best friend, her confidant. She'd gotten her as a pup the week before her mama left and ever since, this dog and her daddy had been the only constant in her life. Now looking down at her panting form, fear fills her young mind as she worries she's about to lose her, too.


“It's okay, girl,” she sniffs. “I'm right here with you. I'm gonna kiss you and make you all better.”


With teary eyes, she bends down onto her knees, careful not to disturb her worn, pale blue dress. Leaning forward, she gently presses her lips to the top of the dog’s head.


“Please don't die, Mags,” she pleads in a small voice. “I really love you so much.”


Using the back of her free hand, she wipes her nose clean as gentle sobs continue to leave her chest. She'd been staring so intently at the dogs breathing she'd not realized they were no longer alone until the shadow hovered over them, a voice breaking through.


“Man, that sure is one ugly dog,” the boy says.


Immediately outraged, she raises her eyes to his, shielding Mags protectively.


“She's not ugly!” she cries out defensively before lowering her voice, running her hand over her fur gently. “She's sick.”


“What's wrong with her?” the boy asks, climbing down from his bike and dropping it carelessly against the curb, joining her on the sidewalk.


She reluctantly shifts her gaze to the boy, taking in his scrawny, awkward frame and freckled cheeks.


His shaggy, dark brown hair is messy atop his head and when he squints away from the sun, she can see the slight gap in his front teeth. His striped T-shirt and ripped jeans look to be in about the same shape as her own worn clothing.


Brushing the hair out of her eyes, she realizes one of her long, blonde pigtails has come loose when the rubber band falls at her side. As he bends to hand it back to her, she decides she can trust him and gives him a slight shrug.


“I don't know,” she admits. “She was like this when I came outside to play.”


“You think she's gonna die?” he asks, sitting cross-legged beside her.


“I don't know,” she sniffs, facing him. “Where’d you come from?”


“Next door,” he starts. “We just moved in.”


“Oh,” she nods, redirecting her eyes to Mags. “What happened to Mr. Winston?”


“I dunno,” he shrugs as her eyes travel over the retrievers frame and she shuts her eyes tight. She’s just begun whispering a prayer for its well-being when his voice distracts her. “Why do you care so much what happens to that dog anyway?”


“Because I love her,” she says quietly, gently holding the paw nearest to her. “Maggie Magenta is my friend.”


“Your dog's name is Maggie Magenta?”


“Yeah,” she nods, ignoring his look of disbelief. “I call her Mags. How come you moved here?”


“My dad had an affair.”


“What's that mean?”


“I don't know,” he shrugs. “Made my mom real mad, though. Is this your house?”


Following where his finger is pointing toward the two-story blue house they're in front of, she nods.


“Yeah,” she says, her voice still stained in worry. “How old are you?”


“Eight and a half. How old are you?”




“I don't have any friends yet,” he starts. “Do you wanna play bikes with me?”


“No,” she sighs, shaking her head before returning her attention to her pet. “I'm gonna stay here with Mags.”


“Okay,” he nods, not moving from her side.


As her beloved friend continues to pant from the heat, she whispers reassurances to her. Soon, she begins to cry softly, not concerned with who sees her.


Wrapping his arm around her shoulder, he gives her a gentle squeeze.


“Sorry your dog might die,” he whispers.


“Sorry your dad had a affair,” she sniffs.


“Thanks,” he sighs. “My name is Zeke.”


“I'm Addie.”

Chapter One


March 31, 2004




“Come on, Addie!” Zeke calls from the grass below my bedroom window. “We're gonna be late for school and my mom's gonna murder me if I get detention again!”


“Go on without me!” I shout back through the open window. “I'm not going today!”


“Why not?”


“I'm sick!”


“You liar!” he argues, dropping his backpack and pulling himself up onto the low eave outside my window. Before I can move, he's already pushing his way past me into my bedroom. “I saw you in here dancing last night. Sick people don't dance.”


“Zeke!” I blush. “Were you spying on me?”


“I wasn't!” he rolls his eyes. “I was gonna see if you wanted to come over and play Fable, but you never answered me on the walkie.”


“Oh. Well, I'm still not going to school.”


“Your dad's gonna be mad.”


“My dad probably won't even notice,” I sigh, falling back onto my bed and staring up at the plastic stars above my head on the ceiling.


“He will if the school calls,” Zeke counters, lying beside me. “Besides, you promised you'd come and watch me at tryouts, Addie.”


Crap. I’d forgotten that was today.


“Fine!” I grumble, sitting up to grab my shoes from the floor.


“Why don't you want to go?  You never ditch.”


“Because,” I groan, pulling a pink Converse onto my left foot as he sits up to face me with concern. “I just... I just don't feel like going today.”


“Is that one kid still picking on you?”


“I don't know,” I lie under my breath as I pull a black Converse onto my right foot.


The kid in question was Corey Hargrove and he was definitely still picking on me. The day before, Zeke had been late coming to meet me at my last class. Corey had wasted no time using it to his advantage by calling me a freak, among other things.


I know I’m different. Usually, everyone leaves me alone, but every so often, a bully like Corey comes along and causes trouble. Every time, Zeke put a stop to it, inevitably landing himself in detention for a week and grounded for two.


That's why I’m lying to him now.


Other than Mollie across the street and my old retriever Mags, I don't have any other friends outside of Zeke. Although he never got bullied, I know he takes a lot of crap for hanging out with me. He'd never admit as much, but it’s impossible to ignore the whispers that often follow us.


“So what did he say to you this time?” Zeke asks as I climb out the window behind him, pulling it shut and tossing my purple backpack down beside his on the grass.


“Nothin' Zeke!”


“Addie, I know you're lyin'. Just tell me what he said!” he starts as my feet land beside him in the grass. “Why don't you ever use your front door again?”


“It doesn't matter,” I argue, dusting myself off as I face his serious expression. “And I don't like the front door. Where's the adventure in a front door?”




After I walk Addie to her first class, I sweep my eyes over the hallway for any sign of Corey as I head to my first period.


That kid's an asshole.


I'm not what I'd call popular. I've always fallen somewhere in the middle, but Addie's different.


She's always known she's not like everyone else, so she mostly keeps to herself. She's not shy, really. Truth be told, I don't think there's a shy bone in that girls body, but a lot of people don't get her. They think her odd behavior, her silly little quirks, are weird.


Those are the things I like most about Addie.


While most girls our age shriek when it rains, ducking for cover to protect their hair, Addie dances in it.


When the Miller's cat got hit by a car last summer, the other kids made gagging noises, but not Addie. She dropped her bike against the sidewalk and laid beside Boots, gently petting her on the head until she passed away.


“Why'd you do that?” I'd asked her after we left The Miller’s.


“Because nobody deserves to be alone when they're frightened, Zeke. Especially not a pure soul like Boots.”


“Yeah, but now everyone's gonna make fun of you for petting a dead cat.”


“She wasn't dead when we got there,” she scoffs. “Besides, it doesn't matter. People are gonna make fun of me anyway, but Boots never did. She liked me just the way I am. She was my friend.”


Wrapping my arm around her shoulder, I hugged her gently and grabbed her by the elbow, causing her to turn and face me.


“I like you just the way you are, too, ya know?”


“Yep,” she smiled, giving me a peck on the cheek and taking my hand. “That's why you're my very best friend, Zeke. If that had been you, I wouldn't have left your side, either.”




After school lets out, I make my way to tryouts for the varsity football team. I know I have a pretty good shot since I played JV last season, but I can't help my nerves.


I quickly comb the bleachers as I prepare to step onto the field. Coach is telling us to hustle, but I want to see if Addie made it here before I put my helmet on.


At the last second, I find her sitting in the fourth row. When our eyes meet, she gives me a smile of encouragement and I immediately feel better.


Once tryouts are done, she meets me at the edge of the field, plucking one of the headphones out of her ear.


“You did great, Zeke!”


“Thanks,” I blush, wiping my brow. “I don't know if I made it though. Some of the guys really got good this year.”


“Well, that might be true,” she starts. “But if Coach Willis doesn't put you on the team this year, he's nuts. Besides, you sacked that one kid right when 'Purple Rain' by Prince started playin'. That's gotta be a good sign. I think you're a shoo-in.”


“Thanks,” I laugh, taking the strawberry Pop-tart she's holding out for me. “Did you have a good day?”


“It was okay,” she shrugs, turning to follow me on our short walk home. “I got an A on my math test.”


“You always get an A on all your tests, Addie,” I smile. “Did that kid give you anymore shit?”


“Zeke!” she shrieks, looking around us to see if we’d been heard. “You can't cuss at school! You'll get in trouble!”


“Addie, I'm thirteen years old. All thirteen year old boys say shit.”


“Well, I'm a twelve year old girl and my daddy will be really mad if we get caught.”


“Sorry,” I shrug. “So did he?”




“Corey,” I start. “Was he mean to you?”


“Corey's always mean to me, Zeke,” she sighs. “I just don't let it bother me anymore. He's only a dumb boy.”


As we come to a stop in front of her blue house, she tosses the backpack onto the eave beside her window and faces me.


“You comin' over?”


“Yeah,” I tell her. “I gotta take a shower and clean my room first. My mom's still pissed at me for getting detention last week.”


“Okay. Catch ya on the flippity flop,” she giggles, giving me her hand to complete the secret handshake we'd perfected when we were nine and ten. “Can you gimme ten fingers?” she asks, planting her hands on my shoulders.




Hoisting herself up and nearly kicking me in the process, she climbs onto the eave and turns to give me a wave.


“My dad's leaving on a run tonight. You wanna split a pizza?”


Addie's dad's a truck driver, so she was home alone a lot nowadays. She'd never admit it to anyone, but I think she got scared once it was dark out. When he left on a run, I always tried to keep an extra eye out for her.


“I'll ask my mom.”


“Okay, bye!”







I'm halfway through a very awesome dance routine to 'Giving Him Something He Can Feel' by En Vogue when I hear my window slide open.


“Hey,” I call out over my shoulder, not bothering to stop my killer moves.


“Hey,” he says, plopping down on my bed and picking up my Homer Simpson Rubix cube I got with my allowance last week.


I have a feeling we're about to crack the code on it already.


“Pizza's gonna be here in like ten minutes.”


“My mom made me eat meatloaf,” he groans.


“Ugh! I hate meatloaf,” I say as I find his eyes from my upside down position before I flip over, throwing my hands up dramatically.


“Me, too,” he easily agrees. “What are you doing?”


“I watched Step Up 2 after school today.”


“Oh,” he says, immediately understanding my need to dance.


As I'm spinning, the doorbell rings and Zeke walks passed me, picking up the twenty from my dresser.


“Ask him for some cheese!” I yell after him.




By the time he returns, I've already turned up the stereo and made my way onto the roof.




“I'm up here!” I call back, bending over the side to help grab the pizza.


Once we're settled, we open the box and dive in.


“When will you find out if you made the team?”


“Monday,” he says, pulling a can of coke from his pocket and handing it to me. “I can't walk you to school in the morning. I have an orthodontist appointment.”


“Okay,” I say, taking a bite and leaning against the chimney behind me. “What color bands are you gonna get?”


“I dunno,” he shrugs. “I was thinking about getting green.”


“Last time you got green, it looked like you had broccoli in your teeth for two weeks.”


“Oh yeah,” he says, making a face. “Maybe I'll get blue.”


“You should get purple ones.”


“Purple is for girls.”


“Trisha would like it.”


“Why do I care if Trisha likes it?”


“Because you like Trisha.”


“So,” he shrugs. “Trisha doesn't like me.”

“Maybe she just thought you had broccoli in your teeth,” I giggle.


“Maybe,” he smiles.


“I called you on the walkie earlier to see if you wanted me to help clean your room when I finished my homework, but you didn't answer me,” I start, taking in his guilty expression. “Where'd ya go?”


“I don't know,” he says quietly as he diverts his gaze. “I think I'm gonna go with the green bands. If Trisha gets grossed out by a little broccoli, I don't think I'll like her so much.”


He never did tell me where he went that day, but the next morning when I got to first period, Corey Hargrove had a black eye and a busted lip.


He never bullied me again.

BOOK: Ignite
5.95Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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