Crimson Footprints II: New Beginnings

Crimson Footprints II: New Beginnings by Shewanda Pugh

Book: Crimson Footprints II: New Beginnings by Shewanda Pugh Read Free Book Online
Authors: Shewanda Pugh
the Tanakas before the opportunity dissipated . He’d drifted in on a fairy tale, believing food and a better family would somehow make him less of a liar or a thief. Hadn’t he committed himself to the notion that there would be no more reasons to lie once he found the things he needed most? But of course, there were reasons to lie, reasons to cheat, to steal. And always, he could count on himself to find them. What else from the son of a drug-dealing murderer and an addict? What else but deviance?
    Tony threw open the door to Enrollment Services. An ancient woman shot up from her seat like a rocket, white haired and trembling, tight-mouthed in her outrage.
    “Exit and enter properly!” she shrieked.
    Tony inched out, knocked, eyes frozen midroll as he waited for her invitation. When it came, he stepped inside.
    “Here, at Edinburgh Academy, there is excellence in all that we do!” she drawled. 
    Tony blinked. More startling than the haughty English accent was the Little House on the Prairie blouse she insisted on wearing, buttoned up as if to check her turkey-gobble neck. He imagined her as a pod for an alien of some sort, with angry popping eyes and skin like crepe paper. Should her shirt ever have occasion to tear open, something monstrous would surely spring forth. 
    “Anthony Hammond?” she shrilled.
    “Tony Hammond. I—”
    “ Anthony Hammond,” she corrected as if she’d known him longer than he had. “Now take a seat. I am Edith Eberdine Mueller, head of enrollment.”
    She pointed a crooked finger at an old man’s leather chair, and he dropped into it. Without preamble, a glossy blue book was dropped on the desk just before him. A handful of smiling kids, all white and locked arm to arm, stood before Edinburgh Academy.
    “You’ll find course descriptions for the sixth-grade offerings on page forty-two.” She flipped to the appropriate pages as if she could hardly be bothered to wait for him. “While math, literature—”
    She pistoned off “literature” with an emphasis on each syllable, making Tony giggle until one hot look straightened him out. Mueller cleared her throat.
    “Math, lit-tra-chure, general science, English, and geography are required . In addition, you have a choice of two electives.”
    Tak slipped in without knocking. Tony sat up straighter, eager for the Mueller rebuttal, but scowled when none came. 
    “Mr. Tanaka, so glad you could join us. Please, have a seat.”
    He lowered himself into the chair next to Tony.
    “See anything good?”
    Tony shrugged. “Not really.”
    Tak took the brochure from him. He ran a finger down the print, frowning as he read. “There’s lots of great stuff here, Tony.”
    “Like what?”
    “There’s art, music—”
    “I don’t know how to play anything.”
    “Well, they teach you. That’s the whole point of school.”
    Tony lowered his head. “I don’t want to look dumb.”
    Tak snorted. “As if they could. Bismarck to Miami? I guarantee you the dean couldn’t pull that one off.”
    Mrs. Mueller stood up straighter, eyes widening at the jab. But Tony grinned. Maybe this Tak guy was decent after all.
    “You could take up the drums,” Tak said. “I could help. I’ve got a pair at home that’ve been catching dust for a while.”
    “You play drums?” Tony heard the wonder in his voice and immediately regretted it. Being impressed with a person put you at a distinct disadvantage.
    “Sure,” Tak said. “Drums. Keyboard. Guitar’s my baby, though. So, how about we get you on one? Music’s a balm for the soul, you know.”
    Tony looked at the floor. He’d never heard that before. Probably because the closest he’d ever come to a music lesson was Mrs. Peabody’s kindergarten sing-alongs in Louisville.  
    “Drums sound pretty cool,” he said softly.
    Tak beamed. “So, music and what else?”
    Mueller cleared her throat. “If I may, I’d like to suggest a start on upper-level coursework. Advanced mathematics

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