Matt Archer: Blade's Edge

Matt Archer: Blade's Edge by Kendra C. Highley

Book: Matt Archer: Blade's Edge by Kendra C. Highley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kendra C. Highley
    “Children,” Will said, “Daddy says don’t fight or I’m pulling this car over.”
    “I’m not hungry anymore.” Ella picked up her tray and stomped off.
    “Dude, you just don’t know when to let stuff go,” Will said, looking stern. “What does it matter that Ella went to the game without you?”
    I threw the pieces of my broken spoon on the table. “Carter ditched her, then talked trash about her to the whole school. How can she forgive that?”
    “Because she’s acting like an adult,” Will said. He leaned across the table and got in my space. “So Carter wants to push your buttons? Let him. Ella wants to be with you, stupid.”
    Will sat back and crammed his burrito into his mouth to tell me he had the last word.
    I shoved my tray away with my lunch only half-eaten. I hadn’t made it through Monday, and I was ready to call it a week.

    Mamie had Latin Club after school on Mondays and Ella wasn’t waiting at her locker for me. After shaking his head at my predicament, Will disappeared into the field house to run sprints with the varsity football team for spring training. Stuck without a ride and needing to clear my head while I figured out how to fix everything, I headed for the practice gym. It wasn’t much more than a dingy, square room full of sweating guys and weight racks, but at least I didn’t have to pay for a fancy gym membership.
    The JV football team was doing weight training when I arrived, but no one even looked up. Big difference from last year when they laughed at me and my ten-pound dumbbells. Now I could bench as much as any of them. I pulled up a sixty-pound barbell and pondered that while I did curls. I was bigger, stronger, and in better shape than I’d ever been in my life. When I imagined this moment as a kid—growing out of being the wimp other guys picked on—I always saw my life as problem-free. Funny how wrong I’d been.
    I did set after set without stopping for a break. I had a lot of aggression to bleed off and work was the only cure I knew. Curls, lunges, shoulder presses, squats…I worked my way around to plain old push-ups before I felt any better. When Will showed up nearly two hours later, already cleaned up after his training session, I was still in the gym, running full-tilt on the treadmill.
    “Hey, I think that’s enough for one day,” he said.
    I shook my head and gulped down some air so I could answer him. “Still feeling crappy.”
    He leaned against the wall. “Ops do that to you.”
    “Maybe,” I said, cranking the treadmill up another half-mile an hour.
    Will crossed his arms. “Not maybe. You come home full of piss and vinegar every time. I saw it some with the monsters last year, but it’s worse now, especially when you travel. Battle fatigue mixed with jet-lag or something.”
    I didn’t answer him, concentrating on my breathing. When we were training, Schmitz said to get the air all the way into my lungs and to keep running even after my fingertips started to tingle and my legs ached. I’d always been fast; running felt like heaven. I punched the speed up another quarter mile an hour, loving the sound of my feet pounding the treadmill’s belt. Chasing after monsters, hauling butt away from problems. Here I wasn’t being left behind.
    Will watched me for a minute or two, then came over and started lowering the treadmill’s speed. I was too winded to tell him no. When I finally came to a stop, he said, “Enough. You’re overtraining at this point. Go tell Ella you’re sorry, then get a good night’s sleep. You need it.”
    Dizzy, I sat down next to the wall and leaned against it while my heart beat a hard rhythm. Even after pushing myself to the limit, a little knot of stress was still tangled at base of my neck. “We haven’t had a big fight like this before. Think I can patch it up with her?”
    He shrugged and sat next to me. “No clue.”
    My jaw dropped. “It’s that bad?”
    “I don’t think so, but

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