Emerge, Book One(The Evolve Series)

By: S.E. Hall






Prologue

***Lil Laney***





I simply cannot hang out with the girls at recess. No one should expect me to, right? At the ripe old age of 10, I’ve already figured out one should be interested in far more than boys and gossip; the only two things they ever seemed to talk about. Besides, they don’t want anything to do with me anymore. Michelle, the loud one, has made it clear that her mother thinks “it’s a shame I have no female influence,” so surely my dad will completely understand the call from Principal Mills…again.

Principal Mills doesn’t really ever get mad at me. He’s a lot like my dad, easygoing and a bit of a softie, so it’s easy to sit with him in his small, cramped office until Dad gets here. I’m not too concerned about getting in trouble; I never get in any real trouble. I’ve heard them talk many times after sending me out to the hall. They think I’m “angry and acting out.”

They’re wrong.

I’m not angry and I don’t need their pity. They should pity her. She’s the one who gave up. Well, she gave us up, anyway. Who knows what her greener grass was exactly.

Soon enough my dad strides in, casual as always, and all too comfortably takes a seat. He’s here at least once a month, after all. They shake hands like they’re poker buddies or something. I’m not even sure Dad calls him Principal Mills, or even Mr. Mills, anymore. I think he just calls him Paul. They talk for the first ten minutes about this year’s high school hopefuls. This town lives for high school football and baseball, depending on the season. Hopefully they forget my dilemma altogether.

No such luck.

“Wanna tell me what happened, slugger?”

I put on my best puppy dog face, “Daddy, ‘member what you said about not starting a fight, but I could damn sure finish one? “

The fine Principal tries to hide a chuckle and my dad reminds me to watch my mouth.

“Well…Andy Collins shoved me first, cause he’s a sore loser, so…I finished it. I whooped him in Horse and then I whooped him for shoving me.” That should clear all this up, right?

“Now, Laney, one shove only warrants one shove back. If I got a call, you musta tore the boy up. Why didn’t you just go tell a teacher?”

Is he serious right now? I’m not a snitch.

“Daddy, please. I didn’t tear him up that bad…I didn’t have to.”

“And why is that?” He cocks one eyebrow curiously.

Principal Mills answers for me. “Cause Evan Allen did it for her.”



***

It didn’t take long to find Mr. Allen. Turns out the Allen family had recently moved in right down the street. Dad wanted to let the man know that he thought what his son had done was noble and sure hoped Evan wasn’t in any trouble. Confirming he wasn’t, it’d only seemed right to invite the boy fishing with us.

At least, that’s how Dad explains it to me. It doesn’t stop me from pouting the whole ride to the pond and trying to ignore the intruder in the back seat with me.

“Thanks for inviting me, Mr. Walker. I love fishing.” Sure he does; what a butt kisser.

“My pleasure, Evan, we’re happy to have ya’ along. Aren’t we, Laney? “

“Of course, Daddy.” I smile sweetly before continuing. “Say, Evan, you know how to bait your own hook, right?” What? I’m genuinely concerned. I don’t want to end up doing everything for the kid.

Evan just looks at me from the corner of his eye, not answering.

“Dad, did you bring him a life jacket? We wouldn’t want him to fall in and drown if he hooks a big one.”

Dad doesn’t answer me, either. They both look uncomfortable; I’m not the least bit perturbed. There’s more where that came from, boys! I can do this all day and it’s well-deserved, as far as I’m concerned. How dare Dad invite this boy into our time together? My time with Dad is sacred. We don’t need company.

“Hey, Evan…” I drawl, kicking the smartass act up a notch as we climb out of the truck and grab our gear, “don’t get used to this. One rescue, one trip. Got it?”

Dad acts like he doesn’t hear me and walks ahead to the water. He thinks his new little hero can hold his own with me. We’ll see.

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