You Don't Know My Name(10)

By: Kristen Orlando

“Yeah,” I answer quickly and return my fingers to my temples. “Just a migraine, I think.”

He squints and cocks his head slightly, examining my face. I force a smile that would satisfy most, but Luke knows me well. Probably too well. My Black Angel psychological training doesn’t always work on him.

“You sure you’re okay?” Luke asks again, moving his hand from my shoulder to my back, his fingertips slowly running along the curve of my spine.

“No, I’m totally fine,” I say and shake my head, my brain searching for a lie. “When I get stressed, I get a migraine.”

“What are you stressed about?” Luke asks.

“I guess I’m … uh, just … nervous about my interview at Templeton this weekend,” I stumble through my lie. With Luke, the lies don’t fall as easily off my tongue. It’s unnerving. He has a way of almost pulling the truth out of me. Almost.

“Ahhh … the dream school,” Luke repeats another lie I’ve told him. He returns his hand to my shoulder and gives it a friendly squeeze. “You’ll do great, Mac.”

“Thanks. The premed program there is unbelievable,” I answer more confidently, sticking to the carefully crafted script of my cover. We begin slowly walking down the quiet hallway toward the biology lab. “I guess I’m just a little nervous about blowing the interview.”

“Come over Friday night and we’ll hang out and do some interview prep,” Luke replies, nodding.

“Okay,” I say, his invitation parting my lips. “Thanks so much.”

“No problem. Prepping helps. I was so nervous for all my interviews at West Point. The last interview for the nomination with the congressman was intense. I hope I didn’t sound like an idiot.”

“I’m sure you did amazing,” I say and place my hand on his strong, exposed forearm. And that’s all it takes. One little touch and that spark runs through my body. I keep hoping that this rush will disappear. But it doesn’t. That ache is always there, lingering below the surface of my skin, waiting to rise.

“Given any more thought about the kind of doctor you want to be?” Luke asks. We’ve talked about it a few times but I can never narrow it down. Probably because the dream for me isn’t real. My future is all but written.

“Maybe an ER doctor,” I answer, which is only half a lie. If I did choose to go to college instead of the Black Angel Training Academy, that’s the type of doctor I’d love to be.

Technically, I have a choice. When I turn eighteen, I must choose between college and a normal life or the training academy and the Black Angels. But for me, there’s really only one choice. My parents don’t just hope I’ll go to the training academy. They expect me to go. Everyone does. My name has been at the very top of the academy’s list since I was ten years old. Born to be a Black Angel. The words have been burned into my brain since before my first bra. Even if I wasn’t the academy’s golden child, the pressure to go would be high. The children of Black Angels become Black Angels. It’s a tradition that’s almost never broken. My parents are both first generation but they are the exception rather than the rule. Most Black Angels are third, even fourth generation. Children of Black Angels are trained by their parents from the moment they learn what Mommy and Daddy really do for a living and by the time they turn eighteen, they are more than ready for the academy. There’s no need for CIA training on The Farm when you’ve been practicing martial arts since you were four and shooting high-powered assault rifles since age ten.

There’s honor in what they do. I know there is. They save people’s lives, they rescue hostages, stop terror plots, take down the bad guys. They’re as close to superheroes as you can get. But there’s a list of cons that come with the admirable pros. And after Philadelphia, my secret con list is getting longer.

“Thank God,” Harper yells across the biology lab as we walk through the door. I raise my finger to my pursed lips in an effort to get Harper to zip it. Mr. Bajec is several lab tables away, his back turned to us. He hasn’t noticed we’re late. She gets my signal and presses her lips into an oh-crap smirk.