First Comes Love

By: Emily Goodwin

Prologue

Noah

Then…





I CURL MY fingers into my palm, making a fist.

Clench.

Unclench.

I look at the boy on the floor, the one who just seconds ago threw the first punch. It was a punch I easily caught and deflected, which was embarrassing enough for him as it is. He thought he would win this fight. I twisted his arm and hit him back, popping him square in the nose. Blood is dripping down his face and he’s scrambling away.

The small crowd that gathered around to watch the fight erupts into cheers. I smile, soaking it all in. I’ve been at this school a few weeks and already took down some mega-douche bully. I think. Maybe? I don’t care. This guy—I don’t even take the time to learn his name—wanted to fight.

And so did I.

“Fucking awesome,” Colin Winters says as I turn and walk away. He’s the first friend I made in this new town. “Josh deserved that. Hell, he’s deserved that for years.”

“Glad to be of assistance.” I shrug like it’s no big deal. And it’s not, not really. I’ve been in my fair share of fights … which is the reason I got expelled and am “starting over fresh,” as Mom calls it, in this new town in Michigan.

“Come on, let’s get out of here before Coach Cook catches you. We fucking need you for the game next week.”

I nod, actually excited to be part of the football team. That’s the best part of this fresh start so far. We go down the hall, joining a few other guys on the team.

“Noah Wilson!” a teacher calls out. Dammit. I roll my eyes and turn. “Principal’s office. Now.”

“I’ll meet up with you later,” I say to Colin and head to the office. Mrs. Jefferson’s door is closed, so I sit on a cushioned chair across from the secretary’s desk. I cross my arms and lean back, hoping I won’t be too late for practice.

Finally, Mrs. Jefferson emerges from her office. I already know the drill. She calls my mom—who doesn’t always show up—and we have a meeting to discuss my behavior and what I can do to fix it.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

It was this kind of shit that got me expelled from my old high school.

“We meet again, Mr. Wilson.”

“It’s your favorite part of the day, admit it,” I say with a grin.

Mrs. Jefferson raises and eyebrow and sighs. “Humor isn’t going to save you in the real world.”

I just shrug. It’s been six weeks at this new school and I’ve been to the principal’s office, uh … I’ve actually lost count. Fighting, talking out in class, not doing homework, the usual. I just don’t give a fuck.

They label me defiant, a troublemaker, the bad boy.

I can live with that.

But no one sees that it’s hard to give a fuck when no one gives a fuck about you. It’s been six weeks in this new town and I can count the number of times Mom’s had dinner with me on one hand.

Whatever. It is what it is and it’s been that way since Dad left. I’m used to it. Hell, I like it. I can do whatever I want, and she leaves me plenty of cash to get into trouble with.

Mrs. Jefferson looks at her watch—again—and then flicks her eyes to the door. Don’t hold your breath, lady. Mom’s going to be late … if she shows up at all. She got held up at work and missed the last meeting with the principal. There’s something sympathetic in Mrs. Jefferson’s eyes, and a small part of me wants to confess how lonely I am.

“She’s going to take her sweet time,” I huff. “Might as well get some of your other work done while you wait.”

Mrs. Jefferson gives me a tiny nod and disappears into her office. I lean back in the chair, cross my arms, and debate on closing my eyes and napping. Sleep isn’t something I’m doing much of lately. Not when I’ve been invited to party after party.

I’m sitting in front of the secretary’s desk, with a clear view of the front doors of the high school. A black SUV slows and my heart actually skips a beat. Mom’s here? She actually showed up within a reasonable amount of time?

The SUV rolls on and I catch the back bumper sticker that says the driver has a kid on the honor roll. Nope. That’s not my mother. I sigh and let my eyes close. A minute later the office door opens and closes. Someone walks in, gait slowing as they draw near me.

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