(A/N: Furious is a complete book, but I've taken down the end because I'd like to get it published if I can and I'd like to not have everything online. I'm leaving up the first 8 chapters, though. Keep in mind that this is my old draft--there's a different beginning now (everything was rewritten, actually), so this is purely for you to enjoy:) If you want. Don't feel obligated to enjoy it. Personally, this version doesn't introduce things the way I wanted.)
Four letters, one syllable. Noun, meaning sensitivity toward another person’s situation, a skill acquired by most of us at the age of eight. Either you have it or you don’t—like a disease. There’s no in between.
Tact—more specifically, the people who didn’t have it—was the reason I was currently in the principal’s office with a bruise flowering on my knuckle and a welt on my cheek.
The room was a decent space—not too small—and had a large oak desk sitting smack in the center of it. Tall bookshelves lined the wall, and much to my pleasure, windows covered the far wall to give me an excellent view of the neighboring golf course and country club.
“Marley,” the principal said, clicking his pen and giving me a disapproving look as I settled in the chair before his desk. He was a burly, middle-aged man with gray hair and a beard. His belly pressed out against his shirt, straining against the buttons in a way that clearly showed he needed something new. I’d met with him on the first day of school; he was the friendly type, albeit a little too serious.
He templed his fingers beneath his fleshy chin. “Kylie tells me you started the fight. Would you like to explain why?”
I chewed my lip for a second. A while ago I learned that I had to be careful in these situations. I was guilty, yeah, but some weren’t used to me admitting it. One principal in Springfield thought I was mocking her, and she wasn’t very graceful in her punishment. “She was talking about that pregnant girl.”
His eyebrows lifted. “Emily?”
“Sure.” I didn’t know the girl’s name. I’d only been at the school for a week and a half; it was sort of a record for me—usually I made it longer without getting into a fight.
Usually I didn’t get pissed off so quickly.
“I sat beside her at lunch,” I told him, remembering how she’d kept her head down, anxiously pushing her broccoli around her plate with her fork as the other girls talked about her. “She could hear them gossiping about her.”
“How do you know what they were saying?”
“I could hear them.” I thought back to the way she pulled her sweater down further as if she could hide her protruding stomach, curling in on herself and letting her hair fall over her small face like a curtain. She exuded rejection like a fog—I knew better than most what that felt like.
“So you found it wise to just walk over to Kylie and hit her,” he said, ruffling his brows.
“I didn’t just . . . walk up to her and hit her. I told her that the pregnant girl—Emily?—could hear everything she was saying. But she denied it and started laughing with all her friends.”
“What were they saying about Emily?”
I shifted in the chair. “They were wondering who the father is, and how drunk they both were.” I took a deep breath, trying to keep calm. “Sir, they weren’t talking about how nice her maternity clothes looked, I’ll tell you that much.” Tact. People without it tended to annoy me. I was a firm believer in teaching them to keep a lid on it, though admittedly, it wasn’t the best way to go about things. As I knew, it worked.
“Kylie told me differently. She said you hit her because you thought you heard something you didn’t like.”
“I’m pretty sure I heard it.”
“How?” he asked. He was beginning to get impatient with me.
“Ask Emily. She’ll tell you.”
“Ms. Jamison, I realize that you haven’t had the most . . . structured life, but here, at this school as well as many others, you cannot start throwing punches when you hear something you dislike. Emily is a pregnant teen girl, and yes, people will talk about her, but that does not merit you to decide how to handle that situation. You’ve been at this school for almost two weeks. Two weeks! We were warned of this kind of situation, and you said you wouldn’t be an issue. This school is held to some high standards, and we cannot condone your behavior. I have no choice but to suspend you for the time being. As your foster parents are unable to be reached, your social worker is coming to pick you up. You can wait for her outside my office.”