3 // It's Raining, It's Pouring, Stella's Rage is Roaring

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THE only thing I hated more than exercise, was exercise lying about being exercise under the ruse of stretching. Because if I felt a burn in any of my muscles, or even the slightest bit out of breath, that was damn exercise and I wanted no part of it unless it was running away from my death.

"Mom, let me go, I don't want to do this anymore," I pleaded, wobbling as I tried to keep the sole of my foot balanced against my knee, hands pressed together in a praying stance. I groaned again as I stumbled. With a frown tugging on my mouth as I pathetically tried to resume position.

This felt like some damn exercise.

The blonde woman next to me was completely unfazed by my vehement whining, her face the picture of Zen, the embodiment of Buddha. She released a deep sigh from her lips and smiled. "Stella," she breathed out, calming notes permeating her voice. "This is supposed to be soothing, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth."

Her hair was pulled up into a loose bun, soft tendrils falling out, and she was donned in the tight yoga pants and tank top that she usually wore around the house.

If she wasn't keen to remind me of the stretch marks I'd left on her body during the pregnancy that led to my fabulous birth, I didn't think I would believe we were related. Although everyone always cooed that I looked like my father more anyway.

I groaned, still trying to keep the stupid pose, and failing incredibly. "I can actually feel my body rejecting this. I hate this, this is stupid and my body hurts," I whined, a pout pushing out my bottom lip.

Mom peeked an eye open and smiled. "Fine," she relented, "At least eat a banana before you go to school, okay? And did you download those wave sounds to listen to?"

As soon as she threw the white flag, I was escaping out of there at record speeds. "Can do!" I called in reassurance, barely listening to anything else she said as I made a bee-line to my room.

Getting up half an hour earlier than necessary for some damn exercise was not a life that I was about. I was more about sleeping, and bacon, and the dream of the day that technological advances would allow me to enjoy both at the same time. And yoga caused ridiculous frustration for an activity that was created to calm people down.

I didn't even have Savannah to bribe me with any baked goods because her slam poetry club was meeting early that day, Eva carpooled from the other side of town, and I had to take the bus. This cut my early morning lounging time in a way that I was not fond of.

And so I found myself stationed outside, black umbrella in hand and tapping my foot impatiently as my eyes kept darting to the corner of the street. A frown weighed down my face as I breathed in the aroma of wet concrete and worms, the threatening pellets of rain too close for comfort. A shiver charged down my spine.

"Someone need a ride?"

I whipped my head in the direction of the voice, finding Reese in a camouflage jacket and waving me down from his car. He was grinning that mega-watt smile, amber eyes dancing with amusement. My scowl only deepened.

I turned my gaze forward. "Stranger danger!"

"Come on," he coaxed, and I could hear the smile in his voice. "It's pouring rain, just get in the car and let me drive you to school! Don't be such a baby about it!"

My chest rose as I took in a deep breath, my lips pursing bitterly at his words. I tried to weigh my conflicting emotions.

On one hand, spending any time within a thirty foot radius of Reese was probably at least three different levels of the hell he'd spawned from, and the yoga had not really improved my mood. On the other, I could feel the mist of rain crawl underneath my umbrella and the sharp bursts of wind that were cutting into my jacket made me want to punch weather in the face.

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