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Author’s Note: This is my first posting to Wattpad – thanks for reading! Please vote, comment and like! This is my most recent YA contemporary novel – if you like it please check out my other books I’m Not Her, If I Tell and Who I Kissed.

Copyright © 2013 by Janet Gurtler

Chapter One

The boys were watching us, trying to get us to make mistakes. I knew from the swear words they were flinging around that they’d underestimated us. Inexperienced players shouted a lot. Kya and I didn’t.

A surge of excitement blasted though me, and I grinned behind my paintball mask. Playing paintball made me feel alive, like licking a lollipop of adrenaline and wanting to explode with the rush. With my best friend, Kya, at my side, I sensed what it might be like to be invincible. Our goal was simple: shoot them before they shot us. Especially since the game was being streamed on a webcast. The people watching could change our lives.

But we had work to do. They had three players left. So did we.

At first, the other team wanted to kick our butts because of the girl thing, but now they knew we were good. Actually, if I were inclined to brag, I’d have to say the two of us were pretty great. I don’t. Brag, that is. But Kya’s a different story. And based on the way they were shooting right now, the other team not only wanted to hit us, they wanted to make it hurt.

It’s easier to rock at paintball when you know someone has your back. I had Kya’s and she had mine. No question asked. It made us somewhat unstoppable. She lifted her hand and pointed. I nodded, understanding.

Kya gave me the thumbs up, so I took a deep breath, stood, and then ran as fast as my legs could move in my gear. She shot crossfire, and a flurry of paintballs popped around me. One ball whizzed past my head, but with her diversion, I managed to dive behind a bunker without getting splattered.

Another flurry of swear words ripped through the air and then Kya yelled to me.

“Grace, you’re a PAINTBALL PRINCESS.”

“Kya, you da QUEEN!” I yelled back. It was our version of trash talk. We knew to speak naturally and stay calm in the midst of huge adrenaline rushes. We only yelled to rattle. Paintball wasn’t really life or death. It only felt like it sometimes.

I couldn’t see Kya’s grin under her paintball mask, but I imagined it. When she smiled, it lit up her already beautiful face. She didn’t smile a lot—she’d seen bad, bad things at a young age.
Too young.

“Would you two quit glorifying and tell me what to do,” yelled James. He was the only other player left on our team—Kya’s best friend since second grade, mine since Dad moved us to Tadita the summer before seventh grade.

“Don’t get shot,” Kya called to him.

James was crouched behind a bunker. Paintball doesn’t flow naturally through James’s veins the way it does for Kya and me. He tended to panic a little, even though we look after him. He’d only agreed to join our team because one of our players didn’t show up and the Lady Grinders scout had requested footage from the game. The Lady Grinders was a National College Paintball Association team out of Seattle University, the college team Kya and I would give up unborn children to play on. A college with an all-female paintball team. It couldn’t get much better. But first we had to prove ourselves.

I glanced around, checking out the other players’ positions, strategizing how we could lure them into the open.

Kya looked at me and tapped the side of her mask. My heart thumped in my chest as I nodded back. I was in a bad position. There was another set of loud pops, and James raised his hand in the air, then walked out from behind his bunker.

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