Chapter One

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Rowan

'I hope you're happy with yourself,' my dad raged, as I sat defiantly on the sofa, glaring up at him. My mom was sitting across from me on an armchair looking nervous while he paced around the living room in a rage. 'Are you?' he demanded suddenly, stopping to stare at me, bug-eyed.

                'No,' I said angrily. 'I'd be happy with myself if I'd put one of those Capu-retards in hospital, but I got interrupted before-'

                'Don't even start,' my dad growled.

                'Oh dear,' my mom muttered from her corner, and we both turned to see what she was "oh dear-ing" about. We followed her gaze to the mute television, which was turned into a local news station. My dad grabbed the remote and turned up the volume.

                "- a violent brawl broke out here today between students from the famously rival local high schools, Capulet High and Montague High. In what police are assuming is a break in tensions building up to the annual football game between the two schools, Seniors from both appear to have run into each other outside this local fast food restaurant where animosity broke out and resulted in violence. The principal of Capulet High, Mr Preston Escalus, arrived on the scene and tried to break things up, but eventually had to call the police. Both he and the principal of Montague High, Mrs Priscilla Escabel, have threatened to expel any students caught up in further fighting, and have already suspended the students involved in today's incident.'

                My dad muted the television again with a groan of frustration. 'At least they didn't name you as the ringleader of it all,' he muttered.

                'More's the pity,' I muttered back.

                My dad turned to look at me in despair. 'You're in the last few weeks of your last year in high school. You got accepted early decision to three major universities. You're quarterback on the football team and you have a 4.0 GPA. Why can't you just sit back and enjoy these last few months before you go off to college? As soon as you get there you won't give a shit about Montague High anymore, and you wouldn't recognise a Capulet student if you bumped into one on the street!'

                I smirked. 'Sure I would, because they'd immediately start crying and calling their daddies to call their lawyers.'

                My dad stared at me. 'Not the point!' he roared after a moment of incredulity.

                After a few more minutes of nonsensical raving, he sent me to my room. I guess my hometown, Verona, is pretty much a non-entity to anyone who comes from anywhere vaguely exciting, but it's big enough to require two high schools and there's a bitter rivalry stretching back generations between the two of them. I'm not really sure how it started (but not for lack of trying to find out) but it's become almost a blood feud in recent years; generation after generation of families who've lived in Verona since the town first sprung up have been sending their kids to same school as they went to, so it's become about pride of family as much as pride of school.

                I go to Montague High and, like my dad and granddad and so forth before me, I'm kind of a big deal there. I didn't start out in Freshman year expecting everything to be handed me the way it has been, but I guess once it became clear that I was both academic and athletic (and then when I grew into my looks in Sophomore year) things came pretty easily. Our prom is coming up in a few weeks times and I'm supposedly a shoo-in for Prom King (even though I think I'd look pretty stupid in a crown).

                I guess I should also be thinking about who I'm going to take to this stupid dance, but all I can think about lately is the traditional end-of-year football game between Capulet and Montague. I have an almost perfect high school record, and I have a feeling of grave foreboding that it'll ruin the rest of my whole life if I lose this game.

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