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"Blake," somebody hissed, quite loudly.

When I refused to move, they grabbed me by the shoulder and shook, hard.

"What?" I growled finally, opening my blue eyes to slits.

Coda, my best friend, was standing above me. Judging by the look on her face, waking me up was the absolute last thing she wanted to be doing, especially on a school day. Not that I could blame her. I couldn't be considered a morning person by anyone's standards. As Uncle Mark liked to put it, nobody wants to wake the bear. Hell, I didn't even like waking myself up.

"Um, good morning," she rubbed her bicep awkwardly.

"Morning," I grumbled, slowly sitting up in bed. As I stretched, my left hand hit the wall, earning a grimace from both of us. If there was one thing mama Callie didn't like, it was blows to her walls and furniture. We could roughhouse outside all we wanted, but not in her mansion, no sir.

"Want me to make you some coffee?" Coda offered sweetly, reaching up to tousle her blonde waves.

I used both hands to shove the matted brown tresses out of my face, pulling a few strands from my mouth and frowning. "I can do it, don't worry."

She sighed, putting on a little pout. "You guys never let me do anything around here."

"You do plenty. Stop stressing about it."

It had been two weeks since Coda's fight with her dad, and two weeks since my Aunt Callie and Uncle Mark had offered her a room in their massive house. Even before that, she'd spent more time at our place than she had at home, so it didn't take too much adjusting for any of us.

"Whatever," she muttered.

I tossed a pillow at her with a grin, feeling myself wake up just a tad. "Go get dressed. We have another big day in hell coming up."

As Coda padded out in her bare feet, I flopped back down on my soft, comfortable bed, wishing I didn't have to get up.

School had never been my thing, per se, but I'd always managed with Kellan's help. When him and his parents decided to move up north, I'd jumped at the chance to come with. Mark and Callie treated me more like their own child than my mom did. Now that we were settled in and the novelty of new surroundings had worn off, I decided that I still hated school. The only reason I tried to put on a decent face was for Coda.

That girl had been through hell in the past few months and the last thing she needed was to deal with my grouchy ass. Sometimes I let things slip, though, and she usually just took them in stride. That was one thing I really loved about her.

With a sigh, I slapped the palms of my hands on my rumpled bed and stood up to get dressed. If my new school didn't have such a stringent policy against pajamas, I might've just gone in the glory of my tank top and baggy sweatpants.

But, alas, I had to yank on a pair of faded jeans with so many crystals slapped on the pockets and side seams that they could blind a person in the right lighting. I was well aware of the tomboyish, cowgirl vibe I gave off to the world, but I liked the sparkles. They made me feel prettier.

With those heavily bedazzled jeans, I put on a gray T-shirt with the words Buck Off and an angry bronc scrawled across the front. Finally, I shoved my sock feet into my favorite broken down square-toe boots with the spurs still on and glanced to the full length mirror. I looked like me, which was all that mattered.

While weaving my too-long, too-thick hair into a braid, I glanced woefully at the loaded hat stand that hung from my wall. Three cowboy hats and two ball caps were stacked neatly on the pegs, and I wished with everything in me that somebody would talk the school principal into lifting the ban on hats. As much of a hardass as she seemed to be, I decided it would never happen and just flung open my door to head downstairs.

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