Chapter 3 - "I'm going to break your nose, because I don't like your face."

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Car tires crunched over the pebble drive, as the SUV pulled up to the front of the gray stone building. Carter stared, unseeing, at the flood of students pouring into the school.

"Sarge, it's only four days," her father said.

She forced her features into an uninterested mask as she looked at him.

"I'll be home Friday night," he said. "I'll let you know if that changes."

She gave a half hearted nod and pushed open the door.

"I love you, Sarge," her father said, as she stepped from the car.

She turned back, holding the door open.

"I love you, Captain. Remember, you only have six months left. There is no point in getting injured now. Let one of the newbies take the bullet." She grinned. "Let Andrews take it. I've never liked him."

Her father let out a soft chuckle.

"Noted. I'll see you soon."

Carter nodded and closed the door. Her expression fell as she trudged up the stone steps. At the top she turned back. The black SUV turned, disappearing and she felt as if a black hole had taken the place of her stomach. She stared at the spot the car had been for a second longer, before turning away. Layers of voices filled the crowded hallways, as she made her way through the throng of students, her brow furrowed.

Someone jostled her from the side and Carter spun to see who it was. A muscular guy with brown hair, glanced at Carter, his lips twisting into a wry smile as he recognized her.

"Owens, aren't you orphaned yet?" he asked, loud enough for his friends to hear.

Anger burst inside Carter, burning away every other emotion. She clung to the feeling, finding safety in it, as she rearranged her features into an expression of mild curiosity.

"Lucas, I saw your car outside. Did your dad get a two for one deal with Bentley?" The guy's forehead creased with confusion. "Because I know its the same car he got his mistress," Carter said.

Lucas's body tensed and his fist clenched, as laughter filled the air around him. Carter narrowed her eyes, her face hardening. She took a step closer.

"Do it," she said, her voice as cold as ice. "I'm dying for a reason to punch someone."

Surprise and hesitation flashed in Lucas's eyes and Carter relaxed. Stuffing her hands into her pockets, she took a step back and shrugged.

"Pity, I thought you might actually be up for a challenge," she said, disappointed.

More laughter and jeers surrounded them. Lucas crossed his arms, working to make himself look relaxed. He smirked, the gesture forced.

"Normally I am, but I'm not allowed to hit girls," he said, his voice mocking.

Carter nodded.

"Funny, that was my reason for not hitting you," she said.

She walked away before Lucas had the chance to respond, the laughter of his friends following her down the hallway.

Inside her classroom, Carter tossed her bag onto the table and settled onto her stool. Around her, students sat with heads bent together or bent over phones, lost to the world. As she pulled out her notebook, a figure took the seat beside her. She looked over and was surprised to find Link smiling at her.

"I'm impressed. Most people don't come looking for round two," she said.

Link shrugged.

"I figured you have to run out of punches sooner or later."

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