Chapter 9 -"You're kind of cute when you're flirting."

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Dressed in her gym uniform, Carter walked out of the locker room and into the cool, spring air. Weak sunlight bathed the track and field in a whitish light. Clusters of students stood gathered on the track, their arms crossed against the chill breeze. She moved off to one side and started stretching. She was bent over her feet when a shadow appeared beside her.

"I think I like you best in this position, Owens," Lucas said.

Carter rose, a hard look already dominating her features. Lucas smirked. She curled one fist and took a step forward.

"Miss Owen please refrain from assaulting your fellow classmate," her gym teacher called out.

Carter took a step back and raised her hands. Link and Donovan walked over to her, both glancing between her and Lucas. Carter dropped her hands as Lucas gave her a smug grin and moved away.

"What did he do this time?" Link asked.

"Nothing," she said. "I just don't like the way his face looks." 

"That's usually why I get into altercations with people too," Link said.

Carter laughed, her dark expression vanishing.

"Alright class!" Mr. Danes said, cutting through the multiple conversations.

The class quietened and reluctantly turned towards their teacher.

"Today," he said. "You are running a mile and then playing a friendly game of flag football."

The class let out a round of groans.

"Okay, get to it!"

Mr. Danes blew his whistle and the class sluggishly moved into action. Carter slapped Donovan's arm with the back of her hand and nodded to an eager group of girls.

"Might want to watch out," she said. "They have a crazy look in their eyes."

Donovan glanced back. The girls all waved and giggled. He looked back at Carter and she smiled.

"Better get running," she said.

She broke away from the trudging pack of students and took off. The voices of her peers slowly faded as she gained distance from them. Around the track the first glimpse of spring's arrival appeared in the blossoming trees and the dots of green peaking up through the deadened leaves. From a distance could be heard the faint sounds of traffic.

Before long Carter was lapping her classmates. She weaved in and out of the gossiping groups of girls. The guys all looked at her, some impressed, other's petulant. As she neared where Link and Donovan ran side by side, she slowed. She spun around and continued running backwards.

"That's really all you got?" she asked, looking Donovan up and down. "Based on your muscle tone I expected a better display of physical endurance."

Donovan didn't respond except for a subtle flexing of his jaw. Carter grinned, noticing it.

"Come on Donovan," she said. "Scared for the first time in your life a girl might actually be better than you?"  

Donovan met her gaze with cool, indifference. Carter shrugged and held her hands up.

"Alright, later slow poke."

She turned and increased her speed, outdistancing them. As she was coming around the curve she heard the sound of pounding footsteps racing up behind her. She laughed and pushed harder. Donovan inched closer to her. Carter forced her muscles to work faster keeping ahead of him.

They cut through layers of dawdling groups, dodging around them. They were neck and neck as they entered the last lap. As they raced towards where they had started Donovan pulled ahead. They bolted over the starting line and staggered to a halt. Slightly breathless, Carter moved closer to Donovan, grinning.
"I didn't think you had it in you," she said. "That's me wrong for once."

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