4 | Michael

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"Michael Hadden!"

"Hey, Hadden! How's it going?"

"Michael, my man. Gonna get us to states this year?"

Taking over the title of football captain from his older brother was something that Michael Hadden had wanted since he first entered Barnum Prep as a freshman. Eddie Hadden had been the football star that carried their varsity team to the state championships for three consecutive years, from his sophomore to senior year as captain. He had passed the baton down to his little brother after graduating last May, and there was nothing Michael had wanted more than to make his brother proud.

Now he would simply have to make him proud from a different place.

One thing Michael hadn't expected when taking over from Eddie was the massive influx in attention that he had gained seemingly overnight—while he had always been popular and a name that people knew, he was now someone that guys fought to get a word in with and that girls pushed each other out of the way to get within five feet of him. All except for the one girl he wanted, but would never have again.

"Alright, you may be the team's star quarterback now, but we still know you." Michael almost jumped out of his skin as three of his best buddies from the team came up behind him, slamming his locker shut and laughing hysterically at themselves.

"Hey guys." Michael rolled his eyes, "I'm no different than last year, or the year before that. I don't know why everyone's talking to me."

"We do." Adam Hanson grinned, "You're the new Hadden hero, and we plan on taking advantage of that the entire year."

"Taking advantage of that?" Michael repeated.

"You bet your ass." Jeremy Facut grinned, clapping Michael on the back. "We're gonna get out of everything now that we have you."

Michael shook his head.

"I don't know guys, I don't think it's gonna be much different."

"It's gonna be completely different." Brett Kipsey spoke from behind Michael, "Everyone's gonna be bowing down to their new football captain. You can do no wrong in the school's eyes..." he looked around, smirking slightly at all of the looks the group was receiving from the other students, "...or in the eyes of the insanely hot chicks we have here at Barnum Prep."

"Whatever, man." Michael laughed, "Take advantage of whatever you want, but if you get in trouble don't expect me to come bail you out."

"That's what we have rich parents for." Adam shrugged, "Anyways, what's the deal with your girl situation? Rachel still not speaking to you?"

Michael tensed up a bit at the name, his heart starting to pound a bit faster and his face turning pink.

"Nah man, she's not into me anymore. But it's cool, it's cool. We'll find some other hot chicks this year!" He laughed, high-fiving the guys as his heartrate returned to normal. They didn't need to know that he was still completely heartbroken, six months after the breakup. Six months felt like an hour when four years had meant so much.

Michael turned around to try and find his sister in the crowd of people—they usually rode to school together and he was worried about her on the first day back since their brother's death. As he scanned the crowd his eyes landed on none other than Roland Green, and the worry in his mind was replaced by blind rage. Not at Roland, but at what he represented—his devil of an older sister.

***

"I am absolutely not attending the Green's barbeque this year." Michael snarled at his twin as they stood in the doorway of their home, Mary dressed and ready while Michael was still in his boxers. "Not after what Erin did to me."

"You mean what you did to her." Mary snapped, "Don't pretend like that didn't happen. She may have made a mistake—"

"Mistake?" Michael interrupted, "She told Rachel deliberately. She did everything on purpose because she always has some sort of sick agenda."

"Don't speak ill of the dead." Mary ordered.

"If it were up to me, she would have been dead a long time ago."

"Michael!" Mary shook her head, slapping her brother across the face with the pathetic amount of strength she had. "Don't ever say that again."

"Why not?"

"Because she actually is dead. And the last thing that this family needs is for their other son to become a suspect in her death."

"It was already ruled an accident. Drunk driver who got away."

"They can change their minds." Mary whispered, as if the cat would somehow overhear and go running to the cops. "Please don't let on about Erin. You cannot let anyone know about what happened." She put a hand on Michael's arm and he could feel her shaking slightly. "It would ruin everything for both of us."

Michael nodded.

"Alright. I won't say anything. Tell everyone at the Green's that I'm sick in bed. They'll believe it." He shrugged, "I don't want people to give me their condolences anyways. The funeral had enough of that."

***

He spotted Mary from across the hallway and called out her name as loudly as he could.

"Mary! Over here!"

"Yeah, your sister's hot man." Brett grinned as Mary saw her brother and started to make her way over, Kate and Jordan in tow.

"Say that again and I'll beat your face in."

Brett nodded, putting up his hands in a sign of surrender.

It had barely begun, but Michael Hadden was already set for the school year to be over.

It had barely begun, but Michael Hadden was already set for the school year to be over

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