September - Part One Ella

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Author's Notes: Hey Readers, thanks for stopping by... this is an excerpt from my novel, Game Plan, which is available online at Amazon and Chapters in ebook and in paperback. I'd love to hear what you think either here in the comments or follow me on Twitter (@NSampson17) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NatalieCorbettSampson ) Happy Reading!

SEPTEMBER – PART ONE

Ella was late. Again. She cursed her night owl tendencies — How do I forget how hard it is to get up when I stay up watching Jimmy Fallon? — and vowed to go to bed earlier. Sighing, she tossed her math text carelessly in her book bag and her court shoes into her gym bag. Great day to forget those, she thought. I’d be screwed if I missed the first tryout. She was determined to make the starting lineup. She brushed her long hair and drew an elastic twice around the high pony, folding her hair only halfway to keep the heavy length off her neck. With a quick glance in the mirror — clean jeans, T-shirt (only slightly wrinkled) — she zipped up her hoodie and assessed herself aloud. “Good enough.” She shouldered her backpack, grabbed her gym bag and bounded down the stairs to the kitchen.

“Watch it, dork,” grumped her brother Ben when she brushed past him. He stood at the fridge staring at its contents with glossy eyes, one hand propping the door open and the other braced against the top. He wasn’t a morning person either, his ever present backwards Jays hat covered a mop of bedhead. He ignored her growled “Look out,” so she ducked under his arm, between him and the food, and grabbed her bagged lunch and a can of Diet Coke. The fridge door swung shut as she pushed him back out of the way. Banana it is, she thought as she snatched two from the fruit bowl on the counter and handed one to him.

“No time for breakfast,” she told Ben. She didn’t wait as he picked up his book bag and followed her out the door, racing to catch the bus. The September sun was still low in the sky, shining off the dewy leaves on either side of the gravel driveway. The air smelled of rain and worms but the sky was clear. Ben’s footfalls kicked up gravel as he caught up and matched her hurried gait. They reached the end of the driveway just as the bus rounded the corner and shuddered to a stop in front of them. When the doors opened, the voices of students stumbled over one another. The bus was always loud. The driver glared at them from under his worn cap as they climbed the steps, but they'd long since grown immune to his impatient stares. Ella followed Ben down the aisle through the ruckus and fell into the seat in front of him, while he landed beside Charlie.

Sliding down further in her seat, knees propped against the back of the bench in front of her, Ella fiddled with the earbuds in her old iPod until the static cleared. She didn’t really mind the ride; forty minutes was just enough time to get ready for the day. She had known most of the kids since elementary school and on the bus they were together without expectations: no teachers, no chores, no listening parents. She watched out the window, letting her mind wander until she felt a hard jab on her left shoulder. She yanked her earbud out and turned to glare at the boys behind her. “What?”

“He was under the tag. Right, Ella? Did you see it?” Charlie stared at her with his dark eyes narrowed, waiting for her to answer. It took her a moment to realize they were arguing about the baseball game from the night before. Ben and Ella had fallen into their father’s love of the Blue Jays to be loyal to him and to their Canadian roots. Charlie’s team was the Red Sox from nearby Boston. It didn’t matter that Boston consistently fielded a winning team while the Jays lost season after season. Ella remained steadfastly loyal to her favorite underdogs.

“Yeah, saw it… He was out. The ump blew it. And without that run, we’d have beaten you in the ninth. That was the difference in the game, right there.” Charlie rolled his eyes as she punctuated with, “Stupid ump.”

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