battle cry


She could just picture her whole high school career tumbling at her Nike clad feet. She could hear every award she strived for, every honorable mention she sweated over, and every cheer from the crowd crash onto the tile floor her mother just cleaned.

There was one reason for this: one conceited, arrogant, vain, and talented reason.

Mackenzie Tosh.

Although he attended her rival school, St Joe's, an all boy catholic school, it never kept him from ruining her life; nothing could keep him from that.

"Absolutely not, Mother." Switching tactics, she begged. "Please don't do this, Mommy."

She was not threatened by a 6'2'' male whose goal was making her submit to him. She was not intimidated by the way he played soccer, his eyes always observing, yet never calculating. He took stupid, illogical risks based solely on emotion, something that she hated purely on principle.

"There has got to be another way."

Just the thought of him made her skin crawl, the smug smile that sat underneath a nose too straight for the amount of times she hit him. His eyes were as green as the grass on her softball field, his hair as dark as the night on the Friday football games. His skin was an exotic mix of his mother's Egyptian background and his father's Greek pedigree. It was a fair combination if she was forced to admit it. He could be attractive had it not been for his personality that made Piper want to break his face in half.

Her friends didn't see it the same way. They drooled, giggled and pranced around him as if they didn't believe anything she said. Even her best friend, Cassandra Bates said that Piper overreacted to his practical jokes when they were kids. He pissed in her hair in kindergarten during nap time. Any reaction she had, Piper felt was justified. So yes, she broke his arm. Overreaction? Maybe. Maybe she just needed new friends.

"Mom, he'll torture me."

So maybe she was playing victim. But desperate times…

She could not have Mackenzie in her house. They were in the middle of a war. It was like inviting Hitler to stay with Anne Frank. She didn't hesitate to compare Mackenzie to a man whose goal in life was based on genocide. It could be because she was losing in their twisted game.

The current score: Mac: 234 Piper: 228

Each tally represented something: a prank, a win in sports, academics, medals, even relationships. This was an 11 year battle and this was their senior year. This was her year. She made the varsity team for soccer, she was made president of model UN and secretary for the student union. She was focused and driven. This was her year. He would not take that from her. At Madison High, she had no competition for the Madison High Athletics Scholarship that awarded a student a full sports or leadership grant up to 100 grand. If he moved into her district, he would be eligible. She knew without a doubt that he would take it from her without hesitation.

"Mom! Are you listening to me?" She slammed her hand on the granite counter, trying to get her mother's attention. "Did you even ask me how I felt about this?"

"I figured you would welcome him, Piper Connelly Ward." Her mother's voice was small unlike her own soften through her accent. Anger subtly dripped from her voice, while the guilt attacked Piper. "He just lost his mother. I just lost my best friend."

"Ma." Emotions that didn't involve revenge or anger weren't something she displayed. Since she was little she was always picked on by guys because she wanted to join in their games. She hated the boy vs. girl games because the girls always lost, more focused on the way their hair looked and who was looking at them then kicking the damn ball. She was exposed to the addiction of revenge young, after Mackenzie aimed the tennis ball machine at her and placed it on turbo speed. She was pelted by flying yellow orbs until her future best friend unplugged the machine. As much as she hated him, he was still part of her life whether she wanted it or not. "She was sick for a long time. We said our goodbyes years ago."

"You said your goodbyes. I still had hope. People wake up from comas all the time. It happens. It happens." Her mother's hand curled into the dishrag, droplets of dirty dishwater falling to her clean floor. Piper stayed silent.

The silence continued until the doorbell rang, jerking the mother and daughter to reality.

"It's final. He is staying with us." Piper watched her mother walk to the pantry, probably for the mob, and couldn't help but feel the guilt begin to suffocate her.

The bell continued to ring.

With a final look towards the shadow falling out of the panty, she shoved her soccer ball into the side pocket of her green and gold duffle bag, picked up her cleats, unplugged her iPhone and jogged to the front door.

Juggling her belongings, Piper struggled to the door. She pushed it open with her back and fell into a firm chest with the distinct scent of male. William.

William Allen III was the opposite of Mackenzie Tosh. That was the main reason why she started dating the high school graduate. Almost 20, he had no need for childish vendettas. He didn't make a secret of his disapproval of Mackenzie's behavior and sometimes of Piper's antics.

As a musician, he wasn't Piper's usual type. Where she was attracted to anything that sweated, William was calm and collected. He didn't make rash decisions nor did he calculate his actions, he just let things happen. He respected Piper's anti-sex rule and attended most of her games. She went to most of his gigs and gave him his space. It was a fair arrangement and they enjoyed each other's company.

But Piper constantly found herself comparing him to Mackenzie. His eyes were blue, but pale; not just the colour but the lack of passion. They flared when he was strumming on his guitar singing to her, but Mackenzie's were an everlasting forest fire. His jaw line wasn't as defined nor was his body as toned, but Piper repeatedly told herself that that wasn't what she wanted. His long hair was either flying in the wind or pulled back into a ponytail with a leather band with her initials engraved in it.

He was not Mackenzie Tosh.

William placed a quick kiss on her check before grabbing her bag and cleats and chucking them in the back of his truck, earning a wince from her. She accepted the unnecessary boost into his truck that he offered, and waited for him to pull out of her drive way before cranking up his stereo. Notes blasted out of the speakers creating a vibration that calmed her immediately. It felt like landing on the field after diving for a ball, the vibration created by her body slamming against Mother Nature.

She didn't tell William what she was feeling, and he didn't ask. He gave her a look and just rubbed her thigh. He didn't push, nor did he prod. Something she respected.

Her pre-game rituals of hip hop, alternative, rock and rap blasted through Piper's sour mood as they arrived at her school's stadium just on time. She blew him a kiss, gathered her bag and walked to the locker rooms.

Holding the laces of her cleats between her teeth, she hiked her duffle bag higher on her shoulder and searched for her phone. She needed to tell Casey the horrid news of her new housemate; albeit, Casey lionized him and would surely revel with the new information. Piper had even trusted her with the anti-Mac code, established in the second grade.

Anti-Mac code: No drooling, giggling, googly eyes or melting due to the presence/scent/looks of Mackenzie Tosh in the presence of Piper Connelly Ward.

Yanking her phone from the side pockets of the duffle bag, her thumbs angrily jabbed at the touch screen, releasing her anger into the defenseless technology. Ending the message by tapping the light green send button, she glanced forward and faced the very object of her resentment.

The first thing she noticed was his fricken` smirk as he leaned against the fence surrounding her field. His arms were crossed in front of him, creasing his crisp white button up. His veins were prominent, his muscles pressed against his skin. She could spot the St. Joe's emblem plastered on his chest pocket and embroidered on the end of his loosened tie. For no other reason but her aversion to him, it irritated her that he could look polished after the early morning practice she knew he had, a full day of classes and all of his after school lessons. His khaki pants were creased, his shoes polished, his face clean shaven; all parts of his perfection. She needed a bucket to puke in.

A smirk of her own graced her face, slow and mischievous. Tapping the yellow envelope button on her phone, she searched through her contacts until the name Hades appeared. That would be Mackenzie.

Without taking her eyes from him, intent on winning their unspoken contest of staring, she furiously typed her message. Pleased with the message, she let him win the battle as she turned towards the girl's sport lockers on the opposite side. She couldn't ignore him forever, but damn it she could try.

She watched over her shoulder as he slid into his front pocket to retrieve his phone. A smug grin materialized from her mischief and she turned to face her first game of the season.

As much as his company annoyed her, it was his presence at her games that pushed her to win. It was their long blazing rivalry that pushed her competitiveness at an alarming rate. It wasn't just her on the field; it was the two of them. She wasn't playing against the other girl in the red and black jersey today; she was playing the boy who stuck play dough in her hair when she was five years old.

It was common knowledge that without him her passion, her anger, her craze wouldn't explode without him egging her on. It was the same in reverse. She attended his games as religiously as he did hers, accompanied by most of her friends, resulting in friendships and relationships between the two rivals. It wasn't a coincidence that every lost game could be found in relation to Mac's or PC's absences.

Seconds after she turned from him she heard his pace quicken. Game on. Replacing her phone and pulling her bag closer to her, Piper took a deep breath before taking off. Her shoes pressed into the pavement hard seconds before she lifted out giving her the momentum she needed to begin this timeless race between boy and girl. Air kissed her cheeks and lids, and played innocently with her hair catching dark strains in its game as she ran. Her arms pumped harder as she heard him gaining on her; her legs forced the ground to give her more height as she propelled away from him. As hard as she could run, she knew she wouldn't win. She had endurance; he had speed. Give her the mile and she would cream him no problem.

Consequently, it was merely seconds before she felt a presence at the right side followed by a fierce yank on her duffle bag carrying her back a few steps. Balancing herself, she reached out to steady herself on the arm that held her bag captive.

Deep breath, Piper Connelly. "Can I help you, Mackenzie?"

He opened to speak, paused and chuckled. "Actually, you can translate this text I just received."

She gave him a light smile and turned back to the stadium. She wasn't going to deal with this before her first game. However, another yank hindered her. Now he was just being annoying.

Turning to face him she lost the smile, the rivalry hate; lost the reason for this game. She wasn't past begging. "Mac, you can't live with me." Instead of shaking his hand off her bag she held onto him. "It`s the most ridiculous idea I have ever heard."

"You don't think I know that?" His eyes were alive. They always were; he never put himself in a situation where he couldn't express himself or entertain himself. "I realize that this isn't ideal, but we have to deal."

"No, actually, we don't." Anger won over sensibility as she yanked her bag, freeing herself from his hold.

He was surprised at her display of emotion. Anger was something you keep inside or on the field. Apparently it was only her motto, as he stepped into her bubble forcing himself inches away from her, challenging her. He may have had height on his side, but she wasn`t going to back down. As much as she hated the strain it put on her neck to look up at him, she raised an eyebrow at his advance.

"Yes, we do. Your mother invited me—"

"—Why would you ever agree to that?" Her voice was low and accusing, she never yelled. Yelling diminishes credibility. What Mackenzie yelled, she could say in a whisper and have just as many ears, if not more, listening to her.

"PC, don't be a bitch," She knew she was being selfish and heartless, but was she the only reasonable one thinking? She knew his father was out of the picture, but his grandparents doted on him.

"It`s illogical to move the most impulsive teenage male (you) into a home of a teenage female (me)." It wasn't as if anything was going to happen between them, but guys had hormones and she didn't trust him as far as she could throw him, which was apparently their guest bedroom.

"Illogical this, irrational that, this is unreasonable, or that is unfounded; that`s all I fucking hear from you. God, do you ever just feel? Did you ever think that I am the only thing left of my mother and your mom needs me? Did it occur to you that our mothers were so alike as best friends that yours reminds me of mine and that I might just need her?" He grabbed her by the neck; his grasp was loose, but she still reached up to hold onto his forearms. His thumb rested where her jaw and neck met, his finger splayed against the opposite side of her jaw.

He was so angry. So full of rage. It was a feeling that Piper couldn't understand. She never felt the loss he was feeling now, never felt the anguish he was going through. Losing a game couldn't begin to compare to losing his sole parent. And consoling an orphan isn't the same as consoling Casey after a break-up. This kind of pain was permanent.

She opened her mouth to say something, but what do you say to this? Her mouth shut and she just stared into his heated sea green eyes wondering what to feel. Pity didn't even cross her mind; she respected him as a rival and player too much to ever pity him.

"Hey!" Her boyfriend's voice rang loud causing Mackenzie's hand to slip off of her neck and a sound of disgust to fall from his thin irritated lips.

"Good luck." Curt and final, Mackenzie walked to the entrance of the stadium. Piper couldn't take her eyes off of him.

Waving off her boyfriend Piper walked to the locker room to ready herself for the first game of the season.

After the locker room and warm-ups the crowd began to grow. Parents, pride in their smiles, friends, laughter from their mouths, rival classmates, anticipation written on their faces, filed into the outdoor stadium. There was one face she was looking for, one face that she looked for at every game since her first little league T-ball game. It was him that started her game, not the referee's whistle.

"Girls! Huddle up!" Coach Cameron, Madison High's new coach and gym teacher, bellowed to his girls as Piper continued to search. She knew she`d pissed him off with her lack of sentiment, but he`d be there. He wasn't vicious… yet for some reason she couldn't find him, couldn't pick his uniform out of the sea of green and gold clothing.

"PC Ward! Focus!" Coach Cameron wasn't on the best terms with Piper. They didn't see eye to eye on the starting team, the warm up, the training, the condition… "If you want to start this season, you`re going to have to prove it to me."

"Coach, my stats alone can carry this team." That is why Coach Cameron wasn't too fond of Piper. The girls had experienced years of this and had learned to deal because… well, because it was the truth.

His face lit to a shade of red that could rival a ripe Florida tomato as he threw his clipboard to the assistant coach Lindy Lowell, a small junior with bright red hair. "Ward!"

Seconds later the whistle for the captains sounded, and without Cameron's permission Piper took charge. Yanking the clipboard from Lindy's hand and throwing it at Coach Cameron, Piper dragged Lindy to the referees.

"Have you lost your mind?" Lindy followed; she'd rather face Coach's fury than Piper's. This was her first year on the varsity team, and the best player in any district was paying special attention to her. "He said he doesn't want you to start because of you lack sportsmanship."

"Blah sportsmanship? He should be teaching us to win at all cost, take those chances that we've done before, and show them that we will dominate them. He is softening you up with all this 'kill them with kindness' and hugging up our enemies." He`s softening you up with all this 'kill them with kindness' and hugging up our enemies crap!" But as she spoke, she continued to look for her own enemy. "I get that it`s the PTA and the Board of Education that want it done, so it isn't entirely his fault, but still!"

Keeping quiet, Lindy began to think about her idol. PC was a different kind of player. She eluded varsity in everything that she did. The way she played, the way she handled people and even how she carried herself in school. She placed such a cold exterior in front of her that anyone would feel honored being let in. She didn't place herself higher than anyone outside of sports, but Madison High placed her on her own pedestal on which she shined.

Lindy hoped that she would take over her spot when PC left but she knew she didn't have the poise and coldness that PC did. This year though, she would learn.

"Here, Linds, you take the flip." Piper handed her the coin casually, not taking in Lindy's awestruck expression. Instead of supervising her mentee, Piper searched the crowd. Most of the stadium was filled. She found her circle of friends, even found Mackenzie's circle, but he himself was absent.

Lindy won the toss and chose first ball while Piper's anger steadily rose.

Coach congratulated Lindy and scowled at Piper. "Ward starts at center, Elias right wing, Ye left wing. Same midfielders as last practice. Makniack, you`re stopper, Singleton and Laureicella on defense…" Piper tuned out the words that distracted her concentration. She didn't need him. She really shouldn't have been so co-dependent. Co-dependency required a reliable partner, something that in no way described Mackenzie. "Team on three!"

"1." He made fun of her when she wanted to be a ballerina in kindergarten resulting in her active participation in male dominated sports to teach him a lesson. It was anatomically and politically acceptable that girls can do anything boys can do. And that she could do anything he could do… only better.

"2." He had the same determination as her, the same need to dominate one's opponent. It was an innate behavior for him, the way his chemical makeup reacted to a dare in grade school, or a challenge between guys. His drive was uncontrollable even to him; he let his emotions handle him in a way that boggled her. His impulse drove every move he made: no calculations, no regrets, just continuous motion.

"3." But even as impetuous and rash he was, she respected him. He annoyed her off the field… hell even on the field when they had their impromptu games, but she respected his strength.

"Team!" Behind her the team rallied vigorously and cheered noisily, something she didn't understand. To Piper there was no reason to celebrate until defeat was splattered on the faces of the Sweet Home High Schools' players.

The team ran out, strategically placing themselves. Piper silently found her the position to the right of the center circle, as Meghan Elias took the center position. A quick glance between the two spoke levels, along with a quick hand gesture by the left wingman, Fandi Ye.

Ready, set, play hard. The whistle shrieked; audible over the rambunctious chatter and cheering of the crowd, calling the start of the first game of the season. In a fluid motion like that of a seasoned dancer, Meghan twirled to pass the ball to the stopper. Her feet switched positions so quickly, the middle of her foot scooping the underside of the ball, giving it the height desired. Catching the flying missile in the air with the top of her foot, Nikki Singleton cushioned the speed pulling her foot downwards as the ball settled on the laces of her cleats.

Seconds after the initial shock wore off, their opponents began to play defense. A red haired girl with a crooked smile to match crooked teeth charged after Nikki. "PC!"

Piper raced to an open spot and caught Nikki's high pass with her chest. Letting the ball roll down her body and ignoring the small pain in her chest, she immediately surveyed the weaknesses and strengths in her opponent's formation. With some quick calculations, Piper passed the ball with a cross over followed by a fake right to Meghan.

Steadily, her team moved toward their goal, the defense staying just far enough back to catch any outliers but close enough to be of use.

The ball continued to pass back and forth between players creating invisible geometrical shapes in the grass. It traced triangles from Meghan to Piper to Nikki, and the letter Z in between Piper and Meghan.

The ball rolled to Piper like it was lead there on a string. With a strong and well-evaluated kick, the ball landed high in the right corner of the left handed goalie's net.

The crowd roared as freshmen boys lifted their shirts to reveal the school's initials painted on their skinny torsos, and the score board lit up.

Madison: 1 Sweet Home: 0

The game continued like the first play. Shapes graced the Madison High's field running circles around their rivals.

Madison: 2 Sweet Home: 0

Meghan's bicycle kick. Piper's fake out. Nikki's high flyer. Home field advantage never tasted as good as when victory was laying on the home front.

Madison: 5 Sweet Home: 0

The girls ran in as their subs were called. This time Piper invited the cheers and coodling of her teammates. This was something to celebrate.

Sweat dripped down her brow, whetting her appetite for the game. She pulled her jersey up to wipe the sweat and in the distance cat calls and hyena whoops were heard as her midriff was exposed. With water in her system, she came back to earth, slowing coming of the high playing gave her.

"What the hell was that out there?" Wait… did she really hear that right? Coach was bitching at her, with this score?

"Coach C. Are you serious?" Stepping up, she questioned him. She was sick of his Barney attitude and would appreciate if her coach would grow a pair some time in the next quarter. "The score—"

"The score means nothing when you are all out there bouncing around the ball and prancing back and forth. It is how you represent yourselves as players and as individuals." Coach Cameron faced each one of the girls; his voice was loud enough even for the stands to catch his furious tone. "Acting like you own every inch of that field and the ball on top of it won't do you any good when you meet your match. Play like you are losing; play like this is the last game of the season. Stop dancing around and doing tricks and play the damn game!"

"Yes, Coach…" Was heard from various girl, most of whom were on the bench for the first quarter. Piper remained quiet, too furious to speak. It would be pointless when she could simply focus her frustration on the ball for the next half.

The whistle blew, signaling the end of the time out as Coach Cameron bellowed, "PC, stay out for the quarter."

Meghan, Nikki, and the girls on the team stopped short, and the fans in the crowd howled in confusion and disappointment. Piper could hear Casey in the crowd yelling profanities along with all of the painted freshmen boys.

No one moved from the huddle even as the whistle blew again, more urgently. "Go!"

Hesitation was written on the face of every girl on the south side of Madison's soccer pitch. Piper redirected her aggression in a heavy whisper. "Are you kidding me?"

Ignoring Piper, Coach Cameron made his orders. "Girls, get on the field! Lowell, take right forward."

"Who do you think you are?" Stepping up to him, Piper unsuccessfully tried to reign in her anger. "Do you realize what you have done?"

"I am the coach. Not you, PC. I am sick of your attitude thinking that you are entitled to anything. You have shown me nothing but arrogance, egotism, and insensitivity." He bent at the waist to face her in the eyes. They were a cold blue that dared her to defy him. "Get off the field!"

"I am entitled because I am the best. This is soccer 'Coach', not Girl Scouts." Refusing to back down, she flicked her hand, gesturing for the girls to play without her. They complied without hesitation.

"Say one more thing and you are on the bench for the rest of the season." His golden hair was tousled from running his hands through it. Pieces were sticking straight up in the air, and all Piper wanted to do was grab him and slam his head onto the railings. "Get out of my face."

With a deathly glare, Piper walked to the bench and shoved the water jug to the ground not caring about the mess she made as water spilled from the broken container.

Everyone who noticed the commotion on the field was in astonishment at Piper's antics. Known for her talent and for her cool exterior, she always remained calm and controlled at all times. She thought before she acted.

The next quarter went by in a horrific fashion. Lousy timing, bad passing, no communication; it was a disaster.

Madison: 5 Sweet Home: 8

Coach was as frustrated as Piper, but continued his refusal to put her in. It was official: the universe and whom- or whatever ran it hated her. First the ground breaking news this morning and now this? It was like someone was actually trying to ruin her life on purpose. She was putting her bets on Coach.

The game dragged on slowly, goal after goal flying undeflected into the Madison's net. Missed passes after weak execution lead to the downfall of the first game of the season.

Madison: 8 Sweet Home: 12

The crowd sank into their seats as the girls lined up to give handshakes to the other team. Whispers ran rapid trying to figure out why the best player spent the entire game sitting on the bench as the team went to change.

Embarrassed at her team's failure Piper packed her bag with her head down. Ripping off her shin guards, she stuffed them into her duffle bag. When the zipper got stuck, she gave up and threw her bag to one of the girls to fix.

A quick glance gave her the location of Coach Cameron (who is now officially Coach Douchebag). Making a beeline for him, Piper was intercepted by Lindy, the number one reason for their failure as a team today.

"I'm sorry for today, but Coach said to have an apology ready for tomorrow or…" She began to fidget.

"Melinda!" Piper's patience was wearing thin.

"Or he would reserve a place on the bench for you. Permanently." Lindy moved quickly from her, realizing Piper wasn't above killing the messenger.

Without raising her voice, Piper's voice carried over the drivel and small talk. "Meeting tomorrow before school, girls."

Taking the bag from her teammate, Piper strolled off the field and out to the fence. Casey met up with her on her arrival from the locker rooms with a look of absolute perplexity. "What was that?"

"What was what?" Piper looked at her best friend whose freckled faced was buried underneath coats of green and yellow paint. The only thing recognizable as Casey was her green eyes peeking out from charcoal rimmed lids.

"That display of… Mackenzie actually." Casey paused her evaluation as Piper greeted parents and relayed the failures with other teammates from different schools. "So much… emotion. It was so insane."

"Yea, well, finding out that Mackenzie Tosh is moving in next week will do that to a person." Piper felt the scream before she heard it; felt the intake of air and the gasping sound that accompanied it.

"What? You're lying." Casey grabbed onto Piper's hand. Soft skin met coarse calluses.

"This is not something to lie about, Case." Piper turned to confide in her friend when movement and a chill ran up her spine caught her attention. Oh hell. "Excuse me."

"Wait, PC, he—" Any and all words were lost upon Piper at that moment.

He was in the same position, same location as earlier before the worst lost of her high school career. His tie was loosened with lip gloss on the corner of collar. It was a whore colour too, Piper observed. Cherry Crush, his ex girlfriend's shade.

"Just tell me if it was on purpose." The crowd died down to a few dozen, mostly her teammates and friends. Her father and boyfriend were absent and Casey watched from their circle of friends. "Shitting in my bathroom isn't enough; you want to shit on my life too?"

"Don't be conceited; you—"

"—don't minimize this!" She spoke slightly above a whisper. "Did you do this on purpose? Why weren't you there?"

"I'll answer that when you tell me why you resent our new arrangement so much." He got into her face, his nose almost touching hers. She was getting tired of men getting in her face. Moving to the side, she found herself being slammed into the fence, her body being held to the wire with his hand on her arm. "Don't give me bullshit about the logistics of the situation."

Their friends didn't bat an eye at the manhandling. It was 'foreplay', according to Casey. Foreplay, her ass.

"It is absurd!" Reaching to free her arm, her right arm was held captive as well in a quick battle.

"The thought of living with me is so absurd that you throw away your first game of the season?" His voice rose octaves in intensity as his face inched closer. He knew the quickest way to piss her off was to invade her space or to take control away from her; both of which he'd mastered in grade school.

"I didn't throw away anything." Throwing her shoulder into his chest, she struggled against him. That caught the eye of their friends. Usually Piper stood still and acted unaffected by Mackenzie's rugged masculinity, but here she was putting up a fight.

A hand on Mackenzie's shoulder materialized. William's face popped up from around Mackenzie's broad shoulders. Releasing her, Mackenzie backed up bumping into him, slamming his own shoulder into William's.

"Mac, dude, it was just a game."

"Bill, it is never just a game." The answer was addressed to William, but Mackenzie's fiery eyes never left Piper's. "How would you feel if I slammed your guitar on asphalt?" William gasped. "That's how she is feeling."

"Oh, babe, you want ice cream?" She hated ice cream.

"She hates ice cream." Mackenzie offered.

"Go dribble a puck. I can take care of my girlfriend."

Mackenzie and William had never gotten along. Mackenzie couldn't respect anyone who'd rather play instruments than play on the field, while William hated jocks who measured themselves by stats and referred to him as 'Bill'.

Flipping him off, Mackenzie left with his friends. William rested his arm on her shoulder, "I hate that guy."

There was a hesitation that was never there before; that never had a reason to be there. She wanted to defend, to excuse, to disagree.

He wasn't even in her house yet and he was ruining her life.

"Yeah, me too."