Stories from Lightport, Massachusetts
More stories from your favorite characters in The Front Row Series
Stories from Lightport, Massachusetts
More stories from your favorite characters in The Front Row Series
Hannah sent up a prayer of thanks when her father told her goodbye without even glancing up from his newspaper. She darted out of the garage door and slid into the passenger seat of Kate’s car, her heart pounding. Nevertheless, she grinned at her sister, who rolled her eyes in response.
“You got out of the house without him seeing you,” Kate pointed out dryly, “but what about mom when you come home?”
Hannah smoothed the plaid mini skirt that barely covered her thighs. She’d forgotten that her mom worked half days on Mondays.
“I’ll make a beeline for my room?”
Kate snorted. “It’s your first day of high school. Mom’s gonna bake something and corner you the minute you walk through the door.”
Hannah slunk down in her seat and turned her face away from her sister. She couldn’t really think about Mom right now - starting high school had her nervous enough already. What was so wrong about wanting to dress a little bit older?
When they arrived at the high school, Hannah walked quickly away from her sister, intently studying her class schedule. The last thing she wanted was people thinking she needed Kate to hold her hand all day. She had Algebra I first period, so she headed for the math building.
She was so nervous about getting the room number wrong, she wasn’t watching where she was going. Suddenly, she collided with a solid figure and went careening backwards. She tried to steady herself, but the weight of her backpack threw her off balance. The next thing she knew, she was sprawled on the ground. To her mortification, her mini skirt flew up, flashing the entire hallway with her blue, flowery panties. Loud laughter, whistles, and hoots surrounded her as she struggled to her knees, pulling her mini skirt back down with shaking hands. Her face flamed and tears pricked her eyes. She kept her gaze trained on the scuffed tile floor, unsure if she could ever face her classmates in this crowded hallway.
One laugh stood out from the rest because it was so familiar, and a hand appeared in her line of vision. Hannah scowled as she took it, and Micah Barrett helped her to her feet.
“What the hell are you wearing, Carrots?” he asked her, laughter still coloring his words.
Her head jerked up, anger filling her at the old nickname and his condescending tone. When she saw the boy standing next to Micah, however, she wanted the floor to open up and swallow her. He was taller than Micah and broader across the shoulders, yet lithe and fit. His face was narrow, with an aristocratic nose and sparkling green eyes. His blonde hair was on the long side, some of it falling almost in his eyes. He tossed his head as he laughed, and she was even more mesmerized by that hair.
“Isaiah here forgets to look out for baby freshmen,” Micah said, jerking a thumb towards his friend. “Thinks he’s on the football field everywhere he goes.”
Of course he was a football player; he looked like he just stepped out of the movie Varsity Blue.
“Fresh meat, you mean,” Isaiah said, giving her a full once over with his gaze.
She knew this mini skirt would pay off.
“Gross!” Micah’s face contorted with disgust. “Hannah’s like a sister - so no fresh meat jokes, God!”
“Shut up!” Hannah snapped, her face flaming once again.
“No joke, Hannah,” Micah told her, his eyes rolling, “you look ridiculous in that outfit. This is high school, not Clueless.”
Isaiah threw his head back and laughed. “I guess Halloween came early.”
The tears Hannah had been holding back suddenly burst forth. Micah looked alarmed and even sorry, but she shoved past him. Isaiah’s laughter continued to follow her down the hallway. Could this day get any worse?
She found the right math classroom, took a deep breath, wiped the tears off her cheeks, and stepped through the door. She scanned the desks, hoping to find an open one near the back where she could hide. Her gaze landed on one in the back right corner, and she headed in that direction. Across the aisle from the empty desk, sat a familiar figure.
Beau Rockport hadn’t grown in height since the sixth grade, but he had grown in girth. He had endured teasing for being chubby for the past three years, and his wardrobe did nothing to help him. His blue Wrangler jeans, tucked in western shirt, and big belt were just begging for mockery. He was also in desperate need of a new haircut. When was someone going to tell him that bowl cuts were only cute when you were ten?
Nevertheless, she was relieved to see a familiar face. She smiled at him, and he smiled back as she took her seat. It only took a moment, however, for his smile to morph into a concerned frown.
“Are you okay?”
She shrugged as she bent her knees carefully to deposit her bookbag on the floor beside her desk. No one was going to see her panties again today, thank you very much. She sat and tugged her skirt down as far as it would go. Beau was still studying her face, worry knitting his brow.
“Seriously, I’m fine,” she assured him. “It’s just not easy starting high school, you know?”
His face relaxed into a sheepish grin. “That’s true.”
Hannah was unable to contain an audible gasp when she saw someone enter the classroom over Beau’s shoulder. Micah’s friend Isaiah filled the doorway with confident swagger. His eyes landed on hers, and he laughed as he winked. She felt her cheeks burn yet again, and swung her gaze to study the scratched desk in front of her.
“Hey, fresh meat.”
Hannah lifted her eyes to see Isiah swinging his legs to straddle the seat in front of her. Her heart beat triple time.
“You know this guy?” Beau asked.
Isaiah’s gaze swung to the younger boy, and a mocking grin filled his face. “What’s it to you, cowboy?”
Several kids around them laughed, and Isaiah’s grin grew even broader. Hannah kept herself from looking over at Beau. Someone mooed, then even more laughter filled the room. Several others joined the mooing, but before it got too out of hand, the bell rang and the teacher entered the room.
“I don’t know what all this noise is,” she announced sternly, “but it ends now. Isaiah, face the front please. If you want to pass this class the second time around, I suggest you pay attention.”
Several people chuckled at her comment, but it didn’t seem to phase Isaiah as he turned and faced the front, lounging carelessly with his feet sticking out in the aisle. As the teacher began to pass out the class syllabus, Hannah finally chanced a glance at Beau.
His head was down, his cheeks were red, and Hannah thought she saw a tear shimmering on the end of his long lashes. A part of her wanted to say something to him, to make him feel better. After all, she’d been in his place only minutes ago. However, her desire to fit in overwhelmed her. She couldn’t risk Isaiah thinking she was in the same social class as Beau.
So she ignored the boy who had been her friend since she was four, ignoring the soft voice deep inside that told her there was a better way.
Hannah’s day had been uneventful since Algebra, but now she was enduring the walk of shame across the cafeteria. She held her tray in a white knuckled grip, dread forming a hard ball in her stomach as she scanned the room. She saw her sister and her friends, but Hannah didn’t want to rely on Kate. She saw Micah sitting with Isaiah, the two boys laughing and exuding confidence. Yes, she grew up with Micah, but her attraction to Isaiah made her too nervous to approach them. Not to mention he’d seen her underwear earlier.
“Hey,” a voice said next to her, “you go to church with Micah, right?”
Hannah turned and saw a beautiful girl standing next to her, also holding a cafeteria tray. She looked older than the average high school girl, with curves accentuated by a low-cut, tight shirt and low-waist jeans. Her wavy black hair cascaded over her shoulders, and her gray eyes were outlined with thick makeup. Dark lipstick stained her lips, which were turned up in a slightly cynical smile. Yet her words and her gaze seemed sincere.
“Yeah, I do,” she answered. “I’m younger, though. A baby freshman, as Micah would say, and believe me, I’ve felt like a baby today. I mean, I fell on my butt like the first ten minutes, and I thought this outfit was really cute when I put it on this morning, but now I’m not so sure, and I have no one to eat lunch with.”
Hannah took a deep breath, then gave the girl standing before her a sheepish grin.
“And, uh, did I mention I have no filter? Like, I just say stuff without thinking, and some people think I talk way too much. That, and the red hair, is why Micah calls me Carrots. You know, like Anne of Green Gables? Have you seen that movie? Sorry, you probably don’t know that movie.”
The girl laughed, but it was friendly, not teasing. “Yeah, I know that movie. You know what, I like you. You make me laugh. What’s your name?”
Grounded. Hannah was grounded. For sneaking out of the house wearing something inappropriate. It was ridiculous and unfair.
Her sister had been right. Hannah walked through the garage door into the kitchen, and there her mother stood with a welcoming grin and a plate of brownies. The grin had quickly slid from Gretchen Anderson’s face, however, when she saw what her daughter was wearing.
Well, Hannah was dressed appropriately now. Jeans and a t-shirt. She hadn’t really cared what she wore to the youth group back to school kickoff. Not after the huge fight with her mom.
Her plate of pepperoni sat untouched in her lap. Her first day of high school had been a complete disaster.
“Hey, can I sit here?”
Hannah looked up to see Beau standing there, balancing a plate of pizza and a can of soda. He hadn’t changed his clothes from when she’d seen him in Algebra class. Hannah had two thoughts as she looked up into his familiar and kind face. The first one was awe that he didn’t seem to care that people made fun of his clothes. The second thought was that she didn’t deserve his friendly greeting. She hadn’t stood up for him when everyone had teased him, yet here he stood, smiling down at her.
“Sure,” she told him, gesturing to the seat next to her.
He sat, took a sip of his drink, then turned to her. “How’d your day go?”
She rolled her eyes. “Well, let’s see, I showed the entire school my underwear, I stood in the middle of the cafeteria like an idiot not knowing where to sit, and I got grounded. I’d say it sucked.”
In typical Beau fashion, he was quiet for a long moment before he spoke.
“I wish we had the same lunch. I would have sat with you.”
She scoffed. “Just like Micah’s girlfriend, pitying me.”
Beau spoke softly under his breath. “Believe me, it isn’t pity.”
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I am a former English teacher turned homeschool mom of three who writes Christian romance novels on the side. You know, in my huge amount of spare time.