An Excerpt from a Novel by Tracy Stewart
Emerald gasped, fighting her way out of the memory. Her eyes opened. Her heart beat fast in her chest as her hands covered her eyes from the sunlight. She realized she must have fallen asleep in the Audi for a minute. She hoped her mother hadn’t noticed.
It had been one month since her parents’ home in Alessandria, Italy, was destroyed and her father’s colleague, Carter Mendez, was murdered. Her father somehow survived the knife in his chest. She remembered him telling her it wasn’t as bad as it looked and that she must have dreamed half of what happened. She still wasn’t sure if she believed him. She thought it was a blessing that they didn’t all die that day.
Suddenly, there was a hand on her shoulder, pulling her out of her memories. Emerald jumped away, startled.
“Emerald, are you okay? Did I scare you?” her mother asked.
“No. I’m fine, Mom. I haven’t been sleeping well. That’s all.” She shivered and wondered why her parents had picked St. Petersburg, Russia, for their new home. She understood they had to move, but why couldn’t they pick someplace like America, Spain, Greece, or at least someplace warm? She hated the cold.
Emerald’s mother picked up the newspaper that lay on the seat between them. She looked out the tinted window and noticed a tall white-brick building up ahead. A sign in front of the building said, International Academy of St. Petersburg. The Audi stopped, making her stomach twist into knots.
“Everything will be okay, honey. This high school is full of charming people.” Her mother patted Emerald on the back.
“There’s no need to worry. Besides, Tanya will be there to keep you company.”
That was true. Her best friend would be there with her, at least. Hopefully, they had lots of classes together. “Right, just happy thoughts.” Emerald nodded slowly, even though her nerves continued to eat away at her insides. Her mother leaned over and enveloped Emerald in a hug, surprising her. She wasn’t sure why she was so nervous. It was only high school. Emerald pulled away and quickly grabbed her book bag before her mother embarrassed her even more.
“Do you want me to come with you and show you where the office is so you can get your schedule?” her mother offered.
“No, I’ll be fine,” Emerald said.
“Well, have a great day, sweetheart.”
Their driver, Viktor, opened the door before Emerald could. “Bye, Mom. Thanks, Viktor.” He nodded, then shut the door and walked back to the driver’s side. Emerald waved good-bye to her mother as the Audi drove off, leaving her to her fate.
Emerald forced herself to turn around and face the school. She frowned as two students bumped into her. “Excuse you,” she said, but they ignored her completely and kept walking. She scowled, tempted to chase them down and tell them they didn’t have good manners. She looked toward the entrance, noticing a few cheerleaders in uniform, everyday fashion-snobs, a groupie-wannabe and a couple of jocks. She was heading toward the school entrance when she saw a tall boy in a baseball jacket push a boy wearing glasses against the wall.
“Watch it, geek boy. Nerds don’t get to stand on this side of the steps. If you can’t learn that, I’ll toss you in a trashcan,” the tall boy said.
Emerald watched him grab the frightened boy by the collar and drag him over to a trashcan, lifting him off his feet. Her hands clenched as she made her way over.
The baseball player started to drop the boy in the trashcan when Emerald pulled him back causing the boy to fall on his back. The boy in the glasses plunked down next to him, looking surprised.
Emerald glared down at the stunned jock. She knew she shouldn’t have kicked his feet out from under him, but she hated bullies. “I hope you learn your lesson from this.”
A couple of the other students laughed. “Taken down by a girl, Larry, and I recorded it all,” a boy wearing a fencing jacket said. He had a cellphone aimed at Larry.
Larry sat up and glared at the boy. “You better erase that, Boris, or I’ll hang you on the flagpole.” Boris kept recording, then ran as Larry chased after him.