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First Comes Love
Emily Goodwin




I CURL MY  fingers into my palm, making a fist.



I look at the boy on the floor, the one who just seconds ago threw the first punch. It was a punch I easily caught and deflected, which was embarrassing enough for him as it is. He thought he would win this fight. I twisted his arm and hit him back, popping him square in the nose. Blood is dripping down his face and he’s scrambling away.

The small crowd that gathered around to watch the fight erupts into cheers. I smile, soaking it all in. I’ve been at this school a few weeks and already took down some mega-douche bully. I think. Maybe? I don’t care. This guy—I don’t even take the time to learn his name—wanted to fight.

And so did I.

“Fucking awesome,” Colin Winters says as I turn and walk away. He’s the first friend I made in this new town. “Josh deserved that. Hell, he’s deserved that for years.”

“Glad to be of assistance.” I shrug like it’s no big deal. And it’s not, not really. I’ve been in my fair share of fights … which is the reason I got expelled and am “starting over fresh,” as Mom calls it, in this new town in Michigan.

“Come on, let’s get out of here before Coach Cook catches you. We fucking need you for the game next week.”

I nod, actually excited to be part of the football team. That’s the best part of this fresh start so far. We go down the hall, joining a few other guys on the team.

“Noah Wilson!” a teacher calls out. Dammit. I roll my eyes and turn. “Principal’s office. Now.”

“I’ll meet up with you later,” I say to Colin and head to the office. Mrs. Jefferson’s door is closed, so I sit on a cushioned chair across from the secretary’s desk. I cross my arms and lean back, hoping I won’t be too late for practice.

Finally, Mrs. Jefferson emerges from her office. I already know the drill. She calls my mom—who doesn’t always show up—and we have a meeting to discuss my behavior and what I can do to fix it.

Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

It was this kind of shit that got me expelled from my old high school.

“We meet again, Mr. Wilson.”

“It’s your favorite part of the day, admit it,” I say with a grin.

Mrs. Jefferson raises and eyebrow and sighs. “Humor isn’t going to save you in the real world.”

I just shrug. It’s been six weeks at this new school and I’ve been to the principal’s office, uh … I’ve actually lost count. Fighting, talking out in class, not doing homework, the usual. I just don’t give a fuck.

They label me defiant, a troublemaker, the bad boy.

I can live with that.

But no one sees that it’s hard to give a fuck when no one gives a fuck about you. It’s been six weeks in this new town and I can count the number of times Mom’s had dinner with me on one hand.

Whatever. It is what it is and it’s been that way since Dad left. I’m used to it. Hell, I like it. I can do whatever I want, and she leaves me plenty of cash to get into trouble with.

Mrs. Jefferson looks at her watch—again—and then flicks her eyes to the door. Don’t hold your breath, lady. Mom’s going to be late … if she shows up at all. She got held up at work and missed the last meeting with the principal. There’s something sympathetic in Mrs. Jefferson’s eyes, and a small part of me wants to confess how lonely I am.

“She’s going to take her sweet time,” I huff. “Might as well get some of your other work done while you wait.”

Mrs. Jefferson gives me a tiny nod and disappears into her office. I lean back in the chair, cross my arms, and debate on closing my eyes and napping. Sleep isn’t something I’m doing much of lately. Not when I’ve been invited to party after party.

I’m sitting in front of the secretary’s desk, with a clear view of the front doors of the high school. A black SUV slows and my heart actually skips a beat. Mom’s here? She actually showed up within a reasonable amount of time?

The SUV rolls on and I catch the back bumper sticker that says the driver has a kid on the honor roll. Nope. That’s not my mother. I sigh and let my eyes close. A minute later the office door opens and closes. Someone walks in, gait slowing as they draw near me.

“Is this seat taken?”

I look up, breath catching when I see it’s her. Fuck, she’s beautiful. It’s my first thought.


Not hot or sexy, but beautiful. Her eyes are kind and gentle, like eyes I could stare into for hours while talking about anything and everything. She nervously bits her lip as she waits for my reply, warm eyes widening just a bit.

They’re the kind of eyes that can fill with lust in an instant, flicking up to me as I nail her.

I want to nail her.

I want to feel her, all of her. Now. I can’t help it.

“No, it’s not,” I finally say and move my books out of the way. She sets her stuff down and gracefully perches on the chair. “I haven’t seen you in here before,” I blurt, heart lurching as she takes a seat next to me.

What the fuck is wrong with me?

Maybe the better question is, what the fuck is wrong with her? Why is she making me nervous, turning me on just by sitting in the goddamn chair next to me?

“I’m not in trouble,” she says, then looks embarrassed. She’s not in trouble, but I am. Six weeks and I have that reputation already. And she knows it. She knows who I am.

Why does that excite me?

“Why are you here then?” I ask.

Her sea-green eyes run over me with a bit of familiarity that throws me off-guard. It’s not fair. She’s looking like she knows me by more than my rep. Yet I have no idea who she is. I don’t even know her name.

“I’m protesting.”

I don’t mean to laugh, but I do. She pushes her perfectly full lips into a pout. “Sorry,” I say, curbing my laughter. “You don’t look like someone who would throw a public fit.”

One of her eyebrows goes up and she pushes thick brown hair over her shoulder. “You don’t have to cause a scene to make a statement.”

“Yeah, true. What are you protesting?”

“The cats AP biology dissects,” she starts.

“Let me guess,” I interrupt, grinning, needing to say something because I had no idea advanced bio sliced up cats and the shock on my face doesn’t jive with the bad boy image I’ve decided to roll with. “You think it’s awful and want to put a stop to it?”

“Yes and no. I think it’s important to learn about the body, but I don’t think it should be a requirement. The less students who dissect cats, the less that have to die for the name of science.”

“That’s actually a really good point.”

“Thanks.” She smiles. “I hope Mrs. Jefferson thinks so too.”

“She might.” My mind races with something else to say, something intelligible that will make this girl want to keep talking to me. I should ask her name. I should tell her mine. I should say something, yet all I can do is stare at her beautiful face, unable to form a logical thought.





And I don’t know why. I don’t know why I’m reacting to her the way I am. This isn’t me. I don’t get tongue tied around chicks. I don’t worry what they think of me.

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