When Drix was convicted of a crime--one he didn't commit--he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the new Second Chance Program, the governor's newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.
Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor's daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn't may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.
When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle's parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix's messy life.
But sometimes love can breach all barriers.
Fighting against a society that can't imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves--Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence--and each other to finally get what they deserve.
The red light in front of me flashes, bells ring, and I raise my arms in the air, savoring my victory. I even mimic the dance I performed in my limited and excruciatingly failed days as a cheerleader for Pee Wee football by slightly swinging my hips side to side.
I split my “v,” I dot my “I,”, I curl my “ctory”. Pee Wee football cheer taught me I not only lacked rhythm, but I lacked enthusiasm for my team when it was thirty degrees and raining. But in my defense, how many six-year-olds love cold rain?
The group next to me toss their padded mallets on to the game. Only one groans as if their loss was monumental. The rest laugh and good naturally tease each other. They’ve been fun to beat. For three games in a row, these two rugged guys and two girls have hung with me. Three times digging into their pockets to ante up, three times we’ve trash-talked the other in ways that are only done on fair midways, three times each one bites the dust.
Whack-A-Mole is not for the faint at heart. This game is for the serious, and only the serious win, and I’m a serious type of girl when it comes to carnival games and hard-earned stuffed animals. Someone’s got to play and win, and it’s going to be me.
For a few minutes I forgot I had to be perfect, and being just me felt great.
“Good game.” One girl of the group offers me her fist, and the multiple bracelets on her wrist clank. She’s my age, has curly black hair in tight rings, and friendly dark eyes. Her clothes, I love. Tight jeans, a tank that ends at her middriff and a jeweled chain around her flat, brown stomach that’s attached to her belly button ring. She has a daring grin and style. Both I admire.
I’m not the type to fist-bump, and by how long I’ve hesitated, the girl’s aware this is out of my territory. I finally do fist-bump her though, because I’m not only highly competitive, but I rarely back down from a challenge. For those reasons alone, it’s amazing my mother lets me out of the house. “Good game.”
Her grin widens, and I hold my breath as she tilts her head in that familiar déjà vu. I silently pray for her to shake it off, and when she does, turning so she can talk to her friends, I blow out a relieved breath.
Most of her group appears to be the same age as her, about the same age as me, except one guy who I’d hedge is in his twenties. By the way they all listen when he talks, it’s apparent he has their respect.
I watch them longer than I should because a part of me envies the way they all seem to belong to each other. Henry is twenty-four and loves me, but about the only thing we have in common is my parents, and he hasn’t talked to them in two years.
The carnie clears his throat, and I’m drawn back to the sounds of people laughing on rides and the scent of popcorn. I offer the pink-and-black striped medium snake I’ve already won to him and motion with my index finger that I’m on the hunt for the massive, big daddy snake that could wrap around my body a few times. To the victor goes the spoils.
The carnie doesn’t accept my medium snake and instead hands me a green-and-black striped small one. “You have to win four times in a row in order to get the big one.”
Four times. Good God. At five dollars a game, I could have bought five of these hardened toys, but that’s not the point. Winning is the actual prize.
I pull my cell out of the small purse I have crossed over my body. I ignore Andrew’s “Where are you?” texts and check the time. I’ve got an hour to make it back to the convention center, change and be ready for Dad’s press conference where it is my job to sit, smile and “look pretty.”
If I’m really careful, there won’t be time for my mother to berate me for taking off without Andrew. He’s a friend of the family a few years older than me, and my mother chose him to “babysit” me for the afternoon. She allowed me to go to the midway with the understanding I was to tag along with him. But I don’t like Andrew and Andrew doesn’t like me, so I turned right while he walked left and neither of us looked back to see if the other was following. Maybe Andrew will rat me out that I abandoned him. Maybe he won’t. Either way, I’m happy with my choices.
Any way I look at it, I have time for at least one more game. I flip my blond hair over my shoulder and give a tempting grin that’s meant to rub it in that I not only won, but won three times in a row. “You know you guys want to play again.”