Cold Blood

Cold Blood by Heather Hildenbrand Read Free Book Online

Book: Cold Blood by Heather Hildenbrand Read Free Book Online
Authors: Heather Hildenbrand
sure, but I didn’t. I’d made the decision to trust someone on the basis of a dimple, and I couldn’t turn back now.
    The air was cooler in the cover of the trees. I was glad I still had my hoodie and pulled it tighter across my abdomen and zipped it up. I glanced up at the thick green canopy of leaves – mostly pine needles –and branches that dimmed the sunlight. The contrast of the rich green against the brown bark was mesmerizing. I breathed in deeply, and the scent of dirt and moss filled my head. It made me think of Wes and the goodbye we’d had in the trees behind my house.
    Wanting to push the image away, I turned my attention back to the path in front of me and saw that the trees were breaking up ahead. Logan stepped off the path and pushed his way through light bushes, into a clearing. I stepped through behind him and saw that he hadn’t deceived me after all. The rest of the class was all assembled, broken into little groups and talking and laughing.
    “ Thanks,” I said.
    “ Don’t mention it. Sucks being the new kid,” said Logan.
    “ How do you know?”
    “ I was it last year. Not fun. I had to buy new underwear five times. Eventually I just carried it in my backpack so they couldn’t get to it.”
    I looked at him with wide eyes, unable to bring myself to ask why he’d needed new underwear. Maybe I didn’t want to know.
    Behind us, Professor Flaherty appeared with an armload of files and notebooks. She dropped it all onto the ground with a thud and picked up the stopwatch lying on the top of the pile.
    “ All right, everyone. Find your sparring partners,” she called.
    The cliques broke up and everyone lined up, pairing up in a way that let me know they’d done this before. Logan moved away and went to stand in front of a boy with skinny jeans and a purple tee shirt with a picture of black piano keys trailing diagonally across the fabric. He looked bored, but Logan shot me a dimpled grin and crouched into a ready position. I stood back near the edge of the clearing, waiting to see what would happen next. Professor Flaherty came up beside me.
    “ Tara, I understand you’ve never had any proper combat or self-defense training, so for today, I will allow you to observe. By Monday I expect you to be ready to join the class.” She turned to face the rest of the class without waiting for an answer. “Jeremy, you can call it today."
    A blond boy with big arms stepped forward and then turned to face the rest of his classmates. Geez, was everyone here pretty? Professor Flaherty waited until Jeremy was in place and then called out, “Warm ups. Begin.”
    I started to argue and tell her that I didn’t need to watch; that despite my lack of training, I could handle myself just fine. That I’d had proper training, because Jack was a better fighter than half the people here, probably. Then I saw the rest of the class begin to move, and I realized how petty and dumb I would’ve sounded.
    Instead of ripping into each other in mock combat, they stood facing front and in perfect harmony began moving their bodies. Jeremy called out various poses or positions and everyone responded by throwing their bodies that way. It looked like a combination of kung-fu and power yoga. I’d never seen anything like it. I clamped my mouth closed and watched.
    “ Forward thrust,” called Jeremy.
    In response, the entire class’ right fists shot out. Only, it wasn’t a normal punch. It looked graceful and powerful. Even their legs moved in sync as one came forward to balance the other, their knees bending in exactly the same place.
    “ Back block,” Jeremy called.
    Everyone’s hands thrust backward, bent at the elbows, accompanied by a collective grunt at the force put into the move. All I could do was stare, in fascination and dread. There was no way I’d be able to learn this crap in three days. They looked like the karate kid army.
    When the warm ups were over – and I knew they were because all movement

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