YA Contemporary Thriller
I didn’t have a choice; Riley Hebert’s tires weren’t going to slash themselves.
It’s not like I’m a bad person, okay? I’m not. Not really. But Riley Hebert doesn’t need a full academic scholarship to pay for college. Riley Hebert doesn’t need the most impressive internship a high school kid can score in order to have a life after high school. Riley Hebert doesn’t need the Energy Vision Leaders Corporation internship to get out of podunk Poteau, Oklahoma. And I do.
I really, really do.
So, yeah . . . I rendered his mom’s tires a little useless just before he needed to leave for his internship interview last month.
I won’t—however—admit to adding something special to his cherry limeade at the burger drive-in where I carhop. And definitely not the night before his interview. Still, I’m fairly comfortable guessing his stomach spent the next twelve hours acting like a closeout sale: everything must go.
Don’t judge me.
I had to get out of Poteau for the summer. Scratch that; I have to get out of Poteau. Forever. If Riley Hebert wants out, he won’t have a problem. He has money, and an actual family. Me? I have a dad who never gets off the couch and a delinquent younger brother whose future will undoubtedly be highlighted by a parole officer and court appearances.
But if all goes as planned, my future will also include the legal system.
I’ve wanted to be an attorney since my school’s fifth grade field trip to the LeFlore County courthouse. While the idiots in my class were either (1) giving each other purple nurples or, (2) giggling madly at said nurpling, I snuck away and peaked in one of the courtrooms. The woman speaking to the jury had the entire court’s attention and—more than that—their respect. She had authority, and confidence, and pale red hair, just like mine, only pinned up and beautiful.
I knew I needed to make that my future. And I can’t become a lawyer without law school, and I can’t go to law school without an undergraduate degree, and I can’t pay for undergrad without a full academic scholarship. Full academic scholarships are rare anymore, what with colleges getting so excited to grant complete scholarships to low-functioning but athletically gifted chimps. That’s great that they can catch, or throw, or do whatever with a ball. I don’t care. If being great with balls were all it took to be an exemplary college student, half the girls in my junior class would be heading to the Ivy League after graduation next year.
But me? My grades are perfect. My ACT score is inspiring. My social life is so dead it would make a zombie look lively. I am the perpetual student.
But somehow, someway, Riley Hebert also managed to swing an interview with Energy Vision Leaders Corporation for their coveted summer internship program. When I found out, my wrists nearly slit themselves.
If only his tires could have done the same.
Now, on paper? Riley Hebert is my bitch. If you compare our grades, our test scores, our pre-interview essays, we almost seem like two different species. But in person? I can’t compete with that guy. Not in an interview. He’s Student Council Vice President. He’s dating a cheerleader. He has dimples. Dimples.
I had to make sure he didn’t make it to his interview, or at the very least showed up seriously late and not feeling like his amazing, charming, dimpled self. Like I said, I didn’t have a choice.
Besides, without having to spend the summer interning at Energy Vision Leaders Corporation, Riley will be able to put in more quality time with things he holds dear. You know, like his Xbox, and his girlfriend’s virginity.
Really, I did him a favor.
. . .
“Dude, turn this up.”
Anyone desperate enough to attempt a road trip with my brother and his friends needs to be prepared to battle their way through the five stages of grief.
This isn’t going that badly. Yes, I am surrounded by three smelly teenage boys in a poorly air-conditioned car in ninety-degree weather. Yes, they happen to be screeching a rap song that debuted so long ago my brother was still wetting the bed when it was popular. Yes, they think they are rollin’, and someone is hatin’, but no one is actually trying to catch them ridin’ dirty. Truly, this drive isn’t as bad as I thought it would be.
“TELL YOUR BURNOUT FRIEND IF HE SWEATS ON MY OUTFIT AGAIN I’M GOING TO MAKE A CHANGE PURSE OUT OF HIS SCROTE THAT HE CAN CARRY HIS WEED IN!”
If only I’d spent the money I used on clothes for my internship on a cab ride there instead. Then I could have had more than two hours in a cold, silent car to get my head together before orientation. I swear, if I can just make it through this drive without racking up a felony assault charge, I will never again ask my brother or his friends for a favor.
My brother’s friend is seventeen and has yet to pass sophomore English, yet he has a car and a license. My brother is such a loser he sells my dad’s OxyContin at school, but he still has a million friends. All three guys in this car have hooked up at least once with a girl, even if quality wasn’t the priority.
I’m years away from being able to buy a car, I can’t think of a single person who honestly considers me their friend, and I haven’t kissed a guy since seventh grade.
(Maverick, yes, Maverick. And that’s not my brother’s nickname; it’s his actual name. A clear indicator our parents hated us both from birth.)
“Maverick, you guys absolutely do not need to walk me in, okay? Stay in the car.”
Per the norm, my little brother wasn’t listening to me.
“What is this place again?” he asked, stepping out of the car with a confused look on his face. He leaned against the old Camaro and dumbly-eyed Energy Vision Leaders’ corporate campus. “What kinda job did you score?”
It’s not often that I’m able to really see things from Maverick’s perspective, but I had to admit the company’s headquarters were seriously impressive. I’ve never been to Disneyland, but I’m pretty sure it’s not as cool as Energy Vision Leaders’ corporate campus.
It was only a few miles west of downtown Tulsa—not much more than a two-hour drive from my unfortunate hometown of Poteau—but driving onto that property was like stepping through a wardrobe and finding yourself in Narnia. There were acres upon acres of lush green lawns, perfectly pruned flowers, and fountains that looked like a deity had carved them into the landscape. Brick buildings rose stories in the air, with marble signs in front of each sprawling tower to label its purpose and function. We were parked near a gleaming sign identifying the Administration and Human Resources building, and even the reasonably cool car looked shabby in such immaculate surroundings.
“Just pop the trunk, okay?” I half-asked, half-ordered the boys. “I’ll grab my bags and you guys can get out of here, get back to your general jackassery and such.”
“Seriously, though, Moxie. What is this place?” my brother urged. As always, I hated hearing my name.