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Home > Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(8)

Pivot Point (Pivot Point #1)(8)
Author: Kasie West

“I’m not. Now I don’t have to make up some sorry excuse to talk to you.”

I’m confused. “Don’t you have man code?” I don’t know why I said it; it just flew out, but I can’t take it back.

“What do you mean?”

Now I have to explain and I don’t want to. I let myself get distracted for a moment by a backpack floating through the air in front of me. Eventually it lands in its owner’s arms, and I look over at Duke, who is waiting for me to speak. “You and Bobby are good friends.”

“Yes.”

“Bobby asked me to homecoming.”

“And you said no.”

“So don’t you have that thing where if your best friend likes a girl, she’s off-limits?”

“If every girl Bobby liked was off-limits, I’d never get to go out with anyone. The only girls Bobby restricts me from are those he’s kissed. You haven’t kissed him, right?”

“No!” At least not in my real life. I had in my Search, but Bobby didn’t know that. I feel my face go bright red.

Duke lowers his brow. “Are you sure?”

“Yes, I’m sure. I haven’t kissed him.”

“Well, then there you go. Man code does not apply.”

I’m trying my best not to be flattered, but it’s hard. This is Duke Rivers. He smiles, and I find myself smiling back.

“What do I have to do to get you to come to one of my games?”

“Play on a Norm team,” I say before thinking.

He tilts his head. “Really? So that’s what this is about? You don’t like people using their abilities to win at sports? Are you a Naturalist? Do you want us to merge with Normal society?”

We round a brick building and walk down a wide hall toward the parking lot. “No, not at all. I fully support abilities. People can use them to advance in any areas of their lives. I know mine has helped me. I can’t imagine life without abilities. I just personally find Para-football boring.”

“Ouch. So you want to see more bodies slamming into each other? Is that it? Wait,” he says, before I can answer. “Are you telling me you regularly watch Norm football?”

“Not regularly.”

“This is getting worse. Tell me one thing: Have you ever seen me play?”

I rub my forehead. The welt has long since disappeared, but I wince for his sake.

He laughs and nudges my arm with his elbow. “That doesn’t count. I mean, in a game.”

“No. I haven’t been since my freshman year.”

The contagious smile is back on his face. “You’re not very good for my ego.”

“I think I’m perfect for your ego.” I smile sweetly.

“Addie, you’re a different girl, aren’t you?”

Rude. I try to nudge my shoulder into his arm, like he had done to me. Only it doesn’t work and the act of trying almost causes me to trip.

He reaches his hand out. “You okay?”

“Yeah.” I look over my shoulder, pretending to search for what tripped me.

“How has your ability helped you advance?” he asks.

“What?”

“You said earlier that you’re perfectly fine with people using their abilities to advance. You said yours has helped you. How?”

“Sometimes I’ll see which classes I’m better at, which projects work out better. Things like that.”

“So you’re Clairvoyant?”

“Oh.” I’m surprised because I assumed Bobby had told him my ability. “Yeah. Sort of.” My ability is actually called Divergence, which means extending in different directions from a common point. It was one of the first words I looked up back when I Presented. But I don’t feel like explaining that to Duke. I stopped correcting people a long time ago. Clairvoyance is a Time Manipulation ability as well, so close enough.

“With an ability like yours, you’ve probably never made a mistake in your life. You always know what you want.” He meets my eyes.

That’s mostly true. I generally know exactly what I want, and the steps I’m going to take to get it, but not necessarily because of my ability. “I don’t Search everything. I’ve made plenty of mistakes. But you’re right, I’ve avoided many.” Like Bobby, I want to say.

“Have you ever Searched me?”

“No. I’ve never had to make a choice regarding you.”

He stops abruptly, and I watch helplessly as Ray and Laila keep walking. He steps in front of me, putting his back to the ever-increasing distance between our friends and us. “What if I gave you a choice? How long would it take to Search it?”

“It depends on what it is,” I say, instantly nervous.

“Maybe I want to ask you out.”

“Don’t.” I grip tightly to the straps of my backpack and rock back on my heels a little.

“That was fast. What happened in the Search?”

“I didn’t look. Like I said, I don’t need to Search everything to know what I want.”

He takes a step closer and leans down. “I didn’t mean right now anyway. Just one day.”

My eyes dart to his lips and tingles spread down my neck. “I have a personal rule.”

“What’s that?”

“I refuse to kiss a guy who’s kissed more than five girls.”

He raises his eyebrows, a playful gleam coming into his eyes, and I realize what I just said. My cheeks catch fire.

“Date! I meant date!”

He laughs a deep throaty laugh. “That’s the most ridiculous rule I’ve ever heard. Did you make it up just now?”

I laugh. I had. But it was a good rule. If I had it before I met Bobby, it would’ve saved me a lot of trouble.

“That’s what I thought. But that’s okay. Keep the rule. It doesn’t affect me.”

I freeze in shock, trying to decide if I heard him right. The Duke is implying he hasn’t kissed more than five girls? Or maybe he’s saying he hasn’t dated more than five.

“That surprised, huh?”

I nod slowly.

“Duke!” Ray yells from where he and Laila have stopped by his truck.

Duke lifts his hand, acknowledging Ray, but doesn’t take his eyes off me. “Stick around. I’m full of surprises.” He turns and walks away. I watch Duke retreat, noticing the width of his shoulders and the confidence in his stride. It’s then I know I’m in trouble.

CHAPTER 8

eNOR-Mous: adj. really big

I stir around the last few Cheerios in my bowl, the effort required to fish them out one by one too hard to find on a Monday morning. When my dad walks in the kitchen he says, “Ready for your first day of school?” like he’s a contestant on a game show and the category is: Worst Things to Say to Your Teenager in the Morning.

“Tell me there’s a way to get some mind-expansion sessions or something.” I need at least that part of my morning ritual. It’s what usually wakes me up.

“It’s really hard to get Compound technology Outside. We’ll have to apply.”

“What? That rule extends to our programs as well? I might not get them?”

“You’ll be fine, Addie. You don’t need them. I never had that when I was a kid. I’ve always thought natural progression was the best for an ability anyway.”

Only because when he was a kid that’s all they had. But even way back then they did mind exercises to enhance their natural abilities. I stand and put my bowl in the sink.

“You’ll be fine, right?”

“Dad. It’s morning.”

He smiles and gives me a hug. “Okay, I get it. We’ll talk when you’re awake.”

“Thanks.”

At school my head is still buzzing. I feel lost in a huge sea of people. I’ve never seen a school so big. In the hallway before class I get herded right past my door. I turn around and swim upstream. If I were better at Thought Placement I could’ve forced the word move into the minds of those around me.

I pull over to the side of the hall and wait for the crowd to thin before I make it back to my classroom door. The number on the door is C14 and, even though I memorized it, I check it against the paper schedule in my hand twice to make sure I’m not about to walk into the wrong class. The schedule confirms it, C14 Government.

I took one semester of US Government a few years back, part of Norm-training, so I hope I can remember some of it.

I walk inside and hand the slip of paper to the teacher.

“Welcome,” he says. “Everyone, we have a new student: Addison Coleman.”

“Just Addie,” I say.

“Make her feel welcome.”

I don’t know if there is some ritual that’s supposed to follow those words, but I look around expectantly. A few blank stares greet me. Almost everyone else is still talking to their neighbor or studying their phone. I’m glad that “making someone feel welcome” doesn’t involve sharing three fun facts about myself or any other opportunity for embarrassment I had been dreading. Maybe I wouldn’t have to test out my cover story on my first day after all.

“You may have a seat,” the teacher says, pointing to a chair front-row center—the seat everyone else had quite obviously avoided.

“Oh, okay.” I try to find a different open seat, but the only other one is beside a guy who is using half of it, along with all of his. In my scan for a chair, however, I notice Trevor in the back right corner. I smile, and he gives me a nod.

It seems my only choice is the dreaded seat, so I take the two steps required and sit down. Mr. Buford—according to my all-knowing class schedule—walks to his desk and hits Play on an iPod docked in a stereo. Music blares through the room, and nearly everyone throws their hands over their ears. I mentally muffle the sound. He fumbles with the controls until the music softens. It’s only then I hear what’s playing—the theme music to James Bond.

A satisfied smile steals across his pudgy face as though he just used the best teaching method ever. I have a feeling it’s the only excitement I’ll see in this class. He turns off the music and then faces us dramatically. “Our topic for the next several weeks is …” He pauses and looks around. Nobody volunteers the answer. “Any guesses? Justin?”

A guy several rows back says, “Old movies?” The other students laugh.

“Hot women?” someone else volunteers.

“No, guys, come on. Anybody?”

Just as I think about offering the answer he wants, to put him out of his misery, a voice from the back says, “Government-funded investigative agencies.”

That was more specific than the “spies” answer I was ready to offer.

“Yes, thank you, Trevor.”

I turn around and raise my eyebrows at him. He just shrugs.

Mr. Buford writes several acronyms on a big whiteboard using a pen I can smell from where I sit. How is he not high from that thing? I’m amazed at the lack of computers at this school. “Study them and know them by their full names. This will be on the test.” Those words cause an eruption of notebooks to fly open so fast that, had I been in my old school, I would’ve thought Mr. Buford had used Telekinesis. He laughs. “Ah, the magic word gave you a little motivation to get in gear. Good. Today we’re going to discuss the FBI.”

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