I weave through the crowd, a blonde speck of determination in a sea of indifference. A dog-walker and his tangle of mutts blocks my path, a businessman on a phone cuts me off. Even the sidewalks in L.A. have traffic jams. Stupid cracked radiator—no way I’ll make it in time.
I leap over a yapping Pomeranian, spin around a parking meter, but force myself not to run—can’t look sweaty teaching pampered rich kids how to multiply.
Of course, if I hadn’t quit gymnastics, Mom wouldn’t force me to pick up extra tutoring shifts to pay for the car repairs. She gave some speech about learning self-reliance, but I know it’s punishment for deviating from her perfect plan for my life. Control issues much?
The glass storefront with the Haverstein Academy’s faux-Ivy-League logo looms before me. Smile, Emily, only two more years ‘til college and freedom.
A honk and squeal make me turn toward the street where a shiny chrome grill and two headlights hop the curb and barrel at me like a charging beast. On instinct, I do a back handspring, like from one of my old floor routines. My hands slam into the rough concrete, the car hurtles past my toes. I push off, still spinning, a blur of black metal in front of me. The car slams into the building in an explosion of glass and noise. The blast and my momentum throw me to the ground, breath whooshing from my lungs. What the hell just happened?
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