Excerpt: Kami Garcia’s The Lovely Reckless, Chapter Four

Think. I try to clear my head. I’m at Monroe. With Lex.

Lot A. The fight. A hot guy with tattoos . . .

“I thought you were one of his boys.” His chest heaves like he’s still out of breath from the fight. The hot guy . . . Marco.

My heart pounds, echoing in my ears.

“Are you okay?” Marco reaches for me, then pulls his hand back.

“Yeah.” I nod in case he didn’t hear me.

A trickle of blood runs down his cheek from a cut above his eye, but he doesn’t wipe it off. The girl who was hanging out with Marco before the fight stands behind him, watching me. “Did she hit her head? She might have a concussion.”

“Move!” Lex yells, shoving people aside. She puts herself between me and Marco. “Get away from her!”

Marco sits back on his heels, arms hanging at his sides as if he’s waiting for her to punch him. He looks younger and less dangerous. “I didn’t see her,” he repeats.

“It was an accident.” The girl with Marco rests her hand on his shoulder.

Lex drops down beside me. “Did that psycho hurt you?” “I’m fine.” A dull pain throbs in the pit of my

stomach. The guy in the Ravens jersey groans and rolls onto his side.

Blood spatters cover the front of his shirt, and one of his eyes has swollen shut. Two of his friends drag him to the nearest tree and prop him up.

Without the bleeding linebacker next to us, I’m the main attraction. Just what I need on my first day at a new school. On the upside, getting knocked on my ass distracted the crowd. Hopefully, no one noticed me zoning out.

I stand up too fast and my legs turn into Jell­-O. The ground slips out from under me, and Marco springs to his feet. He reaches for my elbow, but Lex beats him to it.

She slaps his hand away. “Don’t touch her.” The pretty tomboy raises her eyebrows.

Marco steps back, his eyes locked on mine. The intensity of his gaze—the way he’s staring directly at me—isn’t helping my Jell-­O legs situation.

“You okay, Angel?” Another question lingers in his eyes, but I don’t know what he’s asking.

“I’m—”

“Clear this area now!” a deep voice thunders across the quad. Within seconds, a man about Dad’s age, with strong features and salt­-and-­pepper hair, crosses the lawn. Judging by his turtleneck and pressed jeans, he’s a teacher.

He points at Marco. “Not you, Leone. Stay right where you are.”

Marco raises his hands and clasps them behind his head like he’s under arrest. “Whatever you say, Mr. S.”

Mr. S takes one look at Lex shielding me from Marco and shoves him toward the sidewalk. Then he turns to me. “Are you all right?”

“I’m fine.” How many times do I have to say it?

“Are you sure?” He has kind eyes and a soothing voice, now that he’s not shouting.

“She’s okay, really, Mr. Santiago.” Lex hooks her arm through mine.

Mr. Santiago notices the guy in the bloody Ravens jersey near the sidewalk. “Why aren’t I surprised to see you here, Mr. Cooper?” He snaps his fingers at the linebacker’s friends. “Take him to the nurse. I want him out of my sight.” Mr. Santiago zeroes in on Marco and points at the main building. “Start walking, Leone. You know the way.”

With Marco safely on the sidewalk, Lex grabs my shoulders. “What were you thinking, Frankie?” She closes her eyes for a second. When she opens them again, I see it in her eyes. Pity. “Don’t answer that. Come on. I’ll drive you home.”

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