Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Prologue


Troy Hartford slammed his locker shut, then headed for his chemistry class. His best friend, Brad Foster came barreling down the hall and threw his arm around Troy’s neck.
“Hey man, you already ask Stacy Jones to prom?”
“Yeah, but I don’t know why you didn’t ask her; everyone knows both of you are going to be prom king and queen.”
He shook his head. “Not my type, you know that, anyway I’ve got my eye on Veronica Baker.”
“Ronnie?” Troy asked, twisting his face. “Kevin’s little sister?”
“Yeah man,” Brad said nodding.
“She’s only a sophomore.”
“Have you seen the things she does in shop class? And she knows all about cars. All of that and she’s pretty too!”
Troy had noticed everything Brad had just mentioned about Veronica and thought it was all pretty cool.
Brad slapped Troy on the chest. “There she is now!”
She was rushing to class, with her books in her hands. She was wearing a flowery dress that stopped right at her knees. Her hair flew around her face as she picked up the pace.
 “Hey, you think she’ll say yes if I ask her?”
“How would I know?”
“You’re friends with her right?”
Troy turned to look at Brad. “Not exactly. I mean her dad works on the Vette, and of course she works there. We talk sometimes, that’s about it.”
“Aren’t you going to Leo’s Garage this afternoon?”
“Yeah, but-”
“Great, then you can put in a good word for me.”
“Brad-”
“I’ll catch you later man!” he said, then took off through the crowd.

Troy pulled up to Leo’s Garage after school the same day and cut the engine. He hopped out of the car as Leo Baker came out of the auto shop.
“You look good behind the wheel,” Leo said, stopping in front of Troy, “Just like your dad.”
“Thank you sir,” Troy responded.
Troy’s father had passed down the classic Corvette to him as an early graduation gift.
“First time you’ve come here in the car by yourself, what can I do for you?”
“Tune up before prom,” Troy answered.
Leo nodded. “Sounds good, drive her up to the open bay over there, and we’ll get started on her.”
Troy was getting out of the car again when he heard a voice shout from underneath the car next to his.
“Hey Dad! Mr. Pike’s been trying to ‘fix’ his car again. It’s a mess under here!”
Veronica Baker came sliding from underneath the car on a creeper. When she saw Troy standing above her, she smiled.
“Hey Troy! What’s up?”
Leo came up beside Troy and patted him on the shoulder. “Troy here brought the Vette in for its first tune up as his car!”
Veronica’s smile brightened even more. “That’s awesome!” she said as she sat up on the creeper.
Leo smiled at his daughter. “How about you take a break from Pike’s car and help me work on the Vette?”
She turned her head toward her father in surprise. “But…Kevin always use to work on the Vette with you.”
Her father nodded. “Yes, but Kevin is off at college, so it’s time for you to take over the reins, don’t you think?”
“Yes sir!” she said brightly.
“Great,” Leo said, “I’m going to run in and get some tools. Ronnie, get the hood up and start checking her out.”

Veronica watched as her father walked off.
“Need a hand?”
Troy’s deep voice reminded her that she wasn’t alone in the garage. She placed her hand in his outstretched one and was surprised at how he lifted her off the ground with little effort.
“Thanks,” she said, once she was standing.
He just nodded quietly.
She brushed a strand of hair out of her face, and then turned toward his car.
He stood there watching her for several minutes. He was amazed out how different she looked now and earlier at school. But somehow, even now she was still cute. Even with her face smudged with oil.
“How does it feel to have the Corvette as your own now?” she asked.
He shoved his hand in his jean pockets and rocked back on his heels. “Pretty great. I mean, my dad and I have done everything together in this car, so for him to give it to me is a big deal.”
“And you’ll definitely look awesome in it on prom,” she replied smiling at him.
That gave him the perfect opportunity to bring up Brad.
“Speaking of prom, has anyone asked you to it?”
Me?” she asked, looking up at him surprised. “Why would anyone ask me? I’m just a sophomore.”
“What if I told you I knew someone who wanted to ask you?”
Ronnie shook her head and let out a laugh, with a small snort. “Who on earth would want to ask me, the greaser girl, to the prom?”
“Brad Foster.”
Troy was surprised when he heard the loud clang of a tool hit the floor, then saw Veronica’s always steady hands tremble.
“Ronnie?”

“Brad Foster?”
“Yeah.”
“Quarterback of the football team, Brad Foster? Most likely Prom King, Brad Foster?”
“There’s only one Brad Foster. I would know since he’s one of my best friends.”
She turned toward him. He couldn’t read her expression.
“Is this some kind of prank? Like that Carrie movie or something?”
“What are you talking about?” he asked confused.
“Is this one of those ask the most pitiful girls at school to prom then embarrass in front of everyone type things?”
“No!” Troy said, shaking his head. “Honest Veronica, Brad asked me earlier today if I thought you would say yes if he asked you. He knew I was coming here today, so he wanted me to mention it to you.”
Finally she reached down and grabbed the socket wrench she’d dropped. She turned back toward his car.
“Well?” he asked.
“Well what?”
“Would you say yes if he asked?”
She was quiet for awhile, before she finally said, “Tell him to come ask me himself and find out.”

Two weeks later, Veronica walked in to the ballroom of the hotel that had been rented out in San Antonio for the Coalton High Senior Prom.
Brad had shown up later the same day that Troy mentioned the prom to her. He hadn’t wasted any time asking her. After Brad had been grilled and threatened by Leo, she said yes.
He led her to a table where Troy and his date were already sitting.
“Hey guys,” Brad said to Troy and Stacy.
“What’s up, man?” Troy said. Stacy waved her hand, with a bored expression on her face. She looked up Veronica with a raised eyebrow.
“Ronnie Baker? Wow, you look great!”
“Thanks,” Veronica replied quietly.
Stacy stood, and looked down at Veronica, “Your hair is amazing! What did you use in it to get it so shiny? Some kind of car oil from daddy’s car shop?”
“Stacy!” Troy stood and pulled her away from Veronica.
“What?!” Stacy asked, “Oh come on! She can take a joke.”
“Excuse me,” Veronica whispered, then turned and ran back toward the entrance.
Troy turned back to Stacy. “That was unnecessary.”
“She shouldn’t be here! She’s an underclassman!” She turned to Brad. “It’s tacky for the soon-to-be Prom King to be seen robbing the cradle with some little sophomore.”
Brad made some smart comment, but Troy didn’t hear it. Since Brad didn’t seem to be in any hurry to go after Veronica, he decided he’d go instead.
She was outside the ballroom, wiping her eyes.
“Hey,” he said sitting down beside her. “You ok?”
She shrugged. “You’d think I’d be use to comments like that by now.”
“Hey I’m sorry about Stacy. She’s…”
“She’s Stacy, Queen of the high school world.”
“She didn’t mean it.”
“Oh she meant it.”
“Don’t let her ruin your night. Come back inside.”
She shook her head. “It was a mistake to come here. I should just go home.”
“How are you going to get home? You can’t walk twenty miles back to Coalton. Besides you just got here.”
He stood and held his hand out to her. “Come on, I promise you’ll have a great time tonight! I’ll make sure of it.”
She tucked her bottom lip between teeth and tugged nervously.
Finally she nodded and took his hand.
He was pulling her up as Brad came running out.
“Hey,” he said to Veronica, “You ok?”
She nodded. “I am now.”
Brad took her hand and they headed back into the ballroom. He looked over his shoulder at Troy, and said, “Thanks for coming to talk to her man.”
“Yeah,” Troy responded, “No problem.”

“And this year’s Prom Queen and King are…..Stacy Jones and Brad Foster!”
No surprise there, Troy thought as he drank his punch.
Ever since her horrible comment to Ronnie, he’d been regretting bringing Stacy to the prom.
Stacy hopped up rushed to the stage to get her crown, while Brad sauntered up behind her slowly.
After they received their crowns, they went to the center of the floor to dance together. Soon the rest of the students surrounded them and they got lost in the crowd.
Troy looked at Veronica sitting across the table. She looked lost in her own world.
“Hey Ronnie,” he called out to her, “how about a dance?”
She smiled shyly then said, “Sure.”
They got up, walked over to the dance floor and he pulled her into his arms.
“Have you had fun tonight?”
She shrugged and smiled. “It hasn’t been too bad. I’m sure it will be better next year, when I’m with my own class.”
“Maybe,” he said, getting lost in his own thoughts.
He looked down at her and smiled. “You really do look beautiful tonight.”
She shook her head. “You don’t have to say that just because your date was rude earlier.”
He took her chin and lifted it, so he could look into her eyes.
“I’m not Veronica, you really do look amazing.”
“Thanks Troy.”
The music changed to a faster song. Veronica moved to go sit back down, but Troy took her hand. “One more dance?”
She nodded and they continued to dance. They eventually lost track of time, especially since neither of their dates had shown back up.
They finally collapsed back down into their chairs.
“It’s good to finally see you smile tonight,” Troy said to Veronica.
“You too,” she said.
Her smile slowly slid from her face.
“Ronnie? Ronnie what’s wrong?”
He turned to look at what Veronica was staring at and was surprised to see Brad and Stacy hand in hand rushing into an elevator. As the doors were closing, Brad pulled Stacy into his arms and kissed her.
Their dates had officially ditched them for each other.

They sat in silence as Troy drove Veronica back to Coalton.
He finally pulled over at Coalton’s Peak and cut the engine.
He turned to Veronica.
 “Look Ronnie, about Brad-”
“Don’t apologize for him.”
“I suppose I can’t because honestly, I had a better time with you tonight than I did with Stacy.”
“I had a better time with you too. Thanks for that I guess.”
He reached out and touched her cheek. He watched as her eyes drifted closed and she took a deep breath.
He looked at her lips, covered in a cherry colored gloss and couldn’t resist. He leaned forward and pressed his lips against hers.
Her eyes flew opened and she gasped. He let the tip of his tongue touch hers gently. Then her eyes closed again and she sank into the kiss. His hands slid into her silky hair and he pulled her closer.
Veronica let out a moan that seemed to shock her and she broke off the kiss.
“I’m sorry,” Troy said, breathing heavily.
Veronica shook her head and turned back in her seat. “No, it’s fine.”
Troy started the car and headed back into town.
They finally arrived at Veronica’s house and he walked her to the door.
Veronica pulled her key out of her purse and turned around to face Troy.
“Thanks for bringing me home after…everything.”
“It was the least I could do.”
They stood there for several moments. Troy wanted to reach out and kiss her again. But that kiss out at Coalton’s Peak had been more than he bargained for. Plus he didn’t want to risk the wrath of her father.
“Well…” she said, breaking the silence. “Good night Troy.”
“Good night Ronnie.”






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