Hotshot - Ahren Sanders Page 0,1

lovingly and gives her an encouraging smile.

“I’ll be around if you need me,” she tells both Nick and Lizbeth before walking away.

“We’ll be right here, kicking cancer’s ass,” Lizbeth replies, fist pumping the air.

I drop my head to hide my chuckle. Her spunk amuses me. Nick’s grin tells me he thinks the same.

“Well, Lizbeth, it’s nice to meet you,” I tell her.

She reaches in her bag then gives a little squeal.

“What’s wrong?” Nick jolts up, looking around nervously.

“I forgot my math assignment, and I’ve got a test next week.”

“I’ve got mine in my room. We can go over it later.”

“Okay.” She relaxes back in the chair.

My head spins with the fact that these two young kids are getting chemotherapy and discussing schoolwork. Who the hell cares about school when you’re fighting for your life?

“Ren, you’re doing it again. Your face is twisted.” Nick points to me, and I shake out of my thoughts.

“I’m shocked that you two are so worried about school.”

“Well, I’m actually thinking about doing the homeschool thing. We already do so many of our assignments from home since we have to watch our immune systems. Maybe I’ll make it official,” Lizbeth says but doesn’t sound convincing.

“You can’t do that. We’re gonna get through this together. I’ll be there to protect you.”

“Protect her?” I repeat, wondering if I heard him correctly. Curiosity mixes with alarm as different scenarios run through my mind.

“Yeah, some bitch in school is giving her a hard time. It’s stupid and childish. She has me now, and nothing’s going to happen.”

I don’t correct his language because I don’t give a shit if he wants to cuss.

“It’ll be harder to get away from her, especially now that all my hair is gone and they’ve prescribed the steroids. She’ll have a lot of ammunition when I look like a roly-poly.”

“What the fuck?” I swing my head in time to catch her wipe a lone tear that slipped out. Her breath hitches, and Nick reaches across me, laying his hand on her arm.

“Best friends take care of each other. I’ll take care of you.”

Pride swells inside, witnessing his first crush. He catches my eye and frowns.


“Nothing. Just watching you and your new girlfriend,” I tease.

The air around us stills in silence until Lizbeth’s laughter cuts through. Nick follows until they’re both gasping for breath.

“No way! We’re really just friends. When I was admitted two days ago, I was originally placed in a room with her while they ran some tests. I recognized her from school, and we started talking…”

“By the end of the night, I declared we’d be best friends forever. He’s stuck with me,” she finishes his statement.

I search their faces for any sign of attraction, but there’s none there.

“Huh,” I say.

“But, like I was saying, there’s a bitch at school who’s giving her a hard time. This chick’s ex-boyfriend asked Liz to go to the homecoming game with him. That’s when it started. She’s been awful since then. But when we go back to school, I’m handling it.”

“Aren’t you guys a little young to be dating?” I cringe because I know what was on my mind in high school, and Lizbeth seems too sweet for the horny mind of teenage boys.

“It doesn’t matter because, when I started to lose my hair, he backed off. But he was gross anyway. Totally skeezer.” She scrunches her nose in disgust.

She may say he’s gross, but her face doesn’t hide the hurt. She’s a beautiful girl without hair, and he’s a fucking idiot.

“That dickhead isn’t getting near her again. He’s a loser.”

“Changing the subject now!” She huffs. “Tell me more about you, Crenshaw."

“My friends and family call me Ren.”

She squints her eyes and shakes her head. “Nah, I think I like Shaw better. It doesn’t remind me of a little shaved Chihuahua.”


“It’s sexy, too. So there you go. New nickname.”

“Exactly how old are you? What do you know about sexy?”

“Oh, please, I’m almost fifteen, and I know sexy when I see it. And you, Shaw Bennett, are ‘sexy’.” She uses air quotes with no shame.

Heat creeps up my cheeks at her statement. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been embarrassed, but this sassy little pixie has me blushing.

“Great, now you’ve given him a bigger ego.” Nick sighs. “But she’s big on nicknames, so I guess you’re stuck with it.”

“I like it, Lizbeth. To you, I’m Shaw.”

A smile spreads across her face and reaches all the way down to my soul. The light in her eyes shines so bright,