Lethal Queen Bee (Embassy Academy #2) - Emily Kazmierski
Alan Rook’s breath puffed as his feet pounded the sidewalk. Cold sweat coated his skin, making him wince against the frosted air surrounding him. He couldn’t stop.
His late night runs had become the only way to control his fear, by shedding it in little droplets that traced the path of the sidewalk. Alan had been out every night for the past week, pushing his body along the same route. The familiarity of each street corner, each stretch between the ornate, ostentatious street lamps soothed his oversensitive nerves. His lungs ached as he wheezed. The muscles in his calves burned, but still he didn’t slow.
The fear chased him onward.
Ever since that conversation with his goodie-two-shoes student Adrienne Lewis, he’d known his time at Embassy Academy was coming to an end.
Adrienne’s stepsister, Charlotte, he understood. She was a manipulative social climber like him. But Adrienne was different. More honest. Alan had threatened her to keep her mouth shut, and it had worked, but only for a time. Eventually, she would tell someone about his dealings.
And now, with the death of another of his students, he knew it was time to move on.
It wasn’t his fault that she had become addicted to amphetamines. That once they didn’t give her the highs she craved, she’d pressed him for something more.
He’d denied her. Frankly, Alan deserved a medal for turning down the extra dough he could have gotten by peddling harder substances. It would have been easy, what with being surrounded by rich, entitled brats all day every day.
The dead girl’s parents wouldn’t see it that way.
They would be looking for justice for their daughter’s death, and if they discovered it was him who’d sold her that first baggie of little white pills, well…
Alan would have to be more careful about who he sold to in the future. No more sniveling, snotty politicians’ kids, that’s for sure. He was sure he could find kids who were attending his next school on scholarship. The ones who were so bent on proving themselves that they’d take the help he offered them in the form of a chemical boost. Ones whose parents were less involved, or who at least held less sway in the current political climate.
He’d already begun looking for openings at other schools. His instinct was to get as far away from Washington, DC as possible, so he’d looked for job openings on the west coast. He’d never lived on that end of the continent, and the thought of waking up within running distance of the ocean was greatly appealing. He could picture himself on the beach in California, eating tacos and getting a suntan. Maybe he could take up skateboarding. Everyone out there skateboarded, didn’t they?
An image of the ocean, deep blue and roiling, rose in his mind. Its expanse unfathomable. A reminder that ultimately his actions weren’t enough to change the course of history. That his small-time dealings didn’t matter in the grand scheme of life. He wasn’t one of the villains. Merely an opportunist.
Even though he’d sold a teenage girl some drugs that had led to her downfall, it wasn’t really his fault. Besides, she was the one who’d looked for something with “more kick,” as she’d phrased it. And she’d gotten it elsewhere.
Blood roared in his ears, filling the silence of the night.
Less than a mile to the school, now. He’d be back in his tiny, stuffy room in less than ten minutes. The promise of a scalding hot shower was the only thing motivating him, making him push his wavering muscles further past the brink.
Far in the distance, lightning flashed. By the looks of it, there was a heavy storm coming.
The ache in Alan’s shoulder was punishing, a result of the frigid temperature. His rotator cuff was almost fully healed, but it ached whenever the weather dipped. Anger flared in him. He’d never experienced pain like this before in his life, but one wrong swing in lacrosse practice and he had a debilitating injury. The only good thing about it was that it had made it so much easier to get his hands on product to sell, despite that one incident at physical therapy.
His lungs were burning. Screaming in protest of the punishing run.
He inhaled for a count of four and exhaled for eight. He was the master of his body, not his lungs.
Up ahead, the traffic light turned yellow, then red.
Alan groaned. He’d have to stop, jogging in place at the corner.
He hated that.
His shoe snagged on a raised step