Secondary Characters (Novella) - By Rachel Schieffelbein

Chapter One

I’m sick of waving and my cheeks hurt from all this smiling. But it is kind of fun having all the little girls in town get excited, smiling, waving, and jumping up and down as our float rolls by. I turn around to look up at Amber. She looks amazing in her sleek black gown, of course, and Nick looks super-hot in his tux. They are the perfect Homecoming King and Queen. They look great together, like movie stars, and I’m a little jealous. But I know Amber is in seventh heaven. She’s been crushing on him hard since school started.

She sees me looking and winks, smiling her scheming smile. She’s been talking to Nick, probably making big plans. I’m sure she’s dying to tell me, and I’m dying to hear, but I’m in the front row of the court, with another set of couples behind me, much too far away to gossip. She’ll catch me up at her house when we get ready for the game.

I turn back around and survey the crowd. My mom is here somewhere with my little sister. Of course, they’ll be nearly impossible to spot in this sea of black and orange. People around here have a lot of Tiger pride. Go team! and all that.

I’m still looking for them when I feel a warm breath on my neck. Then I’m falling. Screaming, I grip the sides of my chair, which is being pulled backward. It stops, tipped halfway, and all I can see is blue sky and white clouds. Still holding tight to my seat, I spin around to see Lance, his hand gripping the back of my chair. His fake gold crown is slightly askew on his big head.

“What the hell is wrong with you?!” I yell. He laughs and rights my chair.

“Sorry, geez,” he says, rubbing the back of his neck.

I glare at him before I start to turn around. He reaches out and puts his hand on my shoulder. I quickly shrug it off.

“Wait, um, are you and Amber coming to the game tonight?” he asks. He’s wearing his jersey under his tux, which I’m sure he thinks looks cool, but in fact just looks like a big mess.

“Yeah,” I say, crinkling my forehead. “Of course.” He knows we’ll be at the game. What is he getting at?

“Cool. Maybe you guys could be our mascots. You’d look cute in a tiger costume,” he says, a stupid smirk on his face.

I inwardly groan. He thinks he’s sooooo funny.

I roll my eyes. I’m sure he’d love to see Amber in a skimpy tiger-slash-Catwoman type of costume. Guys are so pathetic.

“Yeah, we’ll get right on that.” I spin back around. Lance is Nick’s best friend. I’ve known him since kindergarten and I swear his sense of humor has not changed since then. He annoys the crap out of me.

I finally spot my mom and Sophie. Soph’s grinning and waving like a crazy person. I laugh and wave back. Sophie was so excited about seeing me in the parade today. Like any six-year-old girl, she loves princesses. One advantage of being friends with Amber: I’m cool by association. I’d never have made homecoming court otherwise.

When the parade finally ends I try to get off the float as gracefully as possible in my long teal gown. My sister runs up and wraps her arms around my waist. She’s got on a little Tiger jersey and jeans, but her dark, curly hair is up on top of her head and she’s wearing a plastic crown with big pink jewels on it. I laugh and hug her tight.

“Mabel, you were the most beautiful princess in the whole world!” She grins up at me with wide, admiring eyes and I know she actually means it. She may be the only person who thinks that, and it’s only because she’s my little sister, but it still means a lot to me. I hug her tighter. “I gotta go, but I’ll see you tonight, okay? I’ll even let you wear my crown.” I wink at her and she squeals and jumps up and down some more.

I head back to find Amber. She’s still on the float chatting up Nick, so I wait for her to join me. He pulls out his cell, undoubtedly to punch in her number. I shake my head and smile.

She always gets her man.

He helps her off the float and she walks calmly over to me. Or at least that’s how it would look to Nick,