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Playing in Secret

By:Crystal Perkins

Prologue


Audrey

Maybe I should've asked Faith to shoot me so I could've avoided this.  Then again, I didn't have to come back here to San Diego. Not everyone  attends their 20th high school reunion    . I could've just ignored the  invitation my mom forwarded to me. But the need for revenge was just too  strong.

"You okay, Aud?" Ares asks me. Yes, I brought one of my best friends,  the famous playboy NASCAR driver Ares Dixon, with me. Take that,  bitches.

"No. Remind me why I came here again?"

"To show these idiots how sexy and accomplished you are."

Yep. That's exactly why I came. I had just started with the Society when  my ten year came around, so I missed it. I wasn't ready then, anyway. I  was still getting past being the nerdy girl who hid behind her glasses  for most of her life.

The Society offered me the chance to break out of my cocoon, and emerge  as a sexy, and strong woman. In addition to being smart, of course. My  brain is why I was recruited by Maggie Griffin, but to say that I  embraced everything else I was taught would be an understatement. The  stylist at the time got me into clothes that actually fit, and showed me  how to work the body God gave me to its full advantage.

I'd already taken communications classes in college, because I wanted to  try something other than science, but it did nothing to prepare me for  the work I've been doing for the past ten years. I'm thankful to the  mentors for putting us through the rigorous training they did, and for  believing in me when I struggled. This butterfly came out flying, and  I've never looked back. Well, at least not much.

It's hard to ignore the boy who broke your heart when he's on every  movie screen in America. And if I'm honest with myself, I haven't wanted  to ignore him. Despite what he and his friends did to me, a little part  of me still loves him, and probably always will.

"Isn't that Blake Armstrong?" Ares asks me, gesturing to where he's sitting with his many admirers.

"Yep," I say with a quick glance, before looking away again.

"Who's the girl sitting near him?"

I look over and see her. The girl with the glasses and a book open on  her lap. She looks to be around twelve, and my heart breaks as I see  that everyone around her is ignoring her. My feet are moving before I  can make them stop.

"Hi," I say, sitting on the ground next to her. "What are you reading?"

"Powerless. It's a book about superheroes and villains. Lame, right?"

"Superheroes are definitely not lame. I love superheroes."

"Really? But you're so pretty."

"Thank you. You're very pretty too. And yes, I love them. So do most of my friends."

"I love superheroes, too," Ares says, sitting down with us.

"I've seen you on the internet," She tells him.

"Sometimes people like to take pictures of me because I drive fast cars," he says with a shrug.

I could hug him right now. He has a tendency to be an egotistical ass on  occasion, but he's holding it back for this little girl. "Thank you" I  mouth to him. He just nods back at me.

"People take pictures of my dad, too."

"Your dad?" I ask.

"Yeah. Blake Armstrong."

Well, isn't this ironic. The man who broke my heart because I was a  nerd, now has a daughter who could've been me all those years ago. I  don't have time to ponder this any longer, because the man in question  is now standing over us.

"You okay, Jeanne?"

"Yeah. I'm fine, Dad. Just talking about superheroes."

"Do I know you?" Blake asks us.

"We met at one of my races last year," Ares tell him.

"I was talking to her."

I stand up and motion for us to walk away from Ares and Jeanne. "Know  me? No, you don't know me. I'm just the nerdy girl you invited to prom  and then stood up because it was a joke to you and your friends."

"Audrey?"

"Hello, Blake."

"You look great."

"I know." I tip my chin to his daughter. "She seems like a pretty awesome kid. Make sure you treat her that way."

"I do. I'm sorry for what I did to you."

"Are you?"

"Yes."

"Thank you."

There's a commotion, and I see four men in masks surrounding Jeanne and  Ares. They're not here for him. I know that in my bones. Blake starts to  move towards them, but I stop him. "Stay here."

I activate my distress signal, and grab the gun from my purse. I see the  weakest link and move in on him, taking him out easily. Ares grabs  Jeanne and runs her over to Blake. I'm shocked to see Reina approach  them-how did she get here so fast? I don't have time to contemplate her  appearance, or Ainsley's, as we both hold off the masked men until they  start a fire and run.         

     



 

We get everyone safely out of the area, and take care of the fire before  heading for the parking lot. "Is this your mission, Ainsley?"

"Yes. I didn't know you'd be here. It's your reunion    ?"

"Sadly, yes."

She leads me into a shuttle bus where I see Ares, Blake, Reina, and  Jeanne are waiting for us. Blake stands when I walk in. "You're one of  them? The Society?"

I look to Reina, who nods. "Yes, I am."

"You'll help my little girl then, right? You have to help her. You're  the smartest person I've ever met in my life. I need you, Audrey, please  help us."

I want to say no. I want to remind him of how he left me waiting for him  in my lemon yellow prom dress for hours while he was already there with  his real date. Of how his friends tormented me for the rest of the  year, while he laughed at their pranks. But I don't. That little part of  me that will be in love with Blake Armstrong forever won't let me.

"Yes. I'll help you, Blake."



Blake

I totally get the irony of the situation I'm in. I just had to  practically beg the woman I humiliated as a teen into helping protect my  daughter. I humiliated her because she was smart, shy, nerdy, and wore  baggy clothes all the time. My daughter is smart, shy, nerdy, and would  no doubt be hiding herself in big clothes too, if she could. Being the  daughter of a movie star and a supermodel, she has to be somewhat  stylish in public, but I try and make it as easy for her as possible.

I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been thinking about Audrey Sanchez more  and more over the years. Even before it became apparent that Jeanne was  more interested in books than Barbies, the memories of what I did to  Audrey haunted me. Not enough to stop me from living my life, but  sometimes at night, I'd dream of her. I'd see here face that Monday  after the prom, and I'd be up the rest of the night cursing the stupid  boy I'd been.

I'm not that boy anymore, and she's definitely not the girl we made fun  of. Not only is she smoking hot-which she probably always was, we just  never took the time to notice it-but she's confident and strong, too. I  didn't know who she was when I saw her with Jeanne, but I was intrigued  by her. Who wouldn't be? I don't know many women who would just sit on  the grass and talk to a little girl who was obviously being ignored by  the other kids. In fact, I don't know any. Her mother certainly wasn't  concerned that Jeanne was sitting alone. And, I think with shame, I  didn't leave my friends to check on her until I saw Audrey and Ares  Dixon with her.

"What's your relationship?" I blurt out suddenly.

"My relationship?" Audrey asks.

"With him," I explain, nodding towards Ares.

"That's really none of your business."

"Actually, for this to work, it is."

"For what to work, Blake? We haven't even come up with a plan yet," Reina tells him.

"I have one. Audrey should pose as my live-in girlfriend."

"Oh hell no," Audrey says, her eyes flashing.

"Please don't swear in front of my daughter."

"Your daughter is twelve, not five, and I'm sure she's heard it all before," Ainsley says.

I was told she was chosen to help us because she's a big nerd, too. I've  seen her in the tabloids with Zack Taylor, the football god. Everyone  knows that nerds are the new sexy-I've even considered playing a nerd  for a new movie-but Ainsley and Audrey take it to a new level. Ainsley  doesn't play it up, and hides it a little, but Audrey is full on sex on  heels.

"I have."

"Have?" I don't remember what we were taking about.

"I've heard cuss words, Dad. I'm not a baby."

"I know, honey. I'm just feeling a little overprotective."

"I should've never hacked into those corporations. Or taken the online tests I did."

"You definitely need to stop hacking, and yes, you should've shown the  tests to me before you took them, but the only people at fault here are  the ones who are after you."

"Hacking's fun."

"It really is," Ainsley says with a smirk.

"Ainsley," Reina admonishes her, but she's smirking a little, too.

"Back to Audrey moving in. I think that's the best plan. She can protect  Jeanne, and no one will question it if she's my girlfriend."

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