Total Knockout

Free Total Knockout by Taylor Morris

Book: Total Knockout by Taylor Morris Read Free Book Online
Authors: Taylor Morris
sports teams would even perform better without being loaded down with all that salt, fat, and sugar. Maybe they’d even make state this year. I jotted this thought down, thinking I could add it to my speech.
    Mr. Harrison let me out of third-period U.S. history a little early so I could get to the caf and make sure everything was ready to go. I hadn’t seen the machines yet—I knew them only from the pictures in the brochures. As I approached the area just outside the cafeteria, where the brand-new green-and-white machines stood, one of the janitors pulled his hand out of his pocket and was about to deposit a gleaming quarter into my machine.
    â€œStop!” I hollered as I ran toward him. “You can’t use that!”
    When he turned to look at me, I saw that it was Mickey, our head janitor.
    â€œWhat’s gotten into you?” he asked.
    â€œSorry,” I said as he put the quarter back into his pocket. “I want to be the first to use it at the opening ceremony.”
    â€œShouldn’t you do a trial run first, make sure it works?”
    â€œNo. It has to be ceremonious.”
    Mickey shook his head. After two years together, he was used to me. I liked him because he never gave me any trouble, not even when I asked him to help me install energy-saving fluorescent bulbs in the administrative offices.
    I took the Hannah Montana sheet out of my bag and shook it out. Mickey let out a low whistle. “What?” I said, even though I knew.
    He kept an eye on the purple sheet as he said, “Nothing. Nothing at all.”
    We hung Hannah over the new vending machine, covering as much of the front as possible. I took a step back, smoothing down the front of my jeans. The black shirt and shoes I wore matched my hair perfectly, but the red jeans gave me a sense of fun and flair—not to mention red for the strength I knew the nutritious food would give everyone.
    Cooper was the first to arrive, just moments after the third-period dismissal bell rang. He was out of breath and a little pink in the cheeks, and I was so happy to see him.
    â€œThat ‘storm’ thing on the website wasn’t my fault,” he said defensively.
    â€œCoop, it’s fine.”
    â€œI thought you’d be freaking out about it.”
    â€œI’m not freaking out about anything,” I lied.
    He seemed to relax a bit. “I ran into Nicole,” he said, tugging his backpack up on his shoulder. “She’s on her way.”
    â€œWas she with Lori Anne?”
    â€œNo.”
    â€œGreat,” I muttered, even as I tried to stay positive. The sheet was nice in theory, but what we really needed was a photographer.
    There was no time to stress, because the lunch bell rang and people were starting to arrive. I put on my best face. “Hey, y’all!” I greeted as they came through the doors. “Stick around for a few minutes. We have a big ceremony starting soon!”
    Finally, a crowd formed around us once Nicole and Mrs. Peoria arrived. I scanned the crowd for Lori Anne and Melanie but didn’t see them anywhere. I spotted Jared standing in the back pretending to grab Ella Castleman’s butt—she was a cute cheerleader who didn’t know what the EU was. I caught his eye, thenmotioned for him to come up and stand with me. Max Rowe, who I hadn’t noticed before, apparently thought I was waving to him, because he gave me an enthusiastic wave back and a thumbs-up. I forced a smile before pointing to Jared. Max nudged him—a bit hard—and I again motioned for Jared to come up. With a roll of his eyes, he made his way up front.
    When Mrs. Peoria arrived, she looked at her watch and said, “Okay, Lucia. Let’s get this going.”
    I anxiously searched again for Lori Anne—I’d all but given up on Melanie. I knew I should have just asked Lori Anne to come myself. You have to be willing to make adjustments in the blink of a jab, but I

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